Albania (Albanian: Shqipëri/Shqipëria; Gheg Albanian: Shqipni/Shqipnia or Shqypni/Shqypnia), officially the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipërisë, pronounced ), is a country in Southeastern Europe. Albania spans 28,748 square kilometres (11,100 square miles) and had a total population of almost 3 million people as of 2016.

Albania is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic with the capital in Tirana, the country's largest city and main economic and commercial centre, followed by Durrës and Vlorë. It is located in the south-western part of the Balkan peninsula, bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast. The country has a coastline on the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the southwest where the Albanian Riviera begins. Albania is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which connects the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea.

According to the Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) Census of 2011, the total population of Albania was approximately 2,821,977 with a low Fertility rate of 1.49 children born per woman. The last census, was conducted in 1989.

The fall of the Communist regime in 1990, Albania was accompanied with massive migration. External migration was prohibited outright in Communist Albania while internal migration was quite limited, hence this was a new phenomenon. Between 1991 and 2004, roughly 900,000 people have migrated out of Albania, about 600,000 of them settling in Greece. Migration greatly affected Albania's internal population distribution. Population decreased mainly in the North and South of the country while it increased in Tirana and Durrës center districts. According to the Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) as of 1 January 2015, the population of Albania is 2,893,005.

Issues of ethnicity are a delicate topic and subject to debate. Although official statistics have suggested that Albania is one of the most homogeneous countries in the region (with an over 97 per cent Albanian majority) minority groups (such as Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Roma and Aromanians) have often questioned the official data, claiming a larger share in the country's population. According to the 2011 census, ethnic affiliation was as follows: Albanians 2,312,356 (82.6% of the total), Greeks 24,243 (0.9%), Macedonians 5,512 (0.2%), Montenegrins 366 (0.01%), Aromanians 8,266 (0.30%), Romani 8,301 (0.3%), Balkan Egyptians 3,368 (0.1%), other ethnicities 2,644 (0.1%), no declared ethnicity 390,938 (14.0%), and not relevant 44,144 (1.6%). On the quality of the specific data the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities stated that "the results of the census should be viewed with the utmost caution and calls on the authorities not to rely exclusively on the data on nationality collected during the census in determining its policy on the protection of national minorities.”

Albania recognizes almost three national minorities, Greeks, Macedonians and Montenegrins, and two cultural minorities: Aromanians and Romani people. Other Albanian minorities are Bulgarians, Gorani, Serbs, Balkan Egyptians, Bosniaks and Jews. Regarding the Greeks, "it is difficult to know how many Greeks there are in Albania. The Greek government, it is typically claimed, says that there are around 300,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania, but most western estimates are around 200,000 mark (although EEN puts the number at a probable 100,000)." The Albanian government puts the number at only 24,243." The CIA World Factbook estimates the Greek minority at 0.9% of the total population and the US State Department uses 1.17% for Greeks and 0.23% for other minorities. However, the latter questions the validity of the data about the Greek minority, due to the fact that measurements have been affected by boycott.

Macedonian and some Greek minority groups have sharply criticized Article 20 of the Census law, according to which a $1,000 fine will be imposed on anyone who will declare an ethnicity other than what is stated on his or her birth certificate. This is claimed to be an attempt to intimidate minorities into declaring Albanian ethnicity, according to them the Albanian government has stated that it will jail anyone who does not participate in the census or refuse to declare his or her ethnicity. Genc Pollo, the minister in charge has declared that: "Albanian citizens will be able to freely express their ethnic and religious affiliation and mother tongue. However, they are not forced to answer these sensitive questions". The amendments criticized do not include jailing or forced declaration of ethnicity or religion; only a fine is envisioned which can be overthrown by court.

Nationalist forces have lost their influence over Albanian society, as was indicated by the 2013 general election.

However, this does not mean that there all problems have been solved. Albania should pay attention to issues of discrimination against minorities, especially Roma, whose rights are violated, for example, when evicting from illegally built houses, as well as in education and health care. Discrimination of LGBT people became a larger issue in 2014, although it has not reached high enough levels to draw far-reaching conclusions.

The legacy of Enver Hoxha's regime in the issues of national policy has not been fully overcome, but in general the country has made some groundwork to overcome this problem.

© 2017 Civic Nation
Created by – NBS-Media