General information
Geography and climate
Albania has a total area of 28,748 square kilometres and a population just over 3,000,000. Tirana is the capital of Albania.
Albania’s coastline on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas runs for 362 km, with many sandy and pebble beaches. At the narrowest point of the Adriatic - the Strait of Otranto - the Albanian coast is only 71 miles away from Italy. The beaches of southern Albania lie only two kilometres from the Greek island of Corfu.
More than two-thirds of Albania is mountainous. A wide alluvial plain, several kilometres wide runs along the coast, from Lake Shkodra in the north, toVlora in the south. There are many lagoons along the coast.
The population density is relatively high in the coastal areas and in the valleys between  hills and mountains, whilst the more mountainous regions are more sparsely inhabited.
The Albanian Alps, part of the Dinaric Alps lie in the north. The highest mountain in Albania is Korab, at 2764 meters, located northeast of Peshkopi directly on the border with Macedonia. Another well-known mountain is Jezera, at 2694 meters, which is the highest mountain in the Dinaric Alps to be located exclusively within Albania.
The Drin is the longest river, at 282 km. It is formed by two separate rivers, the Black Drin rising from Lake Ohrid and the White Drin coming from Kosovo. They join together near the northern Albanian city of Kukës. The River Drin flows west through several large reservoirs and flows into the river Buna near Shkodra. The other major Albanian rivers are the Mat, Shkumbin, Seman, Devoll and Vjosa which flow more or less directly to the western Adriatic. The short River Buna flows between Lake Shkodra into the Adriatic Sea and in some parts forms the border between Albania and Montenegro.
The typical Mediterranean climate is a feature largely of the west coast, featuring mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers, with an average annual temperature of 16C and annual rainfall of about 1200mm. Inland, in the mountainous regions,  a continental climate is more evident: mostly warm in the summer but sometimes cool. In winter, many places in the higher areas can be impassable through heavy snowfalls and poor infrastructure.

Flora and fauna
The country lies in a region rich with various species, especially plants. There are about 3220 different species of Albanian flora, of which about 489 are native to the Balkans and 40 species native to Albania alone. Palm trees, vines, lemons and other citrus fruits grow along the coastal regions, whereas, inland, vines and orchard fruits and in higher regions, walnuts and almonds, grow. The northern forests are home to firs, spruce, oak, beech and maple trees. The oak tree is common in the region and accounts for one-fifth of Albanian forests. In the warmer south and along the coastal plains, there are more pine trees, citrus trees and olives. Mediterranean shrubs grow up to 800 meters above sea level, and include eucalyptus, sea squirts and laurel.
The land provides habitats for a variety of rare birds and animals that have already disappeared elsewhere in the region. Wolves, lynxes and foxes live in the remote mountain areas while  deer, wild goats and boar are also common. In addition, Albania is home to more than 350 domestic bird species, amongst which are eagles and hawks. The wetlands along the coast and the lakes are important stops for migratory birds. Albanian waters are home to about 260 marine and fresh water fish species as well as green and sea turtles.

Ethnic and religious groups
The region is home also to a wide variety of ethnic groups. Apart from the ethnic Albanian, there is a Greek minority in the south of the country. Other minorities are Slav Macedonians in the eastern border regions, as well as Roma and Vlach who lives catered throughout the country.
According to the Constitution, adopted in 1998, the state of Albania is now a secular republic.
According to the National Census of 2011, 56.7% of Albanians regard themselves as Sunni Muslim, 2.9% are Bektashi Muslim, 6.75% Orthodox and 9.65% Catholic. The remaining 24% declare themselves to be atheist or belong to other religions, especially evangelical free churches. Muslims live throughout the nation, Catholics were traditionally found predominantly in the northwest and traditional Orthodox communities predominantly in the south. The main cities are home to all groups.
Albania is well known for its religious tolerance. Religious festivities are often celebrated together and are marked by visits from representatives of the other religious communities. As religion was outlawed for more than a generation and is often worn rather lightly, marriages between people from different traditional backgrounds are common.

Tourism
Albania is a land steeped in time, with unrivalled archaeological sites, jewels from ancient times, nestling amongst breath-taking scenery and stunning landscapes. History and nature sit side by side in visions of incomparable splendour. Albania is the land where Byron walked, where Romans and Greeks, Ottomans and medieval crusaders, modern nations and a myriad of visitors have left their mark. Albania, in return, has left its own mark on all these cultures.
Albania is a land of majestic mountains and charming villages cut into steep slopes, often hugging ancient trade routes. Albania is a land unique in its flora and fauna, a land of diverse cultures, friendly people, delicious food, a Mediterranean climate and plenty of sunshine. Albania has all the ingredients needed to welcome a wide variety of special interest travellers and is poised to develop a conscientious tourism embracing many interests and activities.
The number of tourists increases every year. In 1995, over 200,000 visitors were registered in hotels. Ten years later this number had grown to 344,000 and in 2011, over 800,000 visitors were registered.
In 1995 approximately three quarters of the tourists were Albanian emigrants visiting their own country, whereas, by 2001, tourists accounted for half the number of visitors. Initially, tourists came from neighbouring countries, but now, tourism is expected to grow over the next few years. The World Travel &Tourism Council predicted annual growth from tourism of 5.4% over the period 2006 to 2015. Tourism is an essential part of the current Albanian government's strategy for the economic development of the country. In 2004, the Albanian government adopted an action plan for developing tourism in the nation.
In the past, investment in tourism was focused on the construction sector, expanding hotel capacity and related sectors, i.e. restaurants and leisure facilities. There are about 248 hotels in Albania with a capacity of nearly 18,900 beds. Currently investment is concentrated in infrastructure, especially the transport network and municipal facilities. It is essential to continue investments in the area of customer service, the environment and eco-friendly tourism and developing quality services.

Passport/Visa application
Citizens of EU Member States and Switzerland, for stays of up to 90 days, are generally allowed to enter Albania with a current passport/identity card.
Passports are generally required and must have at least 3 months left before expiry date.
No visa is required for citizens of EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United States.

Currency
The Albanian currency is the Lek.
The main city and towns have several ATMs connected to the major international banking networks. However, outside Tirana and the main cities, it is harder, though not impossible, to find ATMs. Cash is accepted everywhere and is recommended for most transactions. The larger hotels and travel companies accept credit cards, but not shops or restaurants. .The larger towns and cities offer several exchange offices that are usually open from 8:00 to 18:00. The euro and the U.S. dollar are the most popular foreign currencies. It is not possible to exchange Albanian Lek outside the country.