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Summary: Located in southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic and Ionian seas, between Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania is mostly mountains and hills, with small plains along the coast. Statistically poorer by European standards, Albania has an economy based on agriculture, mining and manufacturing and is working to upgrade the country's infrastructure while making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy.
Time Zone: DST +0200 UTC
Languages: Albanian, Greek
Power: 220 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Lek - Currently 1 ALL = 0.0121 USD $
Climate: Albania has a mild temperate climate with cool, cloudy and wet winters, and hot, clear and dry summers, with an interior that is cooler and wetter.
Tirana: Tirana is the capital and the largest city in Albania located near the center of the country and halfway between Istanbul and Rome. Established in 1614, it is the administrative, cultural, economic, and industrial center of the country. Some highlights include the National Museum of History, the fresco covering the International Hotel next door, the Palace of Culture, Skenderberg Square, and the Mother Albanian Monument in the city cemetery.
Butrint: Settled earlier than the 6th century BC in the far south of the country, Butrint shows Albania's ancient Greek history. A ruined acropolis and theater, popular with visiting tourists, the public baths, with beautiful tiled patterns, and a 6th century baptistry are some of the things to see here, along with the triangular fortress that only dates from the 19th century, but still dominates the landscape.
Power: Voltage fluctuations are common in some areas but are generally around 220 Volts in most areas.
Conservative: In the countryside, the attitude towards women is still highly conservative, expecting modest clothing and behavior.
Yes or No: Visitors from other countries may be confused by the Albanians nodding to indicate no.
Security: The northern part of the country near Kosovo has some unexploded landmines, and visitors should be very aware of their surroundings, steering clear of demonstrations. Otherwise, it is generally safe to travel through other parts of the country.
Drinks: If staying with locals and heading out for a drink, offer to pay to impress and show respect for your host, even though they almost always refuse.
When To Visit: September has the trailing of the warm summer and makes for a nice time to visit while avoiding most of the tourist season.
Food: With a Turkish influence, Albanian dishes include shish kebabs, called shishqebap, meat and onion stew, called conlek, and mutton with a yogurt-based sauce, called tave kosi, and akullore, or ice cream, or strong coffee following the meal.
Tipping: Standard tipping rules apply, about 10% to 15% being acceptable for waiters and taxi drivers.