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Republika e Shqipërisë
Republic of Albania
Flag of Albania
Coat of arms of Albania
flag coat of arms
Official language Albanian
capital city Tirana
State and form of government parliamentary republic
Head of state President Ilir Meta
Head of government Prime Minister Edi Rama
area 28,748 km²
population 2.9 million ( 135th ) (2019)
Population density 105 inhabitants per km²
Population development - 0.4% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 15 billion ( 125th )
  • $ 40 billion ( 120th )
  • 5,284 USD ( 102. )
  • 13,983 USD ( 92. )
Human Development Index 0.795 ( 69th ) (2019)
currency Lek (ALL)
independence November 28, 1912
(from the Ottoman Empire )
National anthem Himni i Flamurit
National holiday November 28th
Time zone UTC + 1 CET and
(March to October)
License Plate AL
ISO 3166 AL , ALB, 008
Internet TLD .al
Phone code +355
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Albania ( Albanian indefinite : Shqipëri , definite : Shqipëria ), officially the Republic of Albania (Albanian Republika e Shqipërisë ), is a state in southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula . The national territory borders in the north with Montenegro and Kosovo , in the east with North Macedonia and in the south with Greece . The natural western border is formed by the coasts of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas , making the country one of the countries bordering the Mediterranean . The capital and largest city of the country is Tirana .

Albania is a democratically constituted parliamentary republic . After the United Nations raised the Human Development Index , Albania is one of the most developed countries of the world. Since the end of communism , significant steps have been taken to improve the economic and social situation. Despite all the progress, Albania was still one of the poorest countries in Europe in 2017 . However, drug cultivation and smuggling generate significant revenues and the country was recognized as the main supplier of certain drugs to the European Union in early 2019.

The country is a member of the United Nations , NATO , the OSCE , the Council of Europe , CEFTA , the Regional Cooperation Council , the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation . Since June 24, 2014, Albania has also been a candidate for accession to the European Union . It is also a member of the World Trade Organization and the World Bank .



Bay of Ksamil with the four islands

With an area of ​​28,748 square kilometers, Albania is slightly smaller than Belgium and, with 2.8 million, has slightly more inhabitants than Schleswig-Holstein .

Albania's coast on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas is 362 kilometers long. At the narrowest point of the Adriatic - the Strait of Otranto - it is only 73 kilometers away from Italy , at the town of Ksamil only two kilometers from the Greek island of Corfu . There are innumerable natural sand and pebble beaches along the coast. Well-known vacation spots are Velipoja , Shëngjin , Durrës and Vlora on the Adriatic Sea and Dhërmi , Himara and Saranda on the Ionian Sea.

The land border with Montenegro and Kosovo (or Serbia ) is 287 kilometers long, that with Greece 282 kilometers and that with North Macedonia 151 kilometers.

Like the whole of the Mediterranean , Albania is located in a tectonically very active region. Severe earthquakes have occurred repeatedly, for example in 1967, 1979 and 2019.

Natural spatial structure

About half of the Albanian national territory is made up of mountainous areas with heights of over 600  m above sea level. A. taken. A small part of it are high mountain regions. From Lake Skadar in the north to Vlora in the south, alluvial soils , in some cases only a few kilometers wide , extend along the coast, which in central Albania extend to the large Myzeqe plain . There are numerous lagoons and wetlands along the coast .

Only the valleys, the hill country, parts of the coastal plain and some plateaus allow dense human settlement. The population density there is relatively high, while other parts of the country are sparsely populated.

In the north of the state are the North Albanian Alps , which belong to the Dinarides . The highest mountain in Albania is 2764  m above sea level. A. high Korab , northeast of Peshkopia directly on the border with North Macedonia. Another high and well-known mountain is the Jezerca . This is with 2694  m above sea level. A. the highest mountain completely in Albania.


The Skadar Lake near Shkodra in northern Albania
Morning mood at the Koman reservoir in northern Albania

All major rivers in Albania flow into the Adriatic. At 282 kilometers in length, the Drin is the longest river in the country. The Black Drin rises from Lake Ohrid . At the northern Albanian Kukës he unites with the White Drin from Kosovo . The (United) Drin then flows in a westerly direction through several large reservoirs and flows into the Buna at Shkodra . The other larger Albanian rivers Mat , Shkumbin , Seman with Devoll and Vjosa (in their name from north to south) flow more or less directly to the west of the Adriatic, all of which break through different mountain ranges. The short Buna drains Lake Shkodra into the Adriatic Sea and in some parts forms the border with Montenegro.


Climate diagram of the capital Tirana

In Albania there is a subtropical- Mediterranean winter rainy climate ( Mediterranean climate ) with an annual average temperature of 16 ° C and an annual rainfall of almost 1200 millimeters.

Two summer months are arid in Tirana . In the northern and eastern mountain regions, the winters are harsh; even in summer it can get quite cool there. In winter, many places in these areas are cut off from the outside world for months because of snow. In the south of the Ionian Sea, the climate is much milder. In the coastal regions, rainfall is high in winter. Almost 300 days of sunshine are recorded annually in Saranda .


The capital Tirana recorded a population growth of over 100% between 1991 and 2001. Pictured: aerial view of Tirana with the suburb of Kamza (2008)

Cities have existed in Albania for over 2600 years. One of the oldest is Durrës , founded in 627 BC. A small majority of the population (54%) now live in cities. The largest are in the western coastal lowlands. They have grown rapidly since the last decade of the 20th century, while smaller towns lost inhabitants. Tirana in particular has expanded far into the surrounding area due to the strong rural exodus in the 1990s and today forms a metropolitan region together with suburbs and Durrës .

rank city Population
01. Tirana
02. Durres 175.110 Durres
03. Elbasan 141.714 Elbasan
04th Shkodra 135,612 Shkodra
05. Fier 120,655 Fier
06th Vlora 104,827 Vlora
07th Kamza 104,190 Tirana
08th. Lushnja 83,659 Fier
09. Korça 75,994 Korça
010. Lezha 65,633 Lezha

nature and environment

Albania is rich in biodiversity while struggling with a number of environmental problems, including overgrazing , illegal logging , poaching in fishing and hunting, and overfishing . In 2002, 3.6% of the country's area was placed under protection; in 2010 it was 9.9%. Albania has shares in the European Green Belt and is located in the Blue Heart of Europe .

Flora and fauna

The country is located in a species-rich region that has many plant species. The Albanian flora counts over 3221 species. Of these, 489 are endemic to the Balkan Peninsula , and 40 species are found only in Albania. Palm , orange and lemon trees grow in the lowlands . The river valleys, which are deeply carved into the mountains, are lined with walnut and almond trees. Fir , spruce , oak , beech and maple trees thrive in the forests in the north . Oak forests in particular are typical and form a fifth of the Albanian forests. In the warmer south and in the coastal plains, mainly pine , linden and olive trees grow . Macchie are up to a height of 800  m above sea level. A. widespread next to eucalyptus , fig and laurel trees .

The golden eagle (Albanian Shqiponja ) - a symbol of Albania

With many undeveloped areas, the country is home to a wide variety of rare species of birds and other animals that have disappeared elsewhere in the region. Wolves live in the remote mountain areas , the last of the endangered Balkan lynx and foxes ; Deer , feral domestic goats and wild boars are also common. The number of brown bears is said to have decimated sharply at the end of the 1990s. In addition, Albania has more than 350 native bird species. These include eagles , falcons and kites , among others . The large wetlands on the coast, especially the lagoons of Karavasta , Narta and Butrint as well as inland lakes are important stops for many migratory birds . There are around 260 salt and freshwater fish species as well as green turtles and hawksbill turtles in Albanian waters .

In the 25 years after the collapse of the communist regime, a decline in biodiversity has been noted in Albania . Two plant and four mammal species are extinct. A population decline of more than half was documented for 27 mammal species, 89 bird species, six fish species and four plant species. In order to protect endangered wildlife, the government imposed a hunting ban for two years in early 2014. In 2016 the hunting ban was extended until 2021. A ten-year deforestation ban was also issued in February 2016. According to the Tirana magazine Exit , however, the deforestation ban has no effect, because newly cleared areas are automatically classified as "agricultural areas" in the zoning plan.

National parks

In the northern Albanian Alps near Theth : the mountain peaks Radohima and Arapi

There are 14 national parks in Albania , which cover around 6.9% of the national territory, and the Karaburun-Sazan marine protection zone . The largest are the Hotova-Dangell National Park , the Shebenik-Jablanica National Park and the Dajti National Park . The parks are retreats for numerous plants and animals and are home to untouched landscapes. However, there is a lack of practical and effective protection of the areas. Individual national parks are popular tourist destinations.

environmental pollution

In 2004 Albania was the most polluted country in Europe. Emissions and contaminated sites pollute bodies of water, groundwater, soil and the air, especially in densely populated regions.

This is sometimes caused by inadequate waste disposal , including widespread incineration of all types of garbage and wild garbage dumps , and the sale of low-quality fuels. In 2013 there were only two landfills that met EU standards. Much waste is disposed of on river banks or in fields. Nevertheless, garbage is imported. In 2011, the then Berisha government allowed garbage imports , and in 2013 the new Rama government repealed the relevant law. In the summer of 2016, the law was unexpectedly re-enacted. In addition, the new garbage import law is much more permissive than the original law from 2011.

Many of the cars operated in Albania have diesel engines . Like the trucks, many of them are old and poorly maintained. Most of the vehicles were imported as used cars .

In 2014 the Ministry of the Environment published a comprehensive report on the state of the environment in Albania. He states that progress has been made in some areas while there is still much room for improvement in other areas.

  • Air pollution
    While the values ​​of sulfur dioxide , ozone and nitrogen dioxide at all seven measuring stations were below the permitted values ​​of the EU , the average annual values for fine dust were sometimes questionable (the annual average value approved in the EU is 40 μg / m³):
    • Tirana (southern city center at the National Environment Agency): 65 μg / m³
    • Tirana (eastern city center at the Ministry of the Environment): 45 μg / m³
    • Durrës: 15 µg / m³
    • Shkodra: 22 µg / m³
    • Elbasan: 47 µg / m³
    • Vlora: 15 µg / m³
    • Korça: 38 µg / m³
  • Noise pollution
    The Albanian cities have an above-average noise pollution. The average maximum values ​​in Tirana were measured at the Rruga e Elbasanit with 74.3 dB during the day and at the University Hospital Mother Teresa with 63.3 dB at night. The noise pollution in the capital has decreased at almost all measuring stations since 2007. The approved values ​​of the EU are 55 dB for the day and 45 dB for the night. The following values ​​were measured in 2014:
    • Tirana: 67.9 dB (day), 57.3 dB (night)
    • Fier: 60.9 dB, 48.5 dB
    • Vlora: 62.2 dB, 50.4 dB
    • Saranda: 62.3 dB, 46.1 dB
    • Korça: 61.9 dB, 43 dB
  • Water pollution
    Measurements from 2014 confirmed the values ​​of recent years: Water pollution is highest in urban rivers in particular, i.e. in the Lana , Ishëm , Tirana River and Gjanica . All of these rivers exceeded the EU approved levels of phosphorus and ammonium . Of the larger rivers, only the Mat and the Vjosa have good to very good water values. The Ishëm, Erzen , Seman , Drin and Buna river systems are in poor condition. The Shkumbin has moderately negative water values. In addition, the water quality of most sections of the beach near Kavaja and Durrës is very low.
  • Garbage
    disposal Albania has made great strides in garbage disposal. As of 2014, there were five official landfills (Tirana, Shkodra, Saranda, Rrëshen and Bajram Curr ), and another at Korça was being set up.


Data on the population of Albania (2017 estimate)

Development of the population of Albania between 1960 and 2010
Total population 3,047,987
Population density 104.17 inhabitants / km² (2011)
growth of population 0.31%
Median age (total population)
- men
- women
32.9 years
31.6 years
34.3 years
Age structure
- 0-14 years
- 15-64 years
- from 65 years

Proportion of men in the total population
- At birth
- Under 15 years
- 15–64 years
- from 65 years
1.120 men / women
1.076 men / women
0.914 men / women
0.969 men / women
0.880 men / women
Proportion of urban population 60.3% (2018)
Sources: CIA World Factbook and UN


Population figures (2012-2018: estimates)
year number
2020 2,845,955
2018 2,870,324
2015 2,893,005
2012 2,815,749
2011 2,800,138
2001 3,069,275
1989 3,182,400
1979 2,590,600
1969 2,068,200
1960 1,626,300
1950 1,218,900
1945 1,122,000
1930 833,600
1923 814,400

The population is now declining after a sharp increase in the 20th century. According to the census carried out in October 2011, Albania had 2,800,138 inhabitants. This corresponds to a decrease in the population of over eight percent in the years 2001 to 2011. This trend - caused by emigration and, more recently, also by low birth rates - continued after 2011. In 2011, for the first time in the history of the country, only a minority of the population (46.5%) lived in rural areas.

The Interior Ministry stated in December 2015 that more than 4.4 million people were registered in Albania's civil status registers. But a very large part of that live abroad.

Even if a process of urbanization and industrialization began during the communist era , the great majority of Albanians still lived in the country before 1990. This shapes the mentality of many people in the cities to this day, because if they did not first move to the city, it was their parents, and in any case they have close relatives who still make a living from small-scale farming. A traditional bourgeoisie has always been very rare in Albania. Modern bourgeois culture existed only in Shkodra , Korça , Durrës , Berat and Gjirokastra at the beginning of the 20th century . In the twenties the new capital Tirana was added. The communists rejected the bourgeois self-confidence of these cities and largely destroyed the bourgeois cultural achievements after 1945.

Population pyramid Albania 2016: Albania is aging, but still has one of the youngest populations in Europe

The time after the turnaround of 1990 brought major demographic shifts. On the one hand, hundreds of thousands of Albanians emigrated legally or illegally to Italy, Greece, other EU countries and North America ; on the other hand, there was a large internal migration , a rural exodus from the mountains and rural areas to the urban centers. In 2004 the Albanian government put the number of emigrants at one million people in less than 15 years. Despite emigration, the capital Tirana and the port city of Durrës , for example, recorded an enormous increase in internal migration: Tirana grew from 250,000 inhabitants in 1990 to over 600,000 inhabitants today. The Qarks of Tirana and Durrës are the only ones in the country to show growth; 42% of the population now live in this metropolitan area. The country and not a few small towns, on the other hand, are literally deserted. Numerous villages in the mountains and in the south have already been abandoned.

Before 1990 the Albanians had the highest birth rate in Europe (contraceptives were banned), but in 2018 it fell below the European average of one and a half children per woman at 1.37 children per woman. In the capital Tirana it is only one child per woman, which is probably the lowest value among larger European cities. This circumstance and the ongoing emigration cause a rapid aging of the Albanian population, which is not yet felt too strongly in view of the strongly represented generation of 15 to 30 year olds. In the meantime, the average age of the population has risen to 35.3 years. In 2015, life expectancy was 77.7 years (men: 75.6 years, women: 79.9 years).


Religions and Minorities in Albania

Albania has ethnically seen a relatively uniform population. According to the 2011 census, the Albanians represent the largest ethnic group with 82.58% of the population .

In this census, 13.96% of the population gave no answer regarding their ethnicity for various reasons. Another 1.58% gave an invalid answer. Because of this large proportion of refused statements, which are mostly based on calls for boycotts by minority organizations, these figures do not allow “to gain a clear and credible picture of the ethnic composition of the population of Albania” ( Dhimitër Doka : Albanische Hefte).

According to the answers given to the census, the Greeks are the largest minority with a share of 0.87%; they mainly settle in the south of the country. With 0.3% each, the Roma and the Aromanians are represented in the population. Its members live all over the country, but are mostly concentrated in the larger cities or in the southern half of Albania. This is followed by the Macedonians with 0.2% , who settle in some villages along the state border with North Macedonia. 0.12% of the population describe themselves as " Balkan Egyptians ". This ethnic group, which can be distinguished from the Roma, is found mainly in the big cities. The Montenegrins make up a relatively small minority with 0.01% . Their settlement areas are in northwestern Albania and border on Montenegro . In addition, there are other ethnic groups in the country, which together make up 0.09% of the population.

In 2017, 1.8% of the population was born abroad.


The Albanians are divided into two major dialect and cultural groups, the Gegen and Tosken . While the Tosks in the southern half of the country were much more strongly influenced by the oriental-urban culture of the Ottoman Empire, an archaic tribal culture dominated the lives of the people in the Gegish north until the 20th century. Exceptions were the important northern Albanian city of Shkodra , which was ruled by the Venetians for a long time until the 15th century ; There, Catholicism and the connections to Italy later shaped the mentality of the residents, as did Durrës , who was also strongly Ottoman in character, but had constant connections to Italy.

Since the 1990s it has been observed that more and more people in the south of Albania profess to be Greek and exchange their Muslim name for a Christian or Greek one. They mostly hope to get a visa for Greece.


The Greeks , despite a strong economically motivated emigration movement to Greece is still the most numerous minority in Albania. Their proportion of the population is controversial: for the years 1991 and 1992, independent sources assumed that there were just over 100,000 Greeks in Albania. In Greece a multiple of this was given, while Tirana officially counted 58,758 Greeks in 1989. Around 40 to 70 percent of Greeks have emigrated from Albania since then, so the number is likely to be much lower today. Many villages, formerly mainly inhabited by Greeks, are now orphaned or only inhabited by elderly people. Greece has long paid pensions to retirees of Greek descent in Albania to counteract migration.

The 2011 census showed that 24,243 Greeks live in Albania, which is 0.87 percent of the population; 15,196 gave Greek as their mother tongue. However, the organization Democratic League of the Greek Minority (Omonia) boycotted the census and declared that it would not accept the result on their population.

Greeks live primarily in the southern Albanian communities of Delvina , Finiq , Dropull , Kolonja , Korça , Këlcyra , Konispol and Himara as well as in the village of Narta . They were officially recognized as an ethnic group as early as the communist times. In the 1990s there were repeated tensions between Greece and Albania around the respective minority issues (see also: Çamen ). These problems have largely been resolved today. In Himara in particular, however, there are always political tensions between politicians of Greek origin and Albanian authorities.


The Aromanians (subgroup of the Wallachians ) live in smaller groups all over southern Albania. Settlements with a significant Aromanian population are mainly Korça , where they have their own large Orthodox church, and the nearby Voskopoja , the center of the Aromanians until the 18th century. Some of them also live in Tirana and Elbasan. In early 1999, Aromanians established cultural associations that organized artistic events and published books on the culture and history of the Aromanians. There is no reliable information about their total number; they vary between 10,000 and 100,000. The 2011 census found the Aromanians as the ethnic group of 8,266 people, or 0.30 percent of the population; 3848 people had Aromanian as their mother tongue.

Slavic Macedonians

Bilingual street sign in Pustec

In the 2011 census, 5512 people, or 0.20 percent of the population, declared themselves to be ethnic Macedonians . Of them, 4443 said Macedonian was their mother tongue. According to the 1989 census, there were 4697 Slavic Macedonians in Albania.

The majority of them settle in the municipality of Pustec (Alb. Liqenas) on Lake Prespa . Almost all of the more than 4,000 inhabitants of the municipality are Macedonians. They have their own schools; Among other things, there is the only Macedonian-speaking grammar school in Albania in the main town . There are smaller Slavic groups in the vicinity of Korça , near Pogradec , in the central Albanian city of Elbasan , in Tirana and in some villages between Peshkopia and Maqellara near the border triangle with Kosovo and North Macedonia. Today there are fewer than 20,000 North Macedonians in Albania.

Roma and Balkan Egyptians

Roma settlement in Shkodra

In the 2011 census, 8,301 people, or 0.30 percent of the population, declared themselves to be Roma ; 4025 have Romani as their mother tongue. However, it is estimated that between 30,000 and 150,000 of them live in Albania, which corresponds to around four percent of the population.

They live scattered across the country. In central Albania there are Roma who are traditionally settled. Many have houses, but are often out and about as traders, others are not settled down at all. During communism, everyone was forced to settle down, register, and take jobs. The majority of this ethnic group live in poverty.

In addition to the Roma, there are also the Albanian-speaking Balkan Egyptians who do not see themselves as part of Roma society. However, these are Albanian Roma. Their size was recorded in 2011 with 3368 people (0.12 percent of the population). This ethnic group also lives in poor social conditions and is severely affected by poverty. The Egyptian embassy in Tirana does not recognize the ethnic groups as a minority. The Balkan Egyptians are particularly to be found in Kavaja, Lushnja, Cërrik , Elbasan, Gjirokastra, Vlora, Korça, Delvina, Përmet, Këlcyra, Berat, Shkodra and other smaller towns.

After an attack by strangers on Roma settlements in the capital in February 2011, the ambassadors of the EU, USA and OSCE reacted with sharp criticism. They called on the Albanian authorities to stop the discrimination against this population group and to respect and guarantee the minority rights of the Roma population. If the country wants to join the EU, this problem must be resolved with the highest priority in the future. In the incident, around 120 Roma were displaced and their barracks burned.


See also: Bosniaks in Albania

Also Bosniaks , accounting for approximately 10,000 families a small minority in the country. Around 3000 of them live in the region between Durrës and Tirana, more precisely in the towns of Boraka and Shijak . Overall, they were able to maintain their identity and language. The 2011 census did not show them separately.

Serbs, Montenegrins, Gorans

Smaller groups of Serbs and Montenegrins have lived in the region north of Shkodra since the first millennium AD. The exact number is unknown; it should not exceed a few hundred. Assimilation had already reduced it to a few thousand in the interwar period. Nevertheless, by the mid-1930s there were still half a dozen church elementary schools that taught in Serbian. The Albanian government refused to recognize the small Slavic minorities for decades and continued the policy of assimilation after the Second World War. It was only in 2004 that the Albanian government officially recognized the existence of Montenegrin and Serb minorities.

A Serbian school for 60 children was opened in the village of Hamil in Fier County in 2014. From the Serbian side, the size of the minority was given on this occasion as 20,000 people. In the 2011 referendum, 366 people identified themselves as Montenegrins, and 66 said Serbo-Croatian was their mother tongue.


The representatives of the four largest religions in Albania during the funeral march in honor of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 (from left to right):
Ylli Gurra ( Mufti of the Muslim Community of Tirana ),
Andoni Merdani ( Orthodox Bishop of Korça ),
Edmond Brahimaj ( Chairman of the Bektashi Order)
and Lucjan Avgustini ( Catholic Bishop of Sapa )

According to the constitution adopted in 1998, the state of Albania now regards itself as a “ secular republic”. The 2011 census determined the following religious affiliations: 56.70% Muslim , 2.09% of them Bektashi . The 16.92% of Christians were divided into: 10.03% Roman Catholic , 6.75% Albanian Orthodox and 0.14% Protestant / Evangelical . 13.79% of the population did not answer, 5.49% were believers who do not belong to any religious community and 2.5% were atheistic .

Before the Second World War , around 70% of the population professed Islam ( main article: Islam in Albania ). Most of them were Sunni and almost a third were followers of the Bektashi order. Almost 20% of the population were Orthodox Christians , to which practically all ethnic minorities belong. About 10% belonged to the Roman Catholic Church ( main article: Roman Catholic Church in Albania ).

On November 13, 1967, the communists declared Albania an "atheist state" and forbade any practice of religion. In December 1990 the religious ban was lifted. As before, the majority of Albanians have not made an official confession, but in accordance with the religious tradition of the family they feel they belong to a religious community. The Catholic Church reorganized itself after 1990, mainly with Italian help. Religious communities that were previously unknown in Albania, such as Protestant churches, also came to Albania. The Albanian Orthodox Church lacked the support of a large organization abroad. Islam received much support from Arabia and Turkey , and numerous mosques were built. Extremist tendencies could not gain a foothold, organized religion plays a minor role (as of 2003).

There are Muslims throughout most of the country, with the exception of a few mountain regions. Catholics live mainly in northwest Albania, for example in the region around Lezha , in the Mirdita , in the Malësia e Madhe as well as in the city of Shkodra and the associated mountainous region. In the south it is particularly the settlement areas of the ethnic minorities in which Orthodoxy has more adherents; these include the communities of Saranda , Finiq , Delvina , Dropull and Himara (Greeks) as well as the villages of Pustec (Macedonians) and Voskopoja (Aromanians).

As in the times before the ban on religion, mutual acceptance and tolerance among adherents of the long-established religions is high. Sometimes religious festivals are celebrated together and religious sites of other communities are visited. Marriages between Christians and Muslims were not a problem for either side even in the times of socialism and are still common in Albania.

According to the 2011 census, there were hardly any Jews in Albania . The original small Jewish community had 204 members before World War II . During the war, the number is estimated to have risen to between 800 and 2000. None of the Jews seeking refuge in the country were deported. They were protected by Albanians who took them in and hid them. The escaped Jews left the country again after the war. At the beginning of the 1990s - after the end of the communist regime - the remaining Jews emigrated to Israel .


The only official language is Albanian , the standard variety is a Tuscan dialect. According to the 2011 census, 98.767% of the population speak Albanian as their first language.

In Pustec in Eastern Albania, Macedonian has an official status. In some communities with a large Greek minority, Greek schooling is provided as long as there are enough students, and Greek can also be communicated with the local authorities. The University of Gjirokastra offers courses in Greek. Villages with a Greek majority are marked in two languages.

Many Albanians are multilingual . By far the most widely used foreign language is Italian . Italian-language media such as television and radio are widespread and popular throughout Albania. The most widely taught foreign languages ​​in universities are English and French . Even Greek is spoken by many Albanians.

From the 1950s to the late 1980s, Russian was taught in schools and universities , as it was then the lingua franca of the Eastern Bloc countries . Albania is also a full member of the Francophonie . French lyceums in Korça and Gjirokastra were also operated during the communist era, as head of state Enver Hoxha had studied at the University of Montpellier . After Albania sided with the People's Republic in the wake of the ideological controversies between the Soviet Union and China , numerous Albanians began to study in China and learned Chinese there .


The University of Tirana , founded in 1957, is the most important educational institution in Albania

The education system in Albania has undergone some reforms and restructuring in recent years. In 2008, compulsory schooling was increased from eight to nine years, the number of students roughly doubled, the higher education system was liberalized, the enrollment rate increased enormously, and government spending on education was also increased.

3952 educational institutions were registered for the 2012/2013 school year. 1911 of these were kindergartens, 1472 elementary schools, 511 middle schools and 58 colleges or universities. With the exception of the basic level, the number of institutions has increased. The university level grew the most. While there were 26 universities nationwide in 2008/2009 (15 of them private), there were exactly 58 in 2012/2013 (44 of them private). The increase in the number of educational institutions is due to the fact that the distribution of pupils and students has changed in recent years. While the number of primary school students decreased by 67,049 from 2008/2009 to 2012/2013, the number of students increased by more than 185 percent in the same period, i.e. almost doubled.

The decline in the number of students, teachers and schools continued after 2012/2013. In 2016/2017 there were still 1370 primary schools, 24,866 teachers (2012/2013: 25,363) and approx. 328,000 pupils (2012/2013: approx. 391,000). According to Instituti i Statistikës, the reasons for this are, on the one hand, the extremely low birth rate and, on the other hand, the resurgence of emigration.

Albania achieved great success with the school enrollment rate. In 2008/2009 68.1% of the children started school, after only four years this was already 90.3%. The government also increased the share of spending on education from 10.8% in 2008 to 13.3% in 2012.

The literacy rate was 97.6% in 2015.


Ancient ruins of Butrint

The first traces of human settlement on the territory of today's Albania point to the time 100,000 years ago. Around 1000 BC The Illyrians settled in the Western Balkans . Some empires could be founded by individual tribes, such as the empire of the Labeaten , which lasted from about 380 to 168 BC. Existed. Residential cities were Skodra (Shkodra) and Rhizon (Risan). After the Illyrian Wars , the western Balkans came at the end of the 3rd century BC. Under Roman influence, and the Romanization of the Illyrians began. With the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, today's Albania came under Byzantine rule . In 591 the Slavs invaded the area from the north, followed by looting throughout the Balkans. Between 880 and 1018, central and southern Albania were part of the Bulgarian Empire . In 1081 the Normans invaded Albania, which was under Byzantine rule .

After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire as a result of the Fourth Crusade (1204), rule over the areas of today's Albania changed in quick succession. In addition to foreign powers such as Naples, Serbia and Venice, local aristocrats were also able to establish their own principalities. The rule of the Serbian King Stefan Dušan was followed by the principality of Karl Thopia (1359 to 1388) in central Albania , and around the same time, from 1360 to 1421, the Balšić ruled with their principality in northern Albania and Montenegro.

National hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg - statue in the capital

1443–1468, the Prince of Kruja, Skanderbeg , successfully fought against the Ottomans. After his death, however, the Albanians and their allies were defeated, and from the end of the 15th century the whole country was part of the Ottoman Empire for more than four centuries . During this time, most of the Albanians converted to Islam.

In 1912, during the Balkan Wars , Albania became essentially independent within its present borders .

The German Wilhelm zu Wied was “ Prince of Albania ” for six months in 1914 , but he could hardly expand his influence beyond Durrës . Greeks proclaimed the state of " Northern Epirus " in the south and the country sank into chaos. During the First World War , Albania lost its independence and was occupied by the belligerent powers until 1919.

With the Lushnja Congress in 1920, Albania was able to create the first steps towards a new state organization. From 1919 to 1924 Albania was ruled by rapidly replacing governments. Under Fan Noli , the attempt to establish a democratic republic failed. 1925–1939 was followed by a phase of authoritarian rule by Ahmet Zogu , who proclaimed himself King of Albania in 1928 . Albania became increasingly dependent on fascist Italy , which Mussolini bought in the First and Second Tirana Pacts and culminated in the annexation of the country by Italy in April 1939 . During World War II , Albania was occupied by Italy until Italy surrendered in September 1943, then by Nazi Germany until November 1944 .

Enver Hoxha in 1971

Until 1944 Albanians waged a partisan war against the Italian and later German occupiers. These had also attached parts of Kosovo, North Macedonia and the Greek Epirus to the Albanian puppet state. In 1944 Albania was liberated from foreign fascist rule and the pre-war borders were restored. Enver Hoxha , the leader of the communist party , established a dictatorship. In the following four years Albania entered into an alliance with Tito's Yugoslavia . In July 1948, Hoxha broke with Yugoslavia and a phase of alliance with the Soviet Union began.

In 1949 Albania joined the Mutual Economic Assistance Council . In 1955 the country became a member of the Warsaw Pact , in the same year also a member of the UN . In 1961 there was a break with the Soviet Union and a subsequent alliance with the People's Republic of China .

In 1967 a total religious ban was issued. Albania was declared the "first atheist state in the world". A year later, Albania withdrew from Comecon and the Warsaw Pact and stayed on the Stalinist course. Fear of an enemy invasion, around 200,000 bunkers were built across the country . An alliance with the People's Republic of China existed for a few years, but the country became increasingly self-isolating. In 1985 Enver Hoxha died, Ramiz Alia was appointed as his successor . In 1990 the communist regime was overthrown and mass emigration of Albanians began.

The subsequent transformation process was initially slow and without great success. A great famine could only be avoided thanks to years of foreign aid ( Operation Pelikan ). The first free elections were held in 1991, and the Communist Party won. The country was accepted into the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Democrats under Sali Berisha took over the government in 1992 and initiated reforms. In 1995 Albania was admitted to the Council of Europe .

With the so-called lottery uprising in 1997, the state structures collapsed. This was followed by an OSCE peace and reconstruction mission. In 1998 a new constitution was adopted by referendum. In 1999, the Kosovo war took in tens of thousands of refugees. In 2006 Albania signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. On April 1, 2009, the country joined NATO . At the end of 2010, the European Union relaxed the visa regulations for Albanian citizens, who from now on only have to show a biometric passport in order to be allowed to enter the Schengen area . Albania has been an official candidate for membership of the European Union since June 24, 2014 . On June 26, 2018, the EU agreed to start accession negotiations.

On April 30, 2015, the parliament decided to open the archives of the communist secret police Sigurimi . A five-member committee decides on access for previously monitored persons, institutions and those who had cooperated, and issues clearance certificates for those who want to run for elections or work in the civil service.

State and politics

List of presidents
since the fall of the dictatorship
with party affiliation before the election
List of prime ministers
since the fall of the dictatorship


Albania is a parliamentary republic . The legislature is the Kuvendi i Shqipërisë , whose 140 members are elected every four years. The head of state is the president , who is elected by parliament for a period of five years . The government responsible to parliament is led by the prime minister. In 2000, Albania set up a constitutional court based on the German model, which has proven to be a stabilizing factor in recent political crises. The current constitution was adopted by referendum on November 28, 1998.


Active and passive women's suffrage was introduced in Albania in 1920. In communist Albania only one party was to contest admitted. In 1991 the first free multi-party elections were held. All subsequent polls up to 2009 were marked by irregularities.

In the meantime, there are seldom mistakes in the vote count. International election observers, however, continue to criticize the organization of the elections: the processes are inadequately known, and the electoral roll is still debated before every election. In the local elections in February 2007, there were legislative changes in the electoral law within the month before the polls. The election date was only set after a long dispute. The 2013 parliamentary election, on the other hand, was the first election without major irregularities, and for the first time the loser admitted his defeat. Albania has received international praise for this.

In the parliamentary elections on July 3, 2005, the formerly opposition Democratic Party (PD) led by ex-President Sali Berisha won without achieving an absolute majority in parliament . Due to numerous objections and the need to repeat the polls in three constituencies, the official result could not be published until the beginning of September. Berisha subsequently became the new Prime Minister of Albania . In the local elections on February 18, 2007, the Democratic Party suffered a defeat.

On June 28, 2009 parliamentary elections took place again, in which the center-right coalition led by Berisha's Democratic Party won 70 of the 140 seats. The coalition under the Socialist Party (PS) with Edi Rama as chairman received 45.34% of the vote and received 66 seats. The election was declared correct by observers from the European Union , which was an important step in Albania's European integration. However, the Socialist Party accused the government of fraudulent elections, which created a long and serious political crisis . The opposition socialists boycotted parliamentary sessions for a while, went on a major hunger strike and organized violent protests that resulted in deaths.

In the local elections in 2011 , the Democratic Party under Sali Berisha was the winner. Among other things, she won the mayoral and city council elections in the capital Tirana, where Edi Rama (PS) has ruled since 2000.

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections in 2013 , the socialist LSI left the ruling coalition with the Democrats that had been formed since 2009 in order to join the Socialists. The winner was the coalition led by the socialists with the top candidate Edi Rama , who is now the prime minister.


Politics is determined by the two major parties, the Democratic Party of Albania (PD) and the Socialist Party of Albania (PS) . The PD emerged from the anti-communist student movement in 1990, while the PS is the successor party to the Labor Party of Albania , which ruled the country in a socialist manner for almost half a century and under its chairman Enver Hoxha dictatorially . In order to obtain an absolute majority in parliament, they are usually dependent on coalition partners , with individual parties in the middle spectrum already participating in democratic and socialist governments.

The political parties - with the exception of the Christian Democratic Party - do not represent any religion. The Democrats have gegischen northern Albania a supremacy, while the Socialists their followers mainly in Tosk have south. The Greek and Macedonian minorities have formed the Association for Human Rights (PBDNJ) party . Many other small parties emerged as splintering offs from the big two parties.

Parties represented in parliament (according to the number of their representatives)

Political indices

Political indices
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 58.8 of 120 119 of 178 Stability of the country: stable
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 6.08 out of 10 71 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 67 of 100 - Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 30.59 out of 100 83 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 36 of 100 104 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Human rights and democracy

Since 1993 Albania has had a law with fundamental freedoms and human rights . However, according to Amnesty International estimates in 2013, domestic violence against women remains widespread. The situation is bad for young orphans who run the risk of becoming homeless after leaving state welfare institutions . The Albanian police are charged with torture and ill-treatment by some police officers. The length of pre-trial detention is often excessively long and there is no guarantee that detainees will receive legal and medical help in good time. Discrimination against Roma families is also still a problem.

Foreign policy

Albania's foreign policy has changed significantly after the fall of the communist dictatorship in 1990/91. The country is no longer an "isolated island" on the map of Europe, but a member of many international organizations and is striving for integration into European-Atlantic structures. In February 2006, the first important milestone in this direction was set with the conclusion of a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union . It joined NATO on April 1, 2009 , and on the 28th of the same month the country submitted an application for membership of the European Union. On December 15, 2010, Albanian citizens were exempted from the visa requirement. With a biometric passport you can enter all EU countries except Ireland and Great Britain and the “ Schengen ” countries Switzerland, Norway and Iceland without any obstacles . On June 24, 2014 Albania became an official candidate for accession to the European Union. In 2020 Albania chaired the OSCE . Albania has been discussing a common economic area with Serbia and North Macedonia since 2019, which is to become a reality as the Open Balkans from 2023 .

Important memberships in international organizations
organization Join date
United Nations December 14, 1955
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe June 19, 1991
IMF October 15, 1991
World bank October 15, 1991
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development December 18, 1991
Black Sea Economic Cooperation June 25, 1992
Organization for Islamic Cooperation 2nd December 1992
Council of Europe July 10, 1995
World trade organization September 8, 2000
Central European Free Trade Agreement January 1, 2007
NATO April 1, 2009
Open Balkans July 29, 2021

See also: Ambassador to China , Ambassador to Germany , Ambassador to the Holy See , Ambassador to Russia , Ambassador to the United States



Coast Guard patrol boat Iliria

The Republic of Albania has had its own army since 1912. It initially consisted of active armed forces, reservists or volunteers and the gendarmerie. The army at that time comprised a total of 12,000 men. In 1913 the Dutch armed forces supported the Albanian gendarmerie in their restructuring. In the following years, the Albanian armed forces were divided into the components of the army , the air force and the navy that still exist today .

In 1939 the Albanian state and thus also the Albanian armed forces were dissolved in the course of the Second World War and the Italian-fascist occupation . At the same time, however, various resistance movements emerged in the country, of which that of the communists under Enver Hoxha - the later dictator - was the most powerful and popular. At the end of the war in November 1944, the communist partisans comprised around 70,000 men, which at that time corresponded to seven percent of the population of Albania.

After the liberation of Albania, the army in the Socialist People's Republic of Albania was re-established in July 1945 and had around 40,000 men, but its number was reduced to 35,000 by December of the same year and again to 27,000 active soldiers by 1948.

From 1950 to 1968 Albania was a member of the Warsaw Pact , so that it was supplied with weapons and technical equipment by the Soviet Union . At this time, regular military exercises took place with the armed forces of the other communist states, of which the one in 1950 was the largest.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the armed forces were gradually expanded. At the end of communist rule they comprised 61,000 active soldiers, 260,000 reservists and a large number of “volunteers”.

After the fall of the communist dictatorship in 1990/1991, Albania, like many other communist states, embarked on a new path and increasingly oriented itself towards the West. This culminated in 1992 when the government wanted to become a member of NATO one day. However, the armed forces were in very poor shape at this early stage of democratization. After the lottery uprising in 1997, they even showed signs of disintegration. For this reason, the government started a ten-year reform program in 2001 to bring the armed forces up to date with the latest technology and to train them professionally. In 2009 Albania became a member of NATO. In 2010 the army consisted of 14,500 active soldiers and 5,000 reservists, but only 7,000 active soldiers were drafted. In 2010, compulsory military service was abolished and Albania has had a professional army since then . The defense budget in 2016 was 1.23% of GDP .

Police, Justice and Crime

The Policia e Shtetit is the state police under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. In mid-2017, 10,958 people were employed in all areas of the Albanian police. In 2013 the Rama government initiated a process of modernization of the Albanian police, which ended in 2017. Among other things, the police were equipped with new transport and patrol cars. Each policeman was also given a body camera in order to be able to analyze the operations better later. New uniforms have been created for all departments and the logo has also been changed. At the same time, various police operations took place in order to restore the population's trust in the police. The encirclement of Lazarat , which had not been controlled by the Albanian state until then , made headlines around the world in June 2014 . During that operation, Albanian drug investigators destroyed thousands of cannabis plants and arrested several people.

Part of the Albanian police are also the special forces of the RENEA and the Garda Republicans for security and property protection tasks.

The fight against crime varies from government period to government period. However, since the country became an official candidate for membership of the European Union, expectations of the international community have increased, especially with regard to efforts to combat organized crime. For example, the US ambassador to Albania, Donald Lu , spoke on October 2, 2017 of four larger clans in the country which control 20 families in a wide range of criminal activities. As long as the country does not catch a "big fish," drug trafficking will be strong, judges and lawyers will be bribed, and government officials will be corrupt, Lu said.

Development of the crime figures in Albania between 2005 and 2014
year Murders House burglary,
car theft
Assaults, child abduction,
robbery, rape
2005 154 199 165
2006 095 164 246
2007 105 123 219
2008 093 144 363
2009 085 169 379
2010 127 231 178
2011 142 265 169
2012 157 322 156
2013 124 365 163
2014 117 295 132

Administrative structure

Map of Albania with the 12 Qarks and the 61 municipalities

The territory of the Republic of Albania is divided into 12 Qarqe (singular: Qark ; also called prefectures ), which in turn are divided into 308 rural and 65 urban communities . A Qark is also divided into two to four districts , which today, however, no longer have any tasks and have basically been abolished by law. The capital Tirana has a special status. After the local elections in 2015 , Albania will now be divided into 61 Bashkia, the municipality form of the Komuna will be abolished, and Tirana will no longer have a special status.

Although these two levels of administration are assigned certain specific tasks of self-government , the country is still strongly centralized from the capital. The government appoints a prefect for each individual qark who oversees the qark and community councils on site. He also performs certain local administrative tasks that are not delegated to the local authorities.


Typical retail trade in the
Korça market
inflation rate
year rate
1998 8.7%
1999 −1.0%
2000 4.2%
2001 3.5%
2002 1.7%
2003 3.3%
2004 2.2%
2005 2.0%
2006 2.5%
2007 2.9%
2008 3.4%
2009 2.2%

Albania is in a process of transformation from the formerly socialist planned economy to a modern, open market economy . After severe crises in the 1990s, the situation improved. Many state-owned companies have been privatized , the legal framework has been improved and inflation has been kept stable. The unemployment rate fell while the gross domestic product and salaries rose. The tourism sector brought increasing revenues and the infrastructure was improved. The economy grew from year to year. Even at the beginning of the financial crisis from 2007 , Albania, in contrast to most other European countries, still recorded economic growth. The number of people living below the poverty line has decreased. In 2008 a flat tax rate of 10 percent was introduced, one of the lowest in Europe.

But there are still serious structural problems in the country. The official unemployment rate in 2014 was 17.9%. The average wage (in the state sector) was 379 euros in the same year. Albania continued to be one of the poorest countries in Europe in 2017. In 2013, 14.3% of the population were considered poor.

One of the country's major problems is poor infrastructure. The main connecting axes have been renewed and expanded, but most of the transport routes in rural areas are still very poor. The water supply there is usually limited to a few hours a day, and power outages also occur regularly. Because of these economic problems in the countryside, many have left their villages and either moved to a city ( urbanization ) or emigrated abroad.

Structure of the gross domestic product
sector Share of the sector in GDP Proportion of employed persons
Agriculture 21.4% 58%
Industry 19.4% 15%
Services 59.2% 27%

The gross domestic product in 2015 was 10.3 billion euros. The gross domestic product per capita was 3,360 euros in the same year. Up until 2008, the gross domestic product rose rapidly, in some cases by well over 5% (real). The economic growth in the boom years was based on great activity in the construction industry, as well as in small businesses and services. Agriculture as well as industry and mining progressed somewhat more slowly due to the serious energy crisis that resulted in production losses. In the course of the European debt crisis, Albania's growth fell to 1.1% (2013). In 2014 economic growth was just under 2%, for 2015 growth is given as 2.7%. Inflation was around 1.8% in 2015.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Albania ranks 75th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). In the index for economic freedom, the country ranks 65th out of 180 countries in 2018.


In 2011, exports were $ 1.954 billion and imports were $ 5.076 billion. This resulted in a trade deficit of $ 3.122 billion (24.3% of GDP).

Important export trading partners in 2010 were Italy (48.8%), the People's Republic of China (8.4%), Turkey (6.7%), Greece (5.6%), Spain (5.4%) and India (4.9%). In 2010, goods were mainly imported from Italy (34.8%), Greece (12.9%), China (6.2%), Turkey (6.0%) and Germany (4.6%). Processed food, chrome , textiles, crude oil, asphalt and cotton are exported. The imported goods are mainly food, machinery, chemicals, textiles and other consumer goods.


Albanian change

The central bank Banka e Shqipërisë is responsible for monetary policy, issues the local currency Lek and exercises banking supervision . The former state-owned bank Banka e Kursimeve was acquired by the Austrian Raiffeisen International in 2004 and developed as Raiffeisen Bank Albania into the country's leading financial services provider. Certain financial services are also provided by the state postal company Posta Shqiptare .


Energy carrier (2010)
carrier consumption generation import export
Crude oil (barrel / day) 36,000  (2009) 5,400  (2009) 24,080  (2007) 749  (2005)
Natural gas (million m³ / year)  2008 30th 30th 0 0
Electricity (billion kWh / year) 3,603  2008 2,888  2008 2,475  2007 2007

After the shutdown of the Bulgarian nuclear power plant Kozloduy in December 2006, the already precarious energy supply in the country intensified: Albania, which generates 97% of electricity from hydropower, was dependent on imports from Bulgaria, especially because of the lack of rainfall over the years Electricity could be produced from hydropower. Regular, long-lasting power outages in the following years caused great economic damage.

The situation has improved significantly, primarily due to the expansion of hydropower. Most of the large hydropower plants on the Drin and Mat were renewed with Swiss and Austrian help. The power grids were also renovated and expanded. New dams are being planned or under construction in several locations. On Devoll in southern Albania, Devoll Hydropower built two large new hydropower plants in the 2010s, which significantly increased electricity production in the country. Of the more than 300 dam projects, however, many are highly controversial, such as the construction of the Vjosa .

raw materials

Oil refinery near Durrës

The country has numerous raw materials. Chromium is one of the most important raw materials in Albania. There are also larger deposits of nickel , copper , coal , gypsum , limestone , peat , basalt , sandstone and clay . For various reasons, however, many raw materials are rarely extracted.

Albania also has barely developed gas and oil reserves. It is estimated that there are gas reserves of 3.014 billion m³ and oil reserves of 2.987 billion barrels .


Herd of goats in the village of Vuno on the Albanian Riviera

As a traditional agricultural country , agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Albania. Almost 7000 km², around a quarter of the total area, can be used for agriculture. The climate is basically suitable for all types of agriculture and animal husbandry, the quality of the soil varies greatly depending on the region and location. Livestock farming dominates. Around half of the products in arable farming are used as fodder.

At 21.4%, agricultural activities make a significant contribution to GDP. In 2010, 55% of the working population were employed in agriculture. However, the majority only operate subsistence farming . Agricultural productivity is still low. The main problems are the lack of capital for investments in machinery and equipment as well as in maintaining or restoring soil fertility, inadequate irrigation systems, outdated production methods and a lack of access to markets. The strong fragmentation of the cultivated areas and unresolved ownership are further structural problems that will hold back the development of Albanian agriculture for a long time to come. The farms have an average size of just 1.05 hectares (2011). In addition, the ownership structure is still often unclear. Despite a radical decollectivization law from 1991, which provided for the distribution of the agriculturally used land to the farmers of the farms without taking into account the previous ownership, the formal land ownership papers are often missing.

In 2011 Albania exported agricultural goods worth just € 86 million, mostly fish, medicinal herbs and leather. In the same period, however, agricultural products worth € 607 million had to be imported. Niche markets such as the export of spices and medicinal plants still offer a lot of potential, although Albania is already one of the largest exporters of sage , rosemary , yellow gentian and other medicinal plants.


Berat - City of a Thousand Windows and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Untouched nature and varied landscapes ( ecosystem diversity ) characterize large parts of Albania. It is home to unique species of fauna and flora , which makes Albania one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe based on its size ( endemic ). With its diverse culture and Mediterranean climate, Albania has further prerequisites for the development of different types of tourism.

The number of tourists increases from year to year. In 2004, 588,000 overnight stays were registered. Around three quarters of the tourists come from Germany; Guests from abroad came mainly from neighboring countries. In 2016, 4.07 million foreigners visited the country. Most of the tourists still come from the neighboring countries Kosovo , North Macedonia , Montenegro , Greece and Italy . Tourism income increased from $ 480 million in 2002 to $ 740 million in 2004 . In 2016, they totaled approximately $ 1.69 billion. The tourism sector's contribution to GDP was 4.7% in 2005, an increase of 3% compared to the previous year. 11% of the working population worked in tourism in 2005, that is around 165,000 people.

Gjipe Bay, Albanian Riviera

An increase in the number of overnight stays is also expected in the future. The World Travel & Tourism Council predicts an annual real growth in tourism of 5.4% in the period from 2006 to 2015. Tourism is an essential part of the current Albanian government strategy for the economic development of the country. The basis for the further development of the sector is the national tourism development strategy including an action plan adopted by the Albanian government in 2004.

While in the past investments were made primarily in the construction and expansion of accommodation and in gastronomy, there is a lack of important investments, particularly in the area of ​​infrastructure. In order to be able to attract more wealthy tourists from abroad in the future, increased investments in the municipal infrastructure, the transport network and environmental protection as well as measures to improve the quality of services and the improvement of training are essential.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 3.55 billion , which was offset by revenues equivalent to US $ 3.20 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 2.8% of GDP .

The national debt was 71.5% of GDP in 2016.

In 2012, the share of government expenditure (in%) was in the following areas


Albania today is grappling with major structural problems that often stand in the way of the economy. The biggest are poverty, weak infrastructure, widespread corruption, the social problem of blood vengeance , money laundering, nepotism, buying offices and the like , which can be traced back to the so-called Kanun .

Western security authorities consider Albania to be the largest supplier of marijuana to Europe. For 2018, estimates of sales from the marijuana trade by Albanian gangs alone are estimated at four billion US dollars, which corresponds to about half of the gross domestic product. Added to this is its role as an important hub for international heroin and cocaine smuggling .


Road network

The traffic geography of Albania is mainly determined by the relief of the country. The roads essentially follow the river valleys , but at various points they also have to overcome high passes . The overriding importance of the capital is also reflected in the road network. Almost all national roads lead to Tirana.

Road construction on the SH1 towards the border with Montenegro

The first modern roads were built by the Italian occupiers between 1939 and 1942. This includes, for example, the Tirana– Elbasan route . The road network was hardly developed under communist rule. However, the demand was also kept artificially low, because privately owned vehicles were not permitted until 1990, and the country's weak economy also required relatively little transport capacity. The road conditions are still poor for the most part, but some important highways have been rehabilitated with funds from the Balkans Stability Pact . This includes the important central Albanian route through the Shkumbintal , which connects Elbasan with Pogradec , Korça and North Macedonia .

The Durrës – Kosovo motorway near Kalimash

The first motorway in Albania , the SH 2 ( Tirana - Durrës ), was expanded to four lanes in each direction shortly before Tirana, although it was not completed until 2000. The construction of a kilometer of motorway cost more than in Germany. The legally prescribed maximum speed on motorways is 120 km / h. Since autumn 2007 there has been another motorway connection as part of the SH 4 from Rrogozhina via Lushnja to Fier .

After the Pan-European Transport Corridor VIII , the west-east connection from Durrës, the largest port in the country, to the Macedonian border, as well as almost all routes of the north-south connection from Montenegro to Greece, had been well developed, the government gave priority the motorway 1 between Durrës and Pristina (border crossing Morina ). Between autumn 2006 and 2010 the connection corridor to Kosovo was built. In June 2009 the motorway was temporarily opened to traffic. This motorway runs through the partly alpine northern Albania. Because of this topography, it has a large number of engineering structures. The Kalimash tunnel on this route is the longest in the country at 5.65 km. The motorway is the largest and most expensive infrastructure project in Albania. Construction work on the route from Kukës to neighboring Kosovo began in mid-March 2010.


Typical composition with T 669 between Tirana and Durrës

All Albanian railway lines were built after the Second World War , often in “volunteer work” by the population and students. The railway company Hekurudha Shqiptare operated in 2016 only the lines Durrës - Kashar , Durrës - Elbasan - Librazhd, Durrës - Shkodra and Durrës - Fier . The route from Shkodra to Podgorica in neighboring Montenegro was only reopened for freight traffic . It is intended to use the EBRD to reopen the route from Durrës to Tirana with a new connection to the airport by 2019. The rail network had a total length of 346 kilometers in 2013, 101 kilometers less than in the mid-1990s. In the case of transported goods, the decrease in this period amounts to 75% and in 2013 was 151,000 tons. The number of passengers has decreased by over 90% in the last 20 years to 329,000 people in 2013. In 2016, operations had to be stopped again.


Port of Durrës , the largest port in the country

The port of Durrës on the Adriatic is the most important Albanian port. There are other smaller ports in Shëngjin , Vlora and Saranda . There are regular ferry connections from Durrës or Vlora to Brindisi , Bari , Ancona , Trieste and Venice in Italy. The southern Albanian Saranda can be reached from Corfu by ferry. The Albanian ports were renewed and expanded. Vlora and north of Durres were natural gas (- LPG ) and petroleum - terminal built.

The ports in Durrës, Shëngjin, Saranda and Vlora (especially the facilities on Sazan and the Pashaliman naval base ) are also used for military purposes .

Air travel

New terminal building at Tirana Airport

Tirana's airport is the only civil airport in Albania, named after Mother Teresa . It is located 17 kilometers northwest of the capital. The airport recorded 2,947,172 passengers, 2,249 tons of air freight and 25,426 flight movements (2018). It also offers a job to over 1,000 employees. In 2007 the operator at the time, a German-American consortium, was able to put new terminals for passengers and freight into operation, which were later expanded.

Albania currently has the two airlines Air Albania (state participation, under development in 2019) and Albawings . Airlines from various European countries have Tirana as their destination.

There are currently no regular flights to the new Kukës Airport . The construction costs for the ghost airport amounted to US $ 20 million. In addition, the operating air force the military airfield Kuçova and a heliport in Farka in Tirana.

In the mid-1920s, a domestic flight service was set up in Albania because there was no good transport network on the ground. In the meantime, flights have been made to eight Albanian cities from the Lapraka airfield on the outskirts of Tirana. Tirana was also connected with foreign cities. In addition to passengers, mail was also transported.


Bazaar (alb. Pazar ) with souvenir shops in Kruja

Albania has a multifaceted culture that has undergone extensive development since independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. Over the centuries, in relative isolation, it was largely able to maintain its independence. Nevertheless, in the western world it remained largely unknown to many ethnologists and anthropologists who had specialized in south-eastern Europe.

The Albanians in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro have a common culture that has experienced a rapid development since the fall of the Iron Curtain and is captured by the term Albanosphere as a common cultural area . Contrary to this change, there are still cultural differences between the Albanians from these states. For example, interfaith marriage is still rather rare in Kosovo, but in Albania it has become commonplace due to the communists' decades of religious bans. And while literature, art, sport, film and music are fairly advanced in Albania and Kosovo, in North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro they are rather in the early stages due to the (earlier) lack of urban centers and a pronounced civil society.

Folk culture

Albanian folk culture was mainly concentrated in those Albanian areas where the majority of the population was poor and not very educated, on rich folk costumes , folk dances and orally transmitted epics such as the songs of the border warriors and ballads such as Constantine and Doruntina . For orally transmitted cultural property may be the common-law legal codes, the various Kanun versions include.

Popular culture was cultivated and promoted under the communist government in particular, but it was also used for ideological purposes. Folklore festivals are held regularly across the country. The National Folklore Festival is held in Gjirokastra every five years . There are also annual national festivals for rhapsodes in Lezha , for polyphony in Vlora , for saz and folk orchestra in Korça , for urban songs in Elbasan and for folk dances in Lushnja . All these festivals are organized by the Qendra Kombëtare e Veprimtarive Folklorike (National Center for Folklore Activities) .

Folk music

The iso-polyphonic music is typical of the Tosken of southern Albania. In 2005 it was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by

Traditional Albanian folk music is still part of every wedding celebration, folk festival and every rendezvous today. The musical tradition is rich and varies quite a lot from region to region.

As with language, there is also a division in folk music: iso-polyphonic music is typical in the south . Characteristic of the north are homophonic music with epic songs, lute music and exclamation songs ( këngë thirrje ), which were used to convey messages in the mountains.

Albanian folk music has a large number of its own instruments. These include, for example, the Lahuta , a single-string bowl-neck lute, as well as various long-necked lutes such as the two-string Çiftelia , the three-string Sharki and the Saze with ten strings. Flutes ( Fyell ) and wind instruments such as the bowling oboe surle (similar to the zurna ) or the Albanian bagpipe gajde , a variant of the Thracian gaida, are also important . Different rhythm givers such as tambourines ( dajre ) and drums in many different materials and sizes should not be missing .

Singing is very important in Albanian folk music. In epic songs that represent history and values, the singer often accompanies himself on the lahuta or a lute. In the south, the iso-polyphonic chants of the Tosks , which were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005, are particularly popular. The country has a rich tradition of urban music, where various orchestras and bands have formed: from Shkodra annual songs, from Elbasan and Korça serenade songs, and from Vlora , Përmet , Leskovik and Delvina Saze songs.

Folk dances

Albania also has a rich tradition of dances with varied costumes and choreographies. There are epic and lyrical dances where the dancers also sing. There are many forms of row dances, single dances and small groups, but the most important are the round dances, in which any number of dancers form different circles in different variations.

National costumes

Traditional costume from the Mirdita ( Marubi , approx. 1900–1920)

The folk costumes were also common in everyday life until the 1950s. In the past, they often showed a person's wealth or social status. Nowadays the costumes are cultivated in the numerous cultural ensembles. But especially in rural areas you can still meet them at weddings and other family occasions.

Cultural structure

Albania is culturally often divided into three major regions, which are further subdivided into smaller cultural areas. The most important distinguishing feature of these three major regions is the dialect or dialect group. Northern Albania ( Shqipëria e Veriut ) roughly comprises the qarqe of Shkodra , Kukës , Lezha and Dibra . Gian dialects are spoken in this area, similar to those in Kosovo and North Macedonia. The Kanun des Lekë Dukagjini was the traditional common law of the Gegian Albanians during the Ottoman period and beyond.

Southern Albania ( Shqipëria e Jugut ) lies roughly in today's Qarqe of Fier , Berat , Korça , Gjirokastra and Vlora . Here are Tosk spread dialects to the Albanian standard language was oriented when they arise. The south is generally famous for its music; the style of singing there was even classified as a UNESCO cultural heritage .

Central Albania ( Shqipëria e Mesme ) is a transition zone between these two regions. It traditionally encompasses the course of the Shkumbin River and the plains and hill country north of it. Today these are the Qarqe of Durrës , Tirana and Elbasan . The dialects here vary more from area to area than is the case in the north and south. In the south of Central Albania, Tuscan elements predominate, in the north the Gaelic elements. From a linguistic point of view, the dialect border between Gegëria in the north and Toskëria in the south runs around the Shkumbin . Another feature of Central Albania that sets it apart from the other two regions is its folk music, which is characterized by the sounds of the clarinet, daira and accordion.


The architecture in Albania, like the culture, is quite contrasting. Where historical city centers have been preserved, one can see architectural achievements, especially from the Ottoman and Venetian times. The southern Albanian cities of Berat (called the city ​​of a thousand windows ) and Gjirokastra were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their architectural peculiarities from the Ottoman era . In Tirana and Elbasan , too, there are entire streets with such an architectural style. Good examples of the Ottoman architectural style include the Shkodra Historical Museum and the Hotel Tradita there . Other cities, in turn, received their present - for Albania - unique appearance through various cultural or economic influences. There are above all Korça (merchant houses in the style of the Wilhelminian era and also in Art Nouveau ), Shkodra , Vlora , Saranda and Durrës (Italian architecture). Very archaic forms of architecture can be found especially in the mountainous regions. Some remnants of the medieval construction can be found e.g. E.g. in the castle of Petrela .

Today the architecture is characterized by numerous prefabricated buildings from the socialist period (1944 to 1990), which were part of the plans of the dictatorial government of Enver Hoxha , which wanted a uniform appearance for each village.

Modern architecture has taken its own path: after the artist and then mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama (later Prime Minister), began painting dreary buildings in the city center in 2000, houses all over the country were painted in bright colors. In particular, the cityscapes of the larger towns are loosened up by a lot of color and playful architecture.

The most famous buildings of modern architecture in Albania include the ABA Business Center , the ETC European Trade Center , the Twin Towers and the TID Tower , all in the capital Tirana.


Tarator , popular Albanian summer appetizer. Made from yogurt, water, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and dill

The Albanian cuisine is Mediterranean and Oriental. Albanian specialties are Byrek , Pite , Fli , bean soup , Biftek , Tarator , Llokum , Kadajif , Sultjash and Bakllava . Typical local drinks Boza , ie all and raki . Many specialties are also widespread in other countries in Southeast Europe and the Middle East.


Albanian film production has existed since 1952, when the first feature film was made with Russian directors. It is a film about the national hero Skanderbeg , his life and the war against the Ottomans . The films were produced by the "Shqipëria e Re" (New Albania) cinema studio in Tirana , which was closed in 1991 . This studio produced up to 14 films a year. Today there are numerous small production companies. The Tirana International Film Festival has been held annually since 2003 .


An outstanding example of early Albanian art is the icon painter Onufri , who worked in southern Albania in the 16th century . Kolë Idromeno is considered to be the first Albanian to devote himself to secular, realistic painting.

Contemporary music

Numerous festivals and television programs are dedicated to current music, such as the Festivali i Këngës music festival in Tirana , which has been organized every year since 1961 and has been the Albanian preliminary decision for the Eurovision Song Contest since 2003 .


Ismail Kadare is probably the most famous Albanian writer. (2002)

The most important poets of Albanian literature of the 19th century include Gjergj Fishta (1871–1940), among others, Naim Frashëri (1846–1900) and Girolamo de Rada (1814–1903). The best-known representatives of the newer prose are Fan Noli (1882–1965), Mimoza Ahmeti (* 1963) and Anila Wilms (* 1971). Well-known authors of Albanian socialist realism and contemporary literature include Sterjo Spasse (1914–1989), Dritëro Agolli (* 1931) and the internationally known Ismail Kadare (* 1936).


In addition to the state radio Televizioni Shqiptar, there are other private broadcasters such as Albanian Screen Radio Television , Top Channel and TV Klan . Like the state media, many private broadcasters and publications are not politically independent. Since 2004 the sends Pay TV - Group Digitalb many Albanian and international channels through the satellite Eutelsat , but also by national radio off. The reach of electronic media is much greater than that of most newspapers and magazines, many of which are struggling with very small print runs and difficult distribution. With a total circulation of 95,100 of all twelve daily newspapers published in 2001 in Albania, the country has one of the lowest newspaper readership rates in Europe. The most widely read newspapers in Albania are Shqip and Shekulli .

In 2019, 70 percent of Albania's residents used the internet .


The most popular sport in the country is soccer . Twelve teams compete for the national championship in the Superiore category . The capital club KS Dinamo Tirana has achieved the most victories so far . The greatest successes of the Albanian national soccer team include winning the Balkan Cup in 1946 and participating in the European Championship in 2016 . Besides playing basketball , volleyball , weightlifting and Shooting an important role. Motorsport has also been gaining fans significantly for a number of years .

Albania is a member of UEFA , FIFA and the International Olympic Committee .

Albania first took part in the Summer Olympics in Munich in 1972 . The country missed the next four games, two of them due to the boycott (1980 and 1984), but returned for the 1992 Barcelona Games . Since then, Albanian athletes have mostly participated in competitions such as swimming, athletics, weightlifting, shooting and wrestling. In 2006, an Albanian athlete was one of the participants in the Winter Olympics for the first time . Besides Bosnia and Herzegovina , Albania is the only European country without an Olympic medal.

In 2013, with the European Weightlifting Championships, major international competitions were held in Tirana for the first time. The international road bike race Tour of Albania has been held since 1925, and in 2018 for the 75th time.

public holidays

Public Holidays 2020 [obsolete]
holiday Albanian name Date 2020 comment
New year celebrations Festat e Vitit të Ri January 1st and 2nd Beginning of the year
Bridging day Dita pushimi January 3rd Additional Friday for 2020
Summer day Dita e Verës March 14th Monday free Pagan spring festival
Nouruz Dita e Nevruzit March 22nd Monday free Holiday of the Bektashi
Easter (catholic) Dita e Pashkës Katolike April 12th Monday free Catholic holiday (changing date)
Easter (orthodox) Dita e Pashkës Ortodokse April 19th Monday free Orthodox holiday (changing date)
International workers day Dita Ndërkombëtare e Punëtoreve 1st of May Labor Day
Feast of the breaking of the fast Dita e Bajramit të Madh (Fitër Bajrami) May 24th Islamic holiday (changing date)
Islamic Festival of Sacrifice Dita e Bajramit të Vogël (Kurban Bajrami) July 31 Islamic holiday (changing date)
Day of the canonization of Mother Teresa Dita e Shenjtërimit të Nënë Terezës September 5th Monday free Christian remembrance day
Independence and Flag Day Dita e Pavarësisë dhe Festa e Flamurit November 28th Monday free National holiday
Liberation Day Dita e Çlirimit November 29th Monday free Liberation from the fascist regime
National Youth Day Dita Kombëtare e Rinisë December 8th Liberation from the communist regime
Christmas Krishtlindjet 25 December Christian holiday
Monday free For public holidays that fall on a Saturday or Sunday, Monday is free

See also

Portal: Albania  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Albania


In order of appearance:

  • Peter Bartl: Albania . Pustet, Regensburg 1995, ISBN 3-7917-1451-1 .
  • Marianne Graf: Albania north of the Shkumbin. A piece of forgotten southern Europe. Weishaupt, Gnas 2003, ISBN 3-7059-0166-4 .
  • Peter Jordan, Karl Kaser et al. (Ed.): Albanien. Geography - Historical Anthropology - History - Culture - Post-Communist Transformation . (= Österreichische Osthefte. Special volume 17). Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-631-39416-0 .
  • Christine von Kohl: Albania . Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-50902-9 .
  • Hanns Christian Löhr: The founding of Albania: Wilhelm zu Wied and the Balkan diplomacy of the great powers. 1912-1914 . Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-60117-4 .
  • Fred C. Abrahams: Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe. New York University Press, New York 2015, ISBN 978-0-8147-0511-7 .
  • Christiane Jaenicke: Albania. A country portrait . Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-96289-043-8 .

Web links

Commons : Albania  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Albania  - geographical and historical maps
Wiktionary: Albania  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Wikijunior Europe / Albania  - learning and teaching materials
Wikisource: Albania  - Sources and full texts
 Wikinews: Portal: Albania  - in the news
Wikivoyage: Albania  Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 41 °  N , 20 °  E