Albania - The story about the

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GEOGRAPHY



Albania is situated in the southeast part of Europe on the peninsula of Balkan. It borders to Yugoslavia and Montenegro to the north, FYRO Macedonia to the east and to Greece in the south. To the west Albania has an approximate 170 kilometres long coast to the Adriatic Sea.

The size of the country is 28 748 square kilometres, which is a little bit smaller than the Swedish landscape of Småland, and it makes Albania the 37th biggest country in Europe.

The capital is called Tirana and is located in the central part of the country with the population of 243 000 inhabitants. The official name of Tirana is Tiranë and the official name of Albania is Republika Popullore e Shqipëria. Shqipëria is Albanian and means ”the country of the eagle”. In Latin Albania means ”the land of the White Mountains”.

It’s located in the Central European Time-zone (CET) which makes that Albania has the same time as for example Rome in Italy, Stockholm in Sweden and Berlin in Germany.



Up in the northwest, at the boarder to Montenegro there is a lake called Skodorsko Jezero (Shkodër-lake) and in these surroundings the ground is very sank and wet.



About two thirds of the country is mountainous areas and Albania is the country with the highest average height on the whole Balkan-peninsula. All those mountains make it very hard to get from a place to another in Albania. Most of the mountains goes in a north-south direction and crosses the whole country. The average height is 700 metres and the highest peak reaches 2 764 metres above the sea and is called Korab. Korab is located some miles to the north of Tirana. Korab belongs to the Northalbanian Alps.

In the southern part of the country the mountain of Tomorr reaches 2480 metres above the sea. The mountains that Tomorr belongs to are the only one that goes all the way from the boarder to the east to the sea at the west coast of the country.

The mountains are divorced with very high-populated valleys or flatlands. The mountains mostly go from the north to the south but as above there are some exceptions.



The two biggest rivers of Albania, Drin and Shkumbi have cut deep valleys in the limestone.



The coast to the Mediterranean Sea is majorly sandy and here are only a few natural harbours. There have been some plantations of pine-forest just to bind the sand.





Climate



The climate in Albania is divided into two regions:

In the west (the coast) there is the Mediterranean climate with warm and dry summers and mild but rainy winters.

The inland has a continental climate where the coldest month is January and the warmest is July. In the eastern, mountainous parts of the country the temperature can go down to –26ºC. The mountains have a very high amount of precipitation, including both rain and snow. During the winters it rains a lot but the summers are very dry.





The average temperature in Tirana in August is 23,8°C and in January 6,7°C. The precipitation in the capital is in average 157mm (October) and 28mm (July).



Vegetation



Approximate 48% of Albania are covered with forests. Majorly pine-forest but some small areas of foliiferous-forest are located up in the north.

The most densely forests are though located in the central and north mountainous areas, but the huge need of wood for heating makes that the total area of forests in Albania decreases successively.

Albania has a relatively high access to forestry if you compare it with other nations on the Balkan-peninsula but the illegal use of the forest is very high.



Population



The total population of Albania is 3 374 085 (1994) which makes out 117 inhabitants on every square kilometre.

That high amount of inhabitants makes Albania the 35th most populated and the 18th most densely populated in Europe.

The five biggest cities in Albania, Tirana (243 000 inhabitants), Durrës (79 000), Shkodra (76000), Vlora (68 000) and Elbasan (65 000) makes out nearly 16% of the total population in Albania and the total amount of persons living in the cities are as high as 42%.



During the communist-regime (1945-1990) the total population were almost three-doubled but due to decreasing birth rate and increasing emigration the growth has been reduced during the 1990’s. But Albania still has a very young population and the average year is as low as 28 years. During the communist-regime there was laws of who was allowed to move from the countryside in to the cities and it was very hard to get the possibility. Those laws were abolished formally in 1994 but the urbanisation began in the earlier parts of the 1990’s.

The approximate population in Albania in 2025 are 3 800 000 and the total natural growth is 2,2%.

The differences between the two sexes are rather small. The total male population reaches 51% and the total female 49%.

And as almost everywhere in the world the average length of life for women are longer than for the men. The total average of length in Albania is 73,5 years, for women it’s 77 years and for men 70 years.



After that Albania got new borders after the Balkan-war in 1913 over 40% of the Albanian population was suddenly belonging to another country, Kosovo. This gives the facts that today there are more Albanians living in other countries then in the country of Albania.

Even though Albania and Kosovo are developed by them selves since 1913 both the Albanians living in Albania and the ones living in Kosovo sees themselves belonging to the same nation.



The biggest minority of ethnic groups in Albania is the Greek. Most of the Greeks living in Albania live in the south part near the border to Greece. Due to the Albanian government there is 59 000 Greeks living in Albania but due to the Greek minority over 300 000 Greeks lives in the country.



In Albania there’s also a rather high numbers of gypsies. The total amount of gypsies isn’t certain but numbers as high as 10% of the total population is circulating.



Language



The official language in Albania is Albanian, which is a language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages even though it ain’t a close “relative” to the other languages belonging to this family. You can say that Albanian is a mixture of Latin, Turkish, Greek and Italian and it’s says heritage from the old Illyrian language.

Up to the middle of the 19th century the Turkish rulers had forbidden the schools to use Albanian in the education. But in 1908 the Albanian language got a new alphabet with Latin letters.

The language has two kinds of dialects: Gegeic, which is spoken in the north by approximate 2/3 of the population and Toscic spoken by the last 1/3. The Toscic dialect is the one that has created the official writing but the differences are being erased.



Some words in Albanian:

English Albanian

YES Po

NO Jo

THANK YOU Faleminderit

ONE Një

TWO Dy

THREE Tre

FATHER Baba

MOTHER Nënë, Mama

MAN Burrë

WOMAN Grua

DAY Ditë

NIGHT Natë



Today about 2 000 000 Albanians lives in Yugoslavia (90% of the population in Kosovo are Albanians), 400 000 in FYRO Macedonia and 600 000 in the United States.



Religion



During the Roman era, Albania was christianised. But during the Turkish rule, 1468-1912, most of the Albanians converted to Islam. The latest statistics of religion in Albania is dated back to 1942. At that time two-thirds of the population were Muslims and still today a majority of the Albanians are Muslims.

Approximate 20% of the population are Christians. In the southern regions there is a high number of Greek-Orthodox and in the northern regions there is Roman-Catholics.

In 1967, the dictator of Enver Hoxha forbid all religions in Albania and wanted to bring the communistic ideologies as the official religion. Albania was proclaimed as the first atheistic state in the world.

All the churches and mosques were closed or turned out into cinemas, sport-arenas or were used as storage.

Since 1990 (Enver Hoxha died in 1985) all Albanians are allowed to practise any religion they want to and since then many sects has appeared.



The Albanian Flag



The Albanian flag has a black eagle on a red bottom. The black eagle is the official symbol of Albania. The flag heritages from the Byzantine Empire but was adopted as a national flag when Albania became an independent state in 1912. The red star above the eagle was added in 1946 when Albania was formatted as a people’s republic but was deleted in 1989 as the Eastern-block fell.





HISTORY



During the Bronze Age (1000 BC) the Illyrians lived on the western side of the Balkan-peninsula. From this people the Albanians probably heritages from.

During 200 BC the Romans started to invade this area and finally in 9BC the Illyrians were defeated. Albania became a part of the Roman Empire and when the empire was shared into two pieces in 395 AD, Albania was a part of the eastern empire, Byzans.



During the 14th century the Byzantine Empire became weak and the Serbs took control over the part that’s today Albania. The Serbian rule broke down in 1355.

In the end of the 15th century the Turks (Osmans) conquered the area but the Albanian national hero, Georg Kastriota (more famous as Skanderberg) collected the tribes to a united resistance but when Skanderberg died in 1468 Albania became a part of the Osman Empire.

Not until 1912 Albania was released from this Empire.



In 1912 Islamic and Christian leaders declared the independence of Albania after that small riots had taken place all the way since the middle of the 19th century. The riots were about the right to use the Albanian language, which was forbidden during the Osman rule.

In autumn 1912 Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro declared war against the Osman Empire and this huge empire came to it’s end as it was defeated. The four states above planned to share Albania between them but on a conference in London later this year Albania was recognised as an independent state and the boarders were decided in 1913: Albania was taken 50% of the total area and 40% of the population. For example the Albanian province of Kosovo came to Serbian rule.

The four powers decided that a Prussian prince, Wilhelm of Wied, would be the new ruler of Albania but the people disliked him and as the First World War broke out he left the country after six months.



In 1925, the tribe leader Ahmed Zog took over the rule in Albania. Serbia supported this man who ruled the country as a dictator and in 1928 he declared himself as the king Zog I of Albania. King Zog managed to have a military and politically alliance with the fascistic Italy. But in 1939 Italy occupied Albania and created a ”GreatAlbania” where Kosovo and the Albanian parts of Macedonia was included. King Zog fled the country and took all the money with him.



In the autumn of 1943 Italy capitulates and German replaced all Italian forces in Albania. But earlier that year there had been a partisan-army established by the communist government and together with other small nationalist groups these fought for the independence. The communists won this bloody civil war and in October 1944 a government led by Enver Hoxha was created.



In 1946 the Peoples Republic of Albania was declared and an agreement with Yugoslavia was signed the same year. The Yugoslavian leader Tito wanted to create a union between Albania and Yugoslavia and in the end he wanted Albania, together with Kosovo, to become the 7th republic within the Yugoslavian Federation.

But those plans never became true as the Soviet Union decided not to work with Yugoslavia anymore in 1948. Albania who had closer relations to the Soviet Union followed after them and broke all connections with their neighbour.

The communist party in Albania followed the type that Josef Stalin had created and changed name to ”the Albanian Workers Party”.

The Soviet Union gave Albania a lot of money and they were allowed to create a military-base in Durrës. But the relations between Albania and the Soviet Union weakened as the Soviet Union, after that Stalin had died, came closer to Yugoslavia.

Finally in 1961 Albania closed the connections with the Soviet Union and found a new partner,

China. And as China and the Soviet Union weren’t co-operating the Soviet military base in Durrës had to close down. The money that Albania got from the Soviet Union was replaced by money from China.

As China, in the 1970’s, started to co-operate with the United States and tried to improve the relations with Yugoslavia Albania also left the co-operation with China.

In July 1978 the economical support from China came to its end and now Albania was totally isolated from the rest of the world.

The Albanian constitution didn’t allow Albania to borrow money from other countries or even accept aims from organisations and even other countries. Foreign companies weren’t allowed to establish in Albania. All those things made the Albanian economy to decrease a lot.



Even though the isolation from the world created big problems, Enver Hoxha decided not to change it as he thought it was necessary as enemies surrounded Albania. This brutal regime created hate against Albania and it made the country even more isolated.

The regime got help from the military and from the national police of security, sigurimi.



In April 1985 Enver Hoxha died and was replaced by Ramiz Alia. Alia had in 1982 got the title ”head of state” and he tried to make it better in Albania but still Albania was the poorest country in Europe and the peoples hate against the regime grew all the time.



As Easter Europe opened in 1989 the Albanians followed the rest of the countries. The hate against the regime came out in public and the numbers of people who wanted to emigrate increased rapidly. At the same time the demands for democracy grew in 1990.

On December 9th 1990 thousands of students were demonstrating in Tirana and only ten days later a new reform was taken. The Workers Party allowed more parties to take part in the elections and opposition-parties were created and legalised.



In March 31st 1991 the first election was held in Albania. The Workers Party won although and collected 169 places out of the 250 mandates. The newly created Democratic Party became the 2nd biggest party with 75 mandates. And even though Ramiz Alia wasn’t the leader of the Workers Party he became the president of Albania and a man named Fatos Nano became Prime Minister.

After some disturbances after the first election the Albanian economy collapsed and the people of Albania lost their confidence to the government and they had to resign. And in the elections of 1992 the Democratic Party got 92 out of the 140 mandates and Aleksandër Meksi became new Prime Minister. President Alia resigned and was replaced by Sali Berisha.

Mr Berisha started a campaign to eradicate all the communists in the country. In 1992 proceedings against ex-communists started. Persons who were proceeded were for example the former president Ramiz Alia and the widow of Enver Hoxha, Nexhimje Hoxha.



Important dates in the Albanian history

About 1400 The Osmans (Turks) invades the Balkan peninsula.

1443-1468 Skanderberg fights against the Osmans.

1502 Albania is under total control of the Osmans.

1912 Albania declares themselves as independent.

1939 Italy conquers Albania and King Zog I leave the country.

1944 The Partisans of Hoxha forces the German troops to leave the country.

1946 The Peoples Republic of Albania is declared.

1948 Albania breaks with Yugoslavia.

1961 Albania breaks with the Soviet Union.

1978 Albania breaks with China.

1984 Enved Hoxha dies.

1990 Elections with more than one party become legalised.

COMMUNICATION



The communications in Albania is in a desperate need of reparations. Here’s also a big need of more ways and railroads.



Until 1991 private cars were forbidden and in 1995 there was about 160 000 cars registered in Albania, which makes out 31 cars per 1000 inhabitants. And this number is supposed to increase rapidly in the near future.



Here is only 720 kilometres of railroads and it connects Tirana with Durrës and Elbasan with Durrës. The railroads are very old and are in a huge need of reparations.

The total length of ways are 15 500 kilometres and the biggest one connects Montenegro with Greece via Skodër-Durrës-Vlora. There’s also a way between Tirana and Durrës.



Durrës, located in the central part of the country by the coast, is the most important harbour in Albania. And in Albania there’s only one airport, Rina, just outside Tirana. This airport is the only international and national airport.



If you’re going from Tirana to the east the only way to take is the airplane over the mountains. You aren’t able to take the car for example across the mountains as it’s too steep and there aren’t any ways built.



Vehicles kill every year 5 persons per 1000 inhabitants.





TOURISM



In the future, the tourism will probably be the thing that brings Albania most money. In Albania there has been huge investments in hotels, restaurants, roads, airports and other things, needed for tourists.

But as the situation is today in Albania, violent, the tourists aren’t coming in a big scale. But in the future, if it gets a bit calmer in the country, Albania might be a popular country to visit as they have a fascinating culture and of course sandy coasts to the Mediterranean Sea.



In 1995 49 000 tourists visited Albania but majorly from Europe and North- and Southamerica. The same year Albania received 7 000 000 $ from the tourism.



The most popular things to see in Albania are Tirana, Shkodër, Durrës, the mountains in the east and the whole coast in the west.

Tirana

The Albanian name of Tirana is Tirenë and the city is located 30km from the sea. The Turks built Tirana on the 15th century and the old parts of the city is very oriental. During the regime of communism big modern areas were built and on the local square in the centre there’s a statue of Skanderberg.

Tirana is a very clean city and cars weren’t allowed in here until 1990.





ECONOMY



During the time of communistic rule in Albania, the country was totally isolated from the rest of the world. The communism also created poverty and Albania remained as the poorest country in Europe.

But when the communists lost the power in the country the economy wasn’t improved. Actually it was to the opposite and the GNP decreased 50% between 1990 and 1992. In 1992 the inflation reached 200%.

But as the Democrats gained power they started to work for a better economy in co-orporation with the IMS. The economy grew stronger mostly thanks to an increased production within the agriculture and that many small shops were started with imported goods from Turkey, Greece and Italy.

But although the industrial production stills decreased. Between 1990 and 1994 is decreased with 80% as the Albanian goods couldn’t be compared with the foreign ones with better quality.

The growth in economy was stopped in 1997 as almost every Albanian had put their money in “pyramid-games”, which was some kind of funds for investments which collapsed. The people blamed the government for this and it resulted with that president Sali Berisha had to leave his post and was replaced by the socialist Rexhep Mejdani.

The Albanian economy is strongly dependent on foreign aim. In the early 1990’s Albania received over 1,5 billion US$ from the EU.

Even though it was, during the communist-rule, forbidden for Albania to borrow money from other countries the total debt to other countries in 1993 was as high as 755 million US$. But after an agreement in London 1995 Albania was only supposed to pay back a small amount of the debts and after a conference in Brussels in 1997 Albania received 640 million US$ in aim. 100 millions were supposed to cover the support of the budget. With 170 millions the infrastructure should be improved; roads, schools, water-support and other things should be improved.

Foreign companies dislikes to invest in Albania, as there are some major problems like water-support, bad roads, bad harbours and very bad telephone-connections. But all these problems are on the way to be built up in a better way.



The diagram to the right shows how the GNP is divided between the three sectors; agriculture, forestry and fishing, industry and service. The total amount of the GNP that comes from the sector of agriculture, forestry and fishing is 56%, the one from the industry is 21% and the one from the service-sector is 23%.





The currency of Albania is called lek. One lek is similar to 100 quindarka. In 1999 one lek was equal to approximate 0,007 US$.



Natural assets



In Albania there’s a lot of minerals, such as chromium, copper and nickel. It’s calculated that all minerals will last for at least 30 years more.

In a while Albania was the third biggest exporter of chromium and still it’s the most important mineral.



While the communists were in power in Albania the mines had a very importance when it came to the incomes of export. But in 1991 and 1992 the production decreased and the amount of workers in the mines were decreased with 50% down to 10 000.



There’s almost no need at all to import energy, as Albania is self-sufficient. The energy from water covers 96-98% of the total use and the rest is taken from fossil fuel. Albania hasn’t any nuclear-stations.

The use of oil has been reduced to it’s half since the communists lost the power in the country and the national oil-company, Albpetrol, is said to be near bankruptcy but the state tries to make it to a private company. This company is one of the few of foreign interest.



Agriculture, forestry and fishing



About ¼ of the total area in Albania is good enough for use to agriculture. This area is located by the sea on the lowlands. The most important crops being cultivated are wheat, corn, grain, potatoes and sugar beets.

Due to making the agriculture private in Albania in the early 1990’s this made the biggest reason of that the economy was increasing. The production grew with 15% only in 1994 and the agricultural part of the GNP was increased from 1/3 in the 1980’s to more than 50% in 1994.

The average farm in Albania is 1,18ha and every hectare gives, in average, 2537 kilograms of corn.



The ground and the water are strongly polluted due to that during the rule of communism the environment wasn’t important enough but with the help of the EU the polluted areas are being measured.



In the north and the central mountain-regions there’s a lot of forests. But due to illegal destruction caused by the need of wood the total area of forests are decreasing.



Every year 3500 tons of fish is taken from the sea and the fishing in Albania seems to have a big export possibility in the future as the prices in Albania is way lower than in for example Greece and Italy.



Industry



Since the 1960’s Albania has produced many different goods, mostly reserve parts for international companies used in Albania. But as the communist regime collapsed, the employed within the industrial sector decreased from 325 000 in 1989 to 126 000 in 1993. At this time they noticed big damages in the nature created by the factories.



Today there’s no big need of the industry as it’s unprofitable and it has very bad machines and technology. But after the elections in 1997 the government works for the privatisation of the industries and so far the privatisation of smaller companies have went on good.



Foreign trade



During all time the Albanian goods have had it hard to get into the international markets. The most important trade is the illegal one. Albania illegally trades oil, cigarettes, drugs and weapon to Yugoslavia and Italy.

But the legal trade is growing and the most important countries that Albania trades with are Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria and the US.

The most important goods of import are (and have always been) machines, groceries and industrial goods. And the most important goods of export are oil, industrial goods and groceries.



Employment



As with almost every other economical aspect the employment decreased when the communists lost the power of the country. In the middle of the 1990’s about every fifth Albanian were unemployed. Most of the unemployed moves to the big cities and majorly they come from the poor areas in the northern regions.



With a co-operation with the IMS about 220 000 new works will be created between 1998 and 2001 within the private sector. During the same period about 250 000 employees within the official sector will lose their jobs. And wages in the Customs and in the judicial system will be raised to prevent corruption, bribes and smuggling.



In 1997 41% of the employees were women and 59% were men and in 1997 the official number of unemployed persons was 13,8 %.



As the goods of Albania aren’t international well known there isn’t any well-known products or companies worldwide. Probably the most well known company is the national oil-company, Albpetrol.



POLITICS



In 1976 a stalinistic constitution was created which reminded a lot of the one that was in the Soviet Union. But as the communists lost the power in 1990 the Albanian government created a provisional constitution in 1991 and a committee was supposed to create a new one. But this committee created a constitution that gave the president, Sali Berisha, too much power and the parliament didn’t approved it. But Mr. Berisha tried to approve it via a popular vote but the people of Albania also approved it.



After the elections to the parliament in 1996 Mr. Berisha’s party, the Democratic Party, won but with the help of irregularities the MP’s of the Socialistic party refused to take their parts in the parliament. This led to that the Democratic Party got the majority in the parliament and approved the constitution that the people choose to approve. This led to that Mr. Berisha together with a few men from the top of the Democratic Party had complete control over the country.



This created a huge dissatisfaction within the Albanian population and in the parliamental elections in 1997 the Socialistic Party (together with some other few smaller parties) got more than 75% of the votes the changed the constitution once again. For example the parliament got more power and the president less.



How the Albanian politics are built



Albania is a parliamentarian republic with the government as the highest executive organ. The parliament is the one that creates the laws in Albania and the parliament is called kuvënd popullóre. The parliament consists of 155 members who are chosen for a mandate-period of 4 years. Single-member constituency chooses 115 of the members and the other 40 are chosen by regular proportional methods.

The threshold to get into the parliament is 7% of the votes.



The president is both the head of state and the commander-in-chief. He/she is elected by the parliament for 5 years and he might get re-elected once. The president is the one, who chose Prime Minister, approves the government and appoints the members of the Supreme Court.

Unless the president is convicted to a crime or is in a bad health he can’t be forced to resign from his post.

In the elections to the parliament in 1997 the Albanians dismissed to have a monarchy instead of a republic.



Albania is divided into 35 districts, rrethi, plus Tirana City. These 36 districts are grouped into 10 bigger administrative districts, called prefectures. Albania consists of 46 city communities and 341 countryside communities.



The political parties



Most of the time during the 1990’s Albania has been governed by the Partia Demokratika të Shqipërisë (Democratic Party of Albania, PDSH) together with some smaller parties. PDSH was formed in December 1990 and was started by students. PDSH is, compared with other European parties, a mixture of other conservative and (Christ-) democratic parties. PDSH also wants to start economic reforms and to privatisise the agriculture and industry. The leader of this party is Sali Berisha.



Partia Republikane (the Republican Party, PR) is even more to the right compared to DP and together with two smaller parties they want to get a monarchy and to give the farmers back the land they owned before the communism. But their biggest goal they want to full-fill is to create a ”GreatAlbania”. They want to unite Albania with northern Greece, western FYRO Macedonia and Kosovo.

The PR and Partia Socialdemokrate ë Shqipërisë (the Social Democratic Party of Albania, SDP) long co-operated with the PD but the PR and some of the PS later choose to leave this co-operation. The leader of this party is Skender Gjinushi.



Since the elections of 1997 the biggest party in Albania is Partia Socialiste ë Shqipërisë (The Socialist Party of Albania, PSSH) and majorly it’s old communists in this party and the leading figure is Fatos Nano. But in the congress of 1996 the decision that they from now on should be a Social Democratic Party was approved.

The SP wants to fight the criminality and corruption.



The latest election to the government



Since the latest government, created after the elections of 1997, 5 parties rule Albania. The parties are PSSH, SDP, Partia për Mbrojten e te Drejtave te Njeriut (Unity for Human Rights Party, PMDN), Aleanca Demokratike (The Democratic Alliance, PADS) and Partiar Agrar (The Albanian Farmers Party, PA).





The present government looks like this:

President: Rexhep Mejdani

Prime Minister: Pandeli Majko

Deputy Prime Minister: Ilir Meta



Minister of Agriculture: Lufter Xhuveli

Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports: Edi Rama

Minister of Defence: Luan Hajdaraga

Minister of Economic Cooperation & Trade: Ermelinda Meksi

Minister of Education: Et’hem Ruka

Minister of Finance: Anastas Angjeli

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Paskal Milo

Minister of Governmental Coordination: Ilir Meta

Minister of Health: Leon Soli

Minister of Information: Musa Ulqini

Minister of Justice: Thimio Kondi

Minister of Labour & Social Affairs: Kadir Rrapi

Minister of Local Government: Arben Demeti

Minister of Public Order: Petro Koci

Minister of Public Sector Economy & Privatisation: Ingrid Shuli

Minister of State for Legislative Reform and Relations with the Parliament: Arebn Imami

Chairman of the National Intelligence Service: Fatos Klosi



Totally 63% of the Albanians voted.



PSSH = Socialist Party of Albania







PDSH = Democratic Party of Albania







PSDSH = Social Democratic Party of Albania







PMDN = Human Rights’ Unity Party







BK = National Front







PADS = Democratic Alliance of Albania







PRSH = Republican Party of Albania



INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS



As Albania was isolated in a very high grade during the communist-regime they’re now trying to build up strong relations with their old enemies and also with other countries. For example the co-operation with China and former Yugoslavia is going on and the trading the countries between is still increasing.

Today Albania is a member in many different organisations. Some examples of those are:



 the United Nations – member since 1955

 BSEC

 CE

 Customs Co-operation Council (CCC)

 EBRD

 Interpol

 IFRCS

 IOM

 International Standardisation Organisation (ISO)

 Intelsat

 IDB

 ANC

 OSCE

 OIC

 PFP

 WFTU

 WToO

 WTrO



Albania also was a member of the Warsaw-pact but they left it in 1968.



Defence



Albania has one of the weakest defences in the entire Europe. In 1998 they didn’t have any army at all. But at least they had 6 000 men in the Air Force and 2 500 men in the navy. And the total expenses of the defence in 1997 was “only” 90 000 000 US$ which at this time made out 6,7% of the total amount of GDP.



Conflicts or questions of debate



Today there’s a huge conflict between Albania and the Yugoslavian Federation. As Kosovo belongs to the Yugoslavian Federation there’s a conflict between those two countries. The Albanians wants to unite Kosovo with Albania as over 90% of the population in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians. But as the Serbs says that Kosovo is the most important part of Serbia they won’t let Kosovo leave the rest of the country. The Serbs says that it was in Kosovo the cradle of the Serbs was situated. This conflict led to that for example NATO bombed in Kosovo and still it isn’t solved. I’ll go into this conflict deeper, later in this essay.



There’s also a small rather unknown conflict between Greece and Albania in the southern parts of Albania. The reason is that there is many ethnics Greeks living in southern Albania near the border to Greece (approximate 2,2% of the total Albanian population are ethnic Greeks and about 2,0% of the total population are the Greeks living in the southern regions near the border to Greece). Of course the ethnic Greeks want to belong to their native country but Albania won’t let them take this part of the country. This conflict is this far non-violent and it doesn’t get especially much attention in the world newspapers.







CULTURE AND MASSMEDIA



In an international point of view Albania isn’t a cultural well-known country. Actually there aren’t many cultural persons that are famous outside the Albanian borders.



During the Turkish rule (1468-1912) the Albanian culture were surpressed but a national renaissance happened during the later part of the 19th century. This created the modern nationalistic literature.

But after the independence in 1912 loads of nationalistic and patriotic literature were written.

The internationally most known writer of Albania is Ismail Kadarë who’ve had many different books translated to international languages, for example French, English, Italian, German and also Swedish. But since 1990 Kadarë now lives in Paris in exile due to his writings about the communistic Albania.



The biggest national newspaper are Zeri i Popullit (“The voice of the people”) which has an edition of 150 000/day. This magazine is the one who sympathises with the Workers Party.

The second biggest newspaper in the country is Bashkimi (“Unity”) and is the one that sympathises with the Democrats. The edition of this magazine is 50 000/day.

Totally there are about 35 different newspapers in Albania and some are written in English, Italian or French. There are also about 50 weekly magazines.

The national news agency is called ATA.



In 1990 there were about 5 000 TV’s registered and mostly the broadcasts are in black and white even if the colour-TV is in the move as Albania gets more and more internationalised.

There are four national TV-stations.



It’s very hard to find outstanding Albanian personalities within theatre, film, music, painting, radio and television.



Otherwise the most well known Albanian persons would be Sali Berisha, Enver Hoxha and, as above, Ismail Kadarë.

Albania either have any prominent sportsmen, women or teams. They have for instance never taken any medallion in the Olympic Games or qualified to any international Soccer-competition. Elbasani, SK Tirana and Dinamo Tirana are probably the most well known teams when it comes to European clubs of soccer.





EDUCATION



The illiteracy of Albania has through the years always been high. In 1946 the total percentage of Albanians who were illiterate were as high as 85. But at the end of the 1980’s the communistic regime increased the level of education and the illiteracy is almost extinguished nowadays.

The obligatory education is 10 years and it starts when the child is 6 years old. The 10 years of obligatory education is for free but if a person wants to continue the education afterwards he/she have to pay, depending of the total income of the family.

Today there are private Greek-spoken schools in the southern parts of Albania and the government created this.

The most expensive education today in Albania is to study medicine or jurisprudence.

During the regime of communism the education was marxistic-leninistic with much military exercises, gymnastics and productive work. But since the reformation of education in 1991 the politics, ideology and some other things was deleted from the education. This made all books and other things used, unused and there’s a huge need of modern books within the Albanian school. There’s also a huge need of teachers as many of them left the country during the communism.

CURRENT ISSUES



The, with no doubt, most important question or problem in Albania is the one between Albania and Serbia about the area of Kosovo. Shall Kosovo remain as a republic within the Yugoslavian federation, become a part of Albania or will Kosovo one day become an independent state?



On the map to the left you can see a map over the western part of the Balkan peninsula. The dark area in the map is the part that today is Kosovo, which today is a part of the Yugoslavian Federation even though approximate 90% of the population are Albanians and about 90% of the population are Muslims.



This conflict has created a lot of problems and it has involved other countries than the bordering countries of Kosovo: Albania, FYRO Macedonia and the Yugoslavian Federation.

For example this conflict involves the US and the European Union.



To show some reasons of the conflict the history is very important. The brief history of Kosovo is like this:

During the great era (1100-1389) of the “GreatSerbian Empire” Kosovo (Kosovo-Metohija in Serbian language) was the central part. Almost all of the Serbian culture-treasures; castle, churches and monasteries were located in Kosovo.

But the Albanians and the Serbs have shared opinions of what actually happened in early days. Due to the Albanians this area had an original population called the Albanians and they heritated from the Illyrians. But the Serbs say that when they came from the south during the 6th century they found an are that were good for the agriculture with no inhabitants and they settled down in their new land, Kosovo. And due to the Serbs, the Albanians are a rather new population in Kosovo and they arrived here in the 16th century.

But the strongest reason that the Serbs thinks that Kosovo always been a part of Seriba is the well known battle of the Thrush-field (Kosovo polje) in June 28th 1389 where the Serbs defeated the Turks.



But as all other countries on the Balkan peninsula, Kosovo became a part of the Turkish Empire in the end of the 14th century but Kosovo was liberated from is by the Albanians. But during the Balkan-wars (1912-1913) the Serbs took the areas and in the conference in London in 1913 Serbia were given the area.

And after the end of the First World War the borders were drawn so that Kosovo were united in the “Kingdom of the Serbs, Croatians and the Slovenes”, later on Yugoslavia. Over 100 000 persons were sent to Kosovo (and also to Macedonia) the strength the Serbian population. The Albanians were treated like a 2nd class people and the Albanian language were forbidden and all Albanian-spoken schools were closed down. The Serbian government also made a deal with Turkey that gave Yugoslavia the opportunity to deport 250 000 Albanians to Turkey, just to prevent the nationalism in Kosovo to be spread.



In 1941 the Italians occupied Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia and the people in these regions saw this as liberation from Yugoslavia. This created a huge nationalism in the countries and Albania became, after Italian, the official language.



But after the end of the Second World War Albania left the “new” territories to Yugoslavia even though the people of Kosovo wanted to belong to Albania instead of Yugoslavia. But there were some changes in Kosovo that the Albanians had forced: Kosovo from now on was called an autonomous region within Yugoslavia and the Albanian language together with the Serbian became the official language in Kosovo.

When Tito became the president of Yugoslavia ha gave Kosovo more rights:

1. Kosovo was allowed to use the Albanian flag at national holidays.

2. A university in Prishtina (the capital of Kosovo) were built with both Albanian and Serbian education.

3. Kosovo became a republic within Yugoslavia.

4. A new plan was created that as in Kosovo 80% of the population were Albanians 80% of the works should be Albanian.



During the 1970’s Kosovo had the golden era. During this time the nationalism in Kosovo increased a lot. But in March 1981 Kosovo totally explodes in a social revolt. Thousands of students in Prishtina demonstrated against the social situation in the city. But this led to a national revolt in the entire Kosovo, as the police in Prishtina were too violent against the students. The revolt demanded a free republic of Kosovo.

But the Yugoslavian leaders couldn’t agree with this. The Serbian leaders saw Kosovo as the “Serbian Jerusalem” and that this area never could leave the Serbian republic. They also thought that if Kosovo became an independent republic within the Yugoslavian federation the population would demand a free Republic of Kosovo and finally Kosovo would be united with Albania.

The revolt of 1981 were, as above, cruel beaten by the Yugoslavian police and army and many demonstrators were killed or put in prison. But this revolt also became the turnover in the Yugoslavian politics and the question about Kosovo came to re-awake the Serbian nationalism.



On March 28th 1989 the new constitution of Serbia were created and this made the self-government within the tow autonomous regions of Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina, not as high as it used to be. This was the highest peak on the anti-Albanian campaign in Yugoslavia. The president of Yugoslavia, Mr Slobodan Milosevic, used the Serbian nationalism to become more powerful in 1987.

Demonstrations broke out in many parts of Yugoslavia and the “governments” in Vojvodina and Montenegro were dismissed. The population in Kosovo saw the opportunity to do the same thing. And on March 23rd 1989 they did the same thing as in Kosovo and Vojvodina.



Violent demonstrations broke out in Kosovo and in the end of 1989 and in the beginning of 1990 the Albanians started to organise themselves in political parties.

The new “leaders” of Kosovo came out and the said that the autonomy of Kosovo should be started again, not with violence, but with dialogues with the Serbs. Some of the most famous new leaders were Ibrahim Rugova, Shkëlzen Maliqi and Veton Surroi.



And on July 2nd 1990, the 117 persons of the parliament in Kosovo, on the stairs just outside the parliament in Prishtina, declared Kosovo as “a republic within the Yugoslavian Republic with the same rights as the other republics within the Yugoslavian Republic”.

As a respond to this, the Serbs closed all the TV- and radiostations that broadcasted in Albanian and closed down the only Albanian-spoken newspaper, Rilindija.

And as a respond to this, the Albanians had a one-day-strike that the Serbs answered with firing 120 000 Albanians within the official sector.



On September 7th 1990 the Kosovoan parliament declared Kosovo as an independent state outside the Yugoslavian Republic and they created a new constitution. So today the Albanians celebrate September 7th as the national day of Kosovo.



But once again, Serbia managed to destroy it and it all resulted in that Kosovo now longer didn’t had the autonomous authorities and the early autonomous regions (Kosovo and Vojvodina) should from now on be a part of the Serbian Republic within the Yugoslavian Republic.



Between September 26th and September 30th 1991 there was a popular vote held in Kosovo and out of the 87,01% of the population that voted 99,87% wanted to have a independent state of Kosovo. And in September 1991 a government was taken with Bujar Bukoshi as Prime Minister. And from that day the government of Kosovo has been working in exile and how many ministers there are isn’t sure. But what’s known today is that there is:

Minister of Education: Muhamet Bicaj

Minister of Finance: Isa Mustafa

Minister of Healthcare: Adem Limani

Minister of...

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