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Albania: the geography and history of a small nation

This article is also available in: Italian

Albania is a small nation located along the coasts of the Adriatic Sea, to the north, and the Ionian Sea, to the south. Separated from the Italian coasts by the channel of Otranto, the country borders to the north with Montenegro, to the north-east with the Serbia, to the east with Macedonia, and to the south and south-east with Greece. The largest city is the capital of the country, Tirana, other important cities are Durres, Shkodra and Valona.

The territory of present-day Albania during the Roman Empire was part of the province of Illyria (Illyricum), later it was part of the Byzantine Empire and then, starting from the 9th century, of the Bulgarian Empire. Having become an autonomous kingdom in the Middle Ages, in the 15th century it became part of the Ottoman Empire. Only in 1912 did Albania declare its independence, but a true independent Albanian state was born only after 1920. In 1939 the country was occupied by the Italians. Between 1946 and 1990 Albania was ruled by a Communist-style government.


Albania is mainly made up of mountainous and wild territory, in the far north are the offshoots of the Dinaric Alps, which in some points exceed 2,600 meters. Mount Korab (2,764 meters), located along the Macedonian border, is the highest mountain in Albania. Numerous other peaks across the country exceed two thousand meters in height.

Partially within the Albanian territory are also the three largest tectonic lakes of the Balkan Peninsula, Lake Skadar, located along the border with Montenegro, Lake Ohrid, on the border with Macedonia, and Lake Prespa, on the border with Macedonia and Greece. The few flat areas of Albania are the river valleys of the Drin, Mat and Semani rivers, which tend to widen only near the coast, forming real plains.

Area: 28,748 km²
Population: 2,986,952 (2010)
Capital: Tirana
Official language: Albanian.
Currency: Lek (ALL)
Time Zone: UTC +1 (Summer: UTC + 2)



This article is also available in: Italian

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