Shëngjin is a coastal town and a former municipality in Lezhë County, northwestern Albania. At the 2015 local government reform it became a subdivision of the municipality of Lezhë. The population at the 2011 census was 8,091. Shëngjin is a growing tourist destination, well known for its beaches and resort accommodations. Shëngjin is one of many cities within the District of Lezhë and is home to one of Albania’s entry ports, Port of Shëngjin.
Shëngjin is a part of Lezhë County, which has thousands of years of ancient history and unique culture. According to historians, Lezhë is considered as the site of the League of Lezhë where Skanderbeg united the Albanian princes in the fight against the Ottoman Empire. Skanderbeg is recognized as a national hero for his efforts to unite the region against the Turks.
Shëngjin’s coastline has always provided a key geographic asset to the area for over a thousand years. The town operated as the main port for the interior city of Shkodra. It was repeated occupied and/or attacked by the Venetians during their many wars with the Ottoman Turks. Before World War I, Austria-Hungary maintained a consulate to serve its small business interests in the region.
The town was known as Şingin during the Ottoman period. It was loyal to the Ottomans during the Albanian revolt of 1911 due to the presence of Turkish soldiers in the fortress of Shkodra. It was captured by the Serbian and Montenegrin armies in November 1912 when the latter put Shkodra under siege. Shëngjin was claimed by Montenegro, but both armies were forced to evacuate by the Great Powers. Serbia reoccupied the town in summer 1915, and held it until driven out by the advancing Austro-Hungarian Army in January 1916. The Austrians evacuated in November 1918, and were replaced by Italian troops for several months until the frontier with the new Yugoslavian State was settled.
In 1924, the Albanian government renamed Shengjin as Wilson, in honor of American President Woodrow Wilson for backing Albania’s independence in 1919, when proposals for Albania’s partition were circulated among the Great Powers but strongly opposed by the President. In April 1939, the Italian Army landed at Shëngjin in order to occupy Shkodra and northern Albania. The town’s name was officially changed to the old Italian San Giovanni di Medua during World War II. After the war, the town’s name reverted once more to Shëngjin.
The Municipal Unit implements national legislation and local ordinances, while trying to promote the general welfare of its citizens. Over the past years, Shengjin has become an important tourist destination in Albania. Shëngjin’s former Komuna has had the privilege of welcoming national leaders as well as foreign dignitaries to the city.