Albania is a country in Southeast
Europe on the
Sea and Ionian Sea within the
Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo[a] to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and maritime borders with Greece, Montenegro and Italy to the west.
Geographically, the country displays varied climatic, geological, hydrological and morphological conditions, defined in an area of 28,748 km2 (11,100 sq mi). It possesses remarkable diversity with the landscape ranging from the snow-capped mountains in the Albanian Alps as well as the Korab, Skanderbeg, Pindus and Ceraunian Mountains to the hot and sunny coasts of the Albanian Adriatic and Ionian Sea along the Mediterranean Sea.
Historically, the country has been inhabited by numerous civilisations such as the Illyrians, Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans. The Albanians established the autonomous Principality of Arbėr in the 12th century. The Kingdom of Albania and Principality of Albania has been formed between the 13th and 14th centuries. Prior to the Ottoman conquest of Albania in the 15th century, the Albanian resistance to Ottoman expansion into Europe led by Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg won them acclaim all over most of Europe.
Between the 18th and 19th centuries, Albanians gathered both spiritual and intellectual strength which conclusively led to the Albanian Renaissance. After the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars, the modern nation state of Albania emerged in 1912. In the 20th century, the Kingdom of Albania was invaded by Italy which formed Greater Albania before becoming a protectorate of Nazi Germany. Enver Hoxha formed Communist Albania after the
Second World War and launched the Albanians on a path of oppression and decades of isolation. The Revolutions of 1991 concluded the fall of communism in Albania and eventually the establishment of the current Republic of Albania.
Politically, the country is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic and developing country with an upper-middle income economy dominated by the service sector, followed by manufacturing. It went through a process of transition, following the end of communism in 1990, from centralized planning to a market-based economy. Albania provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens.
The country is a member of the United
Bank, UNESCO, NATO, WTO, COE, OSCE and OIC. It is an official candidate for membership in the European Union. It is one of the founding members of the Energy Community, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and Union for the
of Durres, Adriatic Sea
The country has a developing mixed economy classified by the World Bank as an upper-middle income economy. In 2016, it had the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the Balkans with an estimated value of 14.7%. Its largest trading partners are Italy, Greece,
Spain, Kosovo and the
States. The lek (ALL) is the country's currency and is pegged at approximately 132,51 lek per euro.
The cities of Tirana and Durrės constitute the economic and financial heart of Albania due to their high population, modern infrastructure and strategic geographical location. The country's most important infrastructure facilities take course through both of the cities, connecting the north to the south as well as the west to the east. Among the largest companies are the petroleum Taēi Oil, Albpetrol, ARMO and Kastrati, the mineral AlbChrome, the cement Antea, the investment BALFIN Group and the technology Albtelecom, Vodafone, Telekom Albania and others.
In 2012, Albania's GDP per capita stood at 30% of the European Union average, while GDP (PPP) per capita was 35%. Albania were one of three countries in Europe to record an economic growth in the first quarter of 2010 after the global financial crisis. The
International Monetary Fund predicted 2.6% growth for Albania in 2010 and 3.2% in 2011. According to the Forbes as of December 2016, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was growing at 2.8%. The country had a trade balance of −9.7% and unemployment rate of 14.7%. The 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 economy is expected to expand in the near term, driven by a recovery in consumption and robust investments. Growth is projected to be 3.2% in 2016, 3.5% in 2017, and 3.8% in 2018.
Albania is mostly dependent on hydroelectricity. Almost 94.8% of the country's electricity consumption comes from hydroelectrical stations and ranks 7th in the world by percentage. There are six hydroelectric power stations, including Fierza, Koman, Skavica and Vau i Dejės situated within the Drin River. Further, there are two stations under construction, namely Banjė and Moglicė located in the Devoll River. Both are expected to be completed between 2016 and 2018.
Albania has considerably large deposits of oil. It has the 10th largest oil reserves in europe and the 58th in the world. The country's main
petroleum deposits are located around the Albanian Adriatic Sea Coast and Myzeqe Plain within the Western Lowlands, where the country's largest reserve is located. Although, Patos-Marinza, also located within the area, is the largest onshore oil field in Europe.
In 2015, 498 kilometres (309 mi) of natural gas pipelines and 249 kilometres (155 mi) of oil pipelines spanned the country's territory. The planned Trans Adriatic Pipeline, a major trans Adriatic Sea
gas pipeline, will delivers natural gas from Azerbaijan to Albania and Western Europe through Italy and will be completed in 2020.
Further, Albania and Croatia have discussed the possibility of jointly building a
nuclear power plant at Lake Shkodėr, close to the border with Montenegro, a plan that has gathered criticism from Montenegro due to seismicity in the area. In 2009, the company Enel announced plans to build an 800 MW
coal-fired power plant in the country, to diversify
Transportation in Albania has undergone significant changes and improvements in the past two decades. Continual improvements to the public transport, road and rail infrastructure,
air travel have all led to a vast enhancement in transportation.
The international airport of Tirana serves as the premier gateway to the country and carries almost 2.5 million passengers per year with connections to many destinations in other countries around Europe. The country plans to progressively increase the number of airports especially in the south with possible locations in Sarandė, Gjirokastėr and Vlorė.
The highways and motorways in Albania are properly maintained and often still under construction. The A1 represents a major transportation corridor in Albania and the longest motorway of the country. It will prospectively link Durrės on the Adriatic Sea across Pristina in Kosovo with the Pan-European Corridor X in Serbia. The A2 is part of the AdriaticIonian Corridor as well as the Pan-European Corridor VIII and connects Fier with Vlorė. The A3 is currently under construction and will connect, after its completion, Tirana and Elbasan with the Pan-European Corridor VIII. When all three corridors are completed, Albania will have an estimated 759 kilometres (472 mi) of highway linking it with all of its neighboring countries.
Durrės is the busiest and largest seaport in the country followed by Vlorė, Shėngjin and Sarandė. As of 2014, it is as one of the largest passenger ports on the Adriatic Sea with annual passenger volume of approximately 1.5 million. The principal ports serve a system of ferries connecting numerous islands and coastal cities in Croatia, Greece and
The rail network is administered by the national railway company Hekurudha Shqiptare which was extensively promoted by the dictator Enver Hoxha. There has been a considerable increase in private car ownership and bus usage while rail use decreased since the end of communism. However, a new railway line from Tirana and its airport to Durrės is currently planned. The specific location of this railway, connecting the most
populated urban areas in Albania, merely makes it an important economic development project.
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