Below is a list of Travel Destinations in Albania. Feel free to leave your comments or additions to any of the sites.
Currency: Lek (ALL)
Calling Code: 355
Much of the current Berat Castle you see today was constructed by Despot of Epirus, Michael Angelus Comnenus, cousin of the Byzantine Emperor.
Balibardha Castle is a medieval citadel in Berat County of Albania. Modern location is fairly remote. Little remains from the original structure today.
Durrës is one of the largest cities in Albania with rich history and plenty of historic sites that date as early as the Antiquity to magnificent, but abandoned palace of the Albanian monarchs of the early 20th century.
Kruje Castle became famous as the last resort of Christian resistance against invading Ottoman Turks. A small garrison of Albanians was headed by an Albanian lord George Kastrioti Skanderbeg.
Elbasan Castle is a Turkish citadel constructed by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. It controls Ancient Roman road Via Egnatia that was in use centuries after its construction.
Shebenik- Jabllanice National Park is a fairly new national park established in 2008. It covers 33,927 hectares of pristine virgin forests full of wild life.
Apollonia is an ancient city in Illyria was found in 588 BC by the Greek colonists from Corinth and Corfu. Although much of the city buried, its ruins are impressive.
Ardenica Monastery was found in 1282 on the orders of Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos after he defeated Capetian House of Anjou that ruled Sicily.
Rozafa Castle is a medieval citadel near a town of Shkodër in Albania. It is most famous for its gruesome legend of its construction.
Shkoder in the North Albania is one of the most unique and interesting places not only in Albania, but in Adriatic basin.
Mount Dajti National Park overlooking the capital of Albania is deemed as "balcony of Tirana" and offers a beautiful view of the capital.
Petrelë Castle is located on top of the mountain overlooking Erzen valley in Tirana County. It was constructed as guard post in the fifth century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
Tirana, capital of Albania, is also the largest city in the country. It was found by the Ottoman Turks in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini. In 1920, shortly after gaining its independence in 1912, Albanian capital was moved here.
Ali Pasha Castle was constructed on the orders of Ali Pasha of Tepelenë in 1819. It was found on the base of the 17th century citadel that belonged to Corfiote family.
Butrint is famous for its ruins of the ancient Greek and Roman city that are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Llogara Pass is a protected National Park that is situated between Vlora and Dhermiu nearby.
Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park is located in the South- West part of Albania in a Vlore Region. It covers a total area of 12,428 hectares with an offshore section of Karaburun peninsula equal to 9849 hectares.
Saranda is a large Albanian port that is often called "the Southern gateway to Albania". It stands on shores of the Ionian coast opposite the Greek Island of Corfu.
The Blue Eye Spring is a natural geologic formation in karst origin near Saranda, capital of the District of Saranda in Albania.
Vlorë is situated on the Albanian coast of the beautiful Adriatic sea. The city officially was found in the 6th century BC by the Greek colonists.
The toponym "Albania" comes from the medieval Latin name of the
country. It may have come from the name of the Illyrian tribe Albans
(Alb. Albanët), noted by Ptolemy, a geographer and astronomer from
Alexandria, who compiled a map in 150 AD, which showed the city of
Albanopolis, located northeast of the city of Durrës. The name of the
medieval settlement called Albanon or Arbanon probably came from it,
although there is no certainty that it was located on the site of the
former Albanopolis. In his history, written in the 11th century, the
Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates first mentions the Albanians who
participated in the uprising against Constantinople in 1043, and the
Arbanites as subjects of Duke Dyrrachius. In the Middle Ages, the
Albanians called their country Arberi (Alb. Arbëri) or Arbeni (Alb.
Arbëni), and themselves - Arberes (Alb. Arbëreshë) or Arbenes (Alb.
Albanians now call their country Shqipëri or Shqipëria. As early as the 17th century, the toponym Shqipëria and the ethnic katoikonym Shqiptarë gradually replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh, respectively. Shqipëria and Shqiptarë are often explained as "Land of eagles" and "children of eagles"; according to one version, Shqipëria comes from the Albanian word shqip - "to express a thought." Slavist A. M. Selishchev argued that the source of this root is the word shqe, meaning "Slavs" (Shqerí - from the Albanian shqa < *skla, pl. - shqe) and is a consequence of the Slavic colonization of the Balkans in the 6th-7th centuries.
Albania is located on the Balkan Peninsula in Southern Europe
and covers an area of 28,748 km². From the northwest it is
washed by the waters of the Adriatic Sea, and from the southwest
by the waters of the Ionian Sea. Both are part of the
Mediterranean Sea. In the western part there is a lowland area,
the rest (about 70%) are mountainous and wooded areas.
The territory of the country lies between the 42nd and 39th parallels of northern latitude, as well as between the 21st and 19th meridian of eastern longitude. The northernmost point of Albania is the village of Vermosh (42°35'N), the southernmost point is the town of Konispol (39°40'N). The extreme western point of the country is the uninhabited island of Sazani (19°16' E), the extreme eastern point is the village of Vernik (21°1' E). The highest peak in Albania is Mount Korab (2764 m). The length from east to west is only 148 km, from north to south - 340 km.
Most of Albania is occupied by mountains and hills that run in different directions along the entire length and breadth of the country. The largest mountain ranges are the North Albanian Alps in the north, the Korab Mountains in the east, the Pindus Mountains in the southeast, the Akrokeraun Mountains in the southwest, and the Skanderbeg Mountains in the center.
One of the most important features of the geography of Albania is the presence of numerous and large lakes. Located in the north-west of the country, on the border with Montenegro, Lake Shkoder is the largest lake in Southern Europe. Its third part and 57 km of coast belongs to Albania. To the southeast, on high ground, is Lake Ohrid (shared with North Macedonia), one of the oldest continuously existing lakes in the world. It has a depth of 289 m and unique flora and fauna, which is why it is under the protection of UNESCO. Further south are the Large and Small Lakes Prespa, which are among the highest lakes in the Balkans.
The rivers of Albania originate mainly in the east of the country and flow into the Adriatic Sea in the west. The longest river in Albania, measured from mouth to source, is probably the Drin, which begins at the confluence of its two upper reaches: the Black and White Drin, and flows in the north of the state. Vjosa is one of the last intact large river systems in Europe. Other important rivers in Albania include the Mati, Shkumbini and Semani.
Flora and fauna
Due to its geographic location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and its wide variety of climatic, geological and hydrological conditions, Albania has an exceptionally rich and contrasting biodiversity. It is protected by the presence in the country of 14 national parks, 1 marine park, 4 Ramsar sites, 1 biosphere reserve and 786 protected natural areas of various categories.
Due to its remoteness, the mountains and hills of Albania are covered with forests, trees and grasses necessary for the habitat of a wide variety of animals: including the country's two most important endangered species (lynx and brown bear), as well as wild cat, gray wolf, red fox, common jackal , the vulture and the golden eagle, the national animal of the country.
The estuaries, swamps and lakes of Albania provide habitat for the pink flamingo, the lesser cormorant and the extremely rare and perhaps the country's most iconic bird, the Dalmatian pelican. Of particular importance for the animal world of the country are the Mediterranean monk seal, loggerhead turtle and green turtle, which use its coastal waters and shores to breed their offspring.
In plant geography, the territory of Albania is part of the Holarctic kingdom, being in its Circumboreal and Mediterranean regions. It is conventionally subdivided into four terrestrial ecoregions of the Palearctic ecozone: Illyrian deciduous forests, Balkan mixed forests, Pindian mixed forests, and Dinaric mixed forests.
In Albania, you can find about 3500 different plant species, mainly belonging to the Mediterranean and Eurasian flora. The country has developed rich traditions of folk medicine using medicinal plants. At least 300 plants growing locally are used in the preparation of medicinal herbs and medicines. Fir, oak, beech and pine are the main types of trees in the forests of Albania.
On the territory of Albania there are deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, nickel.
Average temperatures in January are +8-9°C, in July -
+24-25°C. Precipitation - 800-2000 mm per year.
The climate of the coastal (western) part of the country is Mediterranean, turning to the east into continental. The average July temperature on the coast is from +28 to +32° C, in January - from +8 to +10° C. High summer temperatures on the coast are easily tolerated due to the constantly blowing Mediterranean breeze.
The tourist season lasts from May to September, but it is also comfortable to be outdoors in April and October. There are about 300 sunny days in a year. It rains in early spring and late autumn. In the mountains of Albania, the climate is much colder - in winter the temperature can drop to -20 ° C.
Albania is a parliamentary republic. The formal head of state is the president (Kryetarët), who is elected by parliament for a term of 5 years. The same person cannot hold the presidency for more than two terms. Since July 24, 2017, Ilir Meta has been the President.
The executive body is the Council of Ministers (Këshilli i Ministrave), consisting of the Chief Minister (Kryeministër) and ministers, and includes the following ministries:
public works, transport and telecommunications
education and science
environment, administration of forest and water resources
agriculture, nutrition and consumer protection
social and labor affairs and equal opportunities
tourism, culture, youth and sports
economy, trade and energy
innovation and information and communication technologies
The highest legislative body of Albania is the Parliament - a unicameral People's Assembly (alb. Kuvendi i Shqipërisë), consisting of 140 members. 100 deputies are elected by the majoritarian system in single-mandate districts (in two rounds), 40 - by party lists with a four percent barrier. The term of office of deputies is 4 years.
party-political structure of Albania is highly polarized. The
center-left Socialist Party (SPA) and the center-right
Democratic Party (DPA) dominate. The SPA comes from the former
Hoxhaist PLA, the DPA from the mass anti-communist movement of
Socialists and Democrats regularly alternate in power. They are joined by small parties of similar trends (SPA - the Social Democratic Party of Albania, SDPA; DPA - the Republican Party of Albania, RPA). A kind of "third force" is the Socialist Movement for Integration (SDI), which separated from the SPA, but is blocking with the DPA. Standing apart in the political spectrum is the Communist Party of Albania (CPA), radical in ideological rhetoric, but ambiguous in its concrete political role.
Leading figures of the SPA - Fatos Nano, Edi Rama; DPA - Sali Berisha, Lulzim Basha, SDI - Ilir Meta, SDPA - Skender Ginushi, Engel Beytay, RPA - Sabri Godo, Fatmir Mediu, KPA - Hysni Miloshi, Kemal Chicholari.
The constitutional oversight body is the Constitutional Court (Gjykata Kushtetuese), the highest judicial authority is the Supreme Court (Gjykata e Lartë), the prosecutorial oversight body is the General Prosecutor's Office (Prokuroria e Përgjithshme), the body for selecting candidates for judges is the High Council of Justice (Këshilli i Lartë i Drejtësisë), the body for organizing elections is the Central Electoral Commission (Komisioni Qendror i Zgjedhjeve).
The territory of Albania is divided into 12 regions (Alb. qark, pl. - qarqe), which were previously divided into 36 districts (Alb. rreth, pl. - rrethe, reti) and 373 municipalities. Each district had its own council, consisting of several municipalities. In 2015, an administrative-territorial reform was carried out, as a result of which the administrative division changed, the number of regions remained the same, but now they are subdivided into 61 municipalities, which include communes.
The official language in Albania is Albanian, although many people understand and speak Slavic languages, Italian and Greek. Few people speak and understand English.
The population is 2,831,741 (2011 census), while the population,
according to the 2001 census, was 3,069,275 people: the population
decreased by 7.7% within ten years. The main reason for the decline in
population is large-scale migration and a decrease in the birth rate.
Permanent population: 1,421,810 men - 50.2%, 1,409,931 women - 49.8%.
Annual growth - 0.3% (high level of emigration from the country).
The urban population is 53.7% (data for 2011), the rural population is 46.3%. For the first time in the history of the census (2011), there are more Albanians living in cities than in rural areas.
Ethnic composition: Albanians - 95%, Greeks - 3%, others (Romanians, Gypsies, Serbs, Macedonians) - 2%.
In April 1990, the Jewish diaspora in the country ceased to exist: the last 11 Jews left for Israel.
Albania is the only country in Europe that is predominantly
Muslim. Sunni Muslims make up 70% of the population, Greek Orthodox
make up 20% and Roman Catholic another 10%.At the beginning of
the 20th century, the ratio between Christians and Muslims in
Albania was almost equal - 47% of Catholics and Orthodox, 53% of
Muslims. In 2010, according to J. G. Melton's Encyclopedia of
Religions, Muslims made up 63% of the Albanian population,
Christians 31%, non-believers and atheists 5%. Islam is
represented by Sunnis and Bektashis. Christians are divided into
two approximately equal groups - Catholics (490 thousand) and
Orthodox (475 thousand). The majority of Protestants (20,000)
are parishioners of various Pentecostal churches.
According to the US State Department, the proportion of people who actively participate in religious life and services in temples ranges from 25 to 40%.
Republic Day is one of the most significant national
holidays in the country, celebrated annually on January 11 since 1946.
Albanian Independence Day is celebrated on November 28th. As a rule, solemn evenings in honor of this day are arranged by diplomatic missions in various countries.
Mother Teresa's Beatification Day is celebrated on October 19 as a national holiday.
Secular Albanian painting emerged only at the end of the 19th century;
its formation, first of all, is associated with the name of Cola
Idromeno (1860-1939). The heyday of Albanian painting falls on the
interwar period, when several art schools arose at once. The largest of
them was Shkodra, led by Zef Kolombi.
During the reign of Enver Hoxha, the principle of socialist realism dominated the fine arts of Albania. These were the dictator's own convictions, imposed and implanted by him in his country: "Albanians have no idols and gods, but there are ideals - this is the name and work of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin." At the same time, the cult of personality and Enver Hoxha himself was present and widely encouraged. In Albania, many paintings by famous painters have been preserved, capturing the image of the country's leader in their canvases: “Flesh of the Flesh of His People”, art. - Zef Shoshi, 1976; "The Party is Founded", art. - Shaban Hysa, 1974; "With Thoughts on the Struggle for a Brighter Future", art. - S. Sholla, 1976; "January 11, 1946", art. - V. Kilica (V. Kilica, on this day the Constituent Assembly, elected during the first democratic elections in the country, expressing the will of the people, unanimously proclaimed Albania a People's Republic and elected a new government headed by Comrade Enver Hoxha); "Proclamation of the Republic" - Fatmir Haxhiu, 1974; "Conversation with the Locals" (Kucakë, summer 1943);
The most illustrative and publicly accessible example of Albanian socialist realism art of that time is the colorful panel “Shqiptarët” (1981), located on the facade of the building of the National Historical Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombëtar) on Skanderbeg Square, executed in the strict traditions of socialist realism. The panel presents a collective image of the history of the struggle of the Albanian people for their independence; here you can see all the stages of this struggle: the warriors of Skanderbeg, the creation of the national language and script, the fighters of the red partisan brigades ... The central part of the panel is the figure of the defender of the motherland holding the national flag of Albania in her hands, a girl in a national dress (the image of mother Albania), throwing up a rifle , and an intelligent working-hard worker.
During the forty-plus years of Enver Hoxha's rule, from the end of
World War II until his death in April 1985, concrete bunkers were built
in Albania. Over 700 thousand small bunkers were built, one for every 4
inhabitants of the country. The whole country is literally strewn with
them. The density of bunkers is 24 pieces per square kilometer. Small
bunkers were located in groups of 3 or more in places where the enemy
was most likely to attack. Now they can be found everywhere, including
in cities, right in the courtyards of houses.
Small bunkers intended for infantry were not enough; many large ones were built, intended for artillery crews. Such bunkers were located mainly along the sea line and along the borders. In the Durres area, you can still find such bunkers on the beach, converted into showers, cafes, changing rooms or just warehouses. On some hotels were built and the room inside is used as a warehouse.
In addition to pillboxes, fortifications were built for manpower and equipment. Such structures were built mainly inside the mountains and hills. According to Hoxha's plan, heavy armored vehicles and infantry were supposed to be hidden there from air raids of a hypothetical enemy. Many of them are not finished and remained at the stage of construction of a concrete entrance. Now the Albanians use them for personal purposes: a warehouse, a pigsty, a household room, a place to install a billiards.
Naturally, Enver Hoxha could not help but take care of himself: a main bunker several hundred meters long was built in his hometown of Gjirokastra. For the entire party leadership, shelters were made in the capital Tirana, on Mount Daiti.
In addition to fortifications on the ground, 2 were built on the water. They were built with two entrances and exits, connected by a tunnel with water, and with utility rooms. They were intended for shelter, repair and equipment of submarines. In one of these facilities, Soviet intelligence was based in the Adriatic. There is a similar underground submarine base in the Crimea, in Balaklava. An underground airfield was also built, capable of accommodating up to 50 aircraft.
In 2012, at the level of the government of the country, it was decided to eliminate these "artifacts of the past." From that moment, the dismantling of the bunkers began. First of all, they are removed from beaches, cities, roads and those places where they can get into the eyes of a tourist.
Before the establishment of the communist regime in Albania, the
illiteracy rate of the population was estimated at about 85%. In the
interwar period, the country felt an acute shortage of educational
institutions and trained personnel. However, with the coming to power of
the communist government of Enver Hoxha in 1944, the state began to make
great efforts to eradicate illiteracy. Strict rules were introduced:
everyone between the ages of 12 and 40 who could not read or write had
to attend special classes to acquire these skills. Since then, the
illiteracy rate in the country has dropped markedly. In 2018, the
literacy rate in Albania was 98.1%: 98.5% for males and 97.8% for
females. In the 1990s, the level of provision of educational services
underwent significant changes, primarily due to the mass migration of
Albanians from the countryside to the city.
The oldest university in Albania, the University of Tirana, was founded in 1957.
The origins of the Albanian theater go back to the ancient culture of the Illyrian tribes that lived in the second millennium BC. e. on the Balkan Peninsula. Since the beginning of the 19th century, amateur theater troupes existed in the cities of Shkoder, Korca, Tirana, Elbasan, and Gjirokastra. The modern art of the theater was born during the years of anti-fascist struggle in partisan detachments.
The cinema of Albania, like many other small countries, is of
interest almost exclusively to connoisseurs of cinema. The very
specifics of local film production does not imply a wide national film
distribution, which, of course, affects the number of films released.
Only after gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912 did information about this new art form seep into Albania. In 1945, the first cinematographic institute was opened in Albania, which later transformed into the first Albanian film studio, where the epic drama The Great Warrior of Albania Skanderbeg was filmed in 1953 (in cooperation with the Soviet Mosfilm). This film won the Best Director Award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.
Albania is a moderately developed agrarian-industrial state; one of
the poorest countries in Europe, which was in international isolation
for many years, which prevented the creation of sustainable trade and
economic relations with the developed countries of Western Europe.
Currently, this is expressed in the lack of foreign investment in the
The volume of GDP in 2021 is $18.26 billion ($6.5 thousand per capita according to PPP). Below the poverty level - 25% of the population. From January 1, 2021, the monthly minimum wage is 30,000 lek (gross) and 26,640 lek (net), which is $297.01 (gross) and $263.75 (net), respectively, and the hourly wage is 172.4 lek ( $1.71), wages less than 30,000 leks per month are not subject to income tax. The Keitz index (the ratio between the minimum and average wages in the country) in Albania, as of 2019 (average - 60,494 leks, minimum - 26,000 leks), is about 43%. From January 1, 2022, the monthly minimum wage is 32,000 lek (gross) and 28,156 lek (net), which is respectively $298.37 (gross) and $262.53 (net), the salary is less than 40,000 lek per month subject to income tax.
Benefits: The country has successfully transitioned to a stable market economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in Albania is 5.5% in 2022. Relatively high economic growth (above the European average) and low public debt (below the European average). Also, the country has a relatively cheap and well-educated, in comparison with European countries, labor force. With the unemployment rate plummeting and the labor shortage increasing, wage growth, as of 2019, is not constrained by the economic slowdown.
Weaknesses: poor raw material base; strong corruption. Slowly advancing market reforms. Low investment in infrastructure and R&D. The biggest problem (as in other relatively poor countries of Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, etc.) is the growing shortage of able-bodied labor force every year and the increase in the number of pensioners, due to low birth rates and high emigration of the population to others, richer countries of the world.
Structure of the economy in 2009 (share of GDP):
agriculture - 20.6%;
industry - 18.8%;
service sector - 60.6%.
58% of employees are employed in agriculture, 15% in industry, and 27% in the service sector. The unemployment rate is 12% (in 2009).
Agriculture produces: wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beet, grapes; meat, dairy products.
In industry - food processing, textiles and clothing; wood processing, oil and metal ore mining, cement production, hydropower.
Exports in 2017 - $ 2.39 billion: shoes, chromite ore, ferroalloys,
crude oil, agricultural products (mainly fruits, vegetables and
Main buyers: Italy - 48% ($1.15 billion), China - 7.4% ($177 million), Spain - 5.3% ($127 million), France - 4.7% ($113 million) and Germany - 4.7% ($111 million).
Imports in 2017 - $ 4.21 billion: cars and other equipment, petroleum products, medicines, livestock and livestock products, textiles and consumer goods
Main suppliers: Italy - 30% ($1.28 billion), Turkey - 9.9% ($416 million), Greece - 9.7% ($391 million), Germany - 8% ($336 million) and China - 7.4% ($311 million).
Geographic distribution of Albania's foreign trade (as of 2014):
EU countries - 66.0% ($5,079 million);
China - 6.1% ($465 million);
Turkey - 6.1% ($465 million);
Americas - 3.8% ($294 million);
African countries - 1.5% ($117 million);
Russia - 1.5% ($115 million).
Many businesses are open between 8am and 4pm. Restaurants usually work longer.
While on travel in Albania don't forget that tips are not included in the price of the order. If you find the service satisfying leave about 10% of the order after paying the bill. It is preferred to give the money directly to the waiter instead of leaving it on the table.
Albanians usually nod for "no" and shake their head from side to side for "yes". Don't confuse the two.
If you feel sick, broke your leg or have sharp unbearable pain at your lower left abdomen suck it up and be a man. Going to Albanian hospital will only make your suffering worse.
Road Administration: (42) 23 600
Traffic Police: (42) 34 874
- Albanians call their land "Shqiperia" that means "land of the eagles". Legend claims that the ancestors of the first Albanians were in fact eagles who left their traditional homes in the mountains.
- Albania is the only country in Europe that had more Jews after the World War II than before its outbreak. In fact Albanian resistance issued a warning in 1943 to anyone who can defend Jewish refugees must offer any help they can. After all charity is one of the five pillars of Islam.
-Albania is covered by UFO looking structures scattered all around the country. These structures were constructed in the 1970's and 80's by the paranoid government who wanted to provide a defensive structure for every Albanian family. It is hard to say if they succeeded, but they certainly came close. These forts can be found in every single corner of the city.
-Albanian King Zog I, Skanderbeg III of the Albanians survived 55 assassinations attempts during his long reign. On February 21st, 1931 he became the first head of the state who use weapon to defend against an assassin who tried to shoot him when he was leaving the Vienna State Opera House after performance of Pagliacci.
-Flag of Albania dates back to medieval times when it was a symbol of resistance of Albanian armies against Ottoman Turkish invasion.
The first traces of the human presence in Albania,
dating back to the Middle and Late Paleolithic, were found in the
village of Dzarre (near Saranda) and on Mount Daiti (near Tirana).
The finds in the cave near Zarre include flint and jasper objects,
as well as petrified animal bones. Bone and stone tools similar to
those of Aurignac culture were discovered on Mount Daiti. The
Paleolithic finds of Albania bear great resemblance to artifacts of
the same era found in Crvene Stien in Montenegro and northwestern
In central and southern Albania, several Bronze Age artifacts from burials in mounds were discovered that demonstrate the close connection of these territories with southwestern Macedonia and Lefkas. Archaeologists concluded that these regions were inhabited from the middle of the third millennium BC. Indo-Europeans who spoke the Proto-Greek language. Part of this population migrated towards Mycenae around 1600 BC., which led to the development of Mycenaean civilization.
In antiquity, the territory of modern Albania was predominantly inhabited by many Illyrian tribes. Illyrian tribes never collectively considered themselves "Illyrians", and it is unlikely that they used any one common name for all their tribes. This name, apparently, refers to only one Illyrian tribe, which was the first with whom the ancient Greeks came into contact in the Bronze Age, as a result of which it was transferred to all tribes with similar language and customs.
The territory, known as Illyria, roughly extended along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea to the mouth of the Vyos River in the south. The first well-known description of the Illyrian groups is contained in The Periplus of Pontus of Euxinus, an ancient Greek composition from the middle of the 4th century BC. The south was inhabited by the Greek tribe of Chaonians, whose capital was Foinika. By the 7th century BC e. On the coast of present-day Albania, ancient Greek city-states founded numerous colonies, such as Apollonia, Epidamnos and Amantia. The West of modern Albania was inhabited by a Thracian tribe of brigs.
The Illyrian tribe of the Ardiyes ruled most of modern Albania. The Ardian kingdom reached its greatest size under Agron, son of Pleuris II. Agron extended his power to other neighboring tribes. After his death in 230 BC his wife Teuta inherited the kingdom of Ardian. She managed to expand its territory further south, reaching the Ionian Sea. In 229 BC Rome declared war on the Illyrian kingdom over the looting of its ships. The war ended in the defeat of the Illyrians two years later. In 181 BC. Theutus was succeeded by Ghent. In 168 BC between him and Rome, the Third Illyrian War began, which the following year led to the Roman conquest of the region. After this, the Romans divided the region into three administrative units. The Illyrians were finally conquered in the year 9 BC Tiberius (Roman emperor from 14 to 37 A.D.), who established the region of Illyria with an imperial legate at the head.
In the 1st century AD Christianity gradually penetrates into Illyria.
After the Roman Empire in the 4th century was divided into Eastern
and Western, the territory of Albania remained within the Eastern
Roman Empire. In the following centuries, the Balkan Peninsula
suffered from invasions of barbarians. Illyrians are last mentioned
in the text of the 7th century. In the late 12th – early 13th
centuries, Serbs and Venetians began to seize Albanian lands.
The ethnogenesis of the Albanians is unclear, however, the first indisputable mention of the Albanians dates back to 1079 or 1080 years. The historical records of Michael Attaliat contain mention of the participation of the Albanians in the uprising against Constantinople. By that time, the Albanians were completely Christianized.
The first fully independent Albanian state was formed in 1190, when the archon Archon founded the Principality of Arberia with its capital in Krua, which was part of the Byzantine Empire. The progon was succeeded by his sons Gin Progon and Dimitri Progon, with the latter it reached the peak of its development. After the death of Dimitri, the last representative of the Progon dynasty, the principality came under the rule of Grigor Camona, and later the Golem. In the XIII century, the principality ceased to exist.
A few years after the collapse of Arberia, Charles I of Anjou concluded an agreement with the Albanian rulers, promising to protect them and their ancient freedoms. In 1272, he founded the kingdom of Albania and annexed to it the areas conquered from the kingdom of Epirus. The kingdom claimed the entire territory of central Albania: from Dyrrahia along the Adriatic coast to Butrint. The expansion of this Catholic kingdom contributed to the spread of Catholicism in this region of the Balkan Peninsula. The internal struggle for power in the Byzantine Empire in the XIV century allowed the Serbian king Stefan Dusan to create a short-lived empire that briefly occupied all of Albania, with the exception of Durrës. In 1367, various Albanian rulers founded the Art Despotate. At the same time, several Albanian principalities were created, the most famous of which were Topia, Kastrioti, Muzaki, Balsa and Arianiti. In the first half of the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire invaded most of Albania, in response the Lezha League was created under the leadership of Skanderbeg, who became a national hero.
The Ottoman invasion
of Albania marked a new era in its history and made enormous changes
in the political and cultural life of this region. In 1385, the
Ottomans first reached the Albanian coast. By 1415, they had set up
their garrisons in southern Albania, and in 1431 occupied most of
its territory. With the advent of the Ottomans, Islam became the
second religion in Albania as a result of the mass emigration of
Albanian Christians to other Christian European countries (arberes
in Italy). At the same time, Muslim Albanians were gradually moving
to Turkey and other parts of the Ottoman Empire, such as Algeria,
Egypt and Iraq.
In 1443, under the leadership of Skanderbeg, a large and long uprising began, which lasted until 1479. He repeatedly defeated large Ottoman armies led by Murad II and Mehmed II. Skanderbeg first united the Albanian princes, and then established centralized power over most of the territories not conquered by the Ottomans, being recognized as the ruler of Albania.
Skanderberg tirelessly but unsuccessfully tried to create a European coalition against the Ottoman Empire. He thwarted all their attempts to return Albania to their power, which the Ottomans considered the bridgehead for the invasion of Italy and Western Europe. His unequal struggle with the most powerful power of that time won the respect of Europe, and also received some financial and military assistance from Naples, Venice, Sicily and the Pope.
When the Ottomans finally managed to regain control of Albania, they divided it into four Sanjaks. Authorities contributed to the development of trade in Albanian lands, placing a significant number of Jewish refugees expelled from Spain in the region. The port of Vlora was important in trade between the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe.
As Muslims, some Albanians gained important political and military positions in the Ottoman Empire and contributed to the wider Islamic world. So the post of the great vizier was held by more than 20 immigrants from Albania, including Köprül Mehmed Pasha and Fazyl Ahmed Pasha. Another Albanian, Muhammad Ali Pasha, being governor of Egypt, carried out a number of successful modernization reforms there, crushed the Wahhabi uprising in Arabia, rebelled against the Ottoman Empire and founded the dynasty in Egypt that ruled it until 1953.
The process of Islamization of the population went gradually, only in the XVII century, most Albanians became Muslims. This process has been gradual since the arrival of the Ottomans. The holders of the timars were not necessarily converted to Islam and sometimes rebelled against the Ottoman Empire.
Catholic Albanians predominantly converted to Islam in the 17th century, while Orthodox Albanians followed their example in the next century. Initially, the process of Islamization was actively going on in urban centers such as Elbasan and Shkoder, after which it spread to the countryside. The motives for conversion, according to historians, were different depending on a particular context.
In November 1908,
after the overthrow of Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, the first national
congress was held in Bitola. In 1910, a rebellion broke out in
northern Albania. The following year, a new uprising set out to gain
autonomy for Albania. In the spring of 1912, a nationwide uprising
took place, the rebels captured Skopje, Dibra, Elbasan, and Permeti.
A truce was declared on August 23; The Albanian people were given a
certain autonomy, but administrative autonomy was not fixed.
In October 1912, the First Balkan War began. On November 28, in the city of Vlore, a congress of representatives of various sectors of the population proclaimed Albania an independent state and formed the first provisional government.
In 1912-1913, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia and France recognized autonomy at first, and then Albania's independence from Turkey.
The first parliament of
Albania was created in 1920, during the struggle for the
independence of the country and against its division of the Paris
world between Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia.
In 1928 the parliament was dissolved, Albania was proclaimed kingdom.
The Second World War
In April 1939, Italy occupied Albania, King Zogu Ahmet fled the country.
The resistance movement was led by pro-communist forces. In November 1941, a unified CPA structure was created, which was to lead the liberation struggle. In September 1942, a congress of progressive forces that opposed the occupation took place in Big Peso. A General National Liberation Council was created, which was to lead the liberation movement. He became the governing body of the National Liberation Front. In July 1943, the General Council of the National Liberation Front decided to organize the General Staff of the National Liberation Army. In May 1944, the 1st Anti-Fascist National Liberation Congress formed the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Committee, which transferred the functions of the interim government. In 1944, universal suffrage was introduced.
In 1945, parliamentary
elections were held, in which the Democratic Front led by the
Communists received 97.7% of the vote (other political forces did
not participate in the elections). Gradually, Enver Hodge
concentrated his power in his hands, brutally cracking down on his
political rivals. Until 1956, Albania maintained relations with the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as opposed to Yugoslavia,
however, after the 20th Congress of the CPSU, a policy of political
isolation was adopted. Relations were maintained only with the PRC
and Romania. In 1968, protesting against Soviet intervention in
Czechoslovakia, Albania withdrew from the Warsaw Pact. The country
lived in a state of constant readiness for war: each family was
obliged to build a bomb shelter. Religion, wearing a beard were
forbidden. In 1967, Albania was proclaimed an atheist state.
In 1978, cooperation with China was sharply curtailed.
After the death of Enver Hoxha in 1985, the new leader Ramiz Aliya began a policy of radical economic reforms and expansion of relations with other countries.
With its coastline facing the Adriatic
and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan
landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a
variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons,
Albania has a high number of climatic regions for so small an area.
The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean weather; the
highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In the lowlands
and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south.
The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7°C (45°F). Summer temperatures average 24°C (75°F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5°C (9°F) higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5°C (9°F) during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.
Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation than by latitude or any other factor. Low winter temperatures in the mountains are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow much of the time. Average summer temperatures are lower than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations, but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures in the interior basins and river valleys are very high, but the nights are almost always cool.
Average precipitation is heavy, a result of the convergence of the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea and the continental air mass. Because they usually meet at the point where the terrain rises, the heaviest rain falls in the central uplands. Vertical currents initiated when the Mediterranean air is uplifted also cause frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied by high local winds and torrential downpours.
January 1: New Year's Day
March 7: Teacher's Day
March 14: Summer Festival
Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (Islamic high holidays)
October 19: Mother Teresa Day
November 28: Independence Day
November 29: Liberation Day
December 8: Youth Day
December 25: Christmas
There is no longer a visa charge for any foreigners entering Albania.
According to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nationals of the following
countries/territories can enter Albania without a visa: Andorra,
Argentina, Armenia, Australia *, Austria *, Azerbaijan, Belgium *,
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria*, Canada *, Chile, Croatia,
Cyprus *, Czech Republic*, Denmark*, Estonia *, Finland *, France*,
Germany *, Greece *, Holy See, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary *, Ireland *,
Iceland *, Israel, Italy *, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia *,
Liechtenstein, Lithuania *, Luxembourg *, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta
*, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands *, New Zealand *, Norway *,
Poland *, Portugal *, Romania *, San Marino *, Serbia, Singapore,
Slovakia*, Slovenia *, South Korea, Spain *, Sweden *, Switzerland
*, Taiwan (Republic of China), Turkey, United Kingdom *, USA *,
Ukraine, Qatar - in the period 25 May - 25 September 2012. United
Arab Emirates - in the period 25 May - 25 September 2012. Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia - in the period 25 May - 25 September 2012. (Those
countries with an asterisk can enter with an ID card).
States whose citizens may enter without visas due to their visa liberalization with Schengen area: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Brunei, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, Uruguay, Venezuela, Macao (China). For staying more than 90 days within the period of six months, they need to get visa type D.
There is a €1 road tax for the first 60 days of your stay. For every additional day it is €1 per day. Be sure to receive a receipt and keep it with you, as guards may request it upon exiting the country as proof of payment. The former €10 entrance fee per person has been abolished. The Albanian guards are very nice and do their best to help out and will, on occasion, allow fees to be paid in dollars or will forget to charge you. It's worth making sure you've got the Euros on you as the customs officers at Mother Teresa airport don't give change.
Be careful not to be charged the €1 road tax again when leaving the country. In that case the border guard assumes that you didn't pay the road tax when entering the country.
Tirana's "Mother Teresa" International Airport TIA IATA is located just 15 minutes away from the city. It is served by numerous European carriers such as British Airways, Alitalia, Lufthansa, Austrian, and the low cost carriers Eurowings and Belle Air. There is a large and modern terminal and a tourist information center.
You can book your taxi online with MerrTaxi Tirana 24/7 and it will cost you €10,99. The national toll-free number to call a taxi is 0800 5555. The international number to call a taxi is +355 67400 6610.
At the airport exit there are also numerous taxis 24/7 that can take you to the city. The taxi fee to the city center is €11-€15 (1500 - 2000 lek). Taxi fees to other locations are available here.
There is a bus that runs once an hour between the airport and Skanderbeg Square, called Rinas Express. It costs 250 lek each way and leaves on the hour from both the airport and from Skanderbeg Square. It runs from about 8AM to 7PM. The trip takes around 25-30 minutes. From the airport exit doors, walk towards the parking lot past the taxi touts to find the bus stop. At Skanderbeg Square, the bus stop is located around the northwest corner, near other bus stops. The bus is not only punctual but sometimes even early, so plan to be there a few minutes in advance. Do not be intimidated by the signs not mentioning "airport" or any variation of it at the Skanderbeg Square stop. "Rinas" means the bus goes to the airport. If in doubt, ask the locals, who will be happy to point you to the correct bus.
Another cheaper and convenient way to reach the Albanian Riviera in Southern Albania is by landing in Corfu and taking the hydrofoil to Saranda.
It is not possible to enter or leave Albania via train. There are, however, trains that operate within the country. Though the service is limited, the price is inexpensive. There is no direct service to Tirana, due to closure of the capital's only railway station. Tirana is served by renovated Kashar station located 10 km west of the capital.
You can reach Tirana by coach from
Istanbul, Turkey (20hr, €35 one-way)
Athens, Greece (12 hr, €30-35)
Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia (7 hr, € 15)
Prishtina, Kosovo (4,5 hr, € 10 )
Sofia, Bulgaria (12 hr, € 35)
There are 3 daily buses from Ulcinj in Montenegro to Shkoder. They depart at 7am, 12:30pm and 16.30 at Ulcinj bus station and traveling time is between 2 and 3 hours depending on the time needed to cross the border. The 12:30 bus tend to get full very quickly during the high season. Shared taxis (mini-busses) are also an option to go to Albania from Ulcinj. They depart from the parking place next to the market in Ulcinj. It goes at 1PM and costs €5; it takes 1.5 hr. The stop is not marked, a reservation can only be made by finding the driver in the cafe at the corner of the parking place. Ask around and be persistent, as not all the locals know about this.
There are also scheduled buses twice a day from Kotor (Montenegro) to Tirana, passing through Budva, Podgorica (both in Montenegro), and Shkoder.
There are buses running daily from Ioannina to the border at Kakavia (9 daily, €5.70, 1 hour). From there it's a short walk between the Greek and Albanian checkpoints. Just make sure you don't delay, as the furgon (minibus) to Gjirokastra won't wait for one extra passenger and you will be forced to haggle with predatory cab drivers. In Gjirokaster you can buy a bus ticket to Athens, Greece or anywhere in between. The buses are new, cheap, air conditioned, and stop along some gas stations.
Ferries to Durrës arrive from Bari (9h, €50) and Ancona (19h, €70). A high-speed service operates from Bari (3h, €60).
There are also two reliable overnight ferry services operated by Skenderbeg Lines and European Seaways from Brindisi to Vlore.
Ferries from Corfu to Saranda every day.
Ferry between Brindisi and Shengjin by European Seaways operating twice a week in the summer (2015).
Yachts can be anchored at Albania's only marina in Orikum, south of Vlore. Contact Orikum Marina for details.
To enter the country, ensure that your International Motor Insurance Card is valid for Albania (AL) along with the Vehicle Registration and a Power of Attorney from the owner if the car is not yours. The border guards are very strict about allowing cars through without these documents.
The road between Ioannina, Greece and Tirana (E853/SH4) is of sufficient quality. Construction works between Tepelene and Fier are mostly finished (2014). The new portion between Rrogozhine and Durres is also mostly complete (2014). This is the main north-south route between Montenegro and Greece.
The road between Struga, Macedonia and Tirana (E852/SH3) is of a sufficient quality. There are a lot of slow moving vehicles along the curvy mountainous route so extra caution must be exercised especially around corners or during over-taking. A new motorway is being constructed between Elbasan and Tirana (2011).
The road between Prizren (Kosovo) and Tirana (Albania) (E851/A1/SH5) is to the levels of quality found in other parts of Europe. Extra caution should be exercised along some bridges near the Kosovo border, as they have not been widened while uncontrolled access points are becoming dangerous. Also beware that cows run free on the motorway: there is no fence and before dusk they return home using the motorway itself.
The road between Shkoder (border of Montenegro) and Tirana (E762/SH1) is of sufficient quality for driving but there are a lot of slow moving vehicles and uncontrolled access points so extra caution must be exercised especially during over-taking. A portion between Milot and Thumane has been widened to dual carriageway standard.
There are two border control points in the north of Albania with Montenegro. The narrow windy road from Ulcinj, Montenegro to Shkoder via Muriqan/Sukobin (E851/SH41) is used mainly by locals. There is a new Montenegrin section near the Albanian border. However, it is worth a try to avoid heavier traffic on the newly built main road (E762/SH1) between Hani Hotit and Shkoder. Ask any police officer to point you in the right direction from Shkoder. They are helpful, courteous and friendly.
Albania is geographically a small country and as such it is possible to leave by taxi.
A taxi from downtown Pogradec to the Macedonian border at Sveti Naum is about €5 (and less than 10 minutes). After Albanian exit procedures, walk about 500m down the road to the Macedonian border control. The beautiful Sveti Naum church is very close by, and from there you can get a bus north around the lake to Ohrid (110 Macedonian denars). (prices April 2010)
A taxi from Ulcinj in Montenegro to Shkoder in northern Albania costs about €30. It takes 1hr. You do not have to change at the border, the taxi will bring you all the way. (June 2010)
Some taxis can take you into Greece; however most will not go further then Ioannina.