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Albania Travel Guide

The country provides a mixture of cultures, landscapes and religions from Albanian Orthodox to Sunni Muslim, and from beautiful beaches and rocky mountains to vineyards, olive groves and citrus orchards. Crumbling, Chinese-built factories stand next to grand mosques, elaborately decorated Orthodox churches and palaces. Albaniaís main industries are hydropower, cement, food processing, chemicals, mining, textiles, oil, timber and clothing, with its main trading partners being the USA, Italy, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Belgium and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Its full name is the Republic of Albania, an area of nearly 30,000 square meters, with a population of around 3.5 million. The people here are made up of Albanians, Macedonians, Vlach, Roma and Greeks, with languages being a mixture of Albanian, Italian, Greek and English. Albanian is an Indo-European language with many Slavonic, Latin and modern Greek words and has two forms, Gheg and Tosk, which deviated about 1000 years ago. In the early 1970ís the Congress of Orthography set up a combined written language, and is today universally accepted for both languages. For visitors travelling around Albania, Italian is a very useful language to learn as it used extensively.

Albania is now hesitantly accepting democracy and foreign travellers, although visitors should take care to avoid the northeast of the country, which borders Kosovo. Unexploded missiles are scattered around parts of this area and armed groups operate in this district, with Shkoder and areas between Memaliaj and Gjirokastra, located in the south alsoto be avoided.

When it comes to food, lunch is the main Ďeating outí meal of the day but evening meals are getting more and more popular. When it comes to desserts and drinks, ice cream is very popular and the coffee, especially the espresso, is that strong itíll knock your socks off! Albaniaís white wine tastes better than its red, which tastes a bit vinegary, and drinks such as brandy, ouzo, cognac and fruit liqueurs are favourites amongst the locals.

A cheap and easy way to get around the country for most Albanians is by private minibuses or public buses, mainly due to the bad maintenance of the roads and the fair distance between petrol stations around the countryside, causing a few hiccups. Visitors can travel by train as well, even though the frequency is far and few between, people ride the train daily from Tirana goes to Shkodra, Pogradec, Ballsh, Fier or Vlora.

Thereís loads of fun and relaxation to be had whilst in the county, with Albania's beaches and Adriatic and Ionian coasts providing some beautiful, sun soaked havens. Another more energetic activity is hiking, where visitors can trek through many farmlands and forests. The areas mountainous terrain also offers a chance for some serious climbing, but visitors should bring their own gear as climbing supplies are quite limited. Cycling is another great pastime on the coast and central plains of Albania, where visitors will need to sort out a route as the roads are poorly maintained, or better still get some help from the local tourist information office.

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Albania Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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