Republika e Shqipërisë
- Location : South Eastern Europe
- Capital: Tirana
- Language: Albanian
- Population: 2,986,952
- Total Area: 28,748 km2
- Currency: Lek
Albania first won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. After the Second World War, they became part of the Soviet Bloc, finally becoming the Republic of Albania in 1991. Their first years as a democratic country were a struggle, culminating in a mass emigration of its people to neighboring countries such as Greece and Turkey. In the last few years, however, Albania has seen huge economic growth. This year experts predicts the Albanian economy will grow by 3.4 %. Albania has improved so much that in 2009 they became a member of NATO. Currently, the EU is considering their application for membership.
Albania’s equivalent of a knighthood, the Hero of the People, is such a high honor they have only rewarded it to 23 people. The one person, however, they consider most worthy of the reward is the father of modern Albania, Ismail Qemali. He was the leader of the Albanian national movement in the late 19th century, eventually leading them to independence from the Ottoman Empire. In 1912, he became of the first head of the Albanian government.
As a Eurasian country and in comparison to mainland Europe, the ecology in Albania is very exotic. Within their forests- that covers a third of the country- are wolves, bears and wild boars. If you are extremely lucky, you may see a Lynx or a wild cat. In total, they have three eco regions- the Illyria deciduous forest; the Pindus Mountain mixed forest and the Dinaric Alpine mixed forest. Largely unspoiled, they are perhaps Europe’s alternative to the South American rain forests.
Maligrad is a quirky island in the Albanian part of Lake Prespa. While the area around the lake is also well worth visiting, people should not give up the chance of rowing across to Maligrad. The island is one big rock, full of mysterious caves. But beware of wild animals hide out here and one should always go with a guide. The biggest attraction on the island and one of Albania’s cultural monuments is the Saint Mary’s Cave Church.
Interesting Facts About Albania
- Albania has applied to be a member of the EU since 2009.
- Albania was once part of the Ottoman Empire.
- The modern nation of Albania was once a kingdom.
Despite limited success, Albanians are hugely passionate about soccer. Their men’s national team has never qualified for a major competition, but they have had some famous results: in 1968, they drew with a high talented West German side. More recently, in 2006, they broke their record of points won in a qualifying group. Teams from the capital city of Tirana have dominated the Albanian domestic league since 1930. Teams outside the city have only 14 titles, including nine by the same team. In terms of women’s football, the women’s national team played their first game in May 2011. Like the rest of the country, their soccer teams are improving by the year.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2012 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany)