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Albania

The Republic of Albania, or Albania (Albanian: Shqipria, meaning Land of
the Eagles), is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by
Montenegro in the north, Serbia in the north-east, the Republic of Macedonia
in the east, and Greece in the south, has a coast on the Adriatic Sea in the
west, and a coast on the Ionian Sea in the southwest.

                                       Official language Albanian
                                       Capital           Tirana
Albania has been the site of several   President         Alfred Moisiu
Greek colonies, and was later part of
the Roman province of Illyricum. After Area              Ranked 139th
being conquered by a number of         - Total          28,748 km2
nations, it became a part of the       - % water        4.7%
Ottoman Empire in 1478.                Population        Ranked 125th
                                       - Total (2000)   3,582,205
After the First Balkan War, Albania    - Density        122/km2
declared independence from the Ottoman
Empire in 1912, but the country        Independence      From the Ottoman
remained in unrest. Occupied by Italy  - Date           Empire
                                                         November 28, 1912
during World War II, the (mainly
communist) resistance led by Enver     Currency          Lek
Hoxha seized control when the Italians Time zone         UTC +2
left.                                  National anthem   Hymni i Flamurit
Until 1990, five years after the death Internet TLD      .AL
of Hoxha, Albania was an isolationist  Calling Code      355
communist state. A multi-party
democracy is emerging, but the country suffers from economic problems,
organised crime, and a large number of Albanian refugees from Kosovo.

Politics

Head of state is the president, which is elected by the Kuvendi Popullor, or
People's Assembly. The main part of the Assembly's 155 members are elected
by the Albanians in elections every 5 years. The president is assisted by a
council of ministers, which is appointed by the president.

Districts

Albania is divided into 36 districts, or rrethe. Several districts are then
grouped into a prefecture of which there are 12. The capital city, Tiran,
has a special status. The districts are:

    * District of Berat          * District of Lezh
    * District of Bulqiz        * District of Librazhd
    * District of Delvin        * District of Lushnj
    * District of Devoll         * District of Malsi e Madhe
    * District of Dibr          * District of Mallakastr
    * District of Durrs         * District of Mat
    * District of Elbasan        * District of Mirdit
    * District of Fier           * District of Peqin
    * District of Gjirokastr    * District of Prmet
    * District of Gramsh         * District of Pogradec
    * District of Has            * District of Puk
    * District of Kavaj         * District of Sarand
    * District of Kolonj        * District of Shkodr
    * District of Kor          * District of Skrapar
    * District of Kruj          * District of Tepelen
    * District of Kuov         * District of Tiran
    * District of Kuks          * District of Tropoj
    * District of Kurbin         * District of Vlor

Geography

Albania consists of mostly hilly and mountainous terrain, the highest
mountain reaching up to 2,753 m. The country mostly has a land climate, with
cold winters and hot summers.

Besides capital city Tirana, with 520,000 inhabitants, the principal cities
are Durrs, Elbasan, Shkodr, Vlor and Kor.

Economy

Albania is one of Europe's poorest countries, with half of the
economically-active population still engaged in agriculture and a fifth said
to be working abroad. The country has to deal with a high unemployment rate,
corruption up to high government levels and organised crime.

Albania is aided financially from abroad, notably by Greece and Italy.

The country exports nearly nothing and imports a lot from Greece and Italy.
The money for imports comes from the financial aid and from the money that
refugees working abroad bring to Albania. This is a good status-quo business
for both Greece and Italy. Also unofficially Greece government makes money
by selling visas unofficially to Albanian citizens, who are not allowed to
travel freely abroad. For this reason both countries have several visa
consulates in major cities of Albania, and oppose indirectly every
possibility of free movement from Albanian citizens in EU.

Demographics

Most of the population (95%) is Albanian, but there is a sizeable Greek
minority (3%). Many ethnic Albanians also live in bordering Kosovo. The
language is Albanian, although some Greek is also spoken.

Since the occupation by the Ottomans, the majority of Albanians have been
Muslim (70%), even though religion was prohibited during the communist era.
The Eastern Orthodox (20%) and Catholic Church (10%) are the other main
religions in Albania.

Culture

                                  Holidays
     Date        English Name     Local Name              Remarks
 January
 1-January 2   New Year's Day  Viti i Ri        
 February 11                                    date varies, al-Eid saghir
 (2003)        Small Bayram    Bajrami i Vogl  in Islamic countries
 March 7       Teacher's Day   Dita e Msuesve  non official
 March 8       Mother's Day    Dita e Nns     non official
 March 22      Nevruz Day      Nevruz           

 April 20      Catholic Easter Pashkt          
                               Katolike

 April 27      Orthodox Easter Pashkt          
                               Ortodokse
 May 1         May Day         Nj Maji         
                                                ratified by Albanian
 October 19    Mother Teresa   Dita e Nn      Parliament as an official
               Day             Terezs
                                                and national holiday
 November 25                                    date varies, Eid-ul-Adhain
 (2003)        Big Bayram      Bajrami Madh     Islamic countries

 November 28   Independence    Dita e           
               Day             Pavarsis
 November 29   Liberation Day  Dita e lirimit  
 December 25   Christmas Day   Krishtlindje     
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