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Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Albania

Sucheta Pradhan
One of the least-trodden gems in Europe, Albania, an independent country in the Balkans has a lot to offer to beachcombers, foodies, history buffs, and amateur explorers. Keep going for some fascinating tidbits about this wonderful country!
For the local Albanians, the name of their country is not Albania. It is Shqipëria, officially Republika e Shqipërisë, in the Albanian language.
Albania is home to one of Europe’s prettiest towns – Berat. This 2,400-year-old town boasts magnificent architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As per the estimates of the Bunk’Art Museum in Tirana, Albania’s capital, there are between 173,000 and 750,000 bunkers in the country. These were built as defensive structures by Albania’s former dictator, Enver Hoxha.
After Communism fell in Albania in 1991, it was Europe’s poorest country with the purchasing power parity standing at only about $2,000 per head. However, today it has decent infrastructure and a booming tourism industry.
Albania is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, alongside Ethiopia and Niger.
In 1995, Albanian government passed a law requiring the citizens to pay taxes on traffic lights in their home town. However, in 2015, the people of Shkodër protested against it claiming that there were no traffic lights in their city.
Under communist rule, owning a private car was banned in Albania.
That's why before 1991 the country had only between 3,000 and 7,000 cars among the population of three million. Now, however, almost everyone owns a car in Albania.
There are more privately owned Mercedes cars in Albania than any other car brand.
About 35-40% of Albanians own a Mercedes car.
Albania is one of those few countries in the world, which do not have a McDonalds outlet.
Albania was the first European country to be declared as an atheist state. In 1967, dictator Enver Hoxha declared it so. However, today it is one of the few Islamic nations in Europe.
Boasting both Ionic and Adriatic coastlines, the Albanian riviera is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.
Unlike the French riviera, which is both expensive and glamorous, the Albanian riviera is isolated, pristine, and pretty much DIY.
Post the fall of Communist regime, cities in Albania are full of street art installations and public art. It is the perfect answer to the country’s grey concrete communist past.
In Albania, owing to the high rate of human trafficking over to Greece and Italy, speedboats have been banned.
In 2009, four glaciers were discovered in the Prokletije Mountains of northern Albania. Climate change it is, indeed!
As per the United Nations’ 2015 World Risk Report, Albania is one of the European countries with most risk from natural disasters.