Albania is a small, mountainous country in the Balkan peninsula, with a long Adriatic and Ionian coastline. Along with neighbouring and mainly Albanian-inhabited Kosovo, it has a Muslim majority - a legacy of its centuries of Ottoman rule. Approaching twenty per cent of the population are Christians, divided mainly between the Orthodox and smaller Catholic denominations. After World War II, Albania became a Stalinist state under Enver Hoxha, and remained staunchly isolationist until its transition to democracy after 1990. The 1992 elections ended 47 years of communist rule, but the latter half of the decade saw a quick turnover of presidents and prime ministers. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Albanians celebrated joining NATO in 2009 Many Albanians left the country in search of work; the money they send home remains an important source of revenue. During the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, nearly 500,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo spilled over the border, imposing a huge burden on Albania's already fragile economy. While there have been signs of economic progress with inflation under tighter control and some growth, the country remains one of the poorest in Europe outside the former Soviet Union. By 2013, public debt stood at 60% of GDP. At a glance Politics: Edi Rama's Socialist Party won a landslide victory in the 2013 parliamentary election, ending eight years of conservative rule Economy: Albania is transforming into to a market economy, but is poor by Western European standards. Agriculture is a key sector and a major employer International: Albania joined Nato in 2009 and was granted EU candidate status in 2014 Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring Unemployment remains stubbornly high, and the infrastructure and corruption continue to deter much foreign investment. According to a report published by graft watchdog Transparency International in 2012, Albania is currently the most corrupt country in Europe. Albania made a formal application for membership of the European Union in 2009, on the basis of a 2006 Stabilisation and Association agreement. It was granted EU candidate status in June 2014. The EU is keen to encourage further reform, particularly as regards stamping out organised crime and corruption and developing media freedom and property and minority rights. Edi Rama, the Socialist Party leader who took over the reins of government in 2013, has vowed that Albania will achieve full EU membership within the next ten years.
Albania is a small, mountainous country in the Balkan peninsula, with a long Adriatic and Ionian coastline. Along with neighbouring and mainly Albanian-inhabited Kosovo, it has a Muslim majority - a legacy of its centuries of Ottoman rule. Approaching twenty per cent of the population are Christians, divided mainly between the Orthodox and smaller Catholic denominations. After World War II, Albania became a Stalinist state under Enver Hoxha, and remained staunchly isolationist until its transition to democracy after 1990. The 1992 elections ended 47 years of communist rule, but the latter half of the decade saw a quick turnover of presidents and prime ministers. Many Albanians left the country in search of work; the money they send home remains an important source of revenue.
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 250,000 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 123 Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 3.4 million subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 111 (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 133 Telephone system: general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines, teledensity remains low with roughly 10 fixed lines per 100 people; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed-line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2011, multiple companies were providing mobile services, and mobile teledensity had reached 100 per 100 persons; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005, but growth has been slow; Internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital international: country code - 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2011) Broadcast media: 3 public TV networks, one of which transmits by satellite to Albanian-language communities in neighboring countries; more than 60 private TV stations; many viewers can pick up Italian and Greek TV broadcasts via terrestrial reception; cable TV service is available; 2 public radio networks and roughly 25 private radio stations; several international broadcasters are available (2010) Radio broadcast stations: AM 13, FM 46, shortwave 1 (2005) Television broadcast stations: 65 (3 national, 62 local); 2 cable networks (2005) Internet country code: .al Internet hosts: 15,528 (2012) country comparison to the world: 124 Internet users: total: 1.7 million percent of population: 56.5% (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 104
Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece to the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 20 00 E Map references: Europe Area: total: 28,748 sq km land: 27,398 sq km water: 1,350 sq km country comparison to the world: 145 Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland Land boundaries: total: 691 km border countries (4): Greece 212 km, Kosovo 112 km, Macedonia 181 km, Montenegro 186 km Coastline: 362 km Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation Climate: mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter Terrain: mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast Elevation: mean elevation: 708 m elevation extremes: lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower, arable land Land use: agricultural land: 43.8% arable land 22.7%; permanent crops 2.7%; permanent pasture 18.4% forest: 28.3% other: 27.9% (2011 est.) Irrigated land: 3,310 sq km (2012) Total renewable water resources: 41.7 cu km (2011) Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.31 cu km/yr (43%/18%/39%) per capita: 413.6 cu m/yr (2006) Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents Environment - international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements Geography - note: strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea) Hide People and Society :: ALBANIA Panel - Expanded Nationality: noun: Albanian(s) adjective: Albanian Ethnic groups: Albanian 82.6%, Greek 0.9%, other 1% (including Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Egyptian), unspecified 15.5% (2011 est.) Languages: Albanian 98.8% (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek 0.5%, other 0.6% (including Macedonian, Roma, Vlach, Turkish, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.) Religions: Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi (a Sufi order) 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2% note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice (2011 est.) Population: 3,029,278 (July 2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 137 Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.78% (male 300,661/female 268,369) 15-24 years: 18.67% (male 291,479/female 274,019) 25-54 years: 40.39% (male 582,207/female 641,361) 55-64 years: 10.85% (male 163,003/female 165,805) 65 years and over: 11.3% (male 160,913/female 181,461) (2015 est.) population pyramid: Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 44.8% youth dependency ratio: 26.9% elderly dependency ratio: 18% potential support ratio: 5.6% (2015 est.) Median age: total: 32 years male: 30.8 years female: 33.3 years (2015 est.) Population growth rate: 0.3% (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 175 Birth rate: 12.92 births/1,000 population (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 154 Death rate: 6.58 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 145 Net migration rate: -3.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 184 Urbanization: urban population: 57.4% of total population (2015) rate of urbanization: 2.21% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.) Major urban areas - population: TIRANA (capital) 454,000 (2015) Sex ratio: at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female 0-14 years: 1.12 male(s)/female 15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female 55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.) Mother's mean age at first birth: 23.4 (2010 est.) Maternal mortality rate: 29 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 128 Infant mortality rate: total: 12.75 deaths/1,000 live births male: 14.19 deaths/1,000 live births female: 11.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 118 Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.13 years male: 75.49 years female: 81.04 years (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 60 Total fertility rate: 1.5 children born/woman (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 196 Contraceptive prevalence rate: 69.3% (2008/09) Health expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2013) country comparison to the world: 111 Physicians density: 1.15 physicians/1,000 population (2013) Hospital bed density: 2.6 beds/1,000 population (2012) Drinking water source: improved: urban: 84.3% of population rural: 81.8% of population total: 83.6% of population unimproved: urban: 15.7% of population rural: 18.2% of population total: 16.4% of population (2015 est.) Sanitation facility access: improved: urban: 95.5% of population rural: 90.2% of population total: 93.2% of population unimproved: urban: 4.5% of population rural: 9.8% of population total: 6.8% of population (2015 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.04% (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 126 HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 18.1% (2014) country comparison to the world: 88 Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 6.3% (2009) country comparison to the world: 80 Education expenditures: 3.3% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 130 Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97.6% male: 98.4% female: 96.9% (2015 est.) Child labor - children ages 5-14: total number: 72,818 percentage: 12% (2005 est.) Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 30.2% male: 32.5% female: 26.1% (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 46
Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939, and occupied by Germany in 1943. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997; however, most of Albania's post-communist elections have been marred by claims of electoral fraud. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and in June 2014 became a candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles.