Europe :: Albania
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Albania
Location of Albania
Map of Albania
Introduction ::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. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges to reduce crime and corruption, promote economic growth, and decrease the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. 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 ::Albania
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
41 00 N, 20 00 E
total: 28,748 sq km
country comparison to the world: 144
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km
slightly smaller than Maryland
total: 717 km
border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km
362 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast
lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m
petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower
arable land: 20.1%
permanent crops: 4.21%
other: 75.69% (2005)
3,530 sq km (2003)
41.7 cu km (2001)
total: 1.71 cu km/yr (27%/11%/62%)
per capita: 546 cu m/yr (2000)
destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents
party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)
People ::Albania
3,639,453 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
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) (2009 est.)
total: 29.9 years
male: 29.3 years
female: 30.6 years (2009 est.)
0.546% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
15.29 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
5.55 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
-4.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
urban population: 47% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 18.62 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 110
male: 19.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 77.96 years
country comparison to the world: 51
male: 75.28 years
female: 80.89 years (2009 est.)
2.01 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
noun: Albanian(s)
adjective: Albanian
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)
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
Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects
definition: age 9 and over can read and write
total population: 98.7%
male: 99.2%
female: 98.3% (2001 census)
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2004)
2.9% of GDP (2002)
country comparison to the world: 147
Government ::Albania
conventional long form: Republic of Albania
conventional short form: Albania
local long form: Republika e Shqiperise
local short form: Shqiperia
former: People's Socialist Republic of Albania
emerging democracy
name: Tirana (Tirane)
geographic coordinates: 41 19 N, 19 49 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore
28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)
Independence Day, 28 November (1912)
approved by parliament on 21 October 1998; adopted by popular referendum on 22 November 1998; promulgated 28 November 1998
has a civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; has accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court for its citizens
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President of the Republic Bamir TOPI (since 24 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Sali BERISHA (since 10 September 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by parliament
elections: president elected by the Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); four election rounds held between 8 and 20 July 2007 (next election to be held in 2012); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Bamir TOPI elected president; Assembly vote, fourth round (three-fifths majority (84 votes) required): Bamir TOPI 85 votes, Neritan CEKA 5 votes
unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 seats; 100 members elected by direct popular vote and 40 by proportional vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 3 July 2005 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PD 56, PS 42, PR 11, PSD 7, LSI 5, other 19
note: Parliament in November 2008 approved an electoral reform package that will transform the electoral system from a majority system to a regional proportional system; the code will also establish an electoral threshold limiting smaller party representation
Constitutional Court, Supreme Court (chairman is elected by the People's Assembly for a four-year term) and multiple appeals and district courts
Agrarian Environmentalist Party or PAA [Lufter XHUVELI]; Christian Democratic Party or PDK [Nard NDOKA]; Communist Party of Albania or PKSH [Hysni MILLOSHI]; Democratic Alliance Party or AD [Neritan CEKA]; Democratic Party or PD [Sali BERISHA]; G99 Political Movement [Erion VELIAJ]; Liberal Union Party or BLD [Arjan STAROVA]; National Front Party (Balli Kombetar) or PBK [Artur ROSHI]; New Democratic Party or PDR [Genc POLLO]; Republican Party or PR [Fatmir MEDIU]; Social Democracy Party of Albania or PDSSh [Paskal MILO]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Skender GJINUSHI]; Socialist Movement for Integration or LSI [Ilir META]; Socialist Party or PS [Edi RAMA]; Socialist Party 1991 [Petro KOCI]; Union for Human Rights Party or PBDNj [Vangjel DULE]
Citizens Advocacy Office [Kreshnik SPAHIU]; Confederation of Trade Unions of Albania or KSSH [Kastriot MUCO]; Front for Albanian National Unification or FBKSH [Gafur ADILI]; Mjaft Movement; Omonia [Jani JANI]; Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania or BSPSH [Gezim KALAJA]
chief of mission: Ambassador Aleksander SALLABANDA
chancery: 2100 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 223-4942
FAX: [1] (202) 628-7342
consulate(s) general: New York
chief of mission: Ambassador John L. WITHERS, II
embassy: Rruga e Elbasanit, Labinoti #103, Tirana
mailing address: US Department of State, 9510 Tirana Place, Dulles, VA 20189-9510
telephone: [355] (4) 2247285
FAX: [355] (4) 2232222
red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero George Castriota SKANDERBERG, who led a successful uprising against the Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-1478)
Economy ::Albania
Lagging behind its Balkan neighbors, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth has averaged around 5% over the last five years and inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.
$21.81 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$20.56 billion (2007 est.)
$19.4 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP
$12.96 billion (2008 est.)
6.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
6% (2007 est.)
5.5% (2006 est.)
$6,000 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
$5,700 (2007 est.)
$5,400 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 20.5%
industry: 19.8%
services: 59.7% (2008 est.)
1.441 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers) (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
agriculture: 58%
industry: 15%
services: 27% (September 2006 est.)
12.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
13.2% (2007 est.)
note: these are official rates, but actual rates may exceed 30% due to preponderance of near-subsistence farming
25% (2004 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 25.9% (2005)
26.7 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 124
23.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
revenues: $3.458 billion
expenditures: $4.175 billion (2008 est.)
51.9% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
51.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
3.4% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
2.9% (2007 est.)
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 69
6.25% (31 December 2007)
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 52
14.1% (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 84
$2.707 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 73
$6.433 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 92
$7.247 billion (31 December 2007)
wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products
food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
2.888 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
3.603 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
0 kWh (2008 est.)
2.475 billion kWh (2008 est.)
5,985 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
34,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
748.9 bbl/day (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
24,080 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
199.1 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
30 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
30 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 205
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
849.5 million cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
$-1.906 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
$-1.202 billion (2007 est.)
$1.345 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
$1.076 billion (2007 est.)
textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Italy 57%, Greece 11.8%, China 5.8% (2008)
$4.898 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
$3.999 billion (2007 est.)
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Italy 30.7%, Greece 12.5%, Turkey 6.9%, Germany 6.3%, Switzerland 4.6%, Russia 4.2% (2008)
$3.188 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
$2.162 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$1.55 billion (2004)
country comparison to the world: 143
leke (ALL) per US dollar - 79.546 (2008 est.), 92.668 (2007), 98.384 (2006), 102.649 (2005), 102.78 (2004)
Communications ::Albania
316,400 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 113
3.141 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 108
general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines, the density of main lines remains low with roughly 10 lines per 100 people; cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective; combined fixed line and mobile telephone density is approaching 100 telephones per 100 persons
domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003, two companies were providing mobile services at a greater density than some of Albania's neighbors; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005; Internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital
international: country code - 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2008)
AM 13, FM 46, shortwave 1 (2005)
65 (3 national, 62 local); 2 cable networks (2005)
14,245 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 110
471,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 109
Transportation ::Albania
5 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 176
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
1 (2009)
gas 339 km; oil 207 km (2008)
total: 896 km
country comparison to the world: 96
standard gauge: 896 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
total: 18,000 km
country comparison to the world: 117
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)
43 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 105
total: 24
country comparison to the world: 91
by type: cargo 22, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Turkey 1)
registered in other countries: 2 (Panama 2) (2008)
Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore
Military ::Albania
Joint Force Command (includes Land, Naval, and Aviation Brigade Commands), Joint Support Command (includes Logistic Command), Training and Doctrine Command (2009)
19 years of age (2004)
males age 16-49: 944,592
females age 16-49: 908,527 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 800,665
females age 16-49: 768,536 (2009 est.)
male: 34,778
female: 31,673 (2009 est.)
1.49% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
Transnational Issues ::Albania
the Albanian Government calls for the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians in neighboring countries, and the peaceful resolution of interethnic disputes; some ethnic Albanian groups in neighboring countries advocate for a "greater Albania," but the idea has little appeal among Albanian nationals; the mass emigration of unemployed Albanians remains a problem for developed countries, chiefly Greece and Italy
current situation: Albania is a source country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; it is no longer considered a major country of transit; Albanian victims are trafficked to Greece, Italy, Macedonia, and Kosovo, with many trafficked onward to Western European countries; children were also trafficked to Greece for begging and other forms of child labor; approximately half of all Albanian trafficking victims are under age 18; internal sex trafficking of women and children is on the rise
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Albania is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons in 2007, particularly in the area of victim protection; the government did not appropriately identify trafficking victims during 2007, and has not demonstrated that it is vigorously investigating or prosecuting complicit officials (2008)
increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and expanding cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens