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Albania is a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro in the north, Serbia (Kosovo) in the north-east, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south, has a coast on the Adriatic Sea in the west, and a coast on the Ionian Sea in the southwest. The country is an emerging democracy and is formally named the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipėrisė).

Albania was also the name of an unrelated ancient state in the Caucasus – see Caucasian Albania.
Republika e Shqipėrise
Flag of Albania Emblem of Albania
(In detail) (In detail)
National motto (not verified): Feja e Shqiptarit eshte Shqiptaria (Albanians place their faith in Albania)
Official language Albanian

 - Population:
 - Coordinates:
353,400 (2003)
Head of State Alfred Moisiu, President
Head of Government Fatos Nano, Prime Minister
 - Total:
 - % water:
Ranked 139th
28,748 km²
Land borders
720 km
362 km
 - Total:
 - Density:
Ranked 126th
3,582,205 (2003)
 - Total (2003)
 - GDP/capita
 - GDP/capita
112th, 106th, 130th, 93rd
US$15.7 Billion (PPP)
$4,400 (PPP)
$2,230 (Nominal)
From the Ottoman Empire
November 28, 1912
National Day 28 November
Religions Muslim 70%
Greek Orthodox 20%
Roman Catholic 10%
Currency Lek (Lk) = 100 qindarka
Time zone UTC+2:00
National anthem Hymni i Flamurit (/Rreth Flamurit Tė Pėr Bashkuar)
Albanian: Hymn to the Flag (/The Flag That United Us In The Struggle)
Internet TLD .al
Calling Code 355

Origin and history of the name

Main Article: Origin and history of the name Albania

One of the first written evidences of the use of the word "Albanoi" as the name of an Illyrian tribe in what is now north-central Albania goes back to the 130 A.D., in a work of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy). Albanopolis of the Albani is a place located on the map of Ptolemy and also named on an ancient family epitaph at Scupi, which has been identified with the Zgėrdhesh hill-fort near Kruja in northern Albania. Arbanon is likely to be the name of a district - the plain of the Mat has been suggested - rather than particular place. An indication of movement from higher altitudes in a much earlier period has been detected in the distribution of place-names ending in -esh that appears to derive from the latin -enisis or -esis, between the Shkumbin and the Mat, with a concentration between Elbasan and Kruja.

The term Albanoi may have been slowly spread to other Illyrian tribes until its usage became universal among all the Albanian people. According to the Albanian scholar Faļk bey Konitza, the term "Albania" did not displace "Illyria" completely until the end of the fourteenth century. The word "Alba" or "Arba" seems to be connected with the town Arba (modern Rab, Croatia), in prehistoric times inhabited by the Illyrian Liburnians, first mentioned in 360 BC. The root of the name comes from Illyrian Arber or Arbėn (Ar = Soil, Bėr/Bėn = To do, to work on) and is found in the ancient names Arba, Arva, Arbia mentioned by the cartographers of the time. Thus the name Arber or Arben, synonymous for Albanians, means "they who work on soil. "Ara" is "Soil" and the ancient name of the Aryans.

The derivation of the name Albania is of considerable antiquity, dating back perhaps to the pre-Celtic alb (hill), from whence Alps, or possibly from the Indo-European albh (white), from whence albino and Albion. Approximately a millennium after, some Byzantine writers use the words "Albanon" and "Arbanon" to indicate the region of Kruja. Under the Angiņ, in the XIII century, the names "Albania" and "Albanenses" indicate the whole country and all the population, as it is demonstrated by the works of many ancient Albanian writers such as Budi, Blanco and Bogdano. We first learn of Albanians in their native land as the Arbanites of Arbanon in Anna Comnenas' account (Alexiad 4) of the troubles in that region caused in the reign of her father Alexius I Comneus (1081-1118) by the Normans. In the History written in 1079-1080, Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates was first to refer to the Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the duke of Dyrrachium. The Italo-Albanians and the Albanian minorities (still present in Greece) have been called in different ways with the passing of the years: Arbėnuer, Arbėnor, Arbėneshė, Arbreshė. There seems to be no doubt that the root Alb- or Arb- is earlier than Shqip-, from which the modern name of the state (Shqipėria) derives, a name which appears only in the time of the Turkish invasions. The Albanian name of the country, Shqipėria, translates into English as "Land of the Eagles", hence the two-headed bird on the national flag and emblem, and because of the large presence of these animals in the mountainous zones of Albania.


Main article: History of Albania

In the area that is today Albania, human activity has been present since the beginning of human history. The earlier inhabitants were probably part of the pre-Indoeuropean populace that occupied the coastline of most parts of the Mediterranean. Their physical remains are scarce though, and concentrated on the coastal region. Soon, these first inhabitants were overun by the Proto-Hellenic tribes that gradually occupied modern day Greece, southern Macedonia and the southern part of present day Albania. This process was completed over the second millenium BC and did not really affect northern or central Albania, an area that at the time presented the image of a political vacuum (in essence a historical paradox).

Illyrians were relative latecomers to the Balkan arena. Though there presence can be traced back to 900 BC, their political structure was formulated in the seventh and sixth centuries BC. Excellent metal craftsmen and fierce warriors, the Illyrians formed warlord based kingdoms that fought amongst themselves for most of their history. Only during the 6th century did the Illyrians venture significant raids against their immediate neighbours, the Greek kindom of the Mollosoi in northern Epirus (present southern Albania), the kingdom of Macedonia and the semi-barbaric kingdom of Paiones (in northern Republic of Macedonia). Probably their most important success was the slaughter of Perdikkas , king of Macedonia. Unfortunately for the Illyrians, Perdikkas was succeeded by Philippos II, father of Alexander the Great who effectively terminated the Illyrian aggresion.

In reality though, the Illyrians were mostly peaceful traders of agricultural products and metal works. The Illyrian culture was influenced by the Greek-Macedonian culture (mainly the south Illyrian tribes). Albania is also the site of several ancient Greek colonies.

After being conquered by a number of nations, mainly the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Illyria lost most of its original population and finally became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1478 after years of resistance under the leadership of Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeg, the Albanian National Hero.

After the First Balkan War, Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, becoming a principality. From 1928 on, the country was ruled by King Zog I until 1938 when it became a puppet of Italy.

The communists took over after World War II, in November 1944, under the leader of the resistance, Enver Hoxha. From 1945 until 1990 Albania had one of the most repressive governments in Europe. The communist party was created in 1941 with the direction of Bolshevik Communist Parties. All those who opposed it were eliminated. Enver Hoxha became the leader of this party. For many decades of his domination, Hoxha created and destroyed relationships with Belgrade, Moscow, and China, always in his personal interests. The country was isolated, first from the West (Western Europe, Canada, USA) and later even from the communist East.

In 1985, Enver Hoxha died and Ramiz Alia took his place. Initially, Alia tried to follow in Hoxha's footsteps, but in Eastern Europe the changes had already started: Mikhail Gorbachev had appeared in the Soviet Union with new policies (Glasnost and perestroika). The totalitarian regime was pressured by the US and Europe and the hate of its own people. After Nicolae Ceauşescu (the communist leader of Romania) was executed in a revolution, Alia knew he would be next if changes were not made. He signed the Helsinki Agreement (which was signed by other countries in 1975) that respected some human rights. He also allowed pluralism, and even though his party won the election of 1991 it was clear that the change would not be stopped. In 1992 the general elections were won by the Democratic Party with 62% of the votes.

In the general elections of June 1996 the Democratic Party tried to win an absolute majority and manipulated the results. In 1997 the fraud of the pyramid schemes shocked the entire government and riots started. Many cities were controlled by militia and armed citizens. This anarchy and rebellion caused the socialist party to win the early elections of 1997.

Since 1990 Albania has been oriented towards the West, was accepted in the Council of Europe and has requested membership in NATO. The working force of Albania has continued to emmigrate to Greece, Italy, Europe and North America. Corruption in the government is becoming more and more obvious. The politics have not fulfilled the people's hope for a short and not too painful transition.


Main article: Politics of Albania

The head of state is the president, who is elected by the Kuvendi, or the Assembly of the Republic of Albania. The main part of the Assembly's 140 members is elected every 4 years. 100 of the parliament's members are chosen by the people with a direct vote, while the other 40 members are chosen using a proportional system. The president is assisted by a council of ministers, who are appointed by the president.

Administrative divisions

Main articles: Districts of Albania and Counties of Albania

Albania is divided into 36 rrethe (districts). Several districts are then grouped a qark (county or prefecture), of which there are 12. The capital city, Tiranė, has a special status. The districts are:-

Districts of Albania

See also: List of cities in Albania (Note: some cities have the same name as the district they are in).


Main article: Geography of Albania

Albania consists of mostly hilly and mountainous terrain, the highest mountain, Korab in the district of Dibra reaching up to 2,753 m. The country mostly has a land climate, with cold winters and hot summers.

Besides capital city Tirana, with 520,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrės, Elbasan, Shkodėr, Gjirokastėr, Vlorė and Korēė.

Albania is a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro in the north, Serbia (Kosovo) in the north-east, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south, has a coast on the Adriatic Sea in the west, and a coast on the Ionian Sea in the southwest. The country is an emerging democracy and is formally named the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipėrisė).


Main article: Economy of Albania

Albania is one of Europe's poorest countries, with half of the economically-active population still engaged in agriculture and a fifth said to be working abroad. The country has to deal with a high unemployment rate, corruption up to high government levels and organised crime.

The country has almost no exports, and imports many goods from Greece and Italy. Money for imports comes from financial aid and from the money that refugees working abroad bring to Albania. This is a good status quo business for both Greece and Italy. EU.

Albania has coastline on two of Europe's seas: the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea. The Ionian Sea is known for clean, clear water and forms the south-west coast of Albania. It starts from Vlora and goes south as far as the border with Greece. Until as recently as 2000, Ionian beaches were heavily populated but only by residents, with very few tourists. From 1990 to 200, the country was going through political, economic, and social upheaval. However, since 2000 the country of Albania has had improving employment and decreasing corruption. These changes have increased tourism. The Adriatic Sea forms the Albanian coastline from middle-Albania to Monte Negro. The Adriatic sea is famous throughout the Balkans for its rich, sandy beaches. The Adriatic coastline starts from the city of Albania Vlora and ends at the border with Monte Negro, a stretch of around 770km (480 miles). One of the best beaches on the Adriatic Sea is the beach of DIVJAKA.

DIVJAKA BEACH, locally known as the "ilac," is still one of the beauties of Albania. This beach is used mostly by local residents and a few tourists. It is about 20km long.


Main article: Demographics of Albania

Most of the population is Albanian (95% CIA World Factbook Feb 2005), with a Greek minority (3% of the population). Many ethnic Albanians also live in bordering Kosovo (around 1.8 million), Macedonia (around 500,000), Montenegro (around 47,000), Serbia (over 150,000, mainly in southern Serbia). Over 600,000 Albanian immigrants have migrated in Greece since 1990. note: Other estimates of the Greek population in Albainia range from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization)

The language is Albanian, although Greek is also spoken by the Greek minority in the southern regions of the country. In the area of Gorė in the Kukės district, a Slavic language called Gorani is spoken. This is the only area in the world where this language is used. The village of Shishtavec is the main centre of Gorani language.

Since the occupation by the Ottomans, the majority of Albanians have been Muslim (70%), even though religion was prohibited during the communist era. The Eastern Orthodox (20%) and Catholic Church (10%) (Note: Percentages are estimates, no official statistics are available) are the other main religions in Albania, though in Albania religious fanaticism has never been a serious problem, with people from different religions living in peace and even getting married without any problem. 20 % of total Muslim population is Bektashi, people who follow a faith originating in the Turkish migrations into Turkey, which came to Albania through the Ottoman Janissaries. It has outwardly Shi'ite Islamic elements, but is really a Shamanic-Pantheistic faith. The main prophet of Alevism is Haxhi Bektash Veliu, and it is currently headed by Baba Flamur Shkalla, the successor of Baba Rexhep, based in Madison, USA.


Main article: Culture of Albania

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Official government websites

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