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Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, 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; however, there have been claims of electoral fraud in every one of Albania's post-communist elections. The 2009 general elections resulted in no single party gaining a majority of the 140 seats in Parliament, and the Movement for Socialist Integration (LSI) and the Democratic Party (DP) combined to form a coalition government, the first such in Albania's history. The Socialist Party (SP) contested the results of the 2009 parliamentary elections and the 2011 local elections. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. 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.


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Communications

Telephones - main lines in use World Ranking: 110
338,800 (2011)

Telephones - mobile cellular World Ranking: 122
3.1 million (2011)

Telephone system
General assessment
Despite new investment in fixed lines teledensity remains low with roughly 10 fixed lines per 100 people; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective
Domestic
Offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2011 multiple companies were providing mobile services and mobile teledensity had reached 100 per 100 persons; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005 but growth has been slow; Internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital
International
Country code - 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2011)

Broadcast media
3 public TV networks, one of which transmits by satellite to Albanian-language communities in neighboring countries; more than 60 private TV stations; many viewers can pick up Italian and Greek TV broadcasts via terrestrial reception; cable TV service is available; 2 public radio networks and roughly 25 private radio stations; several international broadcasters are available (2010)

Internet country code
.al

Internet hosts World Ranking: 125
15,505 (2010)

Internet users World Ranking: 91
1.3 million (2009)


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  Albania (Tirana):


  GPS points from Albania (Tirana)

Bicke Qarku I Korces

Mumajes Qarku I Tiranes

Ganjolle Qarku I Shkodres

Coroqaf Qarku I Beratit

Myzeqe E Lushnjes Qarku I Fierit

Skemeni Kabashe Qarku I Elbasanit

Ormos Dukati Qarku I Vlores

Gaduce Qarku I Korces




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