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Korçë (Albanian: Korçë or Korça, Greek: Κορυτσά, Italian: Corizza, South Slavic: Корча, Korcha or Корче, Korče, Aromanian: Curceaua, Turkish: Görice) is a major city in south-eastern Albania, located at 40°37′N 20°46′E near the border with Greece. It has a population of around 60,000 people (2003 estimate), making it the fifth largest city in Albania. It stands on a plateau some 850 m (2,800 feet) above sea level, surrounded by the Morava Mountains.
The city and the surrounding area are home to an Aromanian community. This communtiy is divided into those who identify themsleves as Albanian, those that identify themsleves as Greek and those who postulate a separate, Aromunian ethnicity. (It also has a small population of Macedonian Slavs and a more sizeable population of Greek speakers.)
The Korça region has been inhabited from the earliest times with Neolithic remains found indicating occupation of the city for last 6000 years. The Copper ( Bakri) epoch, lasted from 3000 BC to 2100 BC, followed by a Bronze Age influenced in city 's cultural. In the Iron Age cultural influences from Greece became very strong.
A town Coviza is mentioned in medieval documents in 1280. The modern town dates from the end of the 15th Century, when Iljaz Hoxha, under the command of Sultan Mehmet II , developed Korça. The Ottoman occupation began in 1440, and after Hoxha's heroic role in the siege of Constantinople, in 1453; he was awarded the title, 'Iljaz Bey Mirahor'. Korçë was a sandjak of Bitola (Monastir) vilayet in Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman rule over Korçë lasted until 1912 but the city's proximity to Greece, who claimed the entire Orthodox population as Greek, led to its being fiercely contested in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. The city was occupied by Greek forces in 6 December 1912. Its incorporation into Albania in 1913 was controversial, as Greece claimed it as part of a region called "Northern Epirus". However, in accordance with the Corfu Protocol signed between Greece and Albania in 1914 and the ethnographic survey that preceded it, the city was included in the newly formed Autonomous Northern Epirus zone.
The English Albanologist Edith Durham was forced to leave Korça at this time. She described the situation in her letter directed to H. Hodgkingson on 11 January 1939:
"The pro- Greek gang at King's College started a story that I had had to fly for my life from Korcha because they all wanted to be Greek and I had tried to stir up Albanian trouble. The truth being that I and Nevison, who was there as a correspondent, made a forced march of three days- two nights sleeping on the bare ground-across the mountains to Berat at the urgent request of the Albanians. Berat being the nearest station from which a tegram could be sent, uncontrolled be the Greeks. Nevison drafted the telegram to the Council of Ambassadors in London begging that no attention be paid to the Greek account of a meeting asking for Greek rule. This meeting having been a forced one held with Greek bayonets. This telegram saved Korcha. The Greek governor made everyone paint their shops blue and white. And after the hideous cruelty of the Greeks when they raided south Albania in 1914...I have no use whatever for Greeks. I can never forget the crowds of refugee women and children dying and starving under the olive trees around Vlora.... The matter was never bothered about. But it was I believe, part of the whole Sarajevo crime plot. The Greeks and Sebs were workin together to take Albania. They meant to drive out Wied. And it was they who planned the rising against him. While I was still at Vlora, the Serbs sent a message they would attack Vlore and they had France and Russia on their side. Vlore had better surrender. But the Austrian attack on Serbia stooped that."
Greek forces returned to occupy the city from 10 July 1914 during the early part of the First World War. It was then taken by the Austro-Hungarians, then by the Greeks again and finally by France, which occupied Korçë between 1916-1920. It was ultimately awarded to Albania by the International Boundary Commission which determined the country's post-war borders.
During the inter-war period, the city became a hotbed of Communist agitation. Albania's future dictator, Enver Hoxha, lived there and was both a pupil and a teacher at the town's French school. Korçë's underground Communist movement became the nucleus of Hoxha's Albanian Party of Labour.
Korçë was occupied by Italian forces in 1939, along with the rest of the country. After the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War, it fell to the Greek Army in November 1940, and remained under Greek occupation until the German attack in April 1941. After Italy's withdrawal from the war in 1943, the town was occupied by the Germans till October ,24,1944.
During the occupation, the city became a major centre of Communist-inspired resistance to the Axis occupation of Albania. The establishment of the Albanian Party of Labour the Communist Party was formally proclaimed in Korçë in 1941. Albanian rule was restored in 1944 following the withdrawal of German forces.
After the war, the area suffered from Hoxha's dictatorial regime,who fought against the rich despite the fact that they fought against the occupation.Thousands of people from Korca were sent in concentration camps or excecuted, just because they disagreed with Hoxha's regime.Hundreds of people escaped from Korca,to settled in Boston,USA.After 1990 Korca was one of the six citys where newly Democratic Party won all the constituencies.Popular revolts in Fabruary 1991 ended with the fall of Hoxha statue.Politically,Korca is bastion of Democratic Party of Sali Berisha where its candidates have won almost all constests in local and perlaimentary level in 16 years democratic era. It is still ethnically homogenus, with a majority Albanian population and with 5-6% Greeks, Vlachs, Macedonian Slavs and Roma.
Korçë has been an important religious center for Orthodox Christians and Muslims for centuries. It is the seat of an Orthodox metropolitan bishop and also possesses a large 15th century mosque. There is also a sizeable Bektashi Muslim community in and around Korçë, with its main center being the Turan Tekke.
During the Ottoman period it became one of the centres of the growing Albanian identity. The first school teaching in the Albanian language was established there in 1887, followed by Albania's first school for girls in 1891.
During the 20th century, Korçë gained a substantial industrial capacity in addition to its historic role as a commercial and agricultural centre. The plateau on which the city stands is highly fertile and is one of Albania's main wheat-growing areas. Local industries include the manufacture of knitwear, rugs, textiles, flour-milling, brewing, and sugar-refining. Deposits of lignite coal are mined in the mountains nearby.
The main city of the south-eastern Albania,Korca sits on a 869m-high plateau west of Florina city Greece,30km south of lake Ohrid.
In the medival times ,Korca was a major trading post and carpet-making town-it´s still Albania´s biggest carpet and rug-producing centre. Korca´s population is about 100,000 .
Korca is an cultural centre and home of Fan Noli University.
Things to See
The Muzeu Historik is in the old building on Bulevardy Themistokli Germenji behind Hotel Iliria.
Further up the boulevard on the left is the Muzeu i Arsimit Kombetar,or education Museum,housed in the first school to teach in the Albanian language.
Nearby at the top of the boulevard is the statue of the National Warrior (made by Odhise Pascali).
Places to Stay & Eat
Among Korca´s hotels catering mostly Albanians is the friendly Hotel Pallas,on Bulevardi Themistokli Germenji just up from Hotel Iliria.
On the opposite side of the same building is the Hotel Gramosi.The prices are not high.
The eight- storey Hotel Iliria costs US$20/30 for a single/double .Breakfast is included.
The Alfa Restaurant close to the above hotels is a good place to eat,otherwise Hotel Iliria has a restaurant.
Dolce Vita on Bulevardi Republika offers fine Italian and surreal ambience. It´s open until 11pm.
Getting There & Away
There are buses to/from Tirana (150km) via Elbasan.Korca is a gateway to Albania for anyone arriving from Florina,Greece,via the Kapshtica border crossing 28km east.
Buses to Kapshtica leave when full throughout the day from near Skenderbeg Stadium at the east end of Bulevardi Republika.
From Krystallopigi on the Greek side of the border it´s 65km to Florina (three buses daily) a major Greek city with good connections to/from Thessaloniki.
There are also direct buses to Korca to/from Thessaloniki which leaves from the forecourt of the Thessaloniki train station at 8 am every day.
GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION AND DEMOGRAPHY
KORCA REGION: Is situated in the Southerneastern part of Albania in ECONOMY40 grades and 57 minutes north latitude and 21 grades and 19 minutes eastern longitude, with a territorial extension of about 3697 km2.
The Korca Region is bounded in North with the Elbasan Region and FYROM, in South with the Gjirokastra Region, in East with Greece and in West with the Berat Region.
Mountains occupy 58% of the area, the hills 17% and the fields 25%.
The climate of the region is continental-mediterranean,dry and healthy, cold winter and warm dry summer.
The annual average temperature is 10.6 C degrees. November is the month with most precipitations, 104.9 mm. The most common are the north and southwest winds.
The forest area occupies 132 075 ha. The most common varieties are: beechs, oaks, pines, firs, willows, hawthorns, poplars, etc.
The altitude of about 1438 m above the sea level of the Prespa Lakes, gives special values to this area.
The Korca Region includes 4 administrative divisions:
Korca District, 1752 km2 or 46.3 % of the area
Pogradec District, 725 km2 , or 19.2 % of the area
Devolli District, 500 km2 , or 13.2 % of the area
Kolonja District, 805 km2 , or 21.3 % of the area
Korca Region consists of 6 towns, 31 communes and 344 villages. The biggest town is Korca, which is the center of the Region.
Korca District has 200917 inhabitants or 55.5 % of the Region's population. Devolli District has 43130 inhabitants, or 11.9 %. Pogradeci District has 89984 inhabitants or 24.9 % and Kolonja District has 27782 inhabitants, or 7.7 % of the Region's population.
In Korca Region operate 3 109 private businesses of which 3077 are domestic and 32 foreigners, or respectively 99% with 1 %. In town there are 2371 private businesses or 76.3% of total.
According the structure:
Wholesale and retail trading businesses 51.2%.
Processing businesses 14.7 %.
Transport 12.9 %.
Hotels and restaurants 7.9 % etc.
Compared to the year 2003 they increased in 462 businesses or 17 %. There is a higher increase in constuction, processing
Education - Culture - Art
The number of public and non-public kindergartens is 90, of which 74 in villages. There are 4763 children attending them, of which 2746 children in villages.
SCHOOL EDUCATION IN TOTAL
The number of schools is 148, of which 129 are in villages. The total number of schools consists of 124 eight-grade schools, 23 secondary schools and 1 University.
CULTURE - ART
There is a cinema in Korca Region with a capacity of 240 seats, 1 theater of 480 seats, a theater staff consisting of 19 persons, 2 libraries containing 195 200 books, 1 museum and 140 cultural monuments.