- The official name of Albania is Republika e Shqipërisë, translated as the Republic of Albania.
- Etymology. The country was known as Illyria in ancient times. During the Middle Ages they called their country "Arb'r" or "Arb'n". Modern day Albanians call their country Shqipëri, which means "land of eagles." Albania comes from the Greek, either from an ancient word "alb" meaning hill, or from the prefix "albho-" meaning white. It may have begun with the 2nd century term "Albanoi," the name of an Illyrian tribe in north-central Albania.
- History. The Albanians were originally a small nomadic herding community in the mountains of the southwestern Balkans. The area was at various times a part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia, and Moesia Superior. The country gained independence after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, declaring independence in 1912. It was invaded by Italy in 1939 and Nazi Germany in 1943. In 1944 it became a socialist People's Republic and in 1991 the Republic of Albania was established.
- Geography. Albania is located in Southeastern Europe. It shares borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the north and east, and Greece to the south and southeast. 487 km of coastline are off the lowlands of the west which face the Adriatic Sea and the Strait of Otranto. There is less than 100 km of water between Albania and the heel of the Italian "boot".
- Size. Albania is one of the smallest countries on earth. It is 28,748 square kilometers in size, slightly smaller than Maryland.
- Climate. The country has many different climatic regions - a lot for so small of an area. It ranges from a Mediterranean climate in the coastal lowlands to a more continental climate in the highlands.
- Ethnicity. Official statistics differ from the statistics of other countries, and the subject is very sensitive. Albanian statistics reflect a very homogeneous population of more than 97% Albanian majority. Minority groups have questioned this data and claim a larger share. The recognized minorities include: Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Aromanians, Romani, Bulgarians, Balkan Egyptia and Jews.
- Capital. Tirana, the capital city of Albania, is in a continuous stage of construction. The main business and entertainment area is "Blloku", where the communist leaders used to live. There are many cafes and parks. There is also a cable car to Mount Dajti where one can get a panoramic view of the city from above.
- Language. Albanian is a language which has no close relatives. Some believe it to be a descendent of Illyrian, a group of languages that used to be spoken in the Western Balkans. Others believe that it descended from Thracian or Dacian. The Tosk dialect is the official language of Albania, and is spoken in Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey, Greece and Italy. The Gheg dialect is spoken in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, northern Albania and Bulgaria. Originally the Tosk dialect was written with the Greek alphabet, while the Gheg dialect was written with the Latin alphabet. The Latin alphabet for Albanian was standardised in 1909.
- Albanian Riviera. This tourist area used to be a communist gulag. It is a beautiful area, and inexpensive compared with most other resort areas. Roads are in the process of being rebuilt, and motorists must share the road with donkey carts.
- Albanian cuisine. Most Albanian dishes consist of meat and vegetables. The food has been influenced by the fertile soil, the surrounding cultures, and the sea.
- The Eagle. The eagle is found on the Albanian flag. It is a symbol of freedom and heroism in Albanian folklore. Albanians refer to themselves as the "Sons of the Eagle."
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