Albania Geography and Population

Albania – profession

After 1990, the private retail trade with the introduction of market economy has had a significant recovery, through the sale of imported consumer goods – as opposed to the state takeover of retail and handicrafts by the 1960’s and 1970’s.

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Albania has a worn and technologically obsolete production apparatus, built up by Soviet aid until 1960 and by Chinese from 1960-78. Before 1990, the industry was concentrated on the production of food and machinery. In addition, the country had a number of chemical industries that included fertilizers and the production of PVC, based on the country’s own oil resources and refined at one of the country’s four refineries. The processing industry is located in the triangle Shkodra-Elbasan-Vlora. Many heavy industries were originally founded based on the desire for self-centered economic development strategy based on a separate processing of the country’s many rich ore deposits. Since 1990, there has been a marked shift in development economics through adaptation to the world market and international division of labor.


The country is the world’s third largest producer of chromium. Copper ore is mined in northern Albania, and all production is exported. Iron ore is mined especially in eastern Albania. In addition, nickel ore, bauxite, salt and gypsum are mined. Oil production at Fier and Kuçova (formerly Qyteti in Stalinite) declined from 1976, and lignite became increasingly important for energy supply in the 1980’s. With concessions to foreign companies, oil exploration in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas has intensified since 1991.

Agriculture and fisheries

Agriculture is concentrated on the river plains east of the Adriatic coast and consists of family farms of 2-3 ha with limited use of machinery. It is of great importance to the country, and approximately half of the employed are employed in the sector. In the past, self-sufficiency in agricultural products was one of the country’s economic goals, and it was realized for a short period around 1980. The main crops are wheat and maize. In addition, rice, sugar beet, vegetables, olives, wine and citrus fruits as well as tobacco and cotton. Before privatization began in 1991, Albania’s agriculture was run as cooperatives and state farms. Many were planted on reclaimed land as a result of terracing and drainage of swamps, which greatly increased the total agricultural area. Only weights below 1/2ha was during that period allowed for the cooperative farmer’s private family consumption. When livestock farming from 1981 was collectivized, it led to great resistance and mass slaughter in protest. From 1989, it was again allowed to keep livestock that could secure milk and meat for their own consumption. In 1991-92, the cooperatives were closed down and private property rights were introduced, partly on the basis of historical property claims. The privatization of state farms, begun in 1992, was accompanied by the closure of the state machine stations.

Sea fishing is growing, but limited due to a previous ban on private small boats.

Albania – population

Before 1990, Albania had Europe’s largest annual population growth (2.1 percent in 1979-1989); the population doubled from 1960 to 1990. The population has increased in all parts of the country, but especially in the coastal areas. Two-thirds of the population lived in rural areas before 1990. The very closed planned economy 1944-1990 limited the right to free settlement in an attempt to even out the economic and social differences between coastal and mountain areas as well as between country and city. Since 1990, Albania’s population development has changed radically with strong migration from country to city and from north to Tirana and Dürres in central Albania, as well as extensive labor migration abroad. Despite continued population growth, the average age due to emigration has increased to 31.7 years in 2004. Albania’s population remains a young population in Europe. In just 15 years, the urban population increased from 35 percent in 1989 to 45 percent in 2004. While before 1990, efforts were made to reduce regional disparities, they have increased since 1990; for example, the cities in the western and southern part of the country have the easiest access to health care and education. Lack of geographical mobility previously meant little social movement and few socially mixed marriages. The country is nationally and ethnically very homogeneous; officially only 2 percent of the population is of non-Albanian nationality. Northeast of Albania lives about 2 million. Albanians in Kosovo, and half a million live in Macedonia east of Albania.

For the Greek minority, there is the possibility of teaching in the mother tongue, as well as access to radio and newspaper. A large part of the then approximately 60,000 Greeks have since emigrated. Other national minorities include Macedonians and Montenegrins (about 10,000) as well as ethnic groups such as Roma and Aromanians (traditionally semi-nomadic livestock farmers).

Refugees. From 1990 there were several refugee flows particularly boat people to Italy, and about 1/2 million, especially men, are working abroad, especially in the Greek labor market. This is in stark contrast to the time before 1990, when the country was one of the most closed in the world. Emigration or labor migration was prevented, and entry and exit were reduced to an absolute minimum – just like all other communication and trade. The up to 1/2 million refugees during the Kosovo war in 1998 sought to Albania, quickly returned to Kosovo in the summer of 1999. Albania’s port cities, especially Vlora to the south, has served as a collection base for organized human trafficking of poverty refugees from the Middle East and South Asia to Italy.

The women made up approximately half of the working population in 1990; their share has increased markedly since the introduction of formal equality and pay in 1944. However, the introduction of market economy hasand the economic collapse in its wake created widespread unemployment, which has also affected women, who to a lesser extent than men have sought work abroad. The workload of women in the household remains high, although most residential properties have had water installed, and electric household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and stoves have really gained ground since 1990. Until 1990, the working woman in industry and agriculture was maintained as an ideal, but with the upheaval also followed a showdown with this, concretely implemented, for example, in holding beauty pageants, but also increasing wife violence. Contraception and family planninghas replaced the honor of many births. While marriage has not been further affected since 1990 – apart from a slightly higher average age for entering into marriage – there has been a marked increase in the number of divorces between 2000 and 2005.

Albania – language

The official language is Albanian with the main dialects being Greek and Tuscan. Greek is spoken north of the river Shkumbin in the Middle Ages, and Tuscan is spoken south of it. The written language norm, adopted in 1972, is based on Tuscan, but contains Greek features. It is also used by Albanian speakers outside Albania.