Albania

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Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939, and occupied by Germany in 1943. 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, most of Albania's post-communist elections have been marred by claims of electoral fraud. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and in June 2014 became a candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece to the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north

Geographic coordinates

41.00° N, 20.00° E

Area 145/257

total: 28,748 sq km

land: 27,398 sq km

water: 1,350 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 691 km

border countries (4): Greece 212 km, Kosovo 112 km, Macedonia 181 km, Montenegro 186 km

Coastline

362 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate

mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter

Terrain

mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m

highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 43.8%

arable land 22.7%; permanent crops 2.7%; permanent pasture 18.4%

forest: 28.3%

other: 27.9% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

3,310 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

41.7 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 1.31 cu km/yr (43%/18%/39%)

per capita: 413.6 cu m/yr (2006)

Natural hazards

destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought

Environment - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Albanian(s)

adjective: Albanian

Ethnic groups

Albanian 82.6%, Greek 0.9%, other 1% (including Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Egyptian), unspecified 15.5% (2011 est.)

Languages

Albanian 98.8% (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek 0.5%, other 0.6% (including Macedonian, Roma, Vlach, Turkish, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)

Religions

Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi (a Sufi order) 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2%

note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice (2011 est.)

Population 137/238

3,029,278 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 18.78% (male 300,661/female 268,369)

15-24 years: 18.67% (male 291,479/female 274,019)

25-54 years: 40.39% (male 582,207/female 641,361)

55-64 years: 10.85% (male 163,003/female 165,805)

65 years and over: 11.3% (male 160,913/female 181,461) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 44.8%

youth dependency ratio: 26.9%

elderly dependency ratio: 18%

potential support ratio: 5.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 32 years

male: 30.8 years

female: 33.3 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 175/233

0.3% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 154/224

12.92 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 145/225

6.58 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 184/222

-3.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 57.4% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.21% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TIRANA (capital) 454,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.12 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23.4 (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 128/184

29 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 118/224

total: 12.75 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 14.19 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 11.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 60/224

total population: 78.13 years

male: 75.49 years

female: 81.04 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 196/224

1.5 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

69.3% (2008/09)

Health expenditures 111/191

5.9% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.15 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

2.6 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 84.3% of population

rural: 81.8% of population

total: 83.6% of population

unimproved:

urban: 15.7% of population

rural: 18.2% of population

total: 16.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 95.5% of population

rural: 90.2% of population

total: 93.2% of population

unimproved:

urban: 4.5% of population

rural: 9.8% of population

total: 6.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.04% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 88/191

18.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 80/138

6.3% (2009)

Education expenditures 130/173

3.3% of GDP (2007)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 46/134

total: 30.2%

male: 32.5%

female: 26.1% (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Albania

conventional short form: Albania

local long form: Republika e Shqiperise

local short form: Shqiperia

former: People's Socialist Republic of Albania

etymology: the English-language country name seems to be derived from the ancient Illyrian tribe of the Albani; the native name "Shqiperia" is popularly interpreted to mean "Land of the eagles"

Government type

parliamentary democracy

Capital

name: Tirana (Tirane)

geographic coordinates: 41.19° N, 19.49° E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions

12 counties (qarqe, singular - qark); Berat, Diber, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korce, Kukes, Lezhe, Shkoder, Tirane, Vlore

Independence

28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)

National holiday

Independence Day, 28 November (1912) also known as Flag Day

Constitution

several previous; latest approved by parliament 21 October 1998, adopted by popular referendum 22 November 1998, promulgated 28 November 1998; amended 2007, 2008, 2012 (2015)

Legal system

civil law system except in the northern rural areas where customary law known as the "Code of Leke" prevails

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Albania

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President of the Republic Bujar NISHANI (since 24 July 2012)

head of government: Prime Minister Edi RAMA (since 10 September 2013); Deputy Prime Minister Niko PELESHI

cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by the Assembly

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); a candidate needs three-fifths majority vote of the Assembly in one of three rounds or a simple majority in 2 additional rounds to become president; election last held in 4 rounds 30 May-11 June 2012 (next election to be held in 2017); prime minister appointed by the president on the proposal of the majority party or coalition of parties in the Assembly

election results: Bujar NISHANI elected president; Assembly vote - 73 on fourth round

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 23 June 2013 (next to be held in 2017)

election results: percent of vote by party - PS 41.36%, PD 30.63%, LSI 10.46%, PR 3.02%, PDIU 2.61%, other 11.92%; seats by party - PS 65, PD 50, LSI 16, PDIU 4, PR 3, other 2; seats by parliamentary group as of April 2015 - ASHE 88, APMI 50, 2 - outside of the majority and opposition groups

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, including a chairman); Court of Cassation (consists of 14 judges, including the chief justice)

judge selection and term of office: Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president with the consent of the Assembly to serve single 9-year terms with one-third of the membership renewed every 3 years; chairman elected by the People's Assembly for a single 3-year term; Court of Cassation judges, including the chairman, appointed by the president with the consent of the Assembly to serve single, 9-year terms)

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Employment, Welfare, and Integration or APMI (coalition of 24 centrist and center-right parties) [Sali BERISHA]:

Christian Democratic Party or PDK [Nard NDOKA]

Democratic Party or PD [Lulzim BASHA]

Movement for National Development of LZHK [Dashamir SHEHI]

Republican Party or PR [Fatmir MEDIU]

Alliance for a European Albania or ASHE (coalition of 38 parties from far left to right wing) [Edi RAMA]:

Christian Democratic Party of PKD [Mark FRROKU]

Party for Justice, Integration and Unity or PDIU [Shpetim IDRIZI] (formerly part of APMI)

Socialist Movement for Integration or LSI [Ilir META]

Socialist Party or PS [Edi RAMA]

Union for Human Rights Party or PBDNJ [Vangjel DULE]

other parties:

New Democratic Spirit or FRD [Bamir TOPI]

note: only the major parties of each coalition are listed

Political pressure groups and leaders

Confederation of Trade Unions of Albania or KSSH [Kol NIKOLLAJ]

Omonia [Vasil BOLLANO]

Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania or BSPSH [Gezim KALAJA]

International organization participation

BSEC, CD, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, EITI (compliant country), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero George Kastrioti SKANDERBEG, who led a successful uprising against the Ottoman Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-78); an unsubstantiated explanation for the eagle symbol is the tradition that Albanians see themselves as descendants of the eagle; they refer to themselves as "Shqiptare," which translates as "sons of the eagle"

National symbol(s)

double-headed eagle; national colors: red, black

National anthem

name: "Hymni i Flamurit" (Hymn to the Flag)

lyrics/music: Aleksander Stavre DRENOVA/Ciprian PORUMBESCU

note: adopted 1912

Economy

Economy - overview

Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is a developing country with a modern open-market economy. Albania managed to weather the first waves of the global financial crisis but, more recently, the negative effects of the crisis have caused a significant economic slowdown. Close trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy make Albania vulnerable to spillover effects of debt crises and weak growth in the euro zone.

Remittances, a significant catalyst for economic growth, declined from 12-15% of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 5.7% of GDP in 2014, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for almost half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming, because of a lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Complex tax codes and licensing requirements, a weak judicial system, endemic corruption, poor enforcement of contracts and property issues, and antiquated infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment, make attracting foreign investment difficult.

Albania’s electricity supply is uneven despite upgraded transmission capacities with neighboring countries. Technical and non-technical losses in electricity - including theft and non-payment - continue to undermine the financial viability of the entire system, although the government has taken steps to stem non-technical losses and begin to upgrade the distribution grid. Also, with help from international donors, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.

Inward FDI 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 government is focused on the simplification of licensing requirements and tax codes, and it entered into a new arrangement with the IMF for additional financial and technical support. Albania’s IMF program may be at risk, however, because the government has not collected sufficient tax revenue needed to reduce the budget deficit. The country continues to face increasing public debt, exceeding its former statutory limit of 60% of GDP in 2013 and reaching 73% in 2015.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 125/230

$32.44 billion (2015 est.)

$31.59 billion (2014 est.)

$30.52 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

unreported output may be as large as 50% of official GDP

GDP (official exchange rate)

$11.59 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 113/225

2.7% (2015 est.)

1.9% (2014 est.)

1.4% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 126/230

$11,900 (2015 est.)

$11,400 (2014 est.)

$11,000 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 105/179

16.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

16.7% of GDP (2014 est.)

17.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 82.1%

government consumption: 11%

investment in fixed capital: 26.5%

investment in inventories: 0.2%

exports of goods and services: 36.4%

imports of goods and services: -56.2%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 22.3%

industry: 15%

services: 62.6%

(2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products; sheep

Industries

food and tobacco products; textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Industrial production growth rate 72/202

3.4% (2015 est.)

Labor force 144/233

1.085 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 41.8%

industry: 11.4%

services: 46.8% (December 2014 est.)

Unemployment rate 159/207

17.3% (2015 est.)

17.5% (2014 est.)

note: these are official rates that may not include those working at near-subsistence farming

Population below poverty line

14.3% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 4.1%

highest 10%: 20.5% (2012)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 124/144

29 (2012 est.)

30 (2008 est.)

Budget

revenues: $2.978 billion

expenditures: $3.535 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 118/219

25.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 166/220

-4.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 41/176

73.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

72.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 120/226

2.2% (2015 est.)

1.6% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 113/156

2.25% (31 December 2014)

3% (31 December 2013)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 113/184

7.6% (31 December 2015 est.)

8.66% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 117/192

$2.826 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$3.066 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 125/193

$5.72 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$6.269 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 114/191

$7.161 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$8.231 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$NA

Current account balance 137/197

-$1.525 billion (2015 est.)

-$1.732 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 159/224

$1.011 billion (2015 est.)

$1.232 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

textiles, footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco

Exports - partners

Italy 45.2%, Kosovo 7.6%, China 7.4%, Spain 6.7%, Greece 4.6% (2014)

Imports 136/223

$3.597 billion (2015 est.)

$4.057 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals

Imports - partners

Italy 35.4%, Greece 11%, China 8%, Turkey 6.7%, Germany 4.3% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 107/170

$2.852 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.665 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 110/206

$8.782 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$8.209 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 97/120

$5.557 billion (31 December 2013)

$4.994 billion (31 December 2012)

Exchange rates

leke (ALL) per US dollar -

126.6 (2015 est.)

105.48 (2014 est.)

105.48 (2013 est.)

108.19 (2012 est.)

100.9 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 120/220

4.726 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption 100/219

7.793 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports 74/218

288.5 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports 48/219

3.355 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 109/214

1.878 million kW (2013 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 203/214

5.2% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 40/214

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 9/214

94.8% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 151/212

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Crude oil - production 69/214

20,510 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 57/214

23,320 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - imports 79/214

3,440 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 63/215

168.3 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 107/214

2,228 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 121/212

25,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 117/214

354.2 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 109/213

20,770 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 89/216

19 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 112/215

19 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 55/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 155/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 105/212

849.5 million cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 130/212

3.962 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 123/219

total subscriptions: 250,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 133/217

total: 3.4 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 111 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: despite new investment in fixed lines, teledensity remains low with roughly 10 fixed lines per 100 people; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective

domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed-line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2011, multiple companies were providing mobile services, and mobile teledensity had reached 100 per 100 persons; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005, but growth has been slow; Internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital

international: country code - 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2011)

Broadcast media

3 public TV networks, one of which transmits by satellite to Albanian-language communities in neighboring countries; more than 60 private TV stations; many viewers can pick up Italian and Greek TV broadcasts via terrestrial reception; cable TV service is available; 2 public radio networks and roughly 25 private radio stations; several international broadcasters are available (2010)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 13, FM 46, shortwave 1 (2005)

Television broadcast stations

65 (3 national, 62 local); 2 cable networks (2005)

Internet country code

.al

Internet hosts 124/232

15,528 (2012)

Internet users 104/217

total: 1.7 million

percent of population: 56.5% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 183/236

4 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

gas 331 km; oil 249 km (2013)

Railways 118/136

total: 677 km

standard gauge: 677 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 116/223

total: 18,000 km

paved: 7,020 km

unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)

Waterways 103/107

41 km (on the Bojana River) (2011)

Merchant marine 99/156

total: 17

by type: cargo 16, roll on/roll off 1

foreign-owned: 1 (Turkey 1)

registered in other countries: 5 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Panama 4) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore

Military and Security

Military branches

Land Forces Command, Navy Force Command, Air Forces Command (2013)

Military service age and obligation

19 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; 18 is the legal minimum age in case of general/partial compulsory mobilization (2012)

Military expenditures 112/132

0.85% of GDP (2015)

1.04% of GDP (2014)

1.5% of GDP (2013)

1.47% of GDP (2012)

1.52% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 7,443 (2014)

Illicit drugs

increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and expanding cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens