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Albania, formally named the Republic of Albania, is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro in the north, Serbia (Kosovo) in the north-east, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south. Its land area totals 28,750 km2. Albania is mountainous, with about 70 % of the land above 300 m. The land rises steeply from the coastal plain to elevations of more than 2,400 m (2,764 m at the country´s highest point, Mount Korabi). The most rugged mountains, the Dinaric Alps, are in the north and the country´s geology prevails in high limestone mountains. The territory - known in ancient times as Illyria - was long dominated by Greeks and Latins before becoming, in 395 AD, part of the Byzantine Empire. The capital is Tirana, with an area of 42 sq. km, and a population of 600,000.

Albania remains a young and rather unstable democracy. The medium term interests of the country are often sacrificed to shorter term, narrower, political interests. Consolidation of a democratic culture is essential to bring about necessary reforms.

This article is an overview of the current state of Albanian biodiversity and of the protected area system.

Geography. It is situated between latitude 49 grade 38´ - 42 grade 39´North and longitude 19 grade 16´-21 grade 4 ´East. The highest peak in the country is Mount Korabi (2751 m) and the Alps in the North resemble a big cupola (Jezerca-2694 m).

Lakes: Shkodra lake - 368 km2 (the Albanian portion is 168 km2), Ohrid lake - 367 km2 , Bigger Prespa lake - 285 km2, Smaller Prespa lake - 44 km2.

Flora and fauna. Flora – 3220 species, out of which 1% are endemics, 15 % are sub-endemics and the rest are Mediterranean species.

Human Development. A great number of Albanians (roughly 15% of the urban population and 30% of the rural population) still live in poverty, despite government plans to eradicate the problem. Corruption among officials remains widespread and results in major dispersion of public resources made available for this purpose. Albanian economy GDP- per capita: $3,287, Inflation: 2.2 %.

Ecological and Socio-Economic Diversity of Albania. Although Albania is relatively small in land area, it possesses a wide range of ecological systems derived primarily from its rugged and varied topography. The major ecological zones include coastal zones (associated with the Adriatic and Ionian Seas), estuaries and lagoons, lakes and wetlands, grasslands, middle-low altitude coppice forests (mostly oaks and chestnut, heavily disturbed by man over the centuries) high altitude forests (pine and beech), alpine vegetation and glacial areas. As would be expected, the primary socio-economic activities throughout the country reflect the great diversity of the ecological landscape. Rural activities are mostly agricultural based, but there are great regional and local uses of minerals, timber and fishery resources. Often one is tied to the other, as in the case of Puka District where the closing of several mines has led to a marked increase in the commercial forestry sector.




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