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Albania

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------------------------------------------------- Albanian cuisine
The cuisine of Albania is influenced by Turkish, Greek, and Italian cuisines, as well as ancient Greek, ancient Roman and Byzantine cooking. Every region in Albania and Kosovo has its own unique dishes. Albanian cuisine is characterized by the use of various mediterranean herbs such as Oregano, Black Pepper, Mint, Basil, Rosemary and more in cooking meat and fish. Olive oiland butter is also a main ingredient in different dishes.
In Albania, meat (lamb, cow, rabbit and chicken) is used heavily in various dishes in most of the country. Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal areas such as Durrës, Vlorë,Shkoder, Lezhe and Sarandë.
Vegetables are used in almost every dish. Usually, Albanian farmers grow every vegetable present in the Mediterranean region and sell them at the local Farmers Market. Vegetables are brought fresh at the Farmers Market early in the morning and this market is opened everyday.
The main meal of the Albanians is lunch, which usually consists of gjellë, the main dish of slowly cooked meat, and a salad of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, greenpeppers, and olives. The salad is dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and salt.
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Appetizers * Bread (Bukë) or Corn Bread (Bukë misri) are ever present on the Albanian table. Hence the expression for "Going to eat a meal" (Albanian:për të ngrënë bukë) can be literally translated as Going to eat bread. * Chicken livers * Eggplant appetizers * Dolma (Stuffed pepper with rice and meat) * Pickled cabbage (Laker Turshi) * Fried sardines with lemon (Sarraga me Limon) * Albanian-style meze platters that include prosciutto ham, salami and brined cheese, accompanied with roasted bell peppers (capsicum) and/or green olives marinated in olive oil with garlic * Papare: bread leftovers cooked with water, egg, and Gjize (a special type of Ricotta)
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Soups

Tarator is a chilled yogurt and cucumber soup and is popular in the summer months * Bean Jahni soup * Potato and cabbage soup * Soup with lemon * Tarator * Trahana

Tarator is a chilled yogurt and cucumber soup and is popular in the summer months * Bean Jahni soup * Potato and cabbage soup * Soup with lemon * Tarator * Trahana

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Vegetables

Dolma * Dolma (in Kosovo known as Sarma and in South Eastern Montenegro known as Japrak) - a family of stuffed vegetable dishes * Baked leeks * Fërgesë of Tirana with peppers * Peppers stuffed with rice, meat and vegetables * Stuffed aubergines with cheese

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Pies

Bakllasarëm. It is also called Mantia, but it is not the dumpling form of the turkish Manti. * Byrek – Albanian vegetable pie, it can also have feta cheese, spinach, cabbage or meat, its layered pie also known as "pite" or "pita". * Kungullur – Pastry layers filled with mashed pumpkin, butter, salt and sugar * Bakllasarëm - A traditional food prepared in Kosovo and Albania, its layered pie also known as "pite" or "pita" (Byrek) without anything inside, which is covered with yoghurt and garlic, and then heated again. It is eaten for lunch.
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Desserts

Baklava is prepared on large trays and cut into a variety of shapes * ………. * Baklava * Kek * Shëndetlie (me mjaltë) * Kabuni * Krem karamel * Zupa * trileçe * Tollumba - Fried dough pieces in syrup * Gliko

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Drinks

A glass of boza
Mineral water is one of the most preferred non-alcoholic drinks in Albania, along with carbonated beverages. Some of these are produced locally and some are imported from abroad. * Carbonated and mineral waters * Milk (Gjizë is a by product) * Yoghurt (Kos) * Mountain Tea (Çaj Mali) * Various fruit juices and soft drinks * Albanian buttermilk (Dhallë) * Beer (local Birra Tirana, and Birra Korça) * Boza * Raki * Cognac (local Konjak Skënderbeu) * Albanian wine

Albanian food is generally simple, healthy and delicious. It uses many familiar Mediterranean ingredients, such as olives, tomatoes and peppers, taking influences from Greece, Turkey and Italy but adding a local twist. With little imported food, and most domestic produce being organic and seasonal, the Albanian people make the most of their home-grown ingredients, creating flavoursome and uncomplicated meals that match the time of year.
With increased tourism and the creation of international-standard holiday destinations such as the 5-star Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa on the Adriatic coast, undoubtedly the variety of food available in the country is set to increase. Currently though, with the exception of Tirana (where there is already a good choice of foreign cuisines available in restaurants), in most places, visitors will enjoy local dishes and the country’s splendid natural larder – vegetables, meat and fish – is sufficient to create a wide range of tasty dishes.

Byrek, Albania's most popular "fast food"
Lunch and dinner are meals that the Albanians love to take their time over, in common with many other people in the Mediterranean region. Breakfast is a much simpler affair – perhaps toast or bread, an omelette or cheese and cooked meats, with a cup or two of coffee to kick-start the day.
A main meal will often consist of a cooked dish accompanied by a fresh salad or vegetables and bread. This might be gjellë, slow-cooked meat with nuts and egg, tave, made with meat, feta cheese and yoghurt, or perhaps grilled lamb (qengj), veal (mish viçi) or chicken (zog pule). Albanians also commonly serve offal dishes. In coastal areas, there’s often a choice of freshly landed seafood – sea bream (kocë), sea bass (levrek) and trout (troftë), or perhaps a local speciality like eels (ngjalë). Sallat grek (Greek salad) and vegetables such as peppers, aubergines, potatoes and courgettes are common accompaniments.
Other dishes that are familiar from Greek and Turkish cuisines include the shish qebap (skewered meat, most often lamb), sufflaqa and pita (different terms for a doner kebab), qofta (balls or patties of minced meat and herbs) and dolma (stuffed vine leaves). Albanians also have their own version of themeze, a mix of small plates of meat, cheese and vegetables. Qofta Korçë is a dish from the city of Korça where the meatballs are served in a tomato sauce, reminiscent of an Italian or Spanish staple.
Though desserts are not commonly eaten in Albania, there are a few you may see on a menu. Baklavafeatures layered pastry, nuts and honey and has its roots in Turkey. Shëndetlli is a honey-steeped fruit cake, while tullumba are cylinders of deep-fried dough in syrup. Probably not good for the diet, but nevertheless delicious options at the end of a meal.
Common drinks are of course coffee, kos (a yoghurt drink), or perhaps a beer or local wine. Albanian wine is generally of a very good quality, there are a number of locally brewed beers (birra Korça, birra Tirana, Koan and Norga are some of the best-known brands around the country, with dark versions often available as well as lighter-coloured lagers) and, for those with a strong constitution, the localraki, distilled from grapes or plums, is a popular if heady fortifying tipple.
Qofta are commonly served as a fast food snack, but by far the most popular form of “street food” is the byrek, a triangular filo pastry snack filled with cheese, spinach or meat. These are sold from specialist shops called byrektove.
* “The menu, please!” in Albanian.

usic – Dance and Albania’s Folklore | Albanian Folklore is rich, diversified and with artistic values. It is a precious treasury inherited from generation to generation. It is rather vivid and continues to be enriched even nowadays. The Albanian folklore consists of literary, musical, choreographic and dramatic folklore.Polyphony is a southern Albanian tradition dating back to ancient Illyrian times, involving blending several independent vocal or instrumental parts. The songs usually have epic lyrical or historical themes, and may be slow and sombre with beautiful harmonies or include yodeling.Styles range from the heroic songs of the mountains to the more musically complex lieder (a type of ballad), which is accompanied by instruments and common in the south. The most common traditional instrument is the lahute (lute), which is similar to the Slavic gusle. Also in the south, saze (small orchestras) composed of four or five instruments play music for folk dancing on special occasions.Notable folk musicians of the late 20th century include Tefta Tashko, Maria Paluca, and Gjorgjija Filce. Two of the most distinguished composers of Albanian music are Kristi Kono and the writer, bishop, and political leader Fan Noli.Traditional dance is still widely practiced, especially in more remote villages. Because of Islamic influences, especially in the south, women and men often do not dance together in public. | | Handicraft | Handicraft in Albania has long-standing traditions. A high level of development and artistic technique is noted even in Illyrian times ( 2nd-1st century BC ).Most handicraft consists of artistic articles adorned with national motifs and the traditions of folk creativity.During the tour, you will have time to wander in some of Albania’s most remarkable markets.The material of handicrafts varies from filigree, wood carvings, cooper engraved vases, alabaster, bone, ceramic, horn, and rugs to leather products. Their original value and artistic technique is truly exceptional. | | Art and Architecture | Albania’s archaeological findings cover almost the whole of her history, providing an outstanding visual reference that accounts for her history and the formation of present culture.The oldest architectural monuments in Albania date from the 1st millennium BC and were constructed by the Illyrians. From the middle of the 1st millennium BC through the middle of the 1st millennium AD, the Greeks and Romans who occupied Albania built structures still visible in urban and rural landscapes.In the Middle Ages, Christian religious architecture emerged in Albania’s Christian north while Islamic and Turkish-style architecture emerged in the south.
Until the mid-20th century, most Albanian cities were dominated by two-story stone residences with tiled roofs.
In wooded regions, houses were made of boards rather than stone; in coastal regions, they were clay, adobe, or reed with coatings of clay.
Today, mass-produced Soviet-style housing predominates in urban and suburban settings while traditional architecture predominates in rural and mountainous regions.Painting in Albania was strongly influenced by Byzantine art in the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), although by the end of the early Renaissance (15th century to 17th century) Italian influence was strong. The painting of icons (religious symbols) grew as a form of both public, or displayed, art and folk art. The style of icon painting, created in the mid- 18th century, remained virtuallyunchanged through the early 20th century.Notable Albanian artists of the 20th century include Vangjush Mijo and Androniqi Zenge, both of whom are credited with introducing Western-style impressionism to Albania in the mid-1930s. Odhise Paskal, another 20th-century artist, sculpted Albanian heroes.
Folk arts today include clothing decorated with delicate silver ornaments, wood-crafted items for the home, and woolen rugs. | | Libraries and Museums | Albania is home to many museums of archaeology; local, military, and natural history, ethnography and religious and secular (nonreligious) art.Notable museums in Tiranë include the National Museum of Archaeology (founded in 1948). Throughout the 20th century the holdings of Albania’s libraries have grown dramatically. The country’s largest library, the National Library (1922) in Tirana, acquired many of its one million books through Communist confiscation of private libraries.
The library system at the University of Tirana (1957) also features a large collection. | | Language | Albanian (Shqipja) is an Indo-European language with many Latin, Slavonic and modern Greek words.It has two main forms, Tosk and Gheg, which diverged about 1000 years ago.In 1972 the Congress of Orthography established a unified written language, which is now universally accepted for both languages. Visit our useful words page, if you are interested in learning some common words and phrases. | | Religion | Traditionally, Albania has been 70% Sunni Muslim, 10% Roman Catholic (mostly in the north) and 20% Albanian Orthodox, making it the only European country to have a Muslim majority.From 1967 to 1990 it was also the only officially atheist state in the world, and many churches were converted into cinemas and theatres.The spiritual vacuum left after the fall of communism has in part been filled by US evangelists, but new churches and mosques are springing up all over the country. | | Food | Albanian food has been strongly influenced by Turkish food.
Grilled meats like shishqebap (shish kebab), romsteak (minced meat patties) and qofte (meat balls) are common dishes.Popular local dishes are çonlek (meat and onion stew), fërges (a rich beef stew), rosto me salcë kosi (roast beef with sour cream) and tave kosi (mutton with yoghurt).Lunch is the main meal, although eating out in the evening in Tirana is increasingly common. Ice cream (akullore) is very popular, and the coffee is either kafe turke and strong enough to walk over to your table by itself, or kafe ekspres (espresso).There is a large variety of white and red wine. Other local drinks are raki (brandy), konjak (cognac), uzo ( like Greek ouzo) and various fruit liqueurs. | | Theater and Film | Albanian theatre has long-standing traditions. This is testified by the archaeological excavation of the theatres and amphitheatres dating back to the 4th - 3rd centuries BC.However, as a result of the repetitive warring and the innumerous invasions, theater was neither popular nor widespread in Albania before World War I (1914-1918).The first Albanian play, Emma, was written in 1887 by an Italian-Albanian, Anton Santo ri, and dealt with themes of the Albanian diaspora (migration to other countries). Instead of accurately portraying daily life, prewar drama depicted the romantic patriotism of the past.Under the Communists, theater became a weapon of propaganda, and new theaters and plays with Communist themes were encouraged. The plays, however, were subjected to more rigorous censorship than written literature, thereby crushing much creativity and stunting the growth of a native theater. Foreign theater companies were also banned.Nevertheless, a few talented play writers, including Lon Papa, emerged in this period. In the mid-1990s theater continued to lag behind Albanian literature in its development.Cinema is also undeveloped. During the Communist period, films, like plays, focused on heroics. Popular themes included the anti-Turk struggles of folk hero Scanderbeg (also spelled Skenderbeg), Albanian resistance to assimilation by foreigners, and the clash between tradition and change.Although there are fewer political restrictions on film today than in the Communist era, a lack of money and technical resources continues to hamper the growth of Albanian film. | |

he international terms "Albania" and "Albanian" are based on the root *alb- , *arb- , which also is the source of the word Arberesh , which is used to describe the Italo-Albanians of southern Italy. That root also appears as *lab- in Labëria , referring to the southern Albanian region from Vlorë southward to the Greek border, and *rab- in early Slavic, as in raban , rabanski ("Albanian"). Also related to this basic root are the Turkish and Greek words for Albanians and the Albanian language. Albanians now use the designation shqiptar ("Albanian")shqip ("Albanian language"), and Shqipëria ("Albania").
Orientation
Identification. According to the Austrian linguist Gustav Meyer (1850–1900), shqip ("Albanian language"), shqiptar ("Albanian"), and Shqipëria ("Albania") are related to the Albanian verb shqipoj ("to speak clearly") and shqiptoj ("to pronounce") and can be linked to the Latin excipio and excipere ("to listen to, take up, hear"). The Albanologist Maximilian Lambertz (1882–1963) preferred a connection with the Albanian shqipe or shqiponjë ("eagle"), which is the symbol of Albania. The latter explanation may, however, simply be a folk etymology or constitute the reason why Albanians identify themselves with the eagle.
Albanians can be divided into two cultural groups: the northern Albanians, or Ghegs (sometimes spelled Gegs), and the southern Albanians, or Tosks. The geographic border between the two groups, based on dialect, runs roughly along the Shkumbin River, which flows through the central town of Elbasan to the Adriatic Sea. All Albanians north of the Shkumbin, along with the Albanians of Montenegro, Kosovo, and most of Macedonia (FYROM), speak Gheg dialects with their characteristic nasalization. All Albanians south of the Shkumbin, including the Albanians of Greece, southwestern Macedonia, and southern Italy, speak Tosk dialects with their characteristic rhotacism. Although dialect and cultural differences between the Ghegs and Tosks can be substantial, both sides identify strongly with the common national and ethnic culture.
Location and Geography. Albanians live in ethnically compact settlements in large areas of the southwest part of the Balkan peninsula, primarily in the Republic of Albania with its centrally located capital city of Tirana and in the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. The Republic of Albania, which houses only about 60 percent of all the Albanians in the Balkans, is a mountainous country along the southern Adriatic coast across from the heel of Italy. Among the minority groups living with the Albanian majority are ethnic Greeks, Slavs, Aromunians (Vlachs), and Rom (Gypsies). Albania is bordered to the north by the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, which has an approximate 10 percent Albanian minority living in regions along the Albanian-Montenegrin border. The Montenegrin towns of Ulcinj, Tuz, Plava, and Gucinj were traditionally and are still inhabited by Albanians. To the northeast of the Republic of Albania is Kosovo, still a de jure part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Kosovo, which the Kosovo Albanians have declared to be a free and sovereign republic and which the Serbs insist must remain an integral part of Serbia, has about 90 percent Albanian speakers and 10 percent Serb speakers, with minorities of Turks, Rom, Montenegrins, Croats, and Cherkess. The Albanian enclaves of Presheva (Presevo) and Bujanovc (Bujanovac) are in southern Serbia, not far from Kosovo. To the east of the Republic of Albania is the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, one-third of which, along the Albanian border, has an Albanian majority. The central Macedonian towns of

Albania
Skopje, Kumanovo, and Bitola have sizable (15 to 50 percent) communities of Albanian speakers, whereas the western Macedonian centers of Tetova (Tetovo), Gostivar, and Dibra (Debar), along with the Struga area, all have an Albanian majority. The Albanians in Macedonia represent about 30 percent of the population, although there are no reliable statistics. The Albanian minority in Greece can be divided into two groups: those living in villages and settlements near the Albanian border and the largely assimilated Arvanites who populated much of central and southern Greece in the late Middle Ages. The Albanian language, known there in Albanian as arbërisht and in Greek as arvanitika , is still spoken to some extent in about three hundred twenty villages primarily in Boeotia (especially around Levadhia), southern Euboea, Attica, Corinth, and northern Andros. Southern Italy also has a substantial Albanian minority, known as the Arberesh, who are the descendants of refugees who fled from Albania after the death of Scanderbeg in 1468. Most of the Arberesh live in the mountain villages of Cosenza in Calabria and in the vicinity of Palermo in Sicily. In addition to these traditional settlements, there are large communities of Albanian emigrants in Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.
Demography. There are an estimated six million Albanians in Europe. The 1991 census for the Republic of Albania gives a total population of 3,255,891. In addition there are about two million Albanians in Kosovo, about five-hundred thousand in the Republic of Macedonia, and about one-hundred thousand in Montenegro. It is estimated that about one-hundred thousand people from the traditional Italo-Albanian communities in southern Italy can still speak Albanian. Figures for Albanian settlements in Greece are unavailable because the Greek government does not acknowledge the existence of an Albanian minority there. All these figures are estimates and fluctuate because of the extremely high birthrates of Albanians and the high level of emigration from Albania and Kosovo. An estimated three-hundred thousand emigrants from Albania now live in Greece, and about two-hundred thousand reside in Italy. In addition, there are about two-hundred thousand Albanians, mostly from Kosovo, living in central Europe (mainly Switzerland and Germany). In the last ten years, Albanians have emigrated to most other countries in Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Albanian language, shqip , is Indo-European, although it is not a member of any of the major branches of the Indo-European family. Despite its Indo-European affiliation and presence in the Balkans since ancient times, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact ancestry of the Albanian language because of the radical transformations that have taken place within it through the centuries. Among these transformations has been a substantial reduction in word length and extreme morphological alterations. Whether the Albanian language stems from Illyrian or Thracian, both, or neither is a matter of contention. The theory of the Illyrian origin of the Albanian people is the one most widely accepted in Albania and has been raised to the level of a national and state ideology. There is little evidence to prove or disprove this theory, since little is known about the Illyrian language. Since ancient times, very substantial strata of Latin and of Slavic and Turkish have been added to Albanian, making the older strata more difficult to analyze.
Albanian is a synthetic language that is similar in structure to most other Indo-European languages. Nouns are marked for gender, number, and case as well as for definite and indefinite forms. The vast majority of nouns are masculine or feminine, though there are a few neuter nouns. The nominal system distinguishes five cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative; the genitive and dative endings are always the same. Attributive genitives are linked to the nouns they qualify by a system of connective particles. Albanian verbs have three persons, two numbers, ten tenses, two voices, and six moods. Unusual among the moods is the admirative, which is used to express astonishment. Among other particular features of Albanian and other Balkan languages are a postpositive definite article and the absence of a verbal infinitive. Although Albanian is not directly related to Greek, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, or Bulgarian, it has much in common with all those Balkan languages after centuries of close contact.
The regional variants of spoken Albanian differ such that verbal communication between uneducated speakers of different dialects can be difficult. To overcome these problems, a standard literary language, gjuha letrare , was agreed on at an orthography congress in Tirana in late November 1972 and has been in use for the last three decades in virtually all publications and in education throughout Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. This Standard Albanian is based about 80 percent on Tosk dialect forms, reflecting the structure of political power at that time in communist Albania. The subject remains controversial, with northern intellectuals having reopened in recent years the possibility of reviving a literary standard for the Gheg dialect. The gjuha letrare seems to be a widely accepted standard and probably will survive the current turmoil.
Most Albanian speakers in Albania are monolingual, although in view of the strong cultural influence of Italian television, Italian is widely understood along the Adriatic coast. Greek not only is spoken by members of the Greek minority in southern Albania but also is understood by many Albanians near the Greek border. Most Kosovo Albanians speak and understand Serbo-Croatian.

Prayer room at the Mosque of Etem Bay, in the capital city at Tirana.
Ironically, because the Belgrade authorities willfully destroyed the Albanian-language educational system in Kosovo in the mid-1980s, an increasing number of young people there, educated in "underground" schools, no longer speak and understand Serbo-Croatian.
Symbolism. The national and ethnic symbol of the Albanians is the eagle, which was used in that capacity in the earliest records. The eagle appears in a stone carving dating from 1190, the time of the so-called first Albanian principality, known as Arbanon, and was used as a heraldic symbol by a number of ruling families in Albania in the late Middle Ages, including the Castriotta (Kastrioti), the Muzakaj (Myzeqe), and the Dukagjini. A black double-headed eagle also was placed by the national hero Scanderbeg on his flag and seal. This form of the eagle, deriving from the banner of the Byzantine Empire, has been preserved as an ethnic symbol by the Arberesh of southern Italy. In the late nineteenth century, the double-headed eagle was taken up by the nationalist movement as a symbol of resistance to the Ottoman Empire and was used on the banners of freedom fighters seeking autonomy and independence. The current flag, bearing this black double-headed eagle on a red background, was officially raised on 28 November, 1912 to mark the declaration of Albanian independence in Vlorë and has been used since that time by the Republic of Albania and by Albanians everywhere as the national symbol.
In Albanian oral literature and folklore, the eagle appears as a symbol of freedom and heroism, and Albanians often refer to themselves as the "Sons of the Eagle." The popularity of the eagle among Albanians derives from the similarity between the words shqipe (eagle) and the terms for the Albanian language, an Albanian person, and Albania.
Another beloved symbol is the Albanian prince and national hero Scanderbeg (1405–1468). His real name was George Castriotta (Gjergj Kastrioti). Sent by his father as a hostage to the Turkish Sultan Murad II (ruled 1421–1451), he was converted to Islam and, after being educated in Edirne, was given the name Iskander (Alexander) and the rank of bey. In 1443, after the Turkish defeat at Nish by John Corvinus Hunyadi (1385–1456), Scanderbeg abandoned the Ottoman army, returned to Albania, and embraced Christianity. He took over the central Albanian fortress of Kruja and was proclaimed commander in chief of an independent Albanian army. In the following years, Scanderbeg successfully repulsed thirteen Ottoman invasions and was widely admired in the Christian world for his resistance to the Turks, being accorded the title Athleta Christi by Pope Calixtus III (ruled 1455–1458). Scanderbeg died on 17 January 1468 at Lezha (Alessio), and Albanian resistance collapsed a decade afterward. In 1478, his fortress at Kruja was taken by the Turks, and Albania experienced four centuries of Ottoman rule. For Albanians, Scanderbeg is the symbol of resistance to foreign domination and a source of inspiration in both oral and written literature. It is common in the homes of Albanian families living abroad to find not only an Albanian flag but also a bust or portrait of Scanderbeg.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. Albanians are a native Balkan people, although their exact origin is unclear. The national ideology insists on an unequivocal ethnic relationship with the ancient Illyrians. As little is known about the Illyrians and there are no historical records referring to the existence of the Albanian people during the first millennium C . E ., it is difficult to affirm or deny the relationship. Albanians entered postclassical recorded history in the second half of the eleventh century, and only in this age can one speak with any degree of certainty about the Albanian people as they are known today. In his History written in 1079–1080, the Byzantine historian Michael Attaleiates was the first to refer to the Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the duke of Dyrrachium. Similarly, the historian John Scylitzes refers (ca. 1081) to the Arbanites as forming part of the troops assembled in Durrës by Nicephorus Basilacius. It can be assumed that the Albanians began expanding from their mountain homeland in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, initially taking possession of the northern and central coastline and by the thirteenth century spreading southward toward what are now southern Albania and western Macedonia. In the middle of the fourteenth century, they migrated farther south into Greece, initially into Epirus, Thessaly (1320), Acarnania, and Aetolia. By the middle of the fifteenth century, which marks the end of this process of colonization, the Albanians had settled in over half of Greece in such great numbers that in many regions they constituted the majority of the population. Despite these extensive settlements, the Albanians, largely a herding and nomadic people, do not seem to have created any substantial urban centers. There were no noticeable Albanian communities in the cities of the Albanian coast during the Middle Ages. Durrës was inhabited by the Venetians, Greeks, Jews, and Slavs; Shkodra, by the Venetians and Slavs; and Vlorë, by the Byzantine Greeks. It is estimated that a considerable proportion of Albanians were assimilated by the time of the Turkish invasion; in other words, the Albanians had been largely marginalized in their own country. Only during the Ottoman period did they began to settle in towns and acquire some of the characteristics of a nation rather than those of nomadic tribes.
National Identity. Until the nineteenth century, collective identity in Albania, as elsewhere in the Balkans, was defined primarily by religion, reinforced at the state level by the Ottoman precept of the millet : To be of the Islamic faith was to be Turkish, and to be of the Orthodox faith was to be Greek. There was little room in either culture for the rising aspirations of Albanian nationalism during the national awakening ( Rilindja ) in the second half of the nineteenth century. During this period, nationalist leaders began to understand the divisive effects of religion among their people. The nationalist statesman Pashko Vasa (1825–1892) proclaimed in a widely read poem: "Albanians, you are killing your brothers, / Into a hundred factions you are divided, / Some say 'I believe in God,' others 'I in Allah,' /

A historical cemetery of martyrs overlooking the city of Korcë. Many graves date back to the independence movement of the early twentieth century.
Some say 'I am Turk,' others 'I am Latin,' / Some 'I am Greek,' others 'I am Slav,' / But you are brothers, all of you, my hapless people! .... Awaken, Albania, wake from your slumber, / Let us all, as brothers, swear a common oath / Not to look to church or mosque, / The faith of the Albanian is Albanianism!" The last line was taken up by Albanians everywhere as the catchword of the nationalist movement that led to independence in 1912.
Ethnic Relations. The Balkan peninsula is inhabited by a multitude of ethnic groups, and relations among them have never been good. Exacerbated nationalism and age-old rivalry for territory and supremacy have always created ethnic tension. This is especially true in regions with mixed settlement patterns, where ethnic groups are not separated by clear-cut political borders. While ethnic relations between Albanians and Greeks along their common border have improved substantially over the last decade, that cannot be said of relations between Albanians and their Slavic neighbors in the former Yugoslavia. In Kosovo, the Albanian majority was reduced to the status of an oppressed colonial people after the Serb conquest of the region at the beginning of the twentieth century. The open conflict that broke out in 1997 was, however, not initially one between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs but between Kosovo Albanians and a hostile Serb regime in Belgrade. Relations between Albanians and Macedonians in the western part of the Republic of Macedonia have been tense since the declaration of Macedonian independence and the downgrading of the status of Albanians there to that of a "national minority."
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
The traditional architecture of Albania almost disappeared during the Stalinist dictatorship of 1944– 1990. The old towns and bazaars of Tirana and many other urban centers were demolished and replaced by socialist prestige objects or uniform housing blocks. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, virtually all the churches and mosques were razed or transformed beyond recognition. The Catholic cathedral of Shkodra, for instance, was transformed into a sports hall with a volleyball court, and that of Tirana into a movie theater. With the exception of Berat and Gjirokastër, which were declared museum cities, little of the traditional flavor of Albanian towns can now be found. Most of the older public buildings that survived the communist period in Tirana, such as the main government ministries

Agricultural workers travel between Tirana and Kavajë. While Albania has a large rural population, most families in the countryside can barely raise enough crops to feed themselves. and the university, date from the Italian period (1930s–1940s). The main thoroughfare of Tirana from Scanderbeg Square to the university was constructed by the Italians as a symbol of Italian fascism. The lack of zoning regulations led in the 1990s to chaos in construction and the use of space, destroying the little that survived the communist regime. Old villas have been demolished, and most parks and public gardens disappeared under a myriad of kiosks and cafés.
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.
Social Stratification
Classes and Castes. Under the communist regime, which called for absolute equality and the rule of a single working class, there were in fact three social castes. The ruling caste was composed of the extended families of politburo members and related communist families and clans. The majority of the population was in the working class. The

Workmen at a metallurgical plant in Elbasan, Albania. Much of the Albanian industrial sector collapsed with the introduction of a free market economy in the early 1990s. lowest caste consisted of once prosperous farming families, the precommunist middle class, and opponents of the regime. Many of those families were sent to the countryside into internment or internal exile and were denied access to many professions and to education for their children. This caste system broke down with the fall of the communist regime and has been replaced by a system where status is determined exclusively by wealth.
Political Life
Government. The Republic of Albania is a parliamentary republic with a democratic constitution that was promulgated in 1998. Political turmoil has continued since the ousting of the authoritarian Berisha regime in 1997, and there is little sign of consensus or cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties. Political tension remains high.
Leadership and Political Officials. The current president, Rexhep Meidani, is a former university professor from the ruling Socialist Party. The government coalition, now under the leadership of Prime Minister Ilir Meta, is dominated by the Socialist Party. Former president Sali Berisha of the Democratic Party continues to lead the opposition.
Social Problems and Control. Public order broke down in 1997 as a result of a lack of political and economic planning. During the spring of 1997, arms depots were plundered throughout the country; as a result, crime became a major problem. Since the 1997 breakdown, there has been a substantial degree of taking the law into one's own hands. However, this is not a new phenomenon but part of Albanian tradition. For centuries, it was not the central government but Albanian customary or traditional law that governed social behavior and almost every facet of life in northern Albania. This customary law is widely respected today. In its definitive form, the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini had chapters covering church; the family; marriage; house, livestock, and property; work; transfer of property; the spoken word; honor; damages; crimes; judicial law; and exemptions and exceptions. It was strictly observed by the tribes of the northern highlands and had priority over all other laws, ecclesiastical or secular. With the help of this ancient code, the highland tribes were able to preserve their identity, autonomy, and way of life under the Ottoman Empire for five centuries. Some aspects of the Kanun may appear harsh to a modern observer. Vengeance, for instance, was accepted as the prime instrument for exacting and maintaining justice. This led to blood feuding that decimated the northern tribes in the early years of the twentieth century and that is again a major problem of social life in northern Albania.
Gender Roles and Statuses
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Albania is a patriarchal society based on male predominance. Women are accorded subordinate roles. The communist Party of Labor did much to emancipate women during a revolutionary campaign in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but many of the gains of that social revolution have been reversed since the introduction of democracy and a free market economy. Old traditions have revived, and despite legal equality and acceptance in the workforce, women have much less representation in public life than they did under the former regime.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Marriages in Albania are socially and legally restricted to heterosexual couples. They often are arranged at an early age in the countryside, traditionally by the parents of the groom with the help of a matchmaker rather than by the couple. Remaining unmarried is looked on as a great misfortune. In some mountain regions, the bride was stolen from her family, that is, spirited away by an armed bridegroom or by his male relatives and companions. This usually symbolic though occasionally real theft of a bride was also a common custom among the Italo-Albanians of Calabria. In other regions, it was customary to purchase a wife. In zones such as Mirditë and the northern mountains, the father, brother, or another male relative of the bride still presents the groom with a bullet wrapped in straw. The new husband is thus free to kill his wife with the approval of her family if she proves to be disobedient.
Albanian weddings are impressive festivities. They are virtually the only popular celebrations observed today and thus are taken very seriously. Whole villages and, in towns, hundreds of people may be invited to take part in a wedding banquet. The celebrations can last several days. Traditionally, weddings take place during the full moon to ensure offspring. Monogamy was always the rule in Albania, but polygamous marriages existed up to the beginning of the twentieth century in some areas, particularly if the first wife was not able to bear a son. Live-in concubines were not uncommon in the mountains up to World War II. Albanian women were as a rule faithful to their husbands. Since a wife was considered the property of her husband, adultery amounted to theft. Thus, cases of adultery were punished severely under traditional law. Premarital and extramarital sex was more prevalent in the northern highlands, the part of the country with the most rigid moral code. Divorce is now a common phenomenon.

A group of women near Korcë. In Albania's patriarchal society, women are generally placed in subordinate roles.
Socialization
Child Rearing and Education. Albanians have always lived in a world of extreme hardship and deprivation. Underdevelopment and a high incidence of infant mortality have been compounded by warring and blood feuding that at times decimated the male population. Reproduction, as the key to survival, therefore took on a more elementary significance among Albanians than it did among neighboring peoples. Even today, Albanian birthrates are significantly higher than those anywhere else in Europe. As in other third world cultures, it is believed that the more children, especially male children, one raises, the more security one will have in one's old age. A childless marriage is considered a great misfortune, and a woman living without a husband and children is inconceivable.
Given the extremely patriarchal nature of Albanian society, greater importance is attributed to the birth of sons than to that of daughters. Even today, pregnant women are greeted with the expression të lindtënjëdjalë ("May a son be born"). In Mirditë and the mountains of the north, the birth of a son was marked by rejoicing throughout the tribe and the firing of rifles. It was often the custom in the north of Albania for a woman to be wed officially only after she had given birth to her first son. In Berat, the main beam of a house was painted black at the birth of a girl as a token of the family's disappointment.
Male children generally were better treated, for instance, by being better protected against the "evil eye." As the Kosova scholar Mark Krasniqi (born 1920) points out, boys are given names such as Ujk ("Wolf"), Luan ("Lion"), and Hekuran ("The Iron One"), whereas girls are named Mjafte ,or Mjaftime ("Enough"), Shkurte ("The Short One"), Mbarime ("The Last One"), and Sose ("The Final One").
Religion
Religious Beliefs. Albania is on the border dividing three religions: Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, and Islam. According to the last reliable statistics on religion (1942), among a population of 1,128,143, there were 779,417 (69 percent) Muslims, including the Bektashi; 232,320 (21 percent) Orthodox; and 116,259 (10 percent) Catholics. One can estimate today that approximately 70 percent of Albanians in the republic are of Muslim, including Bektashi, background; about 20 percent, mostly in the south, are Orthodox; and about 10 percent, mostly in the north, are Catholic. In 1967, all religious communities were dissolved when a communist government edict banned the public practice of religion. The law was rescinded only in December 1990 during the collapse of the regime. Despite the return of religious freedom, there seems to be more interest in the revival of Christianity and Islam among foreign missionaries and groups than there is among Albanians. Albanians have never had a national religion with which to identify as a people. For the last century and a half, national (ethnic) identity has predominated over religious identity, and this is unlikely to change in the coming years in a small and struggling nation surrounded by hostile neighbors. Organized religion still plays only a marginal role in public life. Religious fervor is extremely rare, and religious extremism is virtually unknown.
The Arts and Humanities
Literature. The foundations of a national literature were laid in the second half of the nineteenth century with the rise of a nationalist movement striving for Albania's independence from a decaying Ottoman Empire. The literature of this so-called Rilindja period of national awakening was characterized by romantic nationalism and provides a key to an understanding of the Albanian mentality today.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Catholic education facilities set up by the Franciscans and Jesuits in Shkodra under the auspices of the Austro-Hungarian Kultusprotektorat paved the way for the creation of an intellectual élite that produced the rudiments of a more sophisticated literature which expressed itself primarily in poetry. The culmination of Albanian literature before World War II appears in the works of the Franciscan priest Gjergj Fishta (1871–1940), once lauded as the national poet. From 1945 to 1990, for primarily political reasons, Fishta was ostracized from the Albanian literary world and the mention of his name was forbidden.
Virtually all prewar Albanian literature was swept away by the political revolution that took place during and after World War II. Most prewar writers and intellectuals who had not left the country by 1944 regretted their decision to stay. The persecution of intellectuals and the break with virtually all cultural traditions created a literary and cultural vacuum that lasted until the 1960s and whose results can still be felt.
With Albania's integration into the Soviet bloc during the 1950s, Soviet literary models were introduced and slavishly imitated. Writers were encouraged to concentrate their creative energies on specific themes, such as the partisan struggle of the "national liberation war" and the building of socialism. Despite the constraints of socialist realism and Stalinist dictatorship, Albanian literature made much progress in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the best examples of creativity and originality in Albanian letters then and now is Ismail Kadare (b. 1936), the only Albanian writer with a broad international reputation. Kadare's talents both as a poet and as a prose writer have lost none of their innovative force over the last three decades. His influence is still felt among the young postcommunist writers of the 1990s, the first generation to be able to express itself freely.
Bibliography
------------------------------------------------- ourism in Albania
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Berat, the Town of a Thousand and One Windows.

Gjirokastër, the Town of a Thousand Steps.

Ancient Amphitheater of Butrint

Archaeological site of Apollonia

Rozafa Castle overlooking Buna River

Castle of Kruja, site of Skanderbeg's Museum

Along a spectacular journey on Lake Komani Ferry

The Wild Albanian Alps in the Highlands

Skanderbeg's Grave and Lezhë Castle

Monastery town of Moscopole near the ski resort area of Dardha in Korçë. In 2012, the first ever ski tow in Albania was opened by Bigell Ski Center in Dardhe.

Winter in Lake Ohrid near Pogradec

The vibrant capital Tirana with its Clock Tower and Et'hem Bey Mosque

Taivani, one of Tirana's most popular restaurants seen from the Sky Tower's revolving restaurant

Roman Amphitheatre in Durrës

Scenic Llogara Pass on the SH8

Ksamil Islands

Deep under water source of Blue Eye Spring

Panorama of the Albanian Riviera
Tourism in Albania is characterized by the archaeological heritage from Greek, Roman andOttoman times, unspoiled beaches, mountainous topography, delicious traditional Albanian cuisine, Cold War era artifacts, unique traditions and hospitality, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of the countryside. Although still underdeveloped, tourism has seen an impressive increase in recent years. Lonely Planet ranked Albania as the no. 1 destination to be visited in 2011.[1] Albania was ranked fourth in MSN Travel's 2012 Hottest Destinations.[2] In addition, Albania was chosen as one of the top destinations for British tourists travelling during the 2012 Queen's Diamond Jubilee.[3] In August 2011, American actress with Albanian origin Eliza Dushkuvisited Albania to film a promotional documentary on her father's country of origin with a crew from the Travel Channel and Lonely Planet.[4][5][6] In fact, a watershed moment in tourism promotion was the publication of promotional videos on major global news channels.
The bulk of tourists coming to Albania is made up of Albanians coming from Albania, Kosovo,Macedonia, and expats from Greece, and Italy.[7][8] These prefer mostly beach tourism, while rural tourism is slowly gaining popularity. Foreign tourists mostly come from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland, and the Czech Republic, and also from Western Europe such asGermany, Italy, France, and Scandinavian countries.[9] They tend to visit alpine settings though beach tourism is also practiced. Backpackers are common and prefer resting at the many hostels in Tirana, or camping in the countryside or along the coast. Organized groups mainly visit the numerous archaeological sites and historic towns. A growing trend has become rafting in the many canions, cycling, hiking in the mountains, or cross-country off-road touring in the countryside. The latter can also be explored through the adventurous Albanian railway system. Recently, car rental agencies and information centers have opened branches in Tirana International Airport, in the capital and other towns. Dental tourism has become popular as local dentists offer Western standards with much lower prices. Local delicious cuisine can be tasted at traditional Albanian restaurants located near tourist attractions and scenic spots throughout the country.
However, tourism is hampered by local management issues such as poor road and public utilities infrastructure, unregulated waste disposal, illegal construction, uncertain land ownership, unreliable public transport, and an unqualified hospitality sector. Recently, some coastal, mountainous, and major roads have been reconstructed, while the local private sector and foreign donors are heavily investing in accommodation and renovations at historical sites. Albania has been dubbed the "New Mediterranean Love".[10] * |
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[edit]Entry requirements
Citizens of the following countries do not require visas to enter: All 27 EU members, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Croatia, Vatican, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Malaysia, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United States of America, and Ukraine.[11]
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[edit]History
Albania has been visited by a number of important chroniclers, including Evliya Çelebi, Lord Byron,Edith Durham, Rose Wilder Lane, and Edward Lear.[12][13][14][15] Tourism in Albania became established with the creation of the Royal Motor Tourist Club in 1929 serving business travelers. The period also saw the publication of promotional pamphlets, and the construction of some beach cabins by Italian engineers in Durres. At the start of communism, foreign tourists only came fromEastern Europe, and were accommodated at the foreigners only Adriatik Hotel in Durres. Gradually other hotels were constructed nearby from Soviet engineers to accommodate the local working masses and the country's elite. The latter rested at heavily guarded secluded areas mainly in Golem Beach south of Durres, Drilon Swans Park east of Pogradec, some alpine village areas, and along the Albanian Riviera. Additionally, several youth camps were established and a tourist boat constructed called Punetori (the Worker). The population used heavily rail transport as private car ownership was forbidden by law. Following the Sino-Soviet Split, the regime encouragedChinese tourists to visit Albania. It was only in the 1980s that Western tourists were permitted to visit as part of Marxist-Leninist organizations. They mainly visited historic sites. Upon arrival, some of them underwent shaving by authorities. In fact, beards and long hair in men were banned in Albania as signs of degenerated bourgeoisie manners[16]. Since the fall of communism, visiting restrictions greatly eased while the tourism sector experienced a spontaneous construction spree. The 1997 unrest was a major blow for tourism and contributed to the negative image of Albania as a lawless and unsafe country. In the 2000s, it is worth noting the reconstruction of important roadways, the continuation of illegal/spontaneous construction in some popular areas, and the rediscovery of forgotten parts by domestic tourists and businessmen. A significant watershed moment was the publication of several promotional videos on major global news channels[17] and the writing of promotional articles in important international newspapers.[18] In 2010, tourism in Albania had the greatest increase in the world with a 42% growth.[19]
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[edit]Destinations
[edit]Towns and archaeological sites
Stemming from a rich history of conquests, Albania holds a mix of interesting artifacts. The most visited towns are: * A thousand and one window town of Berat * Old port city of Durrës (Dyrrhachium) * Stone city of Gjirokastër * Krujë, the balcony over the Adriatic sea * Shkodër, the city that is home, among others to the Rozafa Castle * Tirana, the capital with a vibrant nightlife * Beach city of Vlorë (the city of olives and grapes) * Lezha, the historic diplomatic capital of Albania * Poet's city of Pogradec * Honeymooners' city of Sarandë * Year round festive city of Korcë
The most visited archaeological sites are * Apollonia * Antigonea * Byllis * Butrint
[edit]Natural attractions
Albania is known for its breathtaking landscape. Some increasingly popular features include: * Albanian Riviera, the coastal area stretching from Vlore to Saranda along the Ionian Sea. The whole coastline of Albania stretches over 450 km.[20] * Albanian Alps, part of the Prokletije or Accursed Mountains range in extreme Northern Albania where the highest mountain peak of the range is located. Seventy percent of the country's terrain is mountainous. * Naturally occurring phenomenon of the Blue Eye Spring near Sarande in extreme Southern Albania * Lake Komani Ferry, a unique journey amidst spectacular mountain views in Northern Albania * The 20 km long Osum Canyon, the largest in Albania located near Corovode in Skrapar District * Coastal areas of Lalzit Bay north of Durrës near Rodon Cape, and General's Beach near Kavaje * Curative beach sands of coastal Velipoja in Ada Bojana near the Montenegrin border, andShengjin near Lezhe.
[edit]Village areas
Albania is a rural and agricultural oriented country. The main emerging agritourism destinations are: * Historic Moscopole, and alpine Dardhë, Vithkuq, and Boboshticë villages near Korcë * Albanian stretch of Ohrid Lake in Hudenisht stretching from Qafë Thanë/Kjafasan to Pogradec * Area of Përmet District in southeastern Albania, and Libohovë village near Gjirokastër * Fishing village of Shiroka along Shkodër Lake * Drilon Swans Park east of Pogradec * Emerging agritourism villages of Gjinar near Elbasan, Rovje in Gramsh District, and Shishtavecin Kukes County * Suburban area along Rruga e Elbasanit, and panoramic region of Mount Dajt both in the outskirts of Tirana
[edit]Panoramic routes
Due to the varying geographic elevation, Albania features endless panoramic routes with the main being: * Vlora-Saranda route in Southwestern Albania along the Albanian Riviera starting from coastal Vlore into Llogara Pass and along the Ceraunian Mountains * Rreshen-Kalimash motorway along the Fan River Valley in Northern Albania * SH83 Jergucat-Delvine route overlooking the Dropulli Plain in Southern Albania * Elbasan-Pogradec route along the Shkumbin River valley and Ohrid Lake * Koplik-Theth and Koplik-Vermosh in the Albanian Alps overlooking steep cliffs, challenging mountain peaks, and crystal clear rivers and waterfalls
[edit]Festivals and national heritage
See also: Culture of Albania and History of Albania
The Albanian culture is known for its rich folklore and unique traditions showcased in various forms: * Gjirokaster National Folklore Festival is held every 5 years in Gjirokaster (last held in September 2009) * Lock-in Tower of Theth as an artifact of the bloodfeud tradition * National Historic Museum in Tirana, Skanderbeg Museum in Kruja, Skanderbeg's Tomb in Lezha, and the many Ethnographic Museums scattered in various cities * Albanian traditional wedding celebrations mostly take place in the summer time and can be observed at historic sites as well. Moreover, some conservative older men and women mainly from the North still wear traditional clothing in their daily lives. Instead, older women from the South usually wear all black outfits. * Evening walkabouts are a traditional ritual usually in the summer months as locals promenade along the town squares or seaside promenades to relax after tiring hot summer days. Cafes are usually full mainly with retirees and students, while local parks with families. In addition,Tirana enjoys a very active nightlife where luxury cars and charming women invade the streets and bars of the former politburo residence area known as Blloku. The afternoon Siesta is observed as some shops close down for a few hours after midday. * There is a strict code of conduct when meeting with Albanians.[21] * Throughout the year, many regions organize local exhibitions and festivals of regional crafts and delicacies.
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[edit]UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Albania is home to three World Heritage Sites: * Butrint, an ancient Greek and Roman city * Gjirokastër, a well-preserved Ottoman medieval town * Berat, the 'town of a thousand and one windows'
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[edit]Issues affecting tourism
The main problem acting as an obstacle to the establishment of a viable tourism industry is the lack of a clear strategy. Some problems include spatial planning issues such as illegal construction, unregulated waste disposal, poor infrastructure, lack of urban regulatory plans, and unclear land ownership. In the education aspect there lacks a clear accommodation classification system and qualified hospitality personnel. The private sector has taken some tasks from the local government as the latter has proven ineffective in tackling most of the above problems, while foreign institutions are financing public infrastructure and town planning projects.
[edit]Construction, infrastructure, and waste management
Illegal construction is ruining some popular areas[22] while poor road and public utilities'infrastructure greatly hamper tourism. Electrical power outages are still common, while water supply in some areas is intermittent. New water supply systems are being constructed at tourist areas through money financed by foreign banks. The consumption of bottled water instead of tap water is recommended. In recent years, most main roads have been undergoing reconstruction thus further adding to delays. Independent bus and minibus (furgon) operators provide inexpensive transport between most large communities, but schedules and prices are not fixed. Train service is also limited and sporadic.
Uncontrolled waste disposal is a problem mostly visible along major roadways and some coastal stretches in the countryside, as waste is dumped along major rivers or burned into the atmosphere.[23] Volunteers' groups have taken the initiative to clean the affected areas as local authorities are ineffective and powerless.[24] A number of landfills have been constructed recently while some towns have started to implement recycling programs.[25] Some towns lack city master plans while other do not implement them. Localized burning of tires for producing lime takes place near Kruja, while air pollution from car exhaust mostly affects Tirana. The area near the Steelworks in Elbasan and the Lime Factory of Fushe-Kruje are affected by uncontrolled emissions.
Even though 70% of the country is mountainous, ski lifts and mountain rescue structures do not exist though only one ski resort is equipped with a ski tow. International beach resort chains are not present in the country as of yet, though some have expressed interest while others, like Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa have begun construction work along the Adriatic coast north of Durres.
Since 2006, the Albanian government has imposed a moratorium on all domestically owned, motor-powered boats on all Albanian lakes, rivers, and seas to curb organized crime.[26] This has acted as a halting factor to the domestic sailing and tourism industry.[27] However, foreign and government owned boats, fishing boats, and jet boats are exempted from the moratorium. For sailing information, visit.[28]
[edit]Progress in ecotourism, and the private hospitality sector
Significant progress is being made particularly in ecotourism. Coastal-bound roads have been reconstructed, while private businesses have heavily invested in acceptable accommodation and in keeping clean the surrounding environment. A successful example of a private sector initiative is the 40 Guesthouses Initiative in the Albanian Alps. Locals with aid from foreign donors have organized in turning their inns into accommodation enmities for ecotourism.[29] Once a deprived area, it became a leading part of a self sustainable project providing much needed income to locals. As part of UNESCO membership, Albanian sites are being awarded funds for the reconstruction of important landmarks. The World Bank and other donors finance regional master plans and public utilities infrastructure projects. In the professionalism aspect, the European University for Tourism (EUFT)[30] opened in Tirana to better train hospitality sector personnel. International hotel chains are established in Tirana, while trans-border travel agencies organize day trips from Corfu to Sarandë and nearby Butrint. Other tour operators are including Albania as part of their Balkan region packages. Club Med has proposed a development between Vlorë and Sarandë at Kakome Bay.[8]

Berat, the Town of a Thousand and One Windows.
Gjirokastër, the Town of a Thousand Steps.
Ancient Amphitheater of Butrint
Archaeological site of Apollonia
Castle of Kruja, site of Skanderbeg's Museum
The Wild Albanian Alps in the Highlands
Winter in Lake Ohrid near Pogradec
Taivani, one of Tirana's most popular restaurants seen from the Sky Tower's revolving restaurant
Ksamil Islands
Deep under water source of Blue Eye Spring

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