Tucked away in Southern Europe in the western half of the Balkans, you’ll find Albania. This stunning Mediterranean gem is home to everything from stunning alpine vistas, incredible ruins and deliciously unique food. Whether you’re planning to visit or are just curious, there are lots of things to be learnt about this stunning country. Here are seven interesting facts about Albania.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About Albania
1. More Albanians Live Outside the Country Than in it
For a small country roughly the size of Maryland, the Albanian diaspora is huge. Extending mainly to Greece, Italy, Turkey and the US, Albanians have a larger population outside of Albania than in it. Greece alone has approximately half a million Albanians within its borders and over 60,000 in New York State.
2. Mother Teresa was Albanian
That’s right, Nobel Peace Prize winner and heroine extraordinaire Mother Teresa was Albania. While she was born in the then-Ottoman Empire of modern-day Skopje, Macedonia – ethnically, she was Albanian. Her Albanian heritage is still very recognized and celebrated within the nation today.
3. It is Boasts a Huge Flora and Fauna Ecosystem
Despite being such a small nation, Albania is home to more than 3,250 species of plants. If this weren’t impressive enough, these flora and fauna account for a whopping 30% of all flora in Europe. The best place to see the nations incredible flowers is Llogara National Park in Vlorë.
4. It Was Once the Cannabis Capital of Europe
That’s right, once upon a time, Albania was home to Europe’s prime weed spot, not Amsterdam. Lazarat, a tiny village down south, was home to a huge host of mafia activity. At one point, the small town of just 3,000 people was responsible for a whopping 900 tonnes of marijuana per year. However, in 2014 there was a huge crackdown on the area, and eventually, authorities gained a larger control over the region.
5. Albania Was Not Part of Yugoslavia
Contrary to popular belief, Albania was not part of the former Yugoslavia. By the time Yugoslavia came about in 1918, Albania was already an independent nation unlike its neighbours of Montenegro, Koso and of course, North Macedonia.
6. Albania Has an Impressive History
Albania is home to a rich and colourful history that spans several millennia – from 6th Century BC finds of Greek, Roman and Byzantine culture to lost Roman theatres and more, history buffs will thrive in Albania. One of the nations biggest historical highlights is the Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Clorë Country. Spanning nearly 9,500 hectares, this hilly terrain is complete with tons of beautiful scenery and some truly incredible 2500-year-old ruins. Additionally, the nation is peppered with stunning castles perfect for improv exploring.
7. It is Home to a Diverse Religious Population
Lastly, Albania boasts a hugely diverse population in terms of religion. While the country is 60% Islam, there is also a huge population of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Jewish people. In towns such as Gjirokaster, you’ll find a church, mosque and synagogue all within steps of each other speaking to the nations large spiritual diversity.