Albania, See : Flags, Maps

Albania (Europe)

Albania, by E. F. Knight

Area Handbook for Albania, by Eugene K. Keefe and Sarah Jane Elpern and William Giloane and James M. Moore, Jr. and Stephen Peters and Eston T. White

The Balkan Peninsula , Sir Frank Fox

Albania, National Anthem

Introduction ::Albania


Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939. 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, a dilapidated physical 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, there have been claims of electoral fraud in every one of Albania's post-communist elections. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges to reduce crime and corruption, promote economic growth, and decrease the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure.

Geography ::Albania


Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north

Geographic coordinates:
41 00 N, 20 00 E

Map references:



total: 28,748 sq km country comparison to the world: 144 land: 27,398 sq km

water: 1,350 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries:

total: 717 km

border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km


362 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter


mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast

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

Land use:

arable land: 20.1%

permanent crops: 4.21%

other: 75.69% (2005)

Irrigated land:

3,530 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

41.7 cu km (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 1.71 cu km/yr (27%/11%/62%)

per capita: 546 cu m/yr (2000)

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)

People ::Albania


2,986,952 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 135

Age structure:

0-14 years: 23.1% (male 440,528/female 400,816)

15-64 years: 67.1% (male 1,251,001/female 1,190,841)

65 years and over: 9.8% (male 165,557/female 190,710) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 30 years

male: 28.9 years

female: 31.1 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.249% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 178

Birth rate:

11.88 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 166

Death rate:

6.04 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 165

Net migration rate:

-3.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 189


urban population: 47% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.123 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 15.11 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 123 male: 16.79 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.22 years country comparison to the world: 59 male: 74.65 years

female: 80.11 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.47 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 189

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: Albanian(s)

adjective: Albanian

Ethnic groups:

Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, other 2% (Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Serb,
Macedonian, Bulgarian) (1989 est.)

note: in 1989, other estimates of the Greek population ranged from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization)


Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%

note: percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice


Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach,
Romani, Slavic dialects


definition: age 9 and over can read and write

total population: 98.7%

male: 99.2%

female: 98.3% (2001 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 11 years

male: 11 years

female: 11 years (2004)

Education expenditures:

2.9% of GDP (2002) country comparison to the world: 148

Government ::Albania

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Albania

conventional short form: Albania

local long form: Republika e Shqiperise

local short form: Shqiperia

former: People's Socialist Republic of Albania

Government type:



name: Tirana (Tirane)

geographic coordinates: 41 19 N, 19 49 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:

12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore


28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 28 November (1912)


approved by parliament on 21 October 1998; adopted by popular referendum on 22 November 1998; promulgated 28 November 1998

Legal system:

has a civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; has accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court for its citizens


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President of the Republic Bamir TOPI (since 24 July 2007)

head of government: Prime Minister Sali BERISHA (since 10 September 2005)

cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by parliament (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by the Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); four election rounds held between 8 and 20 July 2007 (next election to be held in 2012); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Bamir TOPI elected president; Assembly vote, fourth round (three-fifths majority, 84 votes, required): Bamir TOPI 85 votes, Neritan CEKA 5 votes

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Kuvendi (140 deputies; 100 deputies elected directly in single member electoral zones with an approximate number of voters; 40 deputies elected from multi-name lists of parties or party coalitions according to their respective order)

elections: last held on 28 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PD 68, PS 65, LSI 4, other 3

Judicial branch:

Constitutional Court, Supreme Court (chairman is elected by the People's Assembly for a four-year term) and multiple appeals and district courts

Political parties and leaders:

Democratic Party or PD [Sali BERISHA]; Party for Justice and
Integration or PDI [Tahir MUCHEDINI]; Republican Party or PR [Fatmir
MEDIU]; Socialist Movement for Integration or LSI [Ilir META];
Socialist Party or PS [Edi RAMA]; Unity for Humen Rights Party or
PBDNJ [Vangjel DULE]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Citizens Advocacy Office [Kreshnik SPAHIU]; Confederation of Trade
Unions of Albania or KSSH [Kastriot MUCO]; Front for Albanian
National Unification or FBKSH [Gafur ADILI]; Mjaft Movement [Elton
KACIDHJA]; Omonia [Ligorag KARAMELO]; Union of Independent Trade
Unions of Albania or BSPSH [Gezim KALAJA]

International organization participation:

(correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, SECI,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Gilbert GALANXHI

chancery: 2100 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 223-4942
FAX: [1] (202) 628-7342

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Alexander ARVIZU

embassy: Rruga e Elbasanit, Labinoti #103, Tirana

mailing address: US Department of State, 9510 Tirana Place, Dulles, VA 20189-9510

telephone: [355] (4) 2247285
FAX: [355] (4) 2232222

Flag description:

red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero George Castriota SKANDERBERG, who led a successful uprising against the Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-1478); an unsubstantiated explanation for the eagle symbol is the tradition that Albanians see themselves as descendants of the eagle; they refer to themselves as "Shkypetars," which translates as "sons of the eagle"

National anthem:

name: "Hymni i Flamurit" (Hymn to the Flag)

lyrics/music: Aleksander Stavre DRENOVA/Ciprian PORUMBESCU

note: adopted 1912

Economy ::Albania

Economy - overview:

Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004-08, but declined to about 3% in 2009-10. Inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment needed to expand the country's export base. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$23.95 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 115 $23.23 billion (2009 est.)

$22.49 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP

GDP (official exchange rate):

$11.58 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 114 3.3% (2009 est.)

7.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$8,000 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 123 $7,800 (2009 est.)

$7,500 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 21.2%

industry: 19.5%

services: 59.3% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

1.1 million (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 140

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 58%

industry: 15%

services: 27% (September 2006 est.)

Unemployment rate:

12.7% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 134 12.8% (2009 est.)

note: these are official rates, but actual rates may exceed 30% due to preponderance of near-subsistence farming

Population below poverty line:

25% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 25.9% (2005)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

26.7 (2005) country comparison to the world: 126

Investment (gross fixed):

29.8% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 19

Public debt:

59.3% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 34 58.1% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.4% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 99 2.2% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

5.25% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 71 6.25% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

12.66% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 63 13.02% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$2.708 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 113 $2.995 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$9.096 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 105 $9.279 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$7.701 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 104 $8.231 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products


food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Industrial production growth rate:

3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 103

Electricity - production:

2.888 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 124

Electricity - consumption:

3.603 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 118

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

2.475 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

5,400 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 92

Oil - consumption:

36,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 108

Oil - exports:

749 bbl/day (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 122

Oil - imports:

24,080 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 106

Oil - proved reserves:

199.1 million bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 58

Natural gas - production:

30 million cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 86

Natural gas - consumption:

30 million cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 109

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 205

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 71

Natural gas - proved reserves:

849.5 million cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 100

Current account balance:

-$1.245 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 143 -$1.845 billion (2009 est.)


$1.339 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 144 $1.048 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco

Exports - partners:

Italy 58.75%, Greece 9.69%, Austria 6.73%, China 5.68% (2009)


$4.337 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 126 $4.264 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Italy 29.94%, Greece 14.05%, Turkey 7.1%, Germany 6.9%, China 5.39% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.992 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 98 $2.37 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.55 billion (2004) country comparison to the world: 143

Exchange rates:

leke (ALL) per US dollar - 106.5 (2010), 94.979 (2009), 79.546 (2008), 92.668 (2007), 98.384 (2006)

Communications ::Albania

Telephones - main lines in use:

363,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 107

Telephones - mobile cellular:

4.162 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 102

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; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is now exceeds 100 per 100 persons

domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003, two companies were providing mobile services at a greater teledensity than some of Albania's neighbors; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005; 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 (2009)

Broadcast media:

2 public television networks, one of which transmits by satellite to Albanian-language communities in neighboring countries; more than 60 private television stations operating; many viewers can pick up Italian and Greek TV broadcasts via terrestrial reception; cable TV service is available; 2 public radio networks and roughly 50 private radio stations; several international broadcasters are available (2008)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

15,098 (2010) country comparison to the world: 117

Internet users:

1.3 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 90

Transportation ::Albania


5 (2010) country comparison to the world: 177

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)


1 (2010)


gas 339 km; oil 207 km (2009)


total: 896 km country comparison to the world: 96 standard gauge: 896 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)


total: 18,000 km country comparison to the world: 117 paved: 7,020 km

unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)


43 km (on the Bojana River) (2010) country comparison to the world: 105

Merchant marine:

total: 25 country comparison to the world: 92 by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 23, roll on/roll off 1

foreign-owned: 1 (Turkey 1)

registered in other countries: 4 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Panama 3) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore

Military ::Albania

Military branches:

Joint Force Command (includes Land, Naval, and Aviation Brigade
Commands), Joint Support Command (includes Logistic Command),
Training and Doctrine Command (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

19 years of age (2004)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 947,446

females age 16-49: 910,145 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 802,097

females age 16-49: 768,953 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 35,249

female: 31,855 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1.49% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 103

Transnational Issues ::Albania

Disputes - international:

the Albanian Government calls for the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians in neighboring countries, and the peaceful resolution of interethnic disputes; some ethnic Albanian groups in neighboring countries advocate for a "greater Albania," but the idea has little appeal among Albanian nationals; the mass emigration of unemployed Albanians remains a problem for developed countries, chiefly Greece and Italy

Illicit drugs:

increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and expanding cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens


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