The Republic of Gjirokastër was a small survivor state in southern Albania.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of the area around Gjirokastër were the Greek tribe of the Chaonians, during the Bronze Age. The city itself, after the area had been under Macedonian and then Roman authority, was part of the Byzantine Despotate of Epirus, and it was first mentioned, by the name of Argyrokastro, by the Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos in 1336. During 1386–1418 it became the capital of the Principality of Gjirokastër under Gjon Zenebishi. In 1417 it became part of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1811, Gjirokastër became part of the Pashalik of Yanina, then led by the Albanian-born Ali Pasha, and was transformed into a semi-autonomous fiefdom in the southwestern Balkans until his death in 1822. After the fall of the pashalik in 1868, the city was the capital of the sandjak of Ergiri. On 23 July 1880, southern Albanian committees of the League of Prizren held a congress in the city, in which was decided that if Albanian-populated areas of the Ottoman Empire were ceded to neighboring countries, they would revolt.
Given its large Greek population, the city was claimed and taken by Greece during the First Balkan War of 1912–1913, following the retreat of the Ottomans from the region. However, it was awarded to Albania under the terms of the Treaty of London of 1913 and the Protocol of Florence of 17 December 1913. This turn of events proved highly unpopular with the local Greek population. In March 1914, the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was declared in Gjirokastër and was confirmed by the Great Powers with the Protocol of Corfu. The Republic, however, was short-lived, as Albania collapsed at the beginning of the First World War. The Greek military returned in October–November 1914, and again captured Gjirokastër, along with Saranda and Korçë. In April 1916, the territory referred to by Greeks as Northern Epirus, including Gjirokastër, was annexed to Greece. The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 restored the pre-war status quo, essentially upholding the border line decided in the 1913 Protocol of Florence, and the city was again returned to Albanian control.
In April 1939, Gjirokastër was occupied by Italy following the Italian invasion of Albania. In December 1940, during the Greco-Italian War, the Greek Army entered the city and stayed for a four month period before capitulating to the Germans in April 1941 and returning the city to Italian command. After the Italy's capitulation in September 1943, the city was taken by German forces, and eventually returned to Albanian control in 1944. The postwar Communist regime developed the city as an industrial and commercial centre. It was elevated to the status of a museum town, as it was the birthplace of the Communist leader of Albania at Doomsday, Enver Hoxha, who had been born there in 1908.
While not a location that was hit by a nuclear weapon, the area itself did suffer in the immediate aftermath of Doomsday, as refugees from further north arrived in the city. The local Albanians, in addition to the refugees, blamed the strike on Tirana on NATO - it is still not known if the USA or USSR hit the city, though one did - and began to attack the local Greeks. These Greeks were forced southwards, where they would eventually help seize the city of Sarande.
By the end of 1983, the city itself had suffered quite a bit of damage in a few of neighborhoods, between the riots, the attacks and expulsion of the Greeks, and the impact of refugees from further north. Yet, the city government retained some measure of control, with the Army helping under declaration of martial law.
The riots began once again the next April, as communist leaders attempted to institute a dictatorship, backed up by local army units. However, when ordered to do so, the soldiers refused to fire into the crowds. Instead, they turned on the would-be dictators, and aided the crowds in stringing them up from a lamp-post.
Aided by the soldiers, the leadership of the rioters set up a new provisional government in the city. More democratic than its predecessor, it was still far from perfect. The few remaining Greeks were expelled at gunpoint, by a much more independent-minded and nationalistic government than had preciously been the case.
Slowly, the local government expanded its zone of authority outwards from Gjirokastër, encountering forces spreading out in much the same manner from Himare, Erseke, and Burrel, under more dictatorial regimes than Gjirokastër. At the same time, the nationalists in charge began to take actions to chop down the forests and plant crops, at which they were fairly successful. Their scouts also encountered a force of Greeks to their south, in firm control of the city of Sarande, and none too happy to see them, that were surprised to see them and would probably have kept going if they could have - they were not strong enough to do so.
In 1993, a series of wars, running into 1995, began to occur to the north - Gjirokastër and its neighbors were left alone for fear of causing Heptanesa to intervene let them escape damage. The net result was that the number of small pseudo-republics, and their dictators, shrank in number quite a bit, and that the remaining miniature Albanian states very grudgingly joined together, with a couple effectively forced into doing so, to form a new Albanian nation. Under a council of the dictators, it was not democratic in the least, which along with their actions and the loss of independence it would mean led Gjirokastër, as well as Himare and Erseke, to refuse to join the new state. The location of these three states next to the Greek nation of Heptanesa, and what their conquest or coercion to join the state would mean in that light, meant that they retained their independence.
Heptanesa has long held an interest in the region, and had, in fact, been promised aid from both the Greek Confederation, and then the Greek Federation, should they decide to annex the region. Towards that end, they often sent resources - not military ones, of course - into both Gjirokastër and its eastern and western neighbors, trying somewhat to gain favor and keep the states neutral.
When the Macedonia-Albania war began, the government immediately issued a proclamation in support of their northern neighbor. Yet, they did not mind especially when the dictators lost. The outright takeover of much of Northern Albania by the Macedonians, and the puppet Albanian state formed by them out of the rest, did not endear them to Gjirokastër, however. An offer to join the state was refused on several occasions.
The Greek Federation, following a diplomatic deal with the Macedonians that gave them an opening to enact their plans for the region, invaded the area in January of 2012. By early February, Greek forces had secured the region. Elements of the military, however, continued to resist after retreating into the other small states in the area. The leadership of the state was taken prisoner, and imprisoned somewhere in the Federation.
Gjirokastër was a one-party state, with a president and a unicameral legislature, which governed both the city and the state as a whole. It was, however, fairly 'democratic," in many ways, as the people always had their choice between different members of the party. That being said, however, the legislature did not have any power in any real way.
The Gjirokastër Guards consisted of around three thousand men, who both farmed the outer areas of the state with their families, and manned the border defenses. Each man was stationed at these forts for two days a week, while their fellow soldiers farmed. Soldiers were usually equipped with rifles from before Doomsday, as well as heavily modified farming instruments.
A small number of city militia also garrisoned the citadel and remaining walls of the city as well.
Gjirokastër was primarily an agricultural country, with significant amounts of forestry ongoing as well. Greek merchants were also active in the area.
The area usually sold foodstuffs to the Greek merchants, who sold some weapons, among other things, to them. The foodstuffs were then sent onwards from there to the island of Corfu.
Gjirokastër was not on good terms with any of its neighbors. The state of Albania was considered a Macedonian puppet, and they were not liked or trusted. At the same time, Heptanesa and the Greek Federation have held a grudge and ambitions towards them.
With the conclusion of the war with Sicily, suspicions that the Greeks would attack and take over them intensified, especially since the amount of soldiers near the Greek border had more than doubled since the end of the war. This was proven correct in early 2012, when the Greeks finally invaded, and conquered, the region after reaching a deal with the Macedonians.