Something about Albania

The Albanian capital, Tirana, is home to 750,000 of the country’s 3.5 million population. More than twice the size of Durres, the country’s main port, Tirana is the political, administrative, business and industrial centre of the country. The city has more than trebled in size in the past fifteen years, and as a result of the opening of the country in the post-communist era Tirana is now undergoing a development boom as its telecommunications, transport and utilities’ infrastructure is being revamped.

The country is predominantly Albanian by ethnic origin, with less than 5% of the population a mix of citizens of Greek, Vlach, Roma, Serb, Macedonian, or Bulgarian origin. Literacy rates are high at all schooling levels and great emphasis is placed on the benefits of higher education.

The country is relatively small by European standards, just over 10,500 square miles (28,500 square kilometers). Predominantly hilly, we have several hundred miles of coastline bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, some of the last remaining unspoiled and undiscovered areas in the Mediterranean. Our pleasant climate will be familiar to anyone who has holidayed in southern Europe.

Albania has a total area of 28,750 square kilometers. Its coastline is 362 kilometers long and extends along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The lowlands of the west face the Adriatic Sea. The 70% of the country that is mountainous is rugged and often inaccessible from the outside. The highest mountain is Korab situated in the district of Dibra, reaching up to 2,753 meters (9,032 ft). The country has a continental climate at its high altitude regions with cold winters and hot summers. Besides the capital city of Tirana, which has 800,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrës, Elbasan, Shkodër, Gjirokastër, Vlorë, Korçë and Kukës. In Albanian grammar, a word can have indefinite and definite forms, and this also applies to city names: both Tiranë and Tirana, Shkodër and Shkodra are used.

The three largest and deepest tectonic lakes of the Balkan Peninsula are located in Albania. Lake Scutari in the country’s northwest has a surface of 368 km², out of which 149 km² belong to Albania. The Albanian shoreline of the lake is 57 km. Ohrid Lake is situated in the country’s southeast and is shared between Albania and Macedonia. It has a maximal depth of 289 meters and it is so old that a unique flora and fauna can be found there, including “living fossils” and many endemic species. Because of its natural and historical value, Ohrid Lake is under the protection of UNESCO.

Over a third of the territory of Albania – about a million hectares (2.5 million acres) – is forested and the country is very rich in flora. About 3.000 different species of plants grow in Albania, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. Phytogeographically, Albania belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the Adriatic and East Mediterranean provinces of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region. According to the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency, the territory of Albania can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Illyrian deciduous forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forests and Dinaric Mountains mixed forests. The forests are home to a wide range of mammals, including wolves, bears, wild boars, and chamois. Lynx, wildcats, pine martens and polecats are rare, but survive in some parts of the country.

The democratically elected government that won the elections on April 1992 launched an ambitious economic reform programme to halt economic deterioration and forced the country on the path of a market economy. This included a comprehensive package of structural reforms, including privatization, enterprise, and financial sector reform, and the creation of the legal framework for a market economy and private sector activity. After severe economic contraction following 1989, the economy slowly rebounded, finally surpassing its 1989 levels by the end of the 1990s. Since prices have also risen, however, economic hardship has continued for much of the population. In 1995, Albania began privatizing large state enterprises.

Following the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement in June/July 2006, EU ministers urged Albania to push ahead with reforms, focusing on freedom of press, property rights, institution building, respect for ethnic minorities and observing international standards in municipal elections. Albania has made an impressive recovery, building a modern and diversified economy. Recent administrations have also improved the country’s infrastructure and opened competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution and airports.

Tourism in Albania is a large industry and is growing rapidly. The most notable tourist attractions are the ancient sites of Apollonia, Butrinti, and Krujë. Albania’s coastline is becoming increasingly popular with tourists due to its relatively unspoiled nature and its beaches.

Mineralogical Map of Albania

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