Fun fact: I will start this article with a fun fact about Albania and Albanians. Albanians will mention 100 reasons why they don’t like Albania, but as soon as you as a foreigner mention 1 they will be very mad and probably will give you 200 reasons why to love Albania. It’s an Albanian thing to complain about their country.
However, Albania is a beautiful country that just turned 107 years old. It was declared an independent country since 1912. And since then it’s façade has changed many times and the lifestyle as well. You can find even nowadays in different corners of Albania parts of the past.
Anyways, below we have listed some facts about Albania for you as a traveler to know beforehand where you are heading to.
Population facts about Albania
There are more Albanians living around the world than there are in Albania. Albanians have migrated since a long, long time ago. But even though they have migrated, they haven’t lost their traditions and language. They still talk about Albania with the same love that they did before, even when they have children and grandchildren abroad they plant in them the same love they have for Albania.
Xhiro or nighttime promenade
This is an Albanian tradition that includes meeting with someone close to you, a friend or a neighbor and starting the so-called xhiro. This activity includes a promenade in an area that is specially made for that such as a boulevard and people walk back and forth discussing their problems or just having a regular conversation. Every city has its own pedestrian walk for the xhiro. Moreover, this activity happens mostly when the weather is warm. Even the people who visit Albania get along with this activity. It’s nice to walk after a long day right?!
Religious fact about Albania
There is religious tolerance in Albania. Many religions support each-other, and they celebrate each other’s holidays. As per the people, they love each other no matter what religion they belong to. There is almost no religious discrimination in Albania.
There are cities in Albania that have no traffic lights at all, and that is normal as there are not many roads for cars in those cities. The traffic lights are not so necessary. However, there are crosswalks for pedestrians to walk. Meanwhile, in other cities they are white and grey, in Tirana, you will find colorful ones that make it funnier to walk on.
Albania has been under many rules and regimes making the country change its façade many times. It has been occupied by the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, Italians, Chinese, Russians, and lately the communist regime that isolated Albania completely. But the invasions of Albania date since ancient history, the Greek tribes, the Romans and also the Bulgarians have traces of their existence in the country.
Facts about Albania: Atheist Country
Enver Hoxha declared Albania an atheist country in 1967, making it the first country in the world to declare its Atheism. Enver banned religion and set a law that if somebody breaks it they would be sent to jail.
The highest mountain in Albania is Mountain Korab, it is located in eastern Albania running the border between two countries. Its highest peak is at 2,751 m (9,026 ft) above sea level.
Tirana is the capital of Albania, it is also the most developed city in Albania and the most colorful one.
McDonalds or Starbucks
There is no McDonalds or Starbucks in Albania, which might sound very scary to you, but there are typical coffee shops and fast-food chains in Albania that serve really good coffee and food. But, I promise you that you are going to love Albanian food and coffee.
The traditional hat of Albania is Qeleshe. Made of wool it dates back to the Illyrian Period.
There are over 750,000 thousand bunkers in Albania. Enver Hoxha built those Bunkers in Albania during his regime. Nowadays, half or more than half of those bunkers are destroyed and the remaining are used for personal purposes of the people or left abandoned.
Raki is the national drink of Albania, and in each house, you might be invited to they will offer you Raki. Be careful when sipping it, it is very strong, that it comes as a result that it is homemade and is pure alcohol.
The language: the Albanian language is very different and it doesn’t derive from any other language and it is not spoken anywhere else except Albania and Kosovo. Albania is divided between Gheg and Tosk, North and South.
Turkish coffee is used in every Albanian home, it is bitter and strong but if you add sugar you will not feel the bitterness. However, it remains strong.
Glaciers of Albania
In Albania are found the southernmost glaciers in Europe. They are located in the Accursed Mountains of Albania.
The largest lake in Albania is Lake Skadar that is again in between two borders that of Albania and Montenegro.
There might be a little too many scarecrows all over Albania. That comes as a result of Albanian’s believing in superstitions. The scarecrows are stuffed animals, dolls or other kinds of toys that are hung on a rope in newly built houses or in the gardens. They are used to scare birds or to bring luck.
There are 13 small islands but only two are known. Ksamil and Sazan are both situated in the southern part of Albania.
Albania is not called Albania by Albanians. Yes, that sounds confusing but it’s true. In Albanian, the country is called Shqiperia and the people Shqipetar.
Albania has some of the most beautiful untraveled beaches. And the Ionian Sea is called the Albanian Riviera because of its outstanding beauty.
One of the most beautiful cities in Europe is Albania. It’s called Berat and is the city of the 1000 windows or rows upon rows. Berat is a jewel in the crown of Albania.
Around the capital, you can find street art everywhere. Which makes it cooler to visit.
There are many mountains in Albania, consisting of more than 60% of the terrain. Also, the Alps are located in Northern Albania and more mountains everywhere else.
There are many sites under UNESCO heritage protection. The thing that makes Albania one of the most beautiful countries in the EU.
Me Shendet or I wish you health
If you get a haircut, you also get a slap on the back of your head. Why so, to wish someone health.
Yes or No
As I have heard, not noticed myself, apparently because I am Albanian, Albanians nod their head to say no and shake it to say yes.
There are no trains anymore. Years ago many people used to ride the train to go wherever they had to. Nowadays, there are no trains anymore, there might be one but nobody rides in it anymore and that’s it. However, there are buses and vans and taxis to take you from point A to point B.
There is a day to celebrate the summer. Meaning it’s a national holiday where people make Ballokume (a cornflour and eggs and sugar dessert) and celebrate the coming of the summer.
The Albanian flag consists of a Black Eagle and the rest is red. And Albanians celebrate every national holiday with the flag in their hands.
Albania is safe.
Last but not least we should mention one of the most important facts about Albania.
This is the most frequently asked question about Albania. First of all, YES Albania is safe, and that is not only said by me but by many people who have backpacked or traveled around Albania. Albania is as safe as in any other European country. Albania has a police station where you can report what happened to you even though probably NOTHING will happen to you. There is not as much pickpocketing in Albania as you might experience in other European countries. And that, because Albanians LOVE tourists. Whoever visits an Albanian home is treated like a king, they are offered the best food and drinks and hospitality. Albanians are very hospitable people and that can be seen everywhere. You will feel welcome in this country as much or more than on your own. People will go beyond their boundaries to help a tourist in need. Even though around the world people know Albania as a dangerous place, that stereotype comes from the communist years as the country was isolated. Nowadays the country has complete freedom even though it’s still developing and is not yet part of the EU.
So we are closing this article with the fact that Albania is safe.