2016 was definitely the year of the Albanians. This past year marked the international breakthrough of the Albanian people into the realms of sports, showbizz, and technology.
The world now knows about the people from countries like Albania and Kosovo (where 92 percent of the people are ethnically Albanian), as well as their diaspora members in countries across Europe and the world.
These are the 10 Reasons why 2016 should be considered The Year of The Albanians. Written by © Stefan van Dijk of Kosovo-Info.com.
1. Albanian National Team at Euro 2016
The Albanian national football team qualified for the first time in history for a tournament on the world stage.
Viewers from all around the globe saw for the very first time the red and black uniformed soccer team. In their third and last match, they even succeeded in gaining a point.
2. Best DJ in the world scores hit with Albanian
Bebe Rexha was already known in the U.S. for a couple of hits. But in the summer of 2016 she reached a new level of fame when she produced a song that reached the top 10 in twenty different countries.
The singer and songwriter from New York has ethnic Albanian parents. The best DJ in the world, Martin Garrix, produced the song In The Name Of Love together with the renowned Albanian American artist.
3. Breakthrough of the tech scene in Kosovo
The startup scene of Kosovo, the country with the youngest people per capita in Europe, experienced an amazing year.
As an example, one small but outstanding startup in Kosovo brought a desktop 3d printer onto the market. In other words, the door has been opened for whoever wants to own a personal 3d printer from now on. In another example, an Albanian American, with his roots in Kosovo, brought a new product to the market that should change the way of holding conference calls. It took only a couple of weeks for the company (partly based in Kosovo) to raise 400.000 dollar on Kickstarter. The startup scene in Kosovo is developing quick, with a positive role for the Innovation Centre Kosovo.
4. Kosovo’s first Olympic gold medal
After years of waiting, the Republic of Kosovo finally attended their first Olympic Games. It was an emotional moment when Majlinda Kelmendi entered the stadium carrying the flag of Kosovo. No one present could deny that the nation of Kosovo had arrived.
But the biggest moment came when the Kosovo Albanian youngster triumphed in the judo competition. Majlinda Kelmendi was in tears because of her golden medal. For the first time in history, the Kosovo national hymn was played at the biggest sporting event in the world.
5. Albanian song becomes worldwide hit
Era Istrefi made it possible for listeners from 25 countries to hear the Albanian language coming from their own radios. Her song Bonbon was a huge international hit.
In Israel, Lebanon, Sweden, and Germany it even reached the top 10 on the music charts. The singer from Kosovo has signed a contract with Sony Music and Ultra Music, so stay tuned.
6. Mother Teresa declared a saint
The most famous nun in the world, Mother Teresa, was declared a saint in 2016 by Pope Francis.
The Albanian woman, raised in Macedonia with parents from Kosovo, dedicated her life to serving the poor. Kosovo-born superstar Rita Ora sang What Child Is This (a song about Jesus) at the night before the ceremony.
7. Kosovo accepted by UEFA and FIFA
It was a year of international breakthrough for the football team of Kosovo. Both UEFA and FIFA accepted the country’s bid to play on European and international stages.
The first official match, a world cup qualification clash with Finland, resulted in a draw. From that moment, everyone knew that Kosovo would be a serious team on the field.
8. Dua Lipa sells 1 million records
I want to go back to London, because I want to be a singer. With more or less these words, a teenager told her Kosovan parents her hopes and dreams for the future. And she succeeded!
9. One of top 10 best places to visit in 2016
The world is slowly realizing that Albania is one of the top destinations to visit in Europe. Rough Guides even selected Albania as one of the 10 best places to visit in 2016.
“Virgin beaches, gorgeous mountain lakes, Ottoman architecture, and friendly locals to point you in the right direction for discovery. Make the trip before the rest of the world realizes what they’re missing.
10. Ethnic Albanians score for three separate countries
The National Team of Albania was not the only group of Albanianas to enjoy success at the Euro 2016 tournament.
Other ethnic Albanians, playing for different countries, also triumphed. Shkodran Mustafi scored a goal for Germany, and Admir Mehmedi scored for Switzerland.
But the most beautiful goal, perhaps of the entire tournament, was when Xherdan Shaqiri scored with an amazing bicycle kick.
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