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77 Fun Facts About Albania
Albania is enjoying somewhat of a tourism boom. Still considered a hidden gem, but our guess is that it won’t be for much longer!
When you think about some of the beautiful places there are to see and explore in Albania, it’s hardly surprising that so many people are considering heading to the stunning Riveria for their next summer break, or even to Tirana for a weekend city break.
Albania is considered a Balkan country, but it is independent and it has been since 1912 when the Ottomans fell. If you’re thinking of jetting off to Albania for your next break, you’ll want to know all about Albania beforehand.
You’re in luck! We’re going to cover every known Albanian fact on the planet, so you know exactly what to expect before you get there! There are some interesting Albania facts for kids, some cultural facts, and everything in-between.
‘Tell me about Albania’ I hear you say – Let’s dive in!
1. During the evenings you might see something called the ‘xhiro’. This is basically when the Albanian locals go out for a walk after dinner, to burn off their excesses and catch up with the neighbors. It’s a cultural thing, and in some traditional towns, the roads are actually closed for vehicular traffic, until people have finished walking and talking!
2. You might become a little confused if you’re talking to an Albanian local and they begin nodding or shaking their head. This is because the opposite is true in Albania – locals will hake their shake when they mean yes, and nod when they mean no! Something to be aware of and one of the most useful Albanian culture facts.
3. There is a mix of religions in Albania, but the majority of people are Muslim, at around 60%.
4. If you see a lot of scarecrows, don’t worry, it’s nothing sinister! One of the most interesting facts about Albania is that locals believe if you site a scarecrow in the grounds of a property whilst it is being built, it will keep jealousy from the neighbors far away! This tradition is also seen as being a good luck charm.
5. Albanians have a reputation (unfairly or otherwise) as being quite bad drivers. We don’t want to generalize here, but there were very few cars in the country until around 1991. So, maybe, don’t drive in Albania, and look very carefully before crossing over the road to be safe!
6. Mother Teresa is a special figure in Albania. Due to changes in geography over the years, Mother Teresa is actually Albanian. She was born in Skopje, which is now in Macedonia. Despite that, she is one of the most coveted figures in the country.
7. Mother Teresa is also the only Albanian to ever win a Nobel prize.
8. There is a city in Albania which has no traffic lights at all, not even one – Shkodra. This is also one of the oldest cities on the continent.
9. Albania was once under Ottoman rule, then Italian rule, then communists, Russian, Chinese, and then they achieved independence. That’s some history and one of the most interesting facts about Albania.
10. Albania’s highest peak is called Maje e Korabit, but it is sometimes referred to as Golem Korab. The peak is Macedonia’s highest also, as it sits directly on the border.
11. Tirana, the Albanian capital, has no McDonalds!
12. There are more Albanians living outside of Albania currently than those who live in it.
13. A geleshes is a type of traditional Albanian hat that you will see in rural areas in particular. This hat has no brim.
14. There are more than 750,000 bunkers across the country. These were originally built during the rule of Enver Hoxta, in case of an invasion. Paranoid perhaps, because they were never used, and most are now either eyesores or have been turned into funky museums!
15. Edi Rama, a politician and a painter is responsible for the green look of the capital Tirana. He wanted to make the city natural and bright, and not grey and dark like many cities who fell under communist rule.
16. Albania’s national dress is revered and you’ll see it during important celebrations. Most costumes have the Albanian eagle on them, and are made of silk, wool or cotton, with embroidery.
17. If you’re offered a glass of raki, approach with caution! Raki is the Albanian national drink and it is a very potent alcoholic beverage. If you drink it from a bar, you’re usually quite safe, but if you partake in the home-made version from local villages, you’ll probably have one sniff and be out cold – it’s extremely strong!
18. The most common souvenir to take home from Albania is a pair of opinga. This is the traditional Albanian shoe worn by both genders.
19. The Albanian language is like no other. Whilst it is Classe as a European language, it has several different dialects, with the most common being Gheg and Tosk.
20. If you like coffee, you’ll get on well in Albania, as most people start their day with a strong cup of java. The most common you’ll see is Turkish coffee – beware, it’s very strong and very thick!
21. After you have had a haircut you are likely to get a slap on the neck. Don’t worry, it’s nothing personal, and the stylist is likely to mutter some words – me shendet. This means ‘on your health’ and is actually a blessing!
22. Nature is important in Albania, and the country is home to more than 3250 different types of plants. If you want to put a number on it, that’s around 30% of Europe’s entire plant collection!
23. Albanians consider it good luck if a bird poops on any part of your body.
24. Albanians also consider it good luck if a baby pees on you.
25. Around 70% of Albania is mountainous.
26. Albanians call the country ‘Shqiperi’
27. The national song of Albania is ‘Himni I Flamurit’
28. Albania is a member of NATO, but it is not a member of the EU. However, there are talks to change that at some point in the future.
29. If you are visiting any time soon, you’ll need to change some of your money over to the national currency – the Lek, or ALL to give it its shortened version.
30. The national day of Albania is 28 November, and this is when you’re likely to see the national dress.
31. The largest body of water in Albania is the beautiful Skadar Lake, which is a great place to visit for outdoor adventures and plenty of walking trails.
32. The entirety of Albania is just a little smaller than the US state of Maryland.
33. Albania was part of the Kingdom of Italy until as recently as 1943.
34. The Kanun is something you may hear a lot about. This is a series of customs that Albanians live by, and consist of hospitality, honor, family loyalty, and right conduct.
35, It’s not unusual for Albanians to splash the cash (sometimes a whole month’s salary) when special visitors (family) visit the house for dinner.
36. The music stars Dua Lipa and Rita Ora have Albanian roots.
37. If you’re trying to catch a bus in Albania, you might be in for a wait. Buses are called furgons and they don’t go according to any schedule, they simply wait until they’re full and then go!
38. Albania is officially known as The Republic of Albania.
39. Education is free in Albania to children of primary and secondary school age.
40. The Albanian eagle has been around since 1190, when it was discovered on a stone carving.
41. An Albanian village called Lazarat is referred to as the ‘cannabis capital of the country’. This is where the largest amount of cannabis exported to the rest of Europe is produced.
42. Speedboats are banned in Albania. This is due to attempts to reduce human trafficking over to Italy and Greece.
43. There is such a thing as ‘sex selective’ abortion in Albania and it only one of two countries on the planet which allows it.
44. The Albanian word for ‘yes’ is ‘po’.
45. The Albanian word for ‘no’ is ‘jo’.
46. Between the years of 1941 – 1992, religion was banned in Albania, whilst it was under communist rule. This made Albania the first atheist country on the planet. That has now changed.
47. You will see more Mercedes in Albania than any other car make!
48. ‘Besa’ will keep you safe in Albania, and this is an honor code which Albanians are very strict about, vowing to help those who need it.
49. Spain isn’t the only country to have siestas, as Albania do too! Between 2 pm to around 6 pm many shops close, mostly on the Riviera.
50. Only one third of Lake Skadar, Albania’s largest lake, is actually in Albania.
51. Albania has a very low unemployment rate.
52. Albania is home to Europe’s oldest lake, Ohrid. There are many fossils at the bottom and it has a UNESCO tag for protection.
53. Albania has 13 small islands, but only two those islands are larger than a square km. These ‘larger’ islands are called Sazan and Kune.
54. In 2009, four glaciers were discovered in the Cursed Mountains in the north of the country.
55. Albania is home to 91 endangered species of wildlife, including the Dalmatian Pelican
56. Albania is home to Europe’s largest oil reserves.
57, Copper, coal, and nickel are also produced in large amounts in Albania.
58. Albania is home to the cheapest and the fastest Internet in the whole of Europe!
59. For fans of green energy, Albania is also the planet’s single largest hydroelectricity producer.
60. The main meal in Albania isn’t the evening meal, but instead at midday. This meal normally includes meat and vegetables. This has helped to lower obesity rates.
61. You’ll find pumpkins everywhere – they’re used as decoration!
62. The Tirana International Film Festive was founded in 2003 and is a big deal every year.
63. Albania had the sixth highest literacy level in the world in 2011.
64. Albania is also considered one of the world’s most corrupt countries, alongside Ethiopia, and Niger.
65, Be careful if you owe someone money, out of habit as the change between the old and new currencies, people sometimes add a ‘0’ onto numbers. You think you owe 10 LEK, but they say 100!
66. Eggs aren’t sold by the dozen in Albania, but by 10s.
67, Meat in Albania is so fresh, it has often been killed minutes before it is served.
68. Until 1991, Albania was extremely isolated and had no allies in the world apart from China.
69. Folklore is very important in Albanian culture and you’ll hear many stories about good prevailing evil, passed down the generations.
70. Euros are widely accepted in Albania, despite it not being the national currency.
71. Albanian parents love to act as matchmakers for their children
72. Tirana International Airport was named after Mother Teresa in 2001.
73. Albania is one of the few countries in the world to have never won an Olympic medal.
74. Albania is only 10km away from the coast of Corfu at its closest section.
75, Norman Wisdom was considered a cult actor during the dictatorship of Hoxha, and he was one of the very few western actors to be shown in the country.
76, Albania shares land borders with Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
77, 90% of Albania’s sea cargo arrives at Durres.
Most articles give you 10 facts about Albania, but not us! You’ve just been treated to 77 facts about Albanian people, Albania history facts, and everything in-between.
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