Albania Country Report
Potential visitors to the small Eastern European nation of Albania (population 3 million) should be aware of the country's relatively high crime rates, among other potential concerns.
Crime remains a primary concern in the country, particularly in the capital Tirana, despite a drop in rates in recent years. Organized criminal groups, the main perpetrators of crime in the country, generally do not target foreigners.
Violent crime rates, including murder, robberies, and armed robberies, fell in 2017. However, petty crime, such as burglaries, thefts, and pickpocketing remains common in urban areas. Visitors are advised against wearing valuable-looking clothing or jewelry to avoid drawing undue attention, to have copies of important identification documents on hand, and be wary of potential pickpockets.
Particular vigilance is advised if traveling to the southern village of Lazarat, one of the largest marijuana producing regions in Europe, or to the northern districts of Has, Kukës, and Tropojë. Criminal groups also frequently operate in the areas bordering Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
Like other European countries, some Albanians have left to fight for the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, leading to fears these individuals could return to carry out attacks within Albania.
Political protests and demonstrations are common in the country. While most protests remain peaceful, there is a risk of violence between demonstrators and security forces. Political tensions between the opposition parties and Prime Minister Edi Rama's government were on the rise in early 2018. The two main opposition parties, the Democratic Party (PD) and the Socialist Party for Integration (LSI), announced in January that they would hold unified protests to remove Prime Minister Rama. Both parties held rallies in Tirana in December 2017, which resulted in some isolated incidents of violence.
Natural hazards must also be taken into consideration when traveling to Albania; the entire country is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding is relatively common, particularly in the northern regions.
Roads are in poor condition throughout the country, particularly in rural areas. Power outages are frequent and may affect street lighting in urban areas. If involved in an accident, even a minor one, wait for the police to arrive. Public transportation, such as buses and trains, are unreliable and safety standards are poor. It is advised use only yellow taxis or to hire a reputable driver.
Health and medical conditions in the country are below western standards. Government hospitals are poorly-equipped, unsanitary, and suffer from a lack of supplies. Travelers are advised to bring any medications they may need during their stay with them and to obtain travel medical insurance before travel to the country.
Diarrheal diseases (e.g. tourista) are common; travelers should be careful to only eat thoroughly-cooked foods and dine in reputable restaurants, to never drink untreated tap water, and to avoid dairy products (e.g. cheese, ice cream).
Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some parts of the country (mainly wooded areas).
Air pollution is also a significant issue in Albania; Tirana is one of the most polluted cities in Europe and the level of air pollution could aggravate respiratory problems.
Albania won official EU candidate status in 2014, setting itself on the path to eventual membership. The country continues to try to implement reforms to meet EU requirements. The European Commission is expected to announce a timeline for Albania's accession in February 2018.
Albania has a Mediterranean climate: winters are wet and mild and summers hot and dry. The center and the west of the country experience very high temperatures (40°C) in the summer due to hot winds coming off the sea. The east and the north (mountainous regions) are cooler in the summer and cold in the winter.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +355 Police: 129 Fire Department: 128 Medical Emergencies: 127
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Albania: Main opposition parties to start protests Jan. 27 /update 1
TIMEFRAME: from 1/24/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/27/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Tirane).
Albania: Opposition parties to hold united anti-government protests
TIMEFRAME: from 1/8/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/22/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Tirane).