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Located in southeast Europe, the small country of Albania is bordered by Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, and the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Mountains fill Albania’s eastern region and coastal plains cover the western region, which is home to most of the population.
Despite the economy's recent growth, Albania still remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. The agriculture sector, which employs over half of Albania's workforce, has struggled in recent years.
About 12 percent of Albanians are unemployed and a quarter of people live below the poverty line.
School dropout rates are a growing concern for children. Most children enroll in primary school, but only about half actually attend and finish. This problem is especially common among the Roma, an ethnic group formerly known as “gypsies,” which is now a derogatory term.
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Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.
Trained teachers in positive discipline techniques, equipping them to resolve conflicts while respecting the rights of children.
Organized campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of education among parents, leading to an increase in school enrollment.
Provided vocational education courses for young people who were unable to attend high school.
Partnered with local organizations to provide life-skills workshops for at-risk children and victims of trafficking.
Coordinated vocational classes for young people in fields such as hairdressing and auto mechanics.
Facilitated workshops for parents to strengthen family relationships and promote positive parenting methods.
Held life-skills sessions to teach children how to make healthy decisions, avoid violence, and form healthy relationships.
Educated mothers in children's nutritional requirements and meal planning, enabling them to better care for their children.
Implemented a program to teach community members about the importance of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Helped vulnerable children access medical treatment.
2,381 small-business owners (50 percent of whom are women) have received microloans totaling $2,045,368 to create 6,775 local jobs.
2,385 children received improved health and education because their household income increased due to microloan-supported businesses.
World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Albania to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 12,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Albania. Highlights include:
World Vision began working in Albania in 1999, providing relief operations in response to the Kosovo refugee crisis. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:
Geography and people
Located in southeast Europe, the small country of Albania is bordered by Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, and the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Mountains fill Albania’s eastern region and coastal plains cover the western region, which is home to most of the population. The Strait of Otranto separates Albania from Italy by 45 miles.
Natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, coal, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, and hydropower.
The Albanian ethnic group makes up most of the population; Greeks, Roma, Vlachs, Serbians, and Bulgarians make up the remainder of the population. Albanian, derived from the Tosk dialect, is the official language, but the people also speak Greek.
Most people work in agriculture, growing products such as wheat, corn, potatoes, sugar beets, and grapes. Albania’s other industries include food processing, textiles, lumber, oil, mining, chemicals, cement, and hydropower.
Albanians cherish close family ties, as well as their ethnic heritage. Ethnic Albanians call themselves Shqipetars, which means “sons of the eagle.”
Spending centuries under Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman control, Albania did not declare independence until 1912. Albania’s independence only lasted a couple of decades. Italy invaded the country in 1939 and Communist supporters seized control in 1944.
After more than forty years of communist rule, Albania held multiparty elections in 1991. In the late 1990s, fighting between Serbians and independence-seeking ethnic Albanians in neighboring Kosovo forced 44,000 refugees into Albania, compounding the economic challenges that residents already faced.
Despite Albania’s transition to a democratic government, elections did not gain stability until recent years. Albania jointed NATO in 2009.