Albania Travel Information

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State of the Environment

Facts About 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. The 2009 general elections resulted in no single party gaining a majority of the 140 seats in Parliament, and the Movement for Socialist Integration (LSI) and the Democratic Party (DP) combined to form a coalition government, the first such in Albania's history. The Socialist Party (SP) has, in effect, boycotted Parliament since it convened in September 2009 and has called for investigations into alleged electoral fraud in the June 2009 elections. 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 of Albania

Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Capital: Tirana
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references: Europe
total:  28,748 sq km
land:  27,398 sq km
water:  1,350 sq km
Coastline: 362 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf:  200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea:  12 NM
Climate: mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
Terrain:mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point:  Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point:  Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,753 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, timber, nickel, hydropower
Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; drought
Geography - note: strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)

More Geography

People of Albania

Population:2,986,952 (July 2010 est.)
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) 
Population growth rate: 0.249%
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.22 years
country comparison to the world: 59
male: 74.65 years
female: 80.11 years

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)
Religions: 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

SOURCE: The World Factbook (2010)

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Albania Map Economy History