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Thursday 30th March
Albania Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Albania is a small country on the Balkan Peninsula in South Eastern Europe, bordered by the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, Montenegro, Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

Tirana is the capital city. Other cities are Durres, Shkoder and Vlore.

Much of Albania is mountainous with a coastal plain. The main river is the Drini.

The climate is Mediterranean along the coast and Continental in the alpine regions.

Environment
Albania is known for its wild mountain scenery. There are also valleys, rivers and lakes. The Drini is the main river and Lake Shkoda is the largest lake. Lake Ohrid, shared with Macedonia, is one of Europe's deepest lakes.

Regions classed as Wetlands of International Importance by Ramsar are Butrint National Park, Karavasta Lagoon and Lake Shkodra and River Buna.

A significant proportion of the country is covered with forests. Trees include beech, birch, oak and pine. Olive, fig and other fruit trees are grown. The Albania Forestry Project aims to restore forests and promote conservation.

Wildlife includes bats, eagles, deer, wild boars, bears, wild cats and wolves.

Architecture
Butrint, in southern Albania, is on the World Heritage List. Inhabited since early times, Butrint became an important commercial centre. Monuments in the complex include Illyrian city walls and the ancient theatre.

The Ottoman occupation of Albania left a legacy of Turkish buildings including fortresses, mosques, public baths, bridges and aqueducts. Examples can be seen in Berat and Gjirokastra. The Museum-City of Gjirokastra was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005.

Ottoman architecture in the capital of Tirana stands together with designs from the Communist era of the twentieth century. At the end of the 1970s the Hotel Tirana on Skanderbeg Square was the capital's tallest building. More recently there has been a growth of high rise construction.

Population
The population of Albania was estimated at 3,639,453 in 2009.

Languages
Albanian is the official language.

Religion
A large number of Albanians follow Islam; other significant religions are the Albanian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

Food
Traditional Albanian cuisine includes soups, stews, bread, dairy products, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes. Meat is roasted, fried and grilled. Barbecued meat (kebab) is popular and minced meat is used to make meat balls. Fish, such as bass, mullet and sole add variety to the diet. Pilaff is also a favourite dish.

Olives, figs and citrus fruits are cultivated. Other fruits available are apples, cherries, grapes, plums and pomegranates. Walnuts are also grown.

Desserts include milk puddings, honey cakes and ice cream.

Coffee is preferred thick and strong and coffee houses are popular. Wine and brandy, including raki, are produced.

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