Photos of Albania

Introduction

Background

Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939 and occupied by Germany in 1943. 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 isolated communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents.

Albania has made progress in its democratic development since it first held multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. Most of Albania's post-communist elections were marred by claims of electoral fraud; however, international observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and in June 2014 became an EU candidate. Albania in April 2017 received a European Commission recommendation to open EU accession negotiations following the passage of historic EU-mandated justice reforms in 2016. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and a weak energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece to the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north

Geographic coordinates

41 00 N, 20 00 E

Area

total: 28,748 sq km

land: 27,398 sq km

water: 1,350 sq km

country comparison to the world: 144

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 691 km

border countries (4): Greece 212 km, Kosovo 112 km, Macedonia 181 km, Montenegro 186 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

mean elevation: 708 m

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, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 42.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 22.3% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 17.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 28.8% (2018 est.)

other: 28.2% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,537 sq km (2014)

Population distribution

a fairly even distribution, with somewhat higher concentrations of people in the western and central parts of the country

Natural hazards

destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought

Geography - note

strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Albanian(s)

adjective: Albanian

Ethnic groups

Albanian 82.6%, Greek 0.9%, other 1% (including Vlach, Romani, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Egyptian), unspecified 15.5% (2011 est.)

note: data represent population by ethnic and cultural affiliation

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.)

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% (2011 est.)

note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.6% (male 284,636/female 256,474)

15-24 years: 15.39% (male 246,931/female 226,318)

25-54 years: 42.04% (male 622,100/female 670,307)

55-64 years: 11.94% (male 178,419/female 188,783)

65 years and over: 13.03% (male 186,335/female 214,276) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 46.9

youth dependency ratio: 25.3

elderly dependency ratio: 21.6

potential support ratio: 4.6 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 34.3 years

male: 32.9 years

female: 35.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 91

Birth rate

12.86 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

Death rate

7.27 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 106

Net migration rate

-3.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

Population distribution

a fairly even distribution, with somewhat higher concentrations of people in the western and central parts of the country

Urbanization

urban population: 62.1% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.69% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

503,000 TIRANA (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.11 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

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

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.8 years (2017/18 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

15 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 136

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.1 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 12.15 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 9.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.23 years

male: 76.55 years

female: 82.12 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 96.8% of population

rural: 95.3% of population

total: 96.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.7% of population

rural: 4.7% of population

total: 3.8% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

1.22 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2013)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 99.5% of population

total: 99.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0.5% of population

total: 0.2% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2019 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 98.1%

male: 98.5%

female: 97.8% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 14 years

female: 16 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 31.9%

male: 34.2%

female: 27.7% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 27

Government

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

etymology: the English-language country name seems to be derived from the ancient Illyrian tribe of the Albani; the native name "Shqiperia" is derived from the Albanian word "Shqiponje" ("Eagle") and is popularly interpreted to mean "Land of the Eagles"

Government type

parliamentary republic

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

etymology: the name Tirana first appears in a 1418 Venetian document; the origin of the name is unclear, but may derive from Tirkan Fortress, whose ruins survive on the slopes of Dajti mountain and which overlooks the city

Administrative divisions

12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore

Independence

28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)

National holiday

Independence Day, 28 November (1912), also known as Flag Day

Constitution

history: several previous; latest approved by the Assembly 21 October 1998, adopted by referendum 22 November 1998, promulgated 28 November 1998

amendments: proposed by at least one-fifth of the Assembly membership; passage requires at least a two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly; referendum required only if approved by two-thirds of the Assembly; amendments approved by referendum effective upon declaration by the president of the republic; amended several times, last in 2020

Legal system

civil law system except in the northern rural areas where customary law known as the "Code of Leke" is still present

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Albania

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President of the Republic Ilir META (since 24 July 2017)

head of government: Prime Minister Edi RAMA (since 10 September 2013); Deputy Prime Minister Senida MESI (since 13 September 2017)

cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by the Assembly

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); a candidate needs three-fifths majority vote of the Assembly in 1 of 3 rounds or a simple majority in 2 additional rounds to become president; election last held in 4 rounds on 19, 20, 27, and 28 April 2017 (next election to be held in 2022); prime minister appointed by the president on the proposal of the majority party or coalition of parties in the Assembly

election results: Ilir META elected president; Assembly vote - 87 - 2 in fourth round

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 25 June 2017 (next to be held on 25 April 2021)

election results: percent of vote by party - PS 48.3%, PD 28.9%, LSI 14.3%, PDIU 4.8%, PSD 1%, other 2.7%; seats by party - PS 74, PD 43, LSI 19, PDIU 3, PSD 1; composition - men 108, women 32, percent of women 22.9%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of 19 judges, including the chief justice); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, including the chairman)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the High Judicial Council with the consent of the president to serve single 9-year terms; Supreme Court chairman is elected for a single 3-year term by the court members; appointments of Constitutional Court judges are rotated among the president, Parliament, and Supreme Court from a list of pre-qualified candidates (each institution selects 3 judges), to serve single 9-year terms; candidates are pre-qualified by a randomly selected body of experienced judges and prosecutors; Constitutional Court chairman is elected by the court members for a single, renewable 3-year term

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; specialized courts: Court for Corruption and Organized Crime, Appeals Court for Corruption and Organized Crime (responsible for corruption, organized crime, and crimes of high officials)

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party or PD [Lulzim BASHA]
Party for Justice, Integration and Unity or PDIU [Shpetim IDRIZI] (formerly part of APMI)
Social Democratic Party or PSD [Paskal MILO]
Socialist Movement for Integration or LSI [Monika KRYEMADHI]
Socialist Party or PS [Edi RAMA]

International organization participation

BSEC, CD, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, EITI (compliant country), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Yuri KIM (since 27 January 2020)

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 (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Leyla MOSES-ONES (since August 2018)

telephone: [355] (4) 2247-285

embassy: Rruga e Elbasanit, 103, Tirana

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

FAX: [355] (4) 2232-222

Flag description

red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero Georgi Kastrioti SKANDERBEG, who led a successful uprising against the Ottoman Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-78); an unsubstantiated explanation for the eagle symbol is the tradition that Albanians see themselves as descendants of the eagle; they refer to themselves as "Shqiptare," which translates as "sons of the eagle"

National symbol(s)

black double-headed eagle; national colors: red, black

National anthem

name: "Hymni i Flamurit" (Hymn to the Flag)

lyrics/music: Aleksander Stavre DRENOVA/Ciprian PORUMBESCU

note: adopted 1912

Economy

Economic overview

Albania, a formerly closed, centrally planned state, is a developing country with a modern open-market economy. Albania managed to weather the first waves of the global financial crisis but, the negative effects of the crisis caused a significant economic slowdown. Since 2014, Albania’s economy has steadily improved and economic growth reached 3.8% in 2017. However, close trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy make Albania vulnerable to spillover effects of possible debt crises and weak growth in the euro zone.

Remittances, a significant catalyst for economic growth, declined from 12-15% of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 5.8% of GDP in 2015, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for more than 40% of employment but less than one quarter of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming, because of a lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Complex tax codes and licensing requirements, a weak judicial system, endemic corruption, poor enforcement of contracts and property issues, and antiquated infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment making attracting foreign investment difficult. Since 2015, Albania has launched an ambitious program to increase tax compliance and bring more businesses into the formal economy. In July 2016, Albania passed constitutional amendments reforming the judicial system in order to strengthen the rule of law and to reduce deeply entrenched corruption.

Albania’s electricity supply is uneven despite upgraded transmission capacities with neighboring countries. However, the government has recently taken steps to stem non-technical losses and has begun to upgrade the distribution grid. Better enforcement of electricity contracts has improved the financial viability of the sector, decreasing its reliance on budget support. Also, with help from international donors, the government is taking steps to improve the poor road and rail networks, a long standing barrier to sustained economic growth.

Inward foreign direct investment has increased significantly in recent years as the government has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms. The government is focused on the simplification of licensing requirements and tax codes, and it entered into a new arrangement with the IMF for additional financial and technical support. Albania’s three-year IMF program, an extended fund facility arrangement, was successfully concluded in February 2017. The Albanian Government has strengthened tax collection amid moderate public wage and pension increases in an effort to reduce its budget deficit. The country continues to face high public debt, exceeding its former statutory limit of 60% of GDP in 2013 and reaching 72% in 2016.

Real GDP growth rate

2.24% (2019 est.)

4.07% (2018 est.)

3.8% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.4% (2019 est.)

2% (2018 est.)

1.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B1 (2007)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2016)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$39.859 billion (2019 est.)

$38.986 billion (2018 est.)

$37.461 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 124

GDP (official exchange rate)

$15.273 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$13,965 (2019 est.)

$13,601 (2018 est.)

$13,037 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 118

Gross national saving

14% of GDP (2019 est.)

16.8% of GDP (2018 est.)

16.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 21.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 24.2% (2017 est.)

services: 54.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 78.1% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 11.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 25.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 31.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -46.6% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 67.7 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 91.8 (2020)

Trading score: 96.3 (2020)

Enforcement score: 53.5 (2020)

Agricultural products

milk, maize, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelons, wheat, grapes, cucumbers, onions, apples

Industries

food; footwear, apparel and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 41.4%

industry: 18.3%

services: 40.3% (2017 est.)

Unemployment rate

5.83% (2019 est.)

6.32% (2018 est.)

note: these official rates may not include those working at near-subsistence farming

country comparison to the world: 96

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 4.1%

highest 10%: 19.6% (2015 est.)

Budget

revenues: 3.614 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 3.874 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

71.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

73.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 45

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$908 million (2017 est.)

-$899 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 142

Exports

$900.7 million (2017 est.)

$789.1 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 164

Exports - partners

Italy 45%, Spain 8%, Germany 6%, Greece 5%, France 4%, China 4% (2019)

Exports - commodities

leather footwear and parts, crude petroleum, iron alloys, clothing, electricity, perfumes (2019)

Imports

$4.103 billion (2017 est.)

$3.67 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Imports - partners

Italy 28%, Greece 12%, China 11%, Turkey 9%, Germany 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, tanned hides, packaged medical supplies, footwear parts (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$3.59 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$3.109 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 103

Debt - external

$9.311 billion (2019 est.)

$9.547 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 116

Exchange rates

leke (ALL) per US dollar -

102.43 (2020 est.)

111.36 (2019 est.)

108.57 (2018 est.)

125.96 (2014 est.)

105.48 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 258,474

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8.43 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 116

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2,799,066

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 91.29 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996 and dominates over fixed-line capacity; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005 and the government continues to supports the improvement of broadband availability and access conditions; Albania has received financial aid to build its infrastructure and works towards the EU accession process, an adherence to careful scrutiny of its regulatory regime helps the telecom sector advance; Internet cafes are popular in major urban areas; 1.3 million use mobile broadband services (3G/4G) (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 8 per 100, teledensity continues to decline due to heavy use of mobile-cellular telephone services; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective, 91 per 100 for mobile-cellular (2019)

international: country code - 355; submarine cables for the Adria 1 and Italy-Albania provide connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; 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 (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

Albania has more than 65 TV stations, including several that broadcast nationally; Albanian TV broadcasts are also available to Albanian-speaking populations in neighboring countries; many viewers have access to Italian and Greek TV broadcasts via terrestrial reception; Albania's TV stations have begun a government-mandated conversion from analog to digital broadcast; the government has pledged to provide analog-to-digital converters to low-income families affected by this decision; cable TV service is available; 2 public radio networks and roughly 78 private radio stations; several international broadcasters are available (2019)

Internet users

total: 2,196,613

percent of population: 71.85% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 361,947

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 5

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 303,137 (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3 (2020)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)

Pipelines

498 km gas (a majority of the network is in disrepair and parts of it are missing), 249 km oil (2015)

Railways

total: 677 km (447 km of major railway lines and 230 km of secondary lines) (2015)

standard gauge: 677 km 1.435-m gauge (2015)

country comparison to the world: 103

Waterways

41 km (on the Bojana River) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 103

Merchant marine

total: 70

by type: general cargo 50, oil tanker 1, other 19 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 100

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore

Military and Security

Military and security forces

General Staff, Land Forces Command, Navy Force Command (includes Coast Guard), Air Forces Command, Support Command, Training and Doctrination Command (2021)

Military expenditures

1.47% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2019)

1.2% of GDP (2018)

1.1% of GDP (2017)

1.1% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 91

Military and security service personnel strengths

sized estimates for the Albanian military vary; approximately 8,000 total active duty personnel (6,000 Army; 1,500 Navy; 500 Air Force) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Albanian military was previously equipped with mostly Soviet-era weapons that were sold or destroyed; its inventory now includes a mix of mostly donated and second-hand European and US equipment; since 2010, it has received limited amounts of equipment from France, Germany, and the US (2020)

Military deployments

100 Afghanistan (NATO) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

19 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; 18 is the legal minimum age in case of general/partial compulsory mobilization; conscription abolished 2010 (2019)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Qods Force (2020)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix T

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 3,687 (2019)

note: 11,827 estimated refugee and migrant arrivals (January 2015-January 2021)

Illicit drugs

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; significant source country for 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