Albania is a land to be loved. In this small Mediterranean country, virgin nature and cultural mysteries combine to create a unique sense of place. From the snow-capped mountains in the winter to the fields covered in spring by red poppies, Albania’s landscape is ever-changing with the seasons, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a warm summer beach holiday or a mountain trek in the crisp and cool air of the fall. In Albania, visitors are welcomed as guests as part of the country’s rich cultural traditions and heritage. The warm hospitality of the Albanians, known worldwide, will make every traveler feel at home in this small wonderful land. There are many clean and pristine beaches, spectacular mountains, scenic river valleys, and many other natural surprises for visitors. Several of country’s main cities are situated along the pristine seashores of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. An important gateway to the Balkan Peninsula, Albania’s ever-growing road network provides juncture to reach its neighbors in north south, east, and west. Albania is within close proximity to all the major European capitals with short two or three hour flights that are available daily. Tourists can see and experience Albania’s ancient past and traditional culture. The Albanian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world. Throughout the country there are newly discovered and exciting archaeological sites, preserved Illyrian and medieval castles, as well as Byzantine churches and monasteries which contains a rich collection of frescoes and icons.
The legacy of Communism is still visible in Albania, where over 700,000 concrete bunkers pepper the landscape. Built by the Enver Hoxha regime over the course of 40 years, these bunkers were designed to thwart a military invasion of the country. While they were of little defensive value to Albania, today they are an interesting attraction to the country’s visitors. Albania’s bunkers can be found in all different shapes, sizes and colors. There are some projects to convert the bigger ones into basic hotel rooms, while others have already been transformed by enterprising Albanians have even transformed them into beverage stands and burger shops. The bunkers have been built into the very fabric of everyday life in Albania, and you will undoubtedly see them during your visit. To understand why these bunkers were built is to understand the totalitarian, communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Perpetually paranoid of an invasion by a foreign power, the Hoxha dictatorship mandated the construction of a defensive infrastructure so elaborate that it would make it unacceptably costly for any would-be attacker. Building hundreds of thousands of concrete fortifications, despite nearly bankrupting the country in the process, was his coping mechanism for this paranoia. However, when we consider that Albania was never invaded during Hoxha’s tenure in power, one cannot help but wonder whether or not his bunker-building campaign wasn’t successful after all.
Albania is a small country with a landmass of 28.748 sq km (about 11.000 sq miles). It is situated in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula in the southeastern part of Europe. It shares borders with Montenegro and Kosovo to the North and Northeast, Macedonia to the East and Greece to the South. To the West, Albania has a coast that adjoins the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The Adriatic separates it from Italy via the Strait of Otranto (72 km/45 mi). Much of Albania’s surface is mountainous – the average height above sea level is 708 m, (2,336 ft) and its highest peak, Mount Korab on the Macedonian border, is 2.753 m (9,085 ft).
Albania has a Mediterranean climate with each season offering distinct, yet pleasant weather. Some features of the climate vary by region: The coastal areas have a Central Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The alpine areas have a Central Continental climate with cold, snowy winters and temperate summers. The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7°C, and summer temperatures average 24°C. Lowland rainfall ranges from 1,000 mm to more than 1,500 mm annually, with greater rainfall in the north. Nearly 95% of rainfall occurs in the winter and rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Despite the rain, Albanians enjoy a great deal of sunshine. The overall climate is pleasant and favors outdoor activity. On average, Albanians enjoy a great deal of sunshine, second only to Spain in average annual sunny days. The overall climate is pleasant and favors outdoor activities.
Since the fall of Communism, the development of the Albanian economy has been fueled primarily by the service and construction industries, though tourism has recently played an increasing role in the economy and is growing rapidly. Many people are curious to explore a country whose borders were closed to travel for many years. Given the continued development of both summer and winter resorts, people all over the world have begun to think of Albania as a tourist destination.
- Flag: Black double-headed eagle on red background
- International telephone prefix: +355
- Government: Parliamentary Democracy
- Population: 3,150,886 inhabitants
- Area: 28,748 km2
- Capital city: Tirana
- Language: Albanian
- Currency: Lekë
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