Location of Albania Location of Albania in Europe

Facts & Statistics

Albanian Flag

Country name: The Republic of Albania (alb. Republika e Shqipërisë)

Flag description: red with a black two-headed eagle in the center

Area: 28.748 km²

Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north

Land boundaries: total: 717 km
border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km

Coastline: 427 km

Population: 3,170,048 (January 2008 estimate). Apart from Albanians living in Albania, there are an estimated two million emigrants in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Canada and other countries.

Ethnic groups: Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, other 2% (Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Serb, Macedonian, Bulgarian) (1989 est.)

Languages: Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), a linguistically a distinct branch of the Indo-European family. First written in 15th century the Albanian language distinguishes two main dialects, Gegerishte spoken in the north and Toskerishte spoken in the south, river Shkumbin being the bordline between the two dialects. Greek is widely spoken in the south of the country, and some state schools there use Greek as the medium of education. Many Albanians speak Italian; some also know English, French or German.

Albanian Counties Albanian Counties

Religions: Albania is an extremely secular society. The traditional breakdown is 70% Muslim, 20% Orthodox (the autocephalous Albanian church) and 10% Catholic, but at best these figures indicate nothing more than nominal attachment to each faith. All mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice.

Administrative divisions: 12 counties (alb. qarqe, singular - qark), 36 districts

Capital: Tirana (alb. Tiranë), population 555 848 (January 2008 est.)

Main Cities: Durres (alb. Durrës), Shkodra (alb. Shkodër), Vlora (alb. Vlorë), Elbasan, Korce (alb. Korçë), Berat (alb. Berati), Gjirokastra (alb. Gjirokastër), Saranda (alb. Sarandë)

System of government:  Parliamentary democracy

Executive branch: 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

Legislative branch: unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 seats; 100 members are 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)

Economy - overview: Lagging behind its Balkan neighbors, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. 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 of $600-$800 million, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. Agriculture, which accounts for more than one-fifth of GDP, is held back because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment, which make it difficult to attract and sustain foreign investment. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore and improved transmission line between Albania and Montenegro will help relieve the energy shortages. Also, the government is moving slowly to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. On the positive side, macroeconomic growth was strong in 2003-07 and inflation is low and stable.

GDP - per capita (PPP): $5,800 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 21.2%, industry: 20.5%, services: 58.3% (2007 est.)

Currency (code): Lek (ALL); exchange rates: 1 USD = 97 Leke, 1 EUR = 123 Leke (01/2009)

Weights and Measures: Metric

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz

Time Zone: Albania is in the Central European Time Zone (GMT+1). During daylight savings time (end of April to end of October), the time is GMT+2. When it is noon in Albania, it is 06:00 in New York, 11:00 In London and 12:00 in Berlin.

Calling code: +355

Internet country code: al

Distinguishing sign (cars): AL

Drives on the: right

Market values:
Loaf of white bread = 80 lek (0.65)
Snickers bar = 50 lek (0.41)
Litre of vodka = 1450 lek (11.86)
Bottle of local beer (1/2 litre) = 90 lek (0.74)
20 Marlboros = 180 lek (1.47)
Public transport ticket = 30 lek (0.25)
Dry-cleaning and pressing one mens shirt = 150 lek (1.23)
Roll of Kodak 200 speed film, 24 exposures = 300lek (2.45)

Public holidays:
January 1-2 New Year (Viti i ri)
March 14 Summer Day (Dita e Veres)
March 22 Nevruz Day (Nevruz)
April 12, 2009 Catholic Easter (Pashket Katolike)
April 19.2009 Orthodox Easter (Pashket Ortodokse)
May 1 Nje Maji
October 19 Mother Tereza Day (Dita e Nene Terezes)
September 21, 2009 Big Bayram (Bajrami i Madh)
November 28 Independence Day ( Dita e Pavaresise)
November 29 Liberation Day (Dita e lirimit)
November 27, 2009 Kurban Bayram
December 25 Christmas day

Social Conventions:
Normal Albanian etiquette is for people to shake hands the first time they see each other every day, and then again when they part. Between friends, a kiss on both cheeks is exchanged by men as well as women.
The usual way to indicate ‘yes' is by moving the head horizontally from side to side. ‘No' is usually signalled by a slight raising of the eyebrows, sometimes accompanied by a gentle click of the tongue.
Albanians usually remove their shoes inside their homes or other people's houses. If you are visiting an Albanian home, you will be offered a pair of slippers or plastic sandals to wear while you are indoors.
Smoking is widespread, and it is very unusual to find a non-smoking section in a restaurant, never mind a bar. However, smoking is not allowed on public transport, and this ban is almost always respected. On long journeys, the bus or minibus will stop for a cigarette-break from time to time.
Also note that it is unacceptable to exhibit yourself topless in the seaside, or worse, naked; of course, there are many isolated places where you can do this in private.
Albanians are friendly and very open towards foreigners that visit their country. If you are lucky enough to be invited to visit an Albanian's home, you will be treated as royalty. As written in The Kanun, the guest will be shown the highest respect by being offered a seat at the head of the table. The guest is then regaled with the best the family has to offer, usually taking the form of homemade raki, a traditional liquor.

Actualized: 12/2008
Albania Link to website of National Tourist Organisation of Albania