OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Albania
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 28,748 Sq Km (11,100 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 3,875,200
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Albania is one of the smallest nations
in Europe. It is bound by the Adriatic Sea to the west,
Serbia and Montenegro to the north and northeast, Macedonia
to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. Just
over 20% of the land area is coastal or flat plains which
are poorly drained while the major cities are located on
the coastal plains or in the upland valleys. The remainder
of the country is mountainous and hilly covered by scrub
forest while there are many lagoon lakes in the lowlands
as well as small glacial lakes in the uplands. The principal
river is the Buene River. Major Cities (pop. est.); Tirane
243,000, Durres 85,000, Elbasan 83,000, Shkoder 82,000,
Vlore 74,000 (1990). Land Use; forested 37%, pastures 15%,
agricultural-cultivated 24%, other 24% (1993).
CLIMATE: Albania has a Mediterranean climate with the coastal
plains experiencing hot and dry summers, and frequent thunderstorms. Winters
are mild as well as wet and can be quite severe in the mountains with snow
cover lasting for long periods of time. Average annual precipitation in
the mountain areas can exceed 1,000 mm (39 inches). The average temperature
ranges in Tirane are from 17 to 31 degrees Celsius (63 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit)
in July to 2 to 21 degrees Celsius (36 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Albanians who account
for around 98% of the population and are divided into two groups (1.) the
Gegs (Ghegs) to the north of the Shkumbin River and (2.) the Tosks to the
south. Other ethnic minorities include Greeks, Macedonians, Vlachs, Bulgarians,
Gypsies and Serbs.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 115 persons per sq km
(298 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 35.8% urban, 64.2% rural (1989).
Sex Distribution; 51.5% male, 48.5% female (1989). Life Expectancy at Birth;
69.6 years male, 75.5 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 33% under 15,
29% 15 to 29, 19% 30 to 44, 12% 45 to 59, 6% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 24.7 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 5.7 per 1,000 (1989). Increase
Rate; 19.0 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 28.2 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Muslims which account for around 21% of the
population, while some Christians both Orthodox and Roman Catholics account
for 5.4% and the remainder are atheist. Prior to 1944's communist takeover
approximately 70% of the population were Muslims, 20% were Orthodox Christians
and 10% were Roman Catholic.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Albanian with two dialects
(1.) Geg (Gheg) to the north of the Shkumbin river and (2.) Tosk to the
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: primary education
74.7%, secondary 20.9%, higher 4.4% (1979). Literacy; literate population
aged 15 or over virtually 100% (1989).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Albania was proclaimed a republic
on Jan. 11, 1946. In 1948 the Friendship Treaty between Albania and Yugoslavia
was canceled due to serious conflict in Soviet dominated Communist Information
Bureau. During the 1950's Yugoslav-Albanian diplomatic relations were broken
off, although they were later resumed in 1953. In 1955 Albania was admitted
to the UN as part of a general agreement between the East and West. Soviet
influence was replaced by a strong political alliance with China which
led to several billion dollars in financial aid, although China cut off
the aid in 1978. From 1985 to 1990 diplomatic relations with most European
nations as well as the former USSR and the US were resumed. In 1990 the
government announced plans for gradual democratization with the lifting
of religious restrictions and the freedom to travel abroad. By the close
of 1990 the regime agreed to free multiparty elections to take place in
Mar. 1991. Within days after the elections, protests and general industrial
strikes forced the communist cabinet to resign and share power with the
Democratic Party which pledged to introduce a free market economy and raise
the standard of living. In Jan. 1991 some 15,000 refugees fled to Greece
while in March some 24,000 boat people left for Italy. In Aug. 1991 another
exodus of 18,000 people for Italy resulted in their subsequent forced repatriation
and in a step up in Italian governmental aid for Albania. In Dec. 1991
after continuing food riots resulted in a number of deaths a nonpartisan,
Vilson Ahmeti was named to head a new government. On Mar. 22, 1992 landslide
elections were won by Democratic Party over the Socialist Party. On April
9, 1992 Sali Berisha became the first democratically elected President
in 70 years. In July 1992 local elections were held in which the Socialist
Party made gains and held local admistrative control over the countryside
while the Democrats continued to hold control over most of the large cities.
In Nov. 1992 the a rift developed within the Democrats with the spilt resulting
in the formation of a new party, the Democratic Alliance. Also during 1992,
the massive humanitarian aid program by the Italian government continued.
During 1993, former Communist leader Ramiz Alia, the Socialist Party leader
Fatos Nano and most of the former Politburo members were under arrest awaiting
trial on charges of abusing their office. Economically, the government
had actively pursued its program of stabilizing the economy, although it
would still have to rely heavily on foreign aid to ensure the program's
successful completion. In Apr. 1993 Pope John Paul II made a historic visit,
the first since visit since the last pontiff died en route in 1464.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Lek (plural; Leke) divided
into 100 Quindars.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $1,163,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $861,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $601,000,000 (1994). Exports;
USD $ 141,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; Lek
-460,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 1,540,000 or 49.4%
of total population (1993). Unemployed; 17.5% (1993).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Serbia and Montenegro,
Czech Fed. Rep., Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Poland, Germany, Greece and
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Asphalt, Bitumen, Cereals, Chrome, Copper,
Cotton, Grapes, Olives, Potatoes, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Timber, Tobacco.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Food Processing, Fertilizers,
Mining, Petroleum, Refining, Textiles, Tobacco.
MAIN EXPORTS: Asphalt and Bitumen, Clothing, Food, Fruit and Vegetables,
Non-Ferrous Metal Ores, Petroleum and Petroleum Products, Tobacco.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 684 km (425 mi) (1989), passenger-km
752,000,000 (467,000,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km 674,000,000
(462,000,000 short ton-mi) (1989). Roads; length 16,700 km, (10,377 mi)
(1989). Vehicles; cars 3,500 (1970), trucks and buses 11,200 (1970). Merchant
Marine; vessels 19 (1990), deadweight tonnage 74,648 (1990). Air Transport;
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 2 with a total circulation
of 165,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 550,000 (1994). Television; receivers
324,900 (1990). Telephones; 49,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 73,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 82.2%
army, 3.4% navy and 13.7% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 8.2% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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