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Albania profile
strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)
Albania history
Albania 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, dilapidated 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, each of Albania's post-Communist elections have been marred by claims of electoral fraud. The 2009 general elections resulted in a coalition government, the first such in the country's history. 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.
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Conventional long form: Republic of Albania
Conventional short form: Albania
Local long form: Republika e Shqiperise
Local short form: Shqiperia
Formerly known as: People's Socialist Republic of Albania
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Albania's capital city is Tirana (Tirane)
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Albania Constitution:

approved by parliament 21 October 1998;
adopted by popular referendum 22 November 1998;
promulgated 28 November 1998
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Albania population growth rate: 0.28%
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Albania highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m
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Albania lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
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About 20% of Albania's land is arable.
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Drin River is the Longest River in Albania
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Albania birth rate is 12 births/1,000 population
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Albania infant mortality rate is 14 deaths/1,000 live births
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Albania fertility rate is 1.49 children born/woman
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Albania climate:

mild temperate;
cool, cloudy, wet winters;
hot, clear, dry summers;
interior is cooler and wetter
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Top 10 cities of Albania with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Tirana: 421,286
2. Durres: 122,034
3. Elbasan: 100,903
4. Vlore: 89,546
5. Shkoder: 88,245
6. Fier: 60,995
7. Korce: 58,259
8. Berat: 46,866
9. Lushnje: 41,469
10. Kavaje: 20,312
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Albania ethnic groups:

Albanian - 95%
Greek - 3%
other - 2% (Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Serb, Macedonian, Bulgarian)
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Albania Exports:

textiles and footwear
asphalt
metals and metallic ores
crude oil
vegetables
fruits
tobacco
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Albania Imports:

machinery and equipment
foodstuffs
textiles
chemicals
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unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 deputies; 100 deputies elected directly in single member electoral zones with an approximate number of voters; 40 deputies elected from multi-name lists of parties or party coalitions according to their respective order; elected for a 4-year term)

Administrative Divisions:
12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark)
1. Berat
2. Diber
3. Durres
4. Elbasan
5. Fier
6. Gjirokaster
7. Korce
8. Kukes
9. Lezhe
10. Shkoder
11. Tirane
12. Vlore
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party (PD) - Sali BERISHA

New Democracy Party (PDR) - Genc POLLO

New Democratic Spirit (FRD) - Bamir TOPI

Party for Justice and Integration (PDI) - Shpetim IDRIZ

Republican Party (PR) - Fatmir MEDIU

Social Democracy Party (PDS) - Paskel MILO

Social Democratic Party (PSD) - Skender GJINUSHI

Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) - Ilir META

Socialist Party (PS) - Edi RAMA

Unity for Human Rights Party (PBDNJ) - Vangjel DULE