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Albania

Albania

Summary

Albania is still recovering economically and politically from its time as part of the Communist regime that began during German occupation. In 1991 it had its first multiparty elections and is now a parliamentary republic. The government has not yet been able to join the EU, but is working to meet the requirements in order to join by the early 2020s. Some issues facing the country are poor quality of education and the large illicit drug trade. There is also major income disparity between urban and rural communities.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/al.html

Demographics

Nationality
Albanian
Population
3,011,405 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Albania Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Albania is experiencing increased temperatures, less annual rainfall, and an increase in the frequency of floods and droughts. The government, along with the World Bank, has developed education programs and policies about the overall vulnerability, risk, and adaptations that need to be made in order to protect the economy of Albania from the effects of a changing climate.1 The government has also engaged in public awareness campaigns and has increased enforcement measures for laws concerning climate change and the environment. Overall, there is more political commitment and stronger coordination for environmental protection than has ever previously seen in the country.2

Family

Domestic violence is a problem in Albania, and the government and the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth have been organizing programs designed to provide protection. The government is committed to the implementation of policies that will discourage gender-biased policies and domestic violence.1 Albania has also taken steps to ratify and implement all international and United Nations legislation concerning domestic violence.2 The government runs one shelter for domestic violence victims and NGOs run four others. The government-run shelter hosted 24 women and 40 children in 2015. Women are legally equal to men but are extremely underrepresented in the highest levels of government.3

Human Rights

Over 20,000 Albanians sought asylum in the EU in 2016. There were reports of forced evictions by authorities, especially in Roma and Egyptian communities living in Bregu i Lumit. An orphanage in Shkodra was exposed as perpetrating the torture and sexual abuse of children. The director and multiple staff were fired after the scandal became public knowledge. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture condemned Albania for poor prison conditions and excessive use of force on detainees by police officers. There are also issues with the prevalence of domestic abuse.1

Education

Albania’s academic performance remains quite low. Academic achievement in Albania has been determined to be six years behind the average of the European Union and is also behind other regionally similar countries.1 As the country slowly recovers from the after-effects of communism, the government has implemented a variety of education reforms. The compulsory years of schooling were increased to nine years, and teachers’ salaries were increased by 14 percent. The World Bank observes that Albania needs to improve spending efficiency with the education budget and disparities in quality of education depending on the local economic area, but praises the government for its focus on pre-primary education.2

Poverty

The unemployment level is 14 percent among the adult population.1 BBC reports that the drug industry was responsible for nearly half of Albania’s GDP in 2016. This was caused by the developing of urban areas and a general economic disregard for rural areas. The drug trade became the way for rural communities to keep pace with the economic revival of urban centers. As part of the government’s efforts to join the EU, there has been a major crackdown on drug trafficking, affecting the economic status of many rural towns.2

Religion

57 percent of Albanians are Muslim. Around 10 percent of the citizens are Roman Catholic, 7 percent are Orthodox, 2.5 percent are atheists and the remaining amount follow unspecified religions or none at all.1 Albania has been lauded for its religious tolerance by the United Nations expert on religious freedom.2

Clean Water

Despite widespread poverty and inequality, the Albanian government has managed to provide 97 percent of the population with access to clean water.1 Although the state of the country’s drinking water is good, Albania still struggles to curb the pollution of their groundwater sources. Albanian beaches have been dubbed the dirtiest in Europe due to pollution from industrial hotspots. Construction companies, along with the government, have taken steps to reduce the amount of pollution that is emitted during work hours.2

Economy

Given Albania’s history as a closed and highly centralized nation, the transition to an open-market modernized economy has been difficult. The International Monetary Fund has aided the Albanian economy in its transition as the amount of remittances from Albanians working abroad has decreased. Public debt is 71 percent of the GDP, and unemployment is 14 percent. The country’s main trade partners are Italy, Serbia, Germany, and China.1 The government has managed to shift to the “moderately free” economic classification after measures to enact trade liberalization, reformation of tax rates, and a series of privatization measures. The country has also successfully achieved monetary stability after careful regulation of inflation levels.2

Government

The former People’s Socialist Republic of Albania is now a fully functioning parliamentary republic with a president and a prime minister, and held its first multiparty elections in 1991.1 Albania has achieved membership in NATO, but has not yet become a member of the EU primarily because of chronic issues present within the governmental structure. These issues include a weak regulatory system, vague procurement rules, the impunity culture, and frequent political interference within the judiciary.2 The labor market has undergone significant changes recently with foreign investment-backed, non-agricultural employment increasing, as well as a shift towards industry and service-based employment opportunities.3

Health

The leading causes of death in Albania since 2010 have been heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and respiratory infections. The other two risk factors are an increase in the amount of adults with high blood pressure, as well as tobacco usage.1 The maternal mortality rate is 29 deaths per 100,000 live births while infant mortality is 12 deaths per 10,000 live births. Life expectancy in Albania is 79 years, and 21 percent of the population is obese.2

Children

As one of the poorest countries in Europe, child poverty and child labor are major issues that the government and social welfare programs have to overcome. With limited economic opportunities, urbanization has become a popular option for Albanians and with it, a loss of child’s rights and increased risks to children’s basic needs such as healthcare, education, and physical security.1 Currently, 7.7 percent of Albanian children are engaged in child labor in order to provide for themselves and their families. Approximately 2.4 percent of the child population are between the ages of 5 and 11 and they are working. On average, a child laborer will work 19 hours per week.2

Animals

Albania is host to the Dinaric mountain range, which is covered by forests of oak, spruce, black pine, and silver fir trees. Local animals include the griffon vulture, peregrine falcon, kestrel, brown bears, lynx, and wolf. Wildlife is threatened by illegal logging, illegal hunting, and uncontrolled plant harvesting.1

Albania

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