Monday, 29 October 2012


Flag of Antarctica
Speculation over the existence of a "southern land" was not confirmed until the early 1820s when British and American commercial operators and British and Russian national expeditions began exploring the Antarctic Peninsula region and other areas south of the Antarctic Circle. Not until 1840 was it established that Antarctica was indeed a continent and not just a group of islands or an area of ocean. Several exploration "firsts" were achieved in the early 20th century, but generally the area saw little human activity. Following World War II, however, there was an upsurge in scientific research on the continent. A number of countries have set up a range of year-round and seasonal stations, camps, and refuges to support scientific research in Antarctica. Seven have made territorial claims, but not all countries recognize these claims. In order to form a legal framework for the activities of nations on the continent, an Antarctic Treaty was negotiated that neither denies nor gives recognition to existing territorial claims; signed in 1959, it entered into force in 1961.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest, and most isolated continent on Earth.  The extreme climate limits the presence and activities of humans in Antarctica.  The persistent cold (even during the austral summer), the limited precipitation (which qualifies much of the continent as frozen desert), the frequent overcast skies, the severe winds, and the succession of storms over the ocean and coastal areas help explain why Antarctica is the only continent that has never had a native human population.
Although seven countries (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom) maintain claims to territory in Antarctica, the United States and most other countries do not recognize those claims.   Governance of the continent is managed through the Antarctic Treaty (signed in Washington, DC in 1959) and its associated instruments, such as the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty.  The continent is reserved for peaceful purposes and science and most of those who stay there for limited periods of time there are associated with national Antarctic science programs. The 49 Treaty Parties, one of which is the United States, meet annually at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting to discuss cooperation.
Antarctica’s popularity as a tourist destination is growing.  More than one-third of all ship-borne tourists visiting Antarctica are U.S. citizens and almost half of all Antarctic tourist expeditions are subject to U.S. regulation because they are organized in or proceed from the United States.  The Department of State is responsible for informing other Treaty Parties of non-governmental expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from the United States.


Anguilla's Flag
Anguilla is a wonderful country with great beaches. Has fantastic beaches and lots of sun. Anguilla location map
The two mainstays of the Anguillan economy are the tourist sector and the financial services.
The book "Under an English Heaven" is an entertaining book about of Anguilla's revolution.
Navigational Chart
If you are sailing to Anguilla you may want to look at a chart of Anguilla
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – wedding bells immediately come to mind, but what about Anguilla? As rabid consumerism devours many Caribbean hot spots, this little limestone bump in the sea has, thus far, maintained its charming menagerie of clapboard shacks (something old) while quietly weaving stunning vacation properties (something new) into the mix. Visitors will discover a melting pot of cultures (something borrowed) set along mind-blowing beaches (something very blue).
One of the most intriguing things about little Anguilla is that it’s hard to decide whether or not the island is grossly underrated or if it actually garners more buzz than it deserves. Supporters cite the refreshing lack of development relative to neighboring islands (no casinos, nightclubs etc), and an earnest local vibe that remains very much intact. But on the other hand, extreme price hikes have turned the island into St-Barthélemy’s stunt double for jetsetters.
Map of Anguilla
While the debate will no doubt rage for years to come, most agree that the island’s best feature (besides the oh-so-blue sea) is its malleability – Anguilla is a blank canvas, allowing visitors to design any vacation they please. Those seeking opulence and privacy can rent one of the many rambling villas, while those looking to dive headfirst into the gritty island culture will be sated with cold beer, reggae beats and nightly gatherings around smoky BBQs. And what’s more satisfying than discovering a hidden local haunt which serves fresh lobster and big smiles for half the price of those big-name joints down the street?

Sunday, 28 October 2012



Angola, more than three times the size of California, extends for more than 1,000 mi (1,609 km) along the South Atlantic in southwest Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo are to the north and east, Zambia is to the east, and Namibia is to the south. A plateau averaging 6,000 ft (1,829 m) above sea level rises abruptly from the coastal lowlands. Nearly all the land is desert or savanna, with hardwood forests in the northeast.
Angola underwent a transition from a one-party socialist state to a nominally multiparty democracy in 1992.
The original inhabitants of Angola are thought to have been Khoisan speakers. After 1000, large numbers of Bantu speakers migrated to the region and became the dominant group. Angola derives its name from the Bantu kingdom of Ndongo, whose name for its king is ngola.
Explored by the Portuguese navigator Diego Cão in 1482, Angola became a link in trade with India and Southeast Asia. Later it was a major source of slaves for Portugal's New World colony of Brazil. Development of the interior began after the Berlin Conference in 1885 fixed the colony's borders, and British and Portuguese investment fostered mining, railways, and agriculture.
Peace Does Not Follow Independence
Following World War II, independence movements began but were sternly suppressed by Portuguese military forces. The major nationalist organizations were the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), a Marxist party; National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA); and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). After 14 years of war, Portugal finally granted independence to Angola in 1975. The MPLA, which had led the independence movement, has controlled the government ever since. But no period of peace followed Angola's long war for independence. UNITA disputed the MPLA's ascendancy, and civil war broke out almost immediately. With the Soviet Union and Cuba supporting the Marxist MPLA, and the United States and South Africa supporting the anti-Communist UNITA, the country became a cold war battleground.
With the waning of the cold war and the withdrawal of Cuban troops in 1989, the MPLA began to make the transition to a multiparty democracy. Despite shifting ideologies, the civil war continued, with UNITA's charismatic rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, armed and sustained by his control of approximately 80% of the country's diamond trade. Free elections took place in 1992, with incumbent president José Eduardo dos Santos and the MPLA winning the UN-certified election over Savimbi and UNITA. Savimbi then withdrew, charging election fraud, and the civil war resumed.
Four years of relative peace passed between 1994 and 1998, when the UN, at a cost of $1.6 billion, oversaw the 1994 Lusaka peace accord. In 1997, it was agreed that a coalition government with UNITA would be implemented. But Savimbi violated the accord repeatedly by refusing to give up his strongholds, failing to demobilize his army, and retaking territory. As a result, the government suspended coalition rule in Sept. 1998, and the country again plunged into civil war. Angola’s citizens continued to suffer. The hostilities affected an estimated 4 million people, about a third of the total population, and there were almost 2 million refugees.P
Peace Is Achieved, but Domestic Suffering Continues
On Feb. 22, 2002, government troops killed Jonas Savimbi, and six weeks later, on April 4, rebel leaders signed a cease-fire deal with the government, signaling the end of 30 years of civil war. While peace finally seemed secure, more than a half-million Angolans were faced with starvation.
Angola is the second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, yet its people are among the continent's poorest. The corruption under the Dos Santos government bears much of the blame. According to the International Monetary Fund, more than $4 billion in oil receipts have disappeared from Angola's treasury in the last six years.
In Aug. 2006, a peace deal was signed with separatist rebels from the Cabinda region. That clash had been called Angola's “forgotten war.” About 65% of Angola's oil comes from the region.
In Angola's first national elections in 16 years, held in Sep. 2008, the governing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won about 82% of the vote. The opposition, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), took 10%. The landslide victory gave the MPLA a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Prime Minister Position Abolished
In early 2012, the position of prime minister was abolished due to the ratification of the 2008 Constitution of Angola. The Constitution transfers the functions of the prime minister to the president. The president must have the approval of the parliamentary majority in the same way as the prime minister did before.




Area: 468 sq. km. (180 sq. mi.); about half the size of New York City.

Cities: Capital--Andorra la Vella.
Terrain: Mountainous.
Climate: Temperate, cool, dry.

Constitution: Ratified in March 1993.
Independence: 1278.
Branches: Heads of State--Two co-princes (President of France, Bishop of Seu d'Urgell in Spain). Executive--Head of Government (Cap de Govern) and eight ministers (Executive Council). Legislative--Parliament (General Council), founded 1419, consisting of 28 members. Judicial--Civil, criminal, and administrative cases heard in first instance by four judges (batlles). Appeals and serious offenses are heard by the Tribunal of Courts. The High Court of Justice consists of a civil court, a criminal court, and an administrative appeals and social security court. The five-member High Council of Justice governs the judicial system. The Constitutional Tribunal is the highest constitutional body.
Subdivisions: Seven parishes (parroquies)--Andorra la Vella, Canillo, Encamp, La Massana, Ordino, Sant Julia de Loria, and Escaldes-Engordany make up the districts represented in the General Council.
Political parties/groups: Democrats for Andorra (DA), Social Democratic Party, Andorra for Change Party, and Green Party.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Andorran(s).

Population (end of 2011): 78,115.
Annual population growth rate (2011): -8.1%.
Ethnic groups: Catalan, Spanish, French, Portuguese.
Religion: Roman Catholic.
Languages: Catalan (official), Spanish, French.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16. Attendance--100%. Literacy--100%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2009)--3/1,000. Life expectancy (2008)--84 years, male and female.
Andorrans live in seven valleys that form Andorra's political districts. Andorrans are a minority in their own country; they make up only approximately 43% of the population or about 33,480 native Andorrans. Spanish, French, Portuguese, and other residents make up the other 57% of the population.
The national language is Catalan, a romance language related to the Provencal group. French and Spanish are also spoken.
Education law requires school attendance for children up to age 16. A system of French, Spanish, and Andorran public schools provides education up to the secondary level. Schools are built and maintained by Andorran authorities, who pay also for Andorran teachers. French and Spanish schools pay for their own teachers. About 32% of Andorran children attend the French primary schools, 30% attend Spanish, and 38% attend Andorran schools. Andorran schools follow the Spanish curriculum, and their diplomas are recognized by the Spanish education system. In 1997, the University of Andorra was established. The University of Andorra has two graduate schools; the Nursing School and the School of Computer Science. Students can obtain a degree in business administration, nursing, or education sciences as well as computer science. Students can also follow virtual studies with Spanish and French universities. Out of the 1,415 students enrolled in university in the 2010-2011 academic year, 428 studied at the University of Andorra, 848 in Spanish universities, 110 in French universities, and 29 in other countries.


Andorra is the last independent survivor of the March states, a number of buffer states created by Charlemagne to keep the Muslim Moors from advancing into Christian France. Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting the Moors. In the 800s, Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, made Count of Urgell overlord of Andorra. A descendant of the count later gave the lands to the diocese of Urgell, headed by Bishop of Seu d'Urgell.

In the 11th century, fearing military action by neighboring lords, the bishop placed himself under the protection of the Lord of Caboet, a Spanish nobleman. Later, the Count of Foix, a French noble, became heir to Lord Caboet through marriage, and a dispute arose between the French Count and the Spanish bishop over Andorra.

In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell of Spain. The pareage, a feudal institution recognizing the principle of equality of rights shared by two rulers, gave the small state its territory and political form.

Over the years, the title was passed between French and Spanish rule until, in the reign of the French King Henry IV, an edict in 1607 established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra.
Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry and developments in transportation and communications have removed the country from its isolation.
The Andorran constitution was ratified and approved in 1993. The constitution establishes Andorra as a sovereign parliamentary democracy that retains as its heads of state two co-princes.
The fundamental impetus for this political transformation was a recommendation by the Council of Europe in 1990 that, if Andorra wished to attain full integration into the European Union (EU), it should adopt a modern constitution that guaranteed the rights of those living and working there. A Tripartite Commission--made up of representatives of the co-princes, the General Council, and the Executive Council--was formed in 1990 and finalized the draft constitution in April 1991.
Under the 1993 constitution, the co-princes continue as heads of state, but the head of government retains executive power. The two co-princes serve co-equally with limited powers that do not include veto over government acts. They are represented in Andorra by a delegate. As co-princes of Andorra, the President of France and the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell maintain supreme authority in approval of all international treaties with France and Spain, as well as all those that deal with internal security, defense, Andorran territory, diplomatic representation, and judicial or penal cooperation. Although the institution of the co-princes is viewed by some as an anachronism, the majority sees them as both a link with Andorra's traditions and a way to balance the power of Andorra's two much larger neighbors.
Andorra's main legislative body is the 28-member General Council (Parliament). The Sindic General (president of the General Council), the Subsindic, and the members of the Council are elected in the general elections held every 4 years. A Sindic General and a Subsindic are chosen by the General Council to implement its decisions. They serve 4-year terms and may be reappointed once. They receive an annual salary. Sindics have virtually no discretionary powers, and all policy decisions must be approved by the Council as a whole.
The General Council meets throughout the year on certain dates set by tradition or as required. At least one representative from each parish must be present for the Council to meet. Historically, within the General Council, four deputies from each of the seven individual parishes provided representation. This system allowed the smaller parishes, which have as few as 800 voters, the same number of representatives as larger parishes, which have up to 6,600 voters. To correct this imbalance, a provision in the 1993 constitution introduced a modification of the structure and format for electing the members of the Council; under this format, half of the representatives are chosen by the traditional system, while the other half are selected from nationwide lists.
Every 4 years, after the general elections, the General Council also elects the head of government, who, in turn, chooses the other members of the Executive Council. The current Executive Council has eight ministers.
The judicial system is independent. Courts apply the customary laws of Andorra, supplemented with Roman law and customary Catalan law. Civil, criminal, and administrative cases are first heard by the batlles court--a group of four judges, two chosen by each co-prince. Appeals and serious offenses are heard in the Tribunal of Courts. The High Court of Justice consists of a civil court, a criminal court, and an administrative appeals and social security court. The five-member High Council of Justice governs the judicial system. The Constitutional Tribunal is the highest constitutional body.
Andorra has no defense forces and only a small internal police force. All able-bodied men who own firearms must serve, without remuneration, in the small army, which is unique in that all of its men are treated as officers. The army has not fought for more than 700 years, and its main responsibility is to present the Andorran flag at official ceremonies.


Andorra is governed by the center-right coalition Democrats for Andorra, led by Antoni Marti Petit. Marti took office in May 2011 following his victory over the Social Democratic Party, headed by Jaume Bartumeu. This is the sixth government formed in Andorra since the ratification of the constitution in 1993. Andorra’s economy and its relations with the European Union are among the government’s top priorities.

There has been a redefinition of the qualifications for Andorran citizenship, a major issue in a country where approximately 43% are legal citizens. In 1995, a law to broaden citizenship was passed but citizenship remains hard to acquire, with only Andorran nationals being able to transmit citizenship automatically to their children. Lawful residents in Andorra may obtain citizenship after 20 years of residence. Children of residents may opt for Andorran citizenship after 18 if they have resided virtually all of their lives in Andorra. Mere birth on Andorran soil does not confer citizenship. Dual nationality is not permitted. Until 2008 non-citizens were allowed to own just a 33% share of a company, and only after they had resided in the country for 20 years would they be entitled to own 100% of a company. The country has now opened itself to foreign investors, allowing up to 100% ownership in activities and sectors considered strategic.
By creating a modern legal framework for the country, the 1993 constitution allowed Andorra to base its economy on tourism and international banking and finance. Over the short term, Andorra will continue to confront a number of difficult issues and the need to develop the institutions necessary to address them, including tax reform. The economic recovery and diversification, questions of Andorran nationality and immigration policy, and refining Andorra's relationship with the European Union are priority issues.

Following the establishment of sovereignty with the ratification of the constitution in 1993, Andorra moved to become an active member of the international community. In July 1993, Andorra established its first diplomatic mission in the world, to the United Nations. In early 1995, the United States and Andorra established formal diplomatic relations. Andorra also expanded relations with other nations. Andorra’s diplomatic and consular representation includes accreditation to 40 foreign countries and international organizations. Andorra is host to two resident diplomatic missions, and 98 countries have non-resident diplomatic representation.

Andorra is a full member of the United Nations (UN) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), Telecommunications International Union (ITU), United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), World Tourism Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Customs Organization (WCO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Criminal Court (ICC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, International Center of Studies for Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM), and Interpol, among others.
Since 1991, Andorra has had a special agreement with the European Union. In 2008, Andorra announced its endorsement of the Proliferation Security Initiative, designed to combat illegal trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Andorra on February 21, 1995. The two countries are on excellent terms. The U.S. Ambassador to Spain is also accredited as Ambassador to Andorra. United States Consulate General officials based in Barcelona are responsible for the day-to-day management of relations with Andorra. The Andorran Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Narcis Casal, was accredited as Andorra’s Ambassador to the United States in July 2009.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

American Samoa

American Samoa:
History and geography are defining elements, but they are not the only elements. Ethnicity, economics, religion and other factors all shape and are shaped by a culture. This is why we are all unique. The natives and long time residents of an area can give an insider’s perspective. The information ranges from mile-high views of a nation, its society, its institutions and close-ups of communities to families and individuals. Each seeks a balance between generality and breadth, as well as detail and depth in order to create a multidimensional and realistic picture of a place and its people.
American Samoa is a wonderful example of a culture and a people that, over the years have developed into a diverse structure; the traditional and the modern. Comparing and contrasting these two can include many elements, but the economy and religion are two that affect almost every area of both groups of these people. The social, political and family issues are mere windows at forming the many facets and drawings that connect the cultures of the world.
Broadly, a culture could be said to be those beliefs, traditions and institutions that create and mediate individual, community and national identity. Nearly all American Samoans are Christian. The largest religious denomination is the Congressional Christian Church. This used to be called the London Missionary Society in honor of those who first traveled to the Pacific Islands to convert the people to Christianity. Other denominations do exists, however. The Roman Catholic Church enjoys about twenty percent participating in the Pacific Islands, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Methodists, Seventh-Day Adventists and the Baha’i Faith comprises the remainder of the population. Church activities play an important role in the American Samoan daily life. Villages in rural areas often maintain an evening curfew at dusk, when families gather to sing hymns and pray. Public meetings, including those in the legislative and executive branches of government all begin and end in prayer. Most businesses are closed on Sunday and each family sees that a day of rest is observed on Sunday. The fa’a Samoa, or the “Samoan way” still guides everyday life, emphasizing an easy-going manner and respect for tradition. Cooperation, humor and hospitality are highly valued and American Samoans see themselves and the residents of Independent Samoa as one people, united by tradition.

Women belonging to village or church societies use gatherings to converse. Sandals or shoes are removed before one enters a home and although most people sit on chairs, in traditional homes, people often sit cross-legged on floor mats. When seated in this way, pointing one’s feet at each other is avoided. The host family always presents guests with refreshments without being asked. In a formal setting, refreshments might include fresh coconut with biscuits, butter and jam. For an informal gathering, soda, cookies or other store-bought snack foods are served. As guests are not required to eat all the food and drink they are served, it is impolite not to take a small amount to show appreciation to the host for their efforts.

While the business hours begin at eight a.m. and end between four and five p.m., many business are not open during the weekend days. Some businesses and banks are open on Saturday mornings, and small markets may be open, but there are no businesses open on Sunday in American Samoa or on the island of Independent Samoa. Communally owned lands produce farming and agricultural exports. These do not, however, carry the main economic sustainment. The key units of social organization are the aiga, which is the extended family or clan, and the nu’u, which is the village. The aiga is headed by a matai and consist of people related by blood, marriage or adoption. Members of the aiga select the matai based on the service one has made to the aiga and oratory skills, knowledge of Samoan traditions, protocol and history. Other qualifications include education, business acumen and professional background. The nu’u is comprised of a number of families. Each family in the village is represented by a matai in the village council or fono. The village council is responsible for the well-being of the entire village. In most villages, there is one high chief who presides over village council meetings and represents the village at district or county levels. Traditionally, men planted and harvested taro and bananas on family plantations, fished in canoes on the open sea, prepared food in an unu, built houses and crafted their canoes. Women were skilled at raising children, weaving mats, making and designing siapo, tending gardens and fishing for shellfish on the reefs. Today, kit’s not uncommon for both the father and the mother to work for wages at an office, store or manufacturing business. When both parents work, grandparents often assume the responsibility of caring for preschool children. Despite strong western influence, children continue to be raised according to the American Samoan traditions. Discipline is generally strict and children are taught to obey adults, support their parent s and the aiga and to tak care of the elderly members of the family.


Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16' latitude and 42 39' longitude. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2. The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km; out of which 657-km is land-border, 316-km sea-border, 48-km river-border and 73 km lake-border. The Republic of Albania, on the North borders with Montenegro and North-East with Kosovo, on the East with Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with Greece. On the West, Albania is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe. Albania is included in the humid sub-tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone.
Coastal areas: Central Mediterranean, mild and wet winter, hot and dry summer.
Alpine areas: Central Continental, cold and wild winter, wet summer.
Lowland – Western Albania, Plain – Eastern Albania, Alpine – Northern Albania, the Highest Peak – Korabi Mountain (2,753m)
The population of Albania numbers 3,150,886. The vast majority of inhabitants are Albanian, with ethnic minorities representing only about 2% of the population.  The minority population is comprised primarily of Greeks and Macedonians. (World Bank 2009).
Capital City 
Tirana (since 1920)
Main Cities 
Durres, Vlora, Saranda, Shkodra, Berat, Korca, Gjirokastra, Elbasani,
Official Language - Albanian
Albanian is an Indo-European language and it represents a separate branch of this family on the bases of its idiosyncrasy. The Greek geographer, Ptholemeous, has witnessed the existence of Albanians and Albanian language in the second century AD. The name "Shqipëri" (Albania) replaced the "old" name "Arberi" (or Arbani) by the end of the XVII century, due to the new historical conditions created, and aimed at giving importance to the connection between the nation notion and the use of the Albanian language, which was by that time called "Shqip". The Albanian language is also used (written & spoken) in the parts of Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, where ethnic Albanians live.
Political System 
Albania is Parliamentary Republic.
Flag description:  The national flag of the Republic of Albania represents a black bicephalous eagle with open wings situated in the middle of a red background.
Historical Background 
Territories of today's Albania have been populated before 100,000 years. 
At the beginning of the third millennium before Christ, was established population Indo - European. As a result of this blend was created a population that retained the characteristics of specific cultural and language in the Balkan peninsula (pellazgët). Based on the older population, between the II Millennium and the first century before Christ was created Illyrian population. 
The Greeks arrived in Epidamos (today Durrës) Butrint and Apoloni in 7 century before Christ to decide where colonies of them - run. As well as Greeks, the Illyrians even though under Roman domination for centuries failed to preserve their language and traditions.
The most important trade route between Rome and Kostandinopoli was Egnatia road which passed through the port of Durres. At the end of 14 century, Albania was occupied by the Roman Empire. From 1443 until 1468 national hero Scanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti) led the Albanian resistance, winning the 25 battles against Turkish. For a very short time, after the death of Scanderbeg, the Ottoman failed to Albanian resistance, taking control of the country in 1479. 
26 years later, Kostandinopoli crashed. More than 400 years, Albania has been under the Ottoman regime. Successive revolt and efforts brought the Independence in 1912. 
Since from 1912 until the end of the First World War our country was attacked by neighboring states. The country was occupied by Mussolini's forces in 1939, ending the regime of the monarchy that lasted 11 years. In 1943 the country was occupied by German forces. Resistance to foreign attacks is known as Anti-Fascist National Liberation front.
Communism took over in November 1944, when foreign forces left the country. 
Eventually, the totalitarian regime was established under the leadership of the communist leader Enver Hoxha. For 50 years, the country was in complete isolation, a result of politics (policy) that was pursued at that time. The policy of self isolation left the country in economic poverty until 1991.
From 1991 until 1997 the country was led by the Democratic Party, and later by the Socialist Party and its allies (2005-2007). After the last elections on 3 July 2005, the coalition of the Democratic Party took the power again. Albanian policy aims to integrate the country into the European Union.
Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004 - 2008, but declined to about 2% in 2009. Inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $22.59 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.1% (2009 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 20.6%, industry: 18.8%, services: 60.6% (2009 est.)
Population below poverty line: 25% (2004 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.1% (2009 est.)
Labour force: 1.103 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers) (2009 est.)
Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Exports - commodities: textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners: Italy 55.9%, Greece 11.6%, China 7.2% (2008)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners: Italy 32.2%, Greece 13.1%, Turkey 7.2%, Germany 6.6%, China 4.5%, Russia 4.4% (2008)
Debt - external: $1.55 billion (2004 est.)
Currency: Lek (ALL)


Algerian Flag
After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was established in 1954 as part of the struggle for independence and has largely dominated politics since. The Government of Algeria in 1988 instituted a multi-party system in response to public unrest, but the surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets, and fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense violence between 1992-98 resulting in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s, and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, with the backing of the military, won the presidency in 1999 in an election widely viewed as fraudulent. He was reelected to a second term in 2004 and overwhelmingly won a third term in 2009 after the government amended the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA, including large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants. The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 2006 merged with al-Qa'ida to form al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, which has launched an ongoing series of kidnappings and bombings targeting the Algerian Government and Western interests. The government in 2011 introduced some political reforms in response to the Arab Spring, including lifting the 19-year-old state of emergency restrictions, ending the state's monopoly on broadcast media, increasing women's quotas for elected assemblies, and expanding the role of judges in administering elections. Political protest activity in the country remained low in 2011, but small, sometimes violent socioeconomic demonstrations by disparate groups continued to be a common occurrence. Parliamentary elections held in May 2012 resulted in an increase of seats for presidentially-aligned parties. Parliament in 2013 is expected to revise the constitution.
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia 
Geographic coordinates: 
28 00 N, 3 00 E 
Map references: 
total: 2,381,741 sq km
country comparison to the world: 10
land: 2,381,741 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: 
slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas

Land boundaries: 
total: 6,343 km
border countries: Libya 982 km, Mali 1,376 km, Mauritania 463 km, Morocco 1,559 km, Niger 956 km, Tunisia 965 km, Western Sahara 42 km 

998 km 

Maritime claims: 
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 32-52 nm 

arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer

mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain 

Elevation extremes: 
lowest point: Chott Melrhir -40 m
highest point: Tahat 3,003 m 

Natural resources: 
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc

 Land use: 
arable land: 3.17%
permanent crops: 0.28%
other: 96.55% (2005) 

Irrigated land: 
5,700 sq km (2003) 

Total renewable water resources: 
14.3 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 
total: 6.07 cu km/yr (22%/13%/65%)
per capita: 185 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: 
mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season 
Environment - current issues: 
soil erosion from overgrazing and other poor farming practices; desertification; dumping of raw sewage, petroleum refining wastes, and other industrial effluents is leading to the pollution of rivers and coastal waters; Mediterranean Sea, in particular, becoming polluted from oil wastes, soil erosion, and fertilizer runoff; inadequate supplies of potable water 
Environment - international agreements: 
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements  
Geography - note: 
largest country in Africa
noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups:
Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
note: although almost all Algerians are Berber in origin (not Arab), only a minority identify themselves as Berber, about 15% of the total population; these people live mostly in the mountainous region of Kabylie east of Algiers; the Berbers are also Muslim but identify with their Berber rather than Arab cultural heritage; Berbers have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy; the government is unlikely to grant autonomy but has offered to begin sponsoring teaching Berber language in schools
Arabic (official), French (lingua franca), Berber dialects: Kabylie Berber (Tamazight), Chaouia Berber (Tachawit), Mzab Berber, Tuareg Berber (Tamahaq)
Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
37,367,226 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.8% (male 4,297,588/ female 4,123,103)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 12,652,479/ female 12,436,658)
65 years and over: 5% (male 874,908/ female 1,021,567) (2012 est.)
Median age:
total: 28.1 years
male: 27.9 years
female: 28.4 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.165% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
Birth rate:
16.64 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
Death rate:
4.72 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Net migration rate:
-0.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
urban population: 66% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities - population:
ALGIERS (capital) 2.74 million; Oran 770,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
97 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 75
Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.9 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 81
male: 27.82 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.73 years
country comparison to the world: 99
male: 72.99 years
female: 76.57 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.78 children born/woman (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
Health expenditures:
5.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 113
Physicians density:
1.207 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
Hospital bed density:
1.7 beds/1,000 population (2004)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1%; note - no country specific models provided (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
18,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
3.7% (2005)
country comparison to the world: 97
Education expenditures:
4.3% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 89
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.9%
male: 79.6%
female: 60.1% (2002 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2005)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 24.3% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 34
By far, Algeria's most significant exports today (in terms of financial value) are petroleum and natural gas. The reserves are mostly in the Eastern Sahara; the Algerian government curbed the exports in the 1980s to slow depletion; exports increased again somewhat in the 1990s. Other significant exports are sheep, oxen, and horses; animal products, such as wool and skins; wine, cereals (rye, barley, oats), vegetables, fruits (chiefly figs and grapes for the table) and seeds, esparto grass, oils and vegetable extracts (chiefly olive oil), iron ore, zinc, natural phosphates, timber, cork, crin vegetal and tobacco. The import of wool exceeds the export. Sugar, coffee, machinery, metal work of all kinds, clothing and pottery are largely imported. Of these by far the greater part comes from France. The British imports consist chiefly of coal, cotton fabrics and machinery.
Algeria trades most extensively with France and Italy, in terms of both imports and exports, but also trades with the United States and Spain. Algeria currently has only one stock exchange, the Algiers Stock Exchange.