Sunday, September 26, 2010
Country #2 on our journey around the world....
I found Albania fascinating and very surprising. First off, it has beautiful beaches! Sharing a coastline with Greece and just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Albanian beaches are spectacular!
Here's how you remember the bordering countries: GAMMS! Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia. I had a bit of a jump ahead on learning a bit about Serbia since some maps showed Serbia and some showed Kosovo. In a nutshell, it's the former Yugoslavia (shown on the above map) - Kosovo's population is made up of a Muslim majority whereas Serbia is more Orthodox, but they are one-in-the-same (thank you to Sasha Kolenda).
As I stated, Albania is on the Adriatic Sea, 45 miles from Italy - across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea.
Interesting Fact: Since about the sixteenth century, the Albanians themselves have referred to their country as Shqiperia - Land of Eagles.
Population: 3 million
Capitol City: Tirana
Land Area: 29,000 square miles
Interesting Fact: Albanians shake their heads to say 'yes' and usually nod to say 'no'. (I could see that getting us North Americans into a lot of trouble) :D
I found the history of Albania fascinating. Like Afghanistan, their history is one of great struggle and conflict. They hold the record for the shortest-lived dynasty in European history with Prince William of Wied who lasted only six months. If you ever get a chance to read about this period in Albanian history, you'll find an era that would make reality TV pale in comparison. How about "Albanian Shore" instead of "Jersey Shore"? MUCH more drama, with less make-up :)
Interesting Fact: There are over 8 million Albanian speakers, barely a third of whom live in Albania. Many have emigrated to other parts of Europe, to Australia and, in particular, to the USA. Still more live in the countries bordering Albania (GAMMS). This makes it, uniquely, a country which is often described as completely surrounded by itself.
Best time to Visit: May to September
"Hello" = Tungjatjeta
Albanian Proverb: Mbroje atdhene si shqipja folene - Protect your fatherland like the eagle protects its nest.
Recommended Reading: "Land of Eagles: Riding through Europe's Forgotten Country" by Robin Hanbury-Tenison. Credit goes to the author for the previous "Interesting Fact".
I hope you know a little more today about Albania than you did yesterday! And I'm excited to start learning about our next stop: ALGERIA!