Traces of early settlements on the Illyrian tribe Dardaniatae are of first centuries BC.
Region name is associated with the Kukajve feudal family, the army commanders of national hero Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg.
For the first time were mentioned in the Ottoman register of 1571. According to a 1610 document of the village of Kukes was built between two Drin Rivers and had 50 homes. The construction of new Kukes began in 1962 while the old Kukes was covered by the waters of Lake Fierza in 1978.
The city in new urban plan was conceived and built as an urban center important for the entire country with wide roads, with high-rise residential buildings, with state, educational and socio-cultural institutions, with parks, hotels and various municipal and trading services.
Region name became known worldwide when in 1999 hosted over 400 000 Albanian civilians from Kosovo, forcibly expelled by Milosevic’s paramilitaries. Kukes is decorated with the bust of Skanderbeg, the work of Odise Paskalit, placed in 1939, the sculpture of Shote Galica and memorial dedicated to Albanian League of Prizren.
Through Kukes passes the most important automobile road called the nation’s highway, linking Albania to Kosovo. In 2005 there was built the second civilian airport after Rinas, with great importance for the Albanians in Republic of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.