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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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Geography

Location
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north

Geographic coordinates
41 00 N, 20 00 E

Map references
Europe

Area World Ranking: 145
Total 28,748 sq km
Land 27,398 sq km
Water 1,350 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries
Total 717 km
Border countries
Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km

Coastline
362 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Continental shelf
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate
Mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter

Terrain
Mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Adriatic Sea 0 m
Highest point
Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m

Natural resources
Petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower

Land use
Arable land 20.1%
Permanent crops 4.21%
Other 75.69% (2005)

Irrigated land
3,650 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
41.7 cu km (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 1.71 cu km/yr (27%/11%/62%)
Per capita 546 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought

Environment - current issues
Deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)


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  Albania (Tirana):


  GPS points from Albania (Tirana)

Rrapshe-stare Qarku I Shkodres

Kashishti Qarku I Fierit

Boleni Qarku I Beratit

Komuna Belsh Qarku I Elbasanit

Kajani Qarku I Elbasanit

(( Stan I Shpanit )) Qarku I Elbasanit

Mal Gribe Albania (general)

Mali I Melesinit Albania (general)




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