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Background: Between 1990 and 1992 Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU. Albania, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism.

Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece and Serbia and Montenegro

Geographic coordinates:

41 00 N, 20 00 E


total: 28,748 sq km
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 720 km
border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Serbia and Montenegro 287 km


362 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


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


mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 20.1%
permanent crops: 4.21%
other: 75.69% (2005)

Irrigated land:

3,530 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

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

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents

Geography - note:

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


3,581,655 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 24.8% (male 464,954/female 423,003)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 1,214,942/female 1,158,562)
65 years and over: 8.9% (male 148,028/female 172,166) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 28.9 years
male: 28.3 years
female: 29.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.52% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

15.11 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

5.22 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-4.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 20.75 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.43 years
male: 74.78 years
female: 80.34 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.03 children born/woman (2006 est.)


noun: Albanian(s)
adjective: Albanian

Ethnic groups:

Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, other 2% (Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Serb, Macedonian, Bulgarian) (1989 est.)
note: in 1989, other estimates of the Greek population ranged from 1% (official Albanian statistics) to 12% (from a Greek organization)


Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%
note: percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice


Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects


definition: age 9 and over can read and write
total population: 86.5%
male: 93.3%
female: 79.5% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Albania
conventional short form: Albania
local long form: Republika e Shqiperise
local short form: Shqiperia
former: People's Socialist Republic of Albania

Government type:

emerging democracy



Administrative divisions:

12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Qarku i Beratit, Qarku i Dibres, Qarku i Durresit, Qarku i Elbasanit, Qarku i Fierit, Qarku i Gjirokastres, Qarku i Korces, Qarku i Kukesit, Qarku i Lezhes, Qarku i Shkodres, Qarku i Tiranes, Qarku i Vlores


28 November 1912 (from Ottoman Empire)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 28 November (1912)


adopted by popular referendum on 28 November 1998

Legal system:

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


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral People's Assembly or Kuvendi Popullor (140 seats; 100 are elected by direct popular vote and 40 by proportional vote for four-year terms)
elections: last held 3 July 2005 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PD 56, PS 42, PR 11, PSD 7, LSI 5, other 19

Judicial branch:

Constitutional Court, Supreme Court (chairman is elected by the People's Assembly for a four-year term), and multiple appeals and district courts

Economy - overview:

Lagging behind its Balkan neighbours, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime and to spur economic activity and trade. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad of $600-$800 million, mostly from Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. Agriculture, which accounts for about one-quarter of GDP, is held back because of frequent drought and the need to modernize equipment, to clarify property rights, and to consolidate small plots of land. Energy shortages and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment, which make it difficult to attract and sustain foreign investment. The planned construction of a new thermal power plant near Vlore and improved transmission and distribution facilities will help relieve the energy shortages. Also, the government is moving slowly to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. On the positive side: growth was strong in 2003-05 and inflation is not a problem.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$18.07 billion
note: Albania has a large grey economy that may be as large as 50% of official GDP (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$8.528 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$4,900 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 22.8%
industry: 21.5%
services: 55.7% (2005 est.)

Labour force:

1.09 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers) (2004 est.)

Labour force - by occupation:

agriculture: 58%
industry: 19%
services: 23% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:

14.3% official rate, but may exceed 30% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

25% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

28.2 (2002)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.4% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

22.6% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.96 billion
expenditures: $2.377 billion; including capital expenditures of $500 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products


food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Industrial production growth rate:

3.1% (2004 est.)

Electricity - production:

5.68 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - consumption:

6.76 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - exports:

200 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

1.08 billion kWh (2004 est.)

Oil - production:

3,600 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

25,200 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - imports:

21,600 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

185.5 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

30 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

30 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

2.832 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

-$410 million (2005 est.)


$650.1 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco

Exports - partners:

Italy 71.6%, Canada 4.3%, Germany 4.3% (2004)


$2.473 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Italy 34.6%, Greece 20.4%, Turkey 7.7%, Germany 5.3% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.3 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.55 billion (2004)

Economic aid - recipient:

ODA: $366 million (top donors were Italy, EU, Germany) (2003 est.)

Currency (code):

lek (ALL)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

255,000 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1.1 million (2003)

Telephone system:

general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines, the density of main lines remains the lowest in Europe with roughly eight lines per 100 people; however, cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective
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 Balkan neighbors
international: country code - 355; inadequate fixed main lines; adequate cellular connections; international traffic carried by fiber optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2003)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 13, FM 46 (3 national, 62 local), shortwave 1 (2005)

Television broadcast stations:

65 (3 national, 62 local); note - 2 cable networks (2005)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

749 (2005)

Internet users:

75,000 (2005)


11 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 8
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 4 (2005)


1 (2005)


gas 339 km; oil 207 km (2004)


total: 447 km
standard gauge: 447 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)


total: 18,000 km
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)


43 km (2006)

Merchant marine:

total: 23 ships (1000 GRT or over) 50,402 GRT/75,798 DWT
by type: cargo 22, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Turkey 1)
registered in other countries: 1 (Georgia 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore

Military branches:

General Staff Headquarters, Land Forces Command (Army), Naval Forces Command, Air Defense Command, Logistics Command, Training and Doctrine Command

Disputes - international:

the Albanian Government calls for the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians in neighboring countries, and the peaceful resolution of interethnic disputes; some ethnic Albanian groups in neighboring countries advocate for a "greater Albania," but the idea has little appeal among Albanian nationals; thousands of unemployed Albanians emigrate annually to nearby Italy and other developed countries

Illicit drugs:

increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a far lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and growing cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens