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|ALBANIA COAT OF ARMS|
Climate Diagram Albania
Location of Albania within the continent of Europe
Map of Albania
Flag Description of Albania:red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero George Kastrioti SKANDERBEG, who led a successful uprising against the Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-78); an unsubstantiated explanation for the eagle symbol is the tradition that Albanians see themselves as descendants of the eagle; they refer to themselves as "Shqipetare," which translates as "sons of the eagle"
Official name Republika e Shqipërisë (Republic of Albania)
Form of government unitary multiparty republic with one legislative house (Assembly )
Head of state President: Bujar Nishani
Head of government Prime Minister: Edi Rama
Capital Tirana (Tiranë)
Official language Albanian
Official religion none
Monetary unit lek (L)
Population (2014 est.) 2,746,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 11,082
Total area (sq km) 28,703
- Urban: (2011) 53.7%
- Rural: (2011) 46.3%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2012) 75 years
- Female: (2012) 80.5 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2006) 99.2%
- Female: (2006) 98.3%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 4,700
- (conversion rates)
- 1 Background of Albania
- 2 Geography of Albania
- 3 Demographics Profile as of Albania 2014
- 4 Economy of Albania
- 5 Government of Albania
- 6 Cultural life of Albania
- 7 History of Albania
- 8 2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile - Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe-Albania
- 9 ALBANIA TOURISM
- 10 Albanian language
- 11 Disclaimer
Background of Albania
Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939, and occupied by Germany in 1943. 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, dilapidated 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, each of Albania's post-communist elections have been marred by claims of electoral fraud. The 2009 general elections resulted in a coalition government, the first such in the country's history. In 2013, general elections achieved a peaceful transition of power and a second successive coalition government. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles.
Geography of Albania
- Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
- Land area
- Land area (sq. km)
The value for Land area (sq. km) in Albania was 27,400 as of 2011. As the graph below shows, over the past 50 years this indicator reached a maximum value of 27,400 in 2011 and a minimum value of 27,400 in 1961.
- Major cities - population: TIRANA (capital) 419,000 (2011)
- Terrain: mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast
- Climate: mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
- Land use: arable land: 21.63% -permanent crops: 2.57% -other: 75.79% (2011)
- Land boundaries: total: 691 km-border countries: Greece 212 km, Kosovo 112 km, Macedonia 181 km, Montenegro 186 km
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 20 00 E: This entry includes rounded latitude and longitude figures for the purpose of finding the approximate geographic center of an entity and is based on the Gazetteer of Conventional Names, Third Edition, August 1988, US Board on Geographic Names and on other sources.
Land of Albania Albania is bounded by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the east, Greece to the southeast and south, and the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the west and southwest, respectively. Albania’s immediate western neighbour, Italy, lies some 50 miles (80 km) across the Adriatic Sea. Albania has a length of about 210 miles (340 km) and a width of about 95 miles (150 km)...>>>>read more<<<<
Demographics Profile as of Albania 2014
Population *3,020,209 (July 2014 est.)
- 0-14 years: 19.3% (male 307,275/female 274,634)
- 15-24 years: 19.2% (male 297,851/female 282,498)
- 25-54 years: 40% (male 574,820/female 633,729)
- 55-64 years: 10.5% (male 157,014/female 158,602)
- 65 years and over: 11.1% (male 157,143/female 176,643) (2014 est.)
- total dependency ratio: 44.9 %
- youth dependency ratio: 29 %
- elderly dependency ratio: 15.9 %
- potential support ratio: 6.3 (2014 est.)
- total: 31.6 years
- male: 30.3 years
- female: 32.9 years (2014 est.)
Population growth rate *0.3% (2014 est.) 'Birth rate *12.73 births/1,000 population (2014 est.) Death rate *6.47 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.) Net migration rate *3.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
- urban population: 53.4% of total population (2011)
- rate of urbanization: 2.27% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities - population*TIRANA (capital) 419,000 (2011)
- at birth: 1.11 male(s)/female
- 0-14 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
- 15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
- 55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth
- 23.4 (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate
- total: 13.19 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 14.68 deaths/1,000 live births
- female: 11.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 77.96 years
- male: 75.33 years
- female: 80.86 years (2014 est.)
Total fertility rate *1.5 children born/woman (2014 est.) Contraceptive prevalence rate *69.3% (2008/09) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate *NA HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS *NA HIV/AIDS - deaths *NA
Drinking water source improved:
- urban: 97.3% of population
- rural: 93.8% of population
- total: 95.7% of population
- urban: 2.7% of population
- rural: 6.2% of population
- total: 4.3% of population (2012 est.)
- Sanitation facility access
- urban: 95.3% of population
- rural: 86.3% of population
- total: 91.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 4.7% of population rural: 13.7% of population total: 8.8% of population (2012 est.)
- noun: Albanian(s)
- adjective: Albanian
Ethnic groups *Albanian 82.6%, Greek 0.9%, other 1% (including Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Egyptian), unspecified 15.5% (2011 est.) Religions*Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi (a Sufi order) 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2% note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice (2011 est.) Languages*Albanian 98.8% (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek 0.5%, other 0.6% (including Macedonian, Roma, Vlach, Turkish, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)
- definition: age 9 and over can read and write
- total population: 96.8%
- male: 98%
- female: 95.7% (2011 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
- total: 10 years
- male: 10 years
- female: 10 years (2001)
Child labor - children ages 5-14
- total number: 72,818
- percentage: 12 % (2005 est.)
Education expenditures *3.3% of GDP (2007) Maternal mortality rate *27 deaths/100,000 live births (2010) Children under the age of 5 years underweight*6.3% (2009) Health expenditures *6.3% of GDP (2011) Physicians density *1.11 physicians/1,000 population (2011) Hospital bed density *2.4 beds/1,000 population (2011) Obesity - adult prevalence rate *21.3% (2008)
Over 90% of Albania's people are ethnic Albanian, and Albanian is the official language. Religions include Muslim (Sunni and Bektashi), Albanian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. Scholars believe the Albanian people are descended from a non-Slavic, non-Turkic group of tribes known as Illyrians, who arrived in the Balkans around 2000 BC. After falling under Roman authority in 165 BC, Albania was controlled nearly continuously by a succession of foreign powers until the mid-20th century, with only brief periods of self-rule...>>>>read more<<<<
Economy - overview Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Albania managed to weather the first waves of the global financial crisis but, more recently, its negative effects have put some pressure on the Albanian economy. While the government is focused on establishing a favorable business climate through the simplification of licensing requirements and tax codes, it entered into a new arrangement with the IMF for additional financial and technical support. Remittances, a significant catalyst for economic growth declined from 12-15% of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 7% of GDP in 2012, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for almost half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming, because of a lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Complex tax codes and licensing requirements, a weak judicial system, poor enforcement of contracts and property issues, and antiquated infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and makes attracting foreign investment more difficult. Inward FDI is among the lowest in the region, but the government has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms. Albania’s energy supply has improved in recent years mostly due to upgraded transmission capacities that Albania has developed with its neighboring countries. However, technical and non-technical losses - including energy theft and non-payment - continue to be a threat to the financial viability of the entire system. Also, with help from international donors, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. The country will continue to face challenges from increasing public debt, having exceeded its former statutory limit of 60% of GDP in 2013. Strong trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy make Albania vulnerable to spillover effects of debt crises and weak growth in the euro zone...>>>read more<<<
GDP (purchasing power parity)
- $28.34 billion (2013 est.)
- $28.14 billion (2012 est.)
- $27.78 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP
GDP (official exchange rate)*$12.8 billion (2013 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
- 0.7% (2013 est.)
- 1.3% (2012 est.)
- 3.1% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
- $10,700 (2013 est.)
- $10,400 (2012 est.)
- $9,900 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
Gross national saving
- 14.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
- 13.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
- 13.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
- household consumption: 87.6%
- government consumption: 8.4%
- investment in fixed capital: 25%
- investment in inventories: -2.6%
- exports of goods and services: 36%
- imports of goods and services: -54.4%
GDP - composition by sector
- agriculture: 19.5%
- industry: 12%
- services: 68.5%
Population below poverty line *14.3% (2012 est.) Labor force *1.098 million (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
- agriculture: 54.6%
- industry: 12.8%
- services: 32.6%
- (December 2012 est)
- 16.9% (2013 est.)
- 14.4% (2012 est.)
note: these are official rates that may not include those working at near-subsistence farming
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
- total: 22.5%
- male: 23.8%
- female: 20.7% (2011)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
- lowest 10%: 3.5%
- highest 10%: 29% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
- 34.5 (2008)
- 26.7 (2005)
- revenues: $3.074 billion
- expenditures: $3.858 billion (2013 est.)
Taxes and other revenues *24% of GDP (2013 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) *-6.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
- 70.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
- 62.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
- 1.7% (2013 est.)
- 2.1% (2012 est.)
Central bank discount rate
- $NA (31 December 2013 est.)
- 4% (31 December 2012 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
- 9.52% (31 December 2013 est.)
- 10.28% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money
- $2.791 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
- $2.652 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money
- $6.539 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
- $6.316 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
- $5.17 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
- $5.233 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares *$NA Agriculture - products *wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products; sheep Industries *food and tobacco products; textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower Industrial production growth rate *3.1% (2013 est.) Current Account Balance -$1.28 billion (2013 est.) *-$1.316 billion (2012 est.) Exports $2.323 billion (2013 est.) *$2.1 billion (2012 est.) Exports - commodities *textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco Exports - partners *Italy 51.1%, Spain 9.2%, Turkey 6.3%, Greece 4.4% (2012) Imports $4.835 billion (2013 est.) *$4.985 billion (2012 est.) Imports - commodities *machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals Imports - partners *Italy 31.9%, Greece 9.5%, China 6.4%, Germany 6%, Turkey 5.7% (2012)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
- $2.827 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
- $2.784 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Debt - external
- $3.213 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
- $2.957 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
- $4.226 billion (31 December 2011)
- $3.534 billion (31 December 2010)
Exchange rates leke (ALL) per US dollar -
- 109.2 (2013 est.)
- 108.19 (2012 est.)
- 103.94 (2010 est.)
- 94.98 (2009)
- 79.546 (2008)
Fiscal year calendar year
Government of Albania
Albania is governed under the constitution of 1998 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by the legislature for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister. The legislature, the unicameral Parliament, or Assembly ( Kuvendi ), has 140 members, elected (since 2009) proportionally on a regional basis; they all serve four-year terms. Administratively, Albania is divided into 12 regions or counties.
The constitution of the Republic of Albania was promulgated on Nov. 28, 1998. It replaced an interim document from 1991 that had first sanctioned a multiparty political system and officially guaranteed Albanian citizens the freedoms of speech, religion, press, and assembly.
Albania is a parliamentary democracy, with 140 deputies elected to four-year terms in the unicameral People’s Assembly. Of those deputies, 100 are elected by direct suffrage, while the remainder are elected by proportional representation. The head of the government, the prime minister, is chosen from the leading party in parliament and selects the Council of Ministers (cabinet). The president, who serves as the head of state, is elected by the People’s Assembly for a five-year term and can serve a limit of two consecutive terms.
The country is divided into qark (counties), which are further divided into rrethe (districts). Beneath the districts in the administrative hierarchy are komuna (communes) and bashkia (municipalities). The counties are governed by councils, whose members are either representatives of the municipalities and communes from within the county or are chosen by the council. The cabinet appoints a prefect as its representative for each county. Government at the district and lower levels operates through local councils elected by direct vote for three-year terms.
Justice and security
Albania has a Constitutional Court, a Supreme Court, which is the highest court of appeals, and numerous appeal and district courts. The Constitutional Court justices are appointed by the People’s Assembly to serve one nine-year term. The Supreme Court has 11 members, each of whom is appointed by the president with the consent of the People’s Assembly for a nine-year term. Albania has an army and a navy; Albanians age 19 and older are eligible to serve in the country’s volunteer military forces.
Suffrage is universal for citizens age 18 and older. In June 1991 the Albanian Party of Labour, at one time described as the “sole leading political force of the state and society,” changed its name to the Albanian Socialist Party (ASP). It had ruled Albania since 1944, when it was first known as the Albanian Communist Party. By the mid-1990s the revamped ASP had distanced itself from its past and broadened its appeal among left-leaning voters to emerge as the governing party at the turn of the 21st century.
The Democratic Party, a centre-right group that made its debut as the first opposition party in Albania, scored a series of election successes in the early 1990s, but it bore the brunt of the blame for the 1997 economic collapse and fell into opposition. Other political parties of note in the early 21st century were the Social Democratic Party of Albania, the Union for Human Rights Party, and the Albanian Republican Party. There are also several agrarian, ecological, and socialist parties.
Health and welfare
Albania has a relatively well-developed health care system. The majority of services are provided by the state, though private practice was revived in the early 1990s. At the turn of the 21st century, physicians in Albania had more than twice as many patients as the average European doctor. Nevertheless, there has been a considerable reduction in the incidence of most infectious diseases (including malaria and syphilis, which had been especially widespread), and life expectancy for both men and women in Albania is slightly above the European average, at about 75 and 80 years, respectively. Despite the real improvements in health care, Albania still has a high infant mortality rate—largely a result of poor nutrition and the difficulty of obtaining medical treatment in many rural areas.
Education The government has devoted considerable resources to education. Schooling is compulsory between ages 7 and 15. Education at the primary and secondary levels is free, and higher-education fees are based on family income. The University of Tirana (1957) is the country’s major institution of higher education. Tirana also has an agricultural and polytechnic university, along with an impressive network of professional and vocational schools. More than nine-tenths of the population age 15 and older is literate.
Cultural life of Albania
- Cultural milieu
Cultural development in Albania was handicapped by more than four decades of communist rule. The government imposed strict censorship on the press, publications, and the performing arts. The succeeding governments have made a conscious effort to encourage and preserve the country’s rich folklife. Albania is known for its traditions of hospitality, which are based on the kanun (“code”), a set of unwritten laws devised in the 15th century by Prince Lekë Dukagjin, an Albanian feudal lord. The kanun governs all social relations, including those involving marriage, death, family, and religion. Some Albanians still follow its customary laws, including the right to avenge a killing; gjakmarrje (“blood feuds”) were known to occur in parts of northern Albania into the 21st century.
- Daily life and social customs
In addition to traditional religious holidays, pagan holidays and folklore play a role in Albanian life. Agricultural fairs and religious festivals occur throughout the year and often include competitions that highlight highly skilled sports, which are occasionally contested in the national stadium in Tirana. Dita e Verës (Spring Day) is celebrated in mid-March in Elbasan. Folkloric festivals take place in towns across the country; one of the largest is the National Festival of Folklore held in Gjirokastër, a historic town that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. Albania’s independence is celebrated throughout the country on November 28.
Much of Albania’s cuisine consists of meat and seafood. Among the most popular dishes are roasts, biftek (beef loin), qebaps (kabobs), and qoftë (meatballs). Fergësë Tirana, a hot dish of meat, peppers, eggs, and tomatoes, is a specialty of Tirana. In southern Albania, kukurec (sheep intestines broiled on a spit) is a common entree. Carp and the revered but rare koran (trout) are the preferred food fish throughout the country. Oshaf, a pudding made from figs and sheep’s milk, is a common dessert. The traditional Albanian drink is raki, a local brandy distilled from grapes that is often imbibed before a meal.
- The arts
Albania’s traditional arts are rich and varied. They include fine embroidery and lace making, woodworking, and furniture making. Albanians enjoy music and storytelling, especially savouring the epics recounted by traditional singers. These singers often memorize verses hundreds and even thousands of lines long that celebrate the deeds of ancient heroes. Their tradition, however, seems to be in danger of extinction, for few young Albanians have elected to take up this ancient Balkan art form.
Albanian folk music is national in character but has Turkish and Persian influences. Albanian iso-polyphony, derived from Byzantine church music, is a form of group singing that is performed primarily by men. Albanian iso-polyphony was listed by UNESCO in 2005 as an outstanding example of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. Revived in the early 21st century, this folk tradition is still practiced at weddings, festivals, and other social events. Common folk instruments used in Albania include the çifteli (a long-necked two-stringed mandolin) and the gërnetë (a type of clarinet).
Albania boasts a long literary tradition. The country’s best-known contemporary writer is novelist and poet Ismail Kadare, whose work has been translated into some 30 languages. Notable early 20th-century poets include Gjergj Fishta (1871–1940), Ndre Mjeda (1866–1937), and Asdren (Alexander Stavre Drenova; 1872–1947), the last of whom wrote the lyrics for Albania’s national anthem. Fan S. Noli (1882–1965), an Orthodox bishop who served briefly as prime minister, is remembered for his artful turn-of-the-20th-century translations of some of the world’s classic works of drama and poetry. (See also Albanian literature.)
- Cultural institutions
Tirana is the home of a number of cultural institutions, including the National Library, the National Theatre, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the National Museum of History, and the National Museum. There are also numerous city orchestras throughout the country. Skanderbeg’s citadel at Krujë has been rebuilt and now houses a museum.
- Sports and recreation
The traditional sporting life of Albanians has been based on pastoralism and warfare (archery, wrestling, and horse racing have all enjoyed prominence). Football (soccer) is modern-day Albania’s preferred sport; the country has a number of professional teams, and most cities and towns boast local amateur leagues. Other popular sports include tae kwon do, volleyball, swimming, and weightlifting. Chess is a common pastime. Albania made its debut at the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Munich but did not return to Olympic competition until the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
- Media and publishing
During more than four decades of communist rule, the government imposed strict censorship on the press, which was not eased until 1991. Widely circulated newspapers are Zëri i Popullit (“Voice of the People”), the organ of the Albanian Socialist Party; Rilindja Demokratike (“Democratic Revival”), published by the Democratic Party; and Republika (“Republic”), the organ of the Albanian Republican Party. The Albanian Telegraph Agency is the official news source for the country. The state-controlled National Council of Radio and Television oversees licensing. Privately owned radio and television stations have increased since the 1990s.
History of Albania
The Albanians are reputedly descendants of Illyrian and Thracian tribes that settled the region in ancient times. The area then comprised parts of Illyria and Epirus and was known to the ancient Greeks for its mines. The coastal towns, Epidamnus (Durrës) and Apollonia, were colonies of Corcyra (Kérkira) and Corinth, but the interior formed an independent kingdom that reached its height in the 3d cent. A.D.
After the division (395) of the Roman Empire, Albania passed to Byzantium. While nominally (until 1347) under Byzantine rule, N Albania was invaded (7th cent.) by the Serbs, and S Albania was annexed (9th cent.) by Bulgaria. In 1014, Emperor Basil II retook S Albania, which remained in the Byzantine Empire until it passed to Epirus in 1204. Venice founded coastal colonies at present-day Shkodër and Lezhë in the 11th cent., and in 1081 the Normans began to contest Byzantine control of Albania. Norman efforts were continued by the Neapolitan Angevins; in 1272, Charles I of Naples was proclaimed king of Albania. In the 14th cent., however, the Serbs under Stephen Dušan conquered most of the country.
- Ottoman Rule
After Dušan's death (1355), Albania was ruled by native chieftains until the Turks began their conquests in the 15th cent. In return for serving the Turks, a son of one of these chieftains received the title Iskender Bey (Lord Alexander), which in Albanian became Scanderbeg. Later, however, he led the Albanian resistance to Turkish domination and, after his death in 1468, was immortalized as Albania's national hero. Supported by Venice and Naples, Albania continued to struggle against the Turks until 1478, when the country passed under Ottoman rule.
Many Albanians distinguished themselves in the Turkish army and bureaucracy; others were made pashas and beys and had considerable local autonomy. In the early 19th cent., Ali Pasha ruled Albania like a sovereign until he overreached and was assassinated. Under Turkish rule Islam became the predominant religion of Albania. However, the Albanian highlanders, never fully subjected, were able to retain their tribal organizations. Economically, the country stagnated under Ottoman rule, and numerous local revolts flared. A cultural awakening began in the 19th cent., and Albanian nationalism grew in the aftermath of the Treaty of San Stefano (1877), which Russia imposed on the Turks and which gave large parts of Albania to the Balkan Slavic nations. The European Great Powers intensified their struggle for influence in the Balkans during the years that followed.
- National Independence
The first of the Balkan Wars, in 1912, gave the Albanians an opportunity to proclaim their independence. During the Second Balkan War (1913), Albania was occupied by the Serbs. A conference of Great Power ambassadors defined the country's borders in 1913 and destroyed the dream of a Greater Albania by ceding large tracts to Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece. The ambassadors at the conference placed Albania under their guarantee and named William, prince of Wied, as its ruler. Within a year he had fled, as World War I erupted and Albania became a battleground for contending Serb, Montenegrin, Greek, Italian, Bulgarian, and Austrian forces.
Secret treaties drafted during the war called for Albania's dismemberment, but Albanian resistance and the principle of self-determination as promoted by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson helped to restore an independent Albania. In 1920 the Congress of Lushnje reasserted Albanian independence. The early postwar years witnessed a struggle between conservative landlords led by Ahmed Zogu and Western-influenced liberals under Bishop Fan S. Noli. After Noli's forces seized power in 1924, Zogu fled to Yugoslavia, where he secured foreign support for an army to invade Albania. In 1925, Albania was proclaimed a republic under his presidency; in 1928 he became King Zog.
Italy, whose political and economic influence in Albania had steadily increased, invaded the country in 1939, forcing Zog into exile and bringing Albania under Italian hegemony. The Albanian puppet government declared war on the Allies in 1940; but resistance groups, notably the extreme leftist partisans under Enver Hoxha, waged guerrilla warfare against the occupying Axis armies. In 1943–44, a civil war also raged between the partisans and non-Communist forces within Albania. Albania was liberated from the Axis invaders without the aid of the Red Army or of direct Soviet military assistance, and received most of its war matériel from the Anglo-American command in Italy.
- Albanian Communism
In late 1944, Hoxha's partisans seized most of Albania and formed a provisional government. The Communists held elections (Dec., 1945) with an unopposed slate of candidates and, in 1946, proclaimed Albania a republic with Hoxha as premier. From 1944 to 1948, Albania maintained close relations with Yugoslavia, which had helped to establish the Albanian Communist party. After Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia broke with Stalin, Albania became a satellite of the USSR. Albania's disapproval of de-Stalinization and of Soviet-Yugoslav rapprochement led in 1961 to a break between Moscow and Tiranë.
Chinese influence and economic aid replaced Soviet, and Albania became China's only ally in Communist Eastern Europe. Albania ceased active participation in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) and, after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, withdrew from the Warsaw Treaty Organization. In the early 1970s continuing Soviet hostility and Albanian isolation led the Hoxha regime to make overtures to neighboring Yugoslavia, Greece, and Italy. The alliance with China lasted until 1977 when Hoxha broke ties in protest of China's liberalization and the U.S.-China rapprochement.
Ramiz Alia became president in 1982 and, following Hoxha's death in 1985, first secretary of the Albanian Communist party. Alia began to strengthen ties with other European nations, notably Italy and Greece, and restored diplomatic relations with the USSR (1990) and the United States (1991). His government also began to allow tourism and promote foreign trade, and permitted the formation of the opposition Democratic party.
- A Developing Democracy
In the elections of Mar., 1991, the Communists defeated the Democrats, but popular discontent over poor living conditions and an exodus of Albanian refugees to Greece and Italy forced the cabinet to resign shortly thereafter. In new elections (1992) the Socialists (Communists) lost to the Democrats, Alia resigned, and Democratic leader Sali Berisha became Albania's first democratically elected president. With unemployment and inflation accelerating, the new government took steps toward a free-market economy. Although the economic picture showed some signs of improvement during the 1990s, poverty and unemployment remained widespread. The Berisha government prosecuted former Communist leaders, including Ramiz Alia, who was convicted of abuses of power and jailed. In 1994, Albania joined the NATO Partnership for Peace plan, and in 1995, it was admitted to the Council of Europe.
Berisha's party claimed a landslide victory in the 1996 general elections, which were marked by irregularities. In Mar., 1997, following weeks of rioting over collapsed pyramid investment schemes, Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi, a Democrat, resigned. Berisha, however, was elected to a new five-year term and named Bashkim Fino, a Socialist, to head a new coalition government. Parliament declared a state of emergency as rebels gained control of large sections of southern Albania and threatened the capital. Thousands of Albanians fled to Italy, and an international force from eight European nations arrived in Apr., 1997, to help restore order.
The Socialists won parliamentary elections held in July, and Berisha resigned, succeeded by Socialist Rexhep Kemal Meidani. Fatos Nano became prime minister in 1997 but resigned in 1998 and was succeeded by fellow Socialist Pandeli Majko. Majko resigned in Oct., 1999, after he lost a Socialist party leadership election and was succeeded by Socialist Ilir Meta. Albanians approved their first post-Communist constitution in 1998. The country was flooded with refugees from neighboring Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. In the June, 2001, parliamentary elections the Socialists were returned to power. After Meta resigned in Jan., 2002, Majko again became prime minister; following Majko's resignation in July, Nano succeeded him. In June, 2002, a compromise candidate, Alfred Moisiu, a former general and defense minister, was elected to succeed President Meidani.
Parliamentary elections in July, 2005, resulted in a victory for Berisha's Democrats, but Socialist challenges to some of the results delayed certification of the vote. In September, however, Nano resigned, and Berisha became prime minister. In July, 2007, after a protracted series of votes in parliament, Bamir Topi, a Democrat, was elected president. In Apr., 2009, Albania became a member of NATO.
The June, 2009, parliamentary elections resulted in a narrow victory for the Democrats, who formed a coalition with the small Socialist Integration Movement (LSI). The Socialist party denounced the results as manipulated, boycotted parliament, and called for an investigation. The Socialist ended their boycott in May, 2010, in conjunction with EU-sponsored talks on the deadlock. The situation remained unsettled, however, with tensions at times spilling into the streets, and the May, 2011, election for Tirana's mayor, narrowly declared for the Democrats, revived partisan animosities.
In June, 2012, Bujar Nishani, a Democrat and minister of the interior, was elected as President Topi's successor. The LSI withdrew from the government in Apr., 2013, having formed a pre-election coalition with the Socialists. The Socialist-led coalition won a sizable majority in the June elections, and in September formed a government with Socialist Edi Rama as prime minister.
The number of asylum applications received in 2014 in European Union (EU) Member States has risen by 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. A quarter of the applicants are of Afghan, Eritrean or Syrian origin, and a similar proportion are under 18 years of age.--->>>>Read More.<<<
Tirana - The Heart of Albania
To add charm, charisma and vigor to your holiday in Albania, visit Tirana which is the capital city of Albania. From sightseeing to exotic wildlife, shopping, exciting nightlife and restaurants that offer some of the lip smacking culinary delights, the capital city has all the elements making it the most vibrant and full of life destination. Its location near the Durres beach and the Dajti Mountains add to the splendor of this place. Even though a small city, there are many tourist attractions here driving people from all over the world.
Being the capital city, Tirana is well connected to the rest of the world through the Mother Teresa International Airport. From here one can get access to other major cities of Albania. There are numerous flights entering and leaving Albania from this airport. Various busservices in Tirana make the trip more comfortable and pleasurable for the tourists. July to August is the best period to visit since in the drier months tourists can enjoy more.
There are many architectural jewels dotting this city. Clock Tower at the heart of the city is one of the major attractions. Et’hem Bay Mosque and Martyr’s Cemetery are the beautiful examples of architecture. The exotic ancient artifacts in the National History Museum and Piramida are worth visiting cultural monuments. Durres beach on the west that is just 32 kilometers away and Dajti Mountains on the city that are 26 kilometers to the east from the city are the natural attractions, perfect for hangout.
Sky tower is the tallest building in the city with a restaurant on the top floor. Enver Hoxha’s villa is another good restaurant famous for cuisine. The nightlife in the city is just awesome where one can hang out in any of the clubs or bars. Shopping can be enjoyed at the traditional bazaar of the city and also at the shopping malls.
Tirana is a crowd puller attracting visitors from all over the world due to the diversity this amazing city offers.
Albanian language, Indo-European language spoken in Albania and by smaller numbers of ethnic Albanians in other parts of the southern Balkans, along the east coast of Italy and in Sicily, in southern Greece, and in Germany, Sweden, the United States, Ukraine, and Belgium. Albanian is the only modern representative of a distinct branch of the Indo-European language family.
The origins of the general name Albanian, which traditionally referred to a restricted area in central Albania, and of the current official name Shqip or Shqipëri, which may well be derived from a term meaning “pronounce clearly, intelligibly,” are still disputed. The name Albanian has been found in records since the time of Ptolemy. In Calabrian Albanian the name is Arbresh, in Modern Greek Arvanítis, and in Turkish Arnaut; the name must have been transmitted early through Greek speech.
The two principal dialects, Gheg in the north and Tosk in the south, are separated roughly by the Shkumbin River. Gheg and Tosk have been diverging for at least a millennium, and their less extreme forms are mutually intelligible. Gheg has the more marked subvarieties, the most striking of which are the northernmost and eastern types, which include those of the city of Shkodër (Scutari), the northeastern Skopska Crna Gora region of Macedonia, Kosovo, and the isolated village of Arbanasi (outside Zadar) on the Croatian coast of Dalmatia. Arbanasi, founded in the early 18th century by refugees from the region around the Montenegrin coastal city of Bar, has about 2,000 speakers.
All of the Albanian dialects spoken in Italian and Greek enclaves are of the Tosk variety and seem to be related most closely to the dialect of Çamëria in the extreme south of Albania. These dialects resulted from incompletely understood population movements of the 13th and 15th centuries. The Italian enclaves—nearly 50 scattered villages—probably were founded by emigrants from Turkish rule in Greece. A few isolated outlying dialects of south Tosk origin are spoken in Bulgaria and Turkish Thrace but are of unclear date. The language is still in use in Mandritsa, Bulgaria, at the border near Edirne, and in an offshoot of this village surviving in Mándres, near Kilkís in Greece, that dates from the Balkan Wars. A Tosk enclave near Melitopol in Ukraine appears to be of moderately recent settlement from Bulgaria. The Albanian dialects of Istria, for which a text exists, and of Syrmia (Srem), for which there is none, have become extinct.
The official language, written in a standard roman-style orthography adopted in 1909, was based on the south Gheg dialect of Elbasan from the beginning of the Albanian state until World War II and since has been modelled on Tosk. Albanian speakers in Kosovo and in Macedonia speak eastern varieties of Gheg but since 1974 have widely adopted a common orthography with Albania. Before 1909 the little literature that was preserved was written in local makeshift Italianate or Hellenizing orthographies or even in Turko-Arabic characters.
A few brief written records are preserved from the 15th century, the first being a baptismal formula from 1462. The scattering of books produced in the 16th and 17th centuries originated largely in the Gheg area (often in Scutarene north Gheg) and reflect Roman Catholic missionary activities. Much of the small stream of literature in the 19th century was produced by exiles. Perhaps the earliest purely literary work of any extent is the 18th-century poetry of Gjul Variboba, of the enclave at S. Giorgio, in Calabria. Some literary production continued through the 19th century in the Italian enclaves, but no similar activity is recorded in the Greek areas. All these early historical documents show a language that differs little from the current language. Because these documents from different regions and times exhibit marked dialect peculiarities, however, they often have a value for linguistic study that greatly outweighs their literary merit.
That Albanian is of clearly Indo-European origin was recognized by the German philologist Franz Bopp in 1854; the details of the main correspondences of Albanian with Indo-European languages were elaborated by another German philologist, Gustav Meyer, in the 1880s and ’90s. Further linguistic refinements were presented by the Danish linguist Holger Pedersen and the Austrian Norbert Jokl. The following etymologies illustrate the relationship of Albanian to Indo-European (an asterisk preceding a word denotes an unattested, hypothetical Indo-European parent word, which is written in a conventionalized orthography): pesë “five” (from *pénkwe); zjarm “fire” (from *gwhermos); natë “night” (from *nokwt-); dhëndër “son-in-law” (from *ǵemə ter-); gjarpër “snake” (from *sérpō˘n-); bjer “bring!” (from *bhere); djeg “I burn” (from *dhegwhō); kam “I have” (from *kapmi); pata “I had” (from *pot-); pjek “I roast” (from *pekwō); thom, thotë “I say, he says” (from *k’ēmi, *k’ēt . . .).
The verb system includes many archaic traits, such as the retention of distinct active and middle personal endings (as in Greek) and the change of a stem vowel e in the present to o (from *ē) in the past tense, a feature shared with the Baltic languages. For example, there is mbledh “gathers (transitive)” as well as mblidhet “gathers (intransitive), is gathered” in the present tense, and mblodha “I gathered” with an o in the past. Because of the superficial changes in the phonetic shape of the language over 2,000 years and because of the borrowing of words from neighbouring cultures, the continuity of the Indo-European heritage in Albanian has been underrated.
Albanian shows no obvious close affinity to any other Indo-European language; it is plainly the sole modern survivor of its own subgroup. It seems likely, however, that in very early times the Balto-Slavic group was its nearest of kin. Of ancient languages, both Dacian (or Daco-Mysian) and Illyrian have been tentatively considered its ancestor or nearest relative.
The grammatical categories of Albanian are much like those of other European languages. Nouns show overt gender, number, and three or four cases. An unusual feature is that nouns are further inflected obligatorily with suffixes to show definite or indefinite meaning: e.g., bukë “bread,” buka “the bread.” Adjectives—except numerals and certain quantifying expressions—and dependent nouns follow the noun they modify; and they are remarkable in requiring a particle preceding them that agrees with the noun. Thus, in një burrë i madh, meaning “a big man,” burrë “man” is modified by madh “big,” which is preceded by i, which agrees with the term for “man”; likewise, in dy burra të mëdhenj “two big men,” mëdhenj, the plural masculine form for “big,” follows the noun burra “men” and is preceded by a particle të that agrees with the noun. Verbs have roughly the number and variety of forms found in French or Italian and are quite irregular in forming their stems. Noun plurals are also notable for the irregularity of a large number of them. When a definite noun or one taken as already known is the direct object of the sentence, a pronoun in the objective case that repeats this information must also be inserted in the verb phrase; e.g., i-a dhashë librin atij is literally “him-it I-gave the-book to-him,” which in standard English would be “I gave the book to him.” In general, the grammar and formal distinctions of Albanian are reminiscent of Modern Greek and the Romance languages, especially of Romanian. The sounds suggest Hungarian or Greek, but Gheg with its nasal vowels strikes the ear as distinctive.
Vocabulary and contacts
Although Albanian has a host of borrowings from its neighbours, it shows exceedingly few evidences of contact with ancient Greek; one such is the Gheg mokën (Tosk mokër) “millstone,” from the Greek mēkhanē´. Obviously close contacts with the Romans gave many Latin loans—e.g., mik “friend” from Latin amicus; këndoj “sing, read” from cantāre. Furthermore, such loanwords in Albanian attest to the similarities in development of the Latin spoken in the Balkans and of Romanian, a Balkan Romance tongue. For example, Latin palūdem “swamp” became padūlem and then pădure in Romanian and pyll in Albanian, both with a modified meaning, “forest.”
Conversely, Romanian also shares some apparently non-Latin indigenous terms with Albanian—e.g., Romanian brad, Albanian bredh “fir.” Thus these two languages reflect special historical contacts of early date. Early communication with the Goths presumably contributed tirq “trousers, breeches” (from an old compound “thigh-breech”), while early Slavic contacts gave gozhdë “nail.” Many Italian, Turkish, Modern Greek, Serbian, and Macedonian-Slav loans can be attributed to cultural contacts of the past 500 years with Venetians, Ottomans, Greeks (to the south), and Slavs (to the east).
A fair number of features—e.g., the formation of the future tense and of the noun phrase—are shared with other languages of the Balkans but are of obscure origin and development; Albanian or its earlier kin could easily be the source for at least some of these. The study of such regional features in the Balkans has become a classic case for research on the phenomena of linguistic diffusion.
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