Albania, formally the Republic of Albania, is a nation in Southeast Europe bordered to the northwest by Montenegro, to the northeast by Kosovo, to the east by the Republic of Macedonia, and to the south and southeast by Greece. It borders the Adriatic Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the southwest. It is just 72 kilometers (45 miles) from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto, which links the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
Albania’s current area was part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia, and Moesia Superior. Albania proclaimed independence in 1912, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in Europe as a result of the Balkan Wars, and was acknowledged the following year. In 1939, Italy invaded the Kingdom of Albania, becoming Greater Albania, before becoming a Nazi German protectorate in 1943. The next year, under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour, a socialist People’s Republic was formed. During the communist period, Albania underwent significant social and political changes, as well as isolation from most of the world community. The Socialist Republic of Albania was dissolved in 1991, and the Republic of Albania was formed.
Albania is a republic with a parliamentary system. Tirana, the country’s capital and financial and industrial center, has a population of about 800,000 people. Foreign investment has increased as a result of free-market reforms, particularly in the construction of energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania has a high HDI and offers its people with universal health care as well as free primary and secondary education. Albania has an upper-middle-income economy dominated by the service industry, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture.
Albania belongs to the United Nations, NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, and the World Trade Organization. It is a founding member of the Energy Community, the Organization for Economic Cooperation in the Black Sea, and the Union for the Mediterranean. It is also an official candidate for European Union membership.
While the majority of Albanians are of Muslim descent (55-65 percent), surveys show that about 35 percent are agnostics, 22 percent are atheists, 19 percent are Muslim, 15 percent are Orthodox, 8 percent are Catholics, and 1 percent are of other faiths. Marriages that are “mixed” are extremely frequent.
The position and person of the visitor are revered in traditional Albanian society. Respect is expected from the visitor in exchange for this position of honor. Albanians love lengthy walks around the city streets, sipping coffee, and, especially among the younger generations, engaging in nighttime activities like as café lounging and dancing.
By European standards, Albania is a poor nation.
Albania has a large number of climatic regions for such a small country, with its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed by the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons. The weather in the coastal lowlands is usually Mediterranean, whereas the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. The weather changes dramatically from north to south in both the lowlands and the interior.
Winters in the lowlands are moderate, with temperatures averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). Throughout the year, temperatures in the southern lowlands average approximately 5 °C (9 °F) higher. The difference is more than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer and somewhat less in the winter.
Differences in elevation have a greater impact on inland temperatures than latitude or any other factor. The continental air mass that controls the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans causes low winter temperatures in the highlands. Much of the day, winds from the north and northeast are blowing. Summer temperatures are lower on average than at the coast and considerably lower at higher altitudes, although daily changes are larger. The highest daytime temperatures in the inner basins and river valleys are very high, while the evenings are nearly always cold.
The confluence of the predominant airflow from the Mediterranean Sea and the continental air mass results in significant precipitation on average. The strongest rain falls in the central uplands because they typically meet at the point where the terrain rises. When the Mediterranean air is elevated, vertical currents form, resulting in frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied by strong local winds and heavy rains.
Albania has a total land area of 28,748 square kilometers (11,100 square miles). It is located between the latitudes of 42° and 39° N (Vermosh-Konispol) and the longitudes of 21° and 19° E. (Sazan-Vernik). Albania’s coastline stretches for 476 kilometers (296 miles) along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The western lowlands face the Adriatic Sea.
The mountainous 70 percent of the land is rough and sometimes unreachable from the outside. The tallest peak, Korab, is located in the former region of Dibr and reaches a height of 2,764 meters (9,068 ft). The climate along the coast is typical Mediterranean, with moderate, rainy winters and warm, sunny, and mostly dry summers.
Inland weather vary according on elevation, although higher elevations over 1,500 m/5,000 ft are often chilly and snowy in winter; cold temperatures with snow may last into spring. Aside from Tirana, the capital city with a population of 420,000, the major cities include Durrs, Korç, Elbasan, Shkodr, Gjirokastr, Vlor, and Kuks. In Albanian grammar, a word may have both indefinite and definite forms; for example, Tiran and Tirana, Shkodr and Shkodra are employed.
Albania is home to three of the Balkan Peninsula’s biggest and deepest tectonic lakes. Lake Shkodr in the country’s northwest has a surface area that varies between 370 km2 (140 sq mi) and 530 km2, with Albania owning one-third of it and Montenegro owning the rest. The lake’s Albanian coastline is 57 kilometers long (35 mi). Ohrid Lake is located in the southeast of the nation and is shared by Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. It has a maximum depth of 289 meters with a diverse flora and fauna, including “living fossils” and numerous endemic species. Ohrid Lake is protected by UNESCO because to its ecological and historical significance. Lake Butrint, a tiny tectonic lake, is also nearby. It is situated in the Butrint National Park.
Albania has a total population of 2,821,977 people, according to the 2011 Census, with a low fertility rate of 1.49 children born per woman. Albania saw significant migration after the collapse of the Communist government in 1990. External migration was openly banned in Communist Albania, while internal movement was severely restricted, thus this was a novel occurrence. Between 1991 and 2004, about 900,000 individuals left Albania, with approximately 600,000 settling in Greece. Migration has a significant impact on Albania’s internal population distribution. The population dropped mostly in the country’s north and south, while it grew in Tirana and Durr’s center regions. Albania has a population of 2,893,005 people as of January 1, 2015, according to the Albanian Institute of Statistics.
Ethnicity is a touchy issue that is often debated.”
Although official statistics show that Albania is one of the most homogeneous countries in the region (with a population of over 97% Albanians), minority groups (such as Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Roma, and Vlachs/Aromanians) have frequently questioned the official data, claiming a larger share of the country’s population.
The last census that included ethnographic data (before to the 2011 one) was performed in 1989.
Albania acknowledges three national minorities, the Greeks, the Macedonians, and the Montenegrins, as well as two cultural minorities, the Aromanians and the Romani. Bulgarians, Gorani, Serbs, Balkan Egyptians, Bosniaks, and Jews are among the other Albanian minorities. Concerning the Greeks, “It is impossible to estimate the number of Greeks in Albania. According to the Greek government, there are about 300,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania, although most western estimates place the figure closer to 200,000. (although EEN puts the number at a probable 100,000). “According to the Albanian government, the figure is just 24,243.” According to the CIA World Factbook, the Greek minority accounts for 0.9 percent of the overall population, whereas the US State Department uses 1.17 percent for Greeks and 0.23 percent for other minorities. The latter, on the other hand, challenges the veracity of the statistics on the Greek minority, owing to the fact that measurements have been influenced by the boycott.
Albanians claimed the following ethnic affiliations according to the 2011 census: Albanians 2,312,356 (82.6 percent of total), Greeks 24,243 (0.9 percent), Macedonians 5,512 (0.2 percent), Montenegrins 366 (0.01 percent), Aromanians 8,266 (0.30 percent), Romani 8,301 (0.3 percent), Balkan Egyptians 3,368 (0.1 percent), other ethnicities 2,644 (0.1 percent), no declared ethnicity 390,938 (14.0 percent), and not relevant 44,144 (1.6 percent ).
Macedonian and Greek minority organizations have strongly opposed Article 20 of the Census legislation, which states that anybody who declares an ethnicity different than what is listed on his or her birth certificate would face a $1,000 fine. This is said to be an effort to scare minorities into claiming Albanian nationality; the Albanian government has warned that anybody who does not participate in the census or refuses to identify his or her ethnicity would be imprisoned. Genc Pollo, the minister in charge, has stated: “Albanian people would be allowed to openly express their ethnic, religious, and mother tongue affiliations, as well as their mother language. They are not, however, compelled to respond to these delicate inquiries “.. The controversial changes do not contain prison time or compelled declarations of race or religion; just a fine is proposed, which may be overturned in court.
Albanian Greeks are represented in the Albanian parliament, and the administration has encouraged them to register as the sole option to better their situation. Nationalists, different intellectual groups, and political parties in Albania, on the other side, have voiced fear that the census would intentionally inflate the number of Greek minority, which Greece will subsequently use to undermine Albania’s territorial integrity.
According to the 2011 census, Islam is practiced by 58.79 percent of the Albanian population, making it the country’s largest religion; Christianity is practiced by 17.06 percent of the population, and 24.29 percent of the total population is either non-religious, belongs to other religious groups, or is ‘undeclared.’ The Albanian Orthodox church and the Bektashi Sufi order both refused to accept the 2011 census findings on religion, with the Orthodox stating that 24 percent of the entire population are Albanian Orthodox Christians rather than 6.75 percent. Prior to World War II, 70% of the population was Muslim, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholic. According to a 2010 study, religion is significant in the lives of just 39 percent of Albanians today, and Albania is one of the world’s least religious nations. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, 65 percent of Albanian Muslims are non-denominational Muslims.
The Albanians first appear in historical records in late 11th-century Byzantine sources. They were already completely Christianized at this time. In the 9th century, Islam arrived for the first time in what is now known as Albania. During the years of Ottoman administration, it eventually became the dominant religion, but a substantial Christian minority persisted. Following independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, the Albanian republican, monarchic, and subsequently Communist governments implemented a deliberate strategy of segregating religion from official duties and cultural life. Albania, as a republic or a monarchy, never had an official state religion. The clergy of all religions were weakened by the monarchy in the twentieth century, and eventually eliminated throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as part of the official goal of eradicating all organized religion from Albanian lands.
After World War II, the Communist government that seized control of Albania persecuted and repressed religious practice and institutions, and completely outlawed religion, to the point that Albania was officially proclaimed the world’s first atheist state. Since the regime’s fall in 1992, religious freedom has returned to Albania. Albania joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 1992, after the collapse of the communist regime, but will not attend the 2014 conference due to a disagreement over the fact that the country’s membership was never recognized by its parliament. Albanian Muslim communities (mostly secular and Sunni) are found across the nation, whereas Albanian Orthodox Christians and Bektashis are concentrated in the south and Roman Catholics are concentrated in the north.
Said Toptani, the first documented Albanian Protestant, went across Europe and returned to Tirana in 1853 to teach Protestantism. In 1864, he was seized and imprisoned by Ottoman officials. Mainline evangelical Protestants may trace their roots back to Congregational and subsequently Methodist missionaries, as well as the work of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
The Evangelical Alliance, often known as VUSh, was established in 1892. VUSh now includes approximately 160 member churches from various Protestant faiths. VUSh conducts marches in Tirana, including one in 2010 against blood feuds. The Interconfessional Bible Society of Albania provides Bibles. The Filipaj translation was the first complete Albanian Bible to be produced in 1990.
Albania also has a large number of followers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Albania was Europe’s only nation where the Jewish population grew during the Holocaust. Only 200 Albanian Jews remain in the nation now, after significant emigration to Israel since the collapse of the Communist government.
According to religious community data from 2008, there are 1119 churches and 638 mosques in Albania. 694 Catholic churches were proclaimed by the Roman Catholic ministry. There are 425 Orthodox churches in the Christian Orthodox community. The Muslim community, which includes 568 mosques and 70 Bektashi tekkes.
The transition of Albania from a socialist centrally planned economy to a capitalist mixed economy has been mostly successful. According to the World Bank, “formal non-agricultural employment in the private sector more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2013,” with foreign investment accounting for a large portion of this growth.
Albania’s GDP per capita (expressed in purchasing power parity) was 30% of the EU average in 2012, but AIC (Actual Individual Consumption) was 35%. Albania, Cyprus, and Poland were the only European nations to see economic growth in the first quarter of 2010. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Albania would expand by 2.6 percent in 2010 and 3.2 percent in 2011. For the past decade, unemployment has been hovering around 15%.
Agriculture continues to be the most important sector of the economy. It employs 47.8 percent of the people and occupies about 24.31 percent of the land. In 1990, domestic agricultural goods accounted for 63% of household spending and 25% of exports.
Farmers are being assisted by IPA 2011 funding to enhance Albanian agricultural standards as part of Albania’s pre-accession procedure to the EU. Tobacco, olives, wheat, maize, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, honey, dairy products, and traditional medicine; and fragrant plants, figs (13th biggest producer in the world) and sour cherries. Albania’s closeness to the Ionian and Adriatic seas provides significant opportunity for the country’s undeveloped fishing sector. According to World Bank and European Community economists, Albania’s fishing sector has a significant potential for export profits since prices in neighboring Greek and Italian markets are several times higher than those in the Albanian market. Carp, trout, sea bream, mussels, and crabs may be found off the shores of Albania.
Almost all of the country’s energy is produced by aging hydroelectric power facilities, which are becoming more inefficient as droughts worsen. Private investment has been significant in a new generation of hydroelectric projects, such as the Devoll Hydro Power Plant and the Ashta Hydro Power Plant. Albania and Croatia have explored the idea of jointly constructing a nuclear power station near the border with Montenegro at Lake Shkoder, a proposal that has drawn opposition from Montenegro owing to seismicity in the region. Furthermore, there is considerable question about Albania’s ability to fund a project of this magnitude with a total national budget of less than $5 billion. However, in February 2009, the Italian firm Enel announced intentions to construct an 800 MW coal-fired power station in Albania in order to diversify the country’s energy supplies.
The nation possesses significant reserves of petroleum and natural gas, and in the first quarter of 2014, it produced 26,000 barrels of oil per day (BNK-TC). Natural gas output, which is expected to be about 30 million m3, is enough to satisfy consumer demand.
Coal, bauxite, copper, and iron ore are examples of natural resources. Albania possesses Europe’s biggest onshore oil reserves.
Tourism is contributing more to Albania’s GDP, with tourists increasing year after year. Exports grew by 300 percent between 2008 and 2014, although their contribution to GDP remains modest (the value of exports per capita is $1,100). Albania’s development slowed in 2013, although tourism continued to expand rapidly, and FDI increased as the government’s modernisation program proceeded.
Things To Know Before Traveling To Albania
Accommodation & Hotels
Hotels abound throughout the city, with nightly rates starting as low as €15. Hotels in large cities are typically clean, and the staff speaks English and/or Italian.
Hotels are less prevalent outside of major cities, although in areas like Gjirokastra, they may offer great value (e.g.: 1000 lek). If you are unable to locate a place to stay for whatever reason, the Albanian people are renowned for their hospitality and will treat you like royalty while you stay with them.
A local sim card may be purchased for 600 Lek (Vodafone). You must provide identification (passport) and indicate an address in Albania.