Area: 28,748 sq. km. (slightly larger than Maryland).
Major cities: Capital--Tirana (700,000). Others--Durres (400,000), Shkoder (81,000), Vlore (72,000).
Terrain: Situated in the southwestern region of the Balkan Peninsula, Albania is predominantly mountainous but flat along its coastline with the Adriatic Sea.
Climate: Mild temperate--cool, wet winters; dry, hot summers.
Population (July 2001 est.): 3,510,484.
Growth rate (2001 est.): -0.88%.
Ethnic groups: Albanian 95%, Greeks 3%, and others 2% (Vlachs, Romas, Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Egyptians and Bulgarians).
Religions: Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, and Roman Catholic 10%. Official language: Albanian.
Health (2001 est.): Life expectancy--males 69.01 years; females 74.87 years. Infant mortality rate--39.99 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Between 1990 and 1992 Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU. Albania, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism.
National Flag Description:
The red banner with the black double eagle was the ensign of George Castriota, known as Skanderberg, the hero of the uprising against the Turks and founder of the independent state in 1443. He probably chose the eagle on account of a tradition that the Albanians are the decendants of the eagle. They call themselves Shkypetars which translates as, "the sons of the eagle".
Religious Adherents http://www.thearda.com/internationalData/countries/Country_3_2.asp