Albania, officially known as the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipërisë; Albanian pronunciation: [ɾɛpuˈblika ɛ ʃcipəˈɾiːs]), is a country in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. It is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea.
Albania is a member of the UN, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation, and is one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean. Albania has been a potential candidate for accession to the European Union since January 2003 and it formally applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009.
The modern-day territory of Albania was at various points in history part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia (southern Illyricum), Macedonia (particularly Epirus Nova), and Moesia Superior. The modern Republic became independent after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Europe following the Balkan Wars. Albania declared independence in 1912 (to be recognised in 1913), becoming a Principality, Republic, and Kingdom until being invaded by Italy in 1939, which formed Greater Albania, which in turn became a Nazi protectorate in 1943. In 1944, a socialist People’s Republic was established under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour. In 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the Republic of Albania was established.
Albania is a parliamentary democracy with a transition economy. The capital, Tirana, is home to 600,000 of the country’s 2,831,741 people. Tirana is also the financial capital of the country. Free-market reforms have opened the country to foreign investment, especially in the development of energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania was chosen as the No.1 Destination in Lonely Planet’s list of ten top countries to visit for 2011.