Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Elbasan (Albanian: Elbasan or Elbasani) is a city in central Albania. It is located in the District of Elbasan and the County of Elbasan at 41.12°N, 20.09°E. It is one of the largest cities in Albania with a population of around 100,000 (2003 estimate) and an area of 1,290 square km. The city gained prominence after the Chinese built a steel mill there in 1974. There were also other industries operating in the city during the communist regime and as a result the city now suffers from pollution. It is now a rather non-descript city in any other way.
Elbasan was founded by the Turks in the 15th century on the site of the ancient city of Masio Scampa built by the Romans around the 1st century AD. It featured strong stone walls. In the 4th century, 26 towers were added to protect it against invading barbarians. In the 3rd and 4th centuries it became known as Hiskampis and it became an important trade center near the junction of two branches of the Via Egnatia coming from Apollonia and Dyrrachium. Hiskampis was destroyed by the Bulgars and Ostrogoths during the Slav invasions of the Balkans. The city was rebuilt in 1466, after becoming a military base, by Sultan Mehmed II who renamed it El Basan or the Fortress. The city had 2000 inhabitants by the end of the 17th century. The fortress was dismantled by Reshit Pasha in 1832.
Elbasan remained a center of Islam in Albania even after the Ottoman occupation. After the 1908 Congress of Manastir (in modern Bitola, Republic of Macedonia) decided to use the Latin alphabet for the written Albanian language, muslim clerics influenced by the Young Turks held various demonstrations in favor of the Arabic script in Elbasan. The muslim majority also opposed the installation of Prince William of Wied in 1914.
Elbasan has been occupied by several different groups, including the Serbs, Bulgarians, Austrians and Italians. Industrial development began during the Zog regime with the production of tobacco and alcoholic beverages, and culminated during the communist regime.
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