You know how in high school, there’s always like that one little emo kid,
that just kind of keeps to themselves and sits in the corner.
But then about 10 years later at the reunion,
you find out they actually have a lot of friends and are actually pretty cool.
That’s kind of like what Albania is.
It’s time to learn geography – NOW!!!
Now, you know the drill. Before anything, let’s dissect that flag.
As you can see, the Albanian flag is actually pretty simple.
It’s just a red banner with a double-headed eagle emblem on top of it.
The red representig bravery and courage,
and the double-headed eagle is an emblem that the Albanians have claimed
that they have historically used to identify themelves as a people group.
Even though there may be some other countries that would argue.
In terms of its political geography,
Albania is located in the south Balkan region,
right north of Greece, south of Montenegro, east of Macedonia and Kosovo,
南临希腊 北接黑山共和国 东与马其顿和科索沃相邻
even though Serbia will tell you that Kosovo is totally not Kosovo – it’s just part of Serbia.
But we’ll discuss that in another video.
And off the coast are the Ionian and Adriatic Seas.
Now when it comes to Albania’s borders
it almost kind of looks like every single country surrounding Albania
is trying to take as much coastline away as they can from Albania.
In the south, Greece is like, meh, I’m just going to take these extra 10 miles of beach.
In the north, Montenegro’s like, meh, I’m just going to take the entire Buna river.
And even inland, Macedonia’s like, meh,
I’m just going to take the majority of the Prespa and Ohrid lakes.
And also access to those lakes.
Albania doesn’t really get that much regard.
Now unlike many of its neighbours that border the Meditteranean,
Albania doesn’t really have many islands that border its coastline.
In fact, there are only 7 to 10ish islands,
most of which are small, uninhabited or barely inhabited
like Tongo and Stillo Island in the south which each have only one house on them,
and most of the other ones are basically, barely even the size on an Ikea.
However, a lot of them do have a lot of cool, historical ancient sites and landmarks on them.
Such as Ali Pasha Castle on Butrint,
and the 13th century monastery on Zvërnec Island.
Except for one, Sazan Island.
Sazan island has actually played a very crucial role in Albania’s history.
It was taken over by the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottomans, and the Greeks,
它曾依次被罗马 拜占庭 奥斯曼帝国 希腊
and the Italians, and the British, and the Greeks,
意大利 英国 希腊占领过
but the Greeks didn’t want it again so they gave it to the Italians,
and then the Italians finally gave it to Albania.
It’s a long story.
To this day, Sazan Island is the only somewhat inhabited island
as the people living there are only there to maintain the former military bases that were built.
In terms of its physical geography,
Albania is about 70% mountainous
with about 25% of the land being arable for agriculture and farming
Which by the way, is a sector that employs about half of the entire population of Albania.
Albanians take their agriculture very seriously.
In fact, for a while, they were completely closed off
from the rest of the world and self-reliant.
In addition to fruits and vegetables and other produce,
one thing that Albanians really like to grow:
They do, I think. They just do.
Now Albania is also loaded with a bunch of other types of landscapes,
like rolling green hills and lush forest,
and very nice warm temperate beaches.
Such as the ones at Ksamil and Durrës.
Speaking of which, interesting factoid.
If you go to Albania, pretty much everywhere around the entire country
you’ll notice these WWII concrete war bunkers located everywhere
The reason being, because in the middle of the 20th century,
the old communist leader Enver Hoxha took over
and built these war bunkers, about 700,000 of them
and placed them all over the country
as a means for militaristic preparation.
Now, of course, that costed the country a lot of money
that they pretty much didn’t have
and it was a poor investment because they never really needed them.
However, to this day it’s almost like a little I-Spy game.
When you go to Albania, see how many bunkers you can find.
Now in terms of its demographics,
about 85%, the vast majority of people in Albania identify as ethnically Albanian.
Now there are some minorities like Greeks,
and Macedonians and Montenegrans as well.
The vast majority of people in Albania also speak the Albanian language,
which is one of the most distinguishable facets of this country.
The Albanian language, to this day,
relates to no other Indo-European language branch in the world.
It stand alone as its own, and is a very unique language.
Albania also has a very interesting faith-based background.
About 60% of the people identify as non-denominational or secular Muslim,
and about 20% identify as Christian, mostly Catholic or Orthodox.
Although historically, Albania at one point banned all religious freedom
尽管历史上 在共产党执政期间 直到1992年
and was declared the very first atheist state in the entire world
during the Communist regime until 1992
Interesting sidenote: in Albania, they shake their head to say yes,
and they nod their head to say no.
This is where things get a little interesting
because historically Albania has probably been
one of THE most socially awkward countries in the world.
Shortly after Albania was relinquished from the Ottoman Empire,
Albania kind of went through a few decades of
not exactly quite knowing how to be Albania again.
And that’s when the Soviets came in.
For a while, Albania was part of the Soviet Bloc.
However, during the Sino-Soviet split,
which is something we’ll discuss all that drama in another video,
Albania actually decided to side with China, and not Russia,
which strategically, may have been a bad decision.
The reason being, because that made China
Albania’s only ally in the world.
And it can get kind of hard when your only ally in the world
isn’t even close to you geographically.
And to add on top of that, in the 70s, China was kind of like:
Look, Albania, it was cute how you wanted to tag along,
but you’re on your own.
And then Albania had no allies.
In the last few years of Communism
and following the death of Enver Hoxha,
Albania kind of saw what was going on and they are like,
yeah, we kind of need to turn things around.
Finally, in 1990, the Communist regime ended,
making Albania a constitutional republic.
This opened up a lot of doors.
And from the 90s, up until today,
Albania has become one of the most social countries in the world,
opening up its arms,
trying to regain as many diplomatic relations as it can with as many countries.
And to this day it has about 40 different embassies in 40 different countries.
Albania is not a social butterfly. Albania is a social pterodactyl.
They even named a street after Geroge W. Bush
after he visited there one time in 2007.
Interesting sidenote: there’s an early episode of the SImpsons
in which Bart signs up for a foreign exchange student programme, and goes to France
whereas the Simpson family receives an exchange student named Adil from Albania.
The episode was filmed in 1990,
right before the fall of Communism in Albania.
It lightly portrays the tensions
between America and Soviet-influenced nations back in that time.
In terms of its best friend,
Albania would probably consider Kosovo be its best friend,
considering that the vast majority of people in Kosovo are Albanians.
Gotta support your brothers.
In conclusion, Albania may have been that little reserved, quiet kid,
总之 阿尔巴尼亚也许曾经是那个内向 安静的孩子
and yeah maybe they made a few bad decisions here and there historically.
But they’ve really started to turn things around.
And you gotta give that for that.
Stay tuned! Algeria is coming up next.
You know how in high school, there’s always like that one little emo kid,