Jewish communities of Albania were founded by refugees from Spain, Portugal, and Sicily at the end of the 15th and early 16th centuries. Some of them settled along the coast, especially in the port Durazzo, but most of the Jews lived in Berat, in central Albania.
In 1930, there were registered 204 Jews, mostly in Tirana and Vlora. In 1939, several Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria, moved to Albania, later Jews who had fled from Croatia and Serbia also took refuge in Albania. The Albanian population, as well as the Italian armed forces that occupied the country since 1939, helped the Jews. As a result, almost the entire Jewish community survived.
Albania is one of the few European countries in which the number of Jews increased after the end of World War II. Due to the influx of refugees, the Jewish population turned out to be more than at the beginning of the war in 1939.
Before the fall of the communist regime in 1990, the Jewish community of Albania was completely cut off from the Jewish world. Religion was forbidden, and therefore no Jewish community activity existed. In 1991, almost the entire Jewish community, was transported to Israel.
Now, most of the remaining Jews live in the capital, Tirana. A Greek based Chabad rabbi operates the Hechal Shlomo Synagogue in Tirana.