International Organization for Migration

Albanian flag

Capital: Tirana
Population (Census 2011): 2,800,138
Area: 28,748 km sq
Language: Albanian
Currency: Lek
Climate: Albania has a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry and mild wet winters.
Weather in Albania: Hottest month is August, up to 40 C, the coldest month is January, with temperatures as low as -2 C.

Introduction

Albania is located in southeastern Europe in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula and covers an area of about 28,748 square km. Placed in a strategic geographic position Albania is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo-northeast, Macedonia-east, Greece-south and southeast, Italy – 72 km (50 miles) across the Adriatic Sea.

Albania has a population of 2,800,138 inhabitants (CENSUS 2011). The country has enjoyed a high sustained rate of economic growth over the past several years, averaging about 5–6 per cent per year, placing Albania into the group of countries with a high Human Development Index (0.749).

Throughout the transition period Albania has been faced with a number of complex challenges in order to establish stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law and human rights as well as to operate a functioning market economy and to cope with competition and market forces.

With the completion of Corridor VIII, the expected implementation of the gas pipeline project TAP, with further development of infrastructures capacities of the leading ports, Albania will connect Mediterranean hub ports and European markets they serve, with the Balkan Region and further with the markets surrounding the Black Sea. Albania represents a considerable market in the region due to several agreements on free trade with neighbor countries and European Union, as well as an attractive investment destination.

History

Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912 but till the end of the First World War, the country was attacked by neighboring countries.

In 1925, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a Parliamentary Republic and Ahmet Zog was elected President of Albania, but he had so much power in his hands that, in fact, the Republic functioned as a Presidential one. After three years Ahmet Zog was declared the King of Albania, receiving the royal title "Zog I".

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 until it finally emerged from isolation in 1991, when the first pluralistic Parliament declared the Parliamentary Republic of Albania. The principle of self-reliance applied by the Communist regime prohibited foreign loans, credits and investment.

The most visible and pressing challenge for Albania today is meeting the requirements of the European Union (EU) accession. On 18 February 2008 the Council adopted a new European partnership with Albania. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the country was signed on 12 June 2006 and entered into force on 1 April 2009. The EU-Albania visa facilitation agreement entered into force in January 2008. The country joined NATO in April 2009 and in 2010 Albania obtained the visa liberalization regime with the EU (schengen area). The country has made significant progress toward European Union (EU) integration, measured primarily in terms of meeting political criteria and establishing stable institutions that guarantee democracy, rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, regional cooperation and good relations with enlargement countries and Member States.

Culture

Home of both Mother Theresa and the great 15th Century hero Skanderbeg, Albania is listed among the top touristic destinations with an impressive natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

Albanian culture is an exotic blend of traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. From the ancient Illyrians and Greeks to the Romans and the Ottomans, the language, music, arts, and cuisine of the Albanian people are a rich and vibrant mix of many civilizations.

Albania has three UNESCO world heritage sites: Butrint, one of the world's archaeological wonders located in the south of Albania, provides a glimpse of Mediterranean civilization from the Bronze Age through the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman periods; The Museum City of Gjirokastra and the Museum City of Berat, which are inscribed as rare examples of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman period.

Albania country is home to fourteen National Parks, all of them with something unique to offer. The country is known for its Riviera and unspoilt beaches of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Its diverse landscape provides plenty of outdoor activities such as trekking, mountain climbing, hiking, skiing, rafting, kayaking, bird watching, fishing, mountain biking and more.