Albania is a country about which Maximilian Lambertz wrote in 1956: “The true history of mankind will be written only when Albanians participate in its writing.” Unfortunately, there are a number of things which remain unknown about this fascinating plucky little country that has been politically isolated for most of the past century. Here are some facts to remedy that:
- The Albanians call Albania Squiperia.
- Curiously, – from a western point of view – Albanians nod their head up and down to mean ‘no’, and shake it from side to side for ‘yes’.
- At the time of writing, Albania, Armenia and Vatican City are the only European countries without a McDonald’s branch.
- King Zog of Albania (who ruled between 1928-1939) was the only national leader in modern times to return fire during an assassination attempt.
- In 1995, drivers in the Albanian city of Shkodra refused to pay a new traffic-light tax on the grounds that their city had no traffic lights.
- Albania has never won a medal at the Olympics.
- The Albanian language has several words for eyebrows. For example, a Vetullushe is goat with brown eyebrows.
- The England cricketer C. B. Fry (1872-1956) – an interesting man who could jump backwards onto a mantelpiece from a standing position without losing his balance, held the world long-jump record, played in an F.A. cup final, and could speak several languages – was offered the throne of Albania, but turned it down.