Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy.


The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997.


In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Although Albania’s economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure.


Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in south-eastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU. Albania, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism.


Location: South-eastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references:
Area: total: 28,748 sq. km

land: 27,398 sq. km

water: 1,350 sq. km

Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 717 km

border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km

Coastline: 362 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate: mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
Terrain: mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m

highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 20.1%

permanent crops: 4.21%

other: 75.69% (2005)

Irrigated land: 3,530 sq. km (2003)
Total renewable water


41.7 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal total: 1.71 cu km/yr (27%/11%/62%)

per capita: 546 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along south-western coast; floods; drought
Environment – current


deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note: strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)
Population: 3 639 453 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.1% (male 440,528/female 400,816)

15-64 years: 67.1% (male 1,251,001/female 1,190,841)

65 years and over: 9.8% (male 165,557/female 190,710) (2009 est.)

Median age: Total: 29.9 years

male: 29.3 years

female: 30.6 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.55% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 15.29 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate: 5.55 deaths/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Net migration rate: — 4.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population

(2009 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate: total: 18.62 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 19.05 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 18.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.96 years

male: 75.28 years

female: 80.89 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.01 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Albanian(s)

adjective: Albanian

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

note: in 1989, other estimates of the Greek population ranged from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization)

Religions: Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%

note: percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice

Languages: Albanian (official – derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects
Literacy: definition: age 9 and over can read and write

total population: 98.7%

male: 99.2%

female: 98.3% (2001 census)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Albania

conventional short form: Albania

local long form: Republika e Shqiperise

local short form: Shqiperia

former: People’s Socialist Republic of Albania

Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Tirana (Tirane)

geographic coordinates: 41 19 N, 19 49 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions: 37 municipalities (komunat/opstine, singular – komuna/opstina); Decan/Decani, Dragash/Dragas, Ferizaj/Urosevac, Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje, Gjakove/Dakovica, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Gllogovc/Glogovac, Gracanice/Gracanica, Hani i Elezit/Deneral Jankovic, Istog/Istok, Junik, Kacanik/Kacanik, Kamenice/Kamenica, Kline/Klina, Kllokot/Klokot, Leposaviq/Leposavic, Lipjan/Lipljan, Malisheve/Malisevo, Mamushe/Mamusa, Mitrovice/Mitrovica, Novoberde/Novo Brdo, Obiliq/Obilic, Partesh/Partes, Peje/Pec, Podujeve/Podujevo, Prishtine/Pristina, Prizren, Rahovec/Orahovac, Ranillug/Ranilug, Shterpce/Strpce, Shtime/Stimlje, Skenderaj/Srbica, Suhareke/Suva Reka, Viti/Vitina, Vushtrri/Vucitrn, Zubin Potok, Zvecan/Zvecan
Independence: 28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday: Independence Day, 28 November (1912)
Constitution: adopted by popular referendum on 22 November 1998; promulgated 28 November 1998
Legal system: civil law system except in the northern rural areas where customary law known as the “Code of Leke” prevails
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
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

elections: president elected by the People’s Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); four election rounds held between 8 and 20 July 2007 (next election to be held in 2012); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Bamir TOPI elected president; People’s Assembly vote, fourth round (three-fifths majority (84 votes) required): Bamir TOPI 85 votes, Neritan CEKA 5 votesnote – on 30 May and 04 June the parliament has failed to elect a new president

Legislative branch: unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 deputies; 100 deputies elected directly in single member electoral zones with an approximate number of voters; 40 deputies elected from multi-name lists of parties or party coalitions according to their respective order; elected for a 4-year term)

elections: last held on 28 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)

election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PD 68, PS 65, LSI 4, other 3

Judicial branch: Constitutional Court consists of 9 members appointed by the president with the consent of the Assembly who serve 9-year terms (chairman is elected by the People’s Assembly for a four-year term); the High Court members appointed by the president with the consent of the Assembly for a 9-year term; note – there are also courts of appeal and courts of first instance
Political parties and leaders: Agrarian Environmentalist Party or PAA [Lufter XHUVELI]; Christian Democratic Party or PDK [Nard NDOKA]; Communist Party of Albania or PKSH [Hysni MILLOSHI]; Democratic Alliance Party or AD [Neritan CEKA]; Democratic Party or PD [Sali BERISHA]; Legality Movement Party or PLL [Ekrem SPAHIA]; Liberal Union Party or BLD [Arjan STAROVA]; Movement for National Development or LZhK [Dashamir SHEHI]; National Front Party (Balli Kombetar) or PBK [Adriatik ALIMADHI]; New Democratic Party or PDR [Genc POLLO]; Party of National Unity or PUK [Idajet BEQIRI]; Republican Party or PR [Fatmir MEDIU]; Social Democracy Party of Albania or PDSSh [Paskal MILO]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Skender GJINUSHI]; Socialist Movement for Integration or LSI [Ilir META]; Socialist Party or PS [Edi RAMA]; Union for Human Rights Party or PBDNj [Vangjel DULE]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Red and Black Alliance [Kreshnik SPAHIU]; Front for Albanian National Unification or FBKSH [Gafur ADILI]; Mjaft Movement [Elton KACIDHJA]; Omonia [Vasil BOLLANO]; Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania or BSPSH [Gezim KALAJA]
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Gilbert GALANXHI

chancery: S1312 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 223-4942

FAX: [1] (202) 628-7342

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Dr. John L. WITHERS, II

embassy: Rruga e Elbasanit, Labinoti #103, Tirana

mailing address: US Department of State, 9510 Tirana Place, Dulles, VA 20189-9510

telephone: [355] (4) 247285

FAX: [355] (4) 232222

Flag description: red with a black two-headed eagle in the centre
Telephones – main lines in use: 338,800(2005)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 3,100,000(2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines, the density of main lines remains low with roughly 10 lines per 100 people; cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective; combined fixed line and mobile telephone density is approximately 60 telephones per 100 persons

domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003 two companies were providing mobile services at a greater density than some of Albania’s neighbours; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005; internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital

international: country code – 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2007)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 13, FM 46, shortwave 1 (2005)
Television broadcast stations: 65 (3 national, 62 local); 2 cable networks (2005)
Internet country code: al
Internet hosts: 15,505 (2010)
Internet users: 1.3 million (2009)
Airports: 5 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Heliports: 1 (2012)
Pipelines: gas 339 km; oil 207 km (2010)
Railways: total: 339 km

standard gauge: 339 km 1.435-m gauge (2009)

Roadways: total: 18,000 km

paved: 7,020 km

unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)

Waterways: 41 km (on the Bojana River) (2011)
Merchant marine: total: 17

by type: cargo 16, roll on/roll off 1

foreign-owned: 1 (Turkey 1)

registered in other countries: 5 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Panama 4) (2010)

Ports and terminals: Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore
Military branches: Land Forces Command, Air Forces Command, Training and Doctrine Command (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 19 years of age (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 731,111

females age 16-49: 780,216 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 622,379

females age 16-49: 660,715 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 16-49: 31,986

females age 16-49: 29,533 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures – percent of GDP: 1.49% (2005 est.)


Lagging behind its Balkan neighbours, 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.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: None
Illicit drugs: increasingly active transhipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and – to a lesser extent – cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and growing cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens