|Area||28,748 sq km|
|Population||3,002,859 (est 2012)|
|Languages||Albanian, Greek, Romani, Slavic dialects, Vlach|
|Religions||Islam 70%. Albanian Orthodox 20%. Roman Catholicism 10%.|
|Life expectancy||77.59 years (est 2012)|
Surrounded by rugged mountainous crags, Albania is the dwelling place of crystal clear lakes, beautiful coastlines and ancient historical sights.
The 14th and 15th centuries saw the Ottoman Empire overpower the Balkan Peninsula, splitting Albania along religious, regional and tribal lines. During the 1800s and early 1900s an upsurge of nationalism led to the establishment of an independent Albania.
After World War II the Marxist ‘Worker’s Party’ ruled the country and progressively sought to isolate Albania culturally and economically. In 1991 the communist dictatorship ended and the 1992 elections saw the end of 47 years of communist rule. However, the transition from communism to democracy hasn’t been easy. In 1997, the country descended into anarchy after the collapse of pyramid finance schemes and the government was destabilised.
In recent years, the Government has been able to bring inflation under control. A Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU was signed in June 2006.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe. It is estimated that about a quarter of the people live in poverty and five per cent in extreme poverty.
Albania has a reputation for being a base for organised crime and human trafficking including child prostitution, paedophilia rings, corruption, Mafia influence and smuggling.
BMS involvement in Albania
BMS World Mission personnel have been working in Albania since 1992. Some of the projects with which BMS is involved are as follows:
Gjerasim Dhimiter Qiriazi (GDQ) School in Tirana
Working in various aspects of the GDQ school including teaching and administration are BMS workers David and Fiona Lea, Gary Anderson, Jane Waites, Jill Morrow, Roger and Nicola Pearce and Susan Lodge.
Church planting in Vlora
BMS worker Graham Sansom pastors a church in the southern port town of Vlora.
Much of the coastal plain has been recovered from the sea this century and this area and the surrounding hills are fertile, producing some of the country’s food requirements, although much has to be imported. Forests and swamps cover more than one-third of the country’s land. However, the forests are being extensively logged, creating uncontrollable soil erosion.
During Communist rule no religion was allowed to exist and in 1967 Albania became the first and only official atheist country. Demonstrations of faith were severely punished. The ban on worship was lifted in 1990. Since 1991 the number of Protestant missions grew rapidly. In 1999 the Baptist Union of Albania was formed with four churches in membership. Today there are eight churches.