ALBANIAN Facts & Figures
Size: 11,100 square miles
Weather / Climate:
Albaniaweather, while mainly Mediterranean, is characterised by a variety of patterns, a factor attributed to the country’s unique geographical position. As a matter of fact, for such a small country in size, Albania has a inappropriately large number of climatic regions.
Thanks to the influence of the Adriatic and Ionian seas that face the country’s coastlines, Albania enjoys a typically Mediterranean weather in the west, while in the east where the elevated Balkan landmass backs the country’s highlands Albaniaweather is considered to be moderately continental. However, as a general thump rule the above is applicable only to a certain extent, since there are obvious variations to Albania weather in both the interior and the lowlands as well as from south to north.
Summer in the Albanian lowlands is known to be of a harsh and uncomfortable nature, with temperatures averaging 24° C and humidity ranking rather high. Again there are vast differences between the northern and southern lowlands, with temperatures in the latter averaging five degrees higher than the former during the summer season and slightly less during the months of winter. Winters in the lowlands are considerably milder, with temperatures averaging about 7° C.
The lowlands receive an average of rainfall between the 1,000 millimetres to more than 1,500 millimetres marks annually, with the northern parts of the area registering the higher averages. The lowlands are also a winter rain fall area, as 95 percent of the rain falls during the months of winter.
In the Albanian inland it’s elevation rather than latitude that has the most profound effect on weather patterns. Because of the influence of the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, winter temperatures in this part of Albania remain low. At the same time the continental air mass along with the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean are both contributing factors to the heavy average precipitation the area enjoys. By far the heaviest rainfall occurs in the central uplands, while thunderstorms make frequent appearances through out the inland area, some of them even accompanied by high local winds and torrential rain. It should come as no surprise then that the mountain areas of Albania are among the wetter parts of Europe. Needless to say, towns in the mountain areas can get extremely cold with snow usually falling between the months of November and March, while during the stormier conditions of autumn and winter, the rain is heavier and the cold and snow severe.
AlbaniaWeather in Summer and Autumn
Despite the relatively sunny nature of Albaniaweather during the midsummer season, it’s not uncommon for the fine weather to be interrupted by occasional thunders and downpours. In the coastal areas the hot and humid spells are intercepted and made quite pleasant by the daily sea breezes.
Another factor that has a profound influence on the weather in Albania is the warm humid wind known as the sirocco: when it blows either from the southwest or the south, conditions tend to feel rather oppressive, especially during the autumn season. Apart from the humidity it brings, the sirocco also counteracts as the messenger of wet weather conditions ahead and a return to cooler temperatures.
Accordingly, the summers are considerably cooler and less humid in the mountain areas. As a general rule though, the most settled months in Albania are those of summer and early autumn.
Taken from http://www.albaniaweather.com
The dominant and official language is Albanian, a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk, but with a bigger influence of Tosk as compared to the Gheg. The Shkumbin River is the dividing line between the two dialects. In the areas inhabited by the Greek minority, a dialect of Greek that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek is really spoken. Other languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Albania include Aromanian(Vlach) Serbian(Montenegrin), Macedonian, Gorani(Našinski), Bulgarian, Romani(Gypsy). Besides Albanian, most of the people of Albania are fluent in Italian and well-versed with English as well.
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albania#Language
The Albania culture has Greek, Roman, Italian, Byzantine, Turkish and Slavic influences.
Art - Painting was strongly influenced by Byzantine art between the V and the XV century, although by the end of the early Renaissance, between the XV and XVII centuries, the Italian influence was very strong. Paintings of religious images were created in the middle of the XVIII century and continued to be common until the XX century. Artists of the XX century, like Vangjush Mijo and Androniqi Zenge, introduced impressionism to the west. Odhise Paskal, another artist of the XX century made sculptures of Albanian heroes. The folkloric art of nowadays includes clothes decorated with ornaments of silver, wood pieces made by hand for domestic use and carpets of wool.
Architecture - the architectonic but old monuments in Albania are from the first millennium before Christ and were constructed by the Illyrians. Greek and the Romans who occupied Albania still constructed structures that are still visible in urban and rural landscapes. The Christian religious architecture emerged in the north of Albania, whereas the Turkish and Islamic architectonic style emerged in the south.
In the middle of the XX century, most of the Albanian cities had residences of two floors with tiled roofs. In regions with wood the houses were constructed of planks instead of brick. Nowadays, this type of Soviet house predominates in the urban zones and the suburbs, whereas the style of traditional architecture predominates in the rural and mountainous regions.
Museums and Libraries - Albania has several museums of archaeology, ethnography and religious and nonreligious art. In Tyrant, the capital, lays the National Museum of Archaeology, founded in 1948. The most prestigious library is the National Library, founded in 1922 and located in Tyrant. It has a million books, the majority acquired through the communist confiscation of private libraries. Another library with a great collection is in the University of Tyrant, founded in 1957.
Taken from Wikipedia.
Approximately 7 million Albanians are to be found within the Balkan peninsula with only about half this number residing in Albania and the other divided between Kosovo, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and to a much smaller extent Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
Albanians are a native Balkan people, although their exact origin is unclear. The national ideology insists on an unequivocal ethnic relationship with the ancient Illyrians. As little is known about the Illyrians and there are no historical records referring to the existence of the Albanian people during the first millennium, it is difficult to affirm or deny the relationship. Albanians entered postclassical recorded history in the second half of the eleventh century, and only in this age can one speak with any degree of certainty about the Albanian people as they are known today.
By the 1870s, the Sublime Porte's reforms aimed at checking the Ottoman Empire's disintegration had clearly failed. The image of the "Turkish yoke" had become fixed in the nationalist mythologies and psyches of the empire's Balkan peoples, and their march toward independence quickened. The Albanians, because of the higher degree of Islamic influence, their internal social divisions, and the fear that they would lose their Albanian-populated lands to the emerging Balkan states—Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece—were the last of the Balkan peoples to desire division from the Ottoman Empire. The Albanian national awakening as a coherent political movement began after the Treaty of San Stefano, according to which Albanian-inhabited areas were to be ceded to other states of the Balkans, and focused on preventing that partition. The Treaty of San Stefano was the impetus for the nation-building movement, which was based more on fear of partition than national identity. Even after Albania became independent in 1912, Albanian national identity was fragmented and possible non-existent in much of the new country.The state of disunity and fragmentation would remain until the communist period following World War 2, when the communist nation-building project would achieve greater success in nation-building and reach more people than any previous regime, thus creating Albanian national communist identity.
The cuisine of Albania is uniquely influenced by Turkish, Greek, and Italian cuisines. Every region in Albania has its own unique dishes.
The main meal of the Albanians is lunch, which usually consists of gjellë, the main dish of slowly cooked meat, and a salad of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives. The salad is dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and salt.
Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal areas or cities by lakes such as Durrës, Vlorë, Shkoder, Lezhe and Sarandë.
Milk from goats and ewes is made into kos and many varieties of cheeses. Fluid fresh milk and butter are seldom used. Kosis used alone or eaten with other foods.
Fruits and Vegetables
Oranges, lemons, and figs are the main available fruits; some grapes and wild berries are made into fermented beverages. Mixed garden vegetables are used seasonally and as available. These include: cucumbers, onions, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, marrows, okra, squash (kungull),potatoes, and tomatoes. With the establishment of canneries, there has been a gradual increase in the consumption of canned fruits and vegetables in the Albanian food.
Meats and Alternates
The favoured meats in the Balkan area (where meat is used) are lamb and mutton and sometimes chicken. Liver is considered a delicacy Albanian food. Meats are usually prepared in types of stews or as pilafs with rice, or skewered and roasted over open fires. There is also a variety of nuts grown locally: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and hazelnuts. These may be used as nibbles, crushed (sometimes with garlic), and as sauces over meats and/or vegetables.
Breads and Grains
The most successful crops of the Albanian farmer have for centuries been grains. Predominantly corn, but also wheat, rye, oats, and barley are harvested. These grains have been used to produce a variety of flours for breads that are consumed mainly in coastal areas and cities. But the main type of bread - indeed the main food - is a flat pancake-shaped corn bread broken into pieces and enjoyed with kosor cheese.
Sweets and Snacks
Albanians enjoy very sweet and rich desserts made with nuts and syrupy sauces. The combination of thin, crisp pastries (identical to the Greek phyllo) with nuts, sugar or honey, cinnamon, and cloves, and finished with a heavy syrup, or very sweet puddings, are as beloved by the Albanians as they are by the Turks and Greeks.
Taken from Wikipedia and www.food-links.com
Places to go in ALBANIA
Tirana has been the capital of Albania since 1920. It is relatively new city established in 1614 from Sulejman Bargjini, feudal of the area at the time. The city began to grow at the beginning of the 18th century. “Tirana “, it is thought that comes from the word “ Theranda”, mentioned in the ancient Greek and Latin sources, that aborigines called Te Ranat, because the field was formed as a result of stiff materials that the waters from the surrounding mountains brought. Today Tirana is not only the most populated city in Albania, but also the biggest political and economic centre in the country. The Adriatic Sea and Dajti mountains are near to the city. It takes you less than one hour drive to reach the sea. A Great Park with an artificial lake is located immediately at the southern part of the city.
What to see:
- The Mosque of Ethem Bey is situated just at the centre of Tirana. It was constructed in 1789. Together with the Clock Tower (1830) they make an important historic part of Tirana.
- Ministries represent architectonic values. They were built in the year 1930, when Albania was a kingdom. After the Second World War several buildings were erected: The Palace of Culture, The Palace of Congresses, The National Historic Museum, The Centre of International Culture etc.
- The bridge of Tabakeve is situated along the boulevard “Zhan Dark”. It belongs to the XVIII century.
- The fortress of Pertrela. It is located at south of Tirana on the right side of national road linking capital with the city of Elbasan. It was built up by the middle age. The castle was under the command of Scanderbeg sister, Mamica Kastrioti. Petrela castle used to control the Egnatia road, the Durres - Tirane branch, a part that for that time had a particular importance. This castle was also part of the signaling and defending system of the castle of Kruja. These castles used to communicate with each other through fire signals.
- The fortress of Preza belongs to the XV century. It has a very nice and dominant position in front of Kruja Mountain. This castle is declared as a "Monument of Culture".
- Martyrs Cemetery which contains the “Mother Albania” monument.
- The Tomb of Kapllan Pasha, built in 1814. It honors Kaplan Pasha, who ruled Tirana in the early 19th century.
- National Historic Museum
- Archaeological Museum
- Gallery of Fine Arts
Vlora is a coastal city. It is not only one of the major ports, but also of great historical importance as it was here that in 1912 the Assembly was convened to proclaim Albania as an independent state and to set up the first National Government headed by Ismail Qemali. Thus Vlore became the first capital city in independent Albania.
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.
What to see:
- Ethnographic Museum
- Historic Museum
- The Museum of Independence
- Kanina Castle is believed to have been erected in the 3rd century B.C.
- Apollonia represents one of the most important archaeological sites of Albania. The most interesting objects to be visited are the magnificent wall of Agonothetes II Century B.C.
- Pojan Monastery is not far away from the ancient town of Apollonia and it is famous for the beautiful St. Mary's Chapel. This is an ancient monastery and was reconstructed by the Byzantine Emperor, Andronicus Palaeologus the Second.
- Muradie Mosque is a sultan-style mosque, with a dome that was built in the 2nd half of the 16th century. The design and construction of this mosque were carried out by Sinan, an architect of Albanian origin who was one of the great mosque builders in the Ottoman Empire.
- Oricum is an ancient town that used to be a civilized urban centre and has various archaeological ruins, such as part of an Orchestra, a small theatre, which is thought to have seated 400 spectators, traces of wall ruins and streets that are clearly seen, albeit lying under the water of the lagoon, and the Marmiroi Church. This is a church of dating back to the early Byzantine period.
- Ali Pasha's Castle-Porto Palermo Bay. This is a small castle located on a lovely peninsula in the small tectonic bay of Porto Palermo. Ali Pasha built the castle in honor of his wife Vasiliqi.
- Church of St. Stephan, Monastery, Church of Panajia (Dhërmi). The village of Dhërmi goes back to at least the first century B.C. The village used to have 31 churches. The icons of the Church of St. Stephen were painted on the 18th century. The church is a place of pilgrimage every mid-August when religious rites are performed on the day of St. Mary.
Between Tirana and Vlora there is the district of Fier, which boasts different historical sites with great interest. The most important are:
- Historic Museum in Fier
- Archaeological site of Bylis, in Hekal village
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 in a predominant hill. Inside its walls there are dwelling houses and the “Onufri Museum”. Paintings and icons by the outstanding Albanian painter are also exhibited there. The old part of the city has some religious buildings like churches and mosques.
What to see:
- The Museum of Iconography “Onufri”
- The Museum of Ethnography
- The Castle of Berat is a fortress overlooking the town. There are fourteen churches inside the castle, which have made this castle very famous. One of them is the Church of St. Triadha, dating back to the end of the thirteenth century and beginning of the fourteenth century. Very interesting frescoes are found inside it. Behind the Church of St. Todri, there are the churches of St. Kolli, St. Constantine, St. Helen, St. Mary Vllaherna, and others.
- Ruins of the White Mosque. Its internal walls are found inside the castle of Berat. They are built on the foundations of Illyrian walls, followed by reconstructions in Byzantine and Ottoman style.
- The Church of Saint Mehilli, (Michael) is well known for combining European and Byzantine construction techniques;
- The Church of Saint Triadha (Trinity). Speculations are that the chapel might have been built on the foundations of the ruins of a pagan temple. The temple was built to honor the goddess Artemis, from which the present name Ardenicë derives.
The principal port 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 object 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.
What to see:
- The Archaeological Museum
- The Amphitheater, partially excavated starting since 1960, has a seating capacity between 15.000-20.000 people and is situated on the middle of the modern city;
- Byzantine Forum
- Venetian Torra (small castle open as a bar)
- Ancient city wall
- The Exhibition of Folk Culture
- The mosaic of Arapaj, Arapaj village (it can be opened only with special permit)
Kruja is a medieval town near Tirana. 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 is housed the Scanderbeg Museum (National Museum). On the way to the castle there is a medieval bazaar.
What to see:
- Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg
- Ethnographic Museum
- Archaeological site of Albanopoli, in village of Zgerdhesh
- Traditional Bazaar.
Is the largest city of south eastern part of Albania. It is situated at the foot of Morava Mountain on a plateau 800 m above sea level. It became an important trading and handicraft centre in the 18th century due to the development of trade with neighbouring regions. The museum for Medieval Art is in Korça. It presents the spiritual and material culture of the Albanian people. There are also the Museum of Education, where the first Albanian School were opened in 1878 and the new museum of “Bratko Collections” with antiquaries from the Far East.
What to see:
- The Museum of Medieval Arts
- The Gallery “ Guri Madhi”
- The “Bratko” Museum of antiquaries and collections from Far East
- National Museum of Education
- The Archaeological Museum
- Watering Greensward (a suite place for emigrants, where young ladies use to shed tears).
Pogradec is one of the most charming tourist resorts in Albania because of its position on Lake Ohrid which distinguishes itself for clear water and mountain views. The Koran fish, similar to trout, is found in this lake. Besides the beautiful beach, your stay in Pogradec is made more interesting by the excursion to the tourist centre in Driloni (5 km eastward) surrounded by ornamental plants and trees.
What to see:
- The mosaics of Lin, in the village of Lin at north of Pogradec
- The sources of Drilon
- The monumental graves of Selca e Poshtme, in village of Selca
- The Goliku Bridge on the old Via Egnatia.
One of the most important cities of southern Albania 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 the form of medieval towers consisting a building ensemble with 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 are produced and used by the Albanian since the ancient times are displayed there.
What to see:
- The Museum of Weapons is situated inside the Castle of Gjirokastra. It shows the development of weapons in Albania, from antiquity to the present.)
- The Ethnographic Museum. It is otherwise known as the birth-house of the former dictator Enver Hoxha. It is currently visited by many tourists interested in Albanian tradition, culture, and ethnography.
- The Castle of Gjirokastra is a grand fortress with a fantastic location, dominating the whole valley of the Drino. Its construction continued for several centuries and only in the twelfth century did take the shape of a castle. When exiting the castle, visitors walk along a road on both sides of which are 200 stone houses;
- The Mosque of Pajazut Khan is within the castle as well. To the north there is the old market, called the Castle Market.
- The Church of Labova e Kryqit, in the village with same name;
- The archaeological site of Antigonea, in the village of Saraqinisht;
- The ruins of archaeological site of Adrianapol, in the village of Sofratike.
Saranda is most southern city of Albania. Situated opposite of Corfu Island, Saranda is now mostly visited by day trippers who come to enjoy this previously inaccessible resort. It is one of the most tourist sites in Albania and is very preferable by “honeymooners”. Near Saranda there are the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint and the spring of “Blue Eye”.
What to see:
- Ethnographic Museum;
- The Archaeological Museum of Butrint;
- The ruins of ancient town of Onhezmi in Saranda;
- The monastery of Mesopotam is located to the South of Finiq. In earlier times, this was a pagan temple. It is one of the largest and oldest churches of its period. Its icons depict mostly quadruped and mammal motifs. In its main hall, a mosaic depicts a dragon with spread-out wings. Visitors can see the ruins of the old surrounding walls of the monastery with seven quadrangular towers. These walls predate the church.
- The Quadrangular Castle of Butrint. This small castle of Ali Pasha Tepelena built on 1807-1808 is located on a cape jetting out into the sea. It was built to prevent the French from taking Butrint from their base in Corfu.
It is one of the most major cities in the north – western part of the country. It is situated near the lake sharing the same name and along the road that leads to Montenegro. 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 Alps.
What to see:
- Historic Museum has a number of sections on archaeology, history and ethnography. It also has its own library with a considerable number of Albanian and foreign books-about 15,000 titles altogether. The library is a great source for students of Albanology;
- The Castle of Rozafa rises on a rocky hill to the west of Shkodra. According to the legend, Rozafa, the wife of the youngest of three brothers, accepted to be buried alive in the walls of the castle. The brothers had been building the castle in the day only to find that the walls had collapsed during the night. At the entrance to the castle one can see the Rozafa bas-relief. According to popular imagination, the lime water that leaks at the main entrance is the milk running from Rozafa's breast which was left outside the wall so that she could feed her newborn baby.
- Museum of Rozafa Castle explains the various periods in the life of the castle;
- The Lead Mosque is a famous cultural monument in the city of Shkodra that was built in 1773 in the style of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
- The Church of Shirgji is located 20 km from the city of Shkodra, close to the village of Obot. It is built in Romanic-Gothic style. The Shirgji church used to be a favorite of Albanian and Montenegrin princes and was especially used for wedding.
- The Mesi Bridge is located about 8 km from Shkodra, on the Kir River. There used to be three bridges on this river but only this one has survived to this day. The Mesi Bridge is a unique bridge and considered a 'cultural monument'.
- The Illyrian ruins of Gajtan
- The ruins of medieval city of Sarda are found in an island of the artificial lake of Vau i Dejës, built in 1971. Among the remains are the defense walls, church ruins and the gate to the Dukagjini palace. Sarda is a very picturesque location.
On the way from Tirana to Shkodra in the town of Lezha is interesting to visit the memorial dedicated to burial place of Albanian National Hero, Scanderbeg.
Taken from Albania Hotel.
Doing business in ALBANIA
Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004-08, but declined to about 3% in 2009-10. Inflation is low and stable.
The agricultural sector, which accounts for almost 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.
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.
Albania’s primary imports include machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles and chemicals.It imports from Italy 28%, Greece 13%, China 6.3%, Turkey 5.6%, Germany 5.6%.
In 2009 a new company law requires that disinterested shareholders approve transactions between interested parties and obligates those parties to disclose all information on the transaction to the public. The law also reinforces directors’ duties and requires directors, when found liable, to pay damages and return profits to the company. The corporate income tax rate was reduced from 20 percent to 10 percent effective January 1, 2008.
In 2010 Business start-up was eased by making registration electronic, enhancing the registry’s capacity, reducing the minimum capital requirement from ALL 100 000 to ALL 100, and eliminating the requirement to register at the Chamber of Commerce. Implementation of ASYCUDA World and the purchase of scanners have reduced import customs clearance time.
In 2011 Albania made it easier and less costly for companies to pay taxes by amending several laws, reducing social security contributions and introducing electronic filing and payment.
Taken from Meat Albania 2011