not only has a fascinating and mountanous
natural environment but also a very
rich culture. Through the ages, the country has been ruled by
different people who all left their mark on the culture. The climate in
this southern-european country is sunny and warm.In 1990 Albania ended
44 years of xenophobic communist rule and established a multiparty
democracy. The transition has proven difficult as corrupt governments
have tried to deal with high unemployment, a dilapidated infrastructure,
widespread gangsterism, and disruptive political opponents.
International observers judged local elections in 2000 to be acceptable
and a step toward democratic development, but serious deficiencies
remain to be corrected before the the 2001 parliamentary elections.
Albanian (Shqipja) is an Indo-European
language with many Latin, Slavonic and modern Greek words. It has two
main forms, Tosk and Gheg, which diverged about 1000 years ago. In 1972
the Congress of Orthography established a unified written language,
which is now universally accepted for both languages. Italian is useful
for travel in Albania; many Albanians learned it before 1943, but others
have picked it up by watching Italian TV stations or through recent
trips to Italy.
Traditionally, Albania has been 70% Sunni Muslim, 10% Roman Catholic
(mostly in the north) and 20% Albanian Orthodox, making it the only
European country to have a Muslim majority. From 1967 to 1990 it was
also the only officially atheist state in the world, and many churches
were converted into cinemas and theatres. The spiritual vacuum left
after the fall of communism has in part been filled by US evangelists,
but new churches and mosques are springing up all over the country.
has been the capital of Albania since W.W I. During the communist era
the city expanded and became a major industrial center. The heart of
Tirana is Skanderberg Square where the business center of Albania is
situated. The city suffered considerably during the Second World War,
which resulted in the destruction of numerous important historic
buildings. Some of the most important monuments are : the Palace of
Culture with its concert hall, the Mohammed Dashi mosque and the Museum
of National History.
The main road of Tirana is Rruga Bajram Curri. Alongside this street are
charming old houses that date from Ottoman times. Over the Lana river
streches the Tanners Bridge, built in the 18th century. Furthermore, one
can visit the Petrela castle (Greek-Roman times). What can be seen today
are the ruins of the castle together with the remainders of an old
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