Europe :: Albania
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Albania
Map of Albania
Introduction ::Albania
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; however, there have been claims of electoral fraud in every one of Albania's post-communist elections. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges to reduce crime and corruption, promote economic growth, and decrease the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. 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.
Geography ::Albania
Southeastern 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:
total: 28,748 sq km
country comparison to the world: 144
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
362 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Current Weather
mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
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 resources:
41.7 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.71 cu km/yr (27%/11%/62%)
per capita: 546 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, 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)
People ::Albania
3,659,616 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.6% (male 432,756/female 394,119)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 1,264,177/female 1,202,671)
65 years and over: 10% (male 170,273/female 195,620) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 30.2 years
male: 29.6 years
female: 31 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.559% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
Birth rate:
15.39 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
Death rate:
5.66 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
Net migration rate:
-4.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
urban population: 47% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 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 (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 17.96 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 107
male: 18.39 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.13 years
country comparison to the world: 51
male: 75.45 years
female: 81.07 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
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)
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
Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects
definition: age 9 and over can read and write
total population: 98.7%
male: 99.2%
female: 98.3% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2004)
Education expenditures:
2.9% of GDP (2002)
country comparison to the world: 147
Government ::Albania
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:
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:
12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore
28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 28 November (1912)
approved by parliament on 21 October 1998; adopted by popular referendum on 22 November 1998; promulgated 28 November 1998
Legal system:
has a civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; has accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court for its citizens
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
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elections: president elected by the 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; Assembly vote, fourth round (three-fifths majority, 84 votes, required): Bamir TOPI 85 votes, Neritan CEKA 5 votes
Legislative branch:
unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 seats; 100 members elected by direct popular vote and 40 by proportional vote to serve four-year terms)
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 64, LSI 4, other 4
note: Parliament in November 2008 approved an electoral reform package that transformed the electoral system from a majority system to a regional proportional system; the code also established an electoral threshold limiting smaller party representation
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court, Supreme Court (chairman is elected by the People's Assembly for a four-year term) and multiple appeals and district courts
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]; G99 Political Movement [Erion VELIAJ]; Liberal Union Party or BLD [Arjan STAROVA]; National Front Party (Balli Kombetar) or PBK [Artur ROSHI]; New Democratic Party or PDR [Genc POLLO]; 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]; Socialist Party 1991 [Petro KOCI]; Union for Human Rights Party or PBDNj [Vangjel DULE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Citizens Advocacy Office [Kreshnik SPAHIU]; Confederation of Trade Unions of Albania or KSSH [Kastriot MUCO]; Front for Albanian National Unification or FBKSH [Gafur ADILI]; Mjaft Movement; Omonia [Jani JANI]; Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania or BSPSH [Gezim KALAJA]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Aleksander SALLABANDA
chancery: 2100 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 223-4942
FAX: [1] (202) 628-7342
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador 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) 2247285
FAX: [355] (4) 2232222
Flag description:
red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero George Castriota SKANDERBERG, who led a successful uprising against the Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-1478)
Economy ::Albania
Economy - overview:
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 4% in 2009. Inflation is low and stable. 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 representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over 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. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment needed to expand the country's export base. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$22.9 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$22.08 billion (2008 est.)
$20.81 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP
GDP (official exchange rate):
$11.86 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
6.1% (2008 est.)
6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$6,300 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
$6,100 (2008 est.)
$5,800 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 21.5%
industry: 19.5%
services: 59% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
1.103 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 58%
industry: 15%
services: 27% (September 2006 est.)
Unemployment rate:
12.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
12.8% (2008 est.)
note: these are official rates, but actual rates may exceed 30% due to preponderance of near-subsistence farming
Population below poverty line:
25% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 25.9% (2005)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
26.7 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 126
Investment (gross fixed):
29% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
revenues: $3.368 billion
expenditures: $4.227 billion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
58.1% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
53.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
3.4% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
6.25% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 70
6.25% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
13.02% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
14.1% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$3.028 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 83
$2.707 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$6.251 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 75
$6.433 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$8.176 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 80
$7.247 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products
food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Industrial production growth rate:
-1.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
Electricity - production:
2.888 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
Electricity - consumption:
3.603 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
2.475 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
5,400 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
Oil - consumption:
36,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
Oil - exports:
749 bbl/day (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
Oil - imports:
24,080 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
Oil - proved reserves:
199.1 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
Natural gas - production:
30 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
Natural gas - consumption:
30 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
Natural gas - proved reserves:
849.5 million cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
Current account balance:
-$1.845 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
-$2.048 billion (2008 est.)
$1.048 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
$1.356 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners:
Italy 58.75%, Greece 9.69%, Austria 6.73%, China 5.68% (2009)
$4.264 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
$4.908 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Italy 29.94%, Greece 14.05%, Turkey 7.1%, Germany 6.9%, China 5.39% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.37 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
$2.364 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.55 billion (2004)
country comparison to the world: 141
Exchange rates:
leke (ALL) per US dollar - 93.928 (2009), 79.546 (2008), 92.668 (2007), 98.384 (2006), 102.649 (2005)
Communications ::Albania
Telephones - main lines in use:
316,400 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 113
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.141 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 109
Telephone system:
general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines teledensity remains low with roughly 10 fixed lines per 100 people; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is approaching 100 per 100 persons
domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003, two companies were providing mobile services at a greater teledensity than some of Albania's neighbors; 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 (2008)
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:
Internet hosts:
14,245 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 110
Internet users:
471,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 109
Transportation ::Albania
5 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 176
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
1 (2009)
gas 339 km; oil 207 km (2009)
total: 896 km
country comparison to the world: 96
standard gauge: 896 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
total: 18,000 km
country comparison to the world: 117
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)
43 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 105
Merchant marine:
total: 24
country comparison to the world: 91
by type: cargo 22, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Turkey 1)
registered in other countries: 2 (Panama 2) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore
Military ::Albania
Military branches:
Joint Force Command (includes Land, Naval, and Aviation Brigade Commands), Joint Support Command (includes Logistic 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: 947,446
females age 16-49: 910,145 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 802,097
females age 16-49: 768,953 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 35,249
female: 31,855 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.49% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
Transnational Issues ::Albania
Disputes - international:
the Albanian Government calls for the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians in neighboring countries, and the peaceful resolution of interethnic disputes; some ethnic Albanian groups in neighboring countries advocate for a "greater Albania," but the idea has little appeal among Albanian nationals; the mass emigration of unemployed Albanians remains a problem for developed countries, chiefly Greece and Italy
Illicit drugs:
increasingly active transshipment 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 expanding 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

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)