Albania was originally part of Illyria which stretched along the eastern coastal region of the Adriatic. By 168 BC the Romans, having conquered Illyria, administered it as a province (Illyricum). From AD 395 Illyria, as part of the eastern Byzantine empire, submitted to waves of Slavic invasions. During the middle ages the name Albania gained currency, possibly deriving from Albanoi, the name of an Illyrian tribe. Ottoman intrusion began in the 14th century and, despite years of resistance under the leadership of national hero Gjergj Kastrioti, Turkish suzerainty was imposed from 1478. During the 15th and 16th centuries, many Albanians fled to southern Italy to escape Ottoman rule and conversion to Islam. After the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–78 there were demands for independence from Turkey. With the defeat of Turkey in the Balkan war of 1912, Albanian nationalists proclaimed independence and set up a provisional government.
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