- General Info
- Albanian Cities
- Getting to Albania
- Visa Requirements
Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16' latitude and 42 39' longitudes. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2. The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km; out of which 657-km is land-border, 316-km sea-border, 48-km river-border and 73 km lake-border. The Republic of Albania, borders in the North and North-East with Serbia and Montenegro, on the East with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with the Republic of Greece. On the West, Albania is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe. Albania is included in the humid sub-tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone.
Coastal areas: Central Mediterranean, mild and wet winter, hot and dry summer.
Alpine areas: Central Continental, cold and wild winter, wet summer.
Lowland – Western Albania, Plain – Eastern Albania
Alpine – Northern Albania, the Highest Peak – Korabi Mountain (2,753m)
3,364,571 (June 1999)
95% Albanian, 3% Greek and 2% various
Tirana (since 1920)
Durres, Vlora, Saranda, Shkodra, Berat, Korca, Gjirokastra, Elbasani,
Albanian is an Indo-European language and it represents a separate branch of this family on the bases of its idiosyncrasy. The Greek geographer, Ptholemeous, has witnessed the existence of Albanians and Albanian language in the second century AD. The name "Shqiperi" (Albania) replaced the "old" name "Arberi" (or Arbani) by the end of the XVII century, due to the new historical conditions created, and aimed at giving importance to the connection between the nation notion and the use of the Albanian language, which was by that time called "Shqip". The Albanian language is also used (written & spoken) in the parts of Kosovo, Serbia & Montenegro, and Macedonia, where ethnic Albanians live.
The territory of Albania has been inhabited since Antiquity. Traces of life from the period of middle and late Paleolithic (100 000 - 10 000 years ago) are found in Xare, as well as in the Cave of Saint Marina in Saranda.
Albanians are the direct successors of the Illyrians. The Illyrian tribes stretched along the Western part of the Balkans, and they reached the rivers Sava and Danube in the North, the rivers Morava and Vardar on the East (the border line with Thrake), and the mountain-chain of Pindi in the South and South-East (the border with the Greeks and Macedonians). With the break up of the Roman Empire in the year 395 AD, Illyria remained under the Byzantine Empire. In the following period, Illyria suffered the invasion of several barbarian tribes, like Goths, Avars, etc. During the IV - VI centuries, Slavs invaded part of the Northern and Eastern Illyria, as well as Macedonia, parts that with the passing of time were assimilated.
The Ottoman invasion (XIV century) established the military feudal system in Arberia (Albania), but several continuous uprisings of the Albanian princes prepared the glorious resistance of the Albanian people under the leadership of the National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Scanderbeg. Scanderbeg managed to give birth to a centralized Albanian state (Arberia), and his flag became the national flag of Albania.
The XVIII century marks the flourishing of two Albanian very well organized and very powerful "Patriarchies": The Patriarchy of Bushatllinj (with Shkodra as its center and governed by Karamahmut Pasha Bushatlli); and the Patriarchy of Ioaninna, with Ioaninna as its center and governed by Ali Pashe Tepelena). The peak of the struggle for independence and national identity was reached with the Albanian Renaissance Movement, which starts in 1830.
In 1878, this movement was very well organized under the League of Prizren, which served as the first military and political leadership of the Albanian uprisings. But, unfortunately enough, in the same year, the Congress of erlin decided the division of the Albanian territories to the benefit of the neighboring states, Montenegro, Serbia and Greece.
Nevertheless, the Albanian movement for freedom was crowned with the Proclamation of Independence, on November 28, 1912.
During the years of the World War I, Albania was converted into a battlefield for the combating powers, and it was invaded consequently by the Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, France and Austro-Hungary.
In 1920, the Congress of Lushnja (a town 90 km south to Tirana), with the consensus of all the representatives from all over Albania declared Tirana to be the Capital of Albania.
On January 21, 1925, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a Parliamentary Republic and Ahmet Zog was elected President of Albania, but he had so much power in his hands that, in fact, the Republic functioned as a Presidential one.
On September 1, 1928, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania Democratic Parliamentary Kingdom and Ahmet Zog the King of Albania, receiving the royal title "Zog I".
On April 7, 1939, fascist Italy invaded Albania, and consequently on April 12, 1939, the so-called Constitutional Assembly declared the end of Zog's Kingdom and offered the crown to Victor Emanuel III. The Albanian State formally remained a Constitutional Kingdom under the Savoy Dynasty.
On November 29, 1944, Albania was liberated from the nazi-fascist invaders. Since then, Albania was ruled by the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, which influenced into the country’s isolation.
On January 11, 1946, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a People's Republic, as one of the forms of the proletarian dictatorship, which lasted, more or less, half a century, until April 29, 1991, when the first pluralistic Parliament declared the Parliamentary Republic of Albania.
red with a black two-headed eagle in the center
Economy (source: 2001 CIA Book of Facts)
Poor and backward by European standards, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime and to revive economic activity and trade. The economy is bolstered by remittances from abroad of $400-$600 million annually, mostly from Greece and Italy. Agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, is held back because of frequent drought and the need to modernize equipment and consolidate small plots of land.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $14 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 49%, industry: 27%, services: 24% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 30% (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2002 est.)
Labor force: 1.283 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers and 261,000 domestically unemployed) (2000 est.)
Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Exports - commodities: textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners: Italy 71%, Greece 12%, Germany 7%, Ex-Yugoslavia 3% (2001)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners: Italy 32%, Greece 26%, Turkey 6%, Germany 6%, Bulgaria 2% (2001)
Debt - external: $784 million (2000)
Currency: lek (ALL)
Tirana has been the capital of Albania since 1920. It is relatively new city established in 1614 from Sulejman Bargjini, feudal of the area at the time. The city began to grow at the beginning of the 18th century. Today Tirana is not only the most populated city in Albania, but also the biggest political and economic centre in the country. In central Tirana, on Scanderbeg square there is the old mosque of Ethem Bey built during 1789 – 1823 as well as the Clock Tower, 35 meter high, built in 1830. The Palace of Culture housing the Opera and Ballet Theatre and National Library is next to the main square. In Tirana there are also other important institutions such as the National Historic Museum, Archaeological Museum, The Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Albanian Philately, the National Gallery of Fine Arts, the Center of International Culture etc.
One can enjoy the best view from the “Martyrs Cemetery” which contains the “Mother Albania“ monument. The Adriatic sea and Dajti mountain are near to the city. It takes you less than one hour drive to reach the sea. A Great Park with an artificial lake is located immediately at the southern part of the city.
What to see
The Fortress of PertrelaIt is located at south of Tirana on the right side of national road linking capital with the city of Elbasan. It was built up by the middle age. The castle was under the command of Scanderbeg sister, Mamica Kastrioti.
The fortress of Preza, belongs to the XV century. It has a very nice and dominant position in front of Kruja mountain.
The Mosque of Ethem Bey is situated just at the center of Tirana. It was constructed in 1789. Together with the Clock Tower ( 1830). they make a important historic part of Tirana.
Ministries represents architectonic values. They were built in the year 1930, when Albania was a kingdom.
After the Second World War several buildings were erected. The Palace of Culture, the Palace of Congresses, the National Historic Museum, the Centre of International Culture etc.
The bridge of Tabakeve is situated along the boulevard “Zhan Dark”. It belongs to the XVIII century.
The Tomb of Kapllan Pasha, built in 1814.
The Museum of National History (phone +355 223446 / 228389 )
Gallery of Fine Arts (closed at Mondays)
Museum of Albanian Philately
The Museum of Natural Sciences
Vlora is a coastal city. It is not only one of the major ports, but also of great historical importance as it was here that in 1912 the Assembly was convened to proclaim Albania as an independent state and to set up the first National Government headed by Ismail Qemali. One can learn more about the background of this event at the Museum of Independence. On a hill above the city one can enjoy the religious place of “Kuzum Baba”. From there you can see the beach and the view of the whole city.
What to see
Ethnographic Museum (open 08.00–12.00 and 16.00–18.00 )
Historic Museum (open 8.00–12.00 and 16.00– 18.00)
The Museum of Independence (open 8.00–12.00 and 16.00–18.00)
The Mosque of Muradie
The Castle of Kanina, in Kanina village
The Castle of Porto-Palermo
The ruins of Himara Castle, Himare
Churches of Saint Stephen and Saint Mitri in the village of Dhermi ( XII –XIV centuries)
Monastery of Saint Mary, in Zvernec Village
Ancient theatre of Orikum (First century B.C)
The Church of Marmiroi in Orikum
Between Tirana and Vlora there is the district of Fier, which boasts different historical sites with great interest . The most important are:
Historic Museum in Fier
Archaeological Museum of Apollonia, in village of Pojan
Monastery of Saint Mary at Apolonia,
Archaeological site of Apolonia
Archaeological site of Bylis, in Hekal village
The ruins of the Church of Saint Mary, in Ballsh
It known as “the city of one-thousand windows” and is declared as a museum city. It is on the slopes of the Tomorri mount where the castle of the city rises in a predominant hill. Inside its walls there are dwelling houses and the “Onufri Museum”. Paintings and icons by the outstanding Albanian painter are also exhibited there. The old part of the city has some religious buildings like churches and mosques.
What to see
The Museum of Iconography “Onufri” (open 8.00-15.00, closed at Mondays, phone +355 32 32 248).
The Museum of Ethnography (open 8.00-15.00, phone +355 32 32224)
Gallery “Eduard Lear” (open for each day, phone +355 32 32 027)
The castle of Berat
The Church of Saint Mehilli, (Michael)
The Cathedral of Saint Mary,
The Church of Saint Triadha (Trinity),
The Church of Saint Vllaherna
The King Mosque
The Bridge of Gorica, over river Osum
The principal port of Durres is the second largest city of Albania. The city was colonized by the colonists from Corinth and Korkyra in 627 B.C. It was named Epidamnus, which later became Dyrrachium. The most important object is the amphitheatre, the largest in Balkan with 15,000 seats, dating back to the 2nd century AD and containing an Early Christian crypt with a rare wall mosaics . Between the 1st and 3rd centuries Durres was an important port and trading centre on the Via Egnatia trading route, between Rome and Byzantuim (Istanbul). After a great number of earthquakes, much of ancient Durres sank into the sea or collapsed and was subsequently built over. Today the city is well known for the nearby beach resort of Durres and its sandy beaches and warm sea waters.
What to see
The Archaeological Museum (open 9- 17.00, closed each Monday and Tuesday, phone +355 52/22253)
Venetian Torra (small castle open as a bar)
Ancient city wall
The Exhibition of Folk Culture (open 8.00-13.00 for each day)
The mosaic of Arapaj, Arapaj village (it can be opened only with special permit)
Kruja is a medieval town near Tirana. It is on built on the slope of Sari Salltiku mount. The name of Kruja is closely connected with the name of the National Hero, George Kastriot Scanderbeg, who fought against the Ottomans for 25 years in succession, defending European civilization from their threat in the 15th century. At a prominent and strategic place near the city, there is a castle, within is housed the Scanderbeg Museum (National Museum). On the way to the castle there is a medieval bazaar.
What to see
Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg (open 09.00- 13.00 and 15.00-8.00, closed at Mondays, phone + 355 532 2225)
Ethnographic Museum (open 09.00-13.00 and 15.00 -18.00 closed at Mondays)
Archaeological site of Albanopoli, in village of Zgerdhesh
Is the largest city of south eastern part of Albania. It is situated at the foot of Morava Mountain on a plateau 800 m above sea level. It became an important trading and handicraft centre in the 18th century due to the development of trade with neighboring regions. The museum for Medieval Art is in Korça. It presents the spiritual and material culture of the Albanian people. There are also the Museum of Education, where the first Albanian School were opened in 1878 and the new museum of “Bratko Collections” with antiquaries from the Far East.
What to see
The Museum of Medieval Arts, (open 8.00 - 14.00) .
The Gallery “ Guri Madhi”, (open 10.00 - 12.00 and 16.00- 18.00)
The “Bratko” Museum of antiquaries and collections from far east, (open 9.00- 12.00 and 16.00- 18.00)
The Museum of Education, (open 8.00 - 14.00)
The Archaeological Museum, (open 8.00 - 14.00)
Watering greensward (a suite place for emigrants, where young ladies use to shed tears)
Pogradec is one of the most charming tourist resorts in Albania because of its position on lake Ohrid which distinguishes itself for clear water and mountain views. The koran fish, similar to trout, is found in this lake. Besides the beautiful beach, your stay in Pogradec is made more interesting by the excursion to the tourist centre in Driloni (5 km eastward) surrounded by ornamental plants and trees.
What to see
The mosaics of Lin, in the village of Lin at north of Pogradec
The sources of Drilon
The monumental graves of Selca e Poshtme, in village of Selca
The Goliku Bridge on the old Via Egnatia
One of the most important cities of southern Albania, has been declared a “Museum City”. It is built on the slope of a mountain and is known for its characteristic and narrow stone paved streets. The dwelling houses have the form of medieval towers consisting a building ensemble with characteristic architecture. The castle of the city stands like a balcony over the city. It enables the visitors to enjoy a very beautiful landscape. The National Museum of Weapons is housed in the interior of the castle. Weapons are produced and used by the Albanian since the ancient times are displayed there.
What to see
The Museum of Weapons (inside the castle)
The Ethnographic Museum (phone +355 846 2460)
The Castle of Gjirokastra
The Church of Labova e Kryqit, in the village with same name
The archaeological site of Antigonea, in the village of Saraqinisht
The ruins of archaeological site of Adrianapol, in the village of Sofratike
Albania's most southern city. Situated opposite of Corfu island, Saranda is now mostly visited by day trippers who come to enjoy this previously inaccessible resort. It is one of the most tourist sites in Albania and is very preferable by “honey mooners”. Near Saranda there are the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint and the Springs of “Blue Eyes”.
What to see
The Archaeological Museum of Butrinti
The ruins of ancient town of Onhezmi in Saranda
The ancient temple and other ruins of Foinike, in Finiq village
The small Castle of Ali Pasha in Vrine village
Archaeological site of Butrinti
The Church of Saint Kolli in Mesopotam village
It is one of the most major cities in the north – western part of the country. It is situated near the lake sharing the same name and along the road that leads to Montenegro. It is an ancient city with rich history. One can find old characteristic houses where wood and other traditional motifs are used. Near the city there is the castle of Rozafa built on a rocky hill from where you can see attractive and beautiful views. During your stay you can visit the Historical Museum of the city. Shkodra is a good point to start your trip to Albanian Apls.
What to see
Historic Museum (the archaeology section is attached) Phone +355 224 32 13, open 09.00-13.00
Museum of Rozafa Castle ( open 10.00- 13.00)
The other interesting place in the city and nearby are: The Castle of Rozafa
The Lead Mosque
The Church of Shirgji (near Obot village)
The Mesi Bridge ( 8 km far from Shkodra)
The Illyrian ruins of Gajtan
The medieval city of Sarda, near Vau I Dejes
On the way from Tirana to Shkodra in the town of Lezha is interesting to visit the memorial dedicated to burial place of Albanian National Hero, Scanderbeg. (open 8.00-13.00)
Kakavia in the southern border with Greece
Kapshtica in the south-eastern border with Greece
Qafe-Thane in the eastern border with Macedonia (FYROM)
Morine (Kukes) in the north-eastern border with Kosovo
Hani i Hotit in the northern border with Montenegro and
Murriqan in the north-western border with Montenegro
The port of Durres can be reached by ferry from several Italian ports, including Bari, Brindisi, Ancona, and Trieste.
The Port of Vlora in the south can be reach by ferry service through the Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi.
The Port of Saranda is accessible through small passenger ferries from the island of Corfu.
Mother Theresa Airport (also known as Rinas) is approximately 25 kilometers from Tirana and has many direct flights from Europe. Main city connections include London, Munich, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Vienna, Zurich, Athens, Belgrade, Bologna, Budapest, Istanbul etc.
Passports: A valid passport is required to enter in Albania. Identity cards are not accepted.
Visas: By a Decision of the Prime Minister of the Republic, the citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter in Albania:
E.C. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland , Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus
EFTA Countries : Norway and Switzerland
OTHER : U.S.A., Canada, Turkey, Israel, Japan, South Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Australia and
New Zealand, Croatia, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Romania.
The citizens of other countries may obtain visa at any entry point by payment: Saudi Arabia, FYR Macedonia, Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and United Arab Emirates.
The citizens of other countries are required to obtain visas in the embassies of the Republic of Albania or Albanian Consulates in their respective or neighboring countries.
During the summer tourist season, between 1 of June until 30 of September, the Albanian Government provides the following incentives.
All foreign citizens of Albanian nationality can enter in Albania without visa. In such a case identity cards are accepted as valid. Do not need visa for this period of time the citizens from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia- Herzegovina.
The tax for counselor services
According to the Law nr 8977, date 4.07.2002 for some changes to the law nr 8435, date 28.12.1998 “For the system of taxes to the Republic of Albania” changed with other laws, referring to the annex nr 2 “The tax for counselor services” the following changes are made:
The point 9 is changed as follows:
“The entry tax to the territory of Republic of Albania for overseas citizens, who do not need a visa, organized in tourist groups by Albanian travel agencies will be according to the reciprocity, but not more than 10 Euro. This tax is not subject of implementation for the period from 01 May until 01 November”
Point 10 is changed as follows:
“Individual same day visitors and those organized in one day trips by Albanian travel agencies do not pay a visa tax or entry tax”