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Republika e Shqipërisë
Flag of Albania Coat of arms of Albania
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: (not verified) Feja e Shqiptarit është Shqiptaria ( Albanian: The faith of the Albanian is Albanianism)
Anthem: Hymni i Flamurit
Location of Albania
Capital Tirana
41°20′ N 19°48′ E
Largest city Tirana
Official language(s) Albanian
• President
• Prime Minister
emerging democracy
• Alfred Moisiu
• Sali Berisha
From Ottoman Empire
November 28, 1912
• Total

• Water (%)

28,748 km² ( 139th)
11,100 mi²

• 2005 est.
• [[As of |]] census

• Density

3,563,112 ( 126)

123/km² ( 63)
• Total
• Per capita
2003 estimate
.7 billion ( 112th)
,900 ( 130th)
HDI ( 2003) 0.780 ( 72nd) – medium
Currency Lek ( ALL)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
CET ( UTC+1)
Internet TLD .al
Calling code +355
Albania ( Albanian: Republika e Shqipërisë, IPA [ɾɛpublika ɛ ʃciəpəɾisə]) is a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Serbia and Montenegro in the north, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south; it 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.

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Administrative divisions

History - Contents

The earlier inhabitants were probably part of the pre-Indo-European 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 overrun by the Proto-Hellenic tribes that gradually occupied modern-day Greece, southern parts of what is now the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the south of present-day Albania. This process was completed over the second millennium 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).Historians do not agree over the origin of the Illyrians. Some of them maintain that the Illyrians descended from the pre-Indo-European Pelasgians, while most scholars place them in the later wave of Indo-European invasions. Their presence can be traced back to 900 BC, when their political structure was formulated in the 7th and 6th 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 kingdom of the Molossians in southern Albania, the kingdom of Macedon, and the kingdom of Paionia.Besides warfare, the Illyrians were also peaceful traders of agricultural products and metal works. The Illyrian culture was heavily influenced by the Greek culture (mainly the south Illyrian tribes). Albania is also the site of several ancient Greek colonies.

Macedonian Rule
Probably their most important success was the slaughter of Perdiccas III, king of Macedon. Unfortunately for the Illyrians, Perdiccas was succeeded by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, who effectively terminated the Illyrian aggression, effectively ending any dominant control by the Illyrians in the region.

Roman and Byzantine Rule
After being conquered by the Roman Empire, Illyria was reorganized as a Roman province, Illyricum, later divided into the provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia, the lands comprising Albania mostly being included in Dalmatia. Later, the Byzantine Empire governed the region. It was also ruled by the Bulgarian and Serbian Empire. After centuries, use of the name Illyria to denote the region fell out of fashion.

Ottoman Rule
In the middle ages, the name Albania (see Origin and history of the name Albania) began to be increasingly applied to the region now comprising the nation of Albania. From 1443 to 1468 Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu led a successful resistance against the invading Ottomans. After the death of Skenderbeg, resistance continued until 1478, although with only moderate success. The loyalties and alliances created and nurtured by Skenderbeg faltered and fell apart, and the Ottomans conquered the territory of Albania shortly after the fall of the castle Kruje. Albania then became part of the Ottoman Empire. Following this, many Albanians fled to neighboring Italy, and the majority of the Albanian population that remained converted to the Muslim religion. They would remain a part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912.

Effects of the Balkan Wars
After the Second Balkan War, the Ottomans were removed from Albania and there was a possibility of the lands being absorbed by Serbia, and the southern tip by Greece. This decision angered the Italians who did not want Serbia to have an extended coastline, and it angered the Germans who could build a railway to reach the Orient. Berlin then held discussions with Russia (the superpower in charge of Serbia) and with Greece. Eventually, it was decided that the country should not be divided but instead consolidated into the Principality of Albania under a German prince, William of Wied. When the German prince was expelled by the Albanian people after 6 months as the self named "King of Albania", Great Britain, France, and Italy, as members the League of Nations, wanted to divide the territory once and for all. Intervention by United States of America president Woodrow Wilson vetoed the vote and allowed Albania to retain its status. From 1928, the country was ruled by King Zog I until 1938 when it became a puppet of Italy.

World War II and Enver Hoxha Rule
Albanian communists and nationalists actively fought a partisan war against the Italian and German invasions in WW II. Certain smaller organizations helped the foreign invaders, but it was the communists who took over after World War II. In November 1944 the communists gained control of the government 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 help of Bolshevik Communist Parties. All those who opposed it were eliminated.For the many decades under 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, North America and Australasia) and later even from the communist East.

The Fall of Communism and Democratic Albania
In 1985, Enver Hoxha died and Ramiz Alia took his place. Initially, Alia tried to follow in Hoxha's footsteps, but in Eastern Europe changes had already started: Mikhail Gorbachev had appeared in the Soviet Union with new policies ( Glasnost and perestroika). The Albanian totalitarian regime was under pressure from the US, Europe, and the anger and despair 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 an epidemic of pyramid schemes sent shockwaves through the entire country's economy, and riots started. Police stations and military bases were looted of millions of weaponry, Kalashnikovs. Anarchy prevailed, and many cities were controlled by militia and less-organized armed citizens. Even US military advisors left the country for their own safety. In response to the anarchy, the Socialist Party won the early elections of 1997.However, stability was far from being restored in the years after the 1997 riots. The power feuds raging inside the Socialist Party led to a series of short-lived Socialist governments. The country was flooded with refugees from neighboring Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. 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, brought back to power Sali Berisha, Leader of the Democratic Party, mostly owing to Socialist infighting and a series of corruption scandals plaguing the Nano government.Since 1990 Albania has been diplomatically oriented towards the West, it was accepted to the Council of Europe and has requested membership of NATO. The work-force of Albania has continued to emigrate to Greece, Italy, Europe and North America. Corruption in the government is becoming more and more obvious. Any hope for a short and not too painful transition after Communism has long since been dashed.

Politics - Contents

The head of state is the president, who is elected by the Kuvendi, or the Assembly of the Republic of Albania every 5 years. 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 head of government is the Prime Minister who is assisted by a council of ministers. The Council of Ministers is selected by the Prime Minister (A process called "forming the government") and then approved by a simple majority (71 votes) in the Assembly.

Administrative divisions - Contents

Albania is divided into 12 qark (county or prefecture), which are further divided into 36 rrethe (districts). The capital city, Tiranë, has a special status. The districts are:
  • 1 Berat
  • 2 Bulqizë
  • 3 Delvinë
  • 4 Devoll
  • 5 Dibër
  • 6 Durrës
  • 7 Elbasan
  • 8 Fier
  • 9 Gjirokastër
  • 10 Gramsh
  • 11 Has
  • 12 Kavajë
  • 13 Kolonjë
  • 14 Korçë
  • 15 Krujë
  • 16 Kuçovë
  • 17 Kukës
  • 18 Kurbin
  • 19 Lezhë
  • 20 Librazhd
  • 21 Lushnjë
  • 22 Malësi e Madhe
  • 23 Mallakastër
  • 24 Mat
  • 25 Mirditë
  • 26 Peqin
  • 27 Përmet
  • 28 Pogradec
  • 29 Pukë
  • 30 Sarandë
  • 31 Shkodër
  • 32 Skrapar
  • 33 Tepelenë
  • 34 Tiranë
  • 35 Tropojë
  • 36 Vlorë
Districts of Albania
See also: List of cities in Albania (Note: some cities have the same name as the district they are in).

Geography - Contents

Map of Albania
Map of Albania
Albania consists of mostly hilly and mountainous terrain, the highest mountain, Korab in the district of Dibra reaching up to 2,753 metres (9,032 ft). The country mostly has a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers.Besides capital city Tirana, with 800,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrës, Elbasan, Shkodër, Gjirokastër, Vlorë and Korçë. In Albanian grammar a word can have indefinite and definite forms, and this also applies to city names: so both Tiranë and Tirana, Shkodër and Shkodra are used.

Economy - Contents

In Albania, half of the economically-active population still engaged in agriculture and a fifth works abroad.The country has almost no exports, and imports most if its goods from Greece and Italy. Money for imports comes from financial aid and from the money that immigrants working abroad - mostly in neighbouring Greece - bring to Albania. This is a good status quo business for both Greece and Italy.Albania's coastline on the Ionian Sea, near the Greek tourist island of Corfu, is becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors due to its relatively unspoilt nature and good beaches. However, the tourist industry is still in its infancy.Growth was strong 2003-05 and inflation is not a problem.GDP(purchasing power parity): 18.05 billion Note: Albania has a large gray economy that may be as large as 50% of official GDP. (2005 est.)GDP (official exchange rate): 8.741 billion (2005 est.)GDP (real growth rate): 6% (2005 est.)GDP- composition by sector: agriculture: 23.6% industry: 20.5% services: 55.9% (2005 est.)Exports: 708 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)Imports: 2.473 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)Aid per Capita: 52 US Debt: 1.41 billion (2003 est.)Defence Expenditure: (n/a)Children in Labour Force: 1 % of children aged 10-14 work

Demographics - Contents

Most of the population is ethnically Albanian (95% according to the CIA World Factbook Feb 2005), there is a Greek minority (3% of the population), this however could significally vary according to other sources, (note: in 1989, other estimates of the Greek population ranged from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization) [1]). Many ethnic Albanians also live in the bordering countries of Serbia and Montenegro (around 1,850,000; of that, around 1,800,000 in Serbia (around 1,700,000 in its province called Kosovo (officially Kosovo and Metohia) only) and around 50,000 in Montenegro) and the Republic of Macedonia (around 500,000). Since 1991, large numbers of Albanians have emigrated, both legally and illegally, to Greece and Italy.The language is Albanian, although Greek is also spoken by the Greek minority in the southern regions of the country.At the height of the Ottoman occupation, the majority of Albanians were mostly Muslim (70%), even though religion was prohibited during the communist era. The Albanian government proclaimed Albania the only officially atheistic country in the world. After the fall of the Communist Regime in 1989-1990 religions were reinstated. According to 1939 statistics, the Albanian Orthodox (20%) and Roman Catholic Church (10%) would be the other main religions in Albania. Religious fanaticism has never been a serious problem, with people from different religions living in peace and even getting married although this was not considered to be an optimal solution. 20% of the total Muslim population is Bektashi, people who follow a faith originating in the Turkish migrations into Turkey, and came to Albania through the Ottoman Janissaries. It has outwardly Shi'ite Islamic elements, but is really a Shamanic-Pantheistic faith.
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