Demography and economic geography. – State of Mediterranean Europe, located in the southwestern sector of the Balkan peninsula. At the 2011 census the population was 2,831,741 residents, With a decrease of 7.7% compared to the 2001 census, due to an emigration rate which remains quite high (−3.31 ‰ in 2014) and to a limited natural increase (5.5 ‰ in 2013); overall, 48% of the residents are under the age of 29. For 2014 UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) estimated a population of 3,185,413 residents. The urban population exceeded, for the first time, the rural one (53.7%); the largest urban center, Tirana, recorded 418,500 residents in 2011. The ethnic composition is quite varied and there are numerous minorities alongside the Albanian majority (82%); the religious picture is also composite, with a prevalence of Muslims (56.7%), followed by Catholics (10%) and Orthodox (6.7%). The socio-economic conditions present some critical issues: almost 9% of the population does not have access to health services and 14% lives below the poverty line; unemployment remains very high (17%), while child labor is at 12%.
Economic conditions. – The Albanian economy is still based mainly on the agricultural sector which employs almost half of the population; Subsistence agriculture and micro-bottom farming prevail, while Cannabis indica cultivation is expanding. The industrial sector is underdeveloped and contributes less than a fifth of GDP. A fundamental role for the Albanian economy is the flow of remittances from emigrants, which cover about 10% of GDP. However, the hidden sector of the economy remains very high, especially as regards the trafficking of human beings destined for sexual exploitation and forced labor.
In recent years the Albania strengthened relations with Europe and the United States, joining NATO in 2009 and signing a stabilization and association agreement with the European Union (EU) in 2006, which entered into force in 2009. In June 2014, the. it has obtained the status of candidate country for entry into the European Union, in consideration of the progress made towards meeting the political criteria (legal and public administration reforms, fight against organized crime).
Euro-Atlantic integration remained the pillar of the political programs of governments that followed one another in the first decade of the 21st century. in Albany. An important step in this direction was the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) in 2006, by virtue of which the country was able to count on important institutional and financial support from the EU. In April 2009 the Albania submitted his formal application for membership of the Union, which was refused, but counterbalanced by the establishment of a regime of exemption from the Schengen visa requirement for Albanian citizens. However, this decision raised criticism and fears of an increase in asylum applications.
The gap between the two poles of the political spectrum – led respectively by the Socialist Party (PS) and the Democratic Party of Albania (PD) – remained very wide, with the exception of the emerging Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) which, born under the leadership of former premier Ilir Meta as a political renewal force detached from the PS, he proved skilled in using his bargaining power to deal with both sides. In this context, the parliamentary elections of June 2009 constituted a watershed in the political history of the Albania: after the vote, which saw the coalition in support of the PD prevail for only 4 seats (70 seats against 66), for the first time in power a coalition government that included parties from both sides of the political spectrum (PD. For Albania government and politics, please check a2zgov.com.
The leader of the executive was confirmed as the leader of the PD Sali Berisha, one of the main protagonists of Albanian politics in the years of the post-communist transition.
To ensure economic development, the premier promised a broad reform of the tax system in order to support entrepreneurship and attract foreign investments, also continuing the privatization process of the country’s main companies and ensuring greater efforts to combat the very corruption phenomenon. rooted in Albania, with corruption charges also pending on some men of his previous government. Berisha also claimed the successes of his policy of approaching the West, which culminated in the country’s accession to NATO in April 2009. Tirana’s military weight had a modest strategic impact on the Atlantic Alliance, but its membership helped favor further stabilization of the Balkan region. The gravitation towards the West of the Albania however, it was undermined by the paralysis into which political life entered due to strong opposition to the results of the elections by the PS. Party representatives began a hunger strike which was interrupted after the Venice Commission – an organ of the Council of Europe – was called upon to give its opinion. Political tension reached its peak on January 21, 2011, when Republican guards fired from the government building killing four unarmed civilians during an anti-government demonstration called by the PS following a corruption scandal involving Meta. The weight of this episode did not undermine Meta’s political reputation, who in 2013 joined the government coalition led by Edi Rama – leader of the PS who won the parliamentary elections in June – becoming the new president of Parliament. In the aftermath of the electoral defeat, Berisha decided to leave the leadership of the PD. Tirana’s projection towards the EU was further strengthened in June 2014 with the grant to the Albania the status of candidate country for entry into the Union.