November 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of independence in Albania from Turkish rule. Since Independence, the country has developed into a popular destination for tourists keen to explore its archaeological heritage, unspoilt beaches and delicious cuisine. Read our top ten little known facts about Albania.
1. Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha, Albania was declared the world’s first atheist state in 1967.
2. Tirana, the capital of Albania is one of the few European capital cities to not have a McDonalds. However, it does have a chain named Kolonat whose logo looks suspiciously familiar!
3. The official name for Albania is "Republika e Shqiperise" meaning the Republic of Albania.
4. Between 1950 to 1985 around 60,000 bunkers were built in Albania, they are nearly impossible to destroy so many are still in existence.
5. Nodding your head in Albania is a disagreement while shaking the head means "yes", so it can get pretty confusing for tourists!
6. At its closest point Albania is only 10km away from Corfu across the Ionian Sea.
7. Hoxha's official title was ‘Comrade-Chairman-Prime Minister-Foreign Minister-Minister of War-Commander in Chief of the People’s Army’ – quite a mouthful!
8. Xhiro is the name for an evening walk in Albania. Some of the towns close roads to cars at certain times of the evening so locals can talk their daily stroll.
9. Norman Wisdom was a cult figure in Albania where he was one of the few Western actors whose films were allowed in the country under Hoxha’s dictatorship.
10. Officially 70% of Albanians are Muslim but the number who actively practice is much lower.
To see Albania for yourself, pick from our collection of holidays to Albania.
By Linda Harris