About Albania [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Albania; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north

Climate

Mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter

Terrain

Mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast

Elevation

lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m

Geo Notes

Strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Republic of Albania
conventional short form: Albania
local long form: Republika e Shqiperise
local short form: Shqiperia
former: People's Socialist Republic of Albania

Capital City

name: Tirana
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative Divisions

12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore

Natuaral Hazards

Destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought

Environmental Issues

Deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents

Life Expectancy

total population: 77.22 years
male: 74.65 years
female: 80.11 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.123 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects

Religions Practiced

Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%
note: percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice

Legal System

Has a civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; has accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court for its citizens

National Holiday

Independence Day, 28 November (1912)

Illicit Drugs

Increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and expanding cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens

Telephone System

general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines teledensity remains low with roughly 10 fixed lines per 100 people; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is now exceeds 100 per 100 persons
domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003, two companies were providing mobile services at a greater teledensity than some of Albania's neighbors; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005; Internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital
international: country code - 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2009)

Broadcast Media

2 public television networks, one of which transmits by satellite to Albanian-language communities in neighboring countries; more than 60 private television stations operating; many viewers can pick up Italian and Greek TV broadcasts via terrestrial reception; cable TV service is available; 2 public radio networks and roughly 50 private radio stations; several international broadcasters are available (2008)

Background

Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997; however, there have been claims of electoral fraud in every one of Albania's post-communist elections. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges to reduce crime and corruption, promote economic growth, and decrease the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure.

Economy Overview

Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004-08, but declined to about 4% in 2009. Inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment needed to expand the country's export base. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.

National Anthem

name: "Hymni i Flamurit" (Hymn to the Flag)
lyrics/music: Aleksander Stavre DRENOVA/Ciprian PORUMBESCU
note: adopted 1912

Albania location map
Size

total: 28,748 sq km
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km

Albania flag
Population

2,986,952 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Albanian(s)
adjective: Albanian

Ethnic Groups

Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, other 2% (Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Serb, Macedonian, Bulgarian) (1989 est.)
note: in 1989, other estimates of the Greek population ranged from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization)

HIV/AIDS Rate

NA

Independence Date

28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)

Government Type

Republic

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

471,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

15,098 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.al

Number Airports

5 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Number Heliports

1 (2010)

Railways

total: 896 km
standard gauge: 896 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)

Roadways

total: 18,000 km
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)

Inland Waterways

43 km (2008)

Ports & Terminals

Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore

National Budget

revenues: $3.148 billion
expenditures: $4 billion (2009 est.)

Account Balance

-$1.845 billion (2009 est.)
-$2.048 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

leke (ALL) per US dollar - 93.928 (2009), 79.546 (2008), 92.668 (2007), 98.384 (2006), 102.649 (2005)

Inflation Rate

2.2% (2009 est.)
3.4% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Agricultural Products

Wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products

Labor Force

1.1 million (2009 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 58%
industry: 15%
services: 27% (September 2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate

12.8% (2009 est.)
12.8% (2008 est.)
note: these are official rates, but actual rates may exceed 30% due to preponderance of near-subsistence farming

GDP (USD Parity)

$22.88 billion (2009 est.)
$22.15 billion (2008 est.)
$20.55 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP

GDP Per Capita

$7,700 (2009 est.)
$7,400 (2008 est.)
$6,900 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 25.9% (2005)

Family Income Gini

26.7 (2005)

Below Poverty

25% (2004 est.)