Republic of Albania ◄► Republika e Shqipërisë

Capital: Tirana
Official language: Albanian
Government: Parliamentary republic
Area: 28,748 km2
Population: 4,000,000

In the heart of the Mediterranean, on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania is fast becoming one of the world’s most interesting getaways. Still relatively unspoiled by globalization, tourists will notice an inspiring mixture of civilizations and cultures – making this European country truly unique. Nestled in between Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro, and across the Adriatic from Italy, Albania boasts blue and turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, snow peaked mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests. As well as stunning nature, Albanians themselves are famous for their hospitality, and tourists are welcomed with heart-warming generosity. Albanian history and culture is fascinating. Butrint, one of the world’s archeological wonders – and a UNESCO World Heritage site – in the south of Albania provides a glimpse of Mediterranean civilization from the Bronze Age through the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman periods. Albania is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation, Organisation of the Islamic Conference and one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean. Albania has been a potential candidate for accession to the European Union since January 2003, and it formally applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009. Albania is a parliamentary democracy and a transition economy. The Albanian capital, Tirana, is home to approximately 800,000 of the country’s 4 million people, and it is also the financial capital of the country.

On Albanian History

The territories of present –day Albania have been inhabited as early back as 100.000 years ago. It was at the turn of the third millennium BC that an Indo – European population settled there. As the result of the mixture, a population incorporating the unique cultural and linguistic characteristics of the whole Balkan Peninsula (pellazgs) was created. Based on this ancient population, the Illyrian people developed through the second millennium and the first century B.C. After its fall in the year 30 B.C. Illyria came under the control of Roman Empire . With the division of the Roman Empire (395 A.D), Illyria became a part of the Byzantine Empire. The country has suffered continuous invasions over the last 1000 years and by the end of the 14th century Albania was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. The subsequent efforts and insurrections for independence eventually brought about the proclamation of the independence of Albania in 1912. After 1912 till the end of the First World War, the country was attacked by neighboring countries. After eleven years of monarchy the country was occupied by Mussolini forces in 1939, putting the end of monarchy. In 1943 the armies of Hitler occupies the country. The resistance against foreign invasion was known as the Anti – Fascist National Liberation front. The Communist party took power in November 1944, when the foreign armies were expelled. Shortly thereafter, a totalitarian regime was established under the communist leader Enver Hoxha. For about 50 years, the regime applied the policy of self-isolation, leaving the country in great economic poverty when it finally emerged from isolation in 1991. The principle of self-reliance applied by the Communist regime prohibited foreign loans, credits and investment. From 1991 until 1997 The Democratic Party lead the country. After the unrests of 1997 due to the failure of pyramidal schemes the Socialist Party with its coalition was in power until 2005. After the last elections on 3 July 2005 The Democratic Party with its coalition is turn back in power. Albanian policy intends to integrate the country into European Community and the Alliance of NATO forces.

Albanian Climate

Albania has a mild, Mediterranean climate. In the summer, visitors often find the inland towns to be quite hot, with July usually being the warmest month. In Tirana, for example, temperatures occasionally reach 40 °C (104F).

Economy

Albania remains a poor country by Western European standards. Its GDP per capita stood at 26 percent of the EU average in 2010. Still, Albania has shown potential for economic growth, as more and more businesses relocate there and consumer goods are becoming available from emerging market traders as part of the current massive global cost-cutting exercise. Albania and Cyprus are the only countries in Europe that recorded economic growth in the first quarter of 2009. IMF predicted 2.6% growth for Albania in 2010 and 3.2% in 2011. There are signs of increasing investments, and power cuts are reduced to the extent that Albania is now exporting energy. The country has some deposits of petroleum and natural gas, but produces only 6,425 barrels of oil per day. Other natural resources include coal, bauxite, copper and iron ore. Agriculture is the most significant sector, employing some 58% of the labor force and generating about 21% of GDP. Albania produces significant amounts of wheat, corn, tobacco, figs (13th largest producer in the world) and olives.

Religion

There are no official statistics regarding religious affiliation in Albania. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics. Albania never had an official state religion either as a republic or as a kingdom. The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II persecuted and suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirelybanned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world’s first atheist state. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime’s change in 1991. There’s a fact that in Albania never had a war or conflict with religious background. Albanians are wellknown for their tolerant views on inter-religious reklations.

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