Cities in ALBANIA


Geography and Landscape


The Republic of Albania (officially: Republika e Shqip ris, Shqiperi for short) is located in southeastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula, the largest and most eastern peninsula in Europe.

Albania Satellite Photo
Satellite Photo Albania Photo: NASA in the public domain

The total area of Albania is 28,748 km2. The maximum north-south distance is 370 km and the maximum east-west distance is 170 km.
Albania is bordered to the north by the Serbian province of Kosovo and Montenegro (287 km), to the east by Macedonia ( 151 km) and to the south by Greece (282 km). To the west, the country borders the Adriatic and Ionian seas ;the length of the total coastline is 362 km. The distance to the coast of Italy is just 80 km from the Strait of Otranto.
South off the coast is the Greek island Corfu.


Albania LandscapeAlbania LandscapePhoto: Godo godaj CC2.0 Generico no changes made

Albania actually consists of two parts: the low coastal land and the mountainous interior. The average elevation is 708 meters above sea level and about 70% of the Albanian landscape is mountainous.
The coastal landscape consists of a number of coastal plains, separated by flat dry ridges. The coastal plains are low, with here and there lakes and swamps, which, moreover, have been largely drained and irrigated; the winter rains and the spring floods of the rivers often cause flooding.
More to the east is a hilly zone, which is no longer affected by flooding.
The east of Albania is fierce and difficult to access. In the north are the Northern Albanian Alps. Here, the limestone mountains, intersected with deep gorges, even assume high mountain shapes (Jezerce, 2693 m). The highest peak is the Korab, 2784 meters high, and it is located in the Korabit Mountains at the border triangle with Macedonia and the Serbian province of Kosovo. For the rest, the mountain country consists of elongated ridges, sharply cut small plateaus and small basins. Karst phenomena also occur.
Around the Dessaretic lakes in the south is the only large plain suitable for agriculture.

Lakes and rivers

Black Drin by Lake Ohrid AlbaniaBlack Drin by Lake Ohrid AlbaniaPhoto: Brams CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Non-navigable rivers like Drin, Mat, Shkumbî, Seman and Vijos flow from the mountains to the Adriatic Sea and break through the mountain ranges in rugged and wild valleys. The largest river, the Drin, has its source in Lake Ohrid (this section is called the Black Drin) and in the mountains of Kosovo (White Drin).
The lakes are all located in border areas: in the north, Lake Shkodër (460-510 km2, also the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula);in the southeast the Dessaretic group on the border with Macedonia and Greece: Lake Ohrid (270 km2), Lake Prespa (288 km2) and the small Lake Malik, all of which are partly outside Albania themselves.

Climate and Weather

Sunrise with fog in Albania Sunrise with fog in Albania Photo: Spyenson CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Due to the great geographical and topographical differences, the Albanian climate has an unpredictable character.
The coastal plain has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, mild winters and winter rains. In the mountainous east there is a continental climate with severe, snowy winters and summer rains. The sheltered basins have a milder climate.
The maximum temperature in summer can be as high as 40°C. In winter, the minimum temperature is -5°C. The hottest place in Albania is Saranda, with more than 3000 hours of sunshine a year and only a few weeks of 'winter weather' per year in the months of January and February.
The rainfall is between 750 and 1200 mm/year, but especially on the western slopes of the mountains in the Northern Albanian Alps, up to 2000 mm of precipitation falls per year. Most precipitation, decreasing from north to south, falls in autumn and winter.

Climate table (average figures for the entire country)

min. temp°C225812161717141085
max. temp°C121215182328313127231714
rainy days p/m1313141312754691616

Plants and Animals


Albania has a varied plant and animal world, with species that no longer occur elsewhere in the Balkans. But also in Albania nature is under pressure due to the drying up of the many wetlands and industrialization since the WWII. Although the swamps were unhealthy for humans, they were home to rich plant and animal life, including the now nearly extinct Dalmatian Pelican.


Salix reticulata, AlbaniaSalix reticulata AlbaniaPhoto: Opiola Jerzy CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Due to the large differences in altitude, soil types and climate, Albania is blessed with a very rich and varied flora: 3221 species have been counted divided into two clear groups. The border runs from the north to the south via Shkodra to Leskovik. To the west of this line you will find a typical Mediterranean flora (approx. 355 of the total number of species), and to the east in the mountains we encounter a typical mountain flora. In all of Albania there are 489 species that are typical for the Balkans, of which about 40 are found only in Albania, including the asphodel, the Balkan dioscorea, the wild driada and the Salix reticulata, a willow species.
On the coastal plain, the vegetation has a Mediterranean character. More inland, between approx. 700 and 1000 m altitude, follows an area of oak, beech and chestnut forest. Between 1000 and 1800 the coniferous forests predominate and above 1800 m one finds mainly alpine meadow vegetation.
Oak forests make up 20% of the total Albanian forest stock. In other parts of the country, up to 800 meters high, Mediterranean shrubs are dominant: myrtle, strawberry, heather and mastic tree. In the warm southwest grow, among other things, disc cactus, bay leaf, fig tree, black hornbeam and eucalyptus.


Wolf, AlbaniaWolf AlbaniaPhoto: Quartel CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the forests with oak and conifers, ferrets, wolves (approx. 400 specimen), foxes and jackals are found. Brown bears, pine martens, lynx and weasels live in the higher coniferous forests. Roe deer, chamois and wild boars are found in some areas and Albania has no fewer than 14 species of bats and 350 bird species (including migratory birds). Typical Albanian species are crows, sparrows, shovelers, two kinds of partridges, pheasants and heron species. Migratory birds living in Albani To rest are nightingales, storks, cuckoos, larks, thrushes, geese, doves and woodpeckers. Albania knows many birds of prey, such as eagle, falcon, buzzard, sparrowhawk, little owl and eagle owl.
260 fish species live in the Albanian rivers. In several lakes, including Lake Ohrid, a unique trout, the so-called 'Koran', is found.
Various snake species occur on land, including the highly venomous Balkan viper, the water snake and the Montpellier snake. Furthermore, many types of toads, frogs, salamanders, lizards and two types of turtles. In the south of Albania scorpions are common.

greylag goosewhite gooseLittle Goose
taiga Bean Gooselittle reed goosered-breasted goose
mute swanlittle swanwild swan
casarcashelducksummer translation
marble duckred-crested duckpochard
white-eyed duck *tufted ducktopper
eider *Great Scoterblack scoter
ice duckgoldeneyenun
common mergansermiddle merganserwhite-headed duck
quailbrick partridge *forest pheasant
partridgecapercaillieblack grouse
hazel grouse
killercrested diverred-necked grebe
grebeblack-necked grebe
rock pigeonstock pigeonwood pigeon
summer doveCollared Dove
cuckoocrested cuckoo
alpine swiftcommon swiftpale swift
sand martinrock swallowbarn swallow
red-rumped swallowhouse martin
grand staircasesmall stairs * (photo)
rats, coots and moorhens
waterralcorncrakeSpotted Crake
Moorhencootlittle moorhen
smallest moorhen
crane bird
kluutblack-winged stilt

Small bustard, almost extinct in Albania Small bustard, almost extinct in Albania Photo: Francesco Veronesi CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

lapwings and plovers
lapwing *silver plovergolden plover
Asian Golden Ploversand ploverringed plover
little plovermorinelplevier
sandpipers and snips
whimbrelslender-billed curlewcurlew *
bar-tailed godwit *black-tailed godwit *stone runner
knot *ruffbroad-billed sandpiper
curved sandpiper *Temminck's sandpiperthree-toed sandpiper
spotted sandpiperlittle sandpipergray sandpiper *
bokjewoodcockpoelsnip *
witgatblack ridergreen-legged rider
pond riderforest riderredshank
racing birds and fork-tailed plovers
fork-tailed plover
little hunter
kittiwakethin-billed gullblack-headed gull
Little GullMediterranean GullAudouin's Gull
storm gullherring gullyellow-legged gull
Caspian Gulllesser black-backed gullgreat black-backed gull
Little Ternlachsterngiant tern
black starwhite-winged ternwhite-faced tern
common ternsandwich tern
red-throated diverpearl diverice diver
northern storm petrels
Kuhl's Shearwateryelkouan shearwater
storkblack stork
pygmy cormorantgreat cormorantcrested cormorant
pink pelicanfrizzy couple *
bitternLittle BitternBlue Heron
purple herongreat egretlittle egret
Cattle Egretral heronkwak
ibises and spoonbills
black ibisspoonbill

Dalmatian Pelican, almost extinct in Albania Dalmatian Pelican, almost extinct in AlbaniaPhoto: Tim Sträter CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

bearded vulture *Egyptian vulturehoney buzzard
black vulture *griffon vulturesnake eagle
screaming eaglebastard eaglepygmy eagle
imperial eaglegolden eaglehawk eagle
Marsh HarrierHen Harriermarsh harrier *
Montagu's Harrierbalkansperwersparrow hawk
hawkred kite *black kite
sea eaglerough-legged buzzardbuzzard
Long-legged Buzzard
Barn Owls
barn owl
scops owlowlsnowy owl
little owltawny owlUral Owl
long-eared owlshort-eared owlrough-legged owl
bee-eatergreen bee-eater
free range
swivel neckthree-toed woodpeckermiddle spotted woodpecker
white-backed woodpeckergreat spotted woodpeckerSyrian Spotted Woodpecker
lesser spotted woodpeckergray-headed woodpeckergreen woodpecker
black woodpecker
lesser kestrelkestrelred-legged falcon * (photo)
Eleonora's falconmerlinfalcon
lannervalksakervalkperegrine falcon
red-backed shrikeGreat Gray Shrikelesser gray shrike
mask shrikeRed-headed Shrike
red-billed choughalpine choughchew
rookhooded crowraven
black titcrested titgray tit
gloss headermatheadblue tit
great tit
possum tits
possum tit

Red-legged Falcon, almost extinct in AlbaniaRed-legged Falcon, almost extinct in AlbaniaPhoto: Jutta Luft CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

beach larkshort-toed larkcalender lark
tree larkskylarkcrested lark
bearded man
grass warbler
eastern pale mockingbirdGreek MockingbirdOrpheus potbird
mockingbirdwater reed warblerblack-headed reed warbler
reed warblermarsh warblerlittle reed warbler
great reed warbler
cricket warblermustachegrasshopper warbler
Phylloscopidae (wood warblers)
whistlermountain whistlerbalkanbergfluiter
brown wood warblerfitischiffchaff
Cetti's singer
tail tits
long-tailed tit
Singers of the Old World
blackcapgarden warblersparrow warbler
blackwormwestern Orpheus warblerEastern Orpheus Warbler
Rüppel's warblerbarred warblersmall blackhead
warblerspectacled warblerProvencal warbler *
golden roosterfirecrest
rock creeper
Nuthatchrock stick
starlingpink starling
thrushSong Thrushredwing *
gray flycatcherruddy fan tailrobin
nightingalebluethroatlittle flycatcher
Balkan Flycatcherpied flycatcherwhite-necked flycatcher
collared redstartblack redstartred rock thrush
blue rock thrushwhinyEuropean Stonechat
wheatearblond wheatear

Provençal warbler, almost extinct in AlbaniaProvençal warbler, almost extinct in AlbaniaPhoto: Gailhampshire CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

hedge sparrows
alpine hedge mushedge sparrow
house sparrowSpanish sparrowtree sparrow
rock sparrowsnowfinch
wagtails and pipits
great yellow wagtailyellow wagtaillemon wagtail
white wagtailbig beeperdune beeper
grass piper * (photo)boom beeperred-throated beeper
water piper
European Canarysiskin
black-headed buntinggray buntinggray bunting
cirl buntingyellowhammerwhite-headed bunting
ortolaanbrown-and-white ortholaanreed bunting

Meadow Pipit, almost extinct in AlbaniaMeadow Pipit, almost extinct in AlbaniaPhoto: Osotis Scorpioides at en.wikipedia CC 3.0 no changes made


Antiquity up to and including the 17th century

Roman remains in Durres, Albania Roman remains in Durres, Albania Photo: Dave Proffer CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

A few centuries before the beginning of our era, Albania was inhabited by the Illyrians. In the 2nd century BC. Albania was conquered by the Romans and partly Romanised. After 1204 the despotate Epirus arose in southern Albania and northwestern Greece, which was ruled from Byzantium.
This area came under the rule of the Italian princes Orsini at the beginning of the 14th century, while Central Albania as the Kingdom of Albania fell under the kings of Naples.
In the first half of the 15th century, the Turks invaded Albania. Despite the resistance of the Albanians led by the folk hero Skanderbeg, it officially became Turkish territory from 1478. Remarkably, many Albanians turned to Islam, but the proud Albanians continued to revolt against the Turks during the rule, especially since the 18th century.

19th century to First World War

Ali Pasja Albani Ali Pasja AlbanaPhoto: Nicholson1989 CC 3.0 no changes made

Around 1800 Ali Pasha, a Turk of Albanian descent, ruled Albani, Macedonia and Thessalia. In 1822 he was defeated and killed by the Turkish sultan.
In 1878 the Albanians asked the Congress of Berlin to look at the Turkish rule of Albania. However, German Chancellor Bismarck ignored this, after which an Albanian League was established, which also strongly protested against the allocation of Albanian territory to neighboring countries. They also argued for Albania's independence, which meant the end of Turkish support. The Turks even went to fight the League, after which there was nothing for them to do but become a secret revolutionary organization.
Just before the First Balkan War, Albania got granted autonomous status by Turkey, which, with the support of Italy and Austria was converted to independence in 1912. The Russians and French were vehemently opposed to this, but the diplomatic stewardship of the English prevented things from getting out of hand.
After a decision by the great powers, Albania became a sovereign principality under Prince Wilhelm von Wied on July 29, 1913, but a little over a year later, on September 3, 1914, he left Albania. It was not until 1920 that the Albanians managed to persuade the Italian and French occupiers to leave Albanian territory, followed by the Yugoslavs in 1921. After this the independence of Albania was a fact.

Albania: a Republic

Envor Hoxha AlbaniaEnvor Hoxha AlbaniaPhoto: Forrásjelölés Hasonló John Oldale CC 3.0 no changes made

On January 22, Albania proclaimed a republic, with President Achmed Zogoe, who would later become King Zog I. Zog continued to oppose the Italians' continued efforts for sovereignty over Albania, and eventually the Italians attacked Albania on April 7, 1939. Zog fled and the whole country suffered from the war violence of the Germans and Italians. After the Italians capitulated, Albania was occupied by the Germans in September 1943. Partisan fighting now broke out and in the autumn of 1944 Albania freed from the German yoke. Enver Hoxha became a big man and a party leader of a people's democratic government from 1948. Earlier, on January 11, 1946, the partisans reintroduced the People's Republic of Albania. The republic closely aligned itself with Yugoslavia, and thus in fact also with Stalin's communist Soviet Union. As a result, the claim to the area of Kosovo and Metohija was dropped.

After the split between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union Albania focused on the Soviet Union and logically joined the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated a lot when the Soviet president Khrushchev started pursuing a de-Stalinization policy. The convinced Stalinist Hoxha did not like this and from that time on Albania increasingly relies on the communist China. When it came to an open rift between the Soviet Union and China in 1961, Albania broke up diplomatic relations with the Soviets. Moscow thereupon withdrew all advisers from Albania, who were soon succeeded by Chinese.
In 1966 a top-down cultural revolution followed in which all Western expressions were denounced and people started to strive for a new national culture on a communist basis. In 1967 Albania was the first atheist country in the world when Hoxha legally abolished religion. From the early 1970s, diplomatic relations with Western countries were reluctantly established again.
In 1978, Albania broke up with China because of ideological contradictions. In 1981 Prime Minister Shehu was murdered under suspicious circumstances and in 1982 a major and violent purge of the party and government followed; Ramiz Alia was appointed president and succeeded Enver Hoxha as party leader in 1985. Alia was committed to a good relationship the west and in the east. However, relations with the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia remained very cool.

First free elections

In December 1989 and January 1990 there were demonstrations for more democracy that were violently broken up. In July 1990, thousands of Albanians were allowed to leave the country and a few months later Alia announced limited reforms, which eventually led to free elections in March 1991. The communists won the elections, but the new government was overthrown after just one month. This was followed in June 1991 by a Government of National Salvation, which was replaced by a technical government in December. However, this Government also did not last long and resigned in March 1992. Ali was succeeded on April 9, 1992 by the democratically elected President Sali Berisha who immediately embarked on extensive economic reforms.
Under his rule, relations with Greece and the Greek minority in Albania improved, but the relationship with the former Yugoslavia remained highly problematic because of the Albanians' commitment to autonomy in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
In 1996, parliamentary elections were held in very difficult circumstances. The elections were fraudulent and characterized by intimidation and violence, as well as boycotted by the socialist opposition. The elections were won by President Berisha's Democratic Party and Aleksander Meksi became prime minister.

Big Problems

Pandeli Majko, Albania
Pandeli Majko, AlbaniaPhoto: Prime Minister of Kosovo Office Press, public domain

In 1997 serious riots broke out after many Albanians lost their savings following the bankruptcy of some very dubious investment funds. This almost turned into a civil war in the south of the country, but early elections in June / July 1997 prevented this in the nick of time. The elections were won by the Socialist Party of Albania (PSS). The socialist Rexhep Mejdani was appointed president, who in turn appointed Fatos Nano prime minister. Nano was succeeded in 1998 by Pandeli Majko.

1999 was dominated by the Kosovo crisis and war in Yugoslavia. Hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians fled to Albania and NATO was allowed unlimited use of Albanian ports and infrastructure. In June 1999 Yugoslavia capitulated and the Kosovars were able to return to their province.

However, the problems were not over yet, as October 1999 was dominated by an internal struggle within the PSS party. Prime Minister Majko and party leader Nano quarreled after which Majko was succeeded as prime minister by Ilir Meta. At the same time, ex-president Berisha was re-elected as chairman of the opposition PDS and the old fighting cocks faced each other again. As a result, the parties remained so far apart that the development into a mature democracy became increasingly difficult.

21st century

Berisha AlbaniaSali Ram Berisha president van AlbaniëPhoto:World Economic Forum CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In February 2000, Albania and the Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro reopened their common border. In September Berisha managed to escape an attempt on his life. In October, the municipal elections were won by the ruling Socialist Party (PSS), which secured a majority in 252 of the 398 municipalities.

In January 2001, diplomatic relations between Albania and Yugoslavia, which had been broken since April, were restored. The June / July parliamentary elections were also won by Prime Minister Meta's PSS, with 41.5% of the vote. Four rounds of election were required for this quietest election since 1991.

Meanwhile, a power struggle had been going on within the PSS for months between Prime Minister Meta and party chairman Fatos Nano. An important point of contention was the question of who determined government policy; the party or cabinet of Meta. As a result of this conflict, Meta stepped down at the end of January 2002. Meta was succeeded by Pandeli Majko in February.

In June, Nano and Berisha made peace again and even agreed on a joint presidential candidate, General Alfred Moisiu, who was indeed elected by parliament in June to succeed Rexhep Meidani. After Moisiu's inauguration, the Majko cabinet resigned and Nano was tasked with forming a new government. At the end of July, the new cabinet took office and had some illustrious names; the former enemies of Nano, namely Majko on Defense and Meta as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In January 2003 negotiations started between Albania and the EU on an association agreement and in April Albania sent troops to Iraq; a sign of support for US foreign policy. In April, the Adriatic Charter was signed by Albania, Croatia and Macedonia; the purpose of this was, among other things, to promote NATO membership.

In 2003, the power struggle within the PSS between Nano and Meta again demanded all the attention. In July, Foreign Minister Meta resigned in protest against Nano's government policy. Local elections in October were rerun in December after serious irregularities were found.

The coalition of Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha was selected on September 1, 2005 as the winner of the parliamentary elections held on July 3. This meant that Berisha returned as head of government after eight years of socialist rule. It took weeks for the final results to be announced as more than 300 complaints of irregularities had to be investigated and elections rerun in three districts. The Berisha Democratic Party won 55 of the 100 directly elected seats. Prime Minister Fatos Nano's ruling Socialist Party was allowed to supply 42 MPs, with the rest of the seats going to three small parties.

Edi Rama Prime Minister Albania Edi Rama Prime Minister Albania Photo: Public domain

In July 2007, parliament elects Bamir Topi as president. In April 2009 Albania joined NATO. In July 2009 Berisha's party wins the parliamentary elections with a narrow majority. In May 2010, Edi Rama, the leader of the socialist party, called for a partial recount of the votes. In June 2013, the Socialist Party wins the elections and in September Edi Rama becomes Prime Minister.
In June 2014, the European Commission orders Albania for membership of the EU. In March 2015, the government announced its plan to privatize the state oil company Albpetrol. In July 2016, the government decided to implement legal reforms to bring closer EU membership. In July 2017, Ilir Meta will become the new president of Albania. In the spring and summer of 2019 it will be restless in Albani and incendiary bombs are thrown at Prime Minister Edi Rama's office.


Composition and distribution

Albania SchoolkidsAlbania SchoolkidsPhoto: Goodfaith17 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The population of Albania consists of approx. 82% Albanians (who call themselves Shqiptar) and further of Greeks, several thousand Slavs (Macedonians, Montenegrins, Bulgarians, Serbia) and Turks, Vlachs (also called Aromuns or Balkan Romanians) Armenians and Gypsies.
The ethnic Albanians can be divided into two groups, which were formed around the 12th century and each speak their own Albanian dialect. Mountain dwellers live north of the Shkumbin River in the northeast of the country and the Ghegen in Kosovo. The Tosken live south of the Shkumbin.
Albania itself is home to 3.05 million people (2017); more than three million Albanians live abroad, of which 2.5 million in Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, the rest in Southern Italy and Greece.
The population density is approximately 106 persons per km2. The most densely populated are the hills and coastline, especially the districts of Tirana and Vlor. Before the Second World War, the vast majority of Albanians still lived in the countryside. At present, more than 40% live in cities (very little from a European perspective) and the migration to the cities is still increasing.

Largest cities:


Demographics (2017)

Natural population growth is 0.31%

Birth rate per 1000 inhabitants is 13.2
Death rate per 1000 inhabitants is 6.8

Life expectancy is 75, 8 years for men and 81.4 years for women

Age structure
0-14 years 18%
15-64 years 70%
65+ 12%


Language map AlbaniaLanguage map AlbaniaPhoto:Caltinus CC.4.0 International no changes made

Albanian belongs to the Indo-European language group; it is a mixed language with a large number of loanwords.

There is a Ghegic and a Tosk dialect, as well as a transitional dialect between the two. Tosk has been the official language since 1945 and is strongly influenced by Greek. The Ghegic dialect has many Slavic influences. Turkish influences can also be found in both dialects.

The ethnic minority groups in the country are allowed to use their own language.

In 1908 an official Albanian alphabet was introduced, based on the Latin alphabet.


Mosque in AlbaniaMosque in AlbaniaPhoto: Meyavuz CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In 1967, communist party leader Enver Hoxha proclaimed Albania the world's first atheist state. Between 1967 and 1990 it was forbidden to practice any religion. All mosques and churches in the country were demolished or used for another purpose; spiritual leaders were forced to give up their office. Yet many Albanians remained true to their faith at the time and did not automatically become atheists.

After more than 23 years without religion, religion has again taken an important place in the daily life of the older Albanians in particular. Religious holidays have also been restored. Most of the young people grew up in a country without religion and religion is much less important to them.

It is currently estimated that about 70% of the population is Sunni-Islamic, 10% Roman Catholic and 20% belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church, mainly the Ghegen.

In the eleventh century, the Shkumbin River formed the boundary between the Roman North and the Orthodox South in the schism in the Catholic Church. As a result of Turkish rule, the country was Islamized from the 17th century, often with intimidation and violence. In the course of the 18th century, the majority of Albanians became Muslim.

After the collapse of atheist rule, Albania was "raided" by priests, imams, evangelists and missionaries from all kinds of religious movements and religions.


State organization

Albania Parliament BuildingAlbania Parliament BuildingPhoto: Gertjan R. CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Between 1948 and 1991, the communist party - officially Albanian Workers' Party (abbreviated: PPSh) - was the only leading political force in state and society. The first free elections took place in 1991 after the fall of the communist regime.
The "one-chamber People's Assembly" or "Kuvendi Popullor" has 140 delegates, who are elected every four years;the People's Assembly elects the head of state. One hundred members of the People's Assembly are elected directly from single constituencies and forty by proportional representation. There is a general obligation to vote from 18 years. The president is the head of state of Albania, is elected for five years and is eligible for re-election once. The president appoints the prime minister.
In 1998 Albania had the first post-communist constitution, which gave parliament more powers, such as appointing the council of ministers. This constitution made Albania a parliamentary republic and a unitary state with a system of government based on the separation and balance of legislative, executive and judicial powers. The current political situation is described in the chapter history.

Administrative division

Albania Adminstrative divisionAlbania Adminstrative divisionPhoto: TUBS CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Administratively, Albania is divided into 36 districts (rreth, plural rráthe of rráthët) and twelve prefectures.

prefecturecapitalnumber of inhabitantsarea
BeratBerat193,0001027 km2
DibrëPeshkopië190,0002586 km2
DurrësDurrës245,000766 km2
ElbasanElbasan360,0003,199 km2
FierFier385,0001,891 km2
GürokastërGürokastër115,0002884 km2
KorcëKorcë265,0003710 km2
KukësKukës112,0002373 km2
LezhëLezhë160,0001,620 km2
ShkodërShkodër257,0003561 km2
TiranaTirana600,0001653 km2
VlorëVlorë195,0002,706 km2


Tirana UniversityTirana UniversityPhoto: Leeturtle CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Primary and secondary education in Albania is a collective facility to which everyone has access.
Children between the ages of three and six attend the ‘kopshte’ , the kindergarten. This is followed by eight-year primary school, followed by three forms of secondary education, to which approximately 75% of the pupils pass through. The ‘shkollat 12-vjeçare (the’ 12-year school’ ) trains for study at a university. The ‘shkollat e mesme teknik-profesionale’ is a lot like high tech school. The ‘shkollat e ulte profesionale’ delivers students who are trained for jobs in agriculture and industry.
In 1957, the first university in Albania was opened in the capital Tirana. In 1991, Tirana Agricultural College and Shköder College were declared universities. From 1992 exchange programs were initiated with many universities in the world.



Albania 500 Lek NoteAlbania 500 Lek NotePhoto: Public domain

After the break with the Soviet Union (in 1961) and China (in 1978) the communist Albania fully met its own economic needs. However, this isolationist policy made the economy completely obsolete. With the fall of orthodox communism, economic life also completely collapsed in the years 1990-1992, partly due to the large-scale destruction and looting of many state-owned enterprises. Albania then mainly depended on emergency aid, foreign loans and remittances from Albanian guest workers working abroad.

From 1992, economic life was quickly privatized. For example, the collectivization of agriculture was undone and the land was divided among the farmers and a small-scale industry and services got underway. As a result, GDP rose by about 7% in 1994 and 1995, according to official figures. However, the economy and confidence in the banking sector took a huge blow as a result of the social unrest in 1997. Thanks to a macroeconomic stabilization process that has since been carried out together with the IMF, Albania is well back on track. An improvement in the economy of Albania is now visible again.

In 2002 almost all small and medium-sized businesses had been privatized.

In addition to legal economic activity, a lot of money was also made from the black trade in people, oil, drugs and weapons. A lot of money was also invested in the so-called pyramid funds, which promised sky-high returns. When these funds collapsed in early 1997, Albania fell to chaos and anarchy. After this, normal economic life almost came to a halt.

After central authority was restored, a lot of work was done on institutional reforms to combat pervasive corruption. The economy slowly recovered: infrastructure was improved, foreign companies invested in Albania, many of the remittances from abroad were invested in new businesses, and in the period 1999-2001 GDP grew by about 7% annually.

Many state-owned companies have meanwhile been privatized, as have a number of banks. The privatization of a number of important companies (Albanian National Savings Bank and the telecommunications company) is still taking some steps.

In April 2005, an international commission headed by former Italian Prime Minister Amato published a report on the future of the Western Balkans. One of the report's recommendations was that the countries of the Western Balkans should achieve regional economic integration (common economic space) as soon as possible. The government has recently adopted a tax reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. Yet Albania is still one of the poorest countries in Europe. GDP per capita was $ 12,500 in 2017.

Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing

Agriculture AlbaniaAgriculture AlbaniaPhoto: Hannah Mishin CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Approx. 70% of Albania is mountainous and only about one fifth of the land is suitable for agriculture. Yet Albania's economy is buoying mainly on agriculture. More than half of the Albanian population works in agriculture, and this industry accounts for more than half of the country's gross national product (GNP). Most of the agricultural land came into private hands in 1992, increasing the income of the farm workers. At the beginning of 1996, the land division was virtually complete, but it did lead to enormous fragmentation of the soil. The agricultural area now covers more than 12,000 km2, spread over approximately 400,000 farmers. The yields have increased spectacularly every year since privatization.
Livestock farming is becoming increasingly important and already accounts for about 50% of total agricultural production. The number of animals, but also the milk production per animal has increased considerably in the last ten years. There are currently a dozen large dairies and several hundred small businesses locatedmainly deal with cheese making. Export of these products will depend a lot on better hygiene and quality.
Forestry is important; good transport options have been created in this regard since 1950. However, it was not until 1973 that a reforestation program was started to combat continued erosion of the seabed.
Inshore fishing is hardly significant. In Albani The domestic demand for fish exceeds the local supply, requiring large quantities to be imported.


Albania Oil Refinery Albania Oil RefineryPhoto: Pasztilla aka Attila Terbócs CC 4.0 no changes made

Albania has a fair amount of exploitable mineral reserves. The main minerals are petroleum, natural gas and chrome ore (up to 1980 Albania was one of the world's leading chrome exporters);furthermore, copper, iron and nickel ores, bauxite, lignite, lime and salt are extracted.
The main oil and natural gas field is located near Kuçov, in Central Albania. Part of the crude oil is also refined here, which is then transported via pipelines to the port city of Vlor being transported. From the early 1970s onwards, oil and gas reserves in the vicinity of Patos were exploited.


Albania Shoe market in Shkodra Albani Albania Shoe market in ShkodraPhoto: Sigismund von Dobschütz CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Despite attempts by the Albanian governments to turn the tide, Albania industrially, remained one of the least developed countries in Europe. In the 1990s, it fell into disrepair as machines, once supplied by the Soviet Union and China, began to show defects that could no longer be repaired. Money and knowledge were lacking to solve this problem.
The main industrial products are textiles, foodstuffs and footwear. Petroleum refining is a growth sector.
About 12% of the low-skilled labor force is employed in industry. As a result, the quality of the products made is often of dubious quality. Industrial centers can be found in and around Tirana, Durrës and Shkodër. Old-fashioned crafts and small businesses are of great importance throughout the country.


Albania Hydroelectric Power StationAlbania Hydroelectric Power StationPhoto: Wikipedia Tobias Klenze CC-BY-SA 4.0 no changes made

Albania is largely dependent on hydroelectric power stations for its electricity. The great decline of many rivers (including the Drin with some large dams) makes them very suitable for the generation of electricity. However, the capacity is such that the power cuts out regularly.


Albania ExportAlbania ExportPhoto: R Haussman, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al CC 3.0 no changes made

Foreign trade is small-scale due to the multitude of products. Textiles, shoes and fuel in particular are exported, mainly via the seaports.
After the collapse of communism, Albani lost classic markets (China, Eastern Europe) and had to quickly look for new trading partners and at the moment Greece, Italy, Macedonia and Germany are the most important.


Albania Road Sign

Albania Road SignPhoto: Gigillo83 in het publieke domein

Due to the mountainous landscape, large parts of Albania are hardly accessible. The often unpaved and worn road network is 18,000 km long. The strong expansion of private car ownership has also created great pressure on the road network.

The construction of a railway network began in 1946 and, a few decades later, with lines from Tirana to the north, south and east of the country, it had a total length of 684 km. However, a number of lines have since been closed.

The largest cities are linked by a network of paved roads and bus services, but compared to most other European countries there is very little motorized traffic.

The only airport in Albania, at Rinas at Tirana, is served by only a few foreign companies. Domestic air lines are completely missing.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Butrint AlbaniaButrint AlbanaPhoto: Carole Raddato CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Tourism in Albania is characterized by archaeological heritage of Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, pristine beaches, a mountainous landscape, delicious traditional Albanian food, Cold War relics, unique traditions and a hospitable population and a countryside where time has stood still.

Although Albania as a holiday destination is not yet sufficiently developed according to Western European standards, tourism has indeed made an impressive rise in recent years. For example, the well-known travel guide publisher Lonely Planet named Albania as the number one destination to visit in 2011, and according to MSN Travel, Albania was in the fourth place of 'hot' destinations in 2012. One of the most beautiful sights from ancient times are the ruins of Butrint

Tirana, capital city of AlbaniaTirana, capital city of AlbaniaPhoto: Spaz Tacular CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Tirana is the capital of Albania and is the economic and political center of the country. The city is home to special sights and has a turbulent history. Skanderbeg Square is the center of Tirana. Built entirely in Soviet style, the square is named after the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg (born Gjergj Kastrioti) who fought the Ottoman Empire. A statue of the hero on horseback can be found in the square under the Albanian flag. The imposing square is also surrounded by the National Museum, the Opera, the National Bank and the Et'hem Bei Mosque. Et'hem Bei Mosque is one of Tirana's oldest buildings. The construction of the prayer house was started by the son of the founder of Tirana in 1789. It was not until 1821 that the construction was continued and completed by his grandson. The mosque has 15 columns and 14 arches. There are beautiful still lifes in fresco style and the angular minaret is also very special. Read more on the Tirana page of Landenweb.

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Kagie, R. / Albaniƫ : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen : Novib

Pettifer, J. / Albania & Kosovo

Vlucht uit het isolement : Albaniƫ op zoek naar nieuwe wegen
Instituut voor Publiek en Politiek

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated October 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb