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Albania

Geography & Topography

Capital: Tirana

Population: 3,215,988 people

Area: 28,748 km²

Language: Albanian

Religion: Islam (70%), Orthodox Christianity (20%) & Roman Catholic (10%)

Currency: Lek

History

Officially known as the Republic of Albania, this sovereign state is located in Southeast Europe. Albania shares borders with Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia and Greece. The country’s population consists of 2.8 million people. Albania has a coastline 476 km in length which extends across both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Climate along the coastline is generally Mediterranean with mild winters and dry summers. Lake Ohrid which is one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes partly lies within the border of Eastern Albania. The lake is important due to its biological significance and is home to more than 200 endemic species. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. Albania has rich biological diversity despite the country’s relatively small size. There are over 3250 plant species in Albania, which is approximately 30% of the entire flora species of Europe. The population of Albania is considered relatively young, in comparison to the rest of Europe (Median age: 28.9 years).

 

Performing Arts

Music

Albanian music displays a variety of influences. There are major stylistic differences between the music that is played in the north, as compared to that played in the south. Albania’s music draws influence from most its neighbouring countries, Greece in particular.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Albanian music are:

Lahuta

 

The Lahuta is a single-stringed instrument considered to be primitive due to its simplistic structure. The instrument is held vertically between the player’s knees whilst the left hand strums the string. Strings are never pressed down allowing for a harmonic sound to be produced. The Lahuta is traditionally used by the Gheg Albanians in the north. Traditionally the Lahuta is accompanied by epic songs or epic poetry. Masters of the instrument who preserve its tradition generally tend to be of the older generation living in more rural areas.

 

 

Ciftelia

The Ciftelia is a string instrument of Turkish origin. The instrument tends to be played at Albanian weddings. Its use is just as prevalent as the Lahuta and is also often used to accompany epic songs and poems. Ciftelias come in various sizes and lengths. The Ciftelia is traditionally tuned to the 2 highest notes on a guitar: E and B.

 

Dance

Shota
 

This dance is named after the Albanian heroine Shote Galica, a warrior who fought in numerous battles to protect the country and   defend it against outside forces. The dance involves quick steps set to fast-paced music. The dance is traditionally performed by Albanians, however it is also extremely popular in the neighbouring region of Kosovo. Shota is traditionally danced during weddings, ceremonies or other special events.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dance of Osman Taka
 

This dance form is especially popular amongst the Cham Albanians in the Northern region. The dance is linked with a man named Osman Taka, a well-known dancer who fought against opposing Ottoman forces. The dance is performed to a rigidly-defined tempo and demands highly technical skills along with physical strength.

 

 

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Mother Theresa, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and beatified nun, was of Albanian descent
  • Albania was listed as the Lonely Planet Guide’s #1 destination to visit in 2011
  • Since gaining independence in 1912 till the present day, the Albanian flag has been modified 9 times
  • The national symbol of Albania is the Golden Eagle

 

 

 

Albanian Community in Australia:

More information on the Albanian community: