Albania

Albania

Overview
Albania officially known as the Republic of Albania ( pronounced ɾɛpuˈblika ɛ ʃcipəˈɾiːs; Gheg Albanian
Gheg Albanian
Gheg is one of the two major varieties of Albanian. The other one is Tosk, on which standard Albanian is based. The dividing line between these two varieties is the Shkumbin River, which winds its way through central Albania....

: Republika e Shqipnísë), is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 region. It is bordered by Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

 to the northwest, Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 to the east and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 to the west, and on the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

 to the southwest. It is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, across the Strait of Otranto
Strait of Otranto
The Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and separates Italy from Albania. Its width at Punta Palascìa, east of Salento is less than . The strait is named after the Italian city of Otranto.- History :...

 which links the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 to the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

.
Albania is a member of the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections...

, Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, World Trade Organisation, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean
Union for the Mediterranean
The Union for the Mediterranean is a multilateral partnership that encompasses 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 27 member states of the European Union and 16 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans...

.
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Timeline

1443   Skanderbeg and his forces liberate Kruja in Middle Albania and raise the Albanian flag.

1799   Napoleon Bonaparte captures Jaffa in Palestine and his troops proceed to kill more than 2,000 Albanian captives.

1911   Dedë Gjon Luli Dedvukaj, leader of the Malësori Albanians, raises the Albanian flag in the town of Tuzi, Montenegro, for the first time after Gjergj Kastrioti (Skenderbeg).

1912   Albania declares its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

1913   First Balkan War: the Treaty of London, 1913 is signed ending the war. Albania becomes an independent nation.

1913   Otto Witte, an acrobat, is purportedly crowned King of Albania.

1914   The Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus is proclaimed in Gjirokastër, by the Greeks living in southern Albania.

1914   Prince William of Wied arrives in Albania to begin his reign.

1914   The Protocol of Corfu is signed recognising full autonomy to Northern Epirus under nominal Albanian sovereignty.

1924   Albania becomes a republic.

 
Encyclopedia
Albania officially known as the Republic of Albania ( pronounced ɾɛpuˈblika ɛ ʃcipəˈɾiːs; Gheg Albanian
Gheg Albanian
Gheg is one of the two major varieties of Albanian. The other one is Tosk, on which standard Albanian is based. The dividing line between these two varieties is the Shkumbin River, which winds its way through central Albania....

: Republika e Shqipnísë), is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 region. It is bordered by Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

 to the northwest, Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 to the east and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 to the west, and on the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

 to the southwest. It is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, across the Strait of Otranto
Strait of Otranto
The Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and separates Italy from Albania. Its width at Punta Palascìa, east of Salento is less than . The strait is named after the Italian city of Otranto.- History :...

 which links the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 to the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

.
Albania is a member of the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections...

, Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, World Trade Organisation, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean
Union for the Mediterranean
The Union for the Mediterranean is a multilateral partnership that encompasses 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 27 member states of the European Union and 16 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans...

. Albania has been a potential candidate for accession to the European Union
Accession of Albania to the European Union
Albania applied for European Union membership on 28 April 2009 and is expected to join in 2015. Officially recognized by the EU as a "potential candidate country", Albania started negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement in 2003...

 since January 2003, and it formally applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009. Along with Kosovo, Albania has the distinction of being the only Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

-majority sovereign countries wholly within Europe, although the population is largely secular.

Albania is a parliamentary democracy with a transition economy
Transition economy
A transition economy or transitional economy is an economy which is changing from a centrally planned economy to a free market. Transition economies undergo economic liberalization, where market forces set prices rather than a central planning organization and trade barriers are removed,...

. The Albanian capital, Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

, is home to approximately 600,000 of the country's 3,000,000 people. Free-market reforms have opened the country to foreign investment, especially in the development of energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania was chosen as the No.1 Destination in Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011...

's list of ten top countries to visit for 2011.

Etymology



Albania is the Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

 name of the country which is called Shqipëri by its people. In Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

, the country's name is Albania besides variants Albanitia, Arbanitia.

The name may be derived from the Illyrian tribe of the Albani recorded by Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, the geographer and astronomer from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 who drafted a map in 150 AD that shows the city of Albanopolis
Albanopolis
Albanopolis was a city in ancient Roman Macedon specifically in Epirus Nova, the city of the Albanoi, an Illyrian tribe. The editors of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World locate Albanopolis at the modern-day village of Zgërdhesh, near Krujë, Albania...

 (located northeast of Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

).

The name may have a continuation in the name of a medieval settlement called Albanon and Arbanon, although it is not certain this was the same place. In his History written in 1079–1080, Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 historian Michael Attaliates
Michael Attaliates
Michael Attaleiates or Attaliates was a Greek public servant and historian at Constantinople.Michael was probably a native of Attalia...

 was the first to refer to Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the Duke of Dyrrachium. During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the Albanians called their country Arbër or Arbën and referred to themselves as Arbëresh or Arbnesh.

As early as the 16th century the placename Shqipëria and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë gradually replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh. While the two terms are popularly interpreted as "Land of the Eagles" and "Children of the Eagles", they derive from the adverb shqip, which means "understanding each other".

Under the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 Albania was referred to officially as Arnavutluk and its inhabitants as Arnauts
Arnauts
Arnaut is the Turkish word for the people of Albania. Arnauts in modern Turkey are people of Albanian descent...

 (officially, Arnavutlar). These terms remain the same officially and in common usage in the current Republic of Turkey. The word is considered to be a metathesis
Metathesis (linguistics)
Metathesis is the re-arranging of sounds or syllables in a word, or of words in a sentence. Most commonly it refers to the switching of two or more contiguous sounds, known as adjacent metathesis or local metathesis:...

 from the word Arvanite, which was the Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

 name for the Albanians
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

.

History



The history of Albania emerged from the prehistoric stage
Prehistoric Balkans
The prehistory of Southeastern Europe , defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkans peninsula covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the...

 from the 4th century BC, with early records of Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

 in Greco-Roman historiography. The modern territory of Albania has no counterpart in antiquity, comprising parts of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

 (southern Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern north Albania to Istria in the west and to the Sava river in the north. Salona functioned as its capital...

), Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 (particularly Epirus Nova), and Moesia Superior. The territory remained under Roman (Byzantine
Albania under the Byzantine Empire
In 395 AD, the Roman Empire was divided and the area that now constitutes modern Albania became part of the Byzantine Empire.-Antiquity:After the region fell to the Romans in 168 BC it became part of Epirus nova that was in turn part of the Roman province of Macedonia.Later it was part of provinces...

) control until the Slavic migrations of the 7th century, and was integrated into the Bulgarian Empire
Albania under the Bulgarian Empire
The territory of modern Albania was part of the Bulgarian Empire during certain periods in the Middle Ages and some parts in what is now eastern Albania were populated and ruled by the Bulgarians for centuries. Most of Albania became part of the First Empire in the early 840s during the reign of...

 in the 9th century.

The territorial nucleus of the Albanian state formed in the Middle Ages, as the Principality of Arbër
Principality of Arbër
The Principality of Arbër or Arbëria was the first Albanian state during the Middle Ages. The proclamation of the feudal state of Arbëria, in the north of Albania, with Kruja as the capital took place on 1190. As the founder of this state is known Progoni and later on Gjini and Dhimiter....

 and the Kingdom of Albania
Kingdom of Albania
The Kingdom of Albania, or Regnum Albaniae, was established by Charles of Anjou in the Albanian territory he conquered from the Despotate of Epirus in 1271. He took the title of "King of Albania" in February 1272. The kingdom extended from the region of Durrës south along the coast to Butrint...

. The first records of the Albanian people as a distinct ethnicity also date to this period. In 15th century there was a series of confrontations
League of Lezhë
The League of Lezhë was an alliance of Albanian Principalities forged in Lezhë on the 2nd of March 1444. It was initiated and organised by Skanderbeg with the aim of uniting the Albanian principalities that had been founded in the 12th - 14th centuries, to fight the Ottoman Armies...

 between Albanians led by Scanderbeg and the advancing Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Soon after the death of Scanderbeg the organized resistance ceased and the country became part of Ottoman Empire. It remained under Ottoman control as part of the Rumelia
Rumelia
Rumelia was an historical region comprising the territories of the Ottoman Empire in Europe...

 province until 1912, when the first independent Albanian state was declared
Albanian Declaration of Independence
The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of the Albanian Vilayet from the Ottoman Empire. Albania was proclaimed independent in Vlorë on November 28, 1912.-Background:...

. The formation of an Albanian national consciousness dates to the latter 19th century and is part of the larger phenomenon of rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

.
A short-lived monarchy
Principality of Albania
The Principality of Albania refers to the short-lived monarchy in Albania, headed by William, Prince of Albania and to the state after the First World War, until the abolition of the monarchy in 1925, when Albania was declared a republic.-Principality:The Principality was established on February...

 (1914–1925) was succeeded by an even shorter-lived first Albanian Republic
Albanian Republic
The Albanian Republic was the official name of Albania as enshrined in the Constitution of 1925. Albania became a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy after the signing of the Treaties of Tirana of 1926 and 1927. Albania was later declared a constitutional monarchy in 1928...

 (1925–1928), to be replaced by another monarchy
Albanian Kingdom
The Albanian Kingdom was the constitutional monarchal rule in Albania between 1928 and 1939. During this period Albania was a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy Albania was declared a monarchy by the Constituent Assembly, and Zog I was crowned king...

 (1928–1939), which was annexed
Albania under Italy
The Albanian Kingdom existed as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy. It was practically a union between Italy and Albania, officially led by Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III and its government: Albania was led by Italian governors, after being militarily occupied by Italy, from 1939 until 1943...

 by Fascist Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 during World War II. After the collapse of the Axis powers, Albania became a communist state, the People's Socialist Republic of Albania
People's Socialist Republic of Albania
The People's Republic of Albania was the official name of Albania during the communist rule between 1946 and 1976. The 1976 Constitution changed the name into People's Socialist Republic of Albania , which was the official name of the country from 1976 until 1991.-Consolidation of power and...

, which was dominated by Enver Hoxha
Enver Hoxha
Enver Halil Hoxha was a Marxist–Leninist revolutionary andthe leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania...

 (d. 1985). Hoxha's political heir Ramiz Alia
Ramiz Alia
was the second and last communist leader of Albania from 1985-91, and the President of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania from 1991 to 1992, and also the first President of the post communist Albania elected in 1991-92. He had been designated as successor by Enver Hoxha and took power after...

 oversaw the disintegration of the "Hoxhaist" state during the wider collapse of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 in the later 1980s.

The communist regime collapsed in 1990, and the Republic of Albania was founded in 1991. The old communist party was routed in the elections of March 1992, amid economic collapse and social unrest. An economic crisis spread in the late 1996 following the failure of some Ponzi scheme
Ponzi scheme
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation...

s operating in the country, peaking in 1997 in an armed rebellion
1997 rebellion in Albania
The 1997 unrest in Albania, also known as the Lottery Uprising or Anarchy in Albania, was an uprising sparked by Ponzi scheme failures...

, that led to another mass emigration of Albanians
Albanian diaspora
The Albanian diaspora encompasses Albanians outside of Albania and Kosovo.The greatest concentrations are found in Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Italy...

, mostly to Italy, Greece
Albanian communities in Greece
Albanians in Greece are divided into distinct communities as a result of different waves of migration. Albanians first migrated into Greece during late Middle Ages . The descendants of populations of Albanian origin who settled in Greece during the Middle Ages are the Arvanites, who have been fully...

, Switzerland, Germany
Albanians in Germany
There are 300,000 ethnic Albanians living in Germany. They migrated to Germany from Albania, Kosovo and Republic of Macedonia.-History:The first Albanian immigration wave to Germany began in the early 1960s, they came as guest workers and worked mainly in the industry...

 and North America.

In 1999 the country was affected by the Kosovo War, when a great number of Albanians from Kosovo found refuge in Albania.

Albania became a full member of NATO in 2009. The country is applying
Accession of Albania to the European Union
Albania applied for European Union membership on 28 April 2009 and is expected to join in 2015. Officially recognized by the EU as a "potential candidate country", Albania started negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement in 2003...

 to join the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.
Independence
Albanian Declaration of Independence
The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of the Albanian Vilayet from the Ottoman Empire. Albania was proclaimed independent in Vlorë on November 28, 1912.-Background:...


Provisional Government
Provisional Government of Albania
The Provisional Government of Albania is the first Government created by Assembly of Vlorë in 4 December 1912. It was a paternal government, led by Ismail Qemali, until his resignation in 22 January 1914 and by Fejzi Bej Alizoti, until the coronation of William, Prince of Albania.- Government...


Principality of Albania
Principality of Albania
The Principality of Albania refers to the short-lived monarchy in Albania, headed by William, Prince of Albania and to the state after the First World War, until the abolition of the monarchy in 1925, when Albania was declared a republic.-Principality:The Principality was established on February...


Albanian Republic
Albanian Republic
The Albanian Republic was the official name of Albania as enshrined in the Constitution of 1925. Albania became a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy after the signing of the Treaties of Tirana of 1926 and 1927. Albania was later declared a constitutional monarchy in 1928...


Albanian Kingdom
Albanian Kingdom
The Albanian Kingdom was the constitutional monarchal rule in Albania between 1928 and 1939. During this period Albania was a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy Albania was declared a monarchy by the Constituent Assembly, and Zog I was crowned king...


Albania under Italy
Albania under Italy
The Albanian Kingdom existed as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy. It was practically a union between Italy and Albania, officially led by Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III and its government: Albania was led by Italian governors, after being militarily occupied by Italy, from 1939 until 1943...


Albania under Germany

Communist Albania

Republic of Albania
History of post-Communist Albania
In 1991, the Socialist Party of Albania, with specific social democratic ideology took control of the country through democratic elections. One year later the Democratic Party of Albania won the new elections. After the year 1990, Albania has been seeking a closer relationship with the West...

1912 1912–1914 1914–1925 1925–1928 1928–1939 1939–1943 1943–1944 1944–1992 since 1992


Administrative divisions


Albania is divided into 12 administrative counties . These counties include 36 districts and 373 municipalities . 72 municipalities have city status . There are overall 2980 villages/communities in all Albania. Each district has its council which is composed of a number of municipalities. The municipalities are the first level of local governance, responsible for local needs and law enforcement.

County
Counties of Albania
Albania is divided into twelve counties . Each contains several districts...

Capital Districts Municipalities
Municipalities of Albania
This is a list of municipalities of Albania, sorted by county and by district. Municipalities are the third-level administrative divisions of Albania, under districts and counties. There are two types of municipalities in Albania: municipalities with an urban character are called bashki, and...

Cities Villages
Villages of Albania
-County:*Villages of Berat County*Villages of Dibër County*Villages of Durrës County*Villages of Elbasan County*Villages of Fier County*Villages of Gjirokastër County*Villages of Korçë County*Villages of Kukës County*Villages of Lezhë County...

1 Berat
Berat County
The County of Berat is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Berat, Kuçovë, and Skrapar; its capital is Berat.The main cities are Berat city proper,Kucove,Polican,Ura Vajgurore, Corovode and Bogove. Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering an area of and a buffer...

Berat
Berat
Berat is a town located in south-central Albania. As of 2009, the town has an estimated population of around 71,000 people. It is the capital of both the District of Berat and the larger County of Berat...

Berat
Berat District
The District of Berat is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Berat County. It has a population of 117,066 , and an area of 939 km². It is in the centre of the country, and its capital is Berat. The other large population centres in this district are Polican and Ura Vajgurore...


Kuçovë
Kuçovë District
The District of Kuçovë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Berat County. It has a population of 34,907 , and an area of 84 km². It is in the centre of the country, and its capital is Kuçovë.-Description:...


Skrapar
Skrapar District
The District of Skrapar is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Berat County. It has a population of 10,200 , and an area of 775 km²...

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2 Dibër
Dibër County
The County of Dibër is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Bulqizë, Dibër, and Mat and its capital is Peshkopi.Dibër is known for its resistance against the Turks. Historical Dibër included parts of Albania and Macedonia...

Peshkopi
Peshkopi
Peshkopi is a city in Dibër District, Dibër County, northeastern Albania.It is located away from Tirana, the capital of Albania, and from the Macedonian border. It is situated at 41°40'N and 20°25'. It sits above sea level. In the 2004 census, there were approximately 14,100 residents. It is...

Bulqizë
Bulqizë District
The District of Bulqizë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Dibër County. It has a population of 28,374, and an area of 469 km². It is in the east of the country, and its capital is Bulqizë....


Dibër
Dibër District
The District of Dibër is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Dibër County. It has a population of 62,825, and an area of 1088 km². It is in the north-east of the country, and its capital is Peshkopi....


Mat
Mat District
The District of Mat is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Dibër County. It is named after the Mat River, that flows through the district. It has a population of 48,803 , and an area of 1,029 km². Its capital is Burrel...

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3 Durrës
Durrës County
The County of Durrës is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Durrës and Krujë and its capital is Durrës. The city is 40 minutes away from Tirana by car. It has the largest sea port in Albania....

Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

Durrës
Durrës District
The District of Durrës is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Durrës County. It has a population of 242,801 , and an area of 433 km². It is in the west of the country, and its capital is Durrës...


Krujë
Krujë District
The District of Krujë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Durrës County. It has a population of 67,698 , and an area of 333 km². It is in the centre of the country, and its capital is Krujë. The district consists of the following...

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4 Elbasan
Elbasan County
The County of Elbasan is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Elbasan, Gramsh, Librazhd and Peqin and its capital is Elbasan.Much of Elbasan's eastern border is with the Republic of Macedonia...

Elbasan
Elbasan
Elbasan is a city in central Albania. It is located on the Shkumbin River in the District of Elbasan and the County of Elbasan, at...

Elbasan
Elbasan District
The District of Elbasan is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Elbasan County. It has a population of 224,689 , and an area of 1,372 km². It is in the centre of the country, and its capital is Elbasan...


Gramsh
Gramsh District
The District of Gramsh is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Elbasan County. It has a population of 24,230 , and an area of 695 km². It is in the centre of the country, and its capital is Gramsh. The district consists of the following...


Librazhd
Librazhd District
The District of Librazhd is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Elbasan County. It has a population of 63,192 , and an area of . It was formed as an administrative unit in 1958. It is in the east of the country, and its capital and administrative center is...


Peqin
Peqin District
The District of Peqin is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Elbasan County. It has a population of 31,004 , and an area of 109 km². It is in the centre of the country, and its capital is Peqin....

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5 Fier
Fier County
The County of Fier is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts of Fier, Lushnjë and Mallakastër and its capital is Fier.Fier's western edge is the shoreline of the Adriatic Sea. On land, it borders the following counties:...

Fier
Fier
Fieri is a city in southwest Albania, in the district and county of the same name. It is located at , and has a population of 82,297 . Fier is from the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Apollonia.-History :...

Fier
Fier District
The District of Fier is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Fier County. It has a population of 199,442 , and an area of 785 km². It is in the south-west of the country, and its capital is Fier...


Lushnjë
Lushnjë District
The District of Lushnjë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Fier County. It has a population of 143,276 , and an area of 712 km². It is in the west of the country and 80 km south of Tirana. Its capital is Lushnjë...


Mallakastër
Mallakastër District
The District of Mallakastër is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Fier County. It has a population of 31,356 , and an area of 393 km². It is in the south of the country, and its capital is Ballsh...

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6 Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër County
Gjirokastër County is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Gjirokastër, Përmet, and Tepelenë and its capital is Gjirokastër. Its population includes a substantial Greek minority. To the southeast, Gjirokastër shares a border with Greece...

Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër is a city in southern Albania with a population of 43,000. Lying in the historical region of Epirus, it is the capital of both the Gjirokastër District and the larger Gjirokastër County...

Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër District
The District of Gjirokastër is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania. It has a population of 56,720 containing a large Greek minority, and an area of 1,137 km². It is in the south of the country, and its capital is Gjirokastër...


Përmet
Përmet District
The District of Përmet is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Gjirokastër County. Its population of 22,029 includes Aromanian minorities. The district has an area of 930 km². It is in the south-east of the country, and its capital is Përmet...


Tepelenë
Tepelenë District
The District of Tepelenë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Gjirokastër County. It has a population of 23,800 , and an area of 817 km². It is in the south of the country, and its capital is Tepelenë...

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7 Korçë
Korçë County
The County of Korçë is one of the 12 counties of Albania, located in the eastern part of the country. It is the largest county of Albania and consists of the districts Devoll, Kolonjë, Korçë and Pogradec and its capital is Korçë....

Korçë
Korçë
Korçë is a city in southeastern Albania and the capital of the Korçë District. It has a population of around 105,000 people , making it the sixth largest city in Albania...

Devoll
Devoll District
The District of Devoll is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Korçë County and derives its name from the Devoll river flowing through the valley. It has a population of 33,785, and an area of 429 km². It is in the southeastern corner of the country, and its capital is Bilisht...


Kolonjë
Kolonjë District
The Kolonjë District , is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Korçë County. It has a population of 14,318 . The district has an area of 805 km². It is in the south-east of the country, and its capital is Ersekë. Other towns in this district include Leskovik to the south...


Korçë
Korçë District
The District of Korçë , is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania. According estimates, as of January 1, 2010, 138,898 people lived in the Korce District...


Pogradec
Pogradec District
The District of Pogradec is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Korçë County. It has a population of 70,575 , and an area of 725 km². It is in the east of the country, and its capital is Pogradec...

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8 Kukës
Kukës County
The County of Kukës is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Has, Kukës and Tropojë and its capital is Kukës. To the east, Kukës borders Kosovo, while in the extreme northwest it borders Montenegro and in the extreme southeast it borders the Republic of Macedonia...

Kukës
Kukës
Kukës is a town in Albania located at 42.09°N, 20.43°E in the district and county with the same name. It has a population of about 16,000 . The town is set among the mountains of northern Albania. It is famous for its role during the Kosovo conflict for taking in 450,000 refugees from Kosovo...

Has
Has District
The District of Has is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania and one of the smallest. It has a population of 17,419 , and an area of . It is in the north-east of the country, part of Kukës County, and its capital and only municipality is Krumë...


Kukës
Kukës District
The District of Kukës is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania. It has a population 45,616 and area of 938 km². The district's only urban municipality is Kukës, which also is where the districts administrative headquarters are located...


Tropojë
Tropojë District
The District of Tropojë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Kukës County. It has a population of 16,260 , and an area of 1,043 km². It is in the north of the country, and its capital is Bajram Curri. The area is also known for its massive chestnuts forests and the Valbonë...

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9 Lezhë
Lezhë County
Lezhë County is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Kurbin, Lezhë and Mirditë and its capital is Lezhë.Lezhë has a small western shoreline on the Adriatic Sea. On land, it borders the following counties:*Shkodër: north...

Lezhë
Lezhë
Lezhë is a city in northwest Albania, in the district and county with the same name. It is located at and has a population of about 27,500...

Kurbin
Kurbin District
The District of Kurbin is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Lezhë County. It has a population of 54,977 , and an area of 273 km². It is in the west of the country, and its capital is Laç. The district consists of the following municipalities:*Fushë-Kuqe*Laç*Mamurras*Milot...


Lezhë
Lezhë District
The District of Lezhë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Lezhë County. It has a population of 77,184 , and an area of 479 km². It is in the north-west of the country, and its capital is Lezhë....


Mirditë
Mirditë District
The District of Mirditë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Lezhë County. It has a population of 26,668 , and an area of 867 km². It is in the north of the country, and its capital is Rrëshen...

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10 Shkodër
Shkodër County
Shkodër County is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Malësi e Madhe, Pukë and Shkodër. The capital of the county of Shkodër is the city of Shkodër....

Shkodër
Shkodër
Shkodër , is a city located on Lake of Shkoder in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodër's estimated population is 90,000; if the...

Malësi e Madhe
Malësi e Madhe District
The Malësi e Madhe District is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Shkodër County. It has a population of 36,091 , and an area of 555 km². It is in the north of the country, and its capital is Koplik...


Pukë
Pukë District
The District of Pukë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Shkodër County. It has a population of 24,323 , and an area of 1,034 km².It is located in the north of the country and its capital is Pukë...


Shkodër
Shkodër District
The District of Shkodër is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Shkodër County. It has a population of 185,646 , and an area of 1,973 km². It is in the north of the country, and its capital is Shkodër...

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11 Tirana Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

Kavajë
Kavajë District
The District of Kavajë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Tirana County. It has a population of 82,921 , and an area of 414 km². It is in the west of the country, and its capital is Kavajë...


Tirana
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12 Vlorë
Vlorë County
The County of Vlorë is one of the 12 counties of Albania. It consists of the districts Delvinë, Sarandë and Vlorë and its capital is Vlorë. As of January 1, 2010 the population of the Vlore District was estimated to be 211,773....

Vlorë
Vlorë
Vlorë is one of the biggest towns and the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of about 94,000 . It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912...

Delvinë
Delvinë District
The District of Delvinë or District of Delvina is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Vlorë County. Its population of 11,985 includes a substantial Greek community. The district has an area of 348 km² . It is in the south of the country, and its capital is Delvinë...


Sarandë
Sarandë District
The District of Sarandë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, found in southern Albania, in the County of Vlorë.The area of the district is 749 square kilometers. The population of the district was 48,474 . According to the census of January 1993, it was 53,700.The centre of the district...


Vlorë
Vlorë District
The District of Vlorë is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, part of Vlorë County. Its population of 151,314 . The district has a land area of 1,609 km². It is in the south-west of the country, and its capital is Vlorë. Its population includes a Greek minority...

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99

Government, politics and armed forces


The Albanian republic is a parliamentary democracy established under a constitution renewed in 1998. Elections are held every four years to a unicameral 140-seat chamber, the People's Assembly. In June 2002, a compromise candidate, Alfred Moisiu
Alfred Moisiu
was the fourth President of the Republic of Albania from July 24, 2002 to July 24, 2007. He is the son of Albanian Army general Spiro Moisiu....

, former Army General
Army General
For the army rank of General, as opposed to the specific rank of Army General, see General officer.Army General is a title used in many countries to denote the rank of General nominally commanding an army in the field...

, was elected to succeed President Rexhep Meidani
Rexhep Meidani
is an Albanian politician. He graduated from the University of Tirana , Faculty of Natural Sciences, Branch Physics, as well as successfully accomplished the postgraduate studies in the University of Caen...

. Parliamentary elections in July 2005 brought Sali Berisha
Sali Berisha
Sali Ram Berisha is an Albanian politician and cardiologist, currently the Prime Minister of Albania and the leader of Democratic Party of Albania ....

, an ex-Albanian communist party member, as leader of the Democratic Party, back to power. The current president Bamir Topi
Bamir Topi
Bamir Myrteza Topi is the fifth and current President of Albania since 24 July 2007. He was also Honorary President of Albanian football club KF Tirana from 2005 to 2007.-Early life and public activities:...

 was elected by Parliament in July 2007.

The Euro-Atlantic integration of Albania has been the ultimate goal of the post-communist governments. Albania's EU membership bid has been set as a priority by the European Commission.

Albania, along with Croatia, joined NATO on 1 April 2009, becoming the 27th and 28th members of the alliance.

The workforce of Albania has continued to migrate to Greece, Italy, Germany, other parts of Europe, and North America. However, the migration flux is slowly decreasing, as more and more opportunities are emerging in Albania itself as its economy steadily develops.

Executive branch


The head of state in Albania is the President of the Republic. The President is elected to a 5-year term by the Assembly of the Republic of Albania
Assembly of Albania
The Parliament of Albania , formerly the People's Parliament is the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Albania.It has 140 members, elected for four-year terms. The electoral system is closed list proportional representation. There are 12 multi-member constituencies, corresponding to the...

 by secret ballot, requiring a 50%+1 majority of the votes of all deputies. The next election will be held in 2012. The current President of the Republic is Bamir Topi.

The President has the power to guarantee observation of the constitution and all laws, act as commander in chief of the armed forces, exercise the duties of the Assembly of the Republic of Albania
Assembly of Albania
The Parliament of Albania , formerly the People's Parliament is the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Albania.It has 140 members, elected for four-year terms. The electoral system is closed list proportional representation. There are 12 multi-member constituencies, corresponding to the...

 when the Assembly is not in session, and appoint the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister).

Executive power rests with the Council of Ministers (cabinet). The Chairman of the Council (prime minister) is appointed by the president; ministers are nominated by the president on the basis of the prime minister's recommendation. The People's Assembly must give final approval of the composition of the Council. The Council is responsible for carrying out both foreign and domestic policies. It directs and controls the activities of the ministries and other state organs.
President Bamir Topi
Bamir Topi
Bamir Myrteza Topi is the fifth and current President of Albania since 24 July 2007. He was also Honorary President of Albanian football club KF Tirana from 2005 to 2007.-Early life and public activities:...

PD
Democratic Party of Albania
The Democratic Party of Albania is a center-right, Conservative, political party in Albania and the leading party in the governing coalition since the 2005 parliamentary elections...

 
20 July 2007
Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Sali Berisha
Sali Ram Berisha is an Albanian politician and cardiologist, currently the Prime Minister of Albania and the leader of Democratic Party of Albania ....

PD
Democratic Party of Albania
The Democratic Party of Albania is a center-right, Conservative, political party in Albania and the leading party in the governing coalition since the 2005 parliamentary elections...

9 September 2009

Legislative branch


The Assembly of the Republic of Albania
Assembly of Albania
The Parliament of Albania , formerly the People's Parliament is the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Albania.It has 140 members, elected for four-year terms. The electoral system is closed list proportional representation. There are 12 multi-member constituencies, corresponding to the...

 (Kuvendi i Republikës së Shqipërisë) is the lawmaking body in Albania. There are 140 deputies in the Assembly, which are elected through a party-list proportional representation
Party-list proportional representation
Party-list proportional representation systems are a family of voting systems emphasizing proportional representation in elections in which multiple candidates are elected...

 system. The President of the Assembly (or Speaker), who has two deputies, chairs the Assembly. There are 15 permanent commissions, or committees. Parliamentary elections are held at least every four years.

The Assembly has the power to decide the direction of domestic and foreign policy; approve or amend the constitution; declare war on another state; ratify or annul international treaties; elect the President of the Republic, the Supreme Court, and the Attorney General and his or her deputies; and control the activity of state radio and television, state news agency and other official information media.

Armed forces


The Albanian Armed Forces (Forcat e Armatosura të Shqipërisë) first formed after independence in 1912. Albania reduced the number of active troops from 65,000 in 1988 to 14,500 in 2009 mainly consisting of a small fleet of aircraft and sea vessels. In the 1990s, the country scrapped enormous amounts of obsolete hardware, such as tanks and SAM systems
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 from China.

Today, it consists of the General Staff Headquarters, the Albanian Land Forces, Albanian Air Force
Albanian Air Force
The Albanian Air Force is the national Air Force of the Albanian military. Currently it operates under the Albanian Joint Forces Command and it is regrouped in the Albanian Air Brigade...

, Albanian Naval Defense Forces
Albanian Naval Defense Forces
The Albanian Naval Defense Forces are the naval branch of the Albanian military.Their name was changed from the Coastal Defense Command of the Albanian Army in 1996. With the new structure the naval forces are regrouped in the Albanian Navy Brigade under the Albanian Joint Forces Command. The...

, the Albanian Logistic Brigade and the Albanian Training and Doctrine Command
Albanian Training and Doctrine Command
The Albanian Training and Doctrine Command consists of the Albanian Defence Academy, the Skanderbeg Military University, the NCO "Tomson" Academy, the Basic Training Brigade, a consolidated Troops School, a Defence Analysis Center, and a Training Support Center.TRADOC focuses in:* Individual basic...

. Increasing the military budget was one of the most important conditions for NATO integration. Military spending accounted for about 2.7% of GDP in 2008. Since February 2008, Albania participates officially in NATO's Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. and received a NATO membership invitation on 3 April 2008. Albania became a full member of NATO on 1 April 2009.

Geography




Albania has a total area of 28,748 square kilometers. It lies between latitudes 39°
39th parallel north
The 39th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 39 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 43° N
43rd parallel north
The 43rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 43 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and mostly between longitudes 19°
19th meridian east
The meridian 19° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 21° E
21st meridian east
The meridian 21° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 (a small area lies east of 21°). Albania's coastline length is 476 km (296 mi) and extends along the Adriatic
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 and Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

s. The lowlands of the west face the Adriatic Sea. The 70% of the country that is mountainous is rugged and often inaccessible from the outside. The highest mountain is Korab
Mount Korab
Mount Korab is the highest mountain of the Republic of Macedonia and Albania, its peak forming a frontier between the two countries...

 situated in the district of Dibër, reaching up to 2753 metres (9,032.2 ft). The climate on the coast is typically Mediterranean
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 with mild, wet winters and warm, sunny, and rather dry summers.

Inland conditions vary depending on altitude, but the higher areas above 1,500 m/5,000 ft are rather cold and frequently snowy in winter; here cold conditions with snow may linger into spring. Besides the capital city of Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

, which has 800,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

, Korçë
Korçë
Korçë is a city in southeastern Albania and the capital of the Korçë District. It has a population of around 105,000 people , making it the sixth largest city in Albania...

, Elbasan
Elbasan
Elbasan is a city in central Albania. It is located on the Shkumbin River in the District of Elbasan and the County of Elbasan, at...

, Shkodër
Shkodër
Shkodër , is a city located on Lake of Shkoder in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodër's estimated population is 90,000; if the...

, Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër is a city in southern Albania with a population of 43,000. Lying in the historical region of Epirus, it is the capital of both the Gjirokastër District and the larger Gjirokastër County...

, Vlorë
Vlorë
Vlorë is one of the biggest towns and the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of about 94,000 . It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912...

 and Kukës
Kukës
Kukës is a town in Albania located at 42.09°N, 20.43°E in the district and county with the same name. It has a population of about 16,000 . The town is set among the mountains of northern Albania. It is famous for its role during the Kosovo conflict for taking in 450,000 refugees from Kosovo...

. In Albanian grammar, a word can have indefinite and definite forms, and this also applies to city names: both Tiranë and Tirana, Shkodër and Shkodra are used.

The three largest and deepest tectonic lakes of the Balkan Peninsula are partly located in Albania. Lake Shkodër in the country's northwest has a surface which can vary between 370 km² (142.9 sq mi) and 530 km2, out of which one third belongs to Albania and rest to Montenegro. The Albanian shoreline of the lake is 57 km (35 mi). Ohrid Lake is situated in the country's southeast and is shared between Albania and Republic of Macedonia. It has a maximal depth of 289 meters and a variety of unique flora and fauna can be found there, including "living fossils" and many endemic species. Because of its natural and historical value, Ohrid Lake is under the protection of UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

. There is also Butrinti Lake which is a small tectonic lake. It is located in the national park of Butrint.

Climate


With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon 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, Albania has a high number of climatic regions relative to its landmass. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean weather; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south.

The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 °C (75 °F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5 C-change higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5 C-change during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.

Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation than by latitude or any other factor. Low winter temperatures in the mountains are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow much of the time. Average summer temperatures are lower than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations, but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures in the interior basins and river valley
River Valley
River Valley is the name of an urban planning area within the Central Area, Singapore's central business district.The River Valley Planning Area is defined by the region bounded by Orchard Boulevard, Devonshire Road and Eber Road to the north, Oxley Rise and Mohamed Sultan Road to the east, Martin...

s are very high, but the nights are almost always cool.
Average precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 is heavy, a result of the convergence of the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 and the continental air mass. Because they usually meet at the point where the terrain rises, the heaviest rain falls in the central uplands. Vertical currents initiated when the Mediterranean air is uplifted also cause frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied by high local winds and torrential downpours.

When the continental air mass is weak, Mediterranean winds drop their moisture farther inland. When there is a dominant continental air mass, cold air spills onto the lowland areas, which occurs most frequently in the winter. Because the season's lower temperatures damage olive trees and citrus fruits, groves and orchards are restricted to sheltered places with southern and western exposures, even in areas with high average winter temperatures.

Lowland rainfall averages from 1000 millimetres (39.4 in) to more than 1500 millimetres (59.1 in) annually, with the higher levels in the north. Nearly 95% of the rain falls in the winter.

Rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Adequate records are not available, and estimates vary widely, but annual averages are probably about 1800 millimetres (70.9 in) and are as high as 2550 millimetres (100.4 in) in some northern areas. The western Albanian Alps (valley of Boga) are among the wettest areas in Europe, receiving some 3100 mm (122 in) of rain annually. The seasonal variation is not quite as great in the coastal area.

The higher inland mountains receive less precipitation than the intermediate uplands. Terrain differences cause wide local variations, but the seasonal distribution is the most consistent of any area.

In 2009 an expedition from University of Colorado discovered four small glaciers in the 'Cursed' mountains in North Albania. The glaciers are at the relatively low level of 2,000 meters – almost unique for such a southerly latitude.

Flora and fauna


Although a small country, Albania is distinguished for its rich biological diversity. The variation of geomorphology, climate and terrain create favorable conditions for a number of endemic and sub-endemic species with 27 endemic and 160 subendemic vascular plants present in the country. The total number of plants is over 3250 species, approximately 30% of the entire flora species found in Europe.

Over a third of the territory of Albania – about 10,000 square kilometers (2.5 million acres) – is forested and the country is very rich in flora. About 3,000 different species of plants grow in Albania, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. Phytogeographically
Phytogeography
Phytogeography , also called geobotany, is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species...

, Albania belongs to the Boreal Kingdom
Boreal Kingdom
The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good , which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia...

 and is shared between the Adriatic and East Mediterranean provinces of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region
Circumboreal Region
The Circumboreal Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in Eurasia and North America, as delineated by such geobotanists as Josias Braun-Blanquet and Armen Takhtajan....

. Coastal regions and lowlands have typical Mediterranean macchia vegetation, whereas oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 forests and vegetation are found on higher altitudes. Vast forests of black pine
European Black Pine
Pinus nigra, the European Black Pine, is a moderately variable species of pine, occurring across southern Mediterranean Europe from Spain to the Crimea, in Asia Minor and on Cyprus, and in the high mountains of the Maghreb in North Africa....

, beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

 and fir
Fir
Firs are a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range...

 are found on higher mountains and alpine grasslands grow at altitudes above 1800 meters.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency
European Environment Agency
European Environment Agency is an agency of the European Union. Its task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. It is a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public...

, the territory of Albania can be subdivided into three ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s: the Illyrian deciduous forests
Illyrian deciduous forests
The Illyrian deciduous forests form a terrestrial ecoregion of Europe according to both the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency...

, Pindus Mountains mixed forests
Pindus Mountains mixed forests
The Pindus Mountains mixed forests constitute a terrestrial ecoregion of Europe according to both the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency...

 and Dinaric Alpine
Dinaric Alps
The Dinaric Alps or Dinarides form a mountain chain in Southern Europe, spanning areas of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro....

 mixed forests. The forests are home to a wide range of mammals, including wolves, bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

s, wild boars and chamois
Chamois
The chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, including the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, the European Alps, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of Turkey, and the Caucasus. The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand...

. Lynx
Lynx
A lynx is any of the four Lynx genus species of medium-sized wildcats. The name "lynx" originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek word "λύγξ", derived from the Indo-European root "*leuk-", meaning "light, brightness", in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes...

, wildcat
Wildcat
Wildcat is a small felid native to Europe, the western part of Asia, and Africa.-Animals:Wildcat may also refer to members of the genus Lynx:...

s, pine marten
Pine Marten
The European Pine Marten , known most commonly as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and less commonly also known as Pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten, is an animal native to Northern Europe belonging to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine and weasel. It...

s and polecats
European polecat
The European polecat , also known as the black or forest polecat , is a species of Mustelid native to western Eurasia and North Africa, which is classed by the IUCN as Least Concern due to its wide range and large numbers. It is of a generally dark brown colour, with a pale underbelly and a dark...

 are rare, but survive in some parts of the country.

There are around 760 vertebrate species found so far in Albania. Among these there are over 350 bird species, 330 freshwater and marine fish and 80 mammal species. There are some 91 globally threatened species found within the country, among which the Dalmatian pelican
Dalmatian Pelican
The Dalmatian Pelican is a member of the pelican family. It breeds from southeastern Europe to India and China in swamps and shallow lakes. The nest is a crude heap of vegetation....

, Pygmy cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant
The Pygmy Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It breeds in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. It is partially migratory, with northern populations wintering further south, mostly within in its breeding range...

, and the European sea sturgeon
European sea sturgeon
The Atlantic or the European Sturgeon , also known as the baltic sturgeon or common sturgeon, is a species of sturgeon found on most coasts of Europe. It is currently a critically endangered species....

. Rocky coastal regions in the south provide good habitats for the endangered Mediterranean monk seal
Mediterranean Monk Seal
The Mediterranean monk seal is a pinniped belonging to the Phocidae family. At some 450-510 remaining individuals, it is believed to be the world's second-rarest pinniped , and one of the most endangered mammals in the world.It is present in parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic...

.

Some of the most significant bird species found in the country include the golden eagle
Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas...

 – known as the national symbol of Albania  – vulture
Vulture
Vulture is the name given to two groups of convergently evolved scavenging birds, the New World Vultures including the well-known Californian and Andean Condors, and the Old World Vultures including the birds which are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains...

 species, capercaillie
Capercaillie
The Western Capercaillie , also known as the Wood Grouse, Heather Cock or Capercaillie , is the largest member of the grouse family, reaching over 100 cm in length and 6.7 kg in weight. The largest one ever recorded in captivity had a weight of 7.2 kg....

 and numerous waterfowl
Waterfowl
Waterfowl are certain wildfowl of the order Anseriformes, especially members of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans....

. The Albanian forests still maintain significant communities of large mammals such as the brown bear
Brown Bear
The brown bear is a large bear distributed across much of northern Eurasia and North America. It can weigh from and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear, rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.There are several recognized...

, gray wolf
Gray Wolf
The gray wolf , also known as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family...

, chamois
Chamois
The chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, including the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, the European Alps, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of Turkey, and the Caucasus. The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand...

 and wild boar. The north and eastern mountains of the country are home to the last remaining Balkan Lynx
Balkan Lynx
The Balkan Lynx is a subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx in the Lynx genus. It is the national symbol of the Republic of Macedonia. It is considered to be the largest cat on the continent. The Balkan Lynx has been on the brink of extinction for nearly a century, with numbers estimated to be around one...

 – a critically endangered population of the Eurasian lynx
Eurasian Lynx
The Eurasian lynx is a medium-sized cat native to European and Siberian forests, South Asia and East Asia. It is also known as the European lynx, common lynx, the northern lynx, and the Siberian or Russian lynx...

.

Economy


Albania remains a poor country by Western European standards. Its GDP per capita (expressed in PPS—Purchasing Power Standards
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

) stood at 26 percent of the EU average in 2010. Still, Albania has shown potential for economic growth, as more and more businesses relocate there and consumer goods are becoming available from emerging market traders as part of the current massive global cost-cutting exercise. Albania, Cyprus, and Poland are the only countries in Europe that recorded economic growth in the first quarter of 2009. International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF) predicted 2.6% growth for Albania in 2010 and 3.2% in 2011. There are signs of increasing investments, and power cuts are reduced to the extent that Albania is now exporting energy.

Albania and Croatia have discussed the possibility of jointly building a nuclear power plant at Lake Shkoder
Shkodër
Shkodër , is a city located on Lake of Shkoder in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodër's estimated population is 90,000; if the...

, close to the border with Montenegro, a plan that has gathered criticism from Montenegro due to seismicity in the area. In addition, there is some doubt whether Albania would be able to finance a project of such a scale with a total national budget of less than $ 5 billion. However, in February 2009 Italian company Enel
Enel
Enel may refer to:*Enel SpA, an Italian electricity company*Enel , a fictional villain in the One Piece manga and anime series*Enel, meaning third in the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, cf. Awakening of the Elves...

 announced plans to build an 800 MW coal-fired power plant in Albania, to diversify electricity sources. Nearly 100% of the electricity is generated by ageing hydroelectric power plants, which are becoming more ineffective due to increasing droughts.

The country has some deposits of petroleum and natural gas, but produced only 5,400 barrels of oil per day as of 2009. Natural gas production, estimated at about 30 million cubic meters, is sufficient to meet consumer demands. Other natural resources include coal, bauxite
Bauxite
Bauxite is an aluminium ore and is the main source of aluminium. This form of rock consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al3, boehmite γ-AlO, and diaspore α-AlO, in a mixture with the two iron oxides goethite and hematite, the clay mineral kaolinite, and small amounts of anatase TiO2...

, copper and iron ore.

Agriculture
Agriculture in Albania
Agriculture in Albania employs 47.8% of the population and about 24.31% of the land is used for agricultural purposes. Agriculture contributes to 18.9% of the country's GDP...

 is the most significant sector, employing some 58% of the labor force and generating about 21% of GDP. Albania produces significant amounts of wheat, corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, tobacco, figs
FIGS
FIGS is an acronym for French, Italian, German, Spanish. These are usually the first four languages chosen to localize products into when a company enters the European market....

 (13th largest producer in the world) and olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

s.

Science and technology


Expenditure for scientific research and Development in Albania does not exceed 0.18% of GDP, which marks the lowest level in Europe. Economic competitiveness and exports are low, with the economy still heavily skewed towards low technology. From 1993 human resources in sciences and technology have drastically decreased. Various surveys show that during 1991–2005, approximately 50% of the professors and research scientists of the universities and science institutions in the country have emigrated.

However in 2009 the government approved the "National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation in Albania" covering the period 2009–2015. It aims to triple public spending on research and development (R&D) to 0.6% of GDP and augment the share of gross domestic expenditure on R&D from foreign sources, including via the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

's Framework Programmes for Research, to the point where it covers 40% of research spending, among others.

Highways



Currently there are three main four lane highways in Albania: the highway connecting the city of Durrës with Tirana, that connecting Durrës with Vlore
Vlorë
Vlorë is one of the biggest towns and the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of about 94,000 . It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912...

 and the Albania-Kosovo Highway
Albania-Kosovo Highway
The Albania-Kosovo Highway is a 4-lane highway being built between Albania and Kosovo...

.

The Albania-Kosovo Highway
Albania-Kosovo Highway
The Albania-Kosovo Highway is a 4-lane highway being built between Albania and Kosovo...

 links Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 to Albania's Adriatic coast: the Albanian side was completed in June 2009, and now it takes only two hours and a half to go from the Kosovo border to Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

. Overall the highway will be around 250 km (155 mi) when it reaches Pristina
Pristina
Pristina, also spelled Prishtina and Priština is the capital and largest city of Kosovo. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous municipality and district....

. The project was the biggest and most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in Albania. The cost of the highway appears to have breached €800 million, although the exact cost for the total highway has yet to be confirmed by the government.

Two additional highways will be built in Albania in the near future: Corridor VIII
Pan-European corridors
The ten Pan-European transport corridors were defined at the second Pan-European transport Conference in Crete, March 1994, as routes in Central and Eastern Europe that required major investment over the next ten to fifteen years. Additions were made at the third conference in Helsinki in 1997...

, which will link Albania with the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, and the north-south highway, which corresponds to the Albanian side of the Adriatic–Ionian motorway
Adriatic–Ionian motorway
Adriatic–Ionian motorway is a future motorway that will stretch along the entire eastern shore of Adriatic and Ionian seas, spanning the western border of the Balkan peninsula.-Overview:...

, a larger regional highway connecting Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 with Greece along the Adriatic and Ionian
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

 coasts. When all three corridors are completed Albania will have an estimated 759 kilometers of highway linking it with all its neighboring countries: Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Greece.

Aviation


The civil air transport in Albania marked its beginnings in November 1924, when the Republic of Albania signed a governmental agreement with German Air Company Deutsche Luft Hansa
Deutsche Luft Hansa
Deutsche Luft Hansa A.G. was a German airline, serving as flag carrier of the country during the later years of the Weimar Republic and throughout the Third Reich.-1920s:Deutsche Luft Hansa was founded on 6 January 1926 in Berlin...

. On the basis of a ten-year concession agreement, the Albanian Airlines Company Adria Aero Lloyd was established. In the spring of 1925, the first domestic flights from Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

 to Shkoder
Shkodër
Shkodër , is a city located on Lake of Shkoder in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodër's estimated population is 90,000; if the...

 and Vlora began.

In August 1927, the office of Civil Aviation of Air Traffic Ministry of Italy purchased Adria Aero Lloyd. The company, now in Italian hands, expanded its flights to other cities, such as Elbasan
Elbasan
Elbasan is a city in central Albania. It is located on the Shkumbin River in the District of Elbasan and the County of Elbasan, at...

, Korça
Korča
Korča is a village in the municipality of Hadžići, Bosnia and Herzegovina.-References:...

, Kukësi, Peshkopia and Gjirokastra, and opened up international lines to Rome, Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

, Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

, and Podgorica
Podgorica
Podgorica , is the capital and largest city of Montenegro.Podgorica's favourable position at the confluence of the Ribnica and Morača rivers and the meeting point of the fertile Zeta Plain and Bjelopavlići Valley has encouraged settlement...

.

The construction of a more modern airport in Lapraka started in 1934 and was completed by the end of 1935. This new airport, which was later officially named "Airport of Tirana", was constructed in conformity with optimal technological parameters of that time, with a reinforced concrete runway of 12400 m (40,682 ft), and complemented with technical equipment and appropriate buildings.

During 1955–1957, the Rinasi Airport was constructed for military purposes. Later, its administration was shifted to the Ministry of Transport. On 25 January 1957 the State-owned Enterprise of International Air Transport (Albtransport) established its headquarters in Tirana. Aeroflot
Aeroflot
OJSC AeroflotRussian Airlines , commonly known as Aeroflot , is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation, based on passengers carried per year...

, Jat, Malev, Tarom
Tarom
S.C. Compania Națională de Transporturi Aeriene Române TAROM S.A., doing business as TAROM Romanian Air Transport, is the flag carrier and oldest currently operating airline of Romania. The brand name is an acronym for...

 and Interflug
Interflug
Interflug was the state airline of East Germany from 1963 to 1991, when it ceased operations following German reunification...

 were the air companies that started to have flights with Albania until 1960.

During 1960–1978, several airlines ceased to operate in Albania due to the impact of the politics, resulting in a decrease of influx of flights and passengers. In 1977 Albania's government signed an agreement with Greece to open the country's first air links with non-communist Europe. As a result, Olympic Airways
Olympic Airlines
Olympic Airlines was the flag carrier airline of Greece, with its head office in Athens. It operated services to 37 domestic destinations and to 32 destinations world-wide. Its main base was at Athens International Airport, with hubs at Thessaloniki International Airport, "Macedonia" and Rhodes...

 was the first non-communist airline to commercially fly into Albania after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By 1991 Albania had air links with many major European cities, including Paris, Rome, Zurich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

, Vienna and Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, but no regular domestic air service.

A French-Albanian joint venture Ada Air
Ada Air
Ada Air Sh. p.k. was a regional airline based in Tirana, Albania. It operated scheduled services from Albania to Bari, Italy, and overnight freight services for DHL. Its main base was Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza...

, was launched in Albania as the first private airline, in 1991. The company offered flights in a thirty-six-passenger airplane four days a week between Tirana and Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

, Italy and a charter service for domestic and international destinations.

From 1989 to 1991, because of political changes in the Eastern European countries, Albania adhered to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), opened its air space to international flights, and had its duties of Air Traffic Control defined. As a result of these developments, conditions were created to separate the activities of air traffic control from Albtransport. Instead, the National Agency of Air Traffic (NATA) was established as an independent enterprise. In addition, during these years, governmental agreements of civil air transport were established with countries such as Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Germany, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Italy, Russia, Austria, the UK and Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

. The Directory General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was established on 3 February 1991, to cope with the development required by the time.

As of 2007 Albania has one international airport
International airport
An international airport is any airport that can accommodate flights from other countries and are typically equipped with customs and immigration facilities to handle these flights to and from other countries...

: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza. The airport is linked to 29 destinations by 14 airlines. It has seen a dramatic rise in passenger numbers and aircraft movements since the early 1990s. The data for 2009 is 1.3 million passengers served and an average of 44 landings and takeoffs per day.

Railways


The railways in Albania are administered by the national railway company Hekurudha Shqiptare (HSH) (which means Albanian Railways). It operates a gauge (standard gauge) rail system in Albania. All trains are hauled by Czech
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

-built ČKD
CKD
A knock-down kit is a kit containing the parts needed to assemble a product...

 diesel-electric locomotive
Locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

s.

The railway system was extensively promoted by the totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 regime of Enver Hoxha
Enver Hoxha
Enver Halil Hoxha was a Marxist–Leninist revolutionary andthe leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania...

, during which time the use of private transport was effectively prohibited. Since the collapse of the former regime, there has been a considerable increase in car ownership and bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

 usage. Whilst some of the country's roads are still in very poor condition, there have been other developments (such as the construction of a motorway between Tirana and Durrës) which have taken much traffic away from the railways.

Demographics



Population in Albania
Year Million
1971 2.2
1990 3.3
2008 3.1
Source: OECD/World Bank

The Albanian population is relatively young by European standards, with a median age of 28.9 years. After 1990 the Albanian population has
faced new phenomena like migration, which greatly affected the distribution by districts and prefectures. Between 1991 and 2004, roughly 900,000 people have migrated out of Albania, about 600,000 of them settling in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Districts in the North have seen a decreasing population, while Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

 and Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

 districts have increased their population, due to internal immigration.

As of the last census data from 2001, Albania's population was 3,069,275. Officially, the Albanian Institute of Statistics estimated it at 3,152,600 on 1 January 2007, at 3,170,048 on 1 January 2008 and at 3,195,000 on 1 January 2010. Alternative sources (CIA) estimate the population in July 2011 at 2,994,667. Albania is a largely ethnically homogeneous country with only small minorities. The large majority of the population is ethnically Albanian
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

. The exact size of ethnic minorities is not known, as the last census that contained ethnographic data was held in 1989. According to the latest news, the next census containing ethnographic data will begin in April 2011 with EU counsels assisting in certain fields. The pilot census is already being conducted, while the official one will being on 2 April 2011. In February 2011 the government announced that the census would be postponed to prepare for municipal elections in May, while it has come under pressure from various groups and politicians to scrap the questions on ethnicity and religion. The census is due to take place in October, and will include questions on ethnicity. However, minority groups have sharply criticized Article 20 of the Census law, according to which a $1,000 fine will be imposed on anyone who will declare an ethnicity other than what was written down on his or her birth certificate. This is believed to be an attempt to intimidate minorities into declaring Albanian ethnicity, as the Albanian government has furthermore additionally stated that it will jail anyone who does not participate in the census or refuse to declare his or her ethnicity.

Minorities include Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Macedonians
Macedonians (ethnic group)
The Macedonians also referred to as Macedonian Slavs: "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness...

, Bulgarians
Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

, Gorani, Vlachs
Vlachs
Vlach is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. English variations on the name include: Walla, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs...

, Montenegrins, Serbs
Serbs
The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

, Balkan Egyptians, Roma, and Jews. The size of the Greek minority is a contentious issue, with the Albanian government claiming it is only 60,000, while some Greek sources are claiming even 300,000. Most Western sources put the size of the Greek minority at around 200,000, or about 6% of the population, while the CIA Factbook estimates the Greek minority at 3% of the total population and the US State Department uses 1.17% for Greeks and 0.23% for other minorites.

Language



The dominant and official language is Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

, a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk
Tosk Albanian
Tosk is the southern dialect of the Albanian language. The line of demarcation between Tosk and Gheg is the Shkumbin River. Tosk is the basis of the standard Albanian language.- Tosks :...

, but with a bigger influence of Tosk as compared to the Gheg. The Shkumbin River is the dividing line between the two dialects. In the areas inhabited by the Greek minority
Greek minority in Albania
About a general view on history, geography, demographics and political issues concerning the region, see Northern Epirus.The Greeks of Albania are ethnic Greeks who live in or originate from areas within modern Albania...

, a dialect of Greek is spoken that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. Other languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Albania include Aromanian
Aromanian language
Aromanian , also known as Macedo-Romanian, Arumanian or Vlach is an Eastern Romance language spoken in Southeastern Europe...

, Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

, Macedonian
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

, Bulgarian
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

 and Roma
Romani language
Romani or Romany, Gypsy or Gipsy is any of several languages of the Romani people. They are Indic, sometimes classified in the "Central" or "Northwestern" zone, and sometimes treated as a branch of their own....

.

Religion




There are no official statistics regarding religious affiliation in Albania. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Orthodox Christians, and 10% Roman Catholics. A Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 demographic study from 2009 put the percentage of Muslims in Albania
Islam in Albania
During the Ottoman rule, according to Ottoman data, the majority of Albanians were of Muslim affiliation . However, decades of state atheism which ended in 1991 brought a decline in religious practice in all traditions....

 at 79.9%. In 2009 According to the World Christian Encyclopedia
World Christian Encyclopedia
World Christian Encyclopedia is a reference work published by Oxford University Press, known for providing membership statistics for major and minor world religions in every country of the world, including historical data and projections of future populations.The first edition, by David B. Barrett,...

, roughly 38% of Albanians are Muslim, and 36% Christian. According to the US State Department, estimates for active participation in religious services are between 25 and 40%.

The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 sources of the late-11th century. At this point, they are already fully Christianised. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. After independence (1912) from the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian republican, monarchic and later Communist regimes followed a systematic policy of separating religion from official functions and cultural life. Albania never had an official state religion either as a republic or as a kingdom. In the 20th century, the clergy of all faiths was weakened under the monarchy, and ultimately eradicated during the 1940s and 1950s, under the state policy of obliterating all organised religion from Albanian territories.

The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II persecuted and suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world's first atheist state
State atheism
State atheism is the official "promotion of atheism" by a government, sometimes combined with active suppression of religious freedom and practice...

. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime's change in 1992. Albanian Muslim populations (mainly secular and of the Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 branch) are found throughout the country whereas Orthodox Christians
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

 are concentrated in the south and Roman Catholics are found in the north of the country. No reliable data are available on active participation in formal religious services, but estimates range from 25% to 40%.

The first recorded Albanian Protestant was Said Toptani, who traveled around Europe, and in 1853 returned to Tirana and preached Protestantism. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Ottoman authorities in 1864. Mainline evangelical Protestants date back to the work of Congregational and later Methodist missionaries and the work of the British & Foreign Bible Society in the 19th century. The Evangelical Alliance, which is known as VUSh http://www.vush.org/ was founded in 1892. Today VUSh has about 160 member congregations from different Protestant denomincations. VUSh organises marches in Tirana recently one against blood feuds in 2010. Bibles are provided by the Interconfessional Bible Society of Albania. The first full Albanian Bible to be printed was the Filipaj translation printed in 1990.

There are about 4,000 active Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 in Albania.
Among other religious organizations making inroads into this nation is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or 'Mormons'). LDS involvement in Albania began with humanitarian aid during the 1990s. The first missionaries were sent in 1992 with the Albania Tirana Mission being opened in 1996. As of 2008, there were nearly 2,000 members of the LDS church in Albania, spread throughout ten branches with two purpose-built chapels and one Family History Center.

Music and folklore





Albanian folk music falls into three stylistic groups, with other important music areas around Shkodër
Shkodër
Shkodër , is a city located on Lake of Shkoder in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodër's estimated population is 90,000; if the...

 and Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

; the major groupings are the Ghegs of the north and southern Labs and Tosks
Tosk Albanian
Tosk is the southern dialect of the Albanian language. The line of demarcation between Tosk and Gheg is the Shkumbin River. Tosk is the basis of the standard Albanian language.- Tosks :...

. The northern and southern traditions are contrasted by the "rugged and heroic" tone of the north and the "relaxed" form of the south.

These disparate styles are unified by "the intensity that both performers and listeners give to their music as a medium for patriotic expression and as a vehicle carrying the narrative of oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

", as well as certain characteristics like the use of obscure rhythms such as 3/8, 5/8 and 10/8. The first compilation of Albanian folk music was made by Pjetër Dungu
Pjetër Dungu
Pjetër Dungu was an Albanian piano accompanist and composer-arranger of urban folk music. He is known in the history of the music of Albania as the first compiler of Albanian folk songs....

 in 1940.

Albanian folk songs can be divided into major groups, the heroic epics of the north, and the sweetly melodic lullabies
Lullaby
A lullaby is a soothing song, usually sung to young children before they go to sleep, with the intention of speeding that process. As a result they are often simple and repetitive. Lullabies can be found in every culture and since the ancient period....

, love songs, wedding music
Wedding music
Wedding music applies music played at wedding celebrations, including the ceremony and any festivities before or after the event. The music can be performed live by musicians and/or vocalists or use pre-recorded songs, depending on the format of the event, traditions associated with the...

, work song
Work song
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a specific form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task or trade which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song....

s and other kinds of song. The music of various festivals and holidays is also an important part of Albanian folk song, especially those that celebrate St. Lazarus Day, which inaugurates the springtime. Lullabies and vajtim
Vajtim
Vajtim or Gjëmë is the dirge or lamentation of the dead in the Albanian custom by a woman or a group of women. In Northern Albania, men can also be seen singing.-Southern Albania:...

s are very important kinds of Albanian folk song, and are generally performed by solo women.

Albanian language and literature



Albanian was proven to be an Indo-European language in 1854 by the German philologist
Comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

 Franz Bopp
Franz Bopp
Franz Bopp was a German linguist known for extensive comparative work on Indo-European languages.-Biography:...

. The Albanian language comprises its own branch of the Indo-European language family.

Some scholars believe that Albanian derives from Illyrian while others, claim that it derives from Daco
Dacian language
The extinct Dacian language may have developed from proto-Indo-European in the Carpathian region around 2,500 BC and probably died out by AD 600. In the 1st century AD, it was the predominant language of the ancient regions of Dacia and Moesia and, possibly, of some surrounding regions.It belonged...

-Thracian
Thracian language
The Thracian language was the Indo-European language spoken in ancient times in Southeastern Europe by the Thracians, the northern neighbors of the Ancient Greeks. The Thracian language exhibits satemization: it either belonged to the Satem group of Indo-European languages or it was strongly...

. (Illyrian and Daco-Thracian, however, might have been closely related languages; see Thraco-Illyrian
Thraco-Illyrian
Thraco-Illyrian refers to a hypothesis that the Thraco-Dacian and Illyrian languages comprise a distinct branch of Indo-European. Thraco-Illyrian is also used as a term merely implying a Thracian-Illyrian interference, mixture or sprachbund, or as a shorthand way of saying that it is not...

.)

Establishing longer relations, Albanian is often compared to Balto-Slavic on the one hand and Germanic on the other, both of which share a number of isogloss
Isogloss
An isogloss—also called a heterogloss —is the geographical boundary of a certain linguistic feature, such as the pronunciation of a vowel, the meaning of a word, or use of some syntactic feature...

es with Albanian. Moreover, Albanian has undergone a vowel shift in which stressed, long o has fallen to a, much like in the former and opposite the latter. Likewise, Albanian has taken the old relative jos and innovatively used it exclusively to qualify adjectives, much in the way Balto-Slavic has used this word to provide the definite ending of adjectives.

The cultural renaissance was first of all expressed through the development of the Albanian language
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 in the area of church texts and publications, mainly of the Catholic region in the North, but also of the Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 in the South. The Protestant reforms invigorated hopes for the development of the local language and literary tradition when cleric Gjon Buzuku
Gjon Buzuku
Gjon Buzuku was an Albanian Catholic clergyman who wrote the first known printed book in Albanian.Gjon Buzuku was born in the village of Ljare in the Bar district, close to Northern Albania , then Ottoman Empire. He probably lived in or near Venice, Italy...

 brought into the Albanian language the Catholic liturgy
Catholic liturgy
The Catholic Church is fundamentally liturgical and sacramental in its public life of worship.-Liturgical principles:As explained in greater detail in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its shorter Compendium, the liturgy is something that "the whole Christ", Head and Body, celebrates —...

, trying to do for the Albanian language what Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 did for German.
Meshari
Meshari
Meshari is the first book written and published in Albanian. The book was written by Gjon Buzuku, a Catholic cleric in 1555. The book contains 188 pages and is written in two columns. Meshari is the translation of the main parts of the Catholic Liturgy into Albanian...

(The Missal) by Gjon Buzuku
Gjon Buzuku
Gjon Buzuku was an Albanian Catholic clergyman who wrote the first known printed book in Albanian.Gjon Buzuku was born in the village of Ljare in the Bar district, close to Northern Albania , then Ottoman Empire. He probably lived in or near Venice, Italy...

, published in 1555, is considered the first literary work of written Albanian. The refined level of the language and the stabilised orthography must be the result of an earlier tradition of written Albanian, a tradition that is not well understood. However, there is some fragmented evidence, pre-dating Buzuku, which indicates that Albanian was written from at least the 14th century AD.

The earliest evidence dates from 1332 AD with a Latin report from the French Dominican Guillelmus Adae, Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Antivari, who wrote that Albanians used Latin letters in their books although their language was quite different from Latin. Other significant examples include: a baptism formula (Unte paghesont premenit Atit et Birit et spertit senit) from 1462, written in Albanian within a Latin text by the Bishop of Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

, Pal Engjëlli
Pal Engjëlli
Pal Engjëlli was an Albanian Catholic clergyman, Archbishop of Durrës and Cardinal of Albania who in 1462 wrote the first known sentence retrieved so far in Albanian. Pal Engjëlli is reported to have been a friend, co-worker and close counselor of Skanderbeg. As his envoy, he frequently traveled...

; a glossary of Albanian words of 1497 by Arnold von Harff, a German who had travelled through Albania, and a 15th century fragment of the Bible from the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, also in Albanian, but written in Greek letters.
Albanian writings from these centuries must not have been religious texts only, but historical chronicles too. They are mentioned by the humanist Marin Barleti
Marin Barleti
Marin Barleti . was an Albanian historian and Catholic priest. He is considered the first Albanian historian, especially because of his biography on Skanderbeg, translated in many languages in the 16th to the 18th centuries.-Life:Barleti lived in Shkodër and was a scholar and a clergyman...

, who, in his book Rrethimi i Shkodrës (The Siege of Shkodër) (1504), confirms that he leafed through such chronicles written in the language of the people (in vernacula lingua).

During the 16th to 17th centuries, the catechism
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

 E mbësuame krishterë (Christian Teachings) (1592) by Lekë Matrënga
Lekë Matrënga
Luca Matranga was an Arbëresh writer and priest from Sicily. He is regarded as one of the authors of the era of early Albanian literature.-Works:...

, Doktrina e krishterë (The Christian Doctrine) (1618) and Rituale romanum (1621) by Pjetër Budi
Pjetër Budi
Pjetër Budi , known in Italian as Pietro Budi, was a bishop of Sapë and the author of four religious works in Albanian. He is a noted and respected figure of Albanian cultural history...

, the first writer of original Albanian prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 and poetry, an apology
Remorse
Remorse is an emotional expression of personal regret felt by a person after he or she has committed an act which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or violent. Remorse is closely allied to guilt and self-directed resentment...

 for George Castriot (1636) by Frang Bardhi
Frang Bardhi
Frang Bardhi was an Albanian bishop and author of the early eras of Albanian literature.-Life:He was born in Kallmet or Nënshat in the northern Albanian Zadrima region near Lezhë...

, who also published a dictionary and folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 creations, the theological-philosophical treaty Cuneus Prophetarum
Cuneus Prophetarum
Cuneus Prophetarum is a philosophical, theological and scientific treatise written by Pjetër Bogdani, an Albanian philosopher, originally published in Padua in 1685 in the Albanian and Latin language...

(The Band of Prophets) (1685) by Pjetër Bogdani
Pjetër Bogdani
Pjetër Bogdani , known in Italian as Pietro Bogdano, is the most original writer of early literature in Albania. He is author of the Cuneus Prophetarum , 1685, the first prose work of substance written originally in Albanian Pjetër Bogdani (ca. 1630 - 1689), known in Italian as Pietro Bogdano, is...

, the most universal personality of Albanian Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, were published in Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

. The most famous Albanian writer is probably Ismail Kadare
Ismail Kadare
Ismail Kadare is an Albanian writer. He is known for his novels, although he was first noticed for his poetry collections. In the 1960s he focused on short stories until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army. In 1996 he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral...

.

Education


Before the rise of Communist regime, Albania's illiteracy rate was as high as 85%. Schools were scarce between World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. When the Communist regime gained control in 1944, it gave high priority to the wiping out of illiteracy. Strict regulations were introduced, anyone between the ages of 12 and 40 who could not read or write was mandated to attend classes to learn. Since then the country's literacy rate has improved remarkably. Today the overall literacy rate in Albania is 98.7%, the male literacy rate is 99.2% and female literacy rate is 98.3%. With large population movements in the 1990s to urban areas, the provision of education has undergone transformation as well. The University of Tirana
University of Tirana
The University of Tirana is a public university located in Tirana, Albania.-History:UT was founded in 1957 as the State University of Tirana through the merging of five existing institutes of higher education, the most important of which was the Institute of Sciences, founded in 1947...

 is the oldest university in Albania, founded in October 1957.

Sport



Football is the most popular Sport in Albania, both at a participatory and spectator level. The Sport is governed by the Football Association of Albania
Football Association of Albania
The Albanian Football Association is the governing body of football in Albania. It organizes the national football's league Albanian Superliga, the Albania national football team, and the Albania national under-21 football team...

 , created in 1930, member of FIFA
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

 and a founding member of UEFA
UEFA
The Union of European Football Associations , almost always referred to by its acronym UEFA is the administrative and controlling body for European association football, futsal and beach soccer....

. Other played Sports include Basketball, Volleyball, Rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

, and Gymnastics.
  • Albania national football team
    Albania national football team
    The Albania national association football team is the national association football team of Albania and is controlled by the Football Association of Albania...

  • Albania national basketball team
    Albania national basketball team
    The Albanian national basketball team is the basketball side that represents Albania in international competitions.-2009 Roster:-History:...

  • Albania national futsal team
    Albania national futsal team
    The Albanian national futsal team represents Albania in international futsal competitions and is controlled by the Albanian Football Federation. The team debuted in the 2005 UEFA Futsal Championship. They won the first match 8–6 against England, and they drew to Cyprus, but failed to qualify...

  • Albania national under-21 football team
    Albania national under-21 football team
    The Albania national under-21 football team is the national under-21 football team of Albania and is controlled by the Football Association of Albania...


Entertainment


Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) is the public radio and TV broadcaster of Albania, founded in 1938 in Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

. RTSH runs three television stations named Televizioni Shqiptar (TVSH, TVSH 2, and TVSH Sat), and three radio stations, using the name Radio Tirana in addition to 4 regional radio stations. The international service broadcasts radio programmes in Albanian and seven other languages via medium wave (AM) and short wave (SW). The international service has used the theme from the song "Keputa një gjethe dafine" as its signature tune. The international television service via satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 was launched since 1993 and aims at Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 communities in Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

, Serbia, Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Montenegro and northern Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, plus the Albanian diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

 in the rest of Europe. RTSH has a past of being heavily influenced by the ruling party in its reporting, that being left or right winged.

According the National Council of Radio and Television (KKRT), Albania has an estimated 257 media outlets, including 66 radio stations and 67 television stations, with three national, 62 local and more than 50 cable TV stations.
Last years Albania has organized several shows as a part of worldwide series like Dancing with the Stars
Dancing with the Stars
Dancing with the Stars is the name of several international television series based on the format of the British TV series Strictly Come Dancing, which is distributed by BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the BBC. Currently the format has been licensed to over 35 countries...

, Big Brother Albania, Albanians Got Talent
Albanians Got Talent
Albanians Got Talent is an Albanian-Event. Albanian's Got Talent is the new name of "Ti Vlen", an Talent-Albanian show that was stopped in 2009. Albanians got Talent has started on October 15, 2010. The judges of Albanians Got Talent are Altin Basha, Rovena Dilo and Armend Rexhepagiqi...

 and The Voice of Albania
The Voice of Albania
The Voice of Albania is an singing competition in Albania and Kosovo. The show premiered in late 2011 by Top Channel. The rules of the show are based from The Voice of Holland and The Voice...

.

Health


Health care has been in a steep decline after the collapse of socialism in the country, but a process of modernization has been taking place since 2000. As of the first decade of the 21st century, there were 51 hospitals in the country, including a military hospital and specialist facilities. Albania has successfully removed diseases such as malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

.

Life expectancy is estimated at 77.43 years, ranking 51st worldwide, and outperforming a number of European Union countries, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic. The most common causes of death are circulatory disease followed by cancerous illnesses. Demographic and Health Surveys
Demographic and Health Surveys
The MEASURE Demographic and Health Surveys Project is responsible for collecting and disseminating accurate, nationally representative data on health and population in developing countries. The project is implemented by Macro International, Inc...

 completed a survey in April 2009, detailing various health statistics in Albania, including Male Circumcision, Abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and more.

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tirana
University of Tirana
The University of Tirana is a public university located in Tirana, Albania.-History:UT was founded in 1957 as the State University of Tirana through the merging of five existing institutes of higher education, the most important of which was the Institute of Sciences, founded in 1947...

 is the main medical school in the country. There are also nursing schools in other cities. Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

 ranked Albania 57 out of 100 Best Countries in the World in 2010.

Cuisine


The cuisine of Albania – as with most Mediterranean and Balkan
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 nations – is strongly influenced by its long history. At different times, the territory which is now Albania has been claimed or occupied by Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and the Ottoman Turks and each group has left its mark on Albanian cuisine. The main meal of Albanians
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

 is lunch, and it is usually accompanied by a salad
Salad
Salad is any of a wide variety of dishes, including vegetable salads; salads of pasta, legumes, eggs, or grains; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, or seafood; and fruit salads. They may include a mixture of cold and hot, often including raw vegetables or fruits.Green salads include leaf...

 of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumber
Cucumber
The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit when ripe. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and...

s, green peppers
Bell pepper
Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or a pepper and capsicum , is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum . Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as...

 and olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

s with olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

, vinegar
Vinegar
Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...

 and salt. Lunch also includes a main dish of vegetables and meat. Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal cities of Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

, Sarandë
Sarandë
Sarandë or Saranda is the capital of the District of Sarandë, Albania, and is one of the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. It is situated on an open sea gulf of the Ionian Sea in the Mediterranean 2 nautical miles from the Greek island of Corfu. The city of Saranda has a...

 and Vlorë
Vlorë
Vlorë is one of the biggest towns and the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of about 94,000 . It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912...

. In high altitude localities, smoked meat and pickling is very common.

See also


  • International rankings of Albania
    International rankings of Albania
    The following are international rankings of .-Culture:* Newsweek: The World's Best Countries 2010, ranked 57 out of 100 countries.-Demographics:*Population 2010 ranked 136 out of 223 countries...

  • Projekti rinor qytetar
    Projekti rinor qytetar
    Projekti Rinor Qytetar is a civic project in Albania designed to help young people take a greater interest in their community and the environment.-Aims:...



External links