I am often asked small but quite complex questions or people clarify various facts about Albania. I have decided to gather them all together in this article, which will serve as a great guide. Just read it, and many of your small questions will be answered. Organizing your trip to Albania will become much easier and clearer.

Koman lake in Albania facts
By the way, Albania is not just about the sea. Over 70% of its territory is covered by mountains.

General Facts about Albania

  • The population of Albania is 2.8 million people.
  • Only 500,000 people live in the capital city, Tirana and it’s the largest city in the country.
  • There are more Albanians living outside Albania than within the country. Approximately 3.5 million people live abroad.
  • The total area of the country is only 28,000 square kilometers, ranking it 155th out of 200+ countries in the world.
  • Albania is a republic.
  • The country is led by a president appointed by the parliament. The term of office is 5 years.
  • The president is appointed by the parliament.
  • In the early 20th century, Albania’s president, Ahmed Zogu, survived over 50 assassination attempts in 9 years.
  • The currency is the Lek, or Albanian Lek (LEK). It is named after Alexander the Great (Leka i Madh), who is revered here. You can find information about the exchange rate, what currency to bring, where to exchange money, and tips in the article on Albania’s currency.
  • Albania is divided into 12 regions, which are further divided into 61 municipalities, and each municipality is divided into 5-10 communes.
  • Interesting fact: Albania has never been part of Yugoslavia, although many people think it was. I often argue with people about this.
albania yugoslavia
Here is a map of the Balkans before the breakup of Yugoslavia.
  • Mountains occupy 71% of the country’s territory. Find out more about Albania’s mountains for travelers.
  • Albania is washed by both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The resort town of Vlora is located on both seas.

Facts about Albania: History

  • Albania’s history spans over 2,300 years.
  • The first cities were established here 300 years before the Common Era. For example, Berat.
  • For 2,000 years, Albania was never an independent state.
  • The largest Roman amphitheater on the Balkan Peninsula is located in Durres, Albania.
The largest amphitheater in the Balkans
This amphitheater was excavated right in the middle of a residential area.
  • Albania gained independence for the first time in 1912.
  • Since 1945 (the end of World War II), Albania has not experienced any military conflicts. It is the only Balkan country that has been war-free during this period.
  • Enver Hoxha, the dictator who ruled Albania from 1941 to 1985, actively prepared to defend his country. Starting from 1945, 700,000 military bunkers were built in the country, most of which still exist today.
  • Today, Albania is one of the safest countries in Europe. There is hardly any petty theft. Find out more about safety for tourists.
  • At the same time, according to statistics, it is also the poorest European country.

Facts about the People and Language of Albania

  • The most famous Albanian figure is Mother Teresa (aside from perhaps Enver Hoxha).
  • She is also the only Albanian Nobel laureate.
  • There is not a single Olympic champion from Albania.
  • The Albanian language is very complex and unfamiliar to our ears. Find out everything you need to know about the Albanian language as a tourist.
  • The Albanian language does not have a word for “Albania.” The country is officially called Shqipëria, which is even more difficult to write.
albanian language
Here are the basics. I spent a month memorizing the top 10 words. The Albanian language has no resemblance or similarities to any European language.
  • In Albania, nodding the head means “no,” while shaking the head from side to side means “yes.” Don’t confuse them.
  • The first country visited by Pope Francis was Albania. This was in 2014. He always mentions Albania as an example of a country where all religions coexist peacefully. Read about religion in the country in the linked article.
  • Over 60% of Albanians are Muslims.
  • However, the country’s national holidays include Orthodox Easter, Catholic Christmas, and Muslim Eid al-Adha. Read about all the festivals and holidays in Albania, both national and non-national.
  • In Albania, it is customary to greet with a kiss on the cheek when meeting on the street. Even the coronavirus hasn’t eradicated this tradition.
  • Albanians are true meat lovers. They have many dishes that include not only meat but also all possible animal organs, from eyes to testicles. In Tirana, it is easy to find grilled chicken served with a lamb’s head. They use every part in their food.
    • However, most Albanian dishes only arouse the appetite of tourists. Learn all about Albanian cuisine.
interesting facts about albania
On the grill, they fry a lamb’s head together with chicken. Mmm, delicious.

Interesting Facts about Albania

  • There are over 300 sunny days in Albania each year, similar to the Canary Islands or Portugal.
  • According to statistics, the number of tourists in Albania has increased 20 times in the past 10 years. However, Albania is still considered a country with low tourist traffic.
  • The most of Italian brands and fashion houses produce their products in Albanian factories. It’s very close – just 70 km across the sea – and labor costs are almost like in China.
  • Albania has a complete ban on the use of GMOs at the legislative level. There are only 5 or 6 countries in the world with such regulations, and the list periodically changes.
  • Shkodër is a major Albanian city with a population of 115,000. There are no traffic lights in the city. This is due to the introduction of a municipal tax on traffic lights, which sparked a local uprising against such abuse, and the residents defended their right to develop the city without traffic lights. Now, it’s a unique feature of the city.
  • In Albania, there are no house numbers in addresses. House numbers are also rarely displayed on the buildings themselves or on maps and navigators. You are simply given the street name. This can be quite unusual at first. Find out why it is so and how to find the right house in the article about accommodation in Albania: hotels, guesthouses, apartments.

In conclusion:

The facts about Albania speak volumes. Firstly, it is an excellent warm and sunny country with two seas. Secondly, it is very safe, with a higher safety rating compared to Paris, London, or Barcelona. Thirdly, the people are hospitable and welcoming. And fourthly, there is excellent cuisine made from healthy and nutritious ingredients that will definitely please food tourists.

Come to Albania, it won’t disappoint you!

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania

  • Flights at the best prices with best discounts
  • Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
    • DiscoverCars – a major international resource
    • LocalRent – the leader in the Albanian car rental market. Very low deposits, even in cash.
  • Hotels and apartments throughout the country:
    • Hotellook – compares prices among dozens of platforms and offer you the best one.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Albania.
  • Tours, excursions and activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 550 tours
    • Viator – 920+ excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo eSIM in Albania from $4.5
    • DRIMSIM – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfer: Intui.Travel