Born in Gjirokastër in 1908, Hoxha became a teacher in grammar school in 1936. Following Italy's invasion of Albania, he entered into the Party of Labour of Albania at its creation in 1941. Hoxha was elected First Secretary in March 1943 at the age of 34. The Yugoslav Partisans assisted the Albanians. Less than two years after the liberation of the country, the monarchy was abolished, King Zog was deposed and Hoxha rose to power as the head of state of Albania.
During his 40-year-rule, he focused on rebuilding the country, which was left in ruins after World War II, building Albania's first railway line, eliminating adult illiteracy and leading Albania towards becoming agriculturally self-sufficient. However, detractors criticize him for a series of political repressions which included the establishment and use of forced labor camps, extrajudicial killings and executions that targeted and eliminated anti-communists, a large amount of which was carried out by the Sigurimi secret police.
Hoxha's government was characterized by his proclaimed firm adherence to anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism from the mid-1970s onwards. After his break with Maoism in the 1976–1978 period, numerous Maoist parties around the world declared themselves Hoxhaist. The International Conference of Marxist–Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle) is the best known association of these parties today.
Hoxha was born in Gjirokastër, a city in southern Albania (then under the Ottoman Empire), son of Halil Hoxha, a Muslim Tosk cloth merchant who travelled widely across Europe and the United States, and Gjylihan (Gjylo) Hoxha née Çuçi.