National Geographic : 1931 Feb
VOL. LIX, No. 2 WASHINGTON FEBRUARY, 1931 THE MAGAIZN'E COPYRIGHT, 1931, BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY, WASHINGTON,D. C., IN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN EUROPE'S NEWEST KINGDOM After Centuries of Struggle, Albania at Last Enjoys an Era of Peace and Stability BY MELVILLE CHATER AUTHOR or "DALMATIAN DAYS," "SKIRTING THE SHORES OF SUNRISE," "HISTORY'S GREATEST TREK," ETC., ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE " UT why on horseback?" queried the Albanian consul, handing us back our visaed passport. "Well," we began, "as Albania has no railways-" "But consider! It has an estimated area of 17,374 miles-room for quite a long horseback trip. Now, why not by motor car?" We gasped feebly. Albania by motor car? What a shattering of tradition! "At sunset I reined in my horse to gaze across the sublime mountainous prospect." Such is the Byronic phrase of early travelers in the homeland of Scanderbeg and Ali Pasha. "By horseback through high Albania" such is the usual theme of latter-day way farers in that country. And so, not un reasonably, we had envisaged Albania as one solid mass of engineer-defying moun tains, populated by wild, quick-shooting tribesmen. Yet here was that peppy con sul indicating 700 miles of highway on a governmental road map and reminding two romance - seeking Americans that "Time is money" and "Gas is the thing!" We said we would see. We did see. ALBANIA LEAPED PROM MEDIEVALISM TO MODERNISM A week later we were climbing by rail over the Macedonian uplands to the border town of Florina. Thence a motor car bore us across a joyously green, luxuriant moun tain spur and down into a big plain. "But Albania," we asked the chauffeur, while vainly scanning the horizon for im passable mountain peaks, "when does it begin ?" "You're in it," he replied, indicating the fertile plain. What we beheld was a vast granary whose yellow maize, billowing to the breeze, lay outstretched like the calm expanse of an inland sea-a "sea" ringed about by high hills, lavender-hued in the sunset. Yon der lay the town of Korea (Koritsa), with green groves and gleaming minarets. Across this rural picture, so different from the rugged land of our imaginings, zig zagged a well-made highway, where a con voy of big motor trucks moved upon their task of transporting mail and freight from one end of Albania to the other. Ruinous war creates, at least, roads. When in 1918 the big guns' thunder died away Albania, which had been at once a battlefield and a military corridor, found that she had accumulated the nucleus of a well-engineered road system and a knowl edge of motor transport. Thus, instead of having slowly evolved through the steam age and into the gasoline era, like the rest of Europe, she has leaped from medieval ism to modernism, from horses to horse power, in a decade.