Albania

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 3.58
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 45.4
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 0.52
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km˛) : 28,748


Population origin

Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, Others 2%



Main Cities Population
Tirane 343 078
Durrës 99 546
Elbasan 87 797
Shkodër 82 455
Vlorë 77 691
Fier 56 297



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Tirana (GMT+1 in winter, GMT+2 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Albanian (Official; derived from Tosk dialect), Greek,Vlach, Romani

Free translation tools

Ectaco
Free Albanian-English-Albanian dictionary

Systran
Free English-Greek-English translation of texts and web pages





Religion
Religious practises : Muslims 70% (including 20% Shi'a Muslims), Orthodox Christians 20%, Roman Catholics 10%


Political context

Albania is a unitary Republic state based on parliamentary democracy where Prime Minister enjoys immense powers. Albania (official name: Republic of Albania) is an emerging democracy.
The President is the head of state and elected by a three-fifths majority vote of all Assembly members for a 5 year term. Although the position is largely ceremonial, the Constitution does give the President authority to appoint and dismiss some civil servants in the executive and judicial branches. Prime Minister is the head of the government and holds the executive powers. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and approved by a simple majority of all members of the Assembly. Prime Minister nominates the Council of Ministers which is approved by the President.
The legislature in Albania is unicameral. The parliament called People's Assembly consists of 140 seats, out of which 100 are elected by direct popular vote and the remaining 40 seats are distributed by proportional representation. All members serve 4-year terms. Albanians enjoy limited political rights.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. However, the judiciary, along with law enforcement agencies, remains inefficient and prone to political influence. The main source of the law is the constitution adopted by popular referendum in November 1998. Albania's legal system is similar to that of other European countries. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the country. The country has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The judicial language is Albanian, but an interpreter can be arranged.
Albania is not ruled by law. Widespread lawlessness plagues large parts of Albania. Judiciary does not guarantee an impartial trial to foreign nationals. International law enforcement officials claim that Albania has become an increasingly important transhipment point for drug smugglers. Revenge killings continue to take place. A high degree of corruption exists in the country.


Major political parties

A number of political parties operate within the country, but the most important political parties are: PD (Democratic Party) and the PS (Socialist Party). Albanian society remains very much clan-based. In general, PD commands the allegiance of the Gheg clans located in the North of the country while as the PS has the support of the Tosk clans located in the South. The Greek minority is mostly represented through the PBDNj ( Party of the Union for Human Rights). Muslim leaders were prevented from registering a party called Motherland in 2004 because religiously or ethnically based parties are illegal in Albania.


Major political leaders

President: Bamir TOPY (since July 2007) - Democratic party
Prime Minister: Sali BERISHA (since September 2005) - PD


Next political election dates

Presidential election: Year 2012
Parliamentary elections: Year 2009




Climate

 

 

The climate in Albania varies with the topography. The coastal lowlands have a Mediterranean climate with mild & wet winters and warm & sunny (rather dry) summers. Inland conditions vary depending on altitude but the areas above 5,000 feet from sea level are rather cold and snowy in winter. The mountains experience a heavy snow fall snowfall during winters.
AVERAGE WEATHER CONDITIONS:
a) Inland & Mountains (e.g. Tirana city): The temperature in August, the hottest month, range from 17° to 31°C. In January, the coldest month, it ranges from 2° to 12°C . November, the wettest month, has an average rainfall of 211 mm while the driest months, July and August, receive only 32 mm of rain. The annual rainfall averages aound 2,500 mm.
b) Coastal (e.g. Vlore city): The temperature in August, the hottest month, range from 19° to 30°C . In January, the coldest month, it ranges from 6° to 13°C. November, the wettest month, has an average rainfall of 192 mm while the driest month, July, receives only 9 mm of rain. The annual rainfall averages around 1,000 mm.

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Albania 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 42 46 ..
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
Albania is admired by everyone who visits the country. The brightness and warmness of the sun, the clean air and healthy climate, albanian hospitality, oldest tradition, its natural and cultural patrimony will engrave in your unforgettable memories. Some of the important places of tourist attraction are given below:

1) KORCA: Is the largest city of south-eastern part of Albania. It is situated at the foot of Morava Mountain on a plateau 800 meters above sea level. It became an important trading and handicraft centre in the 18th century due to the development of trade with neighboring regions. The museum for Medieval Art is located in Korça. It presents the spiritual and material culture of the Albanian people. There is also the Museum of Education where the first Albanian School was opened in 1878. Korca also has the new museum of “Bratko Collections” with antiquaries from the Far East.
2) POGRADECI: Pogradeci is one of the most charming tourist resorts in Albania because of its position on lake Ohrid which has clear water and mountain views. The koran fish, similar to trout, is found in this lake. Besides the beautiful beach, your stay in Pogradeci is made more interesting by the excursion to the tourist centre in Driloni (5 km eastward) surrounded by ornamental plants and trees.
3) BERAT: It known as “the city of one-thousand windows” and is declared as a museum city. It is on the slopes of the Tomorri mount where the castle of the city rises on a predominant hill. Inside its walls there are dwelling houses and the “Onufri Museum”. Paintings and icons by the outstanding Albanian painters are also exhibited there. The old part of the city has religious buildings like churches and mosques.
4) DURRES: The port city of Durres is the second largest city of Albania. The city was colonized by the colonists from Corinth and Korkyra in 627 B.C. It was named Epidamnus, which later became Dyrrachium. The most important attraction is the amphitheatre, the largest in Balkan with 15,000 seats, dating back to the 2nd century AD and containing an Early Christian crypt with a rare wall mosaics. Between the 1st and 3rd centuries Durres was an important port and trading centre on the Via Egnatia trading route, between Rome and Byzantuim (Istanbul). After a great number of earthquakes, much of ancient Durres sank into the sea or collapsed and was subsequently built over. Today the city is well known for the nearby beach resort of Durres and its sandy beaches and warm sea waters.
5) KRUJA: Kruja is a medieval town near Tirana. It is on built on the slope of Sari Salltiku mount. The name of Kruja is closely connected with the name of the National Hero, George Kastriot Scanderbeg, who fought against the Ottomans for 25 years in succession, defending European civilization from their threat in the 15th century. At a prominent and strategic place near the city, there is a castle within which is housed the Scanderbeg Museum (National Museum). On the way to the castle there is a medieval bazaar.
6) GJIROKASTRA: It is one of the most important cities of southern Albania and has been declared a “Museum City”. It is built on the slope of a mountain and is known for its characteristic and narrow stone paved streets. The dwelling houses have medieval characteristic architecture. The castle of the city stands like a balcony over the city. It enables the visitors to enjoy a very beautiful landscape. The National Museum of Weapons is housed in the interior of the castle. Weapons produced and used by the Albanian since the ancient times are displayed there.
7) SARANDA: It is the country's southern most city. Situated opposite to Corfu island, Saranda is now mostly visited by day trippers who come to enjoy this previously inaccessible resort. It is one of the important tourist sites in Albania and is very preferable by “honey mooners”. Near Saranda there are the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint and the Springs of “Blue Eyes”.
8) SHKODRA: It is one of the major cities in the north-western part of the country. It is an ancient city with rich history. One can find old characteristic houses where wood and other traditional motifs are used. Near the city there is the castle of Rozafa built on a rocky hill from where you can see attractive and beautiful views. During your stay you can visit the Historical Museum of the city. Shkodra is a good point to start your trip to Albanian Apls.
9) TIRANA : Tirana has been the capital of Albania since 1920. It is relatively new city established in 1614. The city began to grow at the beginning of the 18th century. Today Tirana is not only the most populated city in Albania, but also the biggest political and economic centre in the country. In central Tirana on the Scanderbeg Square there is the old mosque of Ethem Bey built during 1789-1823 as well as the Clock Tower, 35 meter high, built in 1830. The Palace of Culture housing the Opera and Ballet Theatre and National Library is next to the main square. In Tirana there are also other important institutions such as the National Historic Museum, Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Albanian Philately, the National Gallery of Fine Arts, the Center of International Culture etc. One can enjoy the best view from the “Martyrs Cemetery” which contains the “Mother Albania“ monument. The Adriatic sea and Dajti mountain are near to the city. It takes you less than one hour drive to reach the sea. A large Park with an artificial lake is located immediately at the southern part of the city.
10) VLORA : Vlora is a coastal city. It is not only one of the major ports, but also of great historical importance. In the year 1912, it was here in Vlora that the first independent National Government headed by Ismail Qemali was established. One can learn more about the background of this event at the Museum of Independence. On a hill above the city one can enjoy the religious place of “Kuzum Baba”. From there you can see the beach and the view of the whole city.

For more information about tourism in Albania , check out the following web site(s) :
Informations portal on tourism in Albania



Food


Traditional dishes
Albanian food is strongly influenced by Turkish food. Traditional Albanian cuisine includes soups, stews, bread, dairy products and vegetables. Meat is served as roasted, fried and grilled. Barbecued meat (kebabs) is popular and minced meat is used to make meat balls. Pilaff is also a favourite dish.
The main meal of the Albanians is lunch with main dishes of meat & vegetables, usually accompanied by a salad of fresh vegetables (like tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olives). Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal areas of Durrës, Vlorë and Sarandë.
Desserts include milk puddings, honey cakes and ice cream. Nuts and fresh fruit are also served.
Coffee is preferred thick and strong and coffee houses are popular. Wine and brandy, including raki, are produced and consumed in the country.


Food-related taboos
Both Orthodox Jewish (Kashrut) and Islamic halal dietary laws forbid pork, making it a taboo meat.

Last modified on mai-07

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