An April 12 obituary about Albanian leader Enver Hoxha should have stated that Italy invaded Albania -- not Yugoslavia -- in 1939. Yugoslavia was invaded by Germany in 1941.

Albania's Enver Hoxha, the world's longest serving communist leader, who kept his solitary Balkan country under stern rule for more than four decades, died today at the age of 76.

An announcement carried by the official Albanian news agency said Hoxha, who had been widely reported to be in poor health, died at 2:15 a.m. as a result of "irreversible consequences" to his brain and kidneys from a heart attack two days ago.

The death of Albania's absolute leader was seen as posing both opportunities and threats to western interests. On the one hand, it raised hopes that Albania, which under Hoxha had evolved into the most isolated, enigmatic country in Europe, might now accelerate an opening toward western states cautiously begun in recent months.

On the other hand, Hoxha's passing stirred fears of possible new efforts by Moscow to entice the small, mountainous, strategically located state back into the Soviet fold it left more than two decades ago. Hoxha severed diplomatic relations with Moscow in 1961 after quarreling with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, thus depriving the Russians of access to Albania's deep water ports at Vlore and Durress, something the Soviet military has been eager to regain.

But most Albania-watchers expect no change for the moment in Albania's basic xenophobia, nor any immediate relaxation of its harsh internal policies. Under Hoxha, Albania called itself the world's only true Marxist-Leninist state. Religion had been abolished, foreign trade was conducted almost entirely by barter and periodic purges were made of officials considered not in tune with party orthodoxy.

The name of President Ramiz Alia, the nominal head of state since 1982, topped the list of members of a special commission organizing the burial of Hoxha, which is scheduled for Monday. It is generally assumed that Alia, 59, will succeed Hoxha as general secretary of the Albanian Workers' Party.

Unlike many of his comrades, Alia survived the bloody purges and vituperative settling of accounts that punctuated Hoxha's rule.

Alia had moved increasingly to the fore in recent months as Hoxha cut back on public appearances to concentrate on writing memoirs and caring for his health. An official medical report released today disclosed that Hoxha had suffered from diabetes since 1948 and had a previous heart attack in 1973.

Alia was described by Balkan experts in Bonn as a "very devout Stalinist" who is likely to adhere scrupulously to Hoxha's political line.

He was formerly the party watchdog on ideology and appears to have been hand-picked by Hoxha to ensure that no deviation would occur from his puristic form of independence from entangling alliances with either East or West.

Alia's succession has been evident since his appointment as first secretary of the Albanian Workers' Party and head of the People's Assembly in 1982.

Hoxha, the son of a Moslem landowner, founded Albania's communist party in 1941 with the help of two Yugoslav communist emissaries and served as chief commander of the partisan units that liberated his country from Italian and German occupiers in 1944.

He split with Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito after World War II and stayed loyal to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Hoxha reviled Khrushchev for the Kremlin leader's revisionism and broke with Moscow in 1961, entering into an alliance with China that, in turn, ended amid bitter recriminations in 1978.

The break with China and subsequent withdrawal of Chinese aid deepened Albania's economic troubles. It left Albania with unfinished steel plants and other projects and with a gaping need for economic assistance to develop mineral and oil reserves.

Hoxha died with his country still rated the poorest as well as the most secretive and introspective state in Europe. But Albania has won a degree of self-sufficiency and made significant strides from the poverty and hunger known before World War II.

Many analysts predict that political and economic pressures will eventually force the Albanian leadership to emerge from its shell. Not least among the factors pushing for economic development is a rapidly growing population.

During the past two years, Albania has been moving slowly toward an easing of relations with some European states.

Albania's foreign trade is severely limited by a constitutional prohibition against accepting foreign credits and by its fulminations against capitalist countries. As a result, most deals have taken the form of barter, with Albanian officials offering chromium and oil in exchange for manufactured goods.

The question of whether Albania should draw closer to western states for trade and technology is thought to have been at the center of a rift between Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu, the prime minister for 27 years and long Hoxha's most trusted partner.

Shehu died in December 1981. He was officially reported to have killed himself "in a moment of nervous crisis." But other unconfirmed reports said he was shot during a verbal dispute with Hoxha or other party leaders.

The image of Hoxha, a mysterious figure for much of the outside world, was everywhere in Albania. Every town is decorated with huge portraits of the leader with his hand outstretched in greeting.

A prolific writer, Hoxha spent much of the past few years penning his memoirs, which were published in lavish editions in numerous foreign languages. The memoirs contain insulting references to all other major communist leaders.

Life in Albania under Hoxha has been austere and tightly controlled. Private cars are banned. So is birth control, pop music and pornography. Religion was abolished in 1967 with the aim of creating the world's "first atheistic state."

Fear of foreigners is fostered by the government. Its fortress mentality is reflected in the row upon row of concrete pillboxes and bunkers dotting the countryside.