Albania - a few basics and facts

Traveling to Albania for the very first time? Here are some things and basics you might want to know about the Balkan country.

Kathi Daniela

, Albania

  • Albania has a population of about 2.8 million people, while the majority of Albanians (7-10 million) live outside the country , primarily in other European countries.
  • There were only 3,000 cars in Albania when it was liberated from communism in 1991. Today, Albanians adore Mercedes , despite being among the world's worst drivers.
  • The Albanians have a tradition known as " Xhiro " (Jiro), which consists of an early evening walk to catch up with neighbours and friends, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air.
  • There are 750,000 bunkers throughout the country. They were built by communist dictator Enver Hoxha to protect Albania from outside invasions and to protect himself and his supporters from internal protests.
  • Albania is home to the world's oldest continuously inhabited city , Berat. This ancient city is known as the "city of a thousand windows" and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Albanians nod their heads to indicate "no" and shake their heads to indicate "yes" . This can be confusing for first-time visitors, so be sure to pay attention to the context!
  • Albania is one of the few countries in the world that has its own unique alphabet , called the Albanian alphabet. It has 36 letters and is written from left to right.
  • Albanian cuisine is a unique blend of Mediterranean and Balkan flavors , with dishes like burek (a savory pastry filled with meat or cheese) and byrek me presh (spinach and feta pie) being popular staples.
  • Albanian it is not closely related to any other modern language . Some linguists believe that Albanian may be related to the ancient Illyrian language, which was spoken in the western Balkans before the arrival of the Romans.