2,869,713 inhabitants (2023)

Languages Spoken

Albanian is the country’s official language, spoken by almost 98% of the population. There are two main spoken dialects, southern Tosk and northern Gheg, and they are mutually intelligible. Minority languages spoken by the remainder of the population include Greek, Romani, Bulgarian and Serb. English is widely taught in schools across the country and is the most commonly spoken foreign language among younger generations.


Albania has one of the most homogenous populations in Europe, with non-Albanians accounting for less than a tenth of the population. The ethnic make up of the country is 98.1% Albanian and 0.9% Greek, with Egyptian, Vlach, Roma, Macedonian and Montenegrin people forming the remaining 1% of the population.


The most common religion in Albania is Islam, with 56.7% of the population adhering to it. The second most popular religion is Roman Catholicism, practiced by 10% of the population. Other faiths and beliefs include Eastern Orthodoxy, other forms of Christianity, Bektashi and Atheism.

National Holiday

Albania celebrate Independence Day on the 28th November, in recognition of the Albanian Declaration of Independence from the Ottoman Empire and the raising of the Albanian flag in Vlora, which took place on this day in 1912.

Holiday Calendar

1–2 January: New Year's Day

14 March: Summer Day

22 March: Nowruz

17 April - 18 April: Catholic Easter

24 April - 25 April: Orthodox Easter

1 May: May Day

2 May: Eid al-Fitr

9 July: Eid al-Adha

5 September: Mother Teresa Day

28 November: Independence Day

29 November: Liberation Day

8 December: National Youth Day

25 December: Christmas Day


Due to its geographical position on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, Albania has been ruled by a number of different empires and nations, each seeking conquest abroad. This has also meant that the country has represented a strategic land mass during international conflicts. The land was first occupied by a group of settlers called the Illyrians around 2000 BC, before being conquered by the Romans in the second century BCE. Albania first became part of the Roman Empire and then the Byzantine Empire. Following this, the country was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. This cut off Albania from Western civilisation for over four centuries and much of the population converted to Islam during this time. The Albanians fought for their independence several times over the years and achieved it briefly a few times, but eventually became a nationally recognised country in the early 1900s. Although the country was declared independent in 1912, the great powers of Europe at the time (Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia) assigned half of its territory and people to neighbouring states the following year.

During the Second World War, Albania was occupied by both Germany and Italy, emerging from the war as a communist state that fiercely protected its sovereignty, with almost all aspects of life controlled by the ruling party. With the collapse of other communist regimes in 1989, new democratic political parties evolved in Albania and the country gradually shifted towards the West, reflecting the Albanian people’s long-standing appreciation of Western technology. The first democratic elections took place in 1992, which saw Sali Berisha elected as president, however economic collapse and social unrest continued. The unstable economic situation led to an Albanian diaspora, mainly to Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Germany and North America during the 1990s. The crisis peaked in the Albanian Turmoil of 1997, during which the government was toppled. Today, the country still experiences some political instability, with the democratic and communist parties vying for power. The country became a full member of NATO in 2009 and is applying to join the European Union.


Albania is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, where the President of Albania is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Albania the head of government in a multi-party system. The executive power is exercised by the Government and the Prime Minister with its Cabinet. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Albania, while the judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.


Although tipping is not expected in Albania, a 10% tip is greatly appreciated if you’re happy with your service. Body language differs in Albania with regards to what indicates ‘yes’ and ‘no’: a shake of the head means ‘yes’, while a nod can mean ‘no’. Younger generations are increasingly adopting international norms, hence adding to the confusion! It’s considered polite to dress modestly when travelling around Albania and best to avoid wearing clothing that is too revealing. It’s considered rude to refuse offers of food or drink, and avoid pointing or making direct eye contact with someone you don’t know, as this can also be considered impolite.


Albania is home to both traditional retail stores and modern shopping malls, as well as some distinct local markets and bazaars. You’ll find an abundance of all types of retail outlets in the capital, Tirana, while the best place for traditional crafts is Kruja, located about an hour away. Traditional qeleshe hats, handmade rugs and colourful embroidered clothing are popular souvenirs.

Food & Drink

Albanian cuisine features a blend of Ottoman, Italian, Greek and Turkish flavours, with dishes centred around smoked meats, stews, fresh fish, rice and pickled cabbage. Popular dishes include fergesë (a stew made of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, onion, feta cheese and yogurt), tavë kosi (chicken or lamb baked in yoghurt) and jani me fasule (white bean soup). Spit-roasted lamb is also commonplace and often served in the form of qebab (kebabs), alongside kos (yogurt). In terms of sweeter treats, baklava and trilice (milk and cream cake) are worth sampling. Albania’s national drink is raki, a spirit made from fermented plums or grapes, while the country also produces good red wine, and beer is widely available.

Contact one of our Albania specialists