The name Saranda was derived from the Byzantine monastery of Agioi Saranda, which means “Forty Saints”. This name was later changed a few times under Ottoman and Italian occupancy but was later restored to its Albanian name Saranda when the country regained its independence.
During the Ottoman period until the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) Saranda mainly consisted of a harbor for commercial purposes. In the years following, the region has been occupied by Greece and Italy and under Mussolini’s influence the name was changed to Port Edda in honor of his daughter. Financed by Italy, extensive improvements were made to grow the harbor. By the end of World War II British troops took control and upon withdrawing they left the region to the Albanian communist forces and Albania regained its independence.
Nowadays Saranda has around 30,000 inhabitants which has more than doubled since the 1990s and has become an important tourist destination. With tourism being the main driver of the economy, other drivers are services, fishery and construction.