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   Albania Country Guide

Flag of Albania Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939, and occupied by Germany in 1943. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997; however, each of Albania's post-communist elections have been marred by claims of electoral fraud. The 2009 general elections resulted in a coalition government, the first such in the country's history. In 2013, general elections achieved a peaceful transition of power and a second successive coalition government. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles.

Map of Albania Full Name: Republic of Albania
Area: 28,748 sq km (water: 1,350 sq km, land: 27,398 sq km)
Population: 3,038,594 (July 2016 est.)
Capital City: Tirana

People: Albanian 82.6%, Greek 0.9%, other 1% (including Vlach, Roma (Gypsy), Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Egyptian), unspecified 15.5% (2011 est.)
Language: Albanian 98.8% (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek 0.5%, other 0.6% (including Macedonian, Roma, Vlach, Turkish, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)
Religion: Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi (a Sufi order) 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2%
note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice (2011 est.)

Government Type: Parliamentary Republic
Chief of State President of the Republic Bujar NISHANI (since 24 July 2012)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Edi Rama (since 10 September 2013)

GDP: $US 34.21 billion (2016 est.)
GDP per Capita: $US 11,900 (2016 est.)
Inflation: 1.2% (2016 est.)
Unemployment: 17.3% (2015 est.)
Industries: Food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Currency: lek (ALL)

Member of EU: No

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Info provided by the CIA World Factbook
Updated 2/2017
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