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A little black blip

Just a few miles from the Italian coast is a lawless country struggling to grow out of its bloody adolescence

By Helena Smith   December 1998

The Albanians derive great comfort from their funeral rights, which is just as well. Byron felt compelled to describe the country as “a shore unknown, that all admire but many dread to view.” When faced with Albania’s notorious tribal warfare, banditry and blood feuds, even the Romantics beat a hasty retreat.

It has not taken long for Europe’s poorest state to revert to form. After tasting the rigours of communist tyranny like no other Balkan nation, its people are again running amok-only this time democracy has provided the license to bear arms, snub authority and kill. The Albanians have acquired…

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