Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16' latitude and 42 39' longitude. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2. The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km; out of which 657-km is land-border, 316-km sea-border, 48-km river-border and 73 km lake-border. The Republic of Albania, borders in the North and North-East with Kosovo and Montenegro, on the East with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with the Republic of Greece. On the West, Albania is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe. Albania is included in the humid sub-tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone.
Coastal areas: Central Mediterranean, mild and wet winter, hot and dry summer.
Alpine areas: Central Continental, cold and wild winter, wet summer.
Lowland – Western Albania, Plain – Eastern Albania
Alpine – Northern Albania, the Highest Peak – Korabi Mountain (2,753m)
3,364,571 (June 1999)
95% Albanian, 3% Greek and 2% various
Tirana (since 1920)
Durres, Vlora, Saranda, Shkodra, Berat, Korca, Gjirokastra, Elbasani,
Albanian is an Indo-European language and it represents a separate branch of this family on the bases of its idiosyncrasy. The Greek geographer, Ptholemeous, has witnessed the existence of Albanians and Albanian language in the second century AD. The name "Shqiperi" (Albania) replaced the "old" name "Arberi" (or Arbani) by the end of the XVII century, due to the new historical conditions created, and aimed at giving importance to the connection between the nation notion and the use of the Albanian language, which was by that time called "Shqip". The Albanian language is also used (written & spoken) in the parts of Kosovo, Serbia & Montenegro, and Macedonia, where ethnic Albanians live.
The territory of Albania has been inhabited since Antiquity. Traces of life from the period of middle and late Paleolithic (100 000 - 10 000 years ago) are found in Xare, as well as in the Cave of Saint Marina in Saranda.
Albanians are the direct successors of the Illyrians. The Illyrian tribes stretched along the Western part of the Balkans, and they reached the rivers Sava and Danube in the North, the rivers Morava and Vardar on the East (the border line with Thrake), and the mountain-chain of Pindi in the South and South-East (the border with the Greeks and Macedonians). With the break up of the Roman Empire in the year 395 AD, Illyria remained under the Byzantine Empire. In the following period, Illyria suffered the invasion of several barbarian tribes, like Goths, Avars, etc. During the IV - VI centuries, Slavs invaded part of the Northern and Eastern Illyria, as well as Macedonia, parts that with the passing of time were assimilated.
The Ottoman invasion (XIV century) established the military feudal system in Arberia (Albania), but several continuous uprisings of the Albanian princes prepared the glorious resistance of the Albanian people under the leadership of the National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Scanderbeg. Scanderbeg managed to give birth to a centralized Albanian state (Arberia), and his flag became the national flag of Albania.
The XVIII century marks the flourishing of two Albanian very well organized and very powerful "Patriarchies": The Patriarchy of Bushatllinj (with Shkodra as its center and governed by Karamahmut Pasha Bushatlli); and the Patriarchy of Ioaninna, with Ioaninna as its center and governed by Ali Pashe Tepelena). The peak of the struggle for independence and national identity was reached with the Albanian Renaissance Movement, which starts in 1830.
In 1878, this movement was very well organized under the League of Prizren, which served as the first military and political leadership of the Albanian uprisings. But, unfortunately enough, in the same year, the Congress of erlin decided the division of the Albanian territories to the benefit of the neighboring states, Montenegro, Serbia and Greece.
Nevertheless, the Albanian movement for freedom was crowned with the Proclamation of Independence, on November 28, 1912.
During the years of the World War I, Albania was converted into a battlefield for the combating powers, and it was invaded consequently by the Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, France and Austro-Hungary.
In 1920, the Congress of Lushnja (a town 90 km south to Tirana), with the consensus of all the representatives from all over Albania declared Tirana to be the Capital of Albania.
On January 21, 1925, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a Parliamentary Republic and Ahmet Zog was elected President of Albania, but he had so much power in his hands that, in fact, the Republic functioned as a Presidential one.
On September 1, 1928, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania Democratic Parliamentary Kingdom and Ahmet Zog the King of Albania, receiving the royal title "Zog I".
On April 7, 1939, fascist Italy invaded Albania, and consequently on April 12, 1939, the so-called Constitutional Assembly declared the end of Zog's Kingdom and offered the crown to Victor Emanuel III. The Albanian State formally remained a Constitutional Kingdom under the Savoy Dynasty.
On November 29, 1944, Albania was liberated from the nazi-fascist invaders. Since then, Albania was ruled by the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, which influenced into the country’s isolation.
On January 11, 1946, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a People's Republic, as one of the forms of the proletarian dictatorship, which lasted, more or less, half a century, until April 29, 1991, when the first pluralistic Parliament declared the Parliamentary Republic of Albania.
Flag description: red with a black two-headed eagle in the center Economy (source: 2001 CIA Book of Facts)
Poor and backward by European standards, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime and to revive economic activity and trade. The economy is bolstered by remittances from abroad of $400-$600 million annually, mostly from Greece and Italy. Agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, is held back because of frequent drought and the need to modernize equipment and consolidate small plots of land.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $14 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 49%, industry: 27%, services: 24% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 30% (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2002 est.)
Labor force: 1.283 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers and 261,000 domestically unemployed) (2000 est.)
Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Exports - commodities: textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners: Italy 71%, Greece 12%, Germany 7%, Ex-Yugoslavia 3% (2001)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners: Italy 32%, Greece 26%, Turkey 6%, Germany 6%, Bulgaria 2% (2001)
Debt - external: $784 million (2000)
Currency: lek (ALL)