To promote Albania globally; its youth, business and investment opportunities, culture etc.
Contribute to the tourism, and social and economic development in Albania.
Provide high quality services and be the leading tourism agency in Albania.
Establish good relations with our clients and fulfill their needs.
Express our creativity, find solutions, make positive changes and create value in our projects and endeavors.
To expand our scope of work and services.
To broaden Albania’s horizon in the touristic field
To expand Albania’s economic stability
To provide more information about Albania to the international community
To attract foreign investment
The company’s clients include both individual and corporate clients: business people, lecturers, journalists, students, researchers, rural tourists, adventurous travelers, local and international organizations operating in Albania, Kosovo and the like.
To name a few, some of the clients we have worked for include:
Wall Street Journal
Chicago Kent School
Rochester Institute of Technology
American University in Kosovo
Training and Education Institute in Durres
Welcome to our beautiful country, the Land of Eagles.
Albania is an attractive tourist destination thanks to its rich cultural and historical treasures. It is located in a very important section of the Balkan Peninsula, facing ancient Rome and en route to Byzantium and the “capital of the world” at that time, Istanbul. Therefore, many conquerors have passed through the region, leaving traces of their culture, still visible today, including the Hellens, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Venetians and modern Italians.
Fans of archaeology will surely marvel at the mystic atmosphere of castles, churches, mosques, monasteries, old bridges, monuments and ruins of mighty civilizations.
Albania’s living connection to its rich cultural heritage is also complemented by its commitment to keep in pace with a highly vibrant and contemporary life, echoing its spirituality and presence in the European cultural environment.
|Official name:||Republic of Albania|
|Local short name:||Shqipëri/Shipëria/Shqiperi|
|Location:||Southeastern & Southern Europe|
|Population:||3,047,987 (2017 est.)|
|Age Structure:||0-14 years: 18.05% (Males: 290.572/ Females: 259.544)|
15-24 years: 17.47% (Males: 275.969/ Females: 256.416)
23-54 years: 41.06% (Males: 597.421/ Females: 653.965)
55-64 years: 11.54% (Males: 173.105/ Females: 178.575)
|65 years and over: 11.89 % (Males: 169.681/ Females: 192.739)|
|Median Age:||32,9 years (Male: 31,6 years/Female: 34,4 years) 2017 est.|
|Density:||159/km2 or 412/sq mi (estimation)|
|Life Expectancy:||78,5 years|
|Independence Day:||28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)|
|Area:||28 748 km2|
|GDP per capita:||4, 146.90 $ (#tradingeconomies 2018 est.)|
|Language:||Official: Albanian 98,8%, Greek 0.5%. Other 0.6%: Macedonian, Romani, Vlach, Turkish, Italian and Serbo-Croation. Unspecified 0,1% (2011 est.)|
|Religion:||Muslim, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, atheist, Bektashi (Sufi order), Protestant, Jewish, etc.|
|Time zone:||UTC +1|
|Literacy rate:||Males: 98, 4%|
People l Tradition l Values
The traditional Albanian culture is autochthonic and descends directly from the culture of the ancient Illyrian tribes but has been subject to many external influences who founded several colonies in Albania, such as those of Apollonia and Durazzo, then the great process of Romanization under the Roman Empire and Byzantium. The process of Islamization by the Turks, during the domination of the Ottoman Empire has also left lasting traces. Neither should the influence of the Slav people be overlooked. However, despite undergoing all these foreign influences, the Albanian people have succeeded in preserving their own cultural identity.
Traditional Albanian culture separates into two main ethnic groups Gegh and Tosk which have existed and gradually become more consolidated culturally since the Late Middle Ages. Even today several traditions with roots in the ancient history of these groups survive in the family and social life of the rural populations. Many traditions of a spiritual nature are preserved in the minds
of the people and are still evident today in different regions, reflected in their linguistic and musical folklore. The legendary and historical epic is particularly popular.
The traditional Albanian culture shows that the people have never harboured aggressive attitudes towards “the other” who is generally seen not as an enemy or adversary, but simply as something different “The other” is always seen as an ally (as in the case of the Balkan battles on the plains of
Kosovo against the Turks), but also when seen as enemy and adversary (as in the complicated relationship with the Slavs), he is not considered inferior either in strength, courage or wealth. This concept of “the other” explains the value of solidarity that has marked the Albanian people since ancient times and made it possible, for example, for Albanians, whether Christian or Muslams, to coexist peacefully with the Jewish communities. Anti-Semitism is rare among Albanians. In many historical circumstances, for example during the Balkan war and during the last World War, the Albanian people showed their tolerance and solidarity towards Jews and Italians. In recent years, in 1999, the solidarity of the Albanian people was again demonstrated when about a million Albanians from Kosovo poured into the poor northern areas of Albania to escape the Serbian massacres. An increase of about 1/3 of the population, immediately after the economic crisis that Albania suffered in 1997-1998 could have brought the country to its knees, but the solidarity of the population was able to confront this serious emergency.
Many minorities live in Kosovo today. Through the years, because of the long efforts to the exclusive claim over its province, Kosovo has been a collage of ethnicities, languages, cultures that all add and reason to those minorities still here today.
The Ottoman Empire left behind their religion, their language, and their people (dating back to the 14th century). All three mark important facts of our culture today. You can go visit certain places of Kosovo, and realize that the mass are fluent in Turkish. And as for religion-based artifacts of the Ottomans, they are visible in the 90% of Kosovars that are Muslim.
Serbian minority, with 7% of the population, can account for the majority of the minorities in Kosovo. After the Ottoman Empire, Serbia re-acquired Kosovo (the first was during the medieval period before the Ottomans) and thus became their autonomous territory according to the 1974 Yugoslavian Constitution. After that, there were constant quarrels between the Serbians and Kosovars over the status of Kosovo. The result of the disagreement between the two ethnicities resulted in war, and the outcome was many Serbs moving back to Serbia and a small portion of them remaining here. Today, they lead the minorities of the newborn country. Although violence in the past affected both the Serbian and Kosovar society, the Serbs that have remained here continue to live and work on their traditional lands. Mainstreams of Serbs are found in the rural parts of Kosovo where they have remained in their homes throughout the troubles of the past decade. They live their lives and tradition as before and their culture remains out of harm’s way. One of the main cities of Serbian residence is Gracanica, a village not far from Prishtina. Here you can find Serb-language facilities, including schools, university, etc, together with the famous Orthodox monastery dating back to 1321.
The Roma is as well an important minority towards Kosovo’s multiethnic nation. The first Roma can be dated back to 14th century Prizren, although nowadays most are found in the Diaspora following the Kosovar-Serbian conflict. Before the conflict though, the Roma population lived an elite life, having their own institutions, theaters, newspapers and more. During the Kosovar-Serbian clash, the Roma located out of Kosovo, and only a small number remain here still. Their culture and traditions have had great influence on the Kosovo culture, brushing off their significant brass bands and trumpets styles of music onto us. Likewise, the Serbian adopted music known as “tallava,” a fast paced folk music type, has had a great influence in the recent years in Kosovo culture. Through art, music, history, and language, the minorities living in Kosovo leave patched onto our culture as Kosovo leaves some onto theirs.
Art l Music l Theater
Music in Albania may have come to an era where it is strongly westernized and combined with many music genres that occidentalized countries have undertaken the impact of, but traditional Albanian music is still very popular in the region. The traditional instrument used in both Albania and Kosovo is the ciftelia and the mandolin. Other traditional music is folk music Folk music plays an important part in traditional Albanian culture, and is very much alive today. Albanian music has very ancient origins and has only been handed down from father to son orally. The most important musical genre is the kenge te lehta (soft songs). The traditional songs (called popullore) are usually sung by the old people, with the famous hat of Albanian tradition. The vallore songs which are sung and played during elaborate wedding ceremonies are very important. The wealth of Albanian folk musical is reflected in the different musical forms, and include those for solo voice and for several voices. The River Shkumbin that separates the Geg (north) and Tosk (south) ethnic groups also acts as a natural boundary between two types of folk music. To the north of this river we find the mono-phonic music accompanied by specific musical instruments of this area such as the single chord lute and the two- chorded cifteli. To the south of the river polyphonic songs are more common; they are sung without musical accompaniment or with instruments such as the double flute or the bagpipe.
Besides this type of music, which has developed in the villages and rural areas sine the end of the XIX century there is also the traditional folk music of the towns that uses important
instruments such as the clarinet, violin and accordion, as well as local instruments such as the lute, flute and tambourine. Roma music is a mixture of Albanian/Kosovar, Macedonian, Serbian music with a sort of oriental rhythm and it brings about one of the most commonly listened to music nowadays in Albania, known as Tallava.
Albanian film-making is not so frequent as it would be in other countries due to it being a high risk and very high budget industry. There are only a few movies that have been produced and most deal with the concerns of the war. None the less, although it may be a high budget industry, Albania still shows much interest in film-making and have proved it through their hosting of film festivals.
As for theaters, there are some in Tirana, the capital. Some for children plays, others for the use of jazz music or any type of live band in general. The main theater is TOB (Teatri i OPeras dhe Baletit) located in the heart of Tirana where you have plays performed regularly, as well as special theater weeks which usually have visitors coming from outside of Albania to watch.
The typical traditional Albanian costumes for men are; the costume with the “fustanella” (a type of skirt or kilt reaching the knees), the cibun (a type of heavy overcoat) and the poture (short
trousers that reach the knees). The most decorative parts of the costume are the jerkin (worn over a white shirt) or the xhamadan (felt jacket with false sleeves) worn on feast days. The Albanian men also wore silver jewels, such as the little plaques decorating the breast, the decorative buttons of the jerkins, rings, pipes and tobacco containers, but especially, the arms whether sheathed or worn over the shoulder that were finely decorated with filigree patterns in silver and gold.
For the women the main garment was the costume with the xhubleta (a bellshaped skirt). The colours and ornaments of the clothes varied according to the age of the woman. Children and young people normally dressed simply. Unlike with other Balkan peoples, in Albania girls of marrying age had to dress simply with no jewellery, hair covered by a veil and she was not allowed to wear the colour red.
The wedding costume (for both women and men) was a variation with more ornamentation. The bride used silver jewellery not only for ornamentation but also as an amulet against the evil eye. Hair ornaments played a very important role. A few years after the wedding the costume began to lose the rich ornamentation of the wedding. The traditional Albanian costumes have elements that reflect their origins in medieval costumes as well as elements dating back to Byzantine influences (in the south of Albania) or oriental Turkish and Persian influences (central Albania), but there are also survivals that descend directly from Illyrian antiquity. There are many analogies between the traditional costumes and the Illyrian “Dalmatian” costumes, between the head-coverings, the opinga (type of scarf made out of animal skin) and the veils used to cover the hair.
The Architecture of Albania is influenced by Illyrian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Italian architecture, while preserving distinct Albanian features such as the Albanian house. From antiquity to the modern period, cities in Albania have evolved from within the castle to include dwellings, religious, and commercial structures, with constant redesigning of town squares and evolution of building techniques.
The beginnings of architecture in Albania date to the middle Neolithic age with the discovery of prehistoric dwellings in Dunavec and Maliq. They were built on a wooden platform that rested on stakes stuck vertically into the soil. Prehistoric dwellings in Albania consist of three types: houses enclosed either completely on the ground or half underground, both found in Cakran near Fier, and houses constructed above ground.
From the 5th century BC, the Roman colonies of Apollonia and Dyrrachiumflourished, while a number of Illyrian cities emerged such as Byllis, Amantia, Dimali, Albanopolis, and Lissus. They were built on top of the highest hills surrounded by heavily fortified walls. Social structures were also constructed such as the Durrës Colosseum, the temples of Apollonia, Orik, Buthrotum, and various promenades (Stoa), theaters, and stadiums.
Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, the walls of Dyrrah were reinforced with three protective layers, a hypodrome was constructed, while run off and sanitation systems were perfected. Meanwhile, additional structures were added to the centre of Apollonia such as an odeon, library, and Agonothetes. The period also marks the construction of thermal baths that were of social importance as places of gathering.
One of the early Christian structures is the Basilica. The largest of its kind in Albania is that of Butrint, located in the south-eastern part of the ancient city. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the central plan-based Baptiseri of Butrint emerges, being the biggest of its kind in the Mediterranean world.
7th to 15th centuries
During the Middle Ages, a variety of architecture styles developed in the form of dwelling, defense, worship, and engineering structures. However, some inherited historic structures were damaged by invading Ottoman forces.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the consolidation of the Albanian feudal principalities gave rise to Varosha, or neighborhoods outside city walls. Examples of such developments are the Arberesh principalities centred in Petrele, Kruje and Gjirokastraoriginating from the feudal castle.
In the 15th century, close attention was given to protective structures such as the castle fortifications of Lezha, Petrela, Devoll, Butrint, and Shkodra. More reconstructions took place in strategic points such as the Castle of Elbasan, Preza, Tepelena, and Vlora, the latter being the most important on the coast.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the great Pashaliks of the period such as the Bushati Family, Ahmet Kurt Pasha, and Ali Pashe Tepelena reconstructed several fortifications such as the Castle of Shkodra, Berat, and Tepelena respectively. It is important to note that Ali Pashe Tepelena embarked on a major castle building campaign throughout Epirus.
During the 18th century, the city silhouette in Albania began to include places of worship and the Clock Tower. These, together with other social structures such as thermal baths, fountains, and medrese further enriched the city centre and its neighborhoods.
In the 19th century, the bazaar emerges as a production and exchange centre, while the city expands beyond the castle, which completely loses its function and inhabitants. During this period, Shkodra and Korca become important commerce and skilled crafts centres.
The first half of the 20th century begins with the Austro-Hungarian occupation, continues with Fan Noli’s government, King Zog’s kingdom, and ends with the Italian invasion. During this time, Albanian medieval towns underwent urban transformations by Austro-Hungarian architects, giving them the appearance of European cities.
The centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy. Brasini laid the basis for the modern-day arrangement of the ministerial buildings in the city centre. The plan underwent revisions by the Albanian architect Eshref Frashëri, the Italian architect Castellani, and the Austrian architects Weiss and Kohler. The rectangular parallel road system of Tirana e Re district took shape, while the northern portion of the main Boulevard was opened. These urban plans formed the basis of future developments in Albania after WW2.
From 1944 to 1991, cities experienced an ordered development with a decline in architectural quality. Massive socialist-styled apartment complexes, wide roads, and factories were constructed, while town squares were redesigned and a number of historic buildings demolished.
The period after the fall of communism is often described negatively in terms of urban development. Kiosks and apartment buildings started to occupy former public areas without planning, while informal districts formed around cities from internal migrants leaving remote rural areas for the western lowland. Decreasing urban space and increased traffic congestion have become major problems as a result of lack of planning. As part of the 2014 Administrative Division Reform, all town centres in Albania are being physically redesigned and façades painted to reflect a more Mediterranean look.
Despite its small size, Albania offers visitors beautiful and interesting archaeological sites. The most famous of them is the Archaeological Park of Butrint, located in the south of the country, but Albania is home to other relevant archaeological sites that deserve to be discovered.
Archaeological Park of Butrint
Not far from the coastal town of Saranda, considered as the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, there is Butrint, one of the largest archaeological parks of the Balkan Peninsula. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric too. After a period of prosperity, under the Byzantine administration, and a brief occupation by the Venetians, Butrint was then abandoned in the late Middle Ages and marshes formed in the area. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Albania, thanks to its combination of archaeology, nature and Mediterranean panoramas.
The coastal and port town of Durres, the second largest city of the country, is one of the oldest centers of Albania and Europe. The city itself is not one of the most beautiful you’ll see in your Albanian itinerary, but behind the port and the ugly buildings of the coast, is hidden the largest amphitheater of the Balkans, a must-see destination for every history lover. The town hosts also an archaeological museum, Venetian tower, medieval bath and Byzantine market, all not-to-be-missed spots.
Between the city of Vlora and the Llogara Pass, the mountain pass that leads into the Albanian Riviera, is located Orikum, one of the oldest settlments of the country and the first town taken by Julius Caesar during the invasion of Epirus. The most beautiful part of the site is the small theatre which could seat about 400 people. It is situated near the confines of the Naval Base of Pasha Liman, so to visit, it is necessary to have special permission. A plus here is the presence of gorgeous beaches, so you can easily combine cultural tours with relaxing moments!
One of the most important archaeological cities in Albania during the Roman-era, turned by Julius Caesar into a colony, was Byllis, a magical place that offers gorgeous views over the Mallakastra hills and the Vjosa river. A plus here is the total lack of tourists, so if you want to discover a non-touristic place you need to come to this park. The site hosts city walls, two agorae, a large stadium, theatre and a few houses.
Apollonia is a gorgeous archaeological site that everyone should include in their travel itinerary. It is situated near the city of Fier, an industrial town located in the middle of Albania close to Vlora, which is one of the country’s most famous summer destinations. In the ancient times, Apollonia was one of the most important economic and trade centers of Albania and the world, where future Roman emperor Octavian Augustus also studied. The site hosts also an Orthodox monastery and an archaeological museum that’s totally worth a visit.
The archaeological park of Phoenice is a beautiful site located in the south of Albania, near the town of Saranda. In the ancient times, it was one of the most important trade centers of the historic region of Epirus and in the Byzantine-era, when Phoenice became a bishopric, was one of the wealthiest towns of the area. In the 6th-century it was abandoned, while today it’s a beautiful archaeological park.
The population of Albania on January 1st 2018 is 2,870,324 inhabitants, by experiencing a decrease with 0.2 % compared to January 1st 2018.
On January 1st 2018, population structure by sex is 1,438,609 men and 1,431,715 women.
During 2017 the natural increase of population (births-deaths) is 8,637 inhabitants, by experiencing a decrease by 16.5 % compared to the previous year. Net migration (immigration-emigration) in 2017, is -14,902 inhabitants.
|Ethnic groups||Albanian 82.6%, Greek 0.9%, other 1% (including Vlach, Romani, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Egyptian), unspecified 15.5% (2011 est.)|
|Religions||Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi (a Sufi order) 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2%|
note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice (2011 est.)
|Languages||Albanian 98.8% (official – derived from Tosk dialect), Greek 0.5%, other 0.6% (including Macedonian, Romani, Vlach, Turkish, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)|
Albania is a small country with a landmass of 28,748 square km.
It is situated in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It shares borders with Montenegro and Kosovo to the north and northeast, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south. To the west, Albania coast abuts the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
The Adriatic separates Albania from Italy via the Strait of Otranto (72 km). Much of Albania’s surface is mountainous – the average height above sea level is 708 m, and its highest peak, Mount Korab on the Macedonian border, is 2,753 m. Most of the population lives in the south – central lowlands and along the coastal plain.
Albania lies in the subtropical belt and has a Mediterranean climate, with relatively short and mild winter and hot and dry summers. The climate of Albania varies a lot from one region to another with big contrasts in terms of temperature, rainfall, sunshine, air humidity, etc. The annual rainfall is on average 1,430mm per year, decreasing from west to east.
Mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
Area: Ranked 145th
Total 28,748 km2 (11,100 sq mi)
Water 1,350 km2 (520 sq mi)
657 km (408 mi)
Greece 212 km (132 mi),
Montenegro 186 km (116 mi),
Macedonia 181 km (112 mi),
Kosovo 112 km (70 mi)
Mountains, hills, small plains along coast
Lowest point: the Adriatic Sea, 0 m
Highest point: Mount Korab, 2,764 m (9,068 ft)
petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower
The ancient Illyrians are known as the Albanian predecessors and the initial inhabitants on the Balkan Peninsula which were followed by the Slavs in the 6th and 7th centuries.
The people of Albania learned to use bronze about 2,100 BC. Then about 1,000 BC they learned to use iron. The iron age people of Albania are called the Illyrians.
Albania in the 21st century
Gradually stability returned to Albania. However since 1998 the Albanian economy has grown although Albania remains a poor country. Today the government is trying to improve infrastructure in Albania. Meanwhile in 2009 Albania joined NATO. Today Albania is hoping to join the EU. Today the population of Albania is 2.9 million.
Then in 1912 war broke out between the Turks and the Balkan League (Montenegro, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria). By 1912 the Turkish Empire was in steep decline and Albanians were afraid their country would be divided up between members of the Balkan League. To prevent that happening Albanian leaders met in Vlora and on 28 November 1912 they declared independence.
On 20 December 1912 the European great powers (Britain, France, Germany, Austria and Russia recognised Albanian independence. In 1913 they appointed a commission to demarcate Albania’s borders. However they refused to recognise the provisional government in Albania. Instead they made a German prince, William of Wied king of Albania. William arrived in Albania in March 1914. However he fled after only six months in September 1914. Albania then split into regions without any central government.
However in 1918 the Albanians formed a provisional government. Elections were held and a parliament sat in Tirana in 1920. The Albanian Interior Minister was Ahmet Zogu (1895-1961). In December 1922 he became Albanian premier. However Zogu lost the election in January 1924 and he fled abroad in June 1924. Yet in December 1924 with Yugoslav help he marched on Tirana and overthrew the government. Zogu quickly made himself dictator. In 1928 he made himself King Zog of Albania.
However Italian influence increased in Albania under Zog’s rule. Finally on 7 April 1939
Mussolini, the Italian dictator invaded Albania. Zog fled abroad.
Mussolini installed a puppet government and after Germany conquered Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941 some their territory was given to Albania. Yet in November 1941 a Communist Party was formed with Enver Hoxha (1908-1985) as its secretary. From the summer of 1942 the Communists fought the Italians but when Italy surrendered in 1943 the Germans stepped in and occupied Albania. Yet the Communists formed a provisional government in May 1944. In October 1944 the Germans began to withdraw from Albania. Finally on 28 November 1944 the Communists entered Tirana. They then imposed a totalitarian regime in Albania.
The Communists began to nationalise industry in Albania and at first relations with Yugoslavia were friendly. However in 1948 Yugoslavia isolated itself from the Soviet Union and the other Eastern European Communist countries. Albania promptly ended economic agreements with Yugoslavia and in 1950 they broke off diplomatic relations (they were restored in 1953).
Then in the late 1950s relations between the Soviet Union and China grew worse. Albania sided with China and in the late 1950s the Chinese increased their economic aid to Albania. Finally in 1961 Albania broke off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
After Mao died in 1976 relations between Albania and China cooled and ordinary people were completely isolated from the rest of the world. Enver Hoxha died in 1985 but the tyrannical regime in Albania continued.
Meanwhile Enver Hoxha was, like all Marxists an atheist. In 1967 he declared that Albania was the atheistic state in the world. Hoxha did all he could to eradicate religion from Albania. All religious buildings were closed and all worship was banned.
In 1990 the Albanian leader Ramiz Alia introduced some minor reforms. However in December 1990 student demonstrations forced the government to allow other political parties to form in Albania. Elections were held on 31 March 1991. The Communists won but a general strike in June forced them to resign. A coalition then ruled Albania until new elections were held in March 1992 and the Communist Party was forced to reinvented itself as the Socialist Party.
Meanwhile religious freedom was introduced in Albania in 1990. Today the majority of Albanians are Muslims. Significant minorities are Orthodox or Catholic.
In 1995 and 1996 pyramid investment schemes sprang up in Albania but at the end of 1996 they began to collapse. The result was unrest in Albania which forced the government to hold new elections in June 1997.
Ottoman Empire (1455 to 1912)
The Turks occupied southern and central Albania in the years 1415-1423. However in 1443 a rebellion broke out. It was led by George Kastrioti (1403-1468). Under him and his son the Albanians in the north continued to resist the Turks until 1479.
Under Turkish rule some Albanians converted to Islam although Christians were allowed to practice their religion. Generally Turkish rule brought stability to Albania. However in the late 19th century a strong independence movement grew up in Albania. The nationalist movement promoted Albanian language and culture.
Early History and the Middle-Ages
The Illyrians eventually came into conflict with Rome and the Romans conquered them in 167 BC. Under Roman rule Albania prospered. The Romans built roads in the area and towns like Elbasani grew up. However in 395 the Roman Empire split into two parts, East and West. Albania became part of the Eastern Empire, which is known to us as the Byzantine Empire.
During the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries Germanic peoples invaded Albania several times but they always withdrew. Between the invasions life went on as normal.
Yet because of its position on the edge of the Byzantine Empire Albania was weakly defended. In the 10th century the Bulgarians conquered large parts of Albania. However the Byzantines recovered their territory in the early 11th century when they were led by emperor Basil II.
However in the 11th century the Normans captured Sicily and southern Italy and they turned their attention to Albania. They landed on the coast in 1081 and they captured Durresi but the Byzantines took it back in 1083 with help from Venice.
In 1204 the Crusaders captured Constantinople. For a time Albania was freed from Byzantine control and it was up for grabs. There followed a period of warfare with different powers fighting to control of Albania. Venice first seized central and southern Albania but they only directly ruled the main ports. After 1210 a Greek Vassal called Michael Commenus ruled the hinterland. However in 1215 Michael turned on the Venetians and he formed the despotate of Epirus.
Then in the late 13th century the Byzantines struggled with the kingdom of southern Italy and Sicily for control of Albania. The Byzantines eventually drove the Italians out but in the 14th century Albania fell to the Serbs.
The Serbian king Stefan Dusan first invaded Albania in 1343. However after his death in 1355 the Serbs lost control of Albania and the feudal lords fought among themselves for control. However there was a new threat to Albania – the Ottoman Turks.
Languages spoken in Albania are:
English – widely spoken especially by youth
With approximately more than 90% of the population of Albanians being ethnic Albanians, the Albanian language is recognized as an official language. Other languages including Turkish, Romani, Serbian, Macedonia and Bosnian are also spoken.
English is widely spoken, especially by youth. English is also taught at schools starting from primary education.
Albanian is an Indo-European language that is spoken by numerous inhabitants of the Albanian culture especially those bordering the Albanian and Kosovo countries. The language is divided into two main dialects used depending on the geographical area of the inhabitants. The first dialect, Tosk, which derives from southern Albania, is mostly used in Albania, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, whereas Gheg, the second, is spoken by the majority of the Kosovar people and in places such as Macedonia and Montenegro and northern Albania.
The language is very distinct to most Indo-European languages and it remains independent of its sub-group. The closest relation towards the language can be the ancient Illyrian language.
The Albanian alphabet is:
A B C Ç D DH E Ë F G GJ H I J K L LL M N NJ O P Q R RR S SH T TH U V X XH Y Z ZH
In lowercase, it is:
a b c ç d dh e ë f g gj h i j k l ll m n nj o p q r rr s sh t th u v x xh y z zh
STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION SYSTEM
Duration of compulsory education:
Age of entry: 6
Age of exit: 14
Structure of school system:
Basic First Stage
Type of school providing this education: Cikël i Ulët (Elementary)
Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 6 to: 10
Basic Second Stage
Type of school providing this education: Cikël i Lartë (Primary)
Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 10 to: 14
Certificate/diploma awarded: Dëftesë Lirimi (Leaving Certificate)
Type of school providing this education: Shkollë e Mesme e Përgjithshme (High School)
Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 14 to: 18
Certificate/diploma awarded: Dëftesë Pjekurie (Maturity Certificate)
Type of school providing this education: Shkollë Professionale (Vocational School)
Length of program in years: 3
Age level from: 14 to: 17
Certificate/diploma awarded: Dëftesë e përfundimit dhe Çertifikatë e aftësive profesionale për punëtor të kualifikuar (Certificate and certificate of vocational abilities)
Type of school providing this education: Shkollë Teknike (High Technical School)
Length of program in years: 5
Age level from: 14 to: 19
Certificate/diploma awarded: Dëftesë e përfundimit dhe Çetifikatë e aftësive profesionale për punëtor të kualifikuar
Basic education lasts for eight years, divided into two cycles of four years each and leads to the Dëftesë Lirimi (Leaving Certificate). Secondary education consists of the ninth through twelfth grades, which are taught in the shkollë e mesme (high school). The Dëftesë Pjekurie (Maturity Certificate) is awarded at the end. Access to higher education requires the passing of an entrance examination. Admission to high school requires a Dëftesë Lirimi (Leaving Certificate) from a shkollë 8-vjecare (eight-year school).
The higher education system in Albania consists of eight universities, two academies and six non public higher schools.
Main laws/decrees governing higher education:
Decree: Decision of the Council of Ministers no 156 Year: 2001
Concerns: Post-university qualifications and qualifications for research and teaching personnel
Decree: Law on Education Year: 1995
Concerns: Pre-university level
Decree: Law on Higher Education no 8461 Year: 1999
Concerns: University, non-university and post-university schools
Classes from: Oct to: Jun
Languages of instruction: Albanian
Stages of studies:
Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):
University level studies:
University level first stage: Diplomë (Bachelor):
The first stage of higher education usually takes 6 to 12 semesters (3 to 6 years) (6 semesters for most disciplines, 12 semesters in Medicine). A Titull (title) is conferred.
University level second stage: Diplomë e Studimeve te Thelluara pasuniversitare (Master):
Postgraduate studies lasting 2 – 4 semesters after completion of the first stage of higher education lead to the Diplomë e Studimeve te Thelluara pasuniversitare degree (Master). Students must prepare a thesis.
University level third stage: Doktor I Shkencave (Doctor of Sciences):
Studies lasting for 6 to 10 semesters after the Master consist in individual study and research (while working). The title of Doktor I Shkencave is conferred. Admission prerequisites include research and scientific activities and publications. The candidate, under the supervision of a scientific researcher, must prepare and defend a dissertation thesis. There is a grading system.
Albania is a breathtaking example of the beauty of the Balkans. Whether you are driving or taking a bus or train, enjoying the scenery laid out before you will be well worth the journey. Fortunately getting around Albania is fairly straightforward and cheap, with many different transportation options to suit your needs so that enjoying the view is that much easier.
Current there is only one International airport in Albanian airport which has commercial schedule and charter flights arriving, this is obviously the airport by Tirana, but soon further airports will be available, in the northeastern part of Albanian south of the city Kukës the airport has recently been upgraded with a 1800 long asphalt runway, so it is likely that commercial traffic could start from this airport in 2017. Also the small airport by Shkodër is like to get and upgrade soon, so that commercial traffic could be flying to this airport from around 2018.
The common name for the airport by Tirana is Rinas airport or Tirana International Airport Nënë Terezat, the airport is located about 18 km northwest of Tirana center. The cheapest way of getting to town, is to take the Rinas Express Bus which has hourly service from 6am to 6pm, the trip to the center takes about 30 minutes. The companies Adria airways, Mistral Air, Ablawings, Alitalia and Blu-express has the Tirana airport as focos airport, in total more than 20 airlines has routes to Tirana airport. If you need to continue your travel to cities like Durres, Shkoder, Vlore you can do so from the bus station in Tirana, which has connection to most of the country.
Other airports in Albania:
In additional to the above mentioned airports there are airports with grass runways near the cities Sarandë, Gjirokastër, Korçë, currently there is no plans to upgrade any of these.
Alternative airports when flying to Albania:
If you are traveling to the northern part of Albania e.g to Shkodër, flying to Podgorica airport might be an alternative to consider.
If you are traveling to the eastern part of the country e.g. to Pogradec or Korçë, the airport in Ohrid might be an alternative to consider.
From Tirana airport to the southern part of Albania e.g Sarandë there is about 300 km, which is a 5-6 hour drive, so could check if flying to Corfu Airport in Greece, would shorten the trip.
The trains in Albania are very old and never fast, though they do offer unique views. Though there are trains, it is more common to travel by bus or car in Albania now, and the schedules for the trains are questionable at best.
Buses in Albania are cheap and a great way of meeting people, and you see much more of the countryside than you would squashed up, hurtling along in a furgon, but they tend to take a long time. Road work continues even on Sundays and the roads can be quite bad. Buses also often stop on the way to pick people up or let them off, unlike furgons, which don’t start until they’re full, then only stop occasionally for snacks. The timetables at bus stations are fairly accurate and the buses are reasonably comfortable which makes them a great way for foreigners to navigate the country. It’s best to get yourself a bottle of water – pronounced oowi – before you set off.
Minibus or Furgon
Some visitors to Albania have a great time on the Furgons. These minibuses usually go the same routes as buses, but pick people up until they are full and then make no stops except when people need to get off, making them much faster on certain routes. However, because Furgon timetables are more focused on the number of people riding, arrival or departure times can vary. Pay attention to always get on the furgon with the most people, because that’s the one that will leave first. There will more than likely be several drivers trying to get you to take their furgon but be warned, if you choose one because it looks comfortable but has no one else in it, you could end up waiting for 45 minutes. Furgons are amazing because you can literally go cross-country for about 1o euros.
Rental Car & Taxi
Taxis are common and easy to grab when getting from place to place. Though they are more expensive than buses or furgons, they are not prohibitive for most travelers. Another popular thing to do in Albania is to simply rent a car. You can rent a 4×4 which is very capable of handling the roads and there are some good off-road driving opportunities along the coast and in the mountains.
The main responsible safety bodies in Albania consist of the local police which is assisted by the international police. The reliability of electricity, telecommunications and the water systems has improved to a great extent compared to past years. The Albanian Police Service normally performs regular police functions and duties and is constantly assisted in such tasks by professional international officers.
Nearly all of the cities in Albania are considered safe as they possess fairly low rates of crime and violence.
The number to be dialed in cases of any emergency requiring the ambulance, police, or fire services is 92 for land lines and 211 for mobile telephones. In cases of non-emergencies, any local police stations may be contacted.
The constitution states that Albania is a Parliamentary Republic, and its system of government is based on the principle of separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the State guarantees the freedom to establish political parties, which respects democratic principles, and the law prohibits the establishment of political parties and other organizations, programs and activities based on the principle of pluralism, or that which encourages and supports racial, religious, regional or ethnic hatred, or which use violence as a means to seize power or to influence policy, as well as parties that have secret nature and guarantee freedom of expression in public life. The armed forces secure the country’s independence and maintain its territorial integrity and constitutional order, it is committed to maintaining neutrality in political matters and is under civilian control.
Parliament consists of 140 members. Representatives are elected by proportional electoral system, members of parliament are elected for four years.
The President is the head of state and represents the unity of the people, and the person to be elected President of the Republic must be a citizen of Albania, and must have resided in Albania during the last ten years, he/she should not be under the age of forty, and the president is elected for five years and may be re-elected for one term only .
THE MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL PARTIES IN ALBANIA:
The Socialist Party formed a coalition government in alliance with the Socialist Movement for Integration after winning parliamentary elections in June 2013.
Socialist Party was founded in 1991 on the wake of the Albanian labors’ Party (the former communist party). The Socialist Party is biggest force of the political left wing, an associate of the Party of European Socialists (PES), and a member of the Socialist International , the party enjoys good popularity in the southern regions of the country.
Chairman of the party: Mr. / Edi Rama.
Albanian Democratic Party was founded in December 1990, as it is the first political party that was created after allowing political pluralism in Albania, the Democratic Party is one of the political right-wing forces. It is also a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), the party enjoys good popularity in the northern and central regions of the country.
Chairman of the party: Mr. / Lulzim Basha
Socialist Movement for Integration
Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) is a social-democratic political party in Albania. The LSI was formed on 6 September 2004 when Ilir Meta, broke from the Socialist Party of Albania (PS), LSI is a member of the Socialist International, and this party represents the third political force in the country.
Chairman of the party: Mrs. Monika Kryemadhi.
THE MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL FIGURES IN ALBANIA
Mr. Ilir Meta, President of the Republic. Was elected in April 2017, for a 5 year period upon proposal by the Socialist Movement for Integration and approval and votes of the MPs of the Socialist Party.
Mr. Edi Rama, Prime Minister and head of the Socialist Party, took over the reins of the government in September 2013, after his party won the parliamentary elections of June 2013. He served also as Mayor of Tirana for eleven years in a row from 2000 till 2011.
Mr. Gramoz Ruçi, Speaker of Parliament, a prominent figure in the Socialist Party. Prior to his election as Speaker of Parliament, he was the head of parliament group of the Socialist Party since 2009.
Mr. Lulzim Basha, the Chairman of the Democratic Party, took over the presidency of the Democratic Party in July 2013, as the former chairman of the Democratic Party submitted his resignation from the presidency of the party after losing the parliamentary elections held in June 2013. He served also as mayor of Tirana mayor from 2011-2015.
Mr. Erion Veliaj, the Mayor of Tirana, assumed his current position after winning the municipal elections in 2015, Mr. Erion Veliaj is one of the key young members of the socialist Party, as well he is one of the closest persons of Mr. Edi Rama, the incumbent Prime Minister. He served also as Minister of Labor and Social welfare from 2013 till 2015.
The last presidential elections were held on April 28, 2017 by Parliament according to the constitution, in which Mr. Ilir Meta was elected in this position. Officially he took office as President of the Republic on July 24, 2017. The Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Tirana Mr. Hashim Ibrahim Al Sada, participated in the inauguration ceremony of the new President of the Republic. The next presidential elections are scheduled to take place in 2022.
The last parliamentary elections were conducted on June 25, 2017, in which the Socialist Party gained a clear victory and secured 74 mandates in Parliament, allowing it to form the new government by itself. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in 2021.
The last municipal elections were held in 2015, was won by the left wing alliance led by the Socialist party, after defeating the right wing alliance led by Democratic Party, this last municipal elections have been conducted according to the new territorial and administrative law, adopted in 2014. The next Municipal elections are scheduled to be held in 2019 according to the law.
Albania’s economic freedom score is 64.5, making its economy the 65th freest in the 2018 Index. Its overall score has increased by 0.1 point, with a dramatic improvement in fiscal health offsetting lower scores for the judicial effectiveness and tax burden indicators and a sharp decline in business freedom. Albania is ranked 32nd among 44 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is below the regional average but above the world average.
Albania’s transition to a more open and flexible economic system has been facilitated by a decade of substantial restructuring. Progress in income growth and poverty reduction has been considerable. A competitive trade regime supported by a relatively efficient regulatory framework has encouraged the development of a growing entrepreneurial sector. Despite this progress, however, more reforms are needed, especially in the area of rule of law, to encourage the growth of economic freedom and ensure continued vibrant economic development.
The Balkan nation of Albania transitioned from Communist rule to Europe’s newest multiparty democracy in 1991. The political situation stabilized after state-sanctioned pyramid schemes collapsed in 1997. Edi Rama became prime minister in 2013, and his Socialist Party won an outright parliamentary majority in June 2017. Albania secured European Union candidacy status in 2014, and EU accession is a major goal of the new government. The economy is dominated by agriculture, which employs about half of the workforce, but services and tourism are increasingly important. The country remains one of the poorest in Europe, with sluggish economic growth hindered by a large informal economy and weak energy and transportation infrastructure. High unemployment and a lack of opportunity spur substantial emigration.
The main city of Albania is Tirana which is the capital the administrative center of the country, as well. Tirana is well known for its very modern lifestyle, and a lot of people around the globe live and work in Tirana. Tirana is also known for great nightlife, so if you are a party animal, drop by any club in Tirana and enjoy yourselves.
Other main cities include: Durres, Fier, Elbasan, Vlora, Shkoder and Korca. These cities carry a background of historical heritage and are mostly visited by tourists who love to hear stories of previous events in the Balkans, and especially Albania’s transition from a political system to another, in the road to independence.
Main touristic attractions of Albania are located in the North and Southwest of Albania such as the Valbona Valley in Tropoja, Voskopja Monasteries, and Zverneci Monastery, Berati and its old part of the town known as the city of a thousand and one windows, and Gjirokaster with its beautiful castle, Vjosa river, Lake Ohrid, our magnificent coast line and other historical and religious monuments. Butrinti is considered one of the pearls of ancient history.
Albanian flag consists of a red leaf where a black double-headed eagle is depicted. The flag was adopted in 1912 when Albania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. The origin of the flag is associated with a national hero Skanderbeg (formerly George Kastrioti), who lived in the fifteenth century and who was a general of the Turkish army. However, Skanderbeg left the army so that he can return to Albania and erect the flag with double-headed eagle above the castle of his father in Kruje with words: “I did not bring you freedom. I found it here, among you.” After his return to Albania, Skanderbeg managed to unify Albania and defend it against the Turkish attacks.
Click here to download the flag of Albania