• Albania (Republika and Shqipërisë), also known as• Shqipëria, which means literally ‘Country of theEagles’, lies in southeast Europe in the south-west ofthe Balkan peninsular.• It shares a border with Montenegro to the north (for 287km), with Kosovo and Macedonia to the north-east(151 km), with Greece (for 282 km) to the south andsouth-east, while to the west it looks onto the Adriaticand Ionian Seas, with a coastline extending for 472 km.• Albania covers a total area of 28,748 km2, 1,350 ofwhich are internal waters. By way of comparison, it is alittle larger than Sicily (Italy) and slightly smaller thanMaryland (USA).
• About two-thirds of Albania’s geography is either hilly ormountainous. These elevations offer myriad outdoorrecreation possibilities, including everything from paddlingsports to paragliding. These areas also host a variety oftourism ventures, including ecoand agritourism. There is arenewed interest in alpine climbing and exploration, as well,with the 2,018 m Çika Ridge being a highly desirable climb.Various destinations in the Northern Alps, with elevations ashigh as 2,700 m, beckon to the climber, as well.• Specifically the towns of Vermosh, Theth, Razëm, Bogë, andValbona, can all serve as starting points for an expedition.
TropojëMalësi e MadheKukësPukëShkodërDibërMatKrujë
• Tropojë (Definite Albanian form: Tropoja) is a municipalityin the Tropojë District,Kukws country, northern Albania,near the border with Kosovo.It is home to the non-navigable Valbonë River. Tropojë has many agriculturalproducts and is famous for its chestnuts, apples, nuts,grapes, and especially blueberries . Large reservesof platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, palladium, iridium,and osmium have been discovered in Tropojë. Albanian,Italian, and Chinese engineers, working for AlbanianMinerals and Bytyci ShPK in Tropojë, suggest the area mayhave more than 500 million tons of chrome ore and morethan two billion tons of olivine in which platinum is 5-7grams present per ton. This gigantic body of ore is one ofthe largest in the world.Tropojë
• Tropojë is also famous for being mentioned inthe 2008 film Taken, starring Liam Neeson, inwhich members of the Albanian Mafia comefrom the town. The municipality is alsomentioned in the films sequel Taken 2.
Malësi e Madhe• The Malësi e Madhe District (Albanian: Rrethii Malësisë së Madhe) is one of the thirty-sixdistricts of Albania, part of Shkodër County. Ithas a population of 36,091 (2010 estimate),and an area of 555 km². It is in the north ofthe country, and its capital is Koplik.
Kukës• The County of Kukës (Albanian: Qarku iKukësit) is one of the 12 counties of Albania. Itconsists of the districts Has, Kukës and Tropojëand its capital is Kukës. To the east, Kukësborders Kosovo, while in the extremenorthwest it borders Montenegro and in theextreme southeast it borders the Republic ofMacedonia.
Pukë• The District of Pukë (Albanian: Rrethi i Pukës)is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania, partof Shkodër County. It has a population of24,323 (2010 estimate), and an area of1,034 km².• It is located in the north of the country and itscapital is Pukë.
Shkodër• Shkodër (Definite Albanian form: Shkodra; historically also knownas Scutari), is a city in northwestern Albania in the District ofShkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and mosthistoric places in Albania, as well as an important cultural andeconomic centre.• During many different epochs it has retained its status as a majorcity in the Western Balkans, due to its geostrategic positioning closeto the Adriatic and the Italian ports, but also with land-routes toother important cities and towns in neighbouring regions.• Its importance is heightened by the Lake of Shkodër to the west ofthe city—the largest in the Western Balkans—that straddles Albaniaand neighbouring Montenegro. The population of Shkodër is95,907, while Shkodër County has a population of 217,375.
• Shkodër is an important educational and industrial center. The cityproduces various mechanical and electrical components, along withtextile and food products. Luigj Gurakuqi University of Shkodër isone of the more prestigious learning centers of Albania. The publiclibrary of the city contains more than 250,000 books. Several othercultural institutions exist, such as the Cultural Center, the MarubiPhoto Archives, the Artists and Writers Association, the "Migjeni"Theater (named after Millosh Gjergj Nikolla), the Gallery of Arts,and the Museum of History. Shkodër is the center of AlbanianCatholicism and the most prominent city of Roman Catholics inAlbania. Historic cultural architecture includes the Castle ofShkodër, the Turkish Bath, and the Lead Mosque. The Castle ofShkodër became famous during the First Balkan War when it wasprotected by the Turkish general Hasan Riza Pasha and Esad Pasha.Many festivals take place on an annual basis such as Carnival,Children Festival, Lake Day, and Shkodra Jazz Fest.• Shkodër is also famous for its Islamic scholarship. The site of theonly institution in Albania which provides high-level education inArabic and Islamic Studies, having produced well-known Muslimpersonalities as Shaykh Nasirudin Albani.
Dibër• The District of Dibër (Albanian: Rrethi i Dibrës)is one of the 36 districts of Albania, partof Dibër County. It has a total population of62,825, and an area of 1088 km². It is in thenortheast of the country, and its capitalis Peshkopi.• The district takes its name from thetown Debar, in Macedonia.
• Dibër has been the battlefield of Turkish andother Balkan wars for centuries. Its river Drini iZi (Black Drin) was colored in red blood severaltimes which gives the name to the river to paytribute to those who have fallen during thewars for centuries. Diber contains 7 lakesof Lurë. Dibër is the place wherethe Kastriot village lays, which is close toanother village called Sinjë (Sinë) wherethe George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was born andreturned after the Turkish escaping to Diber.
Mat• The District of Mat (Albanian: Rrethi i Matit) isone of the thirty-six districts of Albania, partof Dibër County. It is named after theMatRiver, that flows through the district. It has apopulation of 48,803 (2010 estimate), and anarea of 1,029 km². Its capital is Burrel.
Krujë• Krujë (Definite Albanian form: Kruja) is a town in northcentral Albania and the capital of the municipality andthe Krujë District. It has a population of about 15,900. Locatedbetween Mount Krujë and the Ishëm River, the city is only20 km from the capital of Albania, Tirana.• Inhabited by the Illyrian tribe of the Albani, in 1190 Krujëbecame the capital of the first autonomous Albanian state inthe middle ages, the Principality of Arbër. Later it was thecapital of the Kingdom of Albania, while in the early 15thcentury Krujë was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, butthen recaptured in 1443 by Skanderbeg, leader of the Leagueof Lezhë, who successfully defended it against three Ottomansieges until his death in 1468.
• The Ottomans took control of the town after the fourthsiege in 1478, and incorporated it in their territories. A1906 local revolt against the Ottoman Empire was followedby the 1912 Declaration of Independence of Albania. In themid-1910s Krujë was one of the battlefields of the conflictbetween the short-lived Republic of Central Albania,founded by Essad Toptani, and the Principality of Albania. In1914 Toptani managed to seize the town but during thesame year it was reincorporated by Prênk Bibë Doda in thePrincipality of Albania. During WWII was the center of theactivities of resistance leader Abaz Kupi.• The museums of Krujë include the Skanderbeg museum,located in the environs of the Krujë castle, and the nationalethnographic museum.
Photos of other well known NorthAlbanian places!
• The Kanun is a set of traditional Albanian laws.The Kanun was primarily oral and only in the 20thcentury was it published in writing. There is onlyone Kanun since the ancient times commonlyreferred to the "Kanun of Leke" from which sixlater variations eventually evolved, categorizedaccording to the area, the personality and theirtime of origin: Kanun i vjetër (English: OldKanun), Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit (English: TheKanun of Lekë Dukagjini), Kanunii Çermenikës (English: The Kanun ofÇermenikë), Kanuni i Papa Zhulit(English: TheKanun of Papa Zhuli), Kanuni i Labërisë (English:The Kanun of Labëria) and Kanuni iSkenderbeut (English: Kanun of Skanderbeg)alsoknown as Kanuni i Arbërisë (English: Kanun ofArbëria).
• The Kanun of Skanderbeg is the closest in similarity withthe Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini, and the latter is usually themost known and is also regarded as a synonym of thewordkanun. The Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini was developedby Lekë Dukagjini, who codified the existing customarylaws. It has been used mostly in northern andcentral Albania and surrounding areas formerly inYugoslavia where this is a large ethnic Albanian population;Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. It was first codified inthe 15th century but the use of it has been outspread muchearlier in time. It was used under that form until the 20thcentury, and revived recently after the fall ofthe communist regime in the early 1990s.
The Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini is composed of 12 booksand 1,262 articles. The books and their subdivisions arethe following:• Church• Family• Marriage• House, Livestock and Property• Work• Transfer of Property• Spoken Word• Honor• Damages• Law Regarding Crimes• The kanun of the elderly• Exemptions and Exceptions
Individual people have preserved their antique culinary traditions and at the sametime have enriched them with the culinary experience of others. The geographicaland historical proximity have made possible reciprocal influences in the economy,culture and especially in the way of life. Notwithstanding, it appears that theinfluencesof the culinary art are more felt due to the fact that these peoples produce to agreatextent the same food articlesAlbanian Cuisine
• The traditional Albanian cuisine, costumes, culture and thehospitality that characterize Albanians originate from ancient times.• Albania is one of the most ancient countries in Europe,lying on theborder between East and West. As a result,one finds traces of twocultures and culinary arts: orientaland occidental• The favorable climate allows for the cultivation of nearlyall kinds ofagricultural produce. There is a rich variety ofvegetables and fruits,which are consumed raw, in dishes,with meat or conserved.• The most preferred vegetables are: tomato, pepper, eggplant,ladyfinger, potato, cabbage, onion, garlic, greenbeans, beans,cucumber, etc. They are most frequentlyfried, boiled in slow fire, orbaked.• Among the leguminous plants, the most popular and traditional isthe bean. Cooked in earthenware, beans are especially delicious.They are either used in dishes on their own or with othervegetables or meat. In some regions, beans are also used in pies.Peas and green beans also make delicious dishes.
NORTHEN REGION CUISINE• Maize is widely cultivated in this region,making maize flour not only the key ingredientin producing bread but also in cooking anassortment of traditional dishes both saltyand sweet.• The cold climate of the region enables eachfamily to create food supplies that last for along time like pastërma (dried meat), stuffedtripe (zorrë e mbushur), mash (trahana), pasta(jufka) etc., used during the winter season.These are homemade in every household inthe north.
• Among the most characteristic and often used vegetablesin the kitchen are: bean, potato, cabbage, which areingredients in different delicious dishes. Onion and garlicare ever present. They are tied in strings and dried, atradition of the northern regions, so that they are availablethroughout the year.• Traditional dishes of this region include: baked rice (birjanof Peshkopia, fritter balls (petulla) of Luma, pasta (jufka),casserole (tavë) of Gora, paçe of Kosova, suxhuk of Gjakova,maize mash (harapash mëmëlikë), chicken wheat rissotto(qeshqek me pulë), garlic mash (çervish), maize flourcookies (gurabie me miell misri), milk pie with maize flour(qumështor me miell misri), haxhimakulle etc..• The cuisine of Shkodra occupies a special place, withpopular dishes taste makes it a fixture in familycelebrations.
• Talking about the region, one cannot help butmention the• reservation of Kunë-Vain in the district ofLezha and the• surrounding lagoons rich in seafowl and wildanimals, like:• duck, goose, woodcock, pheasant, wild hare,etc.. Hunted• for their delicious meat, these birds andanimals are in the• menus of local restaurants.
• The climate, well suited for growing thecharacteristic plum of Dibra, apple, cherry(vishnja), nut, walnut, etc., has spurred thetradition of making raki from plums (shliva)and preserves. A special fruit of this region isthe pomegranate of Shkodra, big,sweet andjuicy.
Costumes• The traditional gala costume is particularlybeautiful; it is worn by women on particularoccasions like weddings or festivities such asEaster or the local patron saint. The costumesare authentic works of art that replicateancient symbols in the embroidery of stars orbranches bearing blossoms.
Weddings!• In Albania marriage is still a very powerful institution,though in recent years there has been an increase in thenumber of couples choosing to cohabit before decidingwhether to marry later.• The years of transition that Albania is experiencing havealso affected the age of marriage. Although an increase inthe average age of marriage generally leads to more stablefamilies, the number of divorces per 100 marriages hasincreased from 9.6 in 2001 to 14.2 in 2004. This,however,can also be explained by the improvement in thestatus of women, since most divorces are requested bywomen. Since 1990 the average age of couples gettingmarried has risen steadily and it has now reached Europeanlevels.
Folk Music!• Folk music plays an important part in traditional Albanianculture, and is very much alive today. Albanian music has veryancient origins and has only been handed down from• father to son orally. The most important musical genre is thekenge te lehta (soft songs). The traditional songs (calledpopullore) are usually sung by the old people, with the famoushat of Albanian tradition. The vallore songs which are sungand played during elaborate wedding ceremonies are very• important.
• The wealth of Albanian folk musical is reflected in thedifferent musical forms, and include those for solovoice and for several voices. The River Shkumbin thatseparates the Geg (north) and Tosk (south) ethnicgroups also acts as a natural boundary between twotypes of folk music. To the north of this river we findthe mono-phonic music accompanied by specificmusical instruments of this area such as the singlechord lute and the two-chorded cifteli.• Besides this type of music, which has developed in the• villages and rural areas sine the end of the XIX centurythere is also the traditional folk music of the towns thatuses important instruments such as the clarinet, violinand accordion, as well as local instruments such as thelute, flute and tambourine.
Famous Albanians from the North• Gjergj Fishta• Ndre Mjeda• Mother Teresa• Skanderbeg• Gjon Kastrionti• Hamza Kastrioti• Sali Berisha• Millosh Gjergj Nikolla• Azem Galica and ShotaGalica• Kolë IdromenoAvni MulaInva MulaJames BiberiEnver PetrovciTinka KurtiTonin HarapiCesk ZadejaGjon BuzukuMarin BarletiMartin CamajFadil BerishaAngela MartiniLorik CanaHamdi SalihiKreshnik QatoElis GuriPope Clement XIGiovanniFrancesco AlbaniAli Pasha ofGucia