Albania

Useful informations
LocationSoutheastern Europe
NeighborhoodGreece, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia (Kosovo region), Montenegro
Area28,748 km2
Density110 persons/km2
CapitalTirana
CurrencyLek

Albania is a country located in Southeastern Europe, more precisely in the Balkan Peninsula. It is bordered by Greece to the south and southeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east, Serbia ( Kosovo region ) to the northeast and Montenegro to the northwest. It has acces to the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea and on the other part of the sea there is Italy.

Albania covers an area of 28,748 km2 ( 143rd in the world ), has a density of 110 persons/km2 ( 63rd place in the world ) and has its capital in the city of Tirana which hosts about 610,070 people. The country’s anthem is called “Himni i Flamurit” and is composed by a romanian, Ciprian Porumbescu and the motto sounds something like : “Ti Shqipëri, më jep nder, më jep emrin Shqipëtar” which it translates into “You Albania, give me honour, give me the name Albanian”. Albania is organised as a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic and as the last estimations tell their total population is about 2,886,026. Other important albanian populations in the Balkans can be found in Kosovo ( 1,5 million ), Republic of Macedonia ( 500,000 ) and Greece ( 400,000 ). The official currency is the albanian lek ( ALL ).

Albania’s history starts when the region of Illyria was attested for the first time in the 4th century BC. The modern territory of Albania has no equivalent in antiquity as it consisted of the roman regions of Dalmatia, Macedonia ( Epirus Nova ) and Dardania ( Moesia Superior ). The territory has remained under roman control until the slavic migrations from the V-VII century AD and it was integrated in the Bulgarian Empire in the 9th century AD.

Albania’s territorial nucleum was formed in the Middle Ages under the name of Principality of Arbër ( or Albanon ) and then the Kingdom of Albania. Also, the 1st writings of the albanian ethnicity are mentioned in the same period ( 12th century ). In the 15th century there were many confrontations between the albanians led by Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu and the Ottoman Empire who was growing in power. Skënderbeu defended for 25 years its castle at Krujë and won many battles against the Ottomans with only 10,000 men gaining a lot of fame and respect in Europe. Short time after Skënderbeu’s death, the Ottomans laid siege on the city of Shkodër in 1478 and won, as a result the albanian resistance stopped and the country became a turkish pashalic. It remained under Ottoman rule until 1912 as part of the Rumelia province.

The 1st organization that opposed the partition of Albania and asked for autonomy instead was the Prizren League formed on the 1st of June 1878 in Prizren, Kosovo. The Prizren League used military force to stop the annexation of northern Albania to Montenegro and Serbia and the south of Albania to Greece. After a series of clashes with the montenegrin forces, the League was forced to yield Ulcinj to Montenegro and short time after the albanians were defeated by an ottoman army sent by the sultan to stop the autonomy of Albania. The uprisings from 1910-1912 followed by the defeat of the ottoman forces in the 1st Balkanic War led to the declaration of independence made by Ismail Qemali in Vlorë on the 28th of November 1912. The independence was recognised on the 29th of July 1913 at the London Conference but the boundaries made clearly ignored the demographic realities at the moment.

Landforms

About 70% of the country consists in mountainous regions, some areas being unaccesable. The country’s highest peak is Korab top, situated in the Dibër district with an altitude of 2,753 meters. On the mediterranean coast the winters are soft and humid and the summers are dry. The biggest and the depthest lakes of the Balkan Peninsula are partly in Albania. The Shkodër Lake from the northwest part of the country is in proportion of 1/3 Albanian. Lakes Ohrid and Prespa are also in a small proportion part of Albania. Lake Ohrid is situated in the southeast part of the country and it is under UNESCO protected sites due to unique species of plants and animals that can be found within.

The plain areas are experiencing soft winters with average temperatures of 7°C. In the summer the average temperature is about 24°C. The precipitations are average ( 1,000 to 1,500 mm per year ) because of the mediterranean currents and the continental air and as a result most of the rainfall drops in the central area of the country.

Although a small country, Albania is very rich regarding biodiversity. Albania has around 3,250 species of plants, approximately 30% of the species that can be found in Europe!

A lot of mammals can be found in the albanian woods like : wolves, bears, boars and black goats. The lynx, wild cats, polecat and marten are rare but they still can be found in some areas. Also there are 91 endangered species like : the dalmatian pelican, the european sturgeon and the pygmy cormorant.

The albanian language was formed by the jointing of 2 local dialects : Gheg and Tosk, the last being the most predominant. The Shkumbin river marks the delimitation between the two speaking categories. Other languages spoken by the minorities includes : aromanian, greek, bulgarian, serbian, macedonian, turkish, romani and gorani.

In Albania, religion was never a subject that would lead to tensions or violence. At the begining of the 20th century an albanian writer named Vaso Pasha said “The religion of the albanians is albanism”. The almost 60% muslims ( including bektashi islam ) are living in peace together with their 25% orthodox and 15% catholic brothers.

On UNESCO’s list there can be found 2 cultural objectives in Albania:

  1. The ruins of the old city of Butrint
  2. The historical centres of Berat and Gjirokastra

The fall of the communist regime was followed by massive emigration, this phenomena being new to most of the people. Between 1991 and 2004 almost 900,000 persons emigrated from Albania, 600,000 out of them going in Greece.

Albania is still a poor country according to the European standards. The GDP per capita was in 2010 around 28% of the average of the European Union. However, Albania registered a high economic increase, alongside Poland and Cyprus in 2009. Investors were attracted to Albania due to low costs for production and the electricity stopped being cut off ( a problem that persisted long time after the fall of communism ), Albania becoming an exporter of electricity. Albania and Croatia talked about building a termonuclear plant near Shkoder Lake but the project have been heavily criticised by Montenegro.

Albania is still a poor country according to the European standards. The GDP per capita was in 2010 around 28% of the average of the European Union. However, Albania registered a high economic increase, alongside Poland and Cyprus in 2009. Investors were attracted to Albania due to low costs for production and the electricity stopped being cut off ( a problem that persisted long time after the fall of communism ), Albania becoming an exporter of electricity. Albania and Croatia talked about building a termonuclear plant near Shkoder Lake but the project have been heavily criticised by Montenegro.

People

Discover some of the most popular persons who live / lived in Albania.

Meda

Mehedin Përgjegjaj ( Meda )

His father, Hasani and his grandfather are also singers of this genre. After finishing school in Prishtina he moved with his father in Hajvali. When the Kosovo war started he and his family were forced to emigrate in Germany, in the city of Bad Krozingen. Meda participated at festivals, weddings and concerts even in his […]

Jim Belushi - Albanian personalities

Jim Belushi

Jim Belushi is an american-albanian actor, comedian and musician, younger brother of John Belushi and the father of Robert Belushi. He is best known for his role as James “Jim” Orenthal in the sitcom “According to Jim”. He is the son of Adam Anastos Belushi and Agnes Demetri Samaras Belushi. Jim graduated the Southern Illinois University […]

Elena Ghica - Albanian personalities

Elena Ghica

Elena Ghica was a romanian-albanian writer and militant for women’s rights most known under the pseudonym of Dora D’Istria. Elena was the niece of reigning prince of Wallachia, Grigore IV Ghica. After marrying russian duke Alexander Koltsov-Massalski her name became Helena Koltsova-Massalskaya. She received a high education in various prestige universities from Dresden, Vienna, Venice […]

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Culinary

Discover some of the traditional receips from Albania.

Skenderbeu Brandy - Albanian cuisine

Skënderbeu Brandy

Skënderbeu Brandy it has it’s origins in Albania and has won numerous medals in international contests. It’s characteristic flavor, natural taste and aging process make it highly demanded.

Turli perimesh ( Mixed Vegetables ) - Albanian cuisine

Turli perimesh ( Mixed Vegetables )

Ingredients: 900 g various vegetables (peppers, eggplants, okra, zucchini, potatoes, etc) 1/2 cup oil ( divided ) 1 cup of chopped onion 1 cup of peeled chopped tomatoes 1 tablespoon chopped parsley Salt andPepper   Steps: After cutting off unedible tips of vegetables, wash and slice them into 1-inch squares. Sauté vegetables in half of […]

Pispili or Byrek shqiptar me perime - Albanian cuisine

Pispili or Byrek shqiptar me perime

Ingredients: 1 cup oil ( olive or sunflower ) 1 and a half packets (or about 30) pastry leaves (Filo Dough) 700 g pounds spinach or nettles ( chopped ) 1 cup diced Feta cheese 1/2 cup chopped green onions 2 eggs Salt   Steps: Brush the baking pan with some of the oil and […]

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