Albania is still a pristine country for many tourists. Albania’s landscapes are at their most beautiful in the Ottoman towns surrounded by mountains, of which both Gjirokastra and Berat are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Official language: Albanian
Currency: Albanian lek
Passport and visa: When traveling to Albania, Finnish citizens need a passport. Finns do not need a visa if their stay in the country is less than 90 days.
Time difference to Finland : -1
Agriculture and fishing
Although the importance of agriculture has decreased since the 1990s, it still accounts for almost a quarter of the economy. That is a high figure for a country in Europe. The industry employs up to half of the workforce.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Albania. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Since the decommissioned agriculture was discontinued during the 1990s, most of the agriculture is now run on small private lots, often with outdated methods. Less than one-fifth of the agricultural land is irrigated. Some of the smallest family farms grow only for their own use.
The agricultural land is mainly found on the coastal plain. Wheat is the most important crop. It also grows other cereals, corn, potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Animal husbandry has increased in importance; milk and meat are important agricultural products. For Albania defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
Over a third of Albania’s land area is covered by forest. The densest forest is found in the central and northern mountain areas, but the great need for wood for heating harms the forest stock. In 2010, commercial tree felling was banned for ten years in order to avoid an “ecological disaster”. The tree population had then halved in 25 years, not least through illegal logging. The small forest industry that exists has private owners.
Fishing occurs both along the coast and in inland waterways. Fishing was halved in the 1990s but has since then begun to recover. Especially fish farming is growing rapidly. However, the fishing fleet is in poor condition and needs to be modernized.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
18.4 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
43.1 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of ALB stands for the state of Albania in geography.
Criminal politicians are kicked
The Central Election Commission decides that two MPs and the mayor of the city of Kavaja should be deprived of their political assignments for failing to report that they were convicted of crimes abroad. Among the crimes they have been punished for are money forgery, human trafficking and participation in group rape. They are the first to be convicted in accordance with the law passed at the end of 2015 that serious criminals should not be allowed to work politically.
Court reform finally accepted
The Constitutional Court approves the laws passed by Parliament (see July 2016) to eliminate the risk of corruption in the judiciary. Although the law package was adopted unanimously, it was later appealed by the opposition, which claimed that the government would have influence over the judiciary. The Constitutional Court has been assisted by the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s expert panel on constitutional issues, in reviewing the laws. The Court does not justify why it dismisses the appeal.
Victims of communism are blessed
At least 20,000 Albanian Catholics and Vatican representatives gather in the city of Shkodër when 38 Catholics executed or tortured during the Communist regime are declared bliss. Between 1945 and 1985, 7 bishops, 111 priests, 10 priests, and 8 nuns died or were executed when dictator Enver Hoxha tried to wipe out all religions from the country.
Iranian opposition to Albania
Iranian media reports that 155 members of the voluntary opposition movement The People’s Mujahedin have flown from Iraq to Albania, where they have been granted asylum. According to Fars news agency, a total of 676 members of the formerly armed movement will be transferred to Albania in August. Voice of America speaks of up to 3,000.
Groundbreaking court reform adopted
After 18 months of debate and intensive final negotiations with the participation of EU and US representatives, Parliament adopts a reform package to put an end to the corruption and influence of organized crime in the judiciary. A total of 58 amendments to the Constitution and several new laws mean that all judges and prosecutors should be appointed solely on legal merits, without the influence of politicians. The review must be done by an internationally composed expert committee and the candidates must finally be approved by two-thirds of Parliament’s members. The Commission will also review all the approximately 800 judges and prosecutors currently in service.
The National Police Chief is suspended
The Prosecutor General decides to shut down the National Police Chief from his work. The Prosecutor’s Office claims that the police used illegal interception methods. Two other senior police officers are currently being placed under house arrest. The interior minister says that he gives the suspected police chiefs his full support, and Prime Minister Rama claims that the prosecutor has gone to the opposition’s affairs.
The Minister of Finance is dismissed
Prime Minister Rama dismisses Finance Minister Shkelqim Cani and replaces him with the then Finance Minister Arven Ahmetaj. No justification is given for the dismissal, which surprises assessors because Cani had a good reputation as experienced and knowledgeable. He is believed to bear the head of the dog for Albania’s faltering economy.
Tree felling is prohibited
Parliament adopts a law that prohibits commercial tree felling for ten years. The intention is to avoid an “ecological disaster”. Efforts are also being promised against the illegal logging which is estimated to be ten times greater than the legal one. Since the fall of the Communist regime in 1991, the Albanian forest stock has been halved.