The history of the flags of Albania is a fascinating journey that reflects the nation's rich heritage and its struggle for independence and identity. Over the years, Albania has seen several flag designs, each carrying symbolic significance and representing various eras in the country's history.
From symbols of resistance to occupying forces, to ideological changes sweeping the globe during the post-WWII era, the history of Albania is as rich and vibrant as the varying designs of her flag over the years.
Below we'll review this history together and share with you every official flag of Albania from the year 1453 all the way to the modern era.
15th Century Albania Skanderbeg Flag
The first recorded flag of Albania dates back to the 15th century during the reign of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, a national hero who led the resistance against the Ottoman Empire. Skanderbeg's flag consisted of a red background with a black, double-headed eagle in the center, symbolizing bravery, strength, and independence. This flag became a powerful emblem of Albanian identity and resistance against foreign invaders.
However, following Skanderbeg's death in 1468, Albania came under Ottoman rule, and the red flag with the double-headed eagle was replaced by the Ottoman flag. For centuries, Albania remained under Ottoman control, and the Albanian people yearned for independence.
Read more about the life of Skanderbeg, including his crusading efforts with Pope Pius II here.
Albanian Ottoman Empire Flag - 1478 - 1912
Following the death of Skanderbeg in 1468 the Ottoman Empire officially took over the nation of Albania from 1473 - 1912. This was the flag that would've been flown at the time the Ottoman Empire's occupation of Albania began. This flag's official use came in 1453 and remains the basis for the modern day flag of Turkey.
This flag represents that Ottoman empire's flag made in 1943 that was flown over Albania during their long occupation of the country.
Albanian Provisional Government Flag (1912 - 1914)
It wasn't until November 28, 1912, that Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire and created the Albanian Provisional Government flag to represent the newly formed government. The newly established provisional government adopted a new flag known as the "Independent Albania Flag."
This flag featured a red field with a black, double-headed eagle in the center, similar to Skanderbeg's banner. The eagle represented the national spirit, and the red color symbolized bravery and valor.
In 1914, the flag design was slightly modified to incorporate a white star above the eagle, representing Albania's aspiration to be part of the international community. However, this flag design did not enjoy much longevity due to political turmoil and foreign intervention during World War I and its aftermath.
Principality of Albania Flag (1914-1925)
The Principality of Ablania was a short-lived monarchy in Albania from 1914-1925 and was headed by Wilhelm, Prince of Albania. The Treaty of London in 1913, which ended the First Balkan War, was when this monarchy came into existence until it was replaced by the Republic of Albania in 1925.
The nearly square flag measures ~32.35x34 inches in size. Its fabric is a thin, woolen cloth, dyed in red. Around the entire surface, on both sides, a double-headed black eagle is spray stamped. There are changes made to the wings, claws, and especially to the two heads, which appear too small in relation to the size of the eagle. On the chest, a golden shield with a peacock can be seen.
Albanian Republic Flag (1928-1939)
When the Principality of Albania, a monarchy, was abolished in 1925, the people of Albania decided on a republic, and the Albanian Republic Flag was made for this newly formed government in 1925.
Albanian Kingdom Flag (1928 - 1939)
Following a series of treaties with Italy in the 1920s, the short-lived Albanian Republic formed a constitutional monarchy in 1928 and became known as the Albanian Kingdom from 1928-1939.
Kingdom of Albania Flag (1939 - 1943)
The Kingdom of Albania was an Italian Protectorate during WWII. It was essentially run by the Kingdom of Italy during this period of time but also called a Kingdom. The flag featured a wartime design and was eventually reverted back to a similar design to the previous flag from 1943 - 1944 when Albania was occupied by Germany at the tail end of World War II.
Post WWII & Cold War Era (1944 - 1992)
There were multiple flags that came during this era that we'll break down. Each of them existed as a result of Soviet influence following WWII with the spread of Communism.
There was a brief period of time (1944 - 1946) when the country was simply known as "Albania" and it used a flag that is very similar to the modern day Albanian Flag.
From 1946 - 1992 the country underwent three name changes and all of them used the same flag design. They are:
People's Republic of Albania (1946 - 1976)
People's Socialist Republic of Albania (1976 - 1991)
Republic of Albania (1991 - 1992)
Below Is the flag design for this period. As you can see it is very similar to the Albanian Kingdom flag except instead of a crown, it has been replaced with a yellow star above the double-eagle head.
The Communist Era Albanian flag design continued to be used until the fall of communism in Albania in 1992.
Modern Day Albania Flags (Officially Adopted 1992)
The design of the modern day Albania flag is very similar to older designs as way. Keeping with the tradition of the black double-eagle from the 15th century until now.
With the democratic reforms, a new flag was introduced on April 7, 1992. It displayed a red field with a black, double-headed eagle in the center, similar to Skanderbeg's original banner. The reintroduction of this historic design aimed to reestablish the country's national identity and reconnect with its historical roots.
Today, the flag of Albania remains the same as the one adopted in 1992. It consists of a solid red field with a black, double-headed eagle in the center. The eagle's heads face towards the flag's edges, representing vigilance and the protection of Albania's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Albania is a country that has seen many changes over the years and the various flags, governmental and idealogical changes that came throughout their long history represent the country's resilience.
Apart from the Ottoman Empire flag flying over Albania during their centuries long occupation of Albania (1478 - 1912), the longest running purely Albanian flag and government has been the Communist era flag which was their official flag from 1946 - 1992.
The one staple of the Albanian flag is a nod to the heart of the nation which is the double-eagle of the Skandenbeg crest, the leader who gave Albania hope against an occupying force not too far away from six centuries ago. The spirit of Skanderbeg lives on today in the modern day flag of Albania and no doubt in the hearts of her people as well.
Special Shout Out
We've created each of the flags that are featured in this article in our Albania Flags Collection.
Complete History of Albania Flag Video
Prefer video? Learn the complete history of the Albania Flag in under 5 mins with the video below.