Albania

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Albania is a small country in the Balkans. It shares borders with Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Population: 3,011,405 people
Area: 28,748 km2
Highest point: 2,764 m
Coastline: 362 km
Life expectancy: 77.77 years
GDP per capita: $8,200
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Cities

  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
  • Big city 50-100 hotels
  • Medium city 20-50 hotels
  • Small city 5-20 hotels
  • Village below 5 hotels

Points of Interest

  • Beach Beach
  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
  • Entertainment Entertainment
  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
  • Interesting place Interesting place
  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
  • Skiing Skiing
  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

About Albania

History

Following the defeat of the Axis powers at the end of World War II, a Communist government was established, presided over by resistance leader Enver Hoxha. Albania became famous for its isolation, not just from the market-run democracies of Western Europe, but from the Soviet Union, China, and even neighboring Yugoslavia. Even as the Iron Curtain came down and Communists lost power throughout Eastern Europe, Albania seemed intent on staying the course, alone.

But in 1992, several years after the death of Hoxha, the Communist party relinquished power and Albania established a multi-party democracy with a coalition government. The transition has proven difficult, as governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, a dilapidated infrastructure, widespread gangsterism, and disruptive political opponents. Today Albania is moving closer towards neo-liberalism, with EU integration as its goal; Albania signed the SAA on June 2006, thus completing the first major step towards joining. In 2008 Albania received an invitation to join NATO.

Climate

With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons, Albania has a high number of climatic regions for so small an area. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean weather; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south.

The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 °C (75 °F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5 °C (9 °F) higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5 °C (9 °F) during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.

Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation than by latitude or any other factor. Low winter temperatures in the mountains are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow much of the time. Average summer temperatures are lower than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations, but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures in the interior basins and river valleys are very high, but the nights are almost always cool.

Average precipitation is heavy, a result of the convergence of the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea and the continental air mass. Because they usually meet at the point where the terrain rises, the heaviest rain falls in the central uplands. Vertical currents initiated when the Mediterranean air is uplifted also cause frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied by high local winds and torrential downpours.

Food

Restaurants are very easy to find. Albania, like the Balkans in general, has a primarily Turkish influence in its cuisine. This influence stems from over 400 years of Ottoman rule in the region. Recent influences after the fall of communism in the early 1990s have been from Italy and Western Europe in general. Most of what is available in neighboring countries such as Greece and Italy will be available in Albania, particularly in the larger cities.

Many people grow fruits and vegetables around their houses, most popularly all kinds of grapes, (red, black, green), that are used to make raki.

Albania is a very mountainous country, and these mountains have scattered olive trees that influence Albanian cuisine. Salads are usually made with fresh tomato and onion. Most Albanian people make their own bread, but going out for meals is very common.

Some sort of hearty stew is commonly included in Albanian dinners. These stews are easy to make, and flexible with ingredients. They include potatoes, onion, rice, etc.

If going to Albania, expect lamb to be the main meat in many places. Lamb there is naturally fed, and does not have any odor like it does in North America. Two byreks and an ayran is a very common breakfast, so try it to understand why.

  • Byrek - a type of savory pie is also common, and is made in different ways. One way is with spinach and feta cheese. Another is with ground meat and onion. Byrek Shqipëtar me perime is often considered the national dish.
  • Tavë kosi - It is a simple dish of baked lamb and rice, served with a yogurt sauce. It is sometimes referred to as a national dish in Albania.
  • Qofte të fërguara - Albanian fried meatballs with feta cheese. Traditionally served with fried poatoes or rice.
  • Cheese - lots of different types but mostly feta cheese. In village shops be prepared that you'll get the cheese in less hygienic way then in supermarkets but it's worth to try as it's usually delicious and in very good price (try those higher priced first). The "Gjirofarma" feta cheese is similar to the Greek feta cheese, although a bit more expensive. However, most of the restaurants, especially in Tirana and the southern part of the country, use this cheese. Its very delicious, and its one of the few cheeses that are exported from Albania.

Desserts and snacks

  • Baklava is a popular dessert and is always made as a dessert during New Year's Eve.
  • Oshaf - A fig and sheep’s milk pudding

Drinks

The preferred alcoholic hard drink is raki that is locally produced in small towns as well as in many homes in the countryside; in some instances you may run across men washing down breakfast with a few shots. Try the mulberry rakia - Albanians are the only people in the world that produce this drink with mulberry and plum, and its very delicious, especially around Gjirokaster. The number of homemade beers, wines and raki is as varied as the population itself; the quality of these drinks is as varied as the quantity available. Non-alcoholic drinks range from the well-known international and regional soft drink brands to the locally produced ones. You can find any type of soft drink in Albania, as well as natural mineral water,energy drinks, etc. Trebeshina water is especially good, and found in much of the country. Boza [7], a popular sweet drink made from maize (corn) and wheat is a traditional Albanian drink, and Albanians have been known as the best boza makers in the world.

Shopping

The national currency is the lek (ALL). There are 138.30 lek to the euro (9 February 2010).

Notice that some Albanians write prices with an extra zero. They are not trying to charge you 10 times the going rate; they are merely using the old currency.

Hundreds of new ATMs have been installed in most major cities. Use the MasterCard ATM Locator [5] or Visa ATM Locator [6] to find them. The ATMs accept most international VISA and MasterCard Credit/Debit cards.

Many rural convenience stores will not accept any other method of payment other than cash (currently in Albanian lek). However supermarkets, the better bookstores and the better boutique stores will accept Credit or Debit Cards. The most widely accepted cards are VISA, MasterCard, and Diner's Club.

In all the Albanian cities you can find numerous shops, which offer different goods, of well known marks, Glasses, antique objects, etc. Of great interest for the tourists are the traditional bazaars of Kruja, Korca, Shkodra, Gjirokastra dhe Tirana, where you can find the artisan works produced by Albanian people during th years. You can buy woody carved objects, ceramics, embroiders with popular motifs dhe also cooper objects. Albanian shops are open at 09:00-20:00 usually, and until 22:00 at summer. Most of the shopes stay open on Sunday.

Today many, if not all, Albanians accept the Euro

Souvenirs: raki, alabaster bunker ashtrays

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Albania on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Albania

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Tirana is the capital of Albania.

Interesting places:

  • Skanderbeg Square
  • Palace of Culture
  • Et\'Hem Bey Mosque
  • National Art Gallery
  • National Museum of History
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Vuno is a village in Coastal Albania, located a few kilometres north to the town of Himarë.

Interesting places:

  • Kiparo Village
  • All Saints Church
  • Himare Castle
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Durrës is an Albanian Adriatic port city. It serves ferries to Bari (Italy). Alternative spellings of the cities name are Durrazzo (Italian), Drač (Драч, Serbo-Croatian) or Dyrrhachion (Δυρράχιον, Greek).

Interesting places:

  • Durres Amphitheatre
  • Durres Tower
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Vlorë is a city in Coastal Albania in Albania.

Interesting places:

  • National Museum of Independence
  • University of Vlora
  • Historic Museum
  • Marina di Orikum
  • Flag Square
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Interesting places:

  • Butrint
  • Butrint National Park
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Berat is a city in Albania. In 2008 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town. It is one of the country's most beautiful towns, and is known as the "town of a thousand windows".

Interesting places:

  • Berat Castle
  • Osumi\'s Canyon
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Shkodra is the fourth largest city in Albania. Recently, it has experienced a face lift as streets and buildings were renovated, a promenade opened and a new swing bridge built over Buna River.

Interesting places:

  • Shkodra Castle
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Sarandë, the gateway to the southern Albania, is a small town of about 33.000 inhabitants, situated on a beautiful horseshoe bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. The name Saranda derives from an early Christian monastery dedicated to Agioi Saranta (Forty Saints). In antiquity, Saranda was known as ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Blue Eye Spring
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Points of Interest in Albania

There are many things to do in Albania. Many roads are paved; however they are very windy

  • The coastline is always a place to go, with its clear turquoise seas, and its many islands cast upon it, like in Saranda, the southern most coastal city in Albania. Note that more than half of the coastline stretching to the north of Vlore and up to the Montenegrin border contains sand beaches while the Albanian Riviera stretching south of Vlore is made up of rocky beaches. Along the Albanian Riviera, from Vlore to about Qeparo there exist mainly wooden villa complexes, bed and breakfasts, camping sites and a few beach resorts as accommodation facilities. Llogara Pass is a mountain pass located near Llogara National Park offering a majestic view of the riviera from above. Nearby is found Cesar's Pass, the place where Julius Cesar passed in his pursuit of Pompey.
  • Dajti Mountain, a popular sight in Tirana allows you to get a whole green view of the capital.
  • A walk around southern cities like Butrint, a UNESCO world heritage site, is always ideal and memorable. Butrint is home to many ancient ruins.
  • Castles are in many cities in Albania. Their beauty reminds anyone of the ancient times of Albania, and the world. There is Petrela Castle near Tirana, Rozafa castle in Shkodra, the inhabited castle of Berat, and Skanderbeg Castle in Kruje, (named after the national hero and now a popular museum holding his belongings).
  • Palasa, Near Himara. Palasa is a beautiful village in Himara with great beaches and amazing nature. This is the place where Julius Caesar rested his legion at the pursuit of Pompey. There are no touristic resorts, but you can ask for an apartment at the local caffe. The apartments usually are with two rooms and a toilette, but usually clean, safe and comfortable.

In southern Albania you can see the influence of Turks and Greeks. In northern Albania you can see many ancient Illyrian ruins and very little foreign influence.

Skanderbeg Square - Tirana

Berat Castle - Berat

Butrint - Ksamil

Durres Amphitheatre - Durres

Shkodra Castle - Shkoder

National Museum of Independence - Vlore

Blue Eye Spring - Sarande

Palace of Culture - Tirana

Et\'Hem Bey Mosque - Tirana

National Art Gallery - Tirana

National Museum of History - Tirana

Pyramid - Tirana

Tirana Parliament - Tirana

Selman Stermasi Stadium - Tirana

Palace of Congress - Tirana

University of Tirana - Tirana

Qemal Stafa Stadium - Tirana

Durres Tower - Durres

University of Vlora - Vlore

Historic Museum - Vlore

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