Interwar Albania, 1918-41
Albania achieved real statehood after World War I, in part because of the diplomatic intercession of the United States. The country suffered from debilitating lack of economic and social development, however, and its first years of independence were fraught with political instability. Unable to survive in a predatory world without a foreign protector, Albania became the object of tensions between Italy and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia), which were both bent on controlling the country. With the kingdom's military assistance, Ahmed Bey Zogu, the son of a clan chieftain, emerged victorious from an internal political power struggle in late 1924. Zogu, however, quickly turned his back on Belgrade and looked to Mussolini's Italy for patronage. In 1928 Zogu coaxed the country's parliament to declare Albania a kingdom and name him king. King Zog remained a hidebound conservative, and Albania was the only Balkan state where the government did not see fit to introduce a comprehensive land reform between the two world wars. Mussolini's forces finally overthrew Zog when they occupied Albania in 1939.
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