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About Albania


Geography


Albania is wild and mountainous, with extensive forests, sandy beaches and many beautiful lakes.

Albania lies on the Western part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is situated between latitude 39 grade 38′- 42 grade 39′ North and longitude 19 grade 16′- 21 grade 4′ East. It extends over an area of 28,748 square kilometers. It shares borders with Montenegro and Kosovo to the north, with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the northeast and Greece to the south. To the west lie the Adriatic and Ionian Seas

It is located in the main crossroads linking the West and the East.

Albania is located in the area GMT+1 (From March 28 GMT+2)
In the western part of the country lie the Western Lowlands, with a mainly plain relief and rich vegetation of this type. Along the whole coastline, in the lowland area from Shkodra to Vlora, there are numerous beaches with healthy Mediterranean climate.
The Western Lowland area has a rich hydrograph. It is permeated by numerous rivers and spotted by lakes of tectonic and karsts origin, which further add the beauty to the area. In the northern part of the lowland area, there is the Shkodra Lake. The Shiroka beach stretches along its shores. Along the Adriatic coastline, the Western Lowland area forms numerous bays with clear water and fine sand, which are very suitable sites for coastal tourism.

The central Mountain Region lies in the Eastern and Southeastern part of the territory. Here the relief is more complicated and horst – grabber type prevails. It is characterized by a rich Mediterranean and continental vegetation. The highest peak of the country (Mount Korab 2751 m) is in this region.

The Southern Mountain Region consists of mountain ranges, slopes and separated mountains, which are interwoven with gorges, hilly and pre-mount systems and valleys providing it the features of a grand mountainous region. Numerous streams permeate this region.  The coastal area of this region, for the magnificent beauty it represents, has been named after Albanian Riviera. The coastal mountains run from Vlora bay and Drashovica Pass in the North to Delvina basin in the South. What characterizes them is their rising high from the Vlora Bay to the Mount of Cika (2045 m) and their running right down in the West of Delvina basin.

The Northern Mountain Region has mainly an Alpine relief characterized by a cold climate, alpine karsts hydrograph and with a partially endemic, but rich vegetation. The Alps of Albania resemble a big cupola. They have pyramid- shaped peaks (Jezerca 2694 m) and deep valleys, numerous rivers and glacial lakes, which impart a magnificent beauty to the region. The abundant snowfalls during winter create very favorable natural terrain for the development of white tourism, for those who love skiing and other winter sports.

Demography

The population of Albania is 3,5 million inhabitants, with a density of 113 persons per square kilometer. The overwhelming majority of the population (about 65%) lives in the countryside.


In Albania, the number of males is greater than that of females. For 1000 female, there are 1080 males in the countryside and 1030 males in the cities. The average life expectancy is 72 years that is 75 years for the women and 69 for men.

National minorities represent about 2% of the population and they consist mainly of Greek (in the southern part of the country) and Macedonians (in the Prespa area).


Main Lakes

In the Northwestern part of the country, there is the Shkodra Lake, which is the largest in the Balkan Peninsula. It is 368 square kilometers, out of which 149 square kilometers are within the borders of our country. Its depth is 10-12 m. It has a tectonic – karsts origin. In the Northeastern part, there is the Fierza lake named after the Hydro-Power Plant. In the Southeastern part, there is the Ohrid lake of a karsts origin and a surface of 367 square kilometers. A bit southward there are two other lakes of tectonic origin: Bigger and smaller Perspa lakes with 285 and 44 square kilometers respectively.

Other small lakes have dotted Albania as well. In the western part of the country, in Dumrea area, there are several karsts lakes 80 m above sea level. Whereas in Lura area 1600 m above sea level, there are several glacial lakes, which are located in groups, thus providing a magnificent view and leaving deep impressions in you.


Main Rivers

The main rivers permeating the territory of our country are: Drini (285 km), Semani (281 km), Vjosa (272 km), Shkumbini (182 km), Mat (115 km), Buna (44 km), Ishmi and Erzen.


Climate

Albania has a Mediterranean climate and the seasons are clearly distinguished from one another, with a generally mild and moistly winter and with a hot dry summer. These features become more accentuated in the coastline of the country.


By drawing a comparison between the autumn and spring temperatures, one notices that spring is cooler than autumn. On the average, there are 120 days yearly characterized by temperatures higher than 20 C. It means about 120 sunny days.

Albania ranks second in Europe that is after Spain, for sunny duration within a day.
The maximum absolute temperatures have been recorded in the southern part of the country, in the coastal area and in Myzeqe. The minimum absolute temperatures are more accentuated in the interior of the country, in closed hollows.


Flora

Albanian flora is rather rich beginning with evergreen Mediterranean plants and ending with Alpine fir. It consists of 3220 kinds of plants (in addition to sub- species and varieties). They constitute 29% of the species of European flora and 47% of the kinds of the flora of the Balkan Peninsula. About 1% is endemic and 5% sub endemic plants. 85% of the kinds of plants are linked with Mediterranean flora, with the flora of Central Europe and less with that of Western and Eastern Europe.


Fauna

Albania claims distinction for a rich and varied fauna, which is linked with the diversity of geographical landscape and its location on the roads of emigration of birds.

Land fauna is represented, among meat eaters, by brown bear, wolf, fax, jackal, lynx, wild cat, otter, etc.; among insect eaters by long-nose animals; among grass eaters by wild goat, deer, boar, hare, etc. Rich is also the fauna of wild birds. It is represented by 350 species to be found all over the country. You come across with grouse, woodcock, snipe, pelicans and others. A number of reptiles are to be found as well.

Aquatic fauna: Different kinds of fish are to be found in sea and inland waters. Among the most wide spread are: sardine, mullet, red mullet, carp, red cohortlebery, specled trout, etc. Likewise, offshore of the Adriatic sea there have been appeared rare species which are not characteristic for this sea such as whales, white breast seals, oceanic whales.

History

Albania has been inhabited since the ancient times. (100 thousand years ago). With the passage to the third millennium B.C., due to Indo-European invasions and assimilation with the local population, it was created a population with general cultural and linguistic features for the whole of the Balkan Peninsula (Pellazgs). It is claimed that their descendants are the Illyrians, Greeks, Thracians and even the Turks. The Illyrians spread over the Western part of the Balkan Peninsula, from Sava and Danub Rivers in the North and Sava and Vardar River in the East. The most outstanding Illyrian tribes have been: Mollose, Dardans, Desares, Ardians, Taulants, Liburnes, Enkeleas. The socio-economic development found its reflection in the emergence of the Illyrian cities such as Scutari (Shkodra), Lissus (Lezha), Amantia, Antipatria (Berat), Albanopoli (Zgerdhesh), Antigonea, Tronioni, Belsh, etc (IV-II centuries BC).

In the coastline, there were set up such cities as Buthrot (Butrint), Apollonia, Dyrrah (Durres), Orikum ect.(VII-VI centuries BC). The Illyrians resisted to the Roman occupation by preserving their own language, culture and customs. When the Roman Empire was split into two parts, Illyria remained in the Byzantine Empire.

The country’s name “Arberi” is testified as early back as the second century by Greek geographer Ptolemeu. The later for Albania has served as a basis for the different names applied to the country at present. Arbers had their common language, culture and territory. Arberi was transformed into an arena of wars between the armies of southern Italy and Byzantium. The coast of Arberia became the first settlements of the crusaders of the first crusade.

The first mediaeval Albanian state’s capital city Kruja failed to resist the foreign Byzantine and Serbian occupations. After the collapse of the Serbian Empire (1355), a number of Albanian feudal principalities were set up.

The Ottoman feudal regime was established in the greater part of the country in the years 1419-1421. The Albanian resistance reached its climax with the 25 yearlong war (1443-1468), led by Gjergj-Kastrioti-Scanderbeg.

The efforts of the Albanian people for freedom and the proclamation of the independent state reached their climax during the period of National Renaissance. This period crowned the proclamation of the independence in 1912.

In the course of the First World War, Albania was transformed into a battlefield.The Italian, Serbian, Montenegrin, Greek, French and Austro-Hungarian armies occupied the country.

The Albanian Republic, with President Ahmet Zogu, was proclaimed on January 21, 1925; while 3 years later the Republic was transformed into a Monarchy and, Ahmet Zogu declared himself a king.

During the Second World War, Albania suffered great losses. The country won freedom and independence. The communist regime was established in Albania.

After 1991 Albania meets to Democracy. The country after that change developed rapidly and gets the new face of modernization.

For half a century, Albania, one of the pearls of the Mediterranean shores, remained a prohibited land for the foreign visitors.

CULTURE

Language

The Albanian language is the official language. Albanian comprises a separate original branch in the family of the Indo-European languages.


Albanian is a successor of the Illyrian language. In its lexical there are to be found borrowings from Italian, old and new Greek, Latin, Slavic languages of the Balkan and Turkish. Despite that, it has preserved its originality as a special language.

Folk beliefs

Folk beliefs are link with cults, the religious rites, magic practices, folk mythology and calendar, family and social life and production.

Among the elements of toteism, the most important is the cult of snake as protector of the house, as a benefaction.

Different belief of production motifs are interwoven with the celebrations of folk calendar, special rites, social praying, the work in agriculture and live-stock, land, moon and sun.

Religion

Three religions co-exist in Albania: Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim. About 60% of the population is Muslim.

After the overthrow of the Communist regime, the Albanian people re-opened the existing religious institutions and now they are building up new ones.

Ethnography

The Greek and Roman ethnographers provide the first ethnographic data on Albania, which were enriched later on by ancient Albanian authors. During the period of National Renaissance, the interest for the traditional culture grew further. Outstanding is the work by Shtjefen Gjecovi, F.Nopca, Edit Durham. From the ethnographic point of view, Albania is represented by several regions as Kelmend, Krasniqe, Bytyc, Dukagjin, Malesia of Shkodra, Ana e Malit, Bregu i Bunes, Bregu i Drinit, Zadrima, Has i Madh, Lume, Puka, Laberia, Kurveleshi, Golloborda, Dibra, Mallakastra, Devolli, Dardha, Konispol, Dropull, Sheper-Zagori, Leskovik, Shpat, Belsh, Coastal area, etc.

Folklore

Albanian Folklore is rich, diversified and with artistic values. It is a precious treasury inherited from generation to generation. It is rather vivid and continues to be enriched even nowadays. The Albanian folklore consists of literary, musical, choreographic and dramatic folklore. You find poetry, short stories, tales, legends, anecdotes, proverbs and folk sayings in the literary folklore. 15 volumes entitled “Nation’s visars” came out of press during the years 1937-1944. Some thousands of volumes with musical, choreographic and literary folklore have been published during the recent years. 8 volumes with literary folklore and 10 volumes of “Albanian Musical Folklore” have been published in Prishtina.

Handicraft

Handicraft in Albania has long-standing traditions. The Illyrians and the Arberesh of early Medieval Time have had a high level of development of handicraft and artistic technique. Worth mentioning here is that the greater part is held by artistic articles adorned with national motifs and the traditions of folk creativity. Such handicraft products are in filigree, wood carvings, cooper engraved vases, alabaster, bone, ceramic, horn, rugs and leather products. These handicraft articles have constantly drawn the attention of foreign tourists for their original values and high artistic technique.

Monuments

Albania is a country with very ancient civilizations. Not only the local, but also other civilizations, such as Greek, Roman, Byzantine, have left their traces in its territory. Albania has a millenary-long culture and history. The possibility will be provided to you to see their traces in the ancient and relatively new monuments of culture belonging to all the periods and to be fund all over Albania.

Literature and arts

The first Albanian book is Gjon Buzuku’s “Meshari”(1555). Religious books expressing the resistance towards the Turkish domination represent the old literature. The most outstanding authors of that literature are Pjeter Budi, Fran Bardhi, Pjeter Bogdani, etc.

After the world war II, socialist realism in literature conditioned its schematic and political character. Despite that, during this period, too, there were realised a number of works of high artistic value. Worth mentioning are the works by Mitrush Kuteli, Ismail Kadare, Dritero Agolli, etc.

The country has long-standing traditions in music, dating back to the Illyrian period. In the songs, dances and instrumental works, you will find the temperament and the vivid spirit of the Albanians, the diversity of their spiritual world.

Folk songs and dances have always escorted the Albanians in all the events of their life, in wedding parties and wars, even at funeral ceremonies. Folk music, songs and dances are characteristic and original for each region of the country. The polyphonic song of the southern regions has drawn the foreigner’s attention in particular, which is the sole technique of the kind in the world.

Theatre

Albanian theatre has long-standing traditions. This is testified by the archaeological excavation of the theatres and amphitheatres dating back to the 4 Th. – 3 rd centuries BC

The amateur theatre comes into existence at the period of National – Renaissance and , it created its tradition in Shkodra, Korca, Gjirokastra and Elbasan.

Albania is the motherland of the famous actor Aleksander Moisiu.

Professional theatrical and variety-show troupes are available in the main cities of the country. The national Theatre, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, Variety-Show and Puppet Theatres conduct their activity in Tirana.

Cinematography

Albanian cinematography was created after the World War II (1947). The “New Albania” Film Studio (today “Albafilm”) was created in 1952. It managed to turn out the first full length feature film “Tana” in 1958.

With the passing of the time, it succeeded in producing 14 feature films yearly. Some of the Albanian feature films are well-known by the European public opinion. Indeed, prizes have been awarded to many Albanian films at different international activities.

Sports

The numerous stadiums discovered in the ancient cities are an evidence of the long-standing sports traditions in the country.

Almost all kinds of European sports are known and practiced in Albania. But the most preferable are soccer, basketball, volleyball, boxing, athletics, shooting, weight-lifting, wrestling, etc.

Clubs and Federations of the country run sports activities.

Other Information

By Air

The civil airport of the country is “Mother Teresa” Airport in Tirana (Rinas), 25 km far from the city of Tirana.
Air Companies serving the country from all the world are as follow

  • ADA AIR
  • ALBATROS AIRWAYS
  • ALBANIAN AIRLINES
  • ALITALIA
  • AUSTRIAN AIRLINES
  • BRITISH AIRWAYS
  • CLUB AIR
  • HEMUS AIR
  • JAT
  • MALEV
  • OLYMPIC AIRWAYS
  • TURKISH AIRLINES


The airport ensures bus services from Rinas to Tirana and taxi services from Rinas to all destinations. Other private taxi and bus services are available, as well.

By Sea

The main ports of the country served by regular scheduled Sea Lines are the following:
Durres served with connection from Bari, Trieste, Ancona and Brindisi (Italy)
Vlora served with connection from Otranto and Brindisi (Italy)
Saranda served with connection from Corfu (Greece).
Realized by regular Sea Lines of the following Companies:

  • ADRIATICA DI NAVIGAZIONE
  • ILLYRIA LINES
  • EUROPEAN SEA LINES
  • LA VIKINGA LINES
  • VENTOURIS FERRIES

By Land

You may enter Albania by land at 11 border crossing points from the neighboring states:

BorderPoint MONTENEGRO:

  • Hani i Hotit – Shkodra

Border Point KOSOVO:

  • Qafe Prush – Tropoja
  • Qafe Morine – Kukes

Border Point MACEDONIA:

  • Bllata – Peshkopi
  • Qafe Thane – Pogradec
  • Tushemisht – Pogradec

Border Point GREECE

  • Kapshtice – Korca
  • Kakavija – Gjirokaster