Albania ( ( listen) a(w)l-BAY-nee-ə; Albanian: Shqipëri/Shqipëria; Gheg Albanian: Shqipni/Shqipnia or Shqypni/Shqypnia), officially the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipërisë, pronounced [ɾɛpuˈblika ɛ ʃcipəˈɾiːsə]), is a country in Southeastern Europe. It spans 28,748 square kilometres (11,100 square miles) and had a total population of 3 million people as of 2016. Albania is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic with the capital in Tirana, the country's most populous city and main economic and commercial centre, followed by Durrës. The country's other major cities include Vlorë, Sarandë, Shkodër, Berat, Korçë, Gjirokastër and Fier.
Albania is in the southwestern portion of the Balkan Peninsula, bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast. Much of the country is mountainous, including the Albanian Alps in the north, the Korab Mountains in the east, the Ceraunian Mountains in the south and the Skanderbeg Mountains in the center. Its coast touches the Adriatic Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the southwest, forming the Albanian Riviera. Albania is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy across the Strait of Otranto, which connects the Adriatic to the Ionian.
During classical antiquity, Albania was inhabited by various Illyrian, Thracian, and Greek tribes, as well as several Greek colonies established in the Illyrian coast. In the third century BC, the region was annexed by the Roman Empire and became part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia, and Moesia Superior. The unified Principality of Arbër emerged in 1190, established by archon Progon in the Krujë, within the Byzantine Empire. In the late thirteenth century, Charles of Anjou conquered the Albanian territories from the Byzantines and established the medieval Kingdom of Albania, extending from Durrës along the coast to Butrint in the south. In the mid-fifteenth century, it was conquered by the Ottomans. The modern nation state of Albania emerged in 1912 following the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars. The modern Kingdom of Albania was invaded by Italy in 1939, which formed Greater Albania, before becoming a Nazi German protectorate in 1943. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, a Communist state titled the People's Socialist Republic of Albania was founded under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour. The country experienced widespread social and political transformations in the communist era, as well as isolation from much of the international community. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the fourth Republic of Albania was established.
Albania is a democratic and developing country with an upper-middle income economy. The service sector dominates the country's economy, followed by the industrial and agriculture sector. Following the collapse of communism in 1990, Albania went through a process of transition from a centralized economy to a market-based economy. Albania has a high Human Development Index and is ranked 13th in the Happy Planet Index, 38th in the Global Gender Index, 52nd in the Social Progress Index and 37th for Life Expectancy. It provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens. Albania is a member of the United Nations, World Bank, UNESCO, NATO, WTO, CoE, OSCE and OIC. It is also an official candidate for membership in the European Union. Furthermore, Albania is one of the founding members of the Energy Community, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and Union for the Mediterranean....LESS
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo says the country still needs an outside mechanism like the special war crimes court as its justice system is not yet capable of handling high-case profiles and witnesses are too subject to intimidation.
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Lawmakers in Macedonia passed a law Thursday making Albanian the country's second official language, in a parliamentary vote boycotted by the main opposition party. The law passed with the backing of 69 lawmakers in the 120-member parliament. It still requires approval by the country's president — who had earlier expressed strong misgivings over its constitutionality — before taking effect. Parliament had voted in favor of a draft of the bill in November.
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