country profile - ALBANIA
Background: 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 in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
Area: total: 28,748 sq km
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 717 km
border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km
Coastline: 362 km
Climate: mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower
people  
Population: 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.)
Median age: total: 32 years
male: 30.8 years
female: 33.3 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.3% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 12.92 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 6.58 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -3.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
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.)
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.)
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%
Languages: Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.6%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.9% (2015 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
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)
Legal system: civil law system except in the northern rural areas where customary law known as the "Code of Leke" prevails
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)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by parliament
elections: president is elected by the Assembly for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term (a candidate needs a three-fifths majority of the Assembly's 140 votes (84 votes) in one of the first three rounds of voting or a simple majority in round four or five to become president; up to five rounds of voting are held, if necessary); four election rounds held between 30 May and 11 June 2012 (next election to be held in 2017); prime minister appointed by the president on the proposal of the party or coalition of parties that has the majority of seats in the Assembly
election results: Bujar NISHANI elected president on fourth round of voting; Assembly vote (for first three rounds three-fifths majority, 84 votes, required; fourth round, a simple majority of votes is required): Bujar NISHANI 73 votes; note - NISHANI took office 24 July 2012
Legislative branch: 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 four-year term)
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
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; chairman elected by the People's Assembly for 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];
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 Castriota SKANDERBERG, who led a successful uprising against the Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-1478)
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 250,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 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)
Internet country code: .al
Internet hosts: 15,528 (2012)
Internet users: total: 1.7 million
percent of population: 56.5% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 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: total: 677 km
standard gauge: 677 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
Roadways: total: 18,000 km
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)
Waterways: 41 km (2011)
Merchant marine: 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
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: the Albanian Government calls for the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians in neighboring countries, and the peaceful resolution of interethnic disputes; some ethnic Albanian groups in neighboring countries advocate for a "greater Albania," but the idea has little appeal among Albanian nationals; the mass emigration of unemployed Albanians remains a problem for developed countries, chiefly Greece and Italy
Refugees and internally displaced persons: stateless persons: 7,443 (2014)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Albania is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Albanian victims of sexual exploitation are trafficked within Albania and in Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Kosovo, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and the UK; some Albanian women become sex trafficking victims after accepting offers of legitimate jobs; Albanian children are forced to beg or perform other forms of forced labor; Filipino victims of labor trafficking were identified in Albania during 2012
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Albania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government decreased its trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions over the last year and, because of inconsistent implementation of operating procedures, continues to punish victims for unlawful acts that are a direct result of being subjected to sex trafficking; the high turnover rate of law enforcement personnel prevents progress at the local level in identifying and protecting trafficking victims; removal of the national anti-trafficking coordinator hinders efforts to implement the 2011 national action plan against trafficking; the government provides limited funding to NGO shelters (2013)
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
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/al.html