Albania is one of the last European countries to shake free the legacy of communism and embrace democracy. It is still largely undiscovered as a tourism destination despite having been crossed by almost every army in the world since Alexander the Great. With its unpopulated mountains and dramatic coastline Albania still offers a wild and untamed beauty that is a rarity in Europe today. It is much as Byron described it on his travels many years ago.
Albania, officially known as the Republic of Albania is a country in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has coastlines on both the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea.
Albania has been part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia and Moesia Superior. The modern Republic became independent after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Albania declared independence in 1912 until being invaded during World War II by Fascist Italy and invaded again by Nazi Germany in 1943. In 1991, the Socialist republic was dissolved and the Republic of Albania was established. The Albanian capital Tirana is home to about half a million of the country's 2.8 million people.
Albania has a 296 miles of coastline. The lowlands of the west face the Adriatic Sea. The 70% of the country that is mountainous is rugged and often inaccessible from the outside. The highest mountain is Korab reaching up to 2,753 metres (9,032 ft). The climate on the coast is typically Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and warm, sunny, and rather dry summers. Inland conditions vary depending on altitude, but the higher areas above 1,500 m/5,000 ft are rather cold and frequently snowy in winter; here cold conditions with snow may linger into spring.
Although a small country, Albania is distinguished for its rich biological diversity. The total number of plants is over 3250 species, approximately 30% of the entire flora species found in Europe. Over a third of the territory of Albania is forested making the country very rich in flora. Coastal regions and lowlands have typical Mediterranean vegetation, whereas oak forests and vegetation are found on higher altitudes. Vast forests of black pine, beech and fir are found on higher mountains and alpine grasslands grow at altitudes above 1800 meters. The forests are home to wolves, bears, wild boars and chamois. Lynx, wildcats, pine martens and polecats are rare, but survive in some parts of the country.
One of the most significant bird species found in the country is the golden eagle, the national symbol of Albania.