Albania And Tirana 2

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Main article: Languages of Albania

The dominant and official language is Albanian, a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk, but with a bigger influence of Tosk as compared to the Gheg. The Shkumbin River is the dividing line between the two dialects. In the areas inhabited by the Greek minority, a dialect of Greek is spoken that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek. Other languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Albania includeVlachDell Vostro 2510 Battery, Serbian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Gorani, and Roma.[81] Macedonian is official in Pustec Municipality in East Albania.

See also: Freedom of religion in Albania

The 2011 Census had declared the following religious affiliations: 56.7% Islam, 10.03% Roman Catholic, 6.75% Albanian Orthodox, 5.49% Unaffiliated, 2.5% Atheist, 2.09% Bektashi, 0.14% Protestant/Evangelical.[82] The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics.[83] A Pew Research Center demographic study from 2009 put the percentage of Muslims in Albania at 49.9%.Dell Inspiron 1410 Battery In 2009 According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, 38.8% of Albanians are Muslim, 16.1% Orthodox, 16.8% Roman Catholics and Nonreligious 16.6%.[85] According to the US State Department, estimates for active participation in religious services are between 25 and 40%.[86] Gallup Global Reports 2010 shows that religion plays a role to 39% of Albanians, and puts Albania in the list of the 14 least religious countries in the world, with Albania the thirteenth least religious country in the world. Dell Vostro 1014 Battery

The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late-11th century. At this point, they were already fully Christianised. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam during the centuries of Ottoman rule. After independence (1912) from the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian republican, monarchic and later Communist regimes followed a systematic policy of separating religion from official functions and cultural life. Albania never had an official state religion either as a republic or as a kingdomDell Vostro 1015 Battery. In the 20th century, the clergy of all faiths was weakened under the monarchy, and ultimately eradicated during the 1940s and 1950s, under the state policy of obliterating all organized religion from Albanian territories.

The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II persecuted and suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world's first atheist stateDell Vostro 1088 Battery. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime's change in 1992. Albanian Muslim populations (mainly secular and of theSunni branch) are found throughout the country whereas Orthodox Christians are concentrated in the south and Roman Catholics are found in the north of the country. No reliable data are available on active participation in formal religious services, but estimates range from 25% to 40%.Dell Vostro A840 Battery

The first recorded Albanian Protestant was Said Toptani, who traveled around Europe, and in 1853 returned to Tirana and preached Protestantism. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Ottoman authorities in 1864. Mainline evangelical Protestants date back to the work of Congregational and later Methodist missionaries and the work of the British and Foreign Bible Society in the 19th century. The Evangelical AllianceDell Vostro A860 Battery, which is known as VUSh http://www.vush.org/ was founded in 1892. Today VUSh has about 160 member congregations from different Protestant denominations. VUSh organizes marches in Tirana including one against blood feuds in 2010. Bibles are provided by the Interconfessional Bible Society of Albania. The first full Albanian Bible to be printed was the Filipaj translation printed in 1990Dell XPS M2010 Battery.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church sent its first missionaries into Albanian territory as early as 1909. Following decades of communist repression, The Albanian Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (http://adventist.al/) was re-established in Tirana in 1992 and has now over 10 churches and groups throughout the country.[89] Its humanitarian wing, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is renown for being the first humanitarian organization to enter post-communist Albania. Dell Inspiron 1520 Battery

There are about 4,000 active Jehovah's Witnesses in Albania.[91]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or 'Mormons') involvement in Albania began with humanitarian aid during the 1990s. The first missionaries were sent in 1992 with the Albania Tirana Mission being opened in 1996. As of 2008, there were nearly 2,000 members of the LDS church in Albania, spread throughout ten branches with two purpose-built chapels and one Family History Center. Dell Inspiron 1521 Battery

Many important Pagan days and rituals are celebrated and practiced by Albanians. 14 March is a Pagan day, called "The summer day". It is celebrated in the city of Elbasan and in Tirana. Concerts, activities, old rituals like gathering around fires are organized, saying welcome to Spring and Summer. The traditional dessert for this day is ballokume. Other important days like "Saint George" (Shën Gjergji) are celebrated in different areas of Albania, but are characterized with pre-Christian traditionsDell Inspiron 1720 Battery.

Albanian folk music falls into three stylistic groups, with other important music areas around Shkodër and Tirana; the major groupings are the Ghegs of the north and southern Labs and Tosks. The northern and southern traditions are contrasted by the "rugged and heroic" tone of the north and the "relaxed" form of the south.

These disparate styles are unified by "the intensity that both performers and listeners give to their music as a medium for patriotic expression and as a vehicle carrying the narrative of oral history", as well as certain characteristics like the use of rhythms such as 3/8, 5/8 and 10/8. Dell Inspiron 1721 Battery The first compilation of Albanian folk music was made by Pjetër Dungu in 1940.

Albanian folk songs can be divided into major groups, the heroic epics of the north, and the sweetly melodic lullabies, love songs,wedding music, work songs and other kinds of song. The music of various festivals and holidays is also an important part of Albanian folk song, especially those that celebrate St. Lazarus Day, which inaugurates the springtime. Lullabies and vajtims are very important kinds of Albanian folk song, and are generally performed by solo women. Dell Vostro 1500 Battery

Albanian language and literature

Ismail Kadare at a reading, 2007

Main articles: Albanian language, Albanian literature, and List of Albanian writers

Albanian was proven to be an Indo-European language in 1854 by the German philologist Franz Bopp. The Albanian language comprises its own branch of the Indo-European language family.

Some scholars believe that Albanian derives from Illyrian[95] while others[96] claim that it derives from Daco-Thracian. (Illyrian and Daco-Thracian, however, might have been closely related languages; see Thraco-Illyrian.)Dell Vostro 1700 Battery

Establishing longer relations, Albanian is often compared to Balto-Slavic on the one hand and Germanic on the other, both of which share a number of isoglosses with Albanian. Moreover, Albanian has undergone a vowel shift in which stressed, long o has fallen to a, much like in the former and opposite the latter. Likewise, Albanian has taken the old relative jos and innovatively used it exclusively to qualify adjectives, much in the way Balto-Slavic has used this word to provide the definite ending of adjectivesDell Inspiron 1420 Battery.

The cultural renaissance was first of all expressed through the development of the Albanian language in the area of church texts and publications, mainly of the Catholic region in the North, but also of the Orthodox in the South. The Protestant reforms invigorated hopes for the development of the local language and literary tradition when cleric Gjon Buzuku brought into the Albanian language the Catholic liturgy, trying to do for the Albanian language what Luther did for GermanDell Vostro 1400 Battery.

Excerpt from Meshari by Gjon Buzuku

Meshari (The Missal) by Gjon Buzuku, published in 1555, is considered the first literary work of written Albanian. The refined level of the language and the stabilised orthography must be the result of an earlier tradition of written Albanian, a tradition that is not well understood. However, there is some fragmented evidence, pre-dating Buzuku, which indicates that Albanian was written from at least the 14th centuryDell Latitude 2100 Battery.

The earliest evidence dates from 1332 AD with a Latin report from the French Dominican Guillelmus Adae, Archbishop of Antivari, who wrote that Albanians used Latin letters in their books although their language was quite different from Latin. Other significant examples include: a baptism formula (Unte paghesont premenit Atit et Birit et spertit senit) from 1462, written in Albanian within a Latin text by the Bishop of Durrës, Pal EngjëlliDell Latitude 2110 Battery; a glossary of Albanian words of 1497 by Arnold von Harff, a German who had travelled through Albania, and a 15th century fragment of the Bible from the Gospel of Matthew, also in Albanian, but written in Greek letters.

The National Museum of Albania features exhibits fromIllyrian times to the fall of Communism in the 1990sDell Latitude D620 Battery.

Albanian writings from these centuries must not have been religious texts only, but historical chronicles too. They are mentioned by the humanist Marin Barleti, who, in his book Rrethimi i Shkodrës (The Siege of Shkodër) (1504), confirms that he leafed through such chronicles written in the language of the people (in vernacula lingua) Dell Latitude D630 Battery.

During the 16th to 17th centuries, the catechism E mbësuame krishterë (Christian Teachings) (1592) by Lekë Matrënga, Doktrina e krishterë (The Christian Doctrine) (1618) and Rituale romanum (1621) by Pjetër Budi, the first writer of original Albanian proseand poetry, an apology for George Castriot (1636) by Frang Bardhi, who also published a dictionary and folklore creations, the theological-philosophical treaty Cuneus Prophetarum Dell Precision M2300 Battery (The Band of Prophets) (1685) by Pjetër Bogdani, the most universal personality of Albanian Middle Ages, were published in Albanian. The most famous Albanian writer is probably Ismail Kadare.

Main article: Education in Albania

Before the establishment of the People's Republic, Albania's illiteracy rate was as high as 85%. Schools were scarce between World War I and World War II. When the People's Republic was established in 1945, the Party gave high priority to the wiping out of illiteracysony vgp-bps2 battery. As part of a vast social campaign, anyone between the ages of 12 and 40 who could not read or write was mandated to attend classes to learn. By 1955, illiteracy was virtually eliminated among Albania's adult population.[97]Today the overall literacy rate in Albania is 98.7%, the male literacy rate is 99.2% and female literacy rate is 98.3%.[2] With large population movements in the 1990s to urban areas, the provision of education has undergone transformation as well. The University of Tirana is the oldest university in Albania, founded in October 1957sony vgp-bps3 battery.

Football is the most popular Sport in Albania, both at a participatory and spectator level. The Sport is governed by the Football Association of Albania (Albanian: Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit, F.SH.F.), created in 1930, member of FIFA and a founding member of UEFA. Other sports played include Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis, Swimming, Rugby union, and Gymnasticssony vgp-bps4 battery.

Albania national football team

Albania national basketball team

Albania national futsal team

See also: Television in Albania and List of radio stations in Albania

Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) is the public radio and TV broadcaster of Albania, founded in 1938 in Tirana. RTSH runs three television stations named Televizioni Shqiptar (TVSH, TVSH 2, and TVSH Sat), and three radio stations, using the name Radio Tirana in addition to 4 regional radio stations. The international service broadcasts radio programmes in Albanian and seven other languages via medium wave (AM) and short wave (SW). sony vgp-bps5 battery The international service has used the theme from the song "Keputa një gjethe dafine" as its signature tune. The international television service via satellite was launched since 1993 and aims at Albanian communities in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and northern Greece, plus the Albanian diaspora in the rest of Europe. RTSH has a past of being heavily influenced by the ruling party in its reporting, whether that party be left or right wingsony vgp-bps7 battery.

According the National Council of Radio and Television (KKRT), Albania has an estimated 257 media outlets, including 66 radio stations and 67 television stations, with three national, 62 local and more than 50 cable TV stations. Last years Albania has organized several shows as a part of worldwide series like Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother Albania,Albanians Got Talent, The Voice of Albania, and X-Factor Albaniasony vgp-bpl7 battery.

Health care has been in a steep decline after the collapse of socialism in the country, but a process of modernization has been taking place since 2000.[99] As of the 2000s (decade), there were 51 hospitals in the country, including a military hospital and specialist facilities.[99] Albania has successfully eradicated diseases such as malariasony vgp-bps8 battery.

Life expectancy is estimated at 77.59 years, ranking 51st worldwide, and outperforming a number of European Union countries, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.[100] The most common causes of death are circulatory disease followed by cancerous illnesses. Demographic and Health Surveys completed a survey in April 2009, detailing various health statistics in Albania, including male circumcision, abortion and more. sony vgp-bps8a battery

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tirana is the main medical school in the country. There are also nursing schools in other cities. Newsweek ranked Albania 57 out of 100 Best Countries in the World in 2010.[102]

The general improvement of health conditions in the country is reflected in the lower mortality rate, down to an estimated 6.49 deaths per 1,000 in 2000, as compared with 17.8 per 1,000 in 1938. In 2000, average life expectancy was estimated at 74 yearssony vgp-bps8b battery, compared to 38 years at the end of World War II. Albania's infant mortality rate, estimated at 20 per 1,000 live births in 2000, has also declined over the years since the high rate of 151 per 1,000 live births in 1960. There were 69,802 births in 1999 and the fertility rate in 1999 was 2.5 while the maternal mortality rate was 65 per 100,000 live births in 1993. In addition, in 1997, Albania had high immunization rates for children up to one year old: tuberculosis at 94%sony vgp-bpl8 battery; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 99%; measles, 95%; and polio, 99.5%. In 1996, the incidence of tuberculosis was 23 in 100,000 people. In 1995 there were two reported cases of AIDS and seven cases in 1996. As of 2000 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at less than 100. The leading causes of death are cardiovascular disease, trauma, cancer, and respiratory diseasesony vgp-bps9 battery.

The cuisine of Albania – as with most Mediterranean and Balkan nations – is strongly influenced by its long history. At different times, the territory which is now Albania has been claimed or occupied by Greece, Serbia, Italy and the Ottoman Turks and each group has left its mark on Albanian cuisine. The main meal of Albanians is the midday meal, which is usually accompanied by a salad of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumberssony vgp-bps9/s battery, green peppers and olives with olive oil, vinegar and salt. It also includes a main dish of vegetables and meat. Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal cities of Durrës, Sarandë andVlorë. In high altitude localities, smoked meat and pickled preserves are common.

Tirana i/tɨˈrɑːnə/ (indefinite form in Albanian: Tiranë; in the regional sub-dialect of Gheg Albanian: Tirona) is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mulletsony vgp-bps9a/s battery. Tirana became Albania’s capital city in 1920 and has a population of 400,000, with metro area population of 763,634. The city is host to public institutions and private universities, and is the centre of the political, economical, and cultural life of the country.

The Municipality of Tirana is located at (41.33°N, 19.82°E) in Tirana District, Tirana County on the river Ishëm, about 32 kilometers (20 mi) inland. Tirana's average altitude is 110 meters (360 ft) above sea level and its highest point measures 1,828 m (5,997.38 ft) at Mali me Gropasony vgp-bps9/b battery. The city is mostly surrounded by hills, with Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. The Tiranë river also runs through the city, whereas the Lanë river is a brook. The city borders the surrounding municipalities of Paskuqan, Dajt, Farkë, Vaqarr, Kashar, and Kamëz.

The city has four artificial lakes: the Tirana Artificial Lake around which was built the Big Park, Paskuqani Lake, Farka Lake, and Tufina Lakesony vgp-bps9a/b battery.

Tirana is on the same parallel as Naples, Madrid, Istanbul, and New York, and on the same meridian as Budapest and Kraków.

The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since Paleolithic times[4] dating back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago as suggested by evidence from tools found near Mount Dajt's quarry and in Pellumba Cave. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited. sony vgp-bps9a battery

The oldest discovery in downtown Tirana was a Roman house, later transformed into an aisleless church with a mosaic-floor, dating back to the 3rd century A.D., with other remains found near a medieval temple at Shengjin Fountain in eastern suburbs. A castle possibly called Tirkan or Theranda whose remnants are found along Murat Toptani Street, was built by Emperor Justinian in 520 AD and restored by Ahmed Pasha Toptani in the 18th century.Sony VGP-BPS12 Battery The area had no special importance in Illyrian and classical times. In 1510, Marin Barleti, an Albanian Catholic priest and scholar, in the biography of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis (The story of life and deeds of Skanderbeg, the prince of Epirotes), referred to this area as a small village. Sony VGP-BPL12 Battery

Tirana Bazaar at the turn of the 20th century

Records from the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431–32 show that Tirana consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 2,028 houses and 7,300 inhabitants. In 1614, Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler established the Ottoman town with a mosque, a commercial centre, and a hammam (Turkish sauna). The town was located along caravan routes and grew rapidly in importance until the early 19th centurySony VGP-BPS13 Battery.

During this period, the Et'hem Bey Mosque built by Molla Bey of Petrela, was constructed. It employed the best artisans in the country and was completed in 1821 by Molla's son, who was also Sulejman Bargjini's grandnephew. In 1800, the first newcomers arrived in the settlement, the so-called ortodoksit. They were Vlachs from villages near Korçë and Pogradec who settled around modern day Park on the Artificial Lake. Sony VGP-BPS13B/Q battery They started to be known as the llacifac and were the first Christians to arrive after the creation of the town. After Serb reprisals in the Debar region, thousands of locals fled to Tirana. In 1807, Tirana became the center of the Sub-Prefecture of Krujë-Tirana. After 1816, Tirana languished under the control of the Toptani family of Krujë. Later, Tirana became a Sub-Prefecture of the newly created Vilayet of Shkodër and Sanjak of DurrësSony VGP-BPS13/Q battery. In 1889, the Albanian language started to be taught in Tirana's schools, while the patriotic club Bashkimi was founded in 1908. On 28 November 1912, the national flag was raised in agreement with Ismail Qemali. During the Balkan Wars, the town was temporarily occupied by the Serbian army, and it took part in uprising of the villages led by Haxhi Qamili. In 1917, the first city outline was compiled by Austro-Hungarian architectsSony VGP-BPS13A/B battery.

Building featuring Italian architecture now used as the Ministry of Defence

On 8 February 1920, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the temporary capital of Albania which had acquired independence in 1912.[8] The city retained that status permanently on 31 December 1925. In 1923, the first regulatory city plan was compiled by Austrian architects.[9] The centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano de Fausto and Armando BrasiniSony VGP-BPS13/S battery, well known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy. Brasini laid the basis for the modern-day arrangement of the ministerial buildings in the city centre. The plan underwent revisions by Albanian architect Eshref Frashëri, Italian architect Castellani, and Austrian architects Weiss and Kohler. The rectangular parallel road system of Tirana e Re district took shape while the northern portion of the main Boulevard was openedSony VGP-BPS13/B battery.

In the political sphere, Tirana experienced such events as intermittent attacks on the mountain pass of Shkalla e Tujanit (Tujan's Staircase) by the army of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and forces loyal to Zogu. In 1924, Tirana was at the centre of a coup d'état led by Fan S. Noli. Since 1925, when they were banned in Turkey, the Bektashis, an order of dervishes who take their name from Haji Bektash, a Sufi saint of the 13th and 14th centuriesSony VGP-BPS13B/S battery, made Tirana their primary settlement. Modern Albanian parliamentary building served as a club of officers. It was there that in September 1928, Zog of Albania was crowned King Zog I, King of the Albanians.

The period between the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the completion of the above architectural projects, clashes between occupying forces and local resistance, and the coming to power of the communistsSony VGP-BPS13A battery. In 1930, the northern portion of modern Dëshmorët e Kombit (National Martyrs) Boulevard finished and named Zog I Boulevard. Meanwhile, the ministerial complex, boulevard axis, Royal Palace (Palace of the Brigades), former municipal building, and the National Bank were still under construction. The latter is the work of renown Italian architect Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo. In addition, Tirana served as the venue for the signing between Fascist Italy and Albania of the Pact of TiranaSony VGP-BPS13A/S battery.

In 1939, Tirana was captured by Fascist forces appointing a puppet government. In the meantime, Italian architect Gherardo Bosio was asked to elaborate on previous plans and introduce a new project in the area of present day Mother Teresa Square.[10] By the early 1940s, the southern portion of the main boulevard and surrounding buildings were finished and renamed with Fascist namesSony VGP-BPS13S battery. A failed assassination attempt was carried towards Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by a local resistance activist during a visit in Tirana. In November 1941, Enver Hoxha founded the Communist Party of Albania.

The town soon became the center of the Albanian communists who mobilized locals against Italian fascists and later Nazi Germans, while spreading ideological propaganda. On 17 November 1944, the town was liberated after a fierce battle between the Communists and German forces. The Nazis eventually withdrew and the communists seized powerSony VGP-BPS13A/Q battery.

From 1944 to 1991, the city experienced ordered development with a decline in architectural quality. Massive socialist-styled apartment complexes and factories began to be built, while Skanderbeg Square was redesigned with a number of buildings being demolished. For instance, Tirana's former Old Bazaar and the Orthodox Cathedral were razed to the ground for the erection of the Soviet-styled Palace of CultureSony VGP-BPS13A/R battery. The Italian-built municipal building was detonated and the National Historical Museum was constructed instead, while the structure housing the Parliament of Albania during the monarchy was turned into a children's theater.

The northern portion of the main boulevard was renamed Stalin Boulevard and his statue erected in the city square. As private car ownership was banned, mass transport consisted mainly of bicycles, trucks, and busesSony VGP-BPS13B battery. After Hoxha's death, a museum in the form of a pyramid was constructed in his memory by the government.

Prior and after the procclamation of Albania's self-isolationist policy, a number of high-profile figures paid visits to the city such as former Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev, former Premier of the People's Republic of China, Zhou Enlai and lately former Minister for Foreign Matters of the German Democratic Republic, Oskar FischerSony VGP-BPS13B/B battery. In 1985, Tirana served as the ceremonial venue of Enver Hoxha's funeral. A few years later, Mother Teresa became the first religious figure to visit the country following Albania's long declared atheist stance. She laid respect to her parents resting at a local cemetery. Starting at Student City and ending at Skanderbeg Square with the toppling of Enver Hoxha's statue, the city saw significant demonstrations by University of Tirana students demanding political freedomsSony VGP-BPL21 battery.

Chaotic development in Tirana

The period following the fall of communism until the late 1990s is often described negatively in terms of urban development even though significant utility investments were made. Kiosks and apartment buildings started to be erected on public areas.

During this period, Albania was transformed from a centrally planned economy into a market economy. Private car ownership was reinstated and businesses re-established. However poor city lighting and road quality became major problems as mudSony VGP-BPS21 battery, potholes, street floods, and dust became permanent features on the streets. However, all buildings and apartments were denationalized, second-hand buses introduced, and modern water, telephone, and electrical systems built during 1992–1996 which form the backbone of modern Tirana. Enver Hoxha's Museum (Pyramid) was dismantled in 1991 and renamed in honor of persecuted activist Pjeter ArbnoriSony VGP-BPS21A battery.

On the political aspect, the city witnessed a number of events. Personalities visited the capital such as former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Pope John Paul II. The former visit came amidst the historical setting after the fall of communism, as hundreds of thousands were chanting in Skanderbeg Square Baker's famous saying of "Freedom works!" Sony VGP-BPS21B battery. Pope John Paul II became the first leading religious figure to visit Tirana after Mother Teresa's visit few years ago. During the Balkans turmoil in the mid 1990s, the city experienced dramatic events such as the unfolding of the 1997 unrest in Albania, and a failed coup d'etat on 14 September 1998. In 1999, following the Kosovo War, Tirana Airport became a NATO airbase serving its mission in the former YugoslaviaSony VGP-BPS26 Battery.

In 2000, former Tirana mayor Edi Rama undertook a campaign to demolish illegal buildings around the city centre and on Lana River banks to bring the area to its pre-1990 state. In addition, Rama led the initiative to paint the façades of Tirana's buildings in bright colours, although much of their interiors continue to degradeSony VGP-BPS26A Battery. Public transport was privatized and newer second hand buses were introduced. Municipal services were expanded, a richer calendar of events introduced, and a Municipal Police force established. Most main roads underwent reconstruction such the Ring Road (Unaza), Kavaja Street, and the main boulevard. Common areas between apartment buildings were brought back to normality after decades of neglect, while parks, city squares, and sports recreational areas were renovated giving Tirana a more European lookSony VGP-BPS13 battery(without CD).

Some critics argue that traditional houses are being threatened by continuous construction of apartment buildings while some green areas are being used for the construction of skyscrapers. In fact, Rama has been accused by critics of political corruption while issuing building permits, but he has dismissed the claims as baseless. Decreasing urban space and increased traffic congestion have become major problems as a general construction chaos is observed in TiranaSony VGP-BPS13B/Q battery(without CD).

In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush marked the first time that such a high ranking American official visited Tirana.[13] A central Tirana street was named in his honor. In 2008, the 2008 Gërdec explosions were felt in the capital as windows were shattered and citizens shaken. In 21 January 2011, Albanian police clashed with opposition supporters in front of the Government building as cars were set on fire, three persons killed, and 150 wounded. Sony VGP-BPS13/Q battery(without CD)

[edit]Outlook

Although much has been achieved, critics argue that there is no clear vision on Tirana's future. some of the pressing issues facing Tirana are loss of public space due to illegal and chaotic construction, unpaved roads in suburban areas, degradation of Tirana's Artificial Lake, rehabilitation of Skanderbeg Square, an ever present smog, the construction of a central bus station, and public parking spaceSony VGP-BPS13A/B battery(without CD). Plans include the continuation of the legalisation process of illegal buildings, construction of the southwestern portion of the "Big Ring Road,"" a tram system, and the rehabilitation of the Tirana Railway Station area.

According to preliminary data from the 2011 national census, the population of Tirana within city limits is 421,286. Tirana County, which can be viewed as a metropolitan area, has a population of 763,634. Many large towns and villages within the county have merged with the citySony VGP-BPS13/S battery(without CD), due to urban sprawl, so they can be viewed as suburbs of Tirana. Some of the large suburbs, listed as separate towns, are Kamëz (67,301), Kashar (45,742), Paskuqan (37,313) and Farkë (22,713). Thus the urban area of Tirana has a population close to 600,000.[2]

In 1703, Tirana had about 4,000 inhabitants and by 1820 the number tripled to 12,000. The first census conducted a few years after becoming capital showed a total population of 10,845. During the 1950sSony VGP-BPS13/B battery(without CD), Tirana experienced rapid industrial growth and the population increased to about 137,000. After the end of communist rule in 1991, Tirana experienced its fastest population growth when people from rural areas moved to the capital for better economic opportunities. In 1990, Tirana had 250,000 inhabitants, but the large-scale influx increased the population to well over 500,000. Stemming from historical migratory waves, Tirana is known for its hospitality represented in many traditional songs with the warm hospitality symbols of 'bread', 'salt', and 'heart'Sony VGP-BPS13B/S battery(without CD).

The largest hospital in Tirana is Mother Theresa Hospital (Qëndra Spitalore Universitare Nënë Tereza), which is associated with University of Tirana, Faculty of Medicine. The hospital is a 1,456-bed facility that offers inpatient tertiary care to over 12,000 patients annually. The hospital is undergoing major changes in infrastructure and equipment. A number of private hospitals have been openedSony VGP-BPS13A battery(without CD).

Taivani, a Tirana restaurants seen from the Sky Tower's revolving restaurant

The main cultural institutions of Tirana are the National Theater, the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania, and the National Arts Gallery (Galeria Kombëtare e Arteve). Performances of renown world composers are regularly performed by the Symphonic Orchestra of the Albanian Radio and TelevisionSony VGP-BPS13A/S battery(without CD).

The city serves as a venue for the Tirana Biennale, Tirana Jazz Festival, Summer Day, White Night on 28 November, Rally Albania, Netet e Klipit Shqiptar, and Tirana Fashion Week. Tirana has been redesigning its identity to a more Mediterranean city lined with cafes and a "vibrant" nightlife.

Tirana is host to academic institutions such as the University of Tirana, Polytechnic University of Tirana, Agricultural University of Tirana, Academy of Physical Education and SportsSony VGP-BPS13AS battery(without CD), University of Arts (Academy of Arts of Albania), the Academy of Sciences of Albania, and the Skanderbeg Military University, national and international academic research institutions, as well as NGOs. English Base is an English Language school in Tirana.

Tirana has seen the creation of private academic institutions, including: Albanian University (U.F.O - Universitas.Fabrefacta Optime), Epoka University, University of New York, Tirana, European University of Tirana, Luarasi University, Academy of Film and Multimedia "Marubi"Sony VGP-BPS13S battery(without CD).

Main article: Administrative divisions of Tirana

See also: List of Tirana's neighborhoods

The Municipality of Tirana is divided into 11 administrative units referred to as Njësi Bashkiake (Municipal units). These have their own mayor and council, and sometimes are known as Mini-Bashki (Mini-Municipality).[19]

In 2000, the centre of Tirana from the central campus of Tirana University up to Skanderbeg Square was declared the place of Cultural Assembly, and given state protection. The historical core of the capital lies around pedestrian only Murat Toptani StreetSony VGP-BPS13A/Q battery(without CD), while the most prominent city district is Blloku. Once a secluded and heavily guarded Politbureau residential area, it has turned into a district where the young and fashionable fill the clubs and cafes. Tirana's influential elite live in the village of Selita on Tirana's outskirts. The area is famous for its villa architecture.

Until recently the city lacked a proper address system. In 2010, the municipality undertook the installing of street name signs and entrance numbers while every apartment entrance was physically stamped. Sony VGP-BPS13A/R battery(without CD)

Half a dozen urban plans for Tirana prepared by consultants have included proposals on how to guide development. In 1995, Regional Consulting, a Vienna-based urban planning firm funded by the Austrian government prepared a master plan for Tirana. In 1995, a Land Management Task Force composed of Albanian urban planners, PADCO (a US-based consulting firm), GHK (UK-based consulting firm), and the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University prepared a preliminary structural plan for the Tirana metropolitan areaSony VGP-BPS13AB battery(without CD). The plan was updated by PADCO in 2002 into a Strategic Plan for Greater Tirana, which covered the metropolitan area.

In 2002, two German consultants, GTZ GmbH (German Technical Cooperation), and IOER (Institute of Ecological and Regional Development) compiled a development study for the Tirana-Durrës region. Two other site plans for the city center were prepared in 2003 and 2010 by French Architecture Studio, and Belgian architectural firm 51N4E respectivelySony VGP-BPS13B battery(without CD). In 2007, a larger strategic plan for this region followed up made by two UK-based firms, Landell Mills Development Consultants and Buro Happold.

Most of these proposals did not go through the established approval procedures and have unclear legal status. The preparation of a new master plan for Tirana was under way for almost a decade (2002–2011). Two interim reports prepared by Urbaplan - a Swiss consultant, and CoPlan - an Albanian urban planning institute were released in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery(without CD)However, the plan was turned down by the National Planning Council of Albania (KRRTRSH). In the meantime, the Municipality announced in 2011 that a new regulatory plan would be prepared within 2012.[22]

Tirana is Albania's major industrial and financial centre. Since the 1920s, it has experienced rapid growth and established many industries for agricultural products and machinery, textiles, pharmaceuticals, metal products, and servicesSony VGP-BPL21 battery(without CD).

Tirana began to develop at the beginning of the 16th century, when a bazaar was established, and its craftsmen manufactured silk and cotton fabrics, leather, ceramics and iron, silver, and gold artifacts. Sited in a fertile plain, the Tirana area exported 2,600 barrels of olive oil and 14,000 packages of tobacco to Venice by 1769. In 1901, it had 140,000 olive trees, 400 oil mills, and 700 shops. Tirana is known for its native wealthy familiesSony VGP-BPS21 battery(without CD). TID tower, an 85 meters business tower is being constructed in the city. Tirana has malls, such as City Park at 3 km², QTU, Casa Italia, and Tirana East Gate.

The city suffers from problems related to overpopulation, such as waste management, and high levels of air pollution and noise pollution. Air pollution has increased by a significant amount as the number of cars has increased by several orders of magnitude[clarification needed] to over 300,000.[23] These are mostly olderSony VGP-BPS21A battery(without CD), diesel cars that pollute much more than newer[when?] models elsewhere in Europe. Additionally, a major proportion of the fuel used in Albania contains larger amounts of sulfur and lead than in the European Union. Another source of pollution are PM10 and PM2.5 inhaled particulate matter and NO2 gases[24][25] resulting from rapid growth in the construction of new buildings and expanding road infrastructure. Sony VGP-BPS21B battery(without CD) Untreated solid waste is present in the city and outskirts. Additionally, there have been complaints of excessive noise pollution. Despite the problems, the Big Park at the Tirana Artificial Lake has some effect on absorbing CO2 emissions, while over 2000 trees have been planted around sidewalks.

Tirana is a major centre for sport in Albania. Tirana's sports clubs include KF Tirana, Partizani, and Dinamo. In football, as of April 2012Sony VGP-BPS14/B Battery, the Tirana based teams have won a combined 57 championships out of 72 championships organized by the FSHF, i.e. 79% of them.

In Tirana there are two major stadiums, the Qemal Stafa Stadium, that holds around 20,000 spectators and the Selman Stërmasi stadium which holds around 12,000 spectators. Tirana's sports infrastructure is developing fast because of the investments from the municipality and the government. From 2007 Tirana Municipality has built up to 80 sport gardens in most of Tirana's neighbourhoodsSony VGP-BPS14B Battery.

The city serves as the meeting point for national roads SH1, SH2 and SH3. Construction of the outer big ring road started in 2011.

Local transport within Tirana is by bus or taxi. Official taxis have yellow plates with red text.

Coach and minibus (furgon) services also run to the coast and northern and southern Albania from Tirana. International coach services connect to Greece, via Korçë or Kakavije, to Kosova[a] via the new Durrës-Morine highway, and to the Republic of Macedonia via StrugaSony VGP-BPS14/S Battery.

A web and Android application regarding Tirana's public transportation such as lines, directions, times and costs can be found at Tirana Bus Stations. An Android application is available for download at Google Play Apps.

See also: Albanian Railways

There are passenger services to Durrës and Librazhd, via Elbasan. The line extending from Librazhd to Pogradec was discontinued in 2012. The Tirana Railway Station is north of Skanderbeg Square, alongside the coach terminal at the north end of Boulevard Zogu ISony VGP-BPL14/B Battery. There are no international passenger services, although there is a freight-only railway through Shkodër to Montenegro.

Main article: Tirana International Airport Mother Theresa

Tirana International Airport Mother Theresa (Nënë Tereza in Albanian), also known as Rinas Airport, was reconstructed in 2007. It is 15 kilometres northwest of the city, off the road to Durrës. Airlines using Rinas include Albanian Airlines. Flights run to Athens, London, Rimini, Bari, Genoa, Rome, Bologna, MunichSony VGP-BPL14 Battery, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Vienna among other places. It is one of the largest airports in the region. Several foreign airlines also serve Rinas Airport: Alitalia (from Rome and Milan), British Airways (from London Gatwick Airport), Austrian Airlines (from Vienna), Adria Airways (Ljubljana), Jat Airways (Belgrade), Lufthansa (Munich), Malev (Budapest), Olympic Air (Athens), Hemus Air (Sofia) and Turkish Airlines (Istanbul). In summer there is a direct charter flight from JFK, New YorkSony VGP-BPL14B Battery.

Sunset over the Adriatic Sea

Tirana is served by the port of Durrës, 36 km distant from the capital. Passenger ferries from Durrës sail to Trieste, Ancona, Otranto, Brindisi, Bari, Genoa (Italy), Zadar, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Koper (Slovenia), Bar (Montenegro), Corfu (Greece) and others. Kavaja is included in the Tirana County alsoSony VGP-BPL14/S Battery.

Bicycles are rented from four stations at Rinia Park and along Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard. The system is part of the Ecovolis bicycle sharing program launched in 2011.[27] A full day ride is 100 leks in cost. Cycling in the streets has been regarded as quite dangerous as bike lanes are lacking. However, in recent years, combined bus and bike lanes have been built on Tirana's main streets. Bike only lanes are located on existing sidewalks along Skanderbeg Square, Lana River, and on Kavaja StreetSony VGP-BPS14 Battery.

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