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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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Economy

Economy - overview
Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004-08, but declined to about 3% in 2009-11. Inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. Remittances, a significant catalyst for economic growth declined from 12-15% of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 8% of GDP in 2010, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for almost half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower - 98% of the electrical power produced in Albania - and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment needed to expand the country's export base. FDI is among the lowest in the region, but the government has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. The country will continue to face challenges from increasing public debt, approaching its statutory limit of 60% of GDP. Strong trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy make Albania vulnerable to spillover effects of the global financial crisis.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 117
$25.23 billion (2011 est.)
$24.74 billion (2010 est.)
$23.9 billion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars
Albania has an informal, and unreported, sector that may be as large as 50% of official GDP

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$12.85 billion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 150
2% (2011 est.)
3.5% (2010 est.)
3.3% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 128
$7,800 (2011 est.)
$7,700 (2010 est.)
$7,500 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 20.7%
Industry 19.7%
Services 59.6% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 142
1.053 million (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 47.8%
Industry 23%
Services 29.2% (September 2010 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 138
13.3% (2011 est.)
13.7% (2010 est.)
Note
These are official rates, but actual rates may exceed 30% due to preponderance of near-subsistence farming

Population below poverty line
12.5% (2008 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% 3.5%
Highest 10% 29% (2008)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 88
34.5 (2008)
26.7 (2005)

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 20
29.9% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget
Revenues $3.289 billion
Expenditures $3.738 billion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 122
25.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 112
-3.5% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 42
59.7% of GDP (2011 est.)
57.1% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 83
3.5% (2011 est.)
3.6% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 66
5% (31 December 2010 est.)
5.25% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 64
12.43% (31 December 2011 est.)
12.833% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 117
$3.024 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$2.648 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 107
$9.951 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$5.813 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 99
$9.208 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$7.953 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares
$NA

Agriculture - products
Wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products

Industries
Food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 105
3% (2010 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 113
5.201 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 101
6.593 billion kWh
Note
35% of electricity is lost in the system as a result of transmission inefficiencies and theft (2009 est.)

Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports
1.884 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 85
10,930 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 110
33,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 118
1,004 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 107
22,880 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 60
199.1 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 87
30 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 110
30 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 50
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 145
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 101
849.5 million cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 135
-$1.595 billion (2011 est.)
-$1.404 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 143
$1.954 billion (2011 est.)
$1.548 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco

Exports - partners
Italy 48.8%, China 8.4%, Turkey 6.7%, Greece 5.6%, Spain 5.4%, India 4.9% (2010 est.)

Imports World Ranking: 129
$5.076 billion (2011 est.)
$4.305 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals

Imports - partners
Italy 34.8%, Greece 12.9%, China 6.2%, Turkey 6%, Germany 4.6% (2010 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 109
$2.665 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$2.541 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 110
$5.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$5 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
Leke (ALL) per US dollar -
100.89 (2011 est.)
103.94 (2010 est.)
94.98 (2009)
79.546 (2008)
92.668 (2007)

Fiscal year
Calendar year


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  Albania (Tirana):


  GPS points from Albania (Tirana)

Shalesi Qarku I Korces

Dhivri Qarku I Vlores

Ribe Qarku I Gjirokastres

Bashkia Koplik Qarku I Shkodres

Petrele Qarku I Tiranes

Lusna Qarku I Kukesit

Bregu I Gradishtes Qarku I Fierit

Helmesi Qarku I Beratit




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