Rrethi i Korçës
Map showing the district within Albania
Korçë District (Albanian: Rrethi i Korçës), was one of the thirty-six districts of Albania (which were dissolved in 2000) that is now part of Korçë County. According to estimates, as of January 1, 2010, 138,898 people lived in the Korce District. Korce District was considered one of two main minority regions of the country's south. During World War I the French created the Republic of Korça in the area.
It had an area of 1,752 km², making it the second-largest district in Albania.
It is bordered by Pogradec District to the north, by Greece with the Florina regional unit (Greek Macedonia) to the east, Devoll District to the southeast, by Kolonjë District and Përmet District to the southwest, and by Gramsh District and Skrapar District on the west.
The Copper Age lasted from 3000 BC to 2100 BC. Mycenean pottery was introduced in the plain of Korçë during the late Bronze Age (Late Helladic IIIc), and has been claimed that the tribes living in this region before the Dark Age migrations, probably spoke a northwestern Greek dialect. The area was on the border between Illyria and Epirus and according to a historical reconstruction was ruled by an Illyrian dynasty until 650 BC, after which by a Chaonian dynasty. During this period the area was inhabited by Greek-speaking tribes, possibly Chaonians or Molossians, two of the three major Epirotic tribes. Archaeologists have found a gravestone of the 2nd or 3rd century AD depicting two Illyrian blacksmiths working iron on an anvil near modern Korçë.
Yuriy Venelin (1802 – 1839) a Russian scholar who specialised in Bulgarian studies noted that the Korçë District in 1833 (at which point its boundaries were quite different from the modern district, including all of Devoll and various other differences) had 50 villages with two thirds being Muslim and a third being Christian. Settlements of significance during that time where Moscopole, Vithkuq, Kamenicë, Floq, Boboshticë, Drenovë, Borje, Voskop and so on. Houses of the area numbered a total of 2400 containing some 22,000 people according to the Ottoman census. The Muslims and Christians of the region were noted as being "Albanians by nationality — speaking the same language, having the same customs" involved in agricultural employment, many unskilled and illiterate apart from those in Korçë and Moscopole that conduct trade. The villagers of Moscopole were mainly Aromanians in addition to Greeks and Albanians, while some Bulgarians living nearby.
In the 1908 statistics of Amadore Virgili as presented by Nicholas Cassavetes for the Pan-Epirotic Union of Northern Epirus showed the entire kaza of Korçë, which also included surrounding rural areas as well as the modern Devoll District as having a Muslim majority which was not differentiated by nationality alongside a Christian minority of which there were 43,800 Albanian speakers and 1,214 Vlachs and no Greek speakers found, while Bulgarians were not counted for.  For the same area, the 1913 statistics of Destani, which did not differentiate subjects by faith but only language, found 89829 Albanian speakers, 3190 Vlach speakers, 3985 Bulgarian speakers, no Greek speakers and 527 "others". With regard to the Vlach population, Lambros Psomas argues the study of Virgili likely undercounted the Vlach speakers while the study of Destani is more reliable with regard to the Vlachs but he also argues the study of Destani was pro-Albanian in motive and drastically undercounted the number of Greek speakers in the Himara and Leskovik kazas , while Psomas also excludes Korçë from the collection of regions with notable Greek-speaking presence. British historian Tom Winnifrith states that during the delineation of the Greek-Albanian border a part of the local pro-Greek element included communities whose native speech was Greek.
In 1919, US diplomat Joseph Emerson Haven on special detail in Albania wrote a detailed report regarding the political circumstances in the country. Haven wrote that the province of Korçë numbered some 60,000 people of whom 18% had a preference for union with Greece and within that group half were doing so from fear or from being promised financial gain through attainment of Muslim properties and land. Haven also noted that in 1919 there was a degree of antipathy shown by both Muslims and Christians in the district toward Greece, and an ethnic affinity among Albanians that, at the time, came before religious affinity. At the Peace Conference in Paris, the Greek delegation argued that all Christians in North Epirus, including those that spoke Albanian, should be classified as Greeks because, they argued, their sentiments were Greek, and they had a common religion with Greeks; Lambros Psomas, however, argued that this did not apply in Korçë kaza, where there were many Orthodox Albanian nationalists.
Most of the population of the district of Korçë are ethnic Albanians, while a significant number of ethnic minorities (Aromanians) also inhabit the district. Aromanians are found residing in rural communities surrounding Korçë and number some 5,000 people, although other figures exist that inflate those numbers.
The religious composition of the district of Korçë consists of Muslims and Orthodox Christians while the Muslims are divided between Sunni, Bektashi and Halveti groups. Additionally, among the Christians, there is a presence of Protestants, dating back to the actions of Gjerasim Qiriazi. Finally, a presence of Catholics was detected in the 2011 census.
During the 20th century, Korçë gained a substantial industrial capacity in addition to its historic role as a commercial and agricultural centre. The plateau on which the city stands is highly fertile and is one of Albania's main wheat-growing areas. Local industries include the manufacture of knitwear, rugs, textiles, flour-milling, brewing, and sugar-refining. Deposits of lignite coal are mined in the mountains nearby such as Mborje-Drenovë. The city is home to the nationally famous Birra Korça.
The district consisted of the following municipalities:
Note: - urban municipalities in bold
Other communities and settlements
- Goricë e Madhë
- Goricë e Vogël
- Voskopoja (Moscopole)
- "POPULLSIA SIPAS PREFEKTURAVE, 2001–2010". Albanian Institute of Statistics. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "POPULLSIA SIPAS RRETHEVE, 2001-2010". Albanian Institute of Statistics. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Miranda Vickers, James Pettifer. Albania: from anarchy to a Balkan identity. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1997. ISBN 978-1-85065-279-3, p.187 "there was a bitter inter-ethnic conflict in the minority regions of Korca and Gyrokaster"
- Carol Zerner, Peter Zerner, John Winder, John Winder. Wace and Blegen: pottery as evidence for trade in the Aegean Bronze age, 1939–1989. J.C. Gieben, 1993, ISBN 978-90-5063-089-4, p. 222
- Hammond Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière. Migrations and invasions in Greece and adjacent areas. Noyes Press, 1976, p. 153.
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, page 47, "According to one reconstruction (Hammond) we have the evidence of an Illyrian dynasty being replaced by a Chaonian regime from Northern Epirus"
- The Cambridge ancient history: The expansion of the ..., Tome 3, Part 3, by John Boardman, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, page 263, "In the plain of Korçë Illyrian rule ended c. 650 BC, when the burials of "
- The Cambridge ancient history, Tome 3, Part 3, by John Bagnell Bury, "In the plain of Korçë Illyrian rule ended c. 650 BC, when the burials of their chieftains in Tumulus I at Kuci Zi came to an end"
- John Boardman. The Cambridge Ancient History: pt. 1. The prehistory of the Balkans; and the Middle East and the Aegean world, tenth to eighth centuries B.C. Cambridge University Press, p. 266: "We may conclude, then, that the archaeological division corresponded to a tribal division : the Illyrian tribes holding northern Illyris, and the Epirotic tribes, whether Chaonian or Molossian, holding the plain of Korçë"
- The Cambridge Ancient History: pt. 1. The prehistory of the Balkans; and the Middle East and the Aegean world, tenth to eighth centuries B.C. Cambridge University Press. 1982. p. 284. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
Inscriptional evidence of the Chaones is lacking until the Hellenistic period; but Ps.-Scylax, describing the situation of c. 580-560, put the southern limit of the Illyrians just north of the Chaones, which indicates that the Chaones did not speak Illyrian and the acceptance of the Chaones into the Epirote Alliance in the 330s suggests strongly that they were Greek-speaking
- Stipčević, Aleksandar (1977). The Illyrians: history and culture. Noyes Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-8155-5052-5. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- Venelin, Yurii (1969). "In "Geographical Description of Albania" are indicated also places inhabited by Bulgarians (1833)". In Kosev, Dimitŭr Konstantinov; Khristov, Khristo Angelov (eds.). Documents and materials on the history of the Bulgarian people. Institut za istoriia (Bŭlgarska akademiia na naukite), House of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. p. 80. ISBN 978-1135637354. "The district of Korcha includes some 50 villages. One third of them are Christian, the others — Mohammedan. More important are Voskopol or Moskopol, Vitkuki, Kamenitsa, Flioki, Boboshtitsa, Drenovo, Borya, Boskopy and others. The total number of the houses is almost 2400 and the number of the inhabitants is 22,000, according to the royal census taken in that district. Both the Turks (the Moslems) and the Christians are Albanians by nationality — speaking the same language, having the same customs, illiterate and unskilled, poor farmers and shepherds, with the exception of the inhabitants of Korcha and Moskopol, who carry on some trade. The inhabitants of Voskopol are Walachians; there also are some Bulgarians in the vicinity."; p.83. "Юрий Венелин, Древние и нынешние болгаре (Yuril Venelin, Ancient and modern Bulgarians), Moscow, 1833, pp.2-3, 11-12; the original is in Russian."
- Daskalov, Roumen Dontchev (2013). Entangled Histories of the Balkans - Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies. BRILL. p. 52. ISBN 9789004250765.
Although there were also Albanians and Greeks in Moschopolis, the city was overwhelmingly Aromanian.
- Cassavetes, Nicholas J (1919). The Question of Northern Epirus in the Peace Conference. New York: Pan-Epirotic Union of Northern Epirus, American Branch, 1919. Page 77. Cited in Psomas, Lambros (2008), The Religious and Ethnographic Synthesis of the Population of Southern Albania (Northern Epirus) in the Beginning of the 20th Century, discusses on pages 248-252.
- Psomas, Lambros (2008). The Religious and Ethnographic Synthesis of the Population of Southern Albania (Northern Epirus) in the Beginning of the 20th Century. Statistics of Destani discussed on 256-260
- Psomas, Lambros (2008). Synthesis of the Population of Southern Albania (Northern Epirus). Page 259-260: "Virgili's analysis is not proved trustworthy as far as the Vlach-speaking inhabitants are concerned. For instance, Metsovo, a region which many people are Vlach-speaking even nowadays, appears without Vlach-speaking people at a1l. Thus, the pro-Albanian statistics of 1913 seem to be more as far as the are concerned."
- Psomas, Lambros (2008). The Religious and Ethnographic Synthesis of the Population of Southern Albania (Northern Epirus) in the Beginning of the 20th Century Page 250: " Greek-speaking people were located only in the cazas of Gjirokaster, Delvin and Himara, from the western part of Northern Epirus, and Leskovik, from the eastern. In all these cazas they constituted the majority of the Orthodox Christians (Table 2.1). Finally, there was a small minority of Vlach-speaking inhabitants in the cazas of Korcha and Permet. Surprisingly enough this, does not include the Slav-speaking Orthodox population of the caza of Starovo. Thus, except for the cazas in which a Greek-speaking population was located, the Albanian-speaking people were always the vast majority of the Ottoman cazas. This agrees with the English statistic of 1877, in which Albanians were always the population in advance."
- Winnifrith, Tom (2002). Badlands, Borderlands: A History of Northern Epirus/Southern Albania. Duckworth. p. 133. ISBN 9780715632017.
Perhaps the American compromise would have been the best solution. It would still have left many Albanian-speakers and some Albanian sympathizers in Greece, and some Greek-speakers and rather more Greek sympathizers in the Korce area of Albania
- Austin, Robert Clegg (2012). Founding a Balkan State: Albania's Experiment with Democracy, 1920-1925. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 93. ISBN 9781442644359. "One commissioner from the delegation Sederholm noted the population of Korçë being “entirely Albanian” with “the number of Greeks there” being “quite insignificant”.... "Joseph Emerson Haven, a U.S. diplomat based in Italy on special detail in Albania during the spring of 1919, had already come to a similar conclusion. In his detailed report on the political situation in the country, Haven suggested that the disputed province of Korçë had roughly 60,000 inhabitants, roughly 18 per cent of whom were in favour of Greek sovereignty. Of those 18 per cent, he argued, half were seeking that end out of fear or had been promised material gain in the form of Moslem land and property.... Haven found that the ‘most intense hatred and loathing exists in Southern Albania for Greece, this hatred being shown by both Orthodox Christians and Musselmen. The cry is “We are Albanians first and religionists second.” With the exception of comparatively few residents in the province of Coritsa [Korçë] and a few towns in the region of Chimara [Himarë], the country is absolutely Albanian in sentiment."
- Psomas, Lambros (2008). Synthesis of the Population of Southern Albania (Northern Epirus). Page 253, 268-269, 280
- de Soto, Hermine (2002). Poverty in Albania: A Qualitative Assessment. World Bank Publications. p. 2. ISBN 9780821351093.
- Bugajski, Janusz (1995). Ethnic politics in Eastern Europe: A guide to nationality policies, organizations, and parties. Armonk: ME Sharpe. p. 271. ISBN 9780765619112.
- Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1967). Epirus: the geography, the ancient remains, the history and topography of Epirus and adjacent areas. Clarendon P. p. 275.
I went on to the fertile basin of Koritsa, with its mixed Albanian and Greek population
- Winnifrith, Tom (1992). Perspectives on Albania. Macmillan. p. 82. ISBN 9780333512821.
Further inland there are still Greek speakers in and around Korce