Albania today uses an historic flag which reflects its rich cultural history and heraldic symbolism. Located in the Balkans and bordered by Greece on the South and Southeast, the Adriatic Sea on the West, Macedonia on the East, Kosovo to the Northeast and Montenegro to the North, Albania possesses a rich and vibrant past that remains preserved for posterity within its national flag. Its ethnically diverse population includes a Muslim majority, with significant Greek Orthodox and Catholic Christian minorities.
An Overview of The Albania Flag
Today, the flag of Albania consists of a perfectly symmetrical double-headed, multi-winged eagle depicted in black against a vivid red field. This heraldic symbol sits in the very center of the flag.
According to some online sources, the red field symbolizes strength and courage. The black eagle in the center of the flag reflects Albania’s long history as a diverse nation since medieval times, and its fierce independence.
Origins of The Albanian Flag
Albania’s history resulted in protracted periods of warfare afflicting its people. Many scholars believe that the Albanian population originally emigrated from Central Europe thousands of years ago. Two main groups settled different parts of the country: Tosks moved into the South and Ghegs formed settlements in the North. Very likely, the double-headed eagle in the center of the Albanian flag could reflect this history of cultural diversity since ancient times, although the symbol itself remains considerably more recent. Albania became part of the Roman Empire during the First Century.
Although the Byzantine Empire later administered Albania as one of its possessions, that government eventually experienced great difficulty protecting Albania and other territories. A local ruler named Skanderbeg helped defend Albania from foreign attacks. His heraldic emblem now provides the basis for the flag.
After the City of Constantinople fell to invading forces and became the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Albania eventually came under Ottoman jurisdiction. It formally became a separate nation with its own national flag only in 1912, just a few years before the outbreak of World War I.
Recent Changes to the Albania Flag
The Albanian flag carried a yellow Communist star and yellow border against a red background during the Cold War, a period of intense Isolationism when Tirana enjoyed diplomatic relations only with Communist China. Albania adopted the current version of the flag following the election of a non-Communist government on May 22, 1993.