Albania is the country’s Medieval Latin name, but its people call it Shqipëri. The name might be derived from the Albani’s Illyrian tribe chronicled by Ptolemy, an astronomer and geographer from Alexandria who conscripted a map around 150 AD indicating the Albanopolis city situated Northeast of Durres. Albania is a nation in Southeast Europe surrounded by Kosovo to the Northeast and Montenegro to the Northwest. On the East, the Republic of Macedonia borders it, while Greece is to the South. On the West, the country has a coast on the Adriatic Sea, whereas the Ionian Sea is on its Southwest. The country is situated less than 72 kilometers from Italy.
The total area of Albania is 28,748 square kilometers, and it lies between 42° and 39° N latitudes and 21° and 19° E longitudes. Its coast length is 476km, and it stretches along the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. The West’s lowlands are on the Adriatic Sea. Approximately 70% of the nation is mountainous and rocky, and usually inaccessible. Korab is the highest mountain in the nation at the height of 2,764 meters, and is located in the previous district of Dibër. The climate on the Adriatic Sea has mostly wet winters while the summers are sunny, warm, and dry summers (Marle & Schofield, 2011).
Albania’s history emerged from the primeval period during the 4th century BC characterized with Illyria’s as evidenced in the early Greco-Roman historiography records. The current territory of Albania was a component of the Roman provinces that include Dalmatia, Moesia Superior, and Macedonia. After the decline of the Ottoman Empire in Europe due to the Balkan Wars, Albania confirmed its liberation in 1912, which was followed by recognition as a state in the subsequent year. In 1939, Italy invaded the Albania Kingdom and led to the formation of the Greater Albania. In 1943, the nation became a Nazi German protectorate.
In 1944, a socialist People’s democracy was formed under Enver Hoxha’s leadership and the Party of Labor. During the communist era, Albania experienced prevalent political and social transformations, including isolation from most of the global community (Knowlton, 2005). However, the Socialist Republic was disbanded in 1991, and the Albania Republic was established. Albania is considered a parliamentary republic and Greek representatives are a component of the Albanian parliament.
The Albanian Republic is a parliamentary democracy under the constitution of 1998. Every four years, elections are held to select representatives to the 140-seat of Albania’s unicameral Assembly. Bujar Nishani, the present Albanian president, was elected by parliament in 2012. The post-communist governments’ ultimate goal has been Albania’s Euro-Atlantic integration, and the European Commission has set Albania’s EU membership bid as one of its priorities (Marle & Schofield, 2011). The President is the Republic’s head of state who is often appointed by the Assembly through the secret ballot to a five-year term. The President has the authority to guarantee devotion to all laws and the Constitution. He also acts as the commander in chief of all armed forces and appoints the prime minister. The cabinet holds the executive power and the president nominate the ministers based on the prime minister’s approval.
In Albania, the internet is fast and inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe. In the mobile network business, providers like Eagle Mobile and Albanian Mobile provide 3G and 4G data devices. Human resources in technology and sciences have considerably reduced from 1993. Different surveys demonstrate that from 1991 to 2005, about 50% of the research scientists and professors of the science institutions and universities in Albania have emigrated (Marle & Schofield, 2011). However, since 2009, the nation aims at tripling public expenditure on research and development to GDP’s 0.6% and augmenting its proportion of the gross domestic expenditure.
Prior to the formation of the nation, illiteracy was 85% because schools were few between the First and Second World War Nevertheless, in 1945, the People’s Republic was formed, and the Party gave high precedence for eradicating illiteracy. A vast social campaign declared that every illiterate person between 12 to 40 years was mandated to be educated and by 1955, illiteracy was practically eliminated among the country’s adult population (Knowlton, 2005). Currently, the overall literacy rate is 98.7% with male’s illiteracy rate being 99.2% and 98.3% for females. The University of Tirana, founded in October 1957, is among Albania’s oldest universities.
Albania has a low incidence of death cases related to HIV. From 1992 to 2011, it reported an aggregate of 487 HIV cases with 83.1% heterosexual contact, 4.2% transmissions from mother to child, and 12.7% transmissions by sexual contact among men. No HIV cases involved transmission through drug injections (Knowlton, 2005). In 2011, the country had 71 new HIV contaminations, 38 AIDS cases including nine deaths related to AIDS. Nonetheless, Albania continues to have a small HIV testing exposure for its general public considering that only 2% of health services and clinics offer HIV testing services.
Cultural Practices Albania
Among the European countries, Albanian artis unique and has an extensive and eventful history. The country was ruled over by the Ottoman Empire for almost five centuries, which highly influenced the types of arts in the nation. In 1478, after Albania joined the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman impacted art forms like mosaics and mural depictions became widespread but real artistic transformation happened after Albanian Liberation in 1912. Paintings and sculpture developed during the early 20th century and attained a modest ultimate from the 1930s to 1940s with the first nationally arranged art exhibitions. Modern Albanian artwork focuses on the daily Albanians’ struggle, but upcoming artists are using various artistic styles to deliver this message. Despite Albanian artists’ progress in art, their art remains distinctly authentic. Post-modernism was properly recently introduced among Albania artists, but some of their works are known globally. Most celebrated post-modernism artists include Helidon Gjergji, Sislej Xhafa, and Anri Sala (Griffard, Applegate, & Carpenter, 2008).
The folk music of the nation falls under three stylistic clusters, but others exist, for example, areas around Tirana and Shkodër, which is characterized by some groupings to the North, including the Labs and Tosks of the South. It is possible to distinguish between the Southern and Northern music based on the former’s rugged and heroic tone and the latter’s relaxed tone. The country’s folk songs fall under heroic epics, love songs, sweetly melodic lullabies, work songs, and wedding music. Other popular songs are those common during certain holidays, for example during St. Lazarus Day just before spring and Vajtims lullabies performed by solo women (Marle & Schofield, 2011).
In 1854, Albanian is an Indo-European language as suggested by the German philologist Granz Bopp (Knowlton, 2005). Popular sports in the nation include football, basketball, weightlifting, tennis, volleyball, rugby union, swimming, and gymnastics. Football is the most popular and is under the regulation of the nation’s football association formed in 1930 and UEFA and FIFA.
The 2011 census reveals that 58.79% of Albanians were Muslims making Islam the country’s largest religion. 17.06% of the population practice Christianity, while 24.29% of the entire population is non-religious or belongs to other unconfirmed religious groups. Before the Second World War, 70% of the inhabitants were Muslims, 10% Roman Catholics and 20% Eastern Orthodox (Knowlton, 2005). A 2010 survey indicated that religion currently plays a crucial role in only 39% of Albanians’ lives and the nation is categorized among the least religious worldwide (Hall, 1994).
Albanians are regarded a polyglot country and people. Past colonialism and immigration have made Albanians speak several languages, including Italian, English, and Greek. They are also spoken because of migration return and innovative Italian including Greek communities in the nation. La Francophonie reveals that 320,000 French speakers may be found in Albania and other spoken languages are Romanian, Serbian, German, Aromanian, and Turkish. In neighboring Macedonia and Kosovo, Albanians are normally fluent in Serbian and Albanian, Slavic Macedonian, including other former Yugoslav languages (Knowlton, 2005).
Albania’s transformation to a mixed capitalist economy from a collective centrally planned economy has been highly successful. Between 1999 and 2013, formal non-agricultural occupation in the private segment over doubled with most of this development powered by foreign investment. In 2012, the country’s GDP per capita was EU average’s 30%, while Actual Individual Consumption was 35%. In 2010’s first quarter, Cyprus, Poland, and Albania were the only nations in Europe to register economic growth. In 2010, the IMF forecasted 2.6% growth for Albania and 3.2% in 2011. For the past decade, unemployment has wavered around the 15% mark. Agriculture remains the economy’s most important sector since it employs the population’s 47.8% (Marle & Schofield, 2011).
Albania has an increased HDI and offers global healthcare system including free secondary and primary education to its citizens. It is an upper-middle income economy is dominated by the service sector, followed by agriculture and the industrial sectors (Knowlton, 2005). Albania is a member of different organizations like the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations among others. In 2009, Albania and Croatia joined NATO. Moreover, it’s among the founders of the Energy Community, the Mediterranean Union, and an official candidate for association in the European Union.
Several environmental issues are present in the post-communist nation of Albania including poor waste management, air and water pollution, and deforestation. In the country’s bigger cities, air pollution is a serious environmental problem, particularly in Tirana the capital. Air pollution is high due to a sharp upsurge in car ownership and reduced urban greenery. In Albania, water pollution is caused by dumping trash including the discharge of raw sewage and wastewater (Marle & Schofield, 2011).
The 2011 Census results indicate that Albania’s total population is 2,821,977. The nation has a low fertility rate with 1.49 children being born per woman. In 1990, the Communist regime’s decline caused massive migration. In Communist Albania, external migration was forbidden, while internal migration was very limited. From 1991 to 2004, approximately 900,000 individuals moved out of the nation and a majority of them settled in Greece (King & Mai, 2008). Therefore, migration highly impacted the nation’s internal population distribution, and the population reduced largely in the south and north of the nation, but it increased in Durrës and Tirana districts (Hall, 1994).
By January 2015, Albania’s population was 2,893,005. The country has twelve counties each with two or more municipalities. Three national minority groups, including Macedonians, Greeks, and Montenegrins and Aromanians and Romani exist. Other Albanian minorities include Goran, Bulgarians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Jews, and Balkan Egyptians.
There is increasing political tension in the Western Balkans. Serbia and Albania have a complicated relationship due to ethnic tensions and corresponding territorial aspirations. To make things more complex, Albania supported Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, while Serbia remains resistant to global recognition (Marle & Schofield, 2011). Therefore, friction between Albania and Serbia will continue, and Albania’s allegations over Kosovo will remain verbal, but a more severe escalation is unlikely.
Economically, Albania is likely to improve in the future because it’s transformation to a mixed capitalist economy from a collective centrally planned economy has been highly successful. Tirana, the country’s capital, is its industrial and financial hub with a population of approximately 800,000. Furthermore, free market reforms have enabled the nation to venture into foreign investment, particularly in the advancement of energy and transportation substructure. In future, scientific development will promote the nation’s science and technology since its education provision has undergone a transformation. However, to prevent negative impacts in future, several environmental issues present in the post-communist nation of Albania including poor waste management, air, and water pollution, and deforestation need immediate attention.
Griffard, B. F., Applegate, W. R., & Carpenter, P. O. (2008). Albania: observations on a changing nation. Carlisle, PA: Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College.
Hall, D. (1994). Albania and the Albanians. London: Pinter Reference.
King, R., & Mai, N. (2008). Out of Albania: from crisis migration to social inclusion in Italy. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.
Knowlton, M. (2005). Albania. New York, NY: Benchmark Books.
Marle, J. V., & Schofield, R. (2011). Albania. Peterborough: Thomas Cook.