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Albania:
Geography

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Background
Definition
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. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. 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. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU. Albania, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism.
Location
Definition
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece in the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
Geographic coordinates
Definition
41 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references
Definition
Europe
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 28,748 sq km
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 717 km
border countries: Greece 282 km, Macedonia 151 km, Montenegro 172 km, Kosovo 112 km
Coastline
Definition
362 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate
Definition
mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
Terrain
Definition
mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m
Natural resources
Definition
petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 20.1%
permanent crops: 4.21%
other: 75.69% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
3,530 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
41.7 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 1.71 cu km/yr (27%/11%/62%)
per capita: 546 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought
Environment - current issues
Definition
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: 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
Definition
strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)


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