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Albania Index


ca. 1000 B.C.
     Illyrians, descendants of ancient Indo-European peoples,
     settled in western part of the Balkan Peninsula.

358 B.C.
     Illyrians defeated by Philip II of Macedonia.

312 B.C.
     King Glaucius of Illyria expels Greeks from Durrës.

229 B.C. and 219 B.C.
     Roman soldiers overrun Illyrian settlements in Neretva River

165 B.C.
     Roman forces capture Illyria's King Gentius at Shkodër.

     Christianity comes to Illyrian populated areas.

A.D. 9
     Romans, under Emperor Tiberius, subjugate Illyrians and
     divide present-day Albania between Dalmatia, Epirus, and

A.D. 395
     Roman Empire's division into eastern and western parts
     leaves the lands that now comprise Albania administratively
     under the Eastern Empire but ecclesiastically under Rome.

     Goths, Huns, Avars, Serbs, Croats, and Bulgars successively
     invade Illyrian lands in present-day Albania.

     Illyrian people subordinated to the patriarchate of
     Constantinople by the Byzantine emperor, Leo the Isaurian.

     Christianity divides into Catholic and Orthodox churches,
     leaving Christians in southern Albania under ecumenical
     patriarch of Constantinople and those in northern Albania
     under pope in Rome.

     Albania and Albanians mentioned, for the first time in a
     historical record, by Byzantine emperor.

     Serbs occupy parts of northern and eastern Albania.

     Venice wins control over most of Albania, but Byzantines
     regain control of southern portion and establish Despotate
     of Epirus.

     Forces of the King of Naples occupy Durrës and establish an
     Albanian kingdom.

     Albanian ruler of Durrës invites Ottoman forces to intervene
     against a rival; subsequently, Albanian clans pay tribute
     and swear fealty to Ottomans.

     At Kosovo Polje, Albanians join Serbian-led Balkan army that
     is crushed by Ottoman forces; coordinated resistance to
     Ottoman westward progress evaporates.

     Gjergj Kastrioti born, later becomes Albanian national hero
     known as Skanderbeg.

     After losing a battle near Nis, Skanderbeg defects from
     Ottoman Empire, reembraces Roman Catholicism, and begins
     holy war against the Ottomans.

     Skanderbeg proclaimed chief of Albanian resistance.

     Albanians, under Skanderbeg, rout Ottoman forces under
     Sultan Murad II.

     Skanderbeg dies.

     Krujë falls to Ottoman Turks; Shkodër falls a year later.
     Subsequently, many Albanians flee to southern Italy, Greece,
     Egypt, and elsewhere; many remaining are forced to convert
     to Islam.

     Some Albanians who convert to Islam find careers in Ottoman
     Empire's government and military service.

     About two-thirds of Albanians convert to Islam.

     Kara Mahmud Bushati, chief of Albanian tribe based in
     Shkodër, attacks Montenegrin territory; subsequently named
     governor of Shkodër by Ottoman authorities.


     Albanian leader Ali Pasha of Tepelenë assassinated by
     Ottoman agents for promoting an autonomous state.

     1000 Albanian leaders invited to meet with Ottoman general
     who kills about half of them.

     Ottoman Sublime Porte divides Albanian-populated lands into
     vilayets of Janina and Rumelia with Ottoman

     First school known to use Albanian language in modern times
     opens in Shkodër.

     Russia's defeat of Ottoman Empire seriously weakens Ottoman
     power over Albanian-populated areas.

     Treaty of San Stefano, signed after the Russo-Turkish War,
     assigned Albanian-populated lands to Bulgaria, Montenegro,
     and Serbia; but Austria-Hungary and Britain block the
     treaty's implementation. Albanian leaders meet in Prizren,
     Kosovo, to form the Prizren League, initially advocating a
     unified Albania under Ottoman suzerainty. During the
     Congress of Berlin, the Great Powers overturn the Treaty of
     San Stefano and divide Albanian lands among several states.
     The Prizren League begins to organize resistance to the
     Treaty of Berlin's provisions that affect Albanians.

     Society for Printing of Albanian Writings, composed of Roman
     Catholic, Muslim, and Orthodox Albanians, founded in

     Ottoman forces crush Albanian resistance fighters at
     Prizren. Prizren League's leaders and families arrested and

     Ottoman authorities disband a reactivated Prizren League,
     execute its leader later, then ban Albanian language books.

     Albanians begin joining the Committee of Union and Progress
     (Young Turks), which formed in Constantinople, hoping to
     gain autonomy for their nation within the Ottoman Empire.

     Albanian intellectuals meet in Bitola and choose the Latin
     alphabet as standard script rather than Arabic or Cyrillic.

1912 May
     Albanians rise against the Ottoman authorities and seize

     First Balkan War begins, and Albanian leaders affirm Albania
     as an independent state.

     Muslim and Christian delegates at Vlorë declare Albania
     independent and establish a provisional government.

     Ambassadorial conference opens in London and discusses
     Albania's fate.

1913  May
     Treaty of London ends First Balkan War. Second Balkan War

     Treaty of Bucharest ends Second Balkan War. Great Powers
     recognize an independent Albanian state ruled by a
     constitutional monarchy.

1914 March
     Prince Wilhelm, German army captain, installed as head of
     the new Albanian state by the International Control
     Commission, arrives in Albania.

     New Albanian state collapses following outbreak of World War
     I; Prince Wilhelm is stripped of authority and departs from

1918 November
     World War I ends, with Italian army occupying most of
     Albania and Serbian, Greek and French force occupying
     remainder. Italian and Yugoslav powers begin struggle for
     dominance over Albanians.

     Albanian leaders meet at Durrës to discuss presentation of
     Albania's interests at the Paris Peace Conference.

1919 January
     Serbs attack Albania's inhabited cities. Albanians adopt
     guerrilla warfare.

     Albania denied official representation at the Paris Peace
     Conference; British, French, and Greek negotiators later
     decide to divide Albania among Greece, Italy, and

1920 January
     Albanian leaders meeting at Lushnjë reject the partitioning
     of Albania by the Treaty of Paris, warn that Albanians will
     take up arms in defense of their territory, and create a
     bicameral parliament.

     Albanian government moves to Tiranë, which becomes the

     Albania forces Italy to withdraw its troops and abandon
     territorial claims to almost all Albanian territory.

     Albania admitted to League of Nations as sovereign and
     independent state.

1921 November
     Yugoslav troops invade Albanian territories they had not
     previously occupied; League of Nations commission forces
     Yugoslav withdrawal and reaffirms Albania's 1913 borders.

     Popular Party, headed by Xhafer Ypi, forms government with
     Ahmed Zogu, the future King Zog, as internal affairs

1922 August
     Ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople recognizes the
     Autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church.

     Zogu assumes position of prime minister of government;
     opposition to him becomes formidable.

     Albania's Sunni Muslims break last ties with Constantinople
     and pledge primary allegiance to native country.

1924 March
     Zogu's party wins elections for National Assembly, but Zogu
     steps down after financial scandal and an assassination

     A peasant-backed insurgency wins control of Tiranë; Fan S.
     Noli becomes prime minister; Zogu flees to Yugoslavia.

     Zogu, backed by Yugoslav army, returns to power and begins
     to smother parliamentary democracy; Noli flees to Italy.

1925 May
     Italy, under Mussolini, begins penetration of Albanian
     public and economic life.

1926 November
     Italy and Albania sign First Treaty of Tiranë, which
     guarantees Zogu's political position and Albania's

1928 August
     Zogu pressures the parliament to dissolve itself; a new
     constituent assembly declares Albania a kingdom and Zogu
     becomes Zog I, "King of the Albanians."

     Zog, standing up to Italians, refuses to renew the First
     Treaty of Tiranë; Italians continue political and economic

     After Albania signs trade agreements with Greece and
     Yugoslavia, Italy suspends economic support, then attempts
     to threaten Albania.

     Mussolini presents a gift of 3,000,000 gold francs to
     Albania; other economic aid follows.

1939 March
     Mussolini delivers ultimatum to Albania.

     Mussolini's troops invade and occupy Albania; Albanian
     parliament votes to unite country with Italy; Zog flees to
     Greece; Italy's King Victor Emmanual III assumes Albanian

1940 October
     Italian army attacks Greece through Albania.

1941 April
     Germany, with support of Italy and other allies defeat
     Greece and Yugoslavia.

     Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav communist leader, directs
     organizing of Albanian communists.

     Albanian Communist Party founded; Enver Hoxha becomes first

1942 September
     Communist party organizes the National Liberation Movement,
     a popular front resistance organization.

     Noncommunist nationalist groups form to resist the Italian

1943 August
     Italy's surrender to Allied forces weakens Italian hold on
     Albania; Albanian resistance fighters overwhelm five Italian

     German forces invade and occupy Albania.

1944 January
     Communist partisans, supplied with British weapons, gain
     control of southern Albania.

     Communists meet to organize an Albanian government; Hoxha
     becomes chairman of executive committee and supreme
     commander of the Army of National Liberation.

     Communist forces enter central and northern Albania.

     Communists establish provisional government with Hoxha as
     prime minister.

     Germans withdraw from Tiranë, communists move into the

     Communist provisional government adopts laws allowing state
     regulation of commercial enterprises, foreign and domestic

1945 January
     Communist provisional government agrees to restore Kosovo to
     Yugoslavia as an autonomous region; tribunals begin to
     condemn thousands of "war criminals" and "enemies of the
     people" to death or to prison. Communist regime begins to
     nationalize industry, transportation, forests, pastures.

     Yugoslavia recognizes communist government in Albania.

     Sweeping agricultural reforms begin; about half of arable
     land eventually redistributed to peasants from large
     landowners; most church properties nationalized. United
     Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration begins
     sending supplies to Albania.

     Soviet Union recognizes provisional government; Britain and
     United States make full diplomatic recognition conditional.

     In elections for the People's Assembly only candidates from
     the Democratic Front are on ballot.

1946 January
     People's Assembly proclaims Albania a "people's republic";
     purges of noncommunists from positions of power in
     government begins.

     People's Assembly adopts new constitution, Hoxha becomes
     prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, and
     commander-in-chief; Soviet-style central planning begins.

     Treaty of friendship and cooperation signed with Yugoslavia;
     Yugoslav advisers and grain begin pouring into Albania.

     British destroyers hit mines off Albania's coast; United
     Nations (UN) and the International Court of Justice
     subsequently condemn Albania.

     Albania breaks diplomatic relations with the United States
     after latter withdraws its informal mission.

1947 April
     Economic Planning Commission draws up first economic plan
     that established production targets for mining,
     manufacturing and agricultural enterprises.

     UN commission concludes that Albania, together with Bulgaria
     and Yugoslavia, supports communist guerrillas in Greece;
     Yugoslav leaders launch verbal offensive against anti-
     Yugoslav Albanian communists, including Hoxha; pro-Yugoslav
     faction begins to wield power.

     Albania refuses participation in the Marshall Plan of the
     United States.

1948 February-March
     Albanian Communist Party leaders vote to merge Albanian and
     Yugoslav economies and militaries.

     Cominform expels Yugoslavia; Albanian leaders launch anti-
     Yugoslav propaganda campaign, cut economic ties, and force
     Yugoslav advisers to leave; Stalin becomes national hero in

     Hoxha begins purging high-ranking party members accused of
     "Titoism"; treaty of friendship with Yugoslavia abrogated by
     Albania; Soviet Union begins giving economic aid to Albania
     and Soviet advisers replace ousted Yugoslavs.

     First Party Congress changes name of Albanian Communist
     Party to Albanian Party of Labor.

1949 January
     Regime issues Decree on Religious Communities.

     Albania joins Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
     (Comecon); all foreign trade conducted with member

     Pro-Tito Albanian communists purged.

     Britain and United States begin inserting anticommunist
     Albanian guerrilla units into Albania; all are unsuccessful.

     A new constitution is approved by People's Assembly. Hoxha
     becomes minister of defense and foreign minister.

1951 February
     Albania and Soviet Union sign agreement on mutual economic

1954 July
     Hoxha relinquishes post of prime minister to Mehmet Shehu
     but retains primary power as party leader.

1955 May
     Albania becomes a founding member of the Warsaw Pact.

1956 February
     After Nikita Khrushchev's "secret speech" exposes Stalin's
     crimes, Hoxha defends Stalin; close relations with Soviet
     Union become strained.

     Large amounts of economic aid from Soviet Union, East
     European countries, and China begin pouring into Albania.

     Khrushchev visits Albania.

1960 June
     Albania sides with China in Sino-Soviet ideological dispute;
     consequently Soviet economic support to Albania is curtailed
     and Chinese aid is increased.

     Hoxha rails against Khrushchev and supports China during an
     international communist conference in Moscow.

1961 February
     Hoxha harangues against the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia at
     Albania's Fourth Party Congress.

     Soviet Union breaks diplomatic relations; other East
     European countries severely reduce contacts but do not break
     relations; Albania looks toward China for support.

     Albanian regime introduces austerity program in attempt to
     compensate for withdrawal of Soviet economic support; China
     incapable of delivering sufficient aid; Albania becomes
     China's spokesman at UN.

     Hoxha hails Khrushchev's removal as leader of the Soviet
     Union; diplomatic relations fail to improve.

1966 February
     Hoxha initiates Cultural and Ideological Revolution.

     Albanian Party of Labor "open letter" to the people
     establishes egalitarian wage and job structure for all

     Hoxha regime conducts violent campaign to extinguish
     religious life in Albania; by year's end over two thousand
     religious buildings were closed or converted to other uses.

1968 August
     Albania condemns Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia,
     subsequently Albania withdraws from Warsaw Pact.

1976 September
     Hoxha begins criticizing new Chinese regime after Mao's

     A new constitution promulgated superceeding the 1950
     version; Albania becomes a people's socialist republic.

     Top military officials purged after "Chinese conspiracy" is

1978 July
     China terminates all economic and military aid to Albania.

     Hoxha selects Ramiz Alia as the next party head, bypassing

1981 December
     Shehu, after rebuke by Politburo, dies, possibly murdered on
     Hoxha's orders.

1982 November
     Alia becomes chairman of Presidium of the People's Assembly.

     Hoxha begins semiretirement; Alia starts administering

1985 April
     Hoxha dies.

1986 November
     Alia featured as party's and country's undisputed leader at
     Ninth Party Congress.

1987 August
     Greece ends state of war that existed since World War II.

     Albania and Greece sign a series of long-term agreements.

1989 September
     Alia, addressing the Eighth Plenum of the Central Committee,
     signals that radical changes to the economic system are

1990 January
     Ninth Plenum of the Central Committee; demonstrations at
     Shkodër force authorities to declare state of emergency.

     Alia declares willingness to establish diplomatic relations
     with the Soviet Union and the United States.

     The Secretary General of the UN visits Albania.

     Regime announces desire to join the Conference on Security
     and Cooperation in Europe. People's Assembly passes laws
     liberalizing criminal code, reforming court system, lifting
     some restrictions on freedom of worship, and guaranteeing
     the right to travel abroad.

     Unemployment throughout the economy increases as a result of
     government's reform measures; drought reduces electric-
     power production, forcing plant shutdowns.

     Young people demonstrate against regime in Tiranë, and 5,000
     citizens seek refuge in foreign embassies; Central Committee
     plenum makes significant changes in leadership of party and
     state. Soviet Union and Albania sign protocol normalizing

     Government abandons its monopoly on foreign commerce and
     begins to open Albania to foreign trade.

     Alia addresses the UN General Assembly in New York.

     Tiranë hosts the Balkan Foreign Ministers' Conference, the
     first international political meeting in Albania since the
     end of World War II. Ismail Kadare, Albania's most prominent
     writer, defects to France.

     University students demonstrate in streets and call for
     dictatorship to end; Alia meets with students; Thirteenth
     Plenum of the Central Committee of the APL authorizes a
     multiparty system; Albanian Democratic Party, first
     opposition party established; regime authorizes political
     pluralism; draft constitution is published; by year's end,
     5,000 Albanian refugees had crossed the mountains into

1991 January
     First opposition newspaper Rilindja Demokratike begins
     publishing. Thousands of Albanians seek refuge in Greece.

     Albania and the United States reestablish diplomatic
     relations after a thirty-five year break. Thousands more
     Albanians attempt to gain asylum in Italy.

     First multiparty elections held since the 1920s; 98.9
     percent of voters participated; Albanian Party of Labor wins
     over 67 percent of vote for People's Assembly seats;
     Albanian Democratic Party wins about 30 percent.

     Communist-dominated People's Assembly reelects Alia to new
     presidential term. Ministry of Internal Affairs replaced by
     Ministry of Public Order; Frontier Guards and Directorate of
     Prison Administration are placed under the Ministry of
     Defense and the Ministry of Justice, respectively. People's
     Assembly passes Law on Major Constitutional Provisions
     providing for fundamental human rights and separation of
     powers and invalidates 1976 constitution. People's Assembly
     appoints commission to draft new constitution.

     Prime Minister Nano and rest of cabinet resign after trade
     unions call for general strike to protest worsening economic
     conditions and killing of opposition demonstrators in
     Shkodër. Coalition government led by Prime Minister Ylli
     Buti takes office; Tenth Party Congress of the Albanian
     Party of Labor meets and renames party the Socialist Party
     of Albania (SPA); Albania accepted as a full member of CSCE;
     United States secretary of state, James A. Baker, visits

     Sigurimi, notorious secret police, is abolished and replaced
     by National Information Service.

     Up to 18,000 Albanians cross the Adriatic Sea to seek asylum
     in Italy; most are returned. People's Assembly passes law on
     economic activity that authorizes private ownership of
     property, privatizing of state property, investment by
     foreigners, and private employment of workers.

     United States Embassy opens in Tiranë. Albania joins
     International Monetary Fund.

     Coalition government dissolves when opposition parties
     accuse communists of blocking reform and Albanian Democratic
     Party withdraws its ministers from the cabinet. Prime
     Minister Bufi resigns and Alia names Vilson Ahmeti as prime
     minister. Alia sets March 1992 for new elections.

1992  February
     Albanian People's Assembly prevents OMONIA, the party
     representing Greek Albanians, from fielding candidates in
     the elections planned for March.

     Albanian Democratic Party scores decisive election victory
     over the Socialist Party of Albania in the midst of economic
     freefall and social chaos.

     Sali Berisha, a leader of the Albanian Democratic Party,
     becomes the first democratically elected president.

     Albania signs Black Sea economic cooperation part with ten
     other countries, including six former Soviet republics.

     Socialist Party of Albania gains significantly in local

     Former President Alia and eighteen other former communist
     officials, including Nexhmije Hoxha, arrested and charged
     with corruption and other offenses.

     Albania joins the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

1993  March
     Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
     visits Tiranë.

     Albania recognizes the former Yugoslav Republic of

     President Berisha and President Momir Bulatovic of
     Montenegro meet in Tiranë to discuss ways of improving
     Albanian-Montenegrin relations.

     Greece recalls its ambassador for consultations after series
     of border incidents and alleged human rights abuses in

Data as of April 1992

BackgroundAlbania 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.
LocationSoutheastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
Area(sq km)total: 28,748 sq km
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km
Geographic coordinates41 00 N, 20 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 717 km
border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km

Coastline(km)362 km

Climatemild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m
Natural resourcespetroleum, 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(sq km)3,530 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)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 hazardsdestructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents
Environment - international agreementsparty 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 - notestrategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)
Population3,639,453 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 23.1% (male 440,528/female 400,816)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 1,251,001/female 1,190,841)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 165,557/female 190,710) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 29.9 years
male: 29.3 years
female: 30.6 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)0.546% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)15.29 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)5.55 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-4.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 47% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 18.62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 77.96 years
male: 75.28 years
female: 80.89 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.01 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Albanian(s)
adjective: Albanian
Ethnic groups(%)Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, other 2% (Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Serb, Macedonian, Bulgarian) (1989 est.)
note: in 1989, other estimates of the Greek population ranged from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization)

Religions(%)Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%
note: percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice
Languages(%)Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects

Country nameconventional 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 typeemerging democracy
Capitalname: 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 divisions12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore
Constitutionapproved by parliament on 21 October 1998; adopted by popular referendum on 22 November 1998; promulgated 28 November 1998

Legal systemhas a civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; has accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court for its citizens

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President of the Republic Bamir TOPI (since 24 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Sali BERISHA (since 10 September 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by parliament
elections: president elected by the 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 branchunicameral 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 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 branchConstitutional Court, Supreme Court (chairman is elected by the People's Assembly for a four-year term) and multiple appeals and district courts

Political pressure groups and leadersCitizens 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]
Flag descriptionred 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 - overviewLagging behind its Balkan neighbors, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth has averaged around 5% over the last five years and 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. 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)$21.86 billion (2008 est.)
$20.61 billion (2007 est.)
$19.44 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP
GDP (official exchange rate)$12.96 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.1% (2008 est.)
6% (2007 est.)
5.5% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,000 (2008 est.)
$5,700 (2007 est.)
$5,400 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 20.5%
industry: 19.8%
services: 59.7% (2008 est.)
Labor force1.103 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers) (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 58%
industry: 15%
services: 27% (September 2006 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)12.5% (2008 est.)
13.2% (2007 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 index26.7 (2005)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)23.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $3.458 billion
expenditures: $4.175 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)3.4% (2008 est.)
2.9% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$3.028 billion (31 December 2008)
$2.707 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$6.251 billion (31 December 2008)
$6.433 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$8.176 billion (31 December 2008)
$7.247 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipientODA: $318.7 million
note: top donors were Italy, EU, Germany (2005 est.)

Public debt(% of GDP)51.9% of GDP (2008 est.)
51.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - productswheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products
Industriesfood processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Industrial production growth rate(%)3% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$1.906 billion (2008 est.)
-$1.202 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$1.345 billion (2008 est.)
$1.076 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners(%)Italy 55.9%, Greece 11.6%, China 7.2% (2008)
Imports$4.898 billion (2008 est.)
$3.999 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners(%)Italy 32.2%, Greece 13.1%, Turkey 7.2%, Germany 6.6%, China 4.5%, Russia 4.4% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.364 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$2.162 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$1.55 billion (2004)

Exchange ratesleke (ALL) per US dollar - 79.546 (2008 est.), 92.668 (2007), 98.384 (2006), 102.649 (2005), 102.78 (2004)

Currency (code)lek (ALL)
note: the plural of lek is leke

Telephones - main lines in use316,400 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular3.141 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines, the density of main lines remains low with roughly 10 lines per 100 people; cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective; combined fixed line and mobile telephone density is approaching 100 telephones per 100 persons
domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003, two companies were providing mobile services at a greater density than some of Albania's 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)
Internet country code.al
Internet users471,000 (2008)
Airports5 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 339 km; oil 207 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 18,000 km
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)

Ports and terminalsDurres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore
Military branchesJoint Force Command (includes Land, Naval, and Aviation Brigade Commands), Joint Support Command (includes Logistic Command), Training and Doctrine Command (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)19 years of age (2004)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 944,592
females age 16-49: 908,527 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 800,665
females age 16-49: 768,536 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 34,778
female: 31,673 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)1.49% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalthe 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

Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Albania is a source country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; it is no longer considered a major country of transit; Albanian victims are trafficked to Greece, Italy, Macedonia, and Kosovo, with many trafficked onward to Western European countries; children were also trafficked to Greece for begging and other forms of child labor; approximately half of all Albanian trafficking victims are under age 18; internal sex trafficking of women and children is on the rise
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Albania is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons in 2007, particularly in the area of victim protection; the government did not appropriately identify trafficking victims during 2007, and has not demonstrated that it is vigorously investigating or prosecuting complicit officials (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)2.888 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 2.9%
hydro: 97.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)3.603 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)2.475 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)5,985 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)34,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)748.9 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)24,080 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)199.1 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)30 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)30 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)849.5 million cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSNA
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Literacy(%)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)(years)total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2004)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)2.9% of GDP (2002)

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