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Preface Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:18 PM

The Albanians are likely the descendants of the ancient Illyrians, who flourished in the Balkans during the Bronze Age (c. 2000–165 BCE). The country’s modern name comes from the Albanoi, an Illyrian tribe mentioned by Ptolemy. In the Albanian language, the name of the country is Shqipëria.

In the mid-fourth century BCE Philip of Macedon and his half-Illyrian son Alexander the Great brought the Illyrians under the administration of their empire. But it was the Romans who destroyed Illyrian autonomy through military defeat in 165 BCE. Roman Albania was traversed by the Via Egnatia, the Roman road that linked east with west and Rome with the far eastern reaches of its empire.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Albania was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire, administered from Constantinople (Istanbul). Albania was under Byzantine rule until the fourteenth century AD when the Ottoman Turks began to make incursions into the Empire. The Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453 and by 1460 most former Byzantine territories were in the hands of the Turks.

Albania’s great national hero, Gjergj Kastriot (given the nom de guerre Skenderbeg, an amalgamation of Iskender because he was a great soldier like Alexander and the Turkish title of bey) achieved his status by keeping Albania independent of the Turks for a time during this period. He successfully revolted against the Ottoman Empire in 1443 and kept Albania autonomous. Skenderbeg died in 1468, and by 1506 the Turks controlled Albania. Under Ottoman rule, Albania provided large numbers of mercenary soldiers and administrators to the imperial bureaucracy.

From the seventeenth century forward the Ottoman Empire was in decline. But it was only as a result of the First Balkan War that Ottoman influence in Albania ended. Albania declared its independence on November 28, 1912. The following month it was recognized by the great European powers at the Conference of London. An independent Albania survived after World War I largely through the support of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference. This began the above relationship between Albania and the United States.

The survival of the Republic of Albania was threatened subsequently by internal factionalism manifested in a struggle between Ahmet Bey Zogu, a soldier and clan chieftain, and Fan S. Noli, a Harvard-educated Orthodox bishop. In 1925, Zogu established himself as president of the country with the support of Yugoslavia. Three years later he proclaimed himself Zog I, King of the Albanians. Still, Mussolini invaded Albania in April 1939 as a point of entry into the Balkans in the escalating conflict that became World War II.

During WWII Albanian nationalist groups, including Communist partisans, fought against the Italians and subsequently the Germans. When the Germans withdrew in November 1944, the Communists seized control of Albania. The partially French-educated Enver Hoxha became the leader of the country by virtue of his position as secretary general of the Party of Labor (the Albanian Communist Party).

From 1944 to 1991, Albania was a one-party state in which Hoxha ruled with an iron hand. In 1961 he broke with Albania’s closest ally, the Soviet Union, because he believed Khrushchev had abandoned the teachings of Stalin. Subsequently, Albania’s closest ally was the People’s Republic of China. However, when in 1978, the PRC established diplomatic relations with the U.S., Hoxha denounced the Chinese as well and decided to pursue a policy of self-reliance. The result was not only extreme isolation but also absolute financial ruin for Albania. An example of this may be drawn from the construction between 1974 and 1986 of approximately 700,000 reinforced concrete bunkers to defend against an anticipated multi-front attack.

Upon Hoxha’s death in 1985, Ramiz Alia succeeded him as Party and state leader. Alia was Hoxha’s protégé, but was less repressive than the former dictator and began to allow some reforms. This process was accelerated by news of the changes in the other Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In 1990 a student strike and demonstrations around the country forced Alia to accept multi-party elections, the first since the 1920s, held in March 1991. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Albania were re-established and the American Embassy reopened that same year.

Manic investment in and returns from a number of pyramid or “Ponzi” schemes marked the period from February 1996 to February 1997. Individuals and families invested their life savings in these schemes, and in the end, many sold lands, livestock, and other properties to raise as much capital as possible to invest. The government ignored the escalating mania, which financial analysts recognized as a prelude to disaster, because the ruling Democratic Party apparently believed the popular euphoria would ensure their reelection. But when the pyramid schemes began to fail in late 1996, demonstrations erupted and soon turned violent. Government buildings were attacked, along with private corporations and international organizations.

Although there are no exact figures, it is estimated that around three-fourths of the population invested approximately $1.2 billion in the pyramid schemes, and when they failed, possibly as much as 80% of the population suffered financial losses. Between February and June 1997 something on the order of 2000 people were killed in the widespread violence throughout the country. The government lost control in most areas and the police and armed forces evaporated. Arms and munitions depots were opened and looted by the public. Estimates report as many as one million weapons and one billion rounds of ammunition fell into the hands of a large proportion of the population. Prisons were opened and the inmates (including Nano and Hoxha’s widow) were freed. In March 1997 a “reconciliation government” was formed under Prime Minister Bashkim Fino (the young former mayor of Gjirokastra) to restore order and organize pre-term national elections as a step toward solving the country’s crisis. An international military force led by Italy and consisting of French, Turkish, and other elements, was called in to help restore civil order.

Elections were held in June and July 1997 to further resolve the chaos. The Secretary General of the PS, Rexhep Mejdani, was elected President in July. The Party chairman, Fatos Nano, became Prime Minister and formed a coalition government. A state of emergency remained in effect until mid-July 1997 when the new government took control. The international forces departed although a number of countries (including the U.S. and European Union countries) have continued to train Albanian police forces. Calm was for the most part restored to the country and the economy began to recover.

Following the assassination of Azem Hajdari, a DP leader and member of Parliament on September 12, 1998, the country experienced a brief collapse of the main institutions. Angry protesters attacked main state buildings, including the Prime Minister’s Office, the Parliament, and Public TV Headquarters. This crisis caused the collapse of the Nano government, which was replaced by the government of 30-year old Pandeli Majko in October 1998. Majko was replaced by another 30-year old, Ilir Meta, in October 1999, after Majko lost his bid to become chairman of the Socialist party at an October Party congress.

In October 2000 Albania held local elections that were conducted in a remarkably peaceful atmosphere and were judged by the international community to have made significant progress towards meeting democratic standards. The Socialist Party won most of the municipalities and communes up for grabs, including the two main population centers of Tirana and Durrës. Despite some problems with electoral administration and irregularities in a few areas, most notably in the ethnic Greek town of Himara, these elections showcased the recent positive developments that Albania has seen in the field of public order.

In June 2001 Albania held Parliamentary elections. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) the elections improved over past elections in terms of the conduct of the campaign; however, ODIHR noted serious irregularities in the voting process. The Socialist Party (SP) and its allies won 88 of 140 parliamentary seats in general elections held from June through August 2001.

Since 2001, the Socialist Party has changed three governments. This time the government has shifted on the reverse way, from Meta to Majko and then to Nano government. Fatos Nano took this position in July 2002, after the SP General Steering Committee (the main decision-making institution between the Congresses) decided to change the party statute to unify the position of the Chairman with that of the Prime Minister. The main priorities of Nano government are the Stabilization and Association Agreement with EU, fight against corruption, organized crime and trafficking.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:18 PM

Albania is located in the southwestern corner of the Balkan Peninsula, occupying 28,748 square kilometers. It is roughly the size of the state of Maryland with a maximum length of about 340-km and a maximum width of about 150-km.

Much of the country is rugged and mountainous. The highest peak is Korabi in the northeast at 275-m. Albania has 1,094 km of borders, 30% of which is the shore of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The Republic of Montenegro and the Kosovo region of Serbia in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia border Albania on the north. To the east, the country is bordered by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and on the south and southeast by Greece. Of Albania’s lakes, the Lake of Shkodra is the largest in the Balkans (368 sq. km) and the Lake of Ohrid is the deepest. The country has 152 rivers including the Shkumbini, which roughly divides the country into northern and southern regions.

The plain of Albania, where the capital city Tirana is located, has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and generally mild winters with abundant rainfall. In the mountains winters can be very severe with low temperatures and high snowfall. On average, temperatures range from -3 C in January to a maximum of 35 C in July. Parts of Albania are on a fault line and experience earthquakes and tremors.

Population Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:19 PM

Albania’s population is estimated to be 3.4 million. Tirana, the largest city, had a population of around 320,000 in the last census. (Note: A national census was conducted in April 2000, but the results have not yet been released.) Although no current official figures are available, that number is likely to have doubled or tripled in recent years due to migration especially from the underdeveloped north of the country. Other towns with greater than 70,000 inhabitants are Durresi, Vlora, Shkodra, Korca, and Elbasani. Most of the population continues to live in rural villages across the country. The result of a recent general census organized in March of 2001 have not yet become public.

The population is for the most part ethnically homogeneous. Southern Albania has an ethnic Greek minority, which some estimate to be 80,000 people. Other small ethnic minorities include Macedonians, Romans, Montenegrins, and Vlachs. Conversely, more than two million people of Albanian descent live in the Serbian province of Kosova, and FYROM also has a large ethnic Albanian minority.

From 1967 to 1990 Albania was the only officially atheist state in the world with all religious practices banned. Traditionally, Albania has been 70% Muslim, 20% Albanian Orthodox (predominantly in the south), and 10% Catholic (predominantly in the north). At present there are no official figures for religious affiliations, but these traditional categories are shifting due in part to the activities of missionaries of all faiths in the country.

The Albanian language is Indo-European, probably deriving from ancient Illyrian and Dacian. The language has been written in the Latin alphabet since1909, but is considered to have 36 letters. There are two traditional dialects—Tosk (in the south) and Gheg (in the north)—although the language was standardized in a series of linguistic conferences in the 1970s. It is strongly recommended that employees and dependents have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language to assist with shopping and other day-to-day activities. For diplomatic officers, English is the most important language after Albanian. Italian is very useful. English is widely taught in the schools and most Albanians learn Italian from television or in school.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:20 PM

Albania’s Constitution was approved in November of 1998. According to the Constitution, Albania is a parliamentary republic. The Parliament of Albania is composed of 140 members, 100 are elected from single-member constituencies and 40 are divided among parties in accordance with proportional results of the election. The head of state is the President of the Republic, who is elected every five years by the Parliament. The office of the President of the Republic is largely ceremonial with limited executive power. The Prime Minister is nominated by the President and the nomination endorsed by Parliament. General elections are held every four years and all Albanians over 18 years old of age are entitled to vote.

Albania celebrates its day of national formation on November 28th and its independence day on November 29th.

Albania’s Constitution was approved in November of 1998.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/10/2003 10:27 AM

Despite the repressive Communist era, Albanians have preserved many of their cultural traditions and customs. Traditional dress is still seen in many rural areas, especially on Sundays and holidays, mostly among older generations. Younger generations of Albanians for the most part have adopted Western fashions.

Indigenous Albanian music in the north runs to heroic epics and ballads based on the themes of honor and vengeance. The traditional stringed lahuta, saz, sharki, or cifteli accompanies the words and the tambourine-like def. Polyphony, the blending of several independent vocal or instrumental parts, is a Southern Albanian tradition that dates back to ancient Illyrian times. This beautiful music is balanced between a somewhat ritualistic structure and deep emotional meaning engendered by generations of hardship, deprivation, and patriotism. The National Folkloric Festival is held once every four years. In addition, various song and dance festivals are held throughout the year in Tirana and in the villages.

Tirana’s two symphony orchestras (the Symphonic Orchestra of Radio and Television and the Symphonic Orchestra of the Theater of Opera and Ballet) along with many soloists present concerts throughout the year. The Albanian Opera and Ballet has both foreign and Albanian repertoires. Cost of tickets is 500 lek.

The National Theater has high-quality theater productions with a wide range of classical and modern plays. It also presents a schedule of popular singing groups and artists. Performances are in Albanian.

Children will enjoy attending the Puppet Theater. Built in the 1920s, the Theater creates its own productions, such as “Beauty and the Beast,” for which it designs and constructs both puppets and sets. The Puppet Theater is open only on Sundays when it presents two performances in Albanian. Cost of tickets is 50 lek per person.

Till the end of 1999, Tirana was the only European capital without a cinema or film industry. Today, Tirana has two modern cinemas which show the recent products of Hollywood as well as a few independent Albanian films, such as Kolonel Bunkeri and documentaries such as Alternative Head. There are occasional Albanian and foreign film festivals.

Art exhibitions are frequent at the National Gallery of Art, the International Cultural Center, the Academy of Decorative Arts, and various other museums, private galleries, schools, and diplomatic missions. Albania is rich in talented artists in all media. Painting in oil and watercolors is practiced by a number of artists in Tirana and Kruja for example. Several independent ceramics galleries operate in the capital. Sculpture in bronze and in marble is common in Albania, as are woodcrafts and needlecrafts. Albania is also known for its indigenous version of hand-woven qelim carpets.

Prior to a standardized orthography early this century, very little literature was produced in Albania, although Albanian writers residing outside the country were active. The famed writer of the Albanian Renaissance, Naim Frasheri (1846–1900), for example, lived in Istanbul. Bishop Fan S. Noli (c.1880–1965), who lived in Boston for an extended period, wrote many books and translated numerous classics, including some of Shakespeare’s plays, into Albanian. He is also noted for his works on music. Albania’s best-known contemporary writer is Ismail Kadare, who resides in France. Many of his novels (Chronicle in Stone, Broken April, General of the Dead Army, The Concert, and Doruntina) have been translated into English. Of interest also is Neshat Tozaj’s novel Thikat (The Knives) published in 1989, which many credit as a starting point for democratic reform in Albania. Albania has produced a number of poets as well, notably Naim Frasheri who wrote much of his poetry in Istanbul on themes of patriotism and longing for his homeland.

There are many interesting museums in Albania, including the Museum of National History in Tirana; the Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti-Skanderbe in Kruja; the Museum of Albanian Medieval Art in Korca (featuring the Orthodox monk Onufri’s icons from the fourteenth century); the Museum of Weapons in Gjirokastra; archaeological museums in Tirana, Durres, Fier and Saranda; and the Museum of Popular Culture in Shkodra. Unfortunately, many of the provincial museums were damaged and/or had valuable items stolen in the civil unrest during the spring of 1997. Most are trying to recover and restore collections and facilities in order to reopen to the public.

Albania has compulsory education through the first eight grades and the majority of students continue through secondary school. There are reports, however, that this is no longer true especially in the outlying areas of the country and among the adolescent male population. Albanian schools suffer generally from a lack of adequate facilities and properly trained teachers. The literacy rate among the population as a whole is considered to be around 72% with a slightly higher rate among males and a slightly lower rate among females.

The largest university in Albania is Tirana University. Other universities include a polytechnic university and an agricultural university in Tirana, and universities in Shkodra, Elbasan, Gjirokastra (all three formerly teachers’ colleges) and Korca (formerly an agricultural school). All of the universities were damaged in the 1997 unrest.

The Academy of Sciences is the highest scientific institution of the country. It includes the following scientific institutes and centers: history, language and literature, folk culture, archeological research, nuclear physics, informational science and applied mathematics, scientific technical information and documentation, biological researches, geographic studies, hydrometerology, seismology, hydraulic research, and the Albanian Encyclopedia.

The National Library is one of the most important cultural institutions in the country. It has a collection of more than 850,000 books, other publications, and manuscripts dating from the fifteenth century. The Library also mounts exhibitions of material in its collections from time to time.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:21 PM

Albania was the last of the central and eastern European countries to embark on democratic and free market reforms. Further, it started from a much more disadvantaged position due to Hoxha’s catastrophic doctrine of isolation, self-sufficiency, and a Stalinist approach to centralized economic planning. Transition to democracy has almost been as difficult for Albania as the country’s communist period. Just as the country began to gather economic steam, the country’s economy hit bottom when the now-infamous pyramid schemes collapsed in 1997.

Today Albania has recovered from the crisis of 1997 and recently, has been one of the fastest growing economies of the transition countries reaching average growth rates of 7 percent. Economic growth was slower at just 4.7 percent and inflation peaked to 5.6 percent exceeding the target of 4 percent. This slowdown was largely attributed to lower agricultural production as well as to lower industrial production. In addition, growth has been unbalanced (concentrated in construction and services in recent years), supported by high external inflows (totaling about 20% of GDP since 1995), and constrained by significant infrastructural bottlenecks, acute energy crisis and poor roads condition.

In 2002, agricultural production accounted for 33% of GDP. This is much lower than in earlier years when (as of 1992) agriculture exceeded 50% of GDP. The other major sectors accounting to the GDP are industry 12.8 percent, construction 10.8% and transport 10.6%. Albania is a land of considerable natural resources including oil, natural gas, the largest reserves of chromium ore in Europe, copper, iron, and nickel. During 2000–2002, the GOA made significant progress in reactivating this sector by awarding mining and processing concessions to a number of foreign companies.

While inflation has been very low in recent years (no more than 5% annually since 1998), Albania continues to be plagued by very large macroeconomic imbalances, i.e., fiscal and current account deficits. Much of this has been due to low government revenues, which have been among the lowest of the transition countries. Tax reforms are moving forward, however, and government revenues as a percent of GDP, while still low, have been rising (from less than 15% of GDP in 1997 to around 24% in 2002). Moreover, fiscal deficits have also been declining; 6.6% of GDP in 2002.

The Albanian economy is oriented towards imports, which account for 82 percent of total trade volume. In 2002, Albania reached a new record in its negative trade balance. Imports amounted to nearly US$1.5 billion while exports reached US$330 million, resulting in a trade deficit of US$1.15 billion, or 12 percent higher than in 2001. The continual worsening of the trade deficit is related to the low competition capacity of domestic production and its inability to meet increasing domestic demand.

Albania’s main trading partners remain Italy and Greece for both imports and exports. In 2002, 75 percent of imports originated from EU countries compared to only 16 percent from non-EU countries in the region. The gap is even larger for exports: 92 percent to EU countries compare to just five percent to the region. One of the largest positive contributors to Albania’s balance of payments is remittances from abroad, which are estimated at US$607 million for 2002.

Albania remains among the poorest countries in Europe despite some recent improvements. Per capita income for 2002 amounted to USD 1500 and roughly one-third of Albania’s population is poor, and one-half of the poor are living in “deep poverty” (at $1.00 a day or less). There is a sharp distinctions in almost every aspect between the urban and the rural areas and especially four out of five poor individuals live in the rural areas. Unemployment remains widespread and amounts still to around 17%.

The banking system continues to develop although it remains highly risk-averse. The percentage of the loans is very low amounting to around 10% of the total deposits. The GOA is trying to privatize the major commercial bank of the second tier, the Savings Bank, but has been unsuccessful so far. The number of commercial banks in Albania has grown to 15, but still competition among them is low and the services are quite identical. However several banks are establishing branches also in other parts of the country.

Through the Stability Pact and other programs, the country is aggressively moving to improve its road, rail and air transport infrastructure. Roads are being rebuilt and expanded throughout the country and the seaports at Durrës and Vlora are being redeveloped with World Bank and EU assistance.

Drugs, arms and illegal immigrant trafficking as well as smuggling of cigarettes and other goods represent a large portion of the Albanian economy. The informal sector accounts for 40–60% of the GDP. Albania is a major recipient of international aid from the World Bank, the IMF, the EU, the U.S., and other donors.

Transportation Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:21 PM

Albanian buses and trains are crowded, unreliable, and generally unsafe. Many private cars and vans operate as taxi services between towns and villages. Taxis are readily available in Tirana and relatively cheap. Rental cars with drivers are also available and there is an agency for self-rental at the Hotel Rogner and Hotel Dajti.

Most personnel will wish to bring a four-wheel‑drive vehicle with them to post. Road conditions are poor in Tirana and worse in most areas outside of Tirana, although there are newly constructed modern highways in some areas. Driving is further complicated by a chaotic mix of vehicle, pedestrian, and animal traffic. Diplomatic staff and family members of driving age should have a valid U.S. driver’s license. The Embassy arranges for local licensing and vehicle registration with employees personally responsible for any fees involved. Liability insurance must be obtained locally (with Embassy assistance) and is reasonably priced. Comprehensive insurance may be obtained locally or from U.S. companies that insure internationally.

In view of the difficulty getting parts for American-made cars, European-spec cars are recommended unless Embassy personnel bring adequate spare parts for the American-made vehicle. It is possible to purchase parts in Italy and Greece (See caveats elsewhere about travel), and diplomats may bring parts into the country duty free. Although repair parts are difficult to obtain in-country, repair service is available in Tirana and availability is increasing. Recently Volkswagen, Opel, and Mercedes have opened repair shops in Tirana. If employees choose to purchase vehicles locally, it is necessary to insure that vehicles have the proper documentation since the sale of stolen vehicles is extremely common in Albania. Unleaded gasoline and diesel are available for purchase at the Embassy. The number of local filling stations is increasing and companies such as BP and Api currently operate in Tirana.

There are several international airlines that fly into Tirana regularly. Zurich and Vienna are the recommended transit points for travel to and from post. Travel via Rome is unpredictable due to frequent strikes and slow-downs, as well as limited cargo space causing frequent delays in receipt of baggage. Swissair, Austrian Airlines, Alitalia, Olympic, Adria, Turkish Airlines, Albanian Airlines, and Malev offer direct flights to and from Zurich, Vienna, Rome, Athens, Thessaloniki, Frankfurt, Lubljana, Istanbul, Bologna, and Budapest.

It is also possible to travel to and from Albania by international ferry. Car/passenger ferries serve Durres from Bari and Trieste, Italy. Travel by ferry is, however, both expensive and time consuming. An international bus service operates between Tirana, Gjirokastra, and Ionnina and Athens, Greece with six departures weekly.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 9/30/2003 10:31 AM

Local telephone service is poor in general but in the last year or so major efforts have been placed in adding phone lines and modernizing the services. Installation of new phones is possible but extremely slow, as are repairs on existing lines. At peak hours it is often time-consuming to place international calls to the U.S. and Europe, although direct dialing is available. Telephone reception is only fair and lines often disconnect in mid-conversation. There is also a problem with unauthorized use of phone lines for international and other costly calls for which the subscriber is liable. Currently, it costs about $1.30 per minute to call the U.S.; 45 cents to call Greece, Italy, and FYROM; 62 cents to call the rest of southern and Eastern Europe; and 73 cents to call England and northern Europe.

Cellular phone service is available, but expensive. There are two providers in Albania:

The prices and rates are:

1. AMC 0-90 seconds 0.52 lek/sec 91-200 seconds 0.40 lek/sec International calls: 0.70 lek/sec plus the international zone costs.

2. Vodafone 0-120 seconds 0.52 lek/sec 120-240 seconds 0.38 lek/sec

Vodafone provides a 22% discount to American Embassy Invoices, and another 22% discount to calls within Embassy numbers. International calls: 0.70 lek/sec plus the international zone costs. The network coverage for both providers is about the same at 90% of the Albanian territory.

Overseas telegraph facilities, although available, are not always reliable. There is Internet and e-mail service available for individuals.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 8/14/2003 2:15 PM Cellular phone service is available, but expensive. There are two providers in Albania:

The prices and rates are: 1. AMC 0-90 seconds 0.52 lek/sec 91-200 seconds 0.40 lek/sec International calls: 0.70 lek/sec plus the international zone costs.

2. Vodafone 0-120 seconds 0.52 lek/sec 120-240 seconds 0.38 lek/sec Vodafone provides a 22% discount to American Embassy Invoices, and another 22% discount to calls within Embassy numbers. International calls: 0.70 lek/sec plus the international zone costs.

The network coverage for both providers is about the same at 90% of the Albanian territory.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:22 PM

Mail is received at the Embassy via diplomatic pouch. Transit time between the U.S. and Tirana is from 1–2 weeks. All pouch restrictions apply and letter mail for the U.S. can be sent out only if the employee brings a supply of stamps to post. Packages may not be sent out through the pouch (except for catalog returns) and boxes that are sent to employees via the pouch must be17x18x30 inches maximum size and 45 lbs. for personal use or 40 lbs if official. Restrictions on contents also apply. The pouch address is:

Full Name 9510 Tirana Place Dulles, VA 20189–9510

International mail is slow and unreliable, but cheap. It is subject to loss, pilferage, and problems with customs and VAT officials. The international mail address is:

Full Name American Embassy Rruga e Elbasanit 103 Tirana Albania

Please note that this address is not recommended for use.

DHL and FedEx are both available but the price is high and that this should be considered before planning to use these services. DHL has operated in Albania since 1992 and provides service to the U.S. and Europe.

Rate for packages of 0-0.5 kg are as follows: DHL : USA - 63 USD; Europe - 58 USD. FEDEX : USA- 60 USD; Europe - 60 USD

Rate for doc. of 0-0.5 kg are as follows: DHL : USA - 46 USD; Europe - 40 USD FEDEX : USA - 40 USD; Europe 33 - 40 USD

Radio and TV Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:18 AM

The government-operated radio system, Radio Tirana, broadcasts in the Albanian language. More than 30 private independent radio stations also broadcast in Albanian, but feature large amounts of Western (especially American) popular music. One good example is Top Albania Radio, which broadcasts on FM 100.4. Voice of America is broadcast in English on FM 107.4; the Albanian service of VOA uses that frequency three times daily as well. BBC World Service also broadcasts daily in English and Albanian on FM 103.9. A short-wave radio is useful to listen to other European radio services not transmitted in Albania.

Albanian television, Televisioni Shqiptare (TVSH), is broadcast on the PAL system, so a multi-system TV and/or VCR is necessary. The Embassy has a small video exchange library located in the Consular Section, but employees should bring a substantial supply of videos to Post if they enjoy viewing them. Many people at post have purchased small satellite dishes that receive British, German, Polish, and other television channels, including SkyNews and CNN in English. Dishes and decoders available locally range from a fixed dish with decoder for $300 up to dishes with motors for $500.

AFN available on the Ridge as well as by private license. TVSH broadcasts in Albanian. Shows continue to run heavily toward local events, plus sports, musical entertainment, locally produced plays, educational broadcasts, movies, and a few old American TV shows (dubbed in Albanian or Italian). Local and international news is broadcast several times daily. There are now 50 local independent TV stations that also broadcast in Albanian. Italian, French, and German stations as well as EuroNews, EuroSport, and NBCEurope can be received in Tirana.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 9/30/2003 10:32 AM

A continually expanding selection of Western newspapers and magazines is available in Albania. For example, The International Herald Tribune (same day after 6 p.m.), The Economist and Newsweek are available, although for high prices. The Hotel Rogner has an excellent international newsstand. Other newsstands with a good selection are located near the Palace of Culture and the Stephen Center. Several newspapers and magazines are now published in English in Tirana as well as a number of specialized professional and technical periodicals, particularly those aimed at the business community. The Albanian Daily News in English is widely available. Personnel may wish to subscribe to their favorite periodical publications before coming to post.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:20 AM

Local hospitals and medical facilities are substandard by Western criteria. The Embassy health unit has a modest supply of medicines and equipment for treatment of minor ailments and injuries, and for emergencies. The Embassy currently uses two local clinics which have U.S.-Board Certified American physicians on staff who will refer to the Regional Medical Officer (RMO) in Vienna for consultation on cases. For other injuries or illnesses that are urgent or cannot be handled by the health unit, patients will be referred to missionary-run clinics in Tirana. Medical problems arising in Albania that cannot be addressed adequately by the health unit or the clinic will require medical evacuation to other European countries and/or the U.S. Local hospitals will be used by USG personnel and their families only in case of dire emergency, and then only until medical evacuation outside the country can be arranged.

The health unit maintains a list of local doctors as well as a laboratory and dental clinic, which have been found to maintain U.S. standards. It is strongly recommended, however, that personnel plan to have medical consultations outside of the country whenever possible on R&R or other leave.

Community Health Last Updated: 8/14/2003 2:19 PM

Albania has few insect pests although flies may be plentiful in the summer. Scorpions and poisonous snakes have been found on the Embassy housing compound. Pets may encounter fleas. There are large numbers of feral dogs and cats in Tirana, including the area around the housing compound, which should only be approached with caution.

Water quality is a concern in Tirana. Because the local water flow is interrupted for several hours regularly, a negative pressure is created in pipes, potentially drawing contaminants into water-supply pipes. All Embassy-owned and leased housing units are provided with water distillers and reservoirs.

Health controls and sanitary regulations governing food in markets and restaurants are improving but as yet are highly suspect. Infectious organisms have been found in dairy products and poultry, so washing eggs and using UHT milk are advised. Avoid fresh milk and cheeses produced by family operations and sold on the street as there are reports of tuberculosis in Albanian cattle. Most milk is not pasteurized, although a German-Albanian joint-venture firm produces pasteurized yogurt, butter, and fresh milk. Washing meat in distilled water before cooking as well as eating it well done is recommended inasmuch as fly control and refrigeration are not widely practiced. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed in distilled water before consumption.

There is a current Albanian aphorism which holds that Tirana has two seasons: dust and mud. Those posted to the Embassy should bring sturdy weatherproof shoes and boots suitable to withstand very wet, muddy conditions in winter. In summer, the abundant dust presents an impediment to keeping houses, clothes, and shoes clean. Air quality in Tirana is bad due to car exhaust, open fires, and dust and may prove to be an irritant to those with respiratory sensitivities. Eye irritation is also common.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:24 AM

The local weather is hot during the summer months, especially July and August. Embassy-owned housing has central air-conditioning. Leased housing has air-conditioners in some rooms.

Before arriving at Post, travelers should be immunized against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (a significant health risk in Albania), tetanus and diphtheria, and typhoid. All of these vaccines, as well as influenza vaccine, are available in the Health Unit at the Embassy. There have been recent reports also of malaria, cholera, rubella, polio, and meningitis outbreaks in Albania.

Travelers should bring their own prescription medicines and other medicine cabinet supplies as only European brands are available and often, items available locally are past their expiration dates.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:26 AM

Although Post cannot guarantee employment for spouses and family members, every effort is made to help in finding suitable employment for those who wish to work within the mission. Those interested in employment should forward a completed SF-171 to the Administrative Officer as far in advance of their arrival at Post as possible. Some examples of spouse employment are as a CLO Assistant or Consular Assistant.

The language barrier limits employment in the local market to an extent, although there is something of a demand for teaching English as a second language in both the private and the public sectors. Embassy personnel and family members covered by diplomatic immunity do not need a work permit.

American Embassy - Tirana

Post City Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:29 AM

Tirana is the capital of Albania and its largest city. Although remains of Paleolithic settlements have been found in the area, modern-day Tirana was established by a Turkish pasha in 1614. He built a mosque, public baths, an oven, and a number of shops, which grew into a lively trading center over the centuries. In 1920 the city of 10,000 inhabitants was made the capital of Albania. The Italians built most of the major government buildings lining the main boulevard as part of a modernization program in the 1930s. Consequently, the main boulevard leading from Skanderbeg Square to the Mother Theresa University and Ismail Qemali Stadium are laid out in the shape of an axe, the device of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. Today, these Italianate ministries are interspersed with Communist-era buildings, most notably the marble pyramid formerly the Museum of Enver Hoxha.

Much of Tirana’s housing is composed of loose-brick apartment buildings, many also of Communist vintage. Among them remain some of the old narrow streets with traditional one-story stucco homes roofed with red tile and set in enclosed courtyards. The city is currently experiencing a building boom with a large number of private houses, modern apartment blocks, and office buildings going up. However, the infrastructure (streets, water supply, sewerage system, and electricity supply) is not being improved to meet this expansion. There has been an effort on the part of the Municipality to upgrade the infrastructure of the town.

Security Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:27 AM

Albania is a medium threat post for political violence. Currently, travel in the northeast has restrictions, contact the Regional Security Officer for more information.

Albania is rated high for crime. Robberies and assaults do occur but are rarely directed at the international community. Carjacking is infrequent, but still occurs, especially in the parts of the northeastern region of the country. When confronted by any armed criminal, you should surrender your valuables and report the crime immediately to the nearest police. Additionally, contact the embassy to receive assistance when dealing with host national police. Petty crime and especially pick-pocketing is widespread. You should avoid carrying large sums of cash or other valuables when on the street.

The Embassy compound as well as the housing compound are surrounded by a perimeter fence and have controlled access. In addition it is advised that employees use residential alarms at night and when away from home. All Embassy owned and leased housing is fitted with an internal safe haven. American personnel and adult family members are issued hand-held radios to facilitate communication with Embassy security personnel. Leased housing have local guards on site.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:30 AM

The American Embassy in Tirana is a lovely Italian colonial-style building constructed in the 1900s. It was the first building ever built by the Department of State to be an Embassy. The Italian mission in Tirana used it during the Communist era when the U.S. had no diplomatic relations with Albania and has recently been renovated and updated. The Consular Section is located in a separate newly constructed building designed in harmony with the Chancery and completed in 1994.

The Embassy is located on one of the city’s main thoroughfares at Rruga e Elbasanit 103. The telephone numbers are 247285/86/87/88/89 and the fax number is 232222. The country code for Albania is 355 and the city code for Tirana is 4. The city code for cellular phones is 38. IGV prefix is 970.

USAID, Peace Corp and the Department of Justice agencies are located away from the chancery compound.

Business hours at the Embassy and USAID are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:32 AM

Post makes every effort to have long-term housing ready for staff when they arrive. When this is not possible, temporary quarters are provided in one of the local hotels such as the Rogner or the Sheraton. Welcome kits are available for use until HHE arrives. Kits include dishes, flatware, and cookware for four; sheets and towels; iron and other incidentals (small appliances).

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/30/2003 10:33 AM

The Embassy owns a housing compound known as Rilindja Ridge, which is approximately twenty minutes on foot from the Embassy off the Rruga e Elbasanit. The road between Rilindja Ridge and the Embassy is extremely busy with traffic and there is a sidewalk on only one side of the route.

The Ambassador’s residence on the compound is a two-story detached house with two-car garage. The residence has three bedrooms with bath upstairs and a guest suite on the ground floor. A full kitchen equipped for representational events is on the ground floor with a family kitchen upstairs. The residence also includes living room, dining room, family room, a study/library, laundry room, and maids’day room.

Staff housing on the compound consists of three detached four-bedroom two-story houses and 14, two-story semi-detached houses with single-car garages.

There is no designated housing at post other than that for the Ambassador. Other State housing is assigned by the Inter Agency Housing Board (IAHB) on the basis of arrival, vacancy, family size, and rank. An increasing number of Embassy staff reside outside the compound in various neighborhoods of Tirana where it is possible to find housing that meets Western standards. USAID participates in IAHB.

Furnishings Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:34 AM

All residences are fully furnished. Furniture provided by the Embassy generally includes a suite of living room furniture, (sofa, loveseat, two arm chairs, coffee table, and end tables); a suite of dining room furniture seating 6–8; a breakfast set for the kitchen; a master bedroom suite including one queen bed; and a suite of furniture for a guest bedroom including two twin beds. Other items of furniture usually provided include lamps, bookcases, etagere, china cabinet, and a set of patio furniture. The Embassy also provides some area rugs, water distiller, and transformers for each residence. Department of State housing has a dishwasher and is provided with a vacuum cleaner. Personnel should limit the amount of furniture shipped to Post as the housing is furnished and storage space is almost non-existent. However, TV stands/entertainment centers, computer desks, and desk chairs might be considered for shipment.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:38 AM

Electric current is 220v, single-phase, 50 Hertz. Plugs are round two-pronged European plugs not compatible with those of England, Germany, or Switzerland. The Embassy supplies some transformers for Embassy-owned and -leased housing. However, the electrical supply is not reliable and there are frequent fluctuations in voltage as well as frequent power outages. Personnel are strongly advised to bring a stock of surge suppressors and uninterrupted power supply(ups) for personally owned electronic equipment. Voltage regulators are available for purchase locally, but personnel should consider bringing these also from the U.S. Rilindja Ridge residences have a common back-up generator, as do leased residences off the compound. All residences, Government owned or leased, have a dedicated generator.

Food Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:23 PM

Availability of many vegetables and fruits in Albania is seasonal, but prices for produce grown locally are low. Imported produce is generally available at higher prices. Local salt, sugar, rice, flour, eggs, cooking oil, and other basic items are available, as well as long life milk, and are of good quality. Fresh meat still presents something of a problem as refrigeration and inspections are minimal or non-existent. However, good quality frozen chicken from Italy, France, and Hungary is generally available, as are frozen imported pork chops. Several international joint ventures are producing prepared meats such as sausages as well as pasteurized yogurt, milk, and butter.

European diapers are available, although the quality is lower than that of U.S. brands. Good and inexpensive Italian wines and European beer are readily available in Tirana. Albanian wine also offers some potable vintages at low prices.

Although a large number of food and consumer items are available, supplies can still be erratic. Personnel assigned to Albania are urged to use their consumable allowance (in two shipments because storage space is limited), and to put some food items (particularly for infants) in their airfreight. It is possible to place food orders with the Danish firm of Peter Justesen; however, Justesen’s prices tend to run considerably higher than U.S. prices. It is also possible to order consumable shipments through the Giant Supermarket chain in the Washington, D.C. area. At present, security conditions prevent driving across country to Greece and FYROM for shopping. Post personnel have access to military commissary facilities in Europe, but the closest one is in Naples, Italy and requires a long and expensive ferry and driving trip to get there. The Embassy does not have a commissary. Internet shopping is also available.

Clothing Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:40 AM

You will need the same kinds of clothing used in Washington, D.C. although winters in Tirana are shorter and milder. Most local ready-to-wear clothing is generally not up to Western standards. Plan to use mail-order catalogs for additional clothing needs. An adequate supply of shoes of all types should be brought to Post, especially boots for rain and muddy conditions.

Local business dress is similar to that in the U.S. and Western Europe. Men wear suits or jacket and tie to the office. Women wear both skirts and pants in professional settings. All employees at the Embassy wear standard business dress to the office. Formal wear is not required.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:42 AM

Western-quality toiletries, cosmetics, and soaps are generally available, but expensive. Employees will want to bring their favorite cosmetics and toiletries from the U.S.

An increasing variety of imported electronic appliances (220v) are available on the open market, but many personnel ship their 110v small appliances to Post. Large household appliances are supplied in furnished housing.

Basic Services Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:42 AM

Dry cleaning is available and generally cheaper than in the U.S; however, most cleaners do not supply hangers. Local shoe repair also does not meet Western standards. Skilled seamstresses and tailors are available; however, the quality and selection of material is variable and often substandard.

Domestic help is available at very reasonable rates.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:23 PM

Domestic help is available at very reasonable rates.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:43 AM

There are a number of English-language Protestant and inter-denominational church services in Tirana. Mass at the main Catholic Church in the Rruga e Kavajes is held in English, Albanian and Italian. Mass at the Albanian Orthodox Church (also in the Rruga e Kavajes) is held in the Albanian language and on a few occasions, in Greek. The call-to-worship at the mosques is in Arabic, but the services are in Albanian.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:24 PM Quality Schools International, based in Yemen, runs the Tirana International School, which opened in September 1991. It has an American principal and one American teacher. Other teachers are Albanian or internationals. The International School offers classes in English for children ages 5–18. TIS is accredited. School starts on or about September 7th and finishes on or about June 14th each year. Enrollment is currently around forty students. The school charges tuition of approximately $11,000 per year. Options are limited at present. They include a school run by American missionaries, the Gjerasim D. Qiriazi School. It was established in 1993 largely to serve the needs of volunteer missionaries in Tirana, but accepts other students on a space-available basis. The school is multi-cultural and serves K–8, ages 5–14. Most of the teachers are missionaries and native speakers of English.

The only pre-school in English language remains to be Tirana Unity and Diversity Preshool. Pre-school is private run by a German woman and staffed with additional two employees. The class size is 12–15 students and age of children varies from 3 to 5 years. The cost for the pre-school per month is $200.00

The Embassy has a post language program. Opportunities for private tuition in the Albanian language, as well as in music, sports, and art are also available on the local economy at reasonable rates.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:24 PM

The Ambassador’s residence has an asphalt tennis court available to Embassy personnel during specified hours. The few local tennis courts are cement and not in good repair. The Chateau Linza hotel on the outskirts of the city has swimming facilities, which may be used for a fee. Walking and running in the park around Tirana’s artificial lake is a popular activity among both Albanians and internationals. A few private fitness clubs are now in operation in Tirana. The Embassy housing compound also has a playground equipped for children, and a fitness facility provided by the marine detachment. The Sheraton hotel has a health club with membership available to the Embassy community, which includes both indoor and out door pools.

Soccer is the most popular Albanian spectator sport, followed by basketball and volleyball. Soccer games are often played in the 20,000-seat Ismail Qemali Stadium near the Embassy. Admission is 100–200 lek.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:25 PM

At present, travel in the northeastern section of the country has restrictions. The northeast is defined as the area east of the Shkoder-Mamurus national Road and north of the Shkoder-Kukes National Road. Travel in the northeast requires a fully armored vehicle (FAV) and a security vehicle escort with bodyguard. There are no restrictions for travel in the rest of Albania other than no driving between cities at night. If you are traveling to a particularly isolated area, check with the RSO Office. There are several short day trips available, including to Kruja or Durresi. Kruja is a popular shopping spot with rug and antique shops. The old city with its ancient churches and Turkish baths is of interest, as are the ruins of Skanderbeg’s castle and a Communist-era museum devoted to the hero. Durresi has important archaeological sites and a museum which is being expanded and improved in addition to beaches and fine seafood restaurants.

Gjirokastra is one of the most important cities of southern Albania, it has been declared a ‘Museum City’. It is built on the slope of a mountain and it is known for its characteristics and narrow stone paved streets. The dwelling houses have the form of medieval towers constituting a building ensemble with characteristic architecture. The castle of the city stands like a balcony over the city. It enables the visitors to enjoy the very beautiful landscape. The national Museum of Weapons is housed in the interior of the castle. Weapons produced and used by the Albanians in ancient times are displayed there.

Butrint. The ancient town of Butrint is situated not far from the city of Saranda, in the far south-west of Albania. The archeological excavations show that Butrint has been an important center of the Illyrian tribes with known settlement since 1000 BC. It belonged to the Greek and Roman Empires during its long history and both have left a rich legacy. Several excavations dating from the 1st and 4th centuries AD can now be visited, among them a theatre, the Temple of Aesculapius, Bapistry, which is full of colorful mosaics.

The Tirana Hash House Harriers is an active group comprised of members of the international and Albanian communities. The Hash meets every Saturday to run, walk, and hike in the outdoors around Tirana.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:25 PM Social activities among Americans are varied: dinner parties, cocktails, playing card and board games or video viewing at someone’s home, and dining out at one of the growing number of restaurants. There are two cinemas in Tirana that show current American films in English. The cost is low and the cinemas are first rate. Some video rental shops have opened, but their stock is in Albanian or Italian and requires a multi-system VCR for viewing.

Tirana has an active café society and stopping in one of the numerous café for an expresso is a social moment.

Some organized social groups are active in Tirana such as the Tirana Women’s International Group. This group meets monthly and participates in a variety of cultural and charitable activities.

The Marine Detachment frequently throw happy hours and other events.

Official Functions Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:52 AM

National embassies and iInstitutional organizations and NGOs comprise the diplomatic community in Tirana. The Ambassador and DCM are routinely invited to other Embassies for national day festivities. Other officers are at times included. Many functional specialties, for example the Consular and Management officers, have monthly luncheon meetings with their international counterparts.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:53 AM

The recommended routing between the U.S. and Tirana is via Zurich or Vienna. Transiting Rome or Milan is also a possibility although the Embassy cautions that Alitalia often uses small planes to fly the Rome-to-Tirana route and travelers sometimes arrive without their luggage. The airport servicing Tirana is located 45–60 minutes out of town in Rinas. For travelers arriving via automobile, ferry service is available from Bari, Ancona, and Trieste in Italy to Durresi, Albania. Drivers must have the European “green card” insurance, as well as a valid U.S. driver’s license or international license to drive in the E.U.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:54 AM

All personnel entering Albania on official travel should obtain the appropriate visa from the nearest Albanian Embassy or Consulate prior to arrival. All Embassy employees enjoy duty free importation of personal effects and goods into Albania. Telegrams concerning shipment of HHE and POV should be sent to ELSO Antwerp as well as Tirana.

Pets Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:56 AM

Travelers coming to Tirana with pets should insure that shots are up-to-date, as they are not always available in Albania. All pets should be neutered (if desired) before coming to Albania. Dog and cat food and some pet supplies are available on the local market. Cat litter is also available locally. Quarantine is not required for pets and there is no fee for incoming pets, but pets do need a doctor’s certificate of health for entry into Albania. Employees should try to obtain this certificate before travelling to post, but if necessary pets can be certified by an Albanian veterinary at Rinas Airport. Veterinary facilities are available, but do not meet U.S standards.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:57 AM

Before arriving at post, personnel should request authorization from the Ambassador via cable as to what firearms they wish to import. (It should be noted that only shotguns may be legally owned and licensed by individuals in Albania.) The cable should include information about what the firearm is to be used for and the training that the employee has had in the use of that firearm. If approved, the Embassy will then request a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:58 AM

The monetary unit in Albania is the lek. Although the currency was revalued sometime in the 1960s, newcomers may experience difficulties with merchants who for the most part continue to quote prices in old lek, that is to say, prices with an extra zero added. Most merchants are honest enough to correct mistaken payments, but some are not. A general rule of thumb is that prices quoted orally are in old lek, from which one zero should be dropped, while written prices are cited in new lek.

Albania is a cash economy with very limited acceptance of credit cards. At this time, credit cards can be used at the two major hotels, the Tirana International and the Rogner, and a number of restaurants. Swissair and Austrian Airlines will accept most major credit cards; Malev and Alitalia will take American Express and Diners’ Club. Direct-hire USG employees may cash personal checks for dollars and lek at the American Embassy Bank of Albania Embassy office. Albanian banks currently offer only savings accounts.

Albania uses the metric system.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:58 AM

As is true in other Foreign Service posts, employees may sell personal items at a price not to exceed the purchase price. VAT is 20%. Refunds of purchases including VAT for personal purchases are possible but are difficult and time consuming.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 10/24/2003 2:26 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published about this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Kadare’s Novels.

Costa, Nicholas. Albania: A European Enigma. NY: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Durham, Edith. High Albania. London: Virago, 1985.

Hall, Derek. Albania Into the Twenty‑first Century. NY: St. Martin’s, 1995.

Harxhi, Edith. An Invitation to Albania: An Overview of Albania’s Resources and Economy. Tirana, AL: Besa, 1995.

Perpjeka/Endeavour: Albania’s Critical Quarterly. Tirana, AL: published quarterly.

Pettifer, James. The Blue Guide: Albania. 2d ed., London: A.C. Black, 1996.

Vickers, Miranda. The Albanians: A Modern History. 1995; rev. paperback ed. London: I. B. Taurus, 1997.

Vickers, Miranda, and Pettifer, James. Albania: From Anarchy to a Balkan Identity. NY: New York University Press, 1997.

Wilkes, John. The Illyrians (The Peoples of Europe.) Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwells, 1992; pb 1995.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 9/30/2003 9:59 AM

New Year’s Day January 1 Big Bajram date varies Nevruz March 23 Small Bajram date varies Easter date varies Orthodox Easter date varies May Day May 1 National Day November 28 Independence Day November 29

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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