Albania Human and Economic Geography 2000

By | December 15, 2021


Estimates from 1998 gave the country a population of 3. 119. 000 residents. In the 1990s the demographic growth rate decreased significantly (2 ‰ in the 1990-97 period); the crisis situation in which the country finds itself also feeds strong migratory currents, often clandestine. From an ethnic point of view, the population remains homogeneous: there is only a Greek minority (officially about 2 % of the total, but probably somewhat more consistent), whose rights were referred to in an agreement with Greece in 1996. A strong Albanian minority, about 2millions of people, live in Yugoslavia, concentrated in particular in the Serbian autonomous region of Kosovo; the strong ethnic tensions and the armed intervention of the Yugoslav army in this region contributed to making relations between the two countries very tense.

The capital, Tirana, with its 244,200 residents (1995) is the main city of the Albania, enhanced by the communist regime with the localization of industries, cultural institutions and with the creation of vast green areas; the other main cities (Durres, Elbasan, Shkodra) remain below 100. 000 residents. A large part of the Albanian population lives in small towns or scattered in the countryside, despite the attempts of the past regime to create small ‘new towns’ almost everywhere.

Economic conditions

The collapse of the communist regime and the abrupt transition to the market economy are part of a long period of political instability and internal unrest. The episodes of real civil war and the massive exodus towards Italy have made even more evident the dramatic situation in which the whole Albanian productive apparatus found itself, whose growth prospects are today strongly hampered by a heavy demographic load, from a low technological level and an inadequate territorial organization. The problems of productive restructuring are causing drawbacks such as the rise in the unemployment rate, while substantial investments must be devoted to the improvement of infrastructures, especially those of transport and telecommunications.

In real terms, considering the 1985-94 interval, per capita GDP decreased on average by 6 % per year; in the second half of the nineties the trend turned positive and, albeit with great difficulty, the production base showed signs of growth. For Albania economics and business, please check

The imbalance between the productive sectors is quite strong. The economy continues to rely heavily on agriculture, which was massively and rapidly privatized and which in the mid-1990s contributed almost 56 % to the formation of GDP (this percentage was 30% in the 1980s), although arable land and tree crops accounted for less than a quarter of the total area. The sector owes this success to the recent land reform, which has privatized much of the arable land. Wheat, corn, grapes, oil, sugar beet, sunflower and tobacco are the main products; animal production is not very varied, with a clear prevalence of sheep and goat breeding over cattle; the forestry economy is not negligible, given the considerable extension of the woods (more than a third of the national territory); finally, fishing is quite productive, in the Adriatic, in the rivers where sturgeon is frequent, in the coastal lagoons and in the lakes that the Albania shares with neighboring countries (Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece).

Traditional but quantitatively modest, oil extraction, despite the fact that new off-shore prospecting began in the 1990s. Nickel, chromite, cupriferous pyrites and cobalt stand out among the metallic minerals and feed some reason for interest in some large Western companies. The production of electricity, largely of water origin (obtained in particular from the Drin river basin in the north of the country, valued in the communist era), is discreet. Despite this, industrialization is limited (food, textiles, mineral processing) and has been further downsized with the closure of some highly uneconomic (chemical and mechanical) complexes that arose under the previous regime. Small industries were quickly privatized and also attracted Italian investors; the larger ones have been slowly moving in the same direction since 1995.

International trade is growing, with a significant increase in imports and a reduction in exports. Trade takes place mostly with European states and, in particular, with countries already belonging to COMECON, with Italy and Greece, which are also making great efforts of assistance and cooperation to try to stem the massive phenomenon of ‘immigration. *

Albania Economic conditions