Albania

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Albania was also the name of an unrelated ancient state in the Caucasus – see Caucasian Albania.
Republika e Shqipërisë
Flag of Albania Emblem of Albania
(In detail) (In detail)
National motto (not verified): Feja e Shqiptarit eshte Shqiptaria (Albanians place their faith in Albania)
File:LocationAlbania.png
Official language Albanian
Capital

 - Population:
 - Coordinates:
Tirana
(Tiranë)
353,400 (2003)
Template:Coor dm
Head of State Alfred Moisiu, President
Head of Government Sali Berisha, Prime Minister
Area
 - Total:
 - % water:
Ranked 139th
28,748 km²
4.7%
Land borders
Coastline
720 km
362 km
Population
 - Total:
 - Density:
Ranked 126th
3,582,205 (2003)
125/km²
GDP
 - Total (2003)
 - GDP/capita
 - GDP/capita
112th, 106th, 130th, 93rd
US$15.7 Billion (PPP)
$4,400 (PPP)
$2,230 (Nominal)
Independence
 
From the Ottoman Empire
November 28, 1912
National Day 28 November
Religions No religious statistics gathered since 1943.


A rough estimate of today's situation, after the passing of communism, based on random polls, shows:

Atheist / Agnostic 60%
Roman Catholic 10%
Albanian Orthodox 10%
Muslim 10%
Other 10%


Old statistics of the pre-1945 period:

Muslim 70%
Albanian Orthodox 20%
Roman Catholic 10%

Currency Lek (Lk) = 100 qindarka
Time zone UTC+2:00
National anthem Hymni i Flamurit (/Rreth Flamurit Të Për Bashkuar)
Albanian: Hymn to the Flag (/The Flag That United Us In The Struggle)
Internet TLD .al
Calling Code 355


Albania is a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Serbia and Montenegro in the north, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south, has a coast on the Adriatic Sea in the west, and a coast on the Ionian Sea in the southwest. The country is an emerging democracy and is formally named the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipërisë).


History

Main articles: Illyria, Illyricum, Dalmatia, History of Albania.

In the area that is today Albania, human activity has been present since the beginning of human history. The earlier inhabitants were probably part of the pre-Indo-European populace that occupied the coastline of most parts of the Mediterranean. Their physical remains are scarce though, and concentrated on the coastal region. Soon, these first inhabitants were overrun by the Proto-Hellenic tribes that gradually occupied modern-day Greece, southern parts of what is now the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the south of present-day Albania. This process was completed over the second millennium BC and did not really affect northern or central Albania, an area that at the time presented the image of a political vacuum (in essence a historical paradox). Historians do not agree over the origin of the Illyrians. Some of them maintain that the Illyrians descended from the pre-Indo-European Pelasgians, while most scholars place them in the later wave of Indo-European invasions. Their presence can be traced back to 900 BC, their political structure was formulated in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Excellent metal craftsmen and fierce warriors, the Illyrians formed warlord based kingdoms that fought amongst themselves for most of their history. Only during the 6th century did the Illyrians venture significant raids against their immediate neighbours, the Greek kingdom of the Molossians in northern Epirus (present southern Albania), the kingdom of Macedonia and the semi-barbaric kingdom of Paionia. Probably their most important success was the slaughter of Perdikkas, king of Macedonia. Unfortunately for the Illyrians, Perdikkas was succeeded by Philippos II, father of Alexander the Great who effectively terminated the Illyrian aggression.

Besides warfare, the Illyrians were also peaceful traders of agricultural products and metal works. The Illyrian culture was influenced by the Greek culture (mainly the south Illyrian tribes). Albania is also the site of several ancient Greek colonies.

After being conquered by the Roman Empire, Illyria was reorganized as a Roman province, Illyricum, later divided into the provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia, the lands comprising Albania mostly being included in Dalmatia. Later, the Byzantine Empire governed the region. After centuries, use of the name Illyria to denote the region fell out of fashion. In the middle ages, the name Albania (see Origin and history of the name Albania) began to be increasingly applied to the region now comprising the nation of Albania. The territory of Albania became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1478, after years of resistance under the leadership of Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, the Albanian National Hero.

After the First Balkan War, Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, becoming a principality. From 1928 on, the country was ruled by King Zog I until 1938 when it became a puppet of Italy.

The communists took over after World War II, in November 1944, under the leader of the resistance, Enver Hoxha. From 1945 until 1990 Albania had one of the most repressive governments in Europe. The communist party was created in 1941 with the direction of Bolshevik Communist Parties. All those who opposed it were eliminated. Enver Hoxha became the leader of this party. For many decades of his domination, Hoxha created and destroyed relationships with Belgrade, Moscow, and China, always in his personal interests. The country was isolated, first from the West (Western Europe, North America and Australasia) and later even from the communist East.

In 1985, Enver Hoxha died and Ramiz Alia took his place. Initially, Alia tried to follow in Hoxha's footsteps, but in Eastern Europe the changes had already started: Mikhail Gorbachev had appeared in the Soviet Union with new policies (Glasnost and perestroika). The totalitarian regime was pressured by the US and Europe and the hate of its own people. After Nicolae Ceauşescu (the communist leader of Romania) was executed in a revolution, Alia knew he would be next if changes were not made. He signed the Helsinki Agreement (which was signed by other countries in 1975) that respected some human rights. He also allowed pluralism, and even though his party won the election of 1991 it was clear that the change would not be stopped. In 1992 the general elections were won by the Democratic Party with 62% of the votes.

In the general elections of June 1996 the Democratic Party tried to win an absolute majority and manipulated the results. In 1997 the fraud of the pyramid schemes shocked the entire government and riots started. Many cities were controlled by militia and armed citizens. This anarchy and rebellion caused the socialist party to win the early elections of 1997.

Since 1990 Albania has been oriented towards the West, was accepted in the Council of Europe and has requested membership in NATO. The working force of Albania has continued to emigrate to Greece, Italy, Europe and North America. Corruption in the government is becoming more and more obvious. The politics have not fulfilled the people's hope for a short and not too painful transition.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Albania

The head of state is the president, who is elected by the Kuvendi, or the Assembly of the Republic of Albania every 4 years. The main part of the Assembly's 140 members is elected every 4 years. 100 of the parliament's members are chosen by the people with a direct vote, while the other 40 members are chosen using a proportional system. The head of government is the Prime Minister who is assisted by a council of ministers. The Council of Ministers is selected by the Prime Minister (A process called "forming the government") and then approved by a simple majority (71 votes) in the Assembly.

Administrative divisions

Main articles: Districts of Albania and Counties of Albania

Albania is divided into 12 qark (county or prefecture), which are further divided into 36 rrethe (districts). The capital city, Tiranë, has a special status. The districts are:

See also: List of cities in Albania (Note: some cities have the same name as the district they are in).

Geography

Main article: Geography of Albania

File:Albania map.png
Map of Albania

Albania consists of mostly hilly and mountainous terrain, the highest mountain, Korab in the district of Dibra reaching up to 2,753 m. The country mostly has a land climate, with cold winters and hot summers.

Besides capital city Tirana, with 520,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrës, Elbasan, Shkodër, Gjirokastër, Vlorë and Korçë. In Albanian grammar a word can have indefinite and definite forms, and this also applies to city names: so both Tiranë and Tirana, Shkodër and Shkodra are used.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Albania

Albania is one of Europe's poorest countries, with half of the economically-active population still engaged in agriculture and a fifth said to be working abroad. The country has to deal with a high unemployment rate, corruption up to high government levels and organised crime.

The country has almost no exports, and imports many goods from Greece and Italy. Money for imports comes from financial aid and from the money that refugees working abroad bring to Albania. This is a good status quo business for both Greece and Italy.

Albania's coastline on the Ionian Sea, near the Greek tourist island of Corfu, is becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors due to its relatively unspoilt nature and good beaches. However, the tourist industry is still in its infancy.

Growth in GNP per Capita: (n/a)

20% Poorest: (n/a)

20% Richest: (n/a)

Aid per Capita: 52 US$

External Debt: 41.3 % of GDP

Defence Expenditure: (n/a)

Labour Force in Agriculture: 55 %

Children in Labour Force: 1 % of children aged 10-14 work

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Albania

Most of the population is ethnically Albanian (95% according to the CIA World Factbook Feb 2005), there is a Greek minority (3% of the population). Many ethnic Albanians also live in bordering Kosovo (around 2 million), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (around 500,000), Montenegro (around 70,000), Serbia (over 150,000, mainly in southern Serbia). There is a ethnic Albanian populations in Greece which is not recognized by the Greek state, known as the Çamë (in Greek: Τσάμηδες Tsámidhes), estimated 50,000, mainly in Epirus. Over 600,000 Albanian immigrants have emigrated to Greece since 1991.

The language is Albanian, although Greek is also spoken by the Greek minority in the southern regions of the country.

Since the occupation by the Ottomans, the majority of Albanians have been Muslim (70%), even though religion was prohibited during the communist era. According to 1939 statistics, the Albanian Orthodox (20%) and Roman Catholic Church (10%) would be the other main religions in Albania. Religious fanaticism has never been a serious problem, with people from different religions living in peace and even getting married without any problem. 20% of the total Muslim population is Bektashi, people who follow a faith originating in the Turkish migrations into Turkey, and came to Albania through the Ottoman Janissaries. It has outwardly Shi'ite Islamic elements, but is really a Shamanic-Pantheistic faith.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Albania

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Template:Wiktionary

Official government websites

Template:Europe

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