Albania is one of the least known countries in Europe and the Mediterranean. These lands can boast a rich historical past. They were part of the Roman Empire, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia and the Ottoman Empire.
During World War II Albania was occupied by Italy and in the following decades, this area felt the strong influence of the USSR.
All these factors have turned Albania into a diverse and colourful country that itself is a reflection of the history and everyday life in Eastern Europe and especially the Balkan Peninsula. Today, Albania is among the countries with the highest level of literacy on the continent, and graduates are about 25% of the total population.
At the expense of its cultural and historical heritage, however, today Albania is still suffering from low living standards, high unemployment and corruption.
Geographic location, boundaries and size. Albania is a Mediterranean country. It is located the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. On the north it borders with Montenegro and Kosovo, to the east – with Macedonia and to the south – with Greece.
To the west Albania has an outlet to the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. The country lies between latitude 39°N and 42°N and longitude 19°E and 21°E. Albania is located about 73 km east of Italy and a little more than 200 meters from the famous Greek holiday island of Corfu.
Climate. Albania has a subtropical Mediterranean climate. Summers are long, hot and dry, with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°С or more. Otherwise, the average daily temperature in July and August is around 31 – 32°С.
Six months a year are typical summer, with average daytime temperatures exceeding 23°С. These are the months from May to October inclusive. Autumn is a short season with variable but mild weather.
It actually covers just one month – November, which marks the boundary between summer and winter. This is the rainiest part of the year with temperatures around 16 – 17°С and about 15-16 rainy days.
Within a month usually fall to about 200 – 220 mm of rain. Winter is cool, but not very cold with temperatures between 12 and 15°С and lasts from December to March. In December and January precipitation is still abundant.
With spring approaching, however, weather becomes significantly drier. In March you can already feel the coming of spring. The days are getting longer, the sun is much stronger and temperatures begin to climb slowly.
Spring covers the second half of March and April. In Albania, sometimes forms a thin and non lasting snow cover in coastal areas, and thick and long lasting snow cover in the mountains every year.
Nature of Albania. Less than one third of the territory of Albania is covered by forests. According to a report of the UN, the forests in Albania cover about 28.3% of its area. The location of Albania quite contributes to its plant diversity.
Along the warm Adriatic coast grow various evergreen Mediterranean species, but warm and dry climate makes vegetation to look quite scarce. Inside the country grow different broad leaf deciduous species (especially around the river courses), and in mountain areas has representatives of various coniferous tree species.
By mentioning the Albanian mountains, we should note that most of the territory of Albania is occupied by mountain ranges. To the territory of Albania reach parts of the Dinaric mountains, crossing the entire length of Croatia and Montenegro.
The highest mountain in Albania is “Corab”. Here is located Golem Corab peak, which rises to about 2764 m. Lower altitudes you can find only in the Albanian coastal areas.
Along the coast in some places have formed marshes. Albania’s coastline is slightly indented, especially in comparison with other Balkan countries such as Greece or Croatia.
Population. Albania’s population approaching 3,200,000 people. In terms of its ethnic origin local population is relatively homogeneous. It consists of over 95% of Albanians and a small number of Macedonians, Greeks, Bulgarians and Gypsies.
Albania’s population confesses two main religions – Islam and Christianity. Each one covers approximately one third of the population with a slight predominance of Islam.
The remaining one third of the population of Albania define themselves as “atheists” and said they had no religion. A distinctive feature of the population of Albania is the small interest for religion.
Even those who identify themselves as Christians or Muslims are relatively apathetic in terms of religion. This is due to two factors. The first one is that like many other countries in Eastern Europe, Albania was under a communist regime for decades and it is known fact that communism tries by all means to remove religion from society.
On the other hand in this small Balkan state the culture itself is somewhat different. Like in many other Mediterranean nations, the clans are the most important part of the society.
Each clan has its own perceptions and beliefs about life, values and priorities. This fact does not allow religion to enter very deep into the Albanian society.
Economy. Albanian economy is underdeveloped, however, the opinion that Albania is the poorest European country is wrong. Other countries such as Moldova are higher in negative statistics.
The main source of income for Albania is agriculture, which employs the largest percentage of local residents. Second in terms of employment, but first as income is the service sector. Given its location on the Mediterranean Sea, Albania has high hopes on the development of the tourism industry.
Beautiful beaches with white sand and plenty of sunshine are probably the greatest wealth of Albania. But before that the country must invest large sums of money in infrastructure development, which is among the most underdeveloped of the continent.
Should be invested money in cleaning and maintaining the beaches. All that can make the country a very attractive place to rest because, it is little known destination and this further stimulates the interest of foreigners.
It is interesting to mention also the real estate market. Albania has not fallen “under the spotlight” and now is the best time to buy affordable property near the Mediterranean coast.
Prices of holiday villas in this small country are still many times lower in comparison with other southern European countries.
Tourism in Albania
Albania has a beautiful coastline, but if you are planning to take advantage of its beaches, we would advise you to choose some beach away from the populated areas and to find places with clean beaches and transparent water.
In the southern part of the country you will find numerous small coves and beautiful, covered with bright sand or oval stones beaches. Sea water is clear and very attractive for swimming.
Wonderful places for lounging on the beach and bathing into the sea you will find in the vicinity of Ksamil (next to the Greek island of Corfu). Here, close to the coast there are even a few small and very beautiful islets covered with Mediterranean vegetation.
One of the most beautiful places in Albania, which is worth visiting is the shore of Lake Ohrid. This place is very wild and quiet compared to the Macedonian part of the lake.
The biggest and most important city in the region is Pogradec. This is a quiet settlement with a population of about 30,000 inhabitants, which keeps the spirit of the Balkans.
Standing on the lake shore you will enjoy beautiful views of neighbouring Macedonia, and if you visit this place in winter the mountains will be covered with snow.
Albania has much to offer mountain lovers. In the northern parts of the country near the border with Montenegro wild and inaccessible mountain peaks alternate with deep gorges, where among conifers and deciduous forests are nestled small villages.
Those villages will bring you centuries ago. Albanian mountains are a veritable paradise if you’re into hiking and wilderness camping under the open sky.
If you prefer skiing, then you should head to the southern parts of the country and especially around the city of Korca. There are some good ski slopes that are covered with fluffy snow in winter.
When to visit Albania? If you are planning to visit Albania because of its sunny beaches, then you have to choose one of the months between May to October. It is best to select the months of June or September if you wish to enjoy perfect weather.
In July and August is too hot. June and September are also wonderful months for long walks in the beautiful and unknown mountains of this Mediterranean country.
Form of government: parliamentary republic *** capital: Tirana *** language: Albanian *** Currency: Albanian Lek *** Independence : November 28, 1912 *** standard of living: low ***