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European Union vs. Albania

Introduction

European UnionAlbania
Background"Following the two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century, a number of far-sighted European leaders in the late 1940s sought a response to the overwhelming desire for peace and reconciliation on the continent. In 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert SCHUMAN proposed pooling the production of coal and steel in Western Europe and setting up an organization for that purpose that would bring France and the Federal Republic of Germany together and would be open to other countries as well. The following year, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was set up when six members - Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands - signed the Treaty of Paris.
The ECSC was so successful that within a few years the decision was made to integrate other elements of the countries' economies. In 1957, envisioning an ""ever closer union,"" the Treaties of Rome created the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and the six member states undertook to eliminate trade barriers among themselves by forming a common market. In 1967, the institutions of all three communities were formally merged into the European Community (EC), creating a single Commission, a single Council of Ministers, and the body known today as the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament were initially selected by national parliaments, but in 1979 the first direct elections were undertaken and have been held every five years since.
In 1973, the first enlargement of the EC took place with the addition of Denmark, Ireland, and the UK. The 1980s saw further membership expansion with Greece joining in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht laid the basis for further forms of cooperation in foreign and defense policy, in judicial and internal affairs, and in the creation of an economic and monetary union - including a common currency. This further integration created the European Union (EU), at the time standing alongside the EC. In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU/EC, raising the membership total to 15.
A new currency, the euro, was launched in world money markets on 1 January 1999; it became the unit of exchange for all EU member states except Denmark, Sweden, and the UK. In 2002, citizens of those 12 countries began using euro banknotes and coins. Ten new countries joined the EU in 2004 - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 and Croatia in 2013, bringing the current membership to 28. (Seven of these new countries - Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia - have now adopted the euro, bringing total euro-zone membership to 19.)
In an effort to ensure that the EU could function efficiently with an expanded membership, the Treaty of Nice (concluded in 2000; entered into force in 2003) set forth rules to streamline the size and procedures of EU institutions. An effort to establish a ""Constitution for Europe,"" growing out of a Convention held in 2002-2003, foundered when it was rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005. A subsequent effort in 2007 incorporated many of the features of the rejected draft Constitutional Treaty while also making a number of substantive and symbolic changes. The new treaty, referred to as the Treaty of Lisbon, sought to amend existing treaties rather than replace them. The treaty was approved at the EU intergovernmental conference of the then 27 member states held in Lisbon in December 2007, after which the process of national ratifications began. In October 2009, an Irish referendum approved the Lisbon Treaty (overturning a previous rejection) and cleared the way for an ultimate unanimous endorsement. Poland and the Czech Republic ratified soon after. The Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December 2009 and the EU officially replaced and succeeded the EC. The Treaty's provisions are part of the basic consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) now governing what remains a very specific integration project.
Frustrated by a remote bureaucracy in Brussels and massive migration into the country, UK citizens on 23 June 2016 narrowly voted to leave the EU. The so-called “Brexit” will take years to carry out, but could embolden skeptics of EU membership in other member states.
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Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939 and occupied by Germany in 1943. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents.
Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. Most of Albania's post-communist elections were marred by claims of electoral fraud; however, international observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and in June 2014 became a candidate for EU accession. Albania in November 2016 received a European Commission recommendation to open EU accession negotiations conditioned upon implementation of a judicial reform package passed earlier the same year. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and a weak energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles.

Geography

European UnionAlbania
LocationEurope between the North Atlantic Ocean in the west and Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to the east
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, between Greece to the south and Montenegro and Kosovo to the north
Map referencesEurope
Europe
Areatotal: 4,479,968 sq km
rank by area (sq km):
1. France (includes five overseas regions) 643,801
2. Spain 505,370
3. Sweden 450,295
4. Germany 357,022
5. Finland 338,145
6. Poland 312,685
7. Italy 301,340
8. United Kingdom (includes Gibraltar) 243,617
9. Romania 238,391
10. Greece 131,957
11. Bulgaria 110,879
12. Hungary 93,028
13. Portugal 92,090
14. Austria 83,871
15. Czechia 78,867
16. Ireland 70,273
17. Lithuania 65,300
18. Latvia 64,589
19. Croatia 56,594
20. Slovakia 49,035
21. Estonia 45,228
22. Denmark 43,094
23. Netherlands 41,543
24. Belgium 30,528
25. Slovenia 20,273
26. Cyprus 9,251
27. Luxembourg 2,586
28. Malta 316
total: 28,748 sq km
land: 27,398 sq km
water: 1,350 sq km
Area - comparativeless than one-half the size of the US
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundariestotal: 13,271 km
border countries (17): Albania 212 km, Andorra 118 km, Belarus 1,176 km, Bosnia and Herzegovina 956 km, Holy See 3 km, Liechtenstein 34 km, Macedonia 396 km, Moldova 683 km, Monaco 6 km, Montenegro 19 km, Norway 2,375 km, Russia 2,435 km, San Marino 37 km, Serbia 1,353 km, Switzerland 1,729 km, Turkey 415 km, Ukraine 1,324 km
note: data for European continent only
total: 691 km
border countries (4): Greece 212 km, Kosovo 112 km, Macedonia 181 km, Montenegro 186 km
Coastline65,992.9 km
362 km
Climatecold temperate; potentially subarctic in the north to temperate; mild wet winters; hot dry summers in the south
mild temperate; cool, cloudy, wet winters; hot, clear, dry summers; interior is cooler and wetter
Terrainfairly flat along Baltic and Atlantic coasts; mountainous in the central and southern areas
mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast
Elevation extremesmean elevation: about 300 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Lammefjord, Denmark -7 m; Zuidplaspolder, Netherlands -7 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
mean elevation: 708 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maja e Korabit (Golem Korab) 2,764 m
Natural resourcesiron ore, natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, bauxite, uranium, potash, salt, hydropower, arable land, timber, fish
petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower, arable land
Irrigated land154,539.82 sq km (2011 est.)
3,310 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsflooding along coasts; avalanches in mountainous area; earthquakes in the south; volcanic eruptions in Italy; periodic droughts in Spain; ice floes in the Baltic
destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought
Environment - current issuesvarious forms of air, soil, and water pollution; see individual country entries
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution from industrial and domestic effluents
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed but not ratified: Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds
party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Population distributionpopulation distribution varies considerably from country to country, but tends to follow a pattern of coastal and river settlement, with urban agglomerations forming large hubs facilitating large scale housing, industry, and commerce
a fairly even distribution, with somewhat higher concentrations of people in the western and central parts of the country

Demographics

European UnionAlbania
Populationtotal: 515,052,778
rank by population:
1. Germany 80,722,792
2. France 66,836,154
3. United Kingdom 64,430,428
4. Italy 62,007,540
5. Spain 48,563,476
6. Poland 38,523,261
7. Romania 21,599,736
8. Netherlands 17,016,967
9. Belgium 11,409,077
10. Portugal 10,833,816
11. Greece 10,773,253
12. Czechia 10,644,842
13. Sweden 9,880,604
14. Hungary 9,874,784
15. Austria 8,711,770
16. Bulgaria 7,144,653
17. Denmark 5,593,785
18. Finland 5,498,211
19. Slovakia 5,445,802
20. Ireland 4,952,473
21. Croatia 4,313,707
22. Lithuania 2,854,235
23. Slovenia 1,978,029
24. Latvia 1,965,686
25. Estonia 1,258,545
26. Cyprus 1,205,575
27. Luxembourg 582,291
28. Malta 415,196 (July 2016 est.)
3,038,594 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 15.5% (male 40,853,366/female 38,783,889)
15-24 years: 10.9% (male 28,680,885/female 27,396,922)
25-54 years: 41.8% (male 108,312,731/female 106,407,509)
55-64 years: 12.9% (male 32,287,068/female 34,128,099)
65 years and over: 19.1% (male 42,074,448/female 56,127,861) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 18.37% (male 295,022/female 263,141)
15-24 years: 18.09% (male 284,201/female 265,530)
25-54 years: 40.73% (male 589,707/female 648,021)
55-64 years: 11.23% (male 168,500/female 172,587)
65 years and over: 11.58% (male 165,076/female 186,809) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 42.7 years
male: 41.3 years
female: 44.1 years (2016 est.)
total: 32.5 years
male: 31.2 years
female: 33.8 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.23% (2016 est.)
0.31% (2016 est.)
Birth rate10.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
13.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate10.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
6.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate2.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
-3.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 12.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 80.2 years
male: 77.4 years
female: 83.2 years (2016 est.)
total population: 78.3 years
male: 75.7 years
female: 81.2 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.61 children born/woman (2016 est.)
1.51 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence ratenote - see individual entries of member states
0.04% (2013 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSnote - see individual entries of member states
NA
ReligionsRoman Catholic 48%, Protestant 12%, Orthodox 8%, other Christian 4%, Muslim 2%, other 1% (includes Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu), atheist 7%, non-believer/agnostic 16%, unspecified 2% (2012 est.)
Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi (a Sufi order) 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2%
note: all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsnote - see individual entries of member states
NA
LanguagesBulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish
note: only the 24 official languages are listed; German, the major language of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, is the most widely spoken mother tongue - about 16% of the EU population; English is the most widely spoken foreign language - about 38% of the EU population is conversant with it (2012)
Albanian 98.8% (official - derived from Tosk dialect), Greek 0.5%, other 0.6% (including Macedonian, Romani, Vlach, Turkish, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)
Hospital bed density5.4 beds/1,000 population (2011)
2.6 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Government

European UnionAlbania
Capitalname: Brussels (Belgium), Strasbourg (France), Luxembourg; note - the European Council, a gathering of the EU heads of state and/or government, and the Council of the European Union, a ministerial-level body of ten formations, meet in Brussels, Belgium, except for Council meetings held in Luxembourg in April, June, and October; the European Parliament meets in Brussels and Strasbourg, France, and has administrative offices in Luxembourg; the Court of Justice of the European Union is located in Luxembourg; and the European Central Bank is located in Frankfurt, Germany
geographic coordinates: (Brussels) 50 50 N, 4 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
name: Tirana (Tirane)
geographic coordinates: 41 19 N, 19 49 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Independence7 February 1992 (Maastricht Treaty signed establishing the European Union); 1 November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered into force)
note: the Treaties of Rome, signed on 25 March 1957 and subsequently entered into force on 1 January 1958, created the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community; a series of subsequent treaties have been adopted to increase efficiency and transparency, to prepare for new member states, and to introduce new areas of cooperation - such as a single currency; the Treaty of Lisbon, signed on 13 December 2007 and entered into force on 1 December 2009 is the most recent of these treaties and is intended to make the EU more democratic, more efficient, and better able to address global problems with one voice
28 November 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire)
National holidayEurope Day (also known as Schuman Day), 9 May (1950); note - the day in 1950 that Robert SCHUMAN proposed the creation of what became the European Coal and Steel Community, the progenitor of today's European Union, with the aim of achieving a united Europe
Independence Day, 28 November (1912) also known as Flag Day
Constitution"history: none; note - the EU legal order relies primarily on two consolidated texts encompassing all provisions as amended from a series of past treaties: the Treaty on European Union (TEU), as modified by the Lisbon Treaty states in Article 1 that ""the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a EUROPEAN UNION ... on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common""; Article 1 of the TEU states further that the EU is ""founded on the present Treaty and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as 'the Treaties'),"" both possessing the same legal value; Article 6 of the TEU provides that a separately adopted Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ""shall have the same legal value as the Treaties""
amendments: European Union treaties can be amended in several ways: 1) Ordinary Revision Procedure (for key amendments to the treaties); initiated by an EU country’s government, by the EU Parliament, or by the EU Commission; following adoption of the proposal by the European Council, a convention is formed of national government representatives to review the proposal and subsequently a conference of government representatives also reviews the proposal; passage requires ratification by all EU countries; 2) Simplified Revision Procedure (for amendment of EU internal policies and actions); passage of a proposal requires unanimous European Council vote following European Council consultation with the EU Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament, and requires ratification by all EU countries; 3) Passerelle Clause (allows the alteration of a legislative procedure without a formal amendment of the treaties); 4) Flexibility Clause (permits the EU to decide in subject areas not covered by the EU treaties); note - the Treaty of Lisbon (signed in December 2007 and effective in December 2009) amended the two treaties that formed the EU - the Maastricht Treaty (1993) and the Treaty of Rome (1958), known in updated form as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2007) (2016)
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history: several previous; latest approved by the Assembly 21 October 1998, adopted by referendum 22 November 1998, promulgated 28 November 1998
amendments: proposed by at least one-fifth of the Assembly membership; passage requires at least a two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly; referendum required only if approved by two-thirds of the Assembly; amendments approved by referendum effective upon declaration by the president of the republic; amended several times, last in 2016 (2017)
Legal system"unique supranational law system in which, according to an interpretive declaration of member-state governments appended to the Treaty of Lisbon, ""the Treaties and the law adopted by the Union on the basis of the Treaties have primacy over the law of Member States"" under conditions laid down in the case law of the Court of Justice; key principles of EU law include fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and as resulting from constitutional traditions common to the EU's states; EU law is divided into 'primary' and 'secondary' legislation; primary legislation is derived from the consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) and are the basis for all EU action; secondary legislation - which includes directives, regulations, and decisions - is derived from the principles and objectives set out in the treaties
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"civil law system except in the northern rural areas where customary law known as the ""Code of Leke"" prevails
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Suffrage18 years of age (16 years in Austria); universal; voting for the European Parliament is permitted in each member state
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch"under the EU treaties there are three distinct institutions, each of which conducts functions that may be regarded as executive in nature:
the European Council: brings together heads of state and government, along with the president of the European Commission, and meets at least four times a year; its aim is to provide the impetus for the development of the Union and to issue general policy guidelines; the Treaty of Lisbon established the position of ""permanent"" (full-time) president of the European Council; leaders of the EU member states appoint the president for a 2 1/2 year term, renewable once; the president's responsibilities include chairing the EU summits and providing policy and organizational continuity; the current president is Donald TUSK (Poland), since 1 December 2014, succeeding Herman VAN ROMPUY (Belgian; 2009-14)
the Council of the European Union: consists of ministers of each EU member state and meets regularly in 10 different configurations depending on the subject matter; it conducts policymaking and coordinating functions as well as legislative functions; ministers of EU member states chair meetings of the Council of the EU based on a 6-month rotating presidency except for the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council that are chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
the European Commission: headed by a College of Commissioners comprised of 28 members (one from each member country) including the president; each commissioner is responsible for one or more policy areas; the Commission's main responsibilities include the sole right to initiate EU legislation (except for foreign and security/defense policy), promoting the general interest of the EU, acting as ""guardian of the Treaties"" by monitoring the application of EU law, implementing/executing the EU budget, managing programs, negotiating on the EU's behalf in core policy areas such as trade, and ensuring the Union's external representation in some policy areas; its current president is Jean-Claude JUNCKER (Luxembourg) elected on 15 July 2014 (took office on 1 November 2014); the president of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council and formally ""elected"" by the European Parliament; the Commission president allocates specific responsibilities among the members of the College (appointed by common accord of the member state governments in consultation with the president-elect); the European Parliament confirms the entire Commission for a 5-year term; President JUNCKER reorganized the structure of the College around clusters or project teams coordinated by 7 vice presidents in line with the current Commission's main political priorities and appointed Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands) to act as his first vice president; the confirmation process for the next Commission expected be held in the fall of 2019
note: for external representation and foreign policy making, leaders of the EU member states appointed Federica MOGHERINI (Italy) as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; MOGHERINI took office on 1 November 2014, succeeding Catherine ASHTON (UK) (2009-14); the High Representative's concurrent appointment as Vice President of the European Commission endows her position with the policymaking influence of the Council of the EU and the budgetary influence (subject to Council's approval) of the Council of the EU and the budgetary/management influence of the European Commission; the High Representative helps develop and implement the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defense Policy component, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, represents and acts for the Union in many international contexts, and oversees the European External Action Service, the diplomatic corps of the EU, established on 1 December 2010
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chief of state: President of the Republic Bujar NISHANI (since 24 July 2012)
head of government: Prime Minister Edi RAMA (since 10 September 2013); Deputy Prime Minister Niko PELESHI
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and approved by the Assembly
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); a candidate needs three-fifths majority vote of the Assembly in 1 of 3 rounds or a simple majority in 2 additional rounds to become president; election last held in 3 rounds during the period 19, 20, and 27 April 2017 (next election to be held in 2022) but failed; prime minister appointed by the president on the proposal of the majority party or coalition of parties in the Assembly
election results: Ilir META (LSI) elected president; Assembly vote - 87 - 2 in fourth round; he takes office on 24 July 2017
Legislative branchdescription: two legislative bodies consisting of the Council of the European Union (28 seats; ministers representing the 28 member states) and the European Parliament (751 seats; seats allocated among member states roughly in proportion to population size; members elected by proportional representation to serve 5-year terms); note - the European Parliament President, currently Martin SCHULZ (German Socialist) is elected by a majority of fellow members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and represents the Parliament within the EU and internationally; the Council of the EU and the MEPs share responsibilities for adopting the bulk of EU legislation, normally acting in co-decision on Commission proposals (but not in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy, which is governed by consensus of the EU member state governments)
elections: last held on 22-25 May 2014 (next to be held May-June 2019)
election results: percent of vote - EPP 29.4%, S&D 25.4%, ECR 9.3%, ALDE 8.9%, GUE/NGL 6.9%, Greens/EFA 6.7%, EFD 6.4%, independent 6.9%; seats by party - EPP 221, S&D 191, ECR 70, ALDE 67, GUE/NGL 52, Greens/EFA 50, EFD 48, independent 52
description: unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi (140 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 25 June 2017 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - PS 48.3%, PD 28.8%, LSI 14.3%, PDIU 4.8%, PSD 1.0, other 2.8%; seats by party - PS 74, PD 43, LSI 19, PDIU 3, PSD 1
Judicial branch"note: the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the supreme judicial authority of the EU; ECJ ensures that EU law is interpreted and applied uniformly throughout the EU, resolves disputed issues among the EU institutions and with member states, issues opinions on questions of EU law referred by member state courts
highest court(s): European Court of Justice (consists of 28 judges - 1 from each member state); the court may sit as a full court, in a ""Grand Chamber"" of 13 judges in special cases, but usually in chambers of 3 to 5 judges
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the common consent of the member states to serve 6-year renewable terms
subordinate courts: General Court; Civil Service Tribunal
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highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 17 judges, including the chief justice); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, including the chairman)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges, including the chairman, appointed by the president with the consent of the Assembly to serve single 9-year terms); Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president with the consent of the Assembly to serve single 9-year terms with one-third of the membership renewed every 3 years; chairman elected by the People's Assembly for a single 3-year term
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance
Political parties and leadersAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe or ALDE [Guy VERHOFSTADT]
Alliance of Socialists and Democrats or S&D [Gianni PITELLA]
European United Left-Nordic Green Left or GUE/NGL [Gabriele ZIMMER]
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy or EFDD [Nigel FARAGE and David BORRELLI]
Europe of Nations and Freedom or ENF [Marine LE PEN and Marcel DE GRAAFF]
European Conservatives and Reformists or ECR [Syed KAMALL]
European Greens/European Free Alliance or Greens/EFA [Rebecca HARMS and Philippe LAMBERTS]
European People's Party or EPP [Manfred WEBER]
Democratic Party or PD [Lulzim BASHA]
Party for Justice, Integration and Unity or PDIU [Shpetim IDRIZI] (formerly part of APMI)
Social Democratic Party or PSD [Skender GJINUSHI]
Socialist Movement for Integration or LSI [Petrit VASILI]
Socialist Party or PS [Edi RAMA]
International organization participationARF, ASEAN (dialogue member), Australian Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CERN, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-8, G-10, G-20, IDA, IEA, IGAD (partners), LAIA (observer), NSG (observer), OAS (observer), OECD, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), UN (observer), UNRWA (observer), WCO, WTO, ZC (observer)
BSEC, CD, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, EITI (compliant country), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador David O'SULLIVAN (since 19 November 2014)
chancery: 2175 K Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 862-9500
FAX: [1] (202) 429-1766
chief of mission: Ambassador Floreta FABER (since 18 May 2015)
chancery: 2100 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 223-4942
FAX: [1] (202) 628-7342
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Anthony Luzzatto GARDNER (since 18 March 2014)
embassy: 13 Zinnerstraat/Rue Zinner, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [32] (2) 811-4100
FAX: [32] (2) 811-5154
chief of mission: Ambassador Donald LU (since 13 January 2015)
embassy: Rruga e Elbasanit, 103, Tirana
mailing address: US Department of State, 9510 Tirana Place, Dulles, VA 20189-9510
telephone: [355] (4) 2247-285
FAX: [355] (4) 2232-222
Flag descriptiona blue field with 12 five-pointed gold stars arranged in a circle in the center; blue represents the sky of the Western world, the stars are the peoples of Europe in a circle, a symbol of unity; the number of stars is fixed
"red with a black two-headed eagle in the center; the design is claimed to be that of 15th-century hero George Kastrioti SKANDERBEG, who led a successful uprising against the Ottoman Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions (1443-78); an unsubstantiated explanation for the eagle symbol is the tradition that Albanians see themselves as descendants of the eagle; they refer to themselves as ""Shqiptare,"" which translates as ""sons of the eagle""
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National anthem"name: ""Ode to Joy""
lyrics/music: no lyrics/Ludwig VAN BEETHOVEN, arranged by Herbert VON KARAJAN
note: official EU anthem since 1985; the anthem is meant to represent all of Europe rather than just the organization, conveying ideas of peace, freedom, and unity
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"name: ""Hymni i Flamurit"" (Hymn to the Flag)
lyrics/music: Aleksander Stavre DRENOVA/Ciprian PORUMBESCU
note: adopted 1912
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National symbol(s)a circle of 12, five-pointed, golden yellow stars on a blue field; union colors: blue, yellow
double-headed eagle; national colors: red, black

Economy

European UnionAlbania
Economy - overviewInternally, the 28 EU member states have adopted the framework of a single market with free movement of goods, services and capital. Internationally, the EU aims to bolster Europe's trade position and its political and economic weight.

Despite great differences in per capita income among member states (from $13,000 to $82,000) and in national attitudes toward issues like inflation, debt, and foreign trade, the EU has achieved a high degree of coordination of monetary and fiscal policies. A common currency – the euro – circulates among 19 of the member states, under the auspices of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Eleven member states introduced the euro as their common currency on 1 January 1999 (Greece did so two years later). Since 2004, 13 states acceded to the EU. Of the 13, Slovenia (2007), Cyprus and Malta (2008), Slovakia (2009), Estonia (2011), Latvia (2014), and Lithuania (2015) have adopted the euro; 7 other member states - not including the UK nor Denmark, which have formal opt-outs - are required by EU treaties to adopt the common currency upon meeting fiscal and monetary convergence criteria.

The EU economy is still recovering from the 2008-09 global economic crisis and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone in 2011. The bloc posted moderate GDP growth for 2014 through 2016, but the recovery has been uneven. Some EU member states (Czech Republic, Ireland and Spain) have recorded strong growth while others (Finland, Greece) are struggling to shake off recession. Only Greece remains under an EU rescue program, while Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus have successfully concluded their agreements. Overall, the EU’s recovery has been buoyed by lower commodities prices and accommodative monetary policy, which has lowered interest rates and the euro’s foreign exchange value. However, significant drags on growth remain, including persistently high unemployment in some member states, high levels of public and private debt loads, lackluster investment, and an aging population. These factors - in combination with low oil prices - have subdued inflation in the euro zone despite the European Central Bank’s (ECB) efforts to spur more lending and investment through its asset-buying program, negative interest rates, and long-term loan refinancing programs. The ECB in December 2016 announced it would extend its bond-buying program through 2017 to underpin the euro-zone economy and bring inflation to its statutory target of just under 2%.

Despite its fair performance, the EU economy is vulnerable to a slowdown of global trade and bouts of political and financial turmoil. In June 2016, the UK voted to withdraw from the EU, the first member country ever to attempt to secede. Uncertainty about the timing, scope, and implications of the UK’s exit could hurt consumer and investor confidence and dampen UK and euro-zone growth if trade, investment and demand suffers. Political disagreements between EU members on fiscal and economic policy may impair the EU’s ability to improve its crisis-prevention and resolution mechanisms. Risks also linger of a flareup between Greece and its euro-zone creditors that could be detrimental to a stronger recovery, especially if it damages the euro-zone’s credibility with international investors and sparks renewed fears of a broad dissolution of the single currency area. In addition, portions of the European banking sector, particularly in Italy and Portugal, are still struggling with bad loans, and the potential for mismanagement of ailing banks could lead to localized crises. Externally, the EU’s efforts to expand already large trade and investment flows through ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement suffered some setbacks in 2016; for example, progress stalled on a US-EU deal and the European Commission’s exclusive competence to negotiate trade deals was curtailed by challenges from member states.
Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is a developing country with a modern open-market economy. Albania managed to weather the first waves of the global financial crisis but, the negative effects of the crisis caused a significant economic slowdown. Since 2014, Albania’s economy has steadily improved and economic growth is projected to increase to 3.8% in 2017. However, close trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy make Albania vulnerable to spillover effects of possible debt crises and weak growth in the euro zone.

Remittances, a significant catalyst for economic growth, declined from 12-15% of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 5.8% of GDP in 2015, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for almost half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming, because of a lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Complex tax codes and licensing requirements, a weak judicial system, endemic corruption, poor enforcement of contracts and property issues, and antiquated infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment making attracting foreign investment difficult. Since 2015, Albania has launched an ambitious program to increase tax compliance and bring more businesses into the formal economy. In July 2016, Albania passed constitutional amendments reforming the judicial system in order to strengthen the rule of law and to reduce deeply entrenched corruption.

Albania’s electricity supply is uneven despite upgraded transmission capacities with neighboring countries. However, the government has recently taken steps to stem non-technical losses and has begun to upgrade the distribution grid. Better enforcement of electricity contracts has improved the financial viability of the sector, decreasing its reliance on budget support. Also, with help from international donors, the government is taking steps to improve the poor road and rail networks, a long standing barrier to sustained economic growth.

Inward FDI has increased significantly in recent years as the government has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms. The government is focused on the simplification of licensing requirements and tax codes, and it entered into a new arrangement with the IMF for additional financial and technical support. Albania’s three-year IMF program, an extended fund facility arrangement, was successfully concluded in February 2017. Albania’s 2017 budget aims to reach a small primary surplus, which the Albanian Government plans to achieve by strengthening tax collection amid moderate public wage and pension increases. The country continues to face high public debt, exceeding its former statutory limit of 60% of GDP in 2013 and reaching 71% in 2016.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$19.97 trillion (2016 est.)
$19.6 trillion (2015 est.)
$18.91 trillion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$33.9 billion (2016 est.)
$32.66 billion (2015 est.)
$31.59 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
unreported output may be as large as 50% of official GDP
GDP - real growth rate1.9% (2016 est.)
2.3% (2015 est.)
1.6% (2014 est.)
3.8% (2017 est.)
3.4% (2016 est.)
2.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$39,200 (2016 est.)
$38,100 (2015 est.)
$37,000 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$11,900 (2016 est.)
$11,500 (2015 est.)
$11,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 1.5%
industry: 24.4%
services: 70.5% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 21.6%
industry: 14.9%
services: 63.5%
(2016 est.)
Population below poverty line9.8%
note: see individual country entries of member states (2013 est.)
14.3% (2012 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 24.1% (2015 est.)
lowest 10%: 4.1%
highest 10%: 19.6% (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.1% (2015 est.)
0.5% (2014 est.)
1.3% (2016 est.)
1.9% (2015 est.)
Labor force233.7 million (2016 est.)
1.179 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 5%
industry: 21.9%
services: 73.1% (2014 est.)
agriculture: 41.8%
industry: 11.4%
services: 46.8% (December 2014 est)
Unemployment rate9.4% (2015 est.)
10.2% (2014 est.)
14.5% (2016 est.)
16.9% (2015 est.)
note: these official rates may not include those working at near-subsistence farming
Distribution of family income - Gini index31 (2015 est.)
30.9 (2014 est.)
29 (2012 est.)
30 (2008 est.)
Industriesamong the world's largest and most technologically advanced regions, the EU industrial base includes: ferrous and non-ferrous metal production and processing, metal products, petroleum, coal, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, rail transportation equipment, passenger and commercial vehicles, construction equipment, industrial equipment, shipbuilding, electrical power equipment, machine tools and automated manufacturing systems, electronics and telecommunications equipment, fishing, food and beverages, furniture, paper, textiles
food; footwear, apparel and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Industrial production growth rate1.4% (2016 est.)
2.9% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productswheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes; dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry; fish
wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, olives and olive oil, grapes; meat, dairy products; sheep and goats
Exports$1.9 billion (2015 est.)
$1.808 billion (2014 est.)
note: external exports, excluding intra-EU trade
$1.962 billion (2016 est.)
$1.93 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, fuels, aircraft, plastics, iron and steel, wood pulp and paper products, alcoholic beverages, furniture
apparel and clothing, footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; cement and construction materials, vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partnersUnited States 17.1%, China 8.5%, Switzerland 7.8%, Russia 7.2%, Turkey 4.4% (2013 est.)
Italy 43.3%, Kosovo 9.8%, US 7.7%, China 6.2%, Greece 5.3%, Spain 4.8% (2015)
Imports$1.727 billion (2015 est.)
$1.692 billion (2014 est.)
note: external imports, excluding intra-EU trade
$4.667 billion (2016 est.)
$4.322 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfuels and crude oil, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, precious gemstones, textiles, aircraft, plastics, metals, ships
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partnersChina 16.1%, United States 11.4%, Russia 11%, Switzerland 5.9%, Norway 4.3% (2013 est.)
Italy 33.4%, China 10%, Greece 9%, Turkey 6.7%, Germany 5.2% (2015)
Debt - external$13.05 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
$14.14 trillion (31 December 2013)
$7.797 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.716 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange rateseuros per US dollar -
0.9214 (2016 est.)
0.885 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.7752 (2012 est.)
leke (ALL) per US dollar -
127.4 (2016 est.)
125.96 (2015 est.)
125.96 (2014 est.)
105.48 (2013 est.)
108.19 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearNA
calendar year
Public debt86.8% of GDP (2014)
85.5% of GDP (2013)
71% of GDP (2016 est.)
71.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$740.9 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: $746.9 billion (31 December 2013)
$3.093 billion (31 September 2016 est.)
$3.14 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$387.1 billion (2016 est.)
$365.5 billion (2015 est.)
-$1.465 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.226 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$16.52 trillion (2016 est.)
$12.14 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA $5.148 trillion (2012)
$4.828 trillion (2011)
$6.056 billion (31 December 2014)
$5.459 billion (31 December 2013)
Market value of publicly traded shares$7.185 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
$7.932 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$10.4 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$NA
Central bank discount rate0.25% (31 December 2016 est.)
0.3% (31 December 2015 est.)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
1.25% (31 December 2016)
1.75% (31 December 2015)
Commercial bank prime lending rate0.32% (31 December 2014 est.)
0.56% (31 December 2013 est.)
9.1% (31 December 2016 est.)
8.7% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$16.57 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$17.12 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: this figure refers to the euro area only; it excludes credit data for non-euro-area members of the EU
$7.008 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.166 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$6.613 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$5.947 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: this is the quantity of money, M1, for the euro area, converted into US dollars at the exchange rate for the date indicated; it excludes the stock of money carried by non-euro-area members of the European Union, e.g., UK pounds, Danish kroner, and Czech koruny
$3.508 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$3.095 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$10.84 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$10.33 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: this is the quantity of broad money for the euro area, converted into US dollars at the exchange rate for the date indicated; it excludes the stock of broad money carried by non-euro-area members of the European Union
$10.18 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$9.652 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Taxes and other revenues45.2% of GDP (2014)
26.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3% of GDP (2014)
-2.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 56.3%
government consumption: 20.5%
investment in fixed capital: 19.5%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 43.9%
imports of goods and services: -40.5% (2013 est.)
household consumption: 85.7%
government consumption: 10.4%
investment in fixed capital: 27.6%
investment in inventories: 1.5%
exports of goods and services: 37.1%
imports of goods and services: -62.3% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving22% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
21.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
15.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
15% of GDP (2015 est.)
13% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

European UnionAlbania
Electricity - production3.166 trillion kWh (2014 est.)
7.135 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption2.771 trillion kWh (2013 est.)
7.094 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports336.2 billion kWh (2013 est.)
1.868 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports349.5 billion kWh (2013 est.)
1.826 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production1.507 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
16,500 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Oil - proved reserves5.6 billion bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
2.616 billion bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves1.3 trillion cu m (1 January 2015 es)
821.2 million cu m (1 January 2016 es)
Natural gas - production120 billion cu m (2015 est.)
32 million cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - consumption402.1 billion cu m (2015 est.)
32 million cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - exports93.75 billion cu m (2010 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports420.6 billion cu m (2010 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity9.47 billion kW (2012 est.)
1.895 million kW (2015 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels49% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants10.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
100% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels12.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources22.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production11.12 million bbl/day (2014 est.)
290 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption12.53 million bbl/day (2014 est.)
27,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports2.196 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
16,250 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports8.613 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
13,250 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy3.705 billion Mt (2014 est.)
4.3 million Mt (2013 est.)

Telecommunications

European UnionAlbania
Telephones - main lines in usetotal: 213.8 million (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 226,718
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 632.5 million (July 2015 est.)
total: 3.401 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 120 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemnote - see individual country entries of member states
general assessment: fixed line, teledensity continues to decline due to heavy use of mobile-cellular telephone services; mobile-cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective; of 3.4 million active mobile telephone users, 1.3 million use mobile broadband services (3G/4G)
domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed-line capacity, mobile-cellular phone service has been available since 1996; by 2015, 4 companies were providing mobile services and mobile teledensity had reached 120 per 100 persons; Internet broadband services initiated in 2005, and the penetration rate per family reached 30% by 2015; Internet cafes are popular in major urban areas
international: country code - 355; submarine cable provides connectivity to Italy, Croatia, and Greece; the Trans-Balkan Line, a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system, provides additional connectivity to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey; international traffic carried by fiber-optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2015)
Internet country code.eu; note - see country entries of member states for individual country codes
.al
Internet userstotal: 398.1 million (July 2015 est.)
total: 1.916 million
percent of population: 63.2% (July 2015 est.)

Transportation

European UnionAlbania
Railwaystotal: 230,548 km (2013)
total: 677 km (447 km of major railway lines and 230 km of secondary lines)
standard gauge: 677 km 1.435-m gauge (2015)
Roadwaystotal: 10,582,653 km (2013)
total: 18,000 km
paved: 7,020 km
unpaved: 10,980 km (2002)
Waterways53,384 km (2013)
41 km (on the Bojana River) (2011)
Ports and terminalsmajor port(s): Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain), Braila (Romania), Bremen (Germany), Burgas (Bulgaria), Constanta (Romania), Copenhagen (Denmark), Galati (Romania), Gdansk (Poland), Hamburg (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Le Havre (France), Lisbon (Portugal), London (UK), Marseille (France), Naples (Italy), Peiraiefs or Piraeus (Greece), Riga (Latvia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Split (Croatia), Stockholm (Sweden), Talinn (Estonia), Tulcea (Romania), Varna (Bulgaria)
major seaport(s): Durres, Sarande, Shengjin, Vlore
Airports3,102 (2013)
4 (2016)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 1,882
over 3,047 m: 120
2,438 to 3,047 m: 341
1,524 to 2,437 m: 507
914 to 1,523 m: 425
under 914 m: 489 (2015)
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 1,244
over 3,047 m: 1
2,437 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 245
under 914 m: 982 (2013)
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)
Heliports90 (2013)
1 (2013)

Military

European UnionAlbania
Military expenditures - percent of GDP1.65% of GDP (2012)
1.66% of GDP (2011)
1.65% of GDP (2010)
1.14% of GDP (2016)
1.16% of GDP (2015)
1.35% of GDP (2014)
1.41% of GDP (2013)
1.49% of GDP (2012)

Transnational Issues

European UnionAlbania
Disputes - international"as a political union, the EU has no border disputes with neighboring countries, but Estonia has no land boundary agreements with Russia, Slovenia disputes its land and maritime boundaries with Croatia, and Spain has territorial and maritime disputes with Morocco and with the UK over Gibraltar; the EU has set up a Schengen area - consisting of 22 EU member states that have signed the convention implementing the Schengen agreements or ""acquis"" (1985 and 1990) on the free movement of persons and the harmonization of border controls in Europe; these agreements became incorporated into EU law with the implementation of the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam on 1 May 1999; in addition, non-EU states Iceland and Norway (as part of the Nordic Union) have been included in the Schengen area since 1996 (full members in 2001), Switzerland since 2008, and Liechtenstein since 2011 bringing the total current membership to 26; the UK (since 2000) and Ireland (since 2002) take part in only some aspects of the Schengen area, especially with respect to police and criminal matters; nine of the 13 new member states that joined the EU since 2004 joined Schengen on 21 December 2007; of the four remaining EU states, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia are obligated to eventually join, while Cyprus' entry is held up by the ongoing Cyprus dispute
"
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Source: CIA Factbook