, Albania has been inhabited by different civilisations over time, such as the Illyrians
, Ancient Greeks
. The Albanians
established the autonomous Principality of Arbër
in the 12th century. The Kingdom of Albania
and Principality of Albania
formed between the 13th and 14th centuries. Prior to the Ottoman conquest of Albania
in the 15th century, the Albanian resistance
to Ottoman expansion into Europe led by Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg
won them acclaim over most of Europe. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, cultural developments, widely attributed to Albanians having gathered both spiritual and intellectual strength, conclusively led to the Albanian Renaissance
. After the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars
, the modern nation state
of Albania declared independence
In the 20th century, the Kingdom of Albania
was invaded by Italy
which formed Greater Albania
before becoming a protectorate
of Nazi Germany
. Enver Hoxha
formed the People's Socialist Republic of Albania
after World War II
, modeled under the terms of Hoxhaism
. The Revolutions of 1991
concluded the fall of communism in Albania
and eventually the establishment of the current Republic of Albania.
, Albania is a unitary parliamentaryconstitutional republic
and a developing country
with an upper-middle income economy
dominated by the service sector, followed by manufacturing.
It went through a process of transition following the end of communism in 1990, from centralized planning
to a market-based economy
Albania provides universal health care
and free primary and secondary education
to its citizens.
Albania is a member of the United Nations, World Bank
, and OIC
. It is an official candidate
for membership in the European Union
It is one of the founding members of the Energy Community
, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation
and Union for the Mediterranean
Nowadays, Albanians call their country Shqipëri or Shqipëria
. The words Shqipëri
are attested from 14th century onward,
but it was only at the end of 17th and beginning of the early 18th centuries that the placename Shqipëria
and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë
gradually replaced Arbëria
The two terms are popularly interpreted as "Land of the Eagles" and "Children of the Eagles".
The discovered objects in a cave near Xarrë include flint
objects along with fossilised animal bones, while those discoveries at Mount Dajt comprise bone and stone tools similar to those of the Aurignacian culture
. They also demonstrate notable similarities with objects of the equivalent period found at Crvena Stijena in Montenegro
and northwestern Greece
In ancient times, the incorporated territory of Albania was historically inhabited by Indo-European peoples
, among them numerous Illyrian tribes
, Ancient Greeks
. In view of the Illyrian tribes, there is no evidence that these tribes used any collective nomenclature for themselves, while it is regarded to be unlikely that they used a common endonym
The endonym Illyrians
seems to be the name applied to a specific Illyrian tribe, which was the first to come in liaison with the Ancient Greeks resulting the endonym Illyrians
to be applied pars pro toto
to all people of similar language and customs.
The Illyrian Ardiaei
tribe, centered in Montenegro, ruled over most of the territory of Albania. Their Ardiaean Kingdom
reached its greatest extent under King Agron
, the son of Pleuratus II
. Agron extended his rule over other neighboring tribes as well.
Following Agron's death in 230 BC, his wife, Teuta
, inherited the Ardiaean kingdom. Teuta's forces extended their operations further southward to the Ionian Sea.
In 229 BC, Rome declared war
on the kingdom for extensively plundering Roman ships. The war ended in Illyrian defeat in 227 BC. Teuta was eventually succeeded by Gentius
in 181 BC.
Gentius clashed with the Romans in 168 BC, initiating the Third Illyrian War
. The conflict resulted in Roman conquest of the region by 167 BC. The Romans split the region into three administrative divisions.
Towards the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, Serbs
started to take possession over the territory.
of the Albanians is uncertain; however the first undisputed mention of Albanians dates back in historical records from 1079 or 1080 in a work by Michael Attaliates
, who referred to the Albanoi
as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople
At this point the Albanians were fully Christianized.
Few years after the dissolution of Arbanon, Charles of Anjou
concluded an agreement with the Albanian rulers, promising to protect them and their ancient liberties. In 1272, he established the Kingdom of Albania
and conquered regions back from the Despotate of Epirus
. The kingdom claimed all of central Albania territory from Dyrrhachium
along the Adriatic Sea coast down to Butrint
. A catholic political structure was a basis for the papal plans of spreading Catholicism
in the Balkan Peninsula. This plan found also the support of Helen of Anjou
, a cousin of Charles of Anjou. Around 30 Catholic churches and monasteries were built during her rule mainly in northern Albania.
Internal power struggles within the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century enabled Serbs' most powerful medieval ruler, Stefan Dusan
, to establish a short-lived empire
that included all of Albania except Durrës.
In 1367, various Albanian rulers established the Despotate of Arta
. During that time, several Albanian principalities
were created, notably the Balsha
. In the first half of the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire
invaded most of Albania, and the League of Lezhë
was held under Skanderbeg
as a ruler, who became the national hero of the Albanian medieval history.
The Albanians, as Christians, were considered as an inferior class
of people, and as such they were subjected to heavy taxes
among others by the Devshirme
system that allowed the Sultan
to collect a requisite percentage of Christian adolescents from their families to compose the Janissary
The Ottoman conquest was also accompanied with the gradual process of Islamisation
and the rapid construction of mosques which consequently modified the religious picture of Albania.
Skanderbeg consistently pursued the goal relentlessly but rather unsuccessfully to constitute a European coalition against the Ottomans. He thwarted every attempt by the Ottomans to regain Albania, which they envisioned as a springboard for the invasion of Italy and Western Europe. His unequal fight against them won the esteem of Europe also among others financial and military aid from the Papacy
When the Ottomans were gaining a firm foothold in the region, Albanian towns were organised into four principal sanjaks
. The government fostered trade by settling a sizeable Jewish colony of refugees fleeing persecution in Spain. The city of Vlorë
saw passing through its ports imported merchandise from Europe such as velvets, cotton goods, mohairs, carpets, spices and leather from Bursa
. Some citizens of Vlorë even had business associates throughout Europe.
The phenomenon of Islamisation among the Albanians became primarily widespread from the 17th century and continued into the 18th century.
Islam offered them equal opportunities and advancement within the Ottoman Empire. However, motives for conversion were, according to some scholars, diverse depending on the context though the lack of source material does not help when investigating such issues.
Because of increasing suppression of Catholicism, mostly catholic Albanians converted in the 17th century, while orthodox Albanians followed suit mainly in the following century.
Prior to the rise of nationalism
, Albania was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for almost five centuries, and Ottoman authorities suppressed any expression of national unity or conscience by the Albanian people. Through literature, Albanians started to make a conscious effort to awaken feelings of pride and unity among their people that would call to mind the rich history and hopes for a more decent future.
The league had initially the assistance of the Ottoman authorities whose position was based on the religious solidarity of Muslim people and landlords connected with the Ottoman administration
. They favoured and protected the Muslim solidarity and called for defense of Muslim lands simultaneously constituting the reason for titling the league Committee of the Real Muslims
Ottomans authorities cancelled their assistance when the league, under Abdyl Frashëri
, became focused on working toward Albanian autonomy and requested merging four vilayets
, including Kosovo
, into an unified vilayet, the Albanian Vilayet
. The league used military force to prevent the annexing areas of Plav
assigned to Montenegro. After several successful battles with Montenegrin troops, such as the Battle of Novšiće
, the league was forced to retreat from their contested regions. The league was later defeated by the Ottoman army sent by the sultan.
Headquartered in Vlorë, the International Commission of Control
was established on 15 October 1913 to take care of the administration of newly established Albania, until its own political institutions were in order.
The International Gendarmerie
was established as the first law enforcement agency of the Principality of Albania
. In November, the first gendarmerie members arrived in the country. Prince of Albania Wilhelm of Wied (Princ Vilhelm Vidi)
was selected as the first prince of the principality.
On 7 March, he arrived in the provisional capital of Durrës
and started to organise his government, appointing Turhan Pasha Përmeti
to form the first Albanian cabinet.
In November 1913, the Albanian pro-Ottoman forces had offered the throne of Albania to the Ottoman war Minister of Albanian origin, Ahmed Izzet Pasha
The pro-Ottoman peasants believed that the new regime was a tool of the six Christian Great Powers
and local landowners, that owned half of the arable land.
In February 1914, the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus
was proclaimed in Gjirokastër
by the local Greek population
against incorporation to Albania. This initiative was short lived, and in 1921 the southern provinces were incorporated into the Albanian Principality.
Meanwhile, the revolt of Albanian peasants
against the new Albanian regime erupted under the leadership of the group of Muslim clerics gathered around Essad Pasha Toptani
, who proclaimed himself the savior of Albania and Islam.
In order to gain support of the Mirdita
Catholic volunteers from the northern part of Albania, Prince Wied
appointed their leader, Prênk Bibë Doda
, to be the foreign minister of the Principality of Albania. In May and June 1914, the International Gendarmerie was joined by Isa Boletini
and his men, mostly from Kosovo
and northern Mirdita
Catholics, were defeated by the rebels who captured most of Central Albania by the end of August 1914.
The regime of Prince Wied collapsed, and he left the country on 3 September 1914.
was the first and only king of Albania; his reign lasted 11 years (1928–1939).
Following the end of the government of Fan Noli
, the parliament adopted a new constitution and proclaimed the country as a parliamentary republic in which King Zog I of Albania
(Ahmet Muhtar Zogu) served as the head of state
for a seven-year term. Immediately after, Tirana
was endorsed officially as the country's permanent capital.
The politics of Zogu was authoritarian and conservative with the primary aim of the maintenance of stability and order. He was forced to adopt a policy of cooperation with Italy where a pact had been signed between both countries, whereby Italy gained a monopoly on shipping and trade concessions.
Italians exercised control over nearly every Albanian official through money and patronage.
In 1928, the country was eventually replaced by another monarchy
with a strong support by the fascist regime
of Italy however, both maintained close relations until the Italian invasion
of the country. Zogu remained a conservative but initiated reforms and placed great emphasis on the development of infrastructure.
In an attempt at social modernisation, the custom of adding one's region to one's name was dropped. He also made donations of land to international organisations for the building of schools and hospitals. The armed forces were trained and supervised by instructors from Italy, and as a counterweight, he kept British officers in the Gendarmerie
despite strong Italian pressure to remove them.
After being militarily occupied by Italy from 1939 until 1943, the Kingdom of Albania
was a protectorate
and a dependency
of the Kingdom of Italy
governed by Victor Emmanuel III
and his government. In October 1940, Albania served as a staging ground for an unsuccessful Italian invasion of Greece
. A counterattack resulted in a sizeable portion of southern Albania coming under Greek military control until April 1941 when Greece capitulated during the German invasion
. In April 1941, territories of Yugoslavia
with substantial Albanian population were annexed to Albania inclusively western Macedonia, a strip of eastern Montenegro, the town of Tutin
in central Serbia and most of Kosovo[c]
Germans started to occupy the country in September 1943 and subsequently announced that they would recognise the independence of a neutral Albania and set about organising a new government, military and law enforcement. Balli Kombëtar
, which had fought against Italy, formed a neutral government and side by side with the Germans fought against the communist-led National Liberation Movement
During the last years of the war, the country fell into a civil war-like state between the communists and nationalists. The communists defeated the last anti-communist forces in the south in 1944. Before the end of November, the main German troops had withdrawn from Tirana, and the communists took control by attacking it. The partisans entirely liberated the country from German occupation on 29 November 1944. A provisional government, which the communists had formed at Berat in October, administered Albania with Enver Hoxha
as the head of government.
By the end of the Second World War
, the main military and political force of the nation, the Communist party sent forces to northern Albania against the nationalists to eliminate its rivals. They faced open resistance in Nikaj-Mërtur
led by Prek Cali
On 15 January 1945, a clash took place between partisans of the first Brigade and nationalist forces at the Tamara Bridge, resulting in the defeat of the nationalist forces. About 150 Kelmendi
people were killed or tortured. This event was the starting point of many other issues which took place during Enver Hoxha
's dictatorship. Class struggle
was strictly applied, human freedom and human rights were denied.
The Kelmend region was almost isolated by both the border and by a lack of roads for another 20 years, the institution of agricultural cooperatives
brought about economic decline. Many Kelmendi people fled, and some were executed trying to cross the border.
During this period, the country experienced an increasing industrialisation and urbanisation, a rapid collectivisation and economic growth which led to a higher standard of living.
The government called for the development of infrastructure and most notably the introduction of a railway system
that completely revamped transportation.
The new land reform laws were passed granting ownership of the land to the workers and peasants who tilled it. Agriculture became cooperative
, and production increased significantly, leading to the country becoming agriculturally self-sufficient. In the field of education, illiteracy was eliminated among the country's adult population.
The government also oversaw the emancipation of women and the expansion of healthcare and education throughout the country.
The average annual increase in the country's national income was 29% and 56% higher than the world and European average, respectively.[failed verification]
The nation incurred large debts initially with Yugoslavia until 1948, then the Soviet Union until 1961 and China from the middle of the 1950s.
The constitution of the communist regime did not allow taxes on individuals, instead, taxes were imposed on cooperatives and other organisations, with much the same effect.
overlooking the Albanian Alps
. By 1983, approximately 173,371 concrete bunkers were scattered across the country.
Today a secular state
without any official religion
, religious freedoms
and practices were severely curtailed during the communist era with all forms of worship being outlawed. In 1945, the Agrarian Reform Law meant that large swaths of property owned by religious groups were nationalised, mostly the waqfs
along with the estates of mosques, tekkes, monasteries and dioceses. Many believers, along with the ulema
and many priests, were arrested and executed. In 1949, a new Decree on Religious Communities required that all their activities be sanctioned by the state alone.
After hundreds of mosques and dozens of Islamic libraries containing priceless manuscripts were destroyed, Hoxha proclaimed Albania the world's first atheist state
The churches had not been spared either and many were converted into cultural centres for young people. A 1967 law banned all fascist, religious, and antisocialist activity and propaganda. Preaching religion carried a three to ten-year prison sentence.
Nonetheless, many Albanians continued to practice their beliefs secretly. The anti-religious policy of Hoxha attained its most fundamental legal and political expression a decade later: "The state recognizes no religion", states the 1976 constitution, "and supports and carries out atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people".
Considerable economic and financial resources were devoted to pyramid schemes
that were widely supported by the government. The schemes swept up somewhere between one sixth and one third of the population of the country.
Despite the warnings of the International Monetary Fund
, Sali Berisha
defended the schemes as large investment firms, leading more people to redirect their remittances and sell their homes and cattle for cash to deposit in the schemes.
The schemes began to collapse in late 1996, leading many of the investors to join initially peaceful protests against the government, requesting their money back. The protests turned violent in February 1997 as government forces responded by firing on the demonstrators. In March, the Police and Republican Guard deserted, leaving their armouries open. These were promptly emptied by militias and criminal gangs. The resulting civil war
caused a wave of evacuations of foreign nationals and refugees.
The crisis led both Aleksandër Meksi
and Sali Berisha
to resign from office in the wake of the general election. In April 1997, Operation Alba
, a UN peacekeeping force led by Italy, entered the country with two goals exclusively to assist with the evacuation of expatriates and to secure the ground for international organisations. The main international organisation that was involved was the Western European Union
's multinationalAlbanian Police
element, which worked with the government to restructure the judicial system
and simultaneously the Albanian police.
Albania has an area of 28,748 km2
(11,100 sq mi) and is located on the Balkan Peninsula
and Southeast Europe
Its shoreline faces the Adriatic Sea
to the northwest and the Ionian Sea
to the southwest along the Mediterranean Sea
. Albania lies between latitudes 42°
and 39° N
, and longitudes 21°
and 19° E
. Its northernmost point is Vërmosh
at 42° 35' 34" northern latitude; the southernmost is Konispol
at 39° 40' 0" northern latitude; the westernmost point is Sazan
at 19° 16' 50" eastern longitude; and the easternmost point is Vërnik
at 21° 1' 26" eastern longitude.
The highest point is Mount Korab
at 2,764 m (9,068.24 ft) above the Adriatic
; the lowest point is the Mediterranean Sea at 0 m (0.00 ft). The distance from the east to west is 148 km (92 mi) and from the north to south about 340 km (211 mi).
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the country is the presence of numerous important lakes. The Lake of Shkodër
is the largest lake in Southern Europe
and located in northwest.
In the southeast
rises the Lake of Ohrid
that is one of the oldest continuously existing lakes in the world.
Farther south extends the Large
and Small Lake of Prespa
, which are among the highest positioned lakes in the Balkans. Rivers rise mostly in the east of Albania and discharge into the Adriatic Sea but as well as into the Ionian Sea to a lesser extent. The longest river in the country, measured from its mouth to its source, is the Drin
that starts at the confluence of its two headwaters, the Black
and White Drin
. Of particular concern is the Vjosë
, which represents one of the last intact large river systems in Europe.
The warmest areas of the country are immediately placed along the Adriatic
and Ionian Sea Coasts
. On the contrary, the coldest areas are positioned within the northern
and eastern highlands
The mean monthly temperature ranges between −1 °C
) in winter to 21.8 °C (71.2 °F) in summer. The highest temperature of 43.9 °C (111.0 °F) was recorded in Kuçovë
on 18 July 1973. The lowest temperature of −29 °C (−20 °F) was registered in the village of Shtyllë, Librazhd
on 9 January 2017.
Rainfall naturally varies from season to season and from year to year. The country receives most of the precipitation
in winter months and less in summer months.
The average precipitation is about 1,485 millimetres (58.5 inches).
The mean annual precipitation ranges between 600 millimetres (24 inches) and 3,000 millimetres (120 inches) depending on geographical location.
and southeastern highlands
receive the intenser amount of precipitation, whilst the northeastern
and southwestern highlands
as well as the Western Lowlands
the more limited amount.
The Albanian Alps
in the far north of the country are considered to be among the most humid regions of Europe, receiving at least 3,100 mm (122.0 in) of rain annually.
An expedition from the University of Colorado
discovered four glaciers
within these mountains at a relatively low altitude of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), which is extremely rare for such a southerly latitude.
Snowfall occurs frequently in winter in the highlands of the country, particularly on the mountains in the north and east, including the Albanian Alps
Mountains. Snow also falls on the coastal areas in the southwest almost every winter such as in the Ceraunian Mountains
, where it can lie even beyond March.
The golden eagle
is the national symbol and animal of Albania.
A biodiversity hotspot
, Albania possesses an exceptionally rich and contrasting biodiversity
on account of its geographical location at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea
and the great diversity in its climatic
, geological and hydrological
Because of remoteness, the mountains and hills of Albania are endowed with forests, trees and grasses that are essential to the lives for a wide variety of animals, among others for two of the most endangered species
of the country, the lynx
and brown bear
, as well as the wildcat
, gray wolf
, red fox
, golden jackal
, egyptian vulture
and golden eagle
, the latter constituting the national animal of the country.
Approximately 3,500 different species of plants can be found in Albania which refers principally to a Mediterranean
character. The country maintains a vibrant tradition of herbal and medicinal practices
. At the minimum 300 plants growing locally are used in the preparation of herbs and medicines.
The trees within the forests are primarily made up of fir
The executive power
is exercised by the president and prime minister whereby the power of the president is very limited. The president is the commander-in-chief
of the military
and the representative of the unity of the Albanian people.
The tenure of the president depends on the confidence
of the parliament and is elected for a five-year term
by the parliament by a majority of three-fifths of all its members. The prime minister, appointed by the president and approved by the parliament, is authorized to constitute the cabinet
. The cabinet is composed primarily of the prime minister inclusively its deputies and ministers.
into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
(NATO) was considered by Albanian politicians as a significant ambition for the country's foreign policy. The country has been extensively engaged with the NATO and has maintained its position as a stability factor and a strong ally of the United States and the European Union (EU) in the region of the Balkans
. Albania maintains strong ties
with the United States ever after it supported the Albania's independence and democracy.
Nowadays, both countries have signed a number of agreements and treaties
. In 2007, Albania welcomed George W. Bush
who became the first President of the United States ever to visit the country.
The chief purpose of the armed forces of Albania is the defence of the independence, the sovereignty
and the territorial integrity
of the country, as well as the participation in humanitarian, combat, non-combat and peace support operations. Military service
is voluntary since 2010 with the age of 19 being the legal minimum age for the duty.
Albania has committed to increase the participations in multinational operations.
Since the fall of communism, the country has participated in six international missions but participated in only one United Nations mission in Georgia
, where it sent 3 military observers. Since February 2008, Albania has participated officially in NATO's Operation Active Endeavor
in the Mediterranean Sea
It was invited to join NATO on 3 April 2008, and it became a full member on 2 April 2009.
Albania reduced the number of active troops from 65,000 in 1988 to 14,500 in 2009.
The military now consists mainly of a small fleet of aircraft and sea vessels. In the 1990s, the country scrapped enormous amounts of obsolete hardware from China, such as tanks and SAM systems
. Increasing the military budget was one of the most important conditions for NATO
integration. Military spending has generally been low. As of 1996 military spending was an estimated 1.5% of the country's GDP, only to peak in 2009 at 2% and fall again to 1.5%.
Albania is defined within a territorial area of 28,748 km2
(11,100 sq mi) in the Balkan Peninsula
. The country is divided into three regions, the Northern
and Southern Region
, which consist of a number of counties
) and municipalities
). The highest level of administrative divisions
are the twelve constituent counties.
Each county has the same status but vary in their areas, populations
and contributions to the economy. Nonetheless, they are further subdivided into 61 municipalities with each of them being responsible for geographical, economic, social and cultural purposes inside the counties.
The counties were created on 31 July 2000 to replace the 36 former districts.
introduced the new administrative divisions to be implemented in 2015, whereby municipalities were reduced to 61, while the rurals were abolished. The defunct municipalities are known as neighborhoods or villages.
There are overall 2980 villages or communities in the entire country, formerly known as localities. The municipalities are the first level of local governance, responsible for local needs and law enforcement
The largest county in Albania, by population, is Tirana County
with over 800,000 people. The smallest county, by population, is Gjirokastër County
with over 70,000 people. The largest in the county, by area, is Korçë County
encompassing 3,711 square kilometres (1,433 sq mi) of the southeast of Albania. The smallest county, by area, is Durrës County
with an area of 766 square kilometres (296 sq mi) in the west of Albania.
is the economic hub of the country. It is home to major domestic and foreign companies operating in the country.
The cities of Tirana
constitute the economic and financial heart of Albania due to their high population, modern infrastructure and strategic geographical location. The country's most important infrastructure facilities take course through both of the cities, connecting the north to the south as well as the west to the east. Among the largest companies
are the petroleum Taçi Oil
and Kastrati, the mineral AlbChrome
, the cement Antea
, the investment BALFIN Group
and the technology Albtelecom
, Telekom Albania
Agriculture in the country is based on small to medium-sized family-owned dispersed units. It remains a significant sector of the economy of Albania
. It employs 41%
of the population, and about 24.31% of the land is used for agricultural purposes. One of the earliest farming sites in Europe has been found in the southeast of the country.
As part of the pre-accession process of Albania to the European Union
, farmers are being aided through IPA
funds to improve Albanian agriculture standards.
Albania produces significant amounts of fruits (apples, olives
, grapes, oranges, lemons, apricots
, sour cherries
, and strawberries
(potatoes, tomatoes, maize, onions, and wheat), sugar beets
, tobacco, meat, honey
, dairy products
, traditional medicine and aromatic plants
. Further, the country is a worldwide significant producer of salvia
and yellow gentian
The country's proximity to the Ionian Sea
and the Adriatic Sea
give the underdeveloped fishing industry great potential. The World Bank
and European Community
economists report that, Albania's fishing industry has good potential to generate export earnings because prices in the nearby Greek and Italian markets are many times higher than those in the Albanian market. The fish available off the coasts of the country are carp
, sea bream
Albania has one of Europe's longest histories of viticulture
The today's region was one of the few places where vine was naturally grown during the ice age. The oldest found seeds in the region are 4,000 to 6,000 years old.
In 2009, the nation produced an estimated 17,500 tonnes of wine.
During the communist era, the production area expanded to some 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres).
The secondary sector of Albania have undergone many changes and diversification, since the collapse of the communist regime in the country. It is very diversified, from electronics
, to food
. The Antea Cement
plant in Fushë-Krujë
is considered as one of the largest industrial greenfield investments in the country.
Albanian oil and gas is represents of the most promising albeit strictly regulated sectors of its economy. Albania has the second largest oil deposits
in the Balkan peninsula
, and the largest oil reserves
in Europe. The Albpetrol
company is owned by the Albanian state and monitors the state petroleum agreements in the country. The textile industry has seen an extensive expansion by approaching companies from the European Union
(EU) in Albania. According to the Institute of Statistics (INSTAT)
as of 2016, the textile production marked an annual growth of 5.3% and an annual turnover of around 1.5 billion euros.
Albania is a significant minerals producer and is ranked among the world's leading chromium
producers and exporters.
The nation is also a notable producer of copper, nickel
The Batra mine
, Bulqizë mine
, and Thekna mine
are among the most recognised Albanian mines that are still in operation.
The tertiary sector
represents the fastest growing sector of the country's economy. 36% of the population work in the service sector which contributes to 65% of the country's GDP.
Ever since the end of the 20th century, the banking industry
is a major component of the tertiary sector and remains in good conditions overall due to privatization
and the commendable monetary policy
Tourism is recognised as an industry of national importance and has been steadily increasing since the beginnings of the 21st century.
It directly accounted for 8.4% of GDP in 2016 though including indirect contributions pushes the proportion to 26%.
In the same year, the country received approximately 4.74 million visitors mostly from across Europe and the United States as well.
The increase of foreign visitors has been dramatic. Albania had only 500,000 visitors in 2005, while in 2012 had an estimated 4.2 million, an increase of 740 percent in only 7 years. In 2015, tourism in summer increased by 25 percent in contrast the previous year according to the country's tourism agency.
In 2011, Lonely Planet
named as a top travel destination,[failed verification]
while The New York Times
placed Albania as number 4 global touristic destination in 2014.
The bulk of the tourist industry is concentrated along the Adriatic
and Ionian Sea
in the west of the country. However, the Albanian Riviera
in the southwest has the most scenic and pristine beaches, and is often called the pearl of the Albanian coast. Its coastline has a considerable length of 446 kilometres (277 miles).
The coast has a particular character because it is rich in varieties of virgin beaches, capes, coves, covered bays, lagoons, small gravel beaches, sea caves and many landforms. Some parts of this seaside are very clean ecologically, which represent in this prospective unexplored areas, which are very rare within the Mediterranean
Other attractions include the mountainous areas such as the Albanian Alps
, Ceraunian Mountains
Mountains but also the historical cities of Berat
is the busiest and largest seaport
in the country, followed by Vlorë
. As of 2014, it is as one of the largest passenger ports on the Adriatic Sea
with annual passenger volume of approximately 1.5 million. The principal ports serve a system of ferries connecting Albania with numerous islands and coastal cities in Croatia, Greece and Italy.
The rail network is administered by the national railway company Hekurudha Shqiptare
which was extensively promoted by the dictator Enver Hoxha
. There has been a considerable increase in private car ownership and bus usage while rail use decreased since the end of communism. However, a new railway line from Tirana and its airport to Durrës is currently planned. The specific location of this railway, connecting the most populated urban areas in Albania, merely makes it an important economic development project.
The University of Arts
is the largest higher education institute dedicated to the study of arts.
In the country, education is secular, free, compulsory
and based on three levels of education segmented in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
The academic year is apportioned into two semesters beginning in September or October, and ending in June or July. Albanian
serves as the primary language
of instruction in all academic institutions
across the country.
The study of a first foreign language
is mandatory and taught most often at elementary and bilingual schools.
The languages taught in schools are English, Italian, French and German.
The country has a school life expectancy
of 16 years and a literacy rate
of 98.7%, with 99.2% for males and 98.3% for females.
Compulsory primary education is divided into two levels, elementary and secondary school, from grade one to five and six to nine, respectively.
Pupils are required to attend school from the age of six until they turn 16. Upon successful completion of primary education, all pupils are entitled to attend high schools with specialising in any particular field including arts, sports
, sciences or technology.
The country's tertiary education, an optional stage of formal learning following secondary education, has undergone a thorough reformation and restructuring in compliance with the principles of the Bologna Process
. There is a significant number of private and public institutions of higher education
well dispersed in the major cities of Albania.
Studies in tertiary education are organized at three successive levels which include the bachelor
The Albanian cuisine
from the Mediterranean, which is characterised by the use of fruits, vegetables and olive oil
, contributes to the good nutrition of the country's population.
Electricity production in Albania from 1980 to 2019.
Due to its geographical location and natural resources, Albania has a wide variety of energy resources
ranging from gas, oil and coal, to wind
as well as other renewable
Currently, the electricity generation sector of Albania is dependent on hydroelectricity
simultaneously ranking fifth in the world in percentage terms.
, located in the north, hosts four hydroelectric power stations
, including Fierza
and Vau i Dejës
. Two other power stations, such as the Banjë
, are located along the Devoll
in the south.
Albania has considerably large deposits of oil. It has the 10th largest oil reserves in Europe and the 58th in the world.
The country's main petroleum deposits are located around the Albanian Adriatic Sea Coast
Plain within the Western Lowlands
, where the country's largest reserve is located. Although, Patos-Marinza
, also located within the area, is the largest onshore oil field
After the fall of communism
in 1991, human resources in sciences and technology in Albania have drastically decreased. As of various reports, during 1991 to 2005 approximately 50% of the professors and scientists of the universities and science institutions in the country have left Albania.
In 2009, the government
approved the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation in Albania covering the period 2009 to 2015.
It aims to triple public spending on research and development
to 0.6% of GDP and augment the share of GDE
from foreign sources, including the framework programmes for research of the European Union
, to the point where it covers 40% of research spending, among others.
The explanation for the recent population decrease is the fall of communism in Albania
in the late twentieth century. That period was marked by economic mass emigration
from Albania to Greece
, Italy and the United States. Four decades of total isolation
from the world, combined with its disastrous economic, social and political situation, had caused this exodus. The external migration
was prohibited outright during the communist era, while internal migration
was quite limited, hence this was a new phenomenon. At least, 900,000 people left Albania during this period, with about 600,000 of them settling in Greece.
The migration affected the country's internal population distribution. It decreased particularly in the north and south, while it increased in the center within the cities of Tirana
About 53.4% of the country's population
lives in cities. The three largest counties by population account for half of the total population. Almost 30% of the total population is found in Tirana County
followed by Fier County
with 11% and Durrës County
Over 1 million people are concentrated in Tirana
, making it the largest urban area in Albania.Tirana
is one of largest cities in the Balkan Peninsula
and ranks seventh with a population about 800,000.
The second largest city in the country by population is Durrës
, with a population of 201,110, followed by Vlorë
with a population of 141,513.
Issues of ethnicity are a delicate topic and subject to debate. Contrary to official statistics that show an over 97 per cent Albanian majority in the country, minority groups (such as Greeks
) have frequently disputed the official numbers, asserting a higher percentage of the country's population. According to the disputed 2011 census, ethnic affiliation was as follows: Albanians
2,312,356 (82.6% of the total), Greeks
24,243 (0.9%), Macedonians
5,512 (0.2%), Montenegrins
366 (0.01%), Aromanians
8,266 (0.30%), Romani
8,301 (0.3%), Balkan Egyptians
3,368 (0.1%), other ethnicities 2,644 (0.1%), no declared ethnicity 390,938 (14.0%), and not relevant 44,144 (1.6%).
On the quality of the specific data the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
stated that "the results of the census should be viewed with the utmost caution and calls on the authorities not to rely exclusively on the data on nationality collected during the census in determining its policy on the protection of national minorities.".
Albania recognises nine national or cultural minorities: Aromanian
, Bosnian and Bulgarian
Other Albanian minorities are the Gorani people
Regarding the Greeks, "it is difficult to know how many Greeks there are in Albania". The estimates vary between 60,000 and 300,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania. According to Ian Jeffries, most of Western sources put the number at around 200,000. The 300,000 mark is supported by Greek government as well.
The CIA World Factbook
estimates the Greek minority to constitute 0.9%
of the total population. The US State Department estimates that Greeks make up 1.17%, and other minorities 0.23%, of the population.
The latter questions the validity of the census data about the Greek minority, due to the fact that measurements have been affected by boycott.
Macedonians and some Greek minority groups have sharply criticised 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 is stated on his or her birth certificate. This is claimed to be an attempt to intimidate minorities into declaring Albanian ethnicity; according to them the Albanian government has stated that it will jail anyone who does not participate in the census or refuse to declare his or her ethnicity.
Genc Pollo, the minister in charge has declared that: "Albanian citizens will be able to freely express their ethnic and religious affiliation and mother tongue. However, they are not forced to answer these sensitive questions".
The amendments criticized do not include jailing or forced declaration of ethnicity or religion; only a fine is envisioned which can be overthrown by court.
Greek representatives form part of the Albanian parliament and the government has invited Albanian Greeks to register, as the only way to improve their status.
On the other hand, nationalists, various organisations and political parties in Albania have expressed their concern that the census might artificially increase the numbers of the Greek minority, which might be then exploited by Greece to threaten Albania's territorial integrity.
Regions with a traditional presence of ethnic groups other than Albanian.
Distribution of ethnic groups within Albania, as of the 2011 census. Districts colored gray are those where a majority of people did not declare an ethnicity (the question was optional). The census was criticized and boycotted by minorities in Albania.
Traditional locations of linguistic and religious communities in Albania.
The official language
of the country is Albanian
which is spoken by the vast majority of the country's population.
Its standard spoken and written form is revised and merged from the two main dialects, Gheg
, though it is notably based more on the Tosk dialect. The Shkumbin
river is the rough dividing line between the two dialects. Also a dialect of Greek
that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek
is spoken in areas inhabited by the Greek minority
. Other languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Albania include Aromanian
, and Roma
Macedonian is official in the Pustec Municipality in East Albania. According to the 2011 population census, 2,765,610 or 98.767% of the population declared Albanian
as their mother tongue (mother tongue is defined as the first or main language spoken at home during childhood
One road sign in Albanian and a minority language (Macedonian) and one in Albanian and a foreign language for tourists (English) in Pustec (top) Road sign in Albanian and a minority language (Greek) in Goranxi (bottom)
In recent years, the shrinking number of pupils in schools dedicated to the Greek minority has caused problems for teachers.
The Greek language is spoken by an important percentage in the southern part of the country, due to cultural and economic links with adjacent Greece.
In a 2017 study carried out by Instat, the Albanian government statistical agency, 39.9% of the 25–64 years old is able to use at least one foreign language, with English first at 40.0%, followed by Italian with 27.8% and Greek with 22.9%.
Among young people aged 25 or less, English, German and Turkish have seen rising interest after 2000. Italian and French have had a stable interest, while Greek has lost much of its previous interest. The trends are linked with cultural and economic factors.
is the second most-spoken language in the country, with 0.5 to 3% of the population speaking it as first language,
and with two-thirds of mainly Albanian families having at least one member that speaks Greek, most having learned it in the post communist era (1992–present) due to private schools or migration to Greece.
Outside of the small designated "minority area" in the south the teaching of Greek was banned during the communist era.
As of 2003 Greek was offered at over 100 private tutoring centers all over Albania and at a private school in Tirana, the first of its kind outside Greece.
Young people have shown a growing interest in German language in recent years. Some of them go to Germany for studying or various experiences. Albania and Germany have agreements for cooperating in helping young people of the two countries know both cultures better.
Due to a sharp rise in economic relations with Turkey, interest in learning Turkish, in particular among young people, has been growing on a yearly basis. Young people, attracted by economic importance of Turkish investments and common values between the two nations, gain from cultural and academic collaboration of universities.
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2020)
During modern times
, the Albanian republican, monarchic and later communist regimes followed a systematic policy of separating religion from official functions and cultural life. The country has never had an official 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 1950s and 1960s, under the state policy of obliterating all organised religion from the territories of Albania. The communist regime
persecuted and suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion
. The country was then officially declared to be the world's first atheist state
. Religious freedom has returned, however, since the end of communism
As of the 2011 census
, there were 1,587,608 (56.7%) Sunni Muslims
, 280,921 (10.03%) Roman Catholics
, 188,992 (6.75%) Eastern Orthodox
, 58,628 (2.09%) Bektashi Muslims
, 3,797 (0.14%) Evangelicals
, 1,919 (0.07%) other Christians
, 602 (0.02%) of other religions and 153,630 (5.49%) believers without denomination.
69,995 people (2.5%) were irreligious
while 386,024 (13.79%) did not declare their religion.
The country is ranked among the least religious countries in the world.
Religion plays an important role in the lives of only 39% of its population.
In another report, 56% considered themselves religious, 30% considered themselves non-religious, while 9% defined themselves as convinced atheists. 80% believed in God and 40% believed in life after death. However, 40% believed in hell, while 42% believed in heaven.
The preliminary results of the 2011 census seemed to give widely different results, with 70% of respondents refusing to declare belief in any of the listed faiths.
The Albanian Orthodox Church officially refused to recognize the results, claiming that 24% of the total population adhered to its faith.
Some Muslim Community officials expressed unhappiness with the data claiming that many Muslims were not counted and that the number of adherents numbered some 70% of the Albanian population.
The Albanian Catholic Bishops Conference also cast doubts on the census, complaining that many of its believers were not contacted.
The Muslim Albanians
are spread throughout the country. Orthodox
are mostly found in the south, whereas Catholics
mainly live in the north.
In 2008, there were 694 Catholic
churches and 425 orthodox
churches, 568 mosques and 70 bektashi tekkes
in the country.
Albania shares many symbols associated with its history, culture and belief. These include the colours red and black, animals such as the golden eagle
living across the country, costumes such as the fustanella
which are worn to special events and celebrations, plants such as the olive
and red poppy
growing as well across the country.
The artistic history
of Albania has been particularly influenced by a multitude of ancient and medieval people
, traditions and religions. It covers a broad spectrum with mediums and disciplines that include painting, pottery
, sculpture, ceramics
and architecture all of them exemplifying a great variety in style and shape, in different regions and period.
The architecture of Albania
reflects the legacy of various civilisations tracing back to the classical antiquity
. Major cities in Albania have evolved from within the castle to include dwellings, religious and commercial structures, with constant redesigning of town squares and evolution of building techniques. Nowadays, the cities and towns reflect a whole spectrum of various architectural styles
. In the 20th century, many historical as well as sacred
buildings bearing the ancient influence were demolished during the communist era
is found throughout Albania and most visible in Byllis
. Considering the long period of rule of the Byzantine Empire
, they introduced castles, citadels, churches and monasteries with spectacular wealth of visible murals
. Perhaps the best known examples can be found in the southern Albanian cities and surroundings of Korçë
. Involving the introduction of Ottoman architecture
there was a development of mosques and other Islamic buildings, particularly seen in Berat and Gjirokastër.
Bukë misri (cornbread
) is a staple on the Albanian table.
Albanians produce and use many varieties of fruits such as lemons
, oranges, figs
, and most notably, olives
, which are perhaps the most important element of Albanian cooking. Spices and other herbs such as basil
, and thyme
are widely used, as are vegetables such as garlic, onions, peppers
, potatoes, tomatoes, as well as legumes
of all types.
Speca të ferguara (roasted peppers
) served with pite
, a traditional and prominent layered Albanian pie.
Petulla, a traditional fried dough, is also a popular speciality, and is served with powdered sugar
or feta cheese
and different sorts of fruit jams
consists of multiple crêpe
-like layers brushed with cream and served with sour cream. Krofne
, similar to Berliner doughnuts
, are filled with jam, or chocolate and often eaten during cold winter months.
Coffee is an integral part of the Albanian lifestyle. The country has more coffee houses per capita than any other country in the world.
Tea is also enjoyed both at home or outside at cafés, bars, or restaurants. Çaj Mali (Sideritis
tea) is enormously beloved, and a part of the daily routine for most Albanians. It is cultivated across Southern Albania and noted for its medicinal properties. Black tea
with a slice of lemon and sugar, milk, or honey is also popular.
is also common throughout the country, and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Albania has a long and ancient history of wine production, and belongs to the Old World of wine producing countries
Its wine is characterized by its sweet taste and traditionally indigenous varieties.
Albanian folk music is a prominent part of the national identity, and continues to play a major part in overall Albanian music
. Folk music can be divided into two stylistic groups, mainly the northern Gheg
varieties, and southern Lab
varieties. Northern and southern traditions are contrasted by a rugged tone from the north, and the more relaxed southern form of music.
Festivali i Këngës
is a traditional Albanian song contest organised by the national broadcaster Radio Televizioni Shqiptar
(RTSH). The festival is celebrated annually since its inauguration in 1962 and has launched the careers of some of Albania's most successful singers including Vaçe Zela
and Parashqevi Simaku
It is significantly a music competition among Albanian performers presenting unreleased songs in premiere, composed by Albanian authors and voted by juries or by public.
Every cultural and geographical region of Albania has its own specific variety of costume that vary in style, material, color, shape, detail, and form.
Presently, national costumes
are most often worn during special events and celebrations, mostly at ethnic festivals, religious holidays, weddings, and by performing dance groups. Some elderly people continue to wear traditional clothing in their daily lives. Clothing was traditionally made mainly from local materials such as leather, wool, linen, hemp fibre, and silk; Albanian textiles are still embroidered in elaborate ancient patterns.
The cultural renaissance was first of all expressed through the development of the Albanian language
in the area of church texts and publications, mainly of the Catholic region in the northern of Albania, but also of the Orthodox
in the south. The Protestant reforms invigorated hopes for the development of the local language and literary tradition, when cleric Gjon Buzuku
brought into the Albanian language the Catholic liturgy
, trying to do for the Albanian language, what Martin Luther
did for the German language. Meshari
) written by Gjon Buzuku
was published in 1555 and is considered as one of the first literary work of written Albanian during the Middle Ages. 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. The earliest evidence dates from 1332 AD with a Latin report from the French Dominican Guillelmus Adae, Archbishop
, 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
, Pal Engjëlli
; 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
, 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
, who in his book Siege of Shkodër
(Rrethimi i Shkodrës
) from 1504, confirms that he leafed through such chronicles written in the language of the people (in vernacula lingua
) as well as his famous biography of Skanderbeg Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis
(History of Skanderbeg
) from 1508. The History of Skanderbeg
is still the foundation of Skanderbeg studies and is considered an Albanian cultural treasure, vital to the formation of Albanian national self-consciousness.
During the 16th and the 17th centuries, the catechism
(E mbësuame krishterë
) (Christian Teachings) from 1592 written by Lekë Matrënga
, (Doktrina e krishterë
) (The Christian Doctrine) from 1618 and (Rituale romanum
) 1621 by Pjetër Budi
, the first writer of original Albanian prose
and poetry, an apology
for George Castriot (1636) by Frang Bardhi
, who also published a dictionary and folklore creations, the theological-philosophical treaty Cuneus Prophetarum
(The Band of Prophets) (1685) by Pjetër Bogdani
, the most universal personality of Albanian Middle Ages
, were published in Albanian
. The most famous Albanian writer in the 20th and 21st century is probably Ismail Kadare
. He has been mentioned as a possible recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.
Albania participated at the Olympic Games in 1972
for the first time. The country made their Winter Olympic Games debut in 2006
. Albania missed the next four games, two of them due to the 1980 and 1984 boycotts, but returned for the 1992 games in Barcelona
. Since then, Albania have participated in all games. Albania normally competes in events that include swimming, athletics, weightlifting, shooting and wrestling. The country have been represented by the National Olympic Committee of Albania
since 1972. The nation has participated at the Mediterranean Games
since the games of 1987
in Syria. The Albanian athletes have won a total of 43 (8 gold, 17 silver and 18 bronze) medals from 1987
Popular sports in Albania include Football
, weightlifting, basketball
, volleyball, tennis, swimming, rugby union
and gymnastics. Football is by far the most popular sport in Albania. It is governed by the Football Association of Albania
: Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit
, F.SH.F.), which was created in 1930 and has membership in FIFA
. Football arrived in Albania early in the 20th century when the inhabitants of the northern city of Shkodër
were surprised to see a strange game being played by students at a Christian mission.
Historically, the Albanian people have established several communities in many regions throughout Southern Europe. The Albanian diaspora
has been formed since the late Middle Ages
, when they emigrated to places such as Italy, especially in Sicily
, and Greece
to escape either various socio-political difficulties or the Ottoman conquest
Following the fall of communism
, large numbers of Albanians have migrated to countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece
, Italy, Scandinavia
, United Kingdom and the United States. Albanian minorities
are present in the neighbouring territories such as the west of North Macedonia
, the east of Montenegro
in its entirety and southern Serbia
. In Kosovo
, Albanians make up the largest ethnic group in the country. Altogether, the number of ethnic Albanian living abroad its territory is estimated to be higher than the total population inside the territory of Albania.
- ^ pronounced [ʃcipəˈɾi(a)]; Gheg Albanian: Shqipni or Shqipnia, also Shqypni or Shqypnia.
- ^ Albanian pronunciation: [ɾɛpuˈblika ɛ ʃcipəˈɾisə].
- ^ a b Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently (this note self-updates) recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
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