Albania is a country of Europe
with a surface area of 28,748 km² (density of 98.5 inhab./km²).
The population of Albania is 2,831,741 inhabitants in the last census.
The capital of Albania is the city of Tirana which has 726,547 inhabitants.
President of unitary parliamentary republic is Bujar Nishani.
albania or the republic of albania is a country of southern europe, in the balkan peninsula.
bordered by the adriatic and ionian seas, it borders with montenegro, kosovo, macedonia and greece.
albania is not part of the european union but has applied for membership.
albania is a country that seduces by the diversity of its landscapes, beaches, picturesque villages, historical heritage and folklore.
Albania at a glance
parliamentary republic of albania
capital: tirana since 1920
administrative divisions: 12 prefectures (quark) comprising 36 districts divided into 65 municipalities
population: more than 3 million inhabitants
official language: albanian (indo-european language)
main religions: islam (60%) and christianity (30%)
current president: bujar nishani
conversion into euro: 100 lekë = 0.75 euro
tourism: there is no particular risk, but basic hygiene and vigilance must be respected
A mountainous country
more than 70% of the territory of albania is covered by mountains while the rest of the country is divided between plains and plateaus. only the regions in the lakes district are truly fertile. these varied landscapes explain the diversity of climates encountered, from the mild mediterranean climate on the coast to the often harsh climate in the mountains. inland, the days are stifling and temperatures can abruptly drop during the night.
the shock of these different climates is the cause of a high rainfall mainly in the mountainous regions.
while the population density in the major cities of the country is high, the rural population is sharply reduced and reaches only 40% of the total population of the country. poverty explains the exodus to the cities but also the large diaspora since it is estimated that more than 30% of albanians live outside their borders, especially in greece and italy. by sending money to their families back home, they contribute significantly to the economy of albania.
The territory of the illyrians
albania of nowadays corresponds to the plot of the ancient illyrian kingdom founded in the 4th century bce by bardylis.
however, the occupation of the territory goes back to prehistory and the human presence is attested by archaeological excavations on many sites inhabited already in the middle paleolithic. traces of sedentary civilizations dating from the neolithic period were also discovered. they were tribes living in breeding and agriculture but also crafts, pottery and weaving.
the lakeside cities were probably located in the korce region.
the transition between the neolithic tribes and the illyrian civilization began during the bronze age and especially during the iron age. the excavation of the tumuli made it possible to determine that the population cultivated at that time the vine and the olive tree and was polytheistic.
indo-european tribes, bryges and illyrians settled on the territory of the future albania probably by the end of the bronze age. the illyrian civilization formed by numerous independent tribes developed in contact with the greeks who founded trading posts in their country. this is how the unified kingdom of illyria is formed around its capital, schköder (or shkodra) in the north-west of the country.
king bardylis undertook great conquests and invaded part of macedonia. however, he was defeated by philip ii of macedonia, who seized the illyrian kingdom in 355 bc, 30 years after its founding.
a little more than a century later the romans decided to extend their territory to the east of the adriatic and pretext the pillaging of their ships by the illyrians then ruled by queen teuta and the assassination of the ambassador roman to lead the first illyrian war.
the peace with consequences for illyria was concluded in 228 bc.
this war was followed by two others in 220 and 168 bc, marking the total conquest of illyria, which became a roman province until 395, the date of the split of the empire.
A torn nation
province of the byzantine empire, illyria experienced a turbulent period and had to face various barbaric invasions from the goths, huns, bulgarians, slavs, serbs and croats. the name "illyrians" is abandoned and, in the 11th century, writings mention for the first time the "albanians".
in the 15th century, part of the dalmatian coast passed into the hands of the republic of venice, which sought to make its way to the east.
at the same time, the ottomans seized constantinople and tried to conquer albania. despite the help of the venetians, the country was soon occupied by the turks. under their yoke, albania saw a dark page of its history which provoked a wave of emigration to italy and greece.
many inhabitants, mostly catholic, of the city of venetian albania shkodër receive land in venice and friuli in thanks for their loyalty. even today, the albanian community of arbëresh is firmly established in italy and sicily. their members remained orthodox or catholic while most albanians were converted to islam.
at the beginning of the 16th century, the ottomans occupied the whole of albania and tried to eradicate the identity of its inhabitants, obliging the young students to learn turkish in constantinople. only schools in southern albania can still teach in greek.
the ottomans impose their rules on the albanians and only the inhabitants of the mountains succeed in preserving their traditions. in the 18th century, the empire officially banned the albanian language under pain of death. although there are few or no traces of albanian writing, the oral albanian survived and has been transmitted from generation to generation since that time. at the same time, the christian faith tries to reduce itself, in particular because the liturgy is performed in a foreign language.
despite regular revolts and attempts at invasion by the austrians and austro-russians, the ottomans remained masters of albania until 1912.
in 1877, the war between the ottoman and russian empires ended by the victory of russia. different nations are fighting over the albanian territories. the great nations grant autonomy to the nationals of the ottoman empire except the albanians because they do not have the status of nation because of the lack of union of worship or language. the prizren league is founded to defend their rights but these are not recognized in the berlin treaty. it follows from the bloody revolts repressed by the ottomans.
On the road to independence
in 1910, the albanians asked for their independence, which triggered a new wave of reprisals until 1912, when the balkan countries declared war on the ottomans.
albania takes advantage of the weakening of the empire to rebel and declare its independence on november 28th of the same year. the country's borders were set in may 1913 and albania became a democratic republic. tirana was chosen as the capital in 1920.
peace is short-lived and conflicts erupt between leaders who want to modernize the country and the opponents of tradition. ahmed zogu came to power with the support of serbia and proclaimed himself king zog i in 1928.
albania and italy maintain close economic relations, which does not prevent the fascist troops of benito mussolini from invading the country in 1939. albania becomes an italian protectorate and the crown is offered to victor emmanuel ii.
albania enters the resistance and communist groups meet in the party of labor of albania with the support of the yugoslav communists.
after the german defeat, (the communist party national liberation front or democratic front) took over and founded the people's republic of albania in 1946.
albania is isolated from the rest of the world and undergoes a strict communist regime until 1991, the date of the fall of communism. since that time, albania has again become a democratic republic.
The political life
parliamentary, democratic and representative republic, albania is headed by president bujar nishani since july 2012. the president is elected for a five-year term by the assembly of the republic. in particular, he is responsible for appointing the prime minister and other members of the government team (on the proposal of the prime minister in office).
the legislative power is assured by an assembly whose mission is to direct domestic and foreign policy, to amend the constitution and to validate or abolish international treaties.
the albanian judicial system comprises a constitutional court, a court of cassation, appeal courts and district courts.
albania is divided into twelve qark (which corresponds to +/- a prefecture) which regroup the 36 rrethe (districts). the prefects are appointed by the council of ministers while the mayors of the 65 municipalities of the country are elected by direct suffrage.
A fragile economy but steady growth
albania is a developing country. its isolation during the communist period did not allow it to profit from the richness of its natural resources and to evolve at the same rhythm as the western countries.
the economy is fragile despite international aid and growth that has remained constant for several years.
its opening to the sea will nevertheless allow it to develop both trade and tourism.
at present, the albanian economy relies mainly on agriculture and the vineyard already cultivated in illyria by the romans.
The descendants of the illyrians
95% of the albanians are of pure strain and descend straight from the illyrians. they are divided into two ethnic groups, the guègues and the tosques, who occupy respectively the north and the south of the country. living mainly in the mountainous regions, the guègues have preserved their traditions, especially their own language and a patrilineal society based on clans.
the tusks are more open to the western world and their language has become the basis of the albanian national language although the guège is considered the true albanian language since it is found in the early albanian writings.
the greek is the second national language but is spoken only by a minority of albanians who often prefer the italian, the english or the turk.
islam is the main religion of the country, adopted by 60% of albanians. there are also 20% of orthodox grouped mainly in the south of the country and 10% of catholics living in mountain regions.
An exceptional heritage
Albania is a thriving tourist country. The Mediterranean climate, the preserved nature and the historical heritage of its various regions attract the long reluctant travelers because of the insecurity that prevailed in the country.
They appreciate the magnificent coastline of the Albanian Riviera and its beaches lined with pine trees, at the foot of the mountains. The port city of Durrës has managed to attract tourists by organizing numerous cultural events including several festivals.
Hikers are delighted to discover the fauna and flora while water sports enthusiasts find their happiness in the seaside resorts or on the shore of Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans in which the town of Shköder lies.
Lovers of history will linger in this city founded in the 5th century BC to visit the ruins of the citadel of Rozafa dominating the city.
The town of Berat in the center of the country astonishes its visitors by its houses with large windows leaning against a hillside and which earned it the nickname of "City with a thousand windows".
Not to be missed are the vestiges of an ancient Greek city, Apollonia which recall the grandeur and influence of the Greeks during Antiquity.
And because Albania is multicultural, the ancient Ottoman citadel of Gjirokastër is distinguished by the Balkan architecture of its stone houses.
Finally, Tirana has grown considerably since it became the capital of Albania in 1920. If one can admire the Et'hem Bey mosque founded in the late 18th century and the Ottoman Bridge of Tabakkane 17th century, most of the buildings are modern. Tirana is an important cultural and economic center where theaters, museums and opera with the textile or mechanical industries, thus marking a desire to open the country to the outside world.
Due to the history of the country, the Albanian cuisine is a concentrate of Mediterranean and Balkan influences. Vegetables and olive oil occupy a prominent place in traditional dishes, a legacy of the Greek and Roman occupation, and it is not surprising to find vine leaves, aubergines, stuffed peppers and Tomato salads in most areas.
At the same time, goulasch, bean soups and typical Balkan desserts such as Halva, Loukoum and Kadaif are reminiscent of Balkan and Turkish influences.
Meals are accompanied by local wines, buttermilk or boza, a fermented wheat and fermented corn.
Tourism : a country without special risk
Since the change of political regime, a great effort is being made to attract foreign travelers to Albania.
The country is safe and only a few popular districts of the big cities are concerned with small delinquency. However, tourists are advised not to carry valuables or to handle large sums of money in public places. Care must be taken in places frequented by pickpockets.
It is also advisable to contact competent guides to go hiking in the mountains.
No vaccination is required to enter Albanian territory, but it is nevertheless recommended that vaccines against diphtheria-tetanus-poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, rabies and Tick-borne encephalitis.
The usual hygiene measures must be observed, such as drinking only encapsulated bottled water and avoiding raw foods.