Albania

Driving Directions Albania

ALBANIA is a small mountainous republic in the Balkan region of south­eastern Europe. Its immediate neighbors are Greece, Serbia (Montenegro), and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and it is bounded to the west by the Adriatic Sea. Away from the coast, the land rises to form a series of wild and rugged hills and mountains that attain heights of 2,134-2,438 meters or 7,000-8,000 feet. In the north, these form the southernmost extension of the Dinaric Alps and are called the Albanian Alps.

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Many large rivers rise in the mountains and flow in a generally westerly direction towards the sea, including the Drin and the Vijose. There are also numerous freshwater lakes, and Albania’s border runs through the three largest of these, Lake Skadarsko in the northwest and Lakes Ohridsko and Prespansko in the east. Extensive forests cover the hills and lower mountain slopes, with both deciduous and coniferous trees being well represented and providing important timber resources. The rail and road networks are fairly poorly developed, and Albania has only one airport at Tirane.

The climate inland and in the mountains is continental in character, with hot, dry summers and bitterly cold winters. Along the Adriatic coast, a Mediterranean climate prevails with hot summers and mild, moist winters. Severe thunderstorms frequently occur on the coastal plains in summer. All land is state-owned, with the main agricultural areas lying along the Adriatic coast and in the Korce Basin. About half of Albania’s population is engaged in agriculture, and drainage and reclamation schemes have increased the amount of land available for farming. Much of the farming is carried out at a fairly basic level. However, grain and other foodstuffs have to be imported. The forests provide timber for fuel, construction, and wood products. Fish, both from the sea and from the numerous rivers and lakes, are another valuable natural resource. The industry is also nationalized, and the output is small. The principal industries are agricultural product processing, textiles, oil products, cement, iron, and steel. Most trade is with neighboring Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and major imports are consumables, grains, and machinery. Many Albanians live and work abroad, both in neighboring countries and farther afield, and the money they send home is a further mainstay of the economy.

Albania remains one of the most impoverished and poorly developed countries in Europe, and this is large because of factors in its recent political history. However, the country possesses valuable mineral resources, especially chromium, nickel, copper, iron ore, coal, petroleum, and pyrites. The mining and processing of these minerals are important to the Albanian economy. The country also has the potential to produce hydroelectricity thanks to its many mountain streams.

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More than 70 percent of Albania’s terrain is rugged and mountainous, with mountains running the country’s length from north to south. The remainder consists mostly of coastal lowlands. These lowlands stretch from the northern border to Vlorë, covering 200 kilometers (124 miles) from north to south and extending as much as 50 kilometers (31 miles) inland. A large part of this region is former marshland (soft, wetland; also called wetlands) reclaimed during the Communist era (1944– 90). (Reclaimed land is an area where the natural conditions have been changed, usually by building dams or dikes, to redirect the water.) The reclaimed land in Albania is now used for agriculture.

Albania lies on the southeastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and is also bordered by the Ionian Sea to the south.

Did you know about Albania?

Lake Ohrid in Albania is one of only two places globally (the other is Russia) where a rare fish called the koran can be found. The koran has a delicate flavor and is similar to carp and trout.

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