For several centuries, Albania was a dependency of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. It gained independence in the early twentieth century. During the interwar period, Albania was ruled by an authoritarian monarch known as King Zog I. Albanian independence in the interwar period, however, was short lived. In the late 1920s, Albania came under the influence of Mussolini's Italy. Mussolini viewed Albania as important to Italian security and control of the southern Adriatic. By the eve of World War II, Italy controlled most of Albanian territory. Albanians, consequently, knew little of Western parliamentary democracy when the communists took power at the end of World War II.
With this past, as well as a threat after World War II to its newly won political independence from Tito's Yugoslavia, the Albanian Communist Party, which came to power in the late 1940s, quickly adopted a harsh and brutal dictatorship. While it never became a Soviet satellite because it was too far away geographically from the USSR for Moscow to control, Albanian communism resembled the Stalinist version of Soviet communism in many important respects.
The Albanian communist leadership insisted on society's total obedience to its rule and established state control over almost every aspect of Albania's political, economic, and social life. Although it had the appearance of a parliamentary democracy, Albania's communist government ignored popular will and severely