Traveling Luck for Albania

Albania is located in Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece and Serbia and Montenegro.

Albania has borders with Greece for 282km, Montenegro for 172km and FYR Macedonia for 151km.

Land in Albania is mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast.

Albanian land covers an area of 28748 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Maryland

As for the Albanian climate; mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter.

Albanian(s) speak Albanian (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects.

Albanian National Map

Albanian Map

Regions of Albania

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.


Albania Country Profile

Lagging behind its Balkan neighbors, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime and to spur economic activity and trade. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad of $600-$800 million, mostly from Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. Agriculture, which accounts for about one-quarter of GDP, is held back because of frequent drought and the need to modernize equipment, to clarify property rights, and to consolidate small plots of land. Energy shortages and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment, which make it difficult to attract and sustain foreign investment. The planned construction of a new thermal power plant near Vlore and improved transmission and distribution facilities will help relieve the energy shortages. Also, the government is moving slowly to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. On the positive side: growth was strong in 2003-05 and inflation is not a problem.

Albanian natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower

strategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)

Albanian religion is Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%.

Natural hazards in Albania include destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought.

Travel Advice on Albania

Albania

This advice has been reviewed and reissued.  The overall level of the advice has not changed

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all travel to the northeast border areas (i.e. the districts of Kukes, Has and Tropoje) between Albania and Kosovo because of the very poor condition of the roads and the risk of unexploded ordnance placed during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

  • Although public security is generally good, particularly in Tirana, crime and violence still represent a serious problem in some areas.  Gun ownership is widespread.

  • Albania shares with the rest of Europe a threat from international terrorism.

  • You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places visited by foreigners.  Please read Security and General Tips and Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas pages.

  • Around 16,000 British tourists visit Albania every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Albania is for replacing lost or stolen passports.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to Albania.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

Public security is generally good, particularly in Tirana, and Albanians are very hospitable to visitors, but crime and violence still represent a serious problem in some areas.  In February 2006, a bus was hijacked near Rreshen (on the Tirana – Kukes route) resulting in the death of a passenger and a police officer.  Although there have been no recent reports of crime aimed at the expatriate community, you should be vigilant about personal security, dress modestly and not display expensive items such as watches and cameras.  Central Tirana is generally trouble-free.

You should bear in mind the widespread ownership of firearms.

Political Situation

Albania Country Profile

Local Travel

We advise against all travel to the north east Border areas (i.e.  the districts of Kukes, Has and Tropoje) between Albania and Kosovo because of the very poor condition of the roads and the risk of unexploded ordnance placed near the border during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.  The areas around Tirana, Durres and Saranda are relatively trouble-free, but you should avoid travelling at night.

Road Safety

Driving can be very hazardous.  Roads are poor, especially (but not only) in rural areas.  In winter, mountain roads are snowy and icy.  During hot spells, the tarmac can melt and become slippery.  Flash flooding is possible throughout the year.  You should stay alert for large, unmarked potholes.  Street lighting in urban areas is subject to power cuts.  Elsewhere, except on the major inter-urban arterial routes, there is no street lighting, so night travel is best avoided.  We suggest using four-wheel drive vehicles in Albania.  There is no national recovery system, so cars should be self-sufficient, carrying minor repair equipment including jack, spare wheel, fan belts, wiper blades, local phrase book, first aid kit, water and overnight food when in remote areas.

Drivers with foreign plated vehicles draw particular scrutiny from the Road Traffic Police.  You should adhere to road traffic law at all times as committing even minor offences may result in you being fined.

Albanian driving can often be aggressive and erratic.  Minor traffic disputes can quickly escalate, especially as some motorists are likely to be armed.  If you intend to drive you are strongly advised to avoid reacting to provocative behaviour by other road users.  If you are involved in a traffic accident, even a minor one, you are required to wait until the police arrive.  This will usually happen quickly in built-up areas.

You should expect queues at all border crossings, especially at weekends and during the summer months.

Air Safety

Security arrangements at Tirana’s Mother Teresa airport meet the required UK standards.  Direct flights now operate between the UK and Albania.

Sea Safety
Albania does not have a blue flag operator, and there is no recognised similar system of assessment of beaches.  However, several beaches along the Albanian coast are reported by the Albanian press to be polluted as a result of inadequate sewage disposal and treatment.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Homosexuality is not illegal but is not yet accepted as a cultural norm.  We recommend discretion in relation to public displays of affection.
Penalties for drug related crimes are severe.
The Albanian authorities do not always inform the British Embassy when British nationals have been arrested.  If you are detained, you may insist on your right to contact a British Consular Officer.  Please see: What We Can Do To Help.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British citizens are permitted to enter Albania for 30 days without a visa.  After that period, you must decide either to apply for a residence permit or leave the country.  If staying in Albania for more than 30 days, you should present yourself to your local police station 10 days before the expiry of the initial 30 days permit of stay.  The Albanian authorities require a UK police report, stating that you do not have a criminal record, to be submitted with the resident permit application form.  A family seeking to take up residence must additionally provide notarised birth and marriage certificates to the local police authorities.  British nationals working in Albania for charities, philanthropic and humanitarian organisations may be exempt from the residence permit fee.
British passport holders are obliged to pay a 10 Euro entry tax.  The entry tax will be waived for holders of Albanian resident permits.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact:  Albanian representation in the UK


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling to Albania, including evacuation by air ambulance.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance.  Medical facilities (including those for accident and emergency use) are very poor, particularly outside Tirana.  We do not recommend using the dental facilities.

There are high levels of Hepatitis in Albania.  Rabies is also a matter of concern as there are large numbers of stray dogs, although the last reported case of the disease in Tirana was in 1978.
Cases of tick borne encephalitis have been reported in the north of the country.  Vaccination is available but we advise that you keep all areas of your body covered when close to shrubs or bushes, and to inspect yourself regularly for ticks.

Drink only bottled water and UHT milk.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

In March 2006, the Albanian authorities confirmed outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in domestic poultry in the village of Cuka near the Butrint Lagoon in south west Albania and in the village of Peze-Helmes, 14km from the capital Tirana. No human infections or deaths have been reported.

The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed advice and information.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Albania lies in a seismically active zone, and earth tremors are common.  Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
If you are visiting Albania for more than a couple of weeks, you should register with, or make your presence known to, the Consular Section of the British Embassy in Tirana.   On-line registration is available, this can be done by accessing the e-registration form in the Consular Information Section of the British Embassy’s website (see below).
Major credit/debit cards are accepted in most banks and international hotels.  You may prefer to use cash as in the past foreigners have been victims of credit card fraud.  There are numerous ATM machines in Tirana and main towns, as well as bureaux de change where Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted for exchange.  Although street money changers operate openly, they do so illegally.  We therefore advise you to only use banks or established bureaux de change.
The British Embassy in Tirana does not have the facility to issue full passports.  You are advised to check the validity of your passport and, if necessary, to renew it before travelling to Albania.  You should ensure that you enter next of kin details in the back page of your passport. The Embassy can accept applications for new passports, which will be forwarded to the British Embassy in Rome for processing.  You should allow 4 to 6 weeks for receipt of the new passport.  If you lose a passport while in Albania, you must report this immediately to the police and obtain a police report.  The British Embassy does have the facility to issue you with an emergency travel document.