ECONOMIC POLICY AND PERFORMANCE
Despite significant progress in the twentieth century, Albania
still lagged far behind the other European nations economically.
A unified economy did not exist before the early 1920s, and the
succession of foreign patrons had punctuated the country's erratic
economic development since then. Heavy-handed domination by fascist
Italy between 1925 and 1943 brought Albania scant economic progress.
During its postwar rule of forty-six years, the Albania government
turned first to Yugoslavia, then to the Soviet Union, and then
to China for assistance in imposing a Stalinist economic system.
Enver Hoxha and his protégés used economic policy primarily to
maintain political power and only secondarily to stimulate growth.
They insisted on rigid centralization and forced industrialization
despite Albania's small size and lack of skilled workers, able
administrators, and farmers capable of producing key raw materials
and enough grain to feed the population. Albania's leaders prescribed
autarky when China shut off aid in 1978, but galloping population
growth and lagging farm output rendered the policy and the regime
bankrupt. Tiranë delayed radical economic reform until public
discontent spilled onto the streets. By 1991, supply shortfalls
had paralyzed the entire system.
Data as of April 1992