Capital City: Tirana
Albania(Albanian: Shqipëria) is a small country in the Balkans
. It shares borders with Greece
, the Republic of Macedonia
, and Montenegro
With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons, Albania has a high number of climatic regions for so small an area. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean weather; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south.
The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 °C (75 °F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5 °C (9 °F) higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5 °C (9 °F) during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.
Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation than by latitude or any other factor. Low winter temperatures in the mountains are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow much of the time. Average summer temperatures are lower than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations, but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures in the interior basins and river valleys are very high, but the nights are almost always cool.
Average precipitation is heavy, a result of the convergence of the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea and the continental air mass. Because they usually meet at the point where the terrain rises, the heaviest rain falls in the central uplands. Vertical currents initiated when the Mediterranean air is uplifted also cause frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied by high local winds and torrential downpours.
Regions ▪ Coastal Albania
- the long narrow strip of between about 10 and 30 km wide along the whole of the Albanian coast, bordering both the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea.
▪ Northeastern Albania
-the inland region to the north of the Shkumbin River, bordering Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia.
▪ Southern Albania
-the inland region to the south of the Shkumbin River bordering Macedonia and Greece, and including the great border lakes, Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa.
Cities ▪ Tirana (Tiranë) the capital. Trees and mountains surround the city. Mt. Dajt is a popular tourist site for a great view of the city.
▪ Berat Thought to be one of the oldest towns in Albania, it is a new member of the UNESCO world heritage list. Berat has long been known as the "city of 1000 windows" because of its unique Ottoman/Albanian architecture. It has a well preserved castle with residents still living inside its protective walls.
▪ Gjirokastër another UNESCO city, located in the south is known for its unique Ottoman period architecture. There is a large castle on the hill in the middle of the city which served as a jail for many generations. A Military Museum and Art Gallery are now located inside. Gjirokastër is also the birthplace of former communist Leader, Enver Hoxha, as well as Albania's most internationally famous author, Ismail Kadare, their homes now serve as museums.
▪ Korce (Korça) Located in southeast Albania, several miles from the Greek border, this city is Albania's cultural capital. It is full of life during the summer when you can find couples and families strolling through the city's main park, Parku Rinia. You can hike to the top of the beautiful mountain Moravia and view the city and its surrounding landscape. Don't miss the Korca Brewery (famous throughout Albania) which sponsors a week long Beer Festival every August!
▪ Kruje (Krujë) ancient city of the national hero Skanderbeg. It consists of beautiful mountains; Skanderbeg's castle is now a museum. Kruje also contains an old style bazaar with shops selling traditional goods amid cobblestone streets.
▪ Pogradec Overshadowed by its glitzy neighbors on the Macedonian side of the lake, the town of Pogradec has been experiencing a revival recently.
▪ Sarandë a city in southern Albania known for its unforgettable beaches and colorful spring blooms.
▪ Shkodra the biggest town in Northern Albania. The Rozafa Castle is a major tourist attraction here.
▪ Vlorë Lively seaside city, nice beaches south of town. Passenger ferries to and from Italy dock here.
Other Destinations ▪ Albanian Alps This mountainous complex on the north of the country forms the border between Albania and Montenegro. Rich on rainfalls, sheep, bare rocks and scenic views it is one of the places in Albania you should see. One of the places where you can be less than 10 km away from the nearest village and still have a day long trip there.
▪ Butrint Largest archaeological site from Greek era in Albania. It lies on the coast in the southernmost tip of the country, near the Greek border. Minibuses are available from Saranda.
▪ Bylis second largest archaeological site from Roman era in Albania.
▪ Dhërmi one of the finest of the many beaches along the coastal road between Vlore and Saranda, perfect for camping.
▪ Lure National Park a 1,280 hectare national park with high mountains, big meadows, and glacial lakes.
▪ Tomorr Mountain ridge in the southern part of Albania, not far from Berat. This part of the country is formed by parallel mountain ridges (up to around 2000-2500 m) separated by valleys. Although the ridges are not very long, they offer few days of hiking with enormous scenic beauty and fantastic panoramic views. Tomorri is one of the most known ridges with a Bektash monastery and chapel on the very top.
There are many things to do in Albania. Despite its size, traveling around it by road can be very difficult.
▪ The coastline is always a place to go, with its clear turquoise seas, and its many islands cast upon it, like in Saranda, a southern city in Albania.
▪ Dajti mountain, a popular sight in Tirana allows you to get a whole green view of the capital.
▪ A walk around southern cities like Butrint, a UNESCO world heritage site, is always ideal and memorable. Butrint is home to many ancient ruins.
▪ Castles are in many cities in Albania. Their beauty reminds anyone of the ancient times of Albania, and the world. There is Petrela Castle near Tirana, Rozafa castle in Shkodra, the inhabited castle of Berat, and Skanderbeg Castle in Kruje, (named after the national hero and now a popular museum holding his belongings).