|Who are the people?|
The Republic of Albania, as it is officially known, began making the transition to democracy in 1991. Previously, the nation had been ruled by the most repressive and isolated communist regime in Europe.
The government is officially an “emerging democracy,” but maintaining infrastructure is extremely difficult, especially in rural areas.
There are currently 3.1 million people living in Albania. Most are ethnic Albanians who call themselves Shqipetars, “Sons of the Eagle,” and speak Albanian.
In 1967, the communist government created the world’s first officially atheistic country when it outlawed all religions. Many churches and mosques reopened when the ban was lifted in 1990. Today, Albanians enjoy full religious freedom.
The effects of communism have deeply impacted Albania’s social development. Those who previously relied on the government to provide for them are suffering even greater hardships than before because the state no longer has resources to care for them.
More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty level, making Albania one of the poorest countries in Europe. Many families are leaving their rural hometowns for urban areas in hopes of finding better jobs and more opportunities. Some parents work abroad in countries like Greece or Italy, sending money home to help support their families.
|What is it like to live there?|
Albania is a very mountainous country, with more than 70 percent of the land rising higher than 1,000 feet in elevation. The most rugged mountains are located in the north, while the western coastal region consists primarily of hills and valleys. Farming is often a very difficult task as drainage and water supply problems frequently threaten crops.
In most areas of Albania, the climate consists of hot summers and rainy winters. Freezing temperatures and snow are common in the mountains, while heavy thunderstorms often ravage lowland communities.
Albania was entirely cut off from the outside world throughout most of the 20th century. In 1991, it became the last country to emerge from a communist regime, and has struggled through years of political instability and economic collapse.
An outbreak of civil disorder erupted in 1997, followed by an influx of 460,000 Kosovar refugees in 1998. This increased the burden on the already deteriorating political, economic, and social infrastructures.
World Vision is working to tackle the unnecessary causes of poverty in Albania and improve the quality of life for your sponsored child. Families and communities benefit from improved educational, health care, and development opportunities, thanks to sponsors like you!
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