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Albania

from Wikipedia

Albania, officially the Republic of Albania (Albanian Republika e Shqipërisë pronounced [ɾɛˈpublika ɛ ʃcipəˈɾiːs], or simply Shqipëria) is a country in Southeastern Europe. It borders Greece to the south, Montenegro to the north, Serbia to the northeast and the Republic of Macedonia to the east.It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and a coast on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. Albania is a potential candidate for membership in the European Union and NATO.

from Amnesty International

Head of state: Alfred Moisiu
Head of government: Sali Berisha
Death penalty: abolitionist
International Criminal Court: ratified

Violence against women was common and few perpetrators were brought to justice. Women and children were trafficked for forced prostitution and other forms of exploitation. Detainees frequently alleged ill-treatment by police officers during, or in the hours following, arrest. Investigations and prosecutions related to such allegations were rare, although in some cases police officers were disciplined. Conditions of detention, especially pre-trial detention, were harsh.

from CIA World Factbook

Between 1990 and 1992 Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Although Albania’s economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU. Albania, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism.

from BBC

With a landscape including rugged mountains and a lengthy stretch of Adriatic coastline, Albania is home to a rich blend of religions and cultures. The origins of the Albanian people are shrouded in some mystery and their language is unique.

from Embassy of Albania, WDC

Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16′ latitude and 42 39′ longitude. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2.

The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km; out of which 657-km is land-border, 316-km sea-border, 48-km river-border and 73 km lake-border.

The Republic of Albania, on the North borders with Montenegro , on North-East with Kosova, on the East with Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with Greece.

On the West, Albania is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas.

The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe.

Albania is included in the humid sub-tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone.

Chromium, ferro-nickel, copper, coal, oil and gas are among the most important sub-soil minerals found in Albania.

from US State Dept

Geography
Area: 28,748 sq. km. (slightly larger than Maryland).
Major cities: Capital–Tirana (600,000, 2005 est.). Others–Durres (200,000, 2005 est.), Shkoder (81,000, 2005 est.), Vlore (72,000, 2005 est.).
Terrain: Situated in the southwestern region of the Balkan Peninsula, Albania is predominantly mountainous but flat along its coastline with the Adriatic Sea.
Climate: Mild, temperate; cool, wet winters; dry, hot summers.

People
Population (2007 est.): 3,600,523.
Growth rate (2007 est.): 0.529%.
Ethnic groups (2004 est., Government of Albania): Albanian 98.6%, Greeks 1.17%, others 0.23% (Vlachs, Roma, Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Balkan Egyptians, and Bulgarians).
Religions: Muslim (Sunni and Bektashi) 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, and Roman Catholic 10%.
Official language: Albanian.
Health (2007 est.): Life expectancy–males 74.95 years; females 80.53 years. Infant mortality rate–20.02 deaths per 1,000 live births.

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