National Day of Albania

Article excerpt

TODAY is the National Day of Albania. This country borders Greece to the south, Montenegro to the north, Serbia to the northeast, and the Republic of Macedonia to the east. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and a coast on the Ionian Sea to the southwest.

Albania lies along the northwestern edge of the Balkan Peninsula. Separated from Italy by only 76 km of the Adriatic Sea, Albania, throughout its history, has been occupied by Italian powers expanding eastward into the Balkans or by Balkan powers expanding westward. In the 1500s, Albania came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire (centered in what is now Turkey), and did not gain its independence until 1912. From 1944 to 1990, Albania was a staunchly Communist state, and in 1991, it began its transition to a democratic state and market economy.

Albania is a mountainous country in which about 70 percent of the land lies above 300 m (1,000 ft.). Its mountains, which form a broad backbone from northwest to southeast, rise abruptly from the coastal lowlands to elevations of more than 2,400 meters. The capital and largest city is Tirana.

Albania's largest share of the labor force, 24 percent, works in agriculture; 45 percent in manufacturing, mining, and construction; and the remaining 31 percent in transportation, communications, trade, public administration, and various other services. Important crops are wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, tobacco, fruit, and potatoes. Albanian farmers have shifted away from industrial crops like cotton, partly because the country' textile industry is declining. …