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Basic Info on Albania - History

Basic Info on Albania - History

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Tirana, Albanian Tiranë, city, capital of Albania. It lies 17 miles (27 km) east of the Adriatic Sea coast and along the Ishm River, at the end of a fertile plain.

It was founded in the early 17th century by a Turkish general, Barkinzade Süleyman Paşa, who is said to have built a mosque, a bathhouse, and a bakery in order to attract settlement. The town gradually became a trading centre at a junction of roads and caravan trails. It was chosen to be the capital of Albania in 1920 by a congress at Lushnjë. Under King Zog I (reigned 1928–39), Italian architects were employed to replan the city. The focus is Skanderbeg Square, whose Etehem Bey Mosque (1819) is now flanked by the Soviet-built Palace of Culture. Nearby is the University of Tirana (1957). The old city stretches to the east and north of the main square and features alehouses and historic architecture. Tirana has museums, a national institute of folklore, a national theatre, and a concert hall. Skanderbeg Square has a large statue of Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti), the Albanian national hero. The inhabitants of Tirana are mostly Muslim.

Following the successive Italian and German occupations (1939–44) during World War II, a communist People’s Republic was proclaimed in Tirana on January 11, 1946. The city subsequently expanded considerably with Soviet and Chinese assistance. Hydroelectric and thermal power plants were completed in 1951, and Tirana soon came to rank as the country’s largest city and main industrial centre, with metalworking, tractor repair, food processing, and the manufacture of textiles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, dyes, glass, and porcelain. Coal mines operate nearby. There are rail connections to Durrës and Laç, as well as an international airport. Pop. (2001) 343,078 (2011) 418,495.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

The Roots of Genocide: The Ottoman Empire

The Armenian people have made their home in the Caucasus region of Eurasia for some 3,000 years. For some of that time, the kingdom of Armenia was an independent entity: At the beginning of the 4th century A.D., for instance, it became the first nation in the world to make Christianity its official religion.

But for the most part, control of the region shifted from one empire to another. During the 15th century, Armenia was absorbed into the mighty Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman rulers, like most of their subjects, were Muslim. They permitted religious minorities like the Armenians to maintain some autonomy, but they also subjected Armenians, who they viewed as “infidels,” to unequal and unjust treatment.

Christians had to pay higher taxes than Muslims, for example, and they had very few political and legal rights.

In spite of these obstacles, the Armenian community thrived under Ottoman rule. They tended to be better educated and wealthier than their Turkish neighbors, who in turn grew to resent their success.

This resentment was compounded by suspicions that the Christian Armenians would be more loyal to Christian governments (that of the Russians, for example, who shared an unstable border with Turkey) than they were to the Ottoman caliphate.

These suspicions grew more acute as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. At the end of the 19th century, the despotic Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II – obsessed with loyalty above all, and infuriated by the nascent Armenian campaign to win basic civil rights – declared that he would solve the 𠇊rmenian question” once and for all.

“I will soon settle those Armenians,” he told a reporter in 1890. “I will give them a box on the ear which will make them…relinquish their revolutionary ambitions.”

15 Fun & Interesting Facts About Albania

Source: operationworld Albania – Map

Albania has been an independent country for 104 years. During that time, it’s become an increasingly popular tourist destination. It attracts beachcombers, foodies interested in unique traditional cuisine, and history buffs looking for a rich cultural heritage. If you’re planning to visit, and I highly recommend it, here are 15 interesting facts about this historically isolated country.

1. In the evenings, the locals like to walk. But it’s not just a walk. Known as xhiro, it’s an official evening walk where every resident comes out to stretch their legs and catch up with their neighbours. In many towns, the roads close to cars for certain hours! Apartment blocks empty and everyone gathers at various places, walking and talking until nightfall.

2. When an Albanian is agreeing with you, he or she will shake their head, and when they are disagreeing with you they will nod. Be warned and avoid confusion. Yes means no and no means yes.

3. The majority of Albanians are Muslim. About 70% at last count. A 2011 census shows that about 60% of Muslims are practicing Sunni and Bektashi Shia, making it the largest religion in the country. About 17% are Christian, which makes it the second largest religion, and another 17% are either undeclared or atheist.

4. You’re likely to notice a large number of scarecrows in odd places. Albanians believe that a scarecrow placed on a home or other building while it’s under construction will ward off envy from the neighbours. Sometimes you’ll see a teddy bear serving the same purpose. The odd part is that the scarecrow or the teddy bear will be impaled on a rod or hung by a rope like a noose. Some also say that these talismans bring good luck.

5. When the communist era ended in 1991, there were roughly three million people in the country but only 3000 cars. Communism isolated the country and for a long time, only Party officers were permitted to use cars. In the years since, many more cars have come into the country, and the national preference appears to be Mercedes. Blame it on the late start in getting behind the wheel, or just cultural proclivity, but be warned: Albanians have a reputation for being some of the worst drivers on the planet. Not only are the roads in less than ideal condition, and not only are the cars barely drivable (think no headlights), but the drivers themselves seem to be following individualized rules of the road. Look both ways before crossing the road!

6. The heroine of Albania is Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. Better known to the rest of the world as Mother Teresa. She was born in Skopje, which is now a part of Macedonia, and is one of the most beloved religious figures of the 20th century. She is the only Albanian to win a Nobel prize.

7. In 1995 a law was passed requiring citizens to pay taxes on traffic-lights in their home towns. The residents of Shkodra were taxed, just like all cities, but staged a protest. Their reason? Shkodra has no traffic lights. It’s one of the oldest cities in Europe and the fifth largest in Albania. With a wonderful Old Town worth visiting, history buffs will love the restoration that’s happening. Also, the Rozafa Fortress offers incredible views over the lake.

8. The Albanian government has seen a lot of change. The government declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. Then, in 1939, the country was successfully invaded by Italy. Shortly after that, in 1944, Communist loyalist took control. For the next several decades, Albania aligned itself first with Russia (until 1960) and then China (until 1978). Finally, in 1991, the people were able to end 46 years of strife when they once again declared independence and established a multi-party democracy. Not surprisingly, the new government has faced some pretty incredible challenges like high unemployment, corruption, and a crippled infrastructure. They’ve come a long way thanks to the indomitable Albanian spirit.

9. The highest point in Albania is Maje e Korabit, or Golem Korab. At over 2,700 metres, this peak sits directly on the border with Macedonia – making the highest point for both countries. Golem Korab attracts many tourists, particularly outdoor adventurers. From June to September, hikers and climbers make their way to this great peak for the challenge and the natural surrounding beauty.

Source: flickr Skanderbeg Square

10. Tirana, the capital of Albania has a lot of things in common with other European capitals – except one. It’s one of the only capitals without a McDonalds (another is Vatican City). Tirana is the heart of the country with a vibrant and youthful atmosphere. Post-Communist transformation is most apparent here. It’s practically unrecognizable from its old self. Primary colours decorate the buildings, more public squares and pedestrian streets, as well as new business and shopping. Check out Blloku where there are great bars, as well as the grand boulevard with interesting relics from the Ottoman Empire. If you’re in Tirana and find yourself craving an American style hamburger, check out Kolonat, an Albania fast food chain that has a logo suspiciously similar to McDonald’s.

11. Currently, there are more Albanians living outside the country than living inside it. As you travel around the Balkans, you’ll see tons of qeleshes – the brimless felt hats that are a part of traditional Albanian dress. The estimates range from seven to ten million Albanians living throughout Europe, primarily in Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Greece. Only three million Albanians actually live within its borders.

12. Albania has over 750,000 bunkers spread out across the land. They are hard to miss and can be a nice car game (Be the first to spot the bunker!). They were all built during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha in order to protect the country from an invasion. An invasion which never actually happened. Most are a bit of an eyesore and many Albanians dislike them because they are a reminder of 50+ years of isolation. But a few have been repurposed into cultural museums, artistic canvases, and business ventures.

13. Tirana, the capital is surprisingly sheik. For a country that’s had some stark years, the truly Albanian spirit can be seen in modern Tirana. You might expect it to be dominated by grey concrete (like other Post-Communist European cities), but there’s a ton of green space, and, of course, lots of colour. The inspiration behind the reinvention of the city is Edi Rama. A painter and a politician, Rama was mayor of the city for 11 years (2000-2011). Though some have criticized him for not paying more attention to infrastructure issues, most agree that the effects of having a lively city go a long way towards motivating people and inspiring even more change.

Source: trekearth Raki

14. Raki is the national drink, but be warned! Raki made out in the villages is equal to about three normal drinks. If you’ve travelled in the Balkans, you’ve probably come across rakija or rakia. But the Albanian versus is quite unique. It’s an old school moonshine made from grapes that is incredibly strong. You’ll find it in most bars but be sure to pay attention to its source. If it comes out of a repurposed plastic bottle or plain glass jug, you’re liking getting a home-brew likely to put hair on your chest (as the saying goes!).

15. The traditional dress of Albania uses wool, cotton, and silk, with embroidered patterns and symbols like the silver and gold Albanian eagle. Other symbols are pagan in origin and include moons, stars, suns, and snakes. Each region has its own traditions and would be happy to explain the subtle differences. If you’re looking for a good gift to take home, try buying a pair of Opinga – the traditional shoe worn by both men and women.

Basic Information

FIAA was established by several Foreign Investors in Albania bringing up the need of such an organization in the country. The launching of FIAA was highly appreciated and welcomed by the Authorities, Business Community, as well as international bodies such as the EU, WB, IFC, EBRD and OSCE.

FIAA represents most of the FDI stock in Albania from different nationalities, mainly from Italy, Greece, Austria, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Norway, UK, Switzerland, USA, and a range of economic sectors such as Banking And Finance, Construction, Consulting, Telecommunication, Mining And Oil And Gas, Energy, Trading, Hospitality, etc. FIAA is an apolitical and non-profit organization, entirely supported by membership fees.

Why you should join FIAA

  • To improve the Investment and Business climate in Albania by working concrete reform proposals on legislation and product development.
  • To promote dialogue between the FIAA Members and the Albanian Authorities.
  • To assist on overcoming difficulties.
  • To provide a meeting place for Foreign Investors to discuss mutual problems and find solutions.
  • To act as an ambassador to attract more foreign direct investment in the country.
  • To offer after care services for foreign investors who are already doing business in Albania.
  • To offer Business Consulting by acting as an one-stop-shop.
  • Offer a rich database of the Albanian & Foreign investors.
  • Provide special advertising through FIAA website (homepage).

Yearly Activities

  • Business roundtables
  • Speakers Forums
  • Networking Events
  • Seminars and Workshops
  • Conferences and Trainings
  • Trade Fairs and Exhibitions

Membership is open to all Foreign Investors, Representatives companies and International Organizations working in Albania.

It’s time to promote and protect your business!
Join FIAA now

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. After half a century of Stalinist dictatorship, food culture is virtually nonexistent. For decades, there was little on the market beyond basic staples, and today, dire poverty has left most Albanians with little more to eat than bread, rice, yogurt, and beans. In as much as it has survived at all, Albanian cuisine is meat-oriented. Traditional dishes, which usually are reserved for guests and special occasions such as weddings, are easier to find among Albanians living abroad.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Despite their poverty, Albanians are exceptionally generous and hospitable. A person invited to dinner will be given enough to "feed an army," even though the host may go hungry the next day. It is not unusual for an Albanian family to spend a month's salary to feed a visitor. Meals for guests or for ceremonial occasions such as weddings usually involve copious amounts of meat, washed down with Albanian raki , an alcoholic beverage. Animals were formerly slaughtered and roasted on a spit for religious holidays such as the Muslim celebration of Great Bayram and the Christian feast days of Saint Basil on 1 January, Saint Athanasius on 18 January, Saint George on 23 April and 6 May, Saint Michael on 29 September, Saint Nicholas on 6 December, and Christmas on 25 December. These customs have largely died out, although some regional dishes have survived. The Orthodox of southeastern Albania still eat qumështor , a custard dish made of flour, eggs, and milk, before the beginning of Lent. During the annual spring festival ( Dita e Verës ), in central Albania on 14 March, the women of Elbasan and the surrounding regions bake a sweet cake known as ballakum Elbasani . Members of the Islamic Bektashi sect mark the end of the ten-day fasting period of matem with a special ashura (pudding) made of cracked wheat, sugar, dried fruit, crushed nuts, and cinnamon.

Basic Economy. Until 1990, Albania had a centralized socialist economy dominated by agricultural production on state farms. Food was in short supply, and despite communist propaganda, the country never attained self-sufficiency. While Albania still has a large rural peasantry, traditionally over 60 percent of the total population, most families in the countryside can do little more than feed themselves. Some farming surplus has reached urban markets in recent years, but food imports remain essential.

Land Tenure and Property. Albania is a mountainous country with an extremely high birthrate, and there is not enough farmland. Agriculture was reprivatized in the early 1990s after the fall of the communist regime, and many properties were returned to their former owners. Most families, however, received extremely small plots barely large enough to survive on. Property disputes are common and have been a major cause of blood feuding. Although most political parties have strategies for the further privatization of industry and nonagricultural land, many problems remain.

Commercial Activities, Major Industries, and Trade. Aside from agricultural output, Albania is a major producer of chrome. There are also significant deposits of copper and nickel and some oil. The country is still reeling from the radical transformation from a socialist to a free market economy, and commercial activity has not attained its potential. Virtually all the major industries went bankrupt and collapsed in the early 1990s when a free market economy was introduced. Some mines, chrome in particular, are still in production, but most have stagnated under pressure from foreign competition. Among the few sectors of the economy that are doing well is the construction industry. Domestic building materials are now widely available on the local market and increasingly on foreign markets. The European Union is the major trading partner, with Italy, Greece, and Germany leading in imports and exports. The national trade deficit has been compensated to some extent by foreign exchange remittances from Albanian emigrants working abroad.

Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: Albania (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

Albania on the map

6. Albania provides free primary and secondary education.

7. Albania is an upper middle-income economy. The service sector dominates the country’s economy, followed by the industrial and agricultural sectors.

8. “Shqipëri” is the name given to Albania by its people.

9. The eagle is the national and ethnic symbol of the Albanians. The symbol appears in a stone carving dating from 1190.

10. The current flag of Albania bears a black, double-headed eagle on a red background.

11. The villages of Xarrë and Mount Dajt were found to contain the first traces of human presence in the country.

12. Ardiaei is the name of one of the most powerful tribes that once ruled over modern Albania.

13. The village of Lazarat is the “cannabis capital of Albania.” The village makes the country the largest exporter of cannabis in Europe.

14. You may be amazed to know that Albanians have been banned from using speedboats. Speedboats were used for human and drug trafficking from Albania to the shores of Italy and Greece.

15. Much to the surprise of many, Albania only had 3000 cars for a population of three million prior to 1991. At that time, under communist rule, private cars were illegal.

16. Be careful while crossing the streets in Tirana, the capital city of the country. Look everywhere and cross the streets cautiously. Crossing the street itself is an art in the country.

17. Albanian policemen are thought to be very corrupt. This can be noticed on the roads where these policemen stop cars and fine them.

18. This could also coincide with the fact that Albanians have very poor driving skills, not to mention awful road conditions. One needs to be a little extra cautious when visiting the country and driving on the roads.

Judiciary of Albania

The Judiciary of Albania interprets and applies the law of Albania. Albania's judicial system is a civil law system divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and administrative courts. Albanian law is codified and based on the French law. It is governed by the High Council of Justice (Këshilli i Lartë i Drejtësisë), and its management is aided by the office of the President of Albania, the Ministry of Justice, and the various courts chairpersons.

The judiciary is defined under the Constitution (Kushtetuta) and Law with a hierarchical structure, with the Constitutional Court (Gjykata Kushtetuese) and the Supreme Court (Gjykata e Lartë) at the apex. The District Courts (Gjykatat e Rrethit Gjyqësor) are the primary trial courts, and the Courts of Appeal (Gjykatat e Apelit) are the primary appellate courts.

The judiciary faces many problems and a widespread lack of confidence but is making progress in recent times. There have been serious violations of the accepted separation of powers doctrine, systematic attempts to undermine trials, problems with access to justice, problems with court infrastructure and financial support, and corruption. [1] But the 2016 Judicial System Reform aims to reform the system and bring upon a fairer and more efficient administration, a strengthening of the rule of law, the vetting and cleansing of the system of corrupt judges, etc. [2]

Articles 135 - 145 of the Constitution of the Albanian Republic provide the basic framework for the organization of the Courts System. These provisions, coupled with applicable laws have given rise to the following system:

29 Important Facts About Albania

23. Sex-selective abortion is also very common in Albania. In fact, the country is one of just two in the world to practice such a thing.

24. Tirana, the capital of Albania, is devoid of McDonalds restaurants, unlike many other European capital cities.

25. In Albania, people like to walk in the evening. Some of the roads in some towns are even closed for the local population to take strolls (safely).

26. There is a castle in the city of Berat, locally known as the kala, which was built in the 13 th century.

27. An international airport in Albania—Nene Tereza—is named after Mother Teresa.

28. To say yes in Albanian, use the word ‘po’ and to say no, use the word ‘jo.’

29. The capital city of Albania, Tirana, is undergoing a facelift.