The Republic of Albania is a small and diverse country along the Adriatic Sea of the Balkans in Eastern Europe. Even though Albania was never a part of Yugoslavia, the country spent most of the 20th century under an authoritarian government that was aligned with the communist powers during the Cold War. Albania transitioned into democracy and an open market economy during the 1990s; however, the government institutions remain weak and much progress is still to be made. Nevertheless, Albania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2009. Furthermore, the country has been engaged in ongoing negotiations to join the European Union for several years.
Albania has a total territory of almost 29.000 square kilometers, which is somewhat smaller than Maryland. Geographically, coastal plains dominate Albania’s west, while mountains and hills are prevalent throughout the interior. Albania has a total population of little over 3 million citizens, almost 60% of which live in an urban setting, notably the capital city of Tirana with some half a million inhabitants. Currently, the Albanian annual gross domestic product (GDP) is approximately US$30 billion and it has experienced positive economic growth upwards of 1.5% in recent years. Albania’s national economy is divided into 22% agriculture, 15% manufacturing, and 63% services. Likewise, the Albanian agricultural industry employs 42% of the national labor force, while manufacturing employs about 11% and services employ another 47%. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry utilizes some 44% of the national territory, while another 28% is forested.
In terms of natural resources, Albania has petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, hydropower, and arable land. Within manufacturing, the national industry is focused on food & tobacco products, textiles & clothing, lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, and basic metals. Meanwhile, the country’s agricultural industry has as main products wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes, meat, dairy products, and sheep. In terms of trade, Albania’s main partners are the European Union, Kosovo, China, the United States, and Turkey.
Albania: Agribusiness, the Adriatic Sea & the Balkans
In recent years, the average per capita protein intake of animal origin amongst the Albanian population has been of 51 grams daily. Meanwhile, cereals, roots, and tubers supply approximately 41% of the food energy intake in the country. Simultaneously, land distribution and agricultural output in Albania have evolved substantially throughout the last several decades. Back in 1961, permanent pastures and meadows in the country covered over 750.000 hectares, while arable land covered more than 430.000 hectares and permanent crops accounted for merely 47.000 hectares. More recently, by 2014, permanent pastures and meadows had decreased to account for less than 480.000 hectares, while arable land represented approximately 616.000 hectares and permanent crops covered about 80.000 hectares. Meanwhile, in 1961, the cereals market in Albania utilized almost 350.000 hectares of land and yielded less than 295.000 metric tons annually. Finally, in 2014, the country devoted little over 140.000 hectares of land to cereals production and yielded some 700.000 metric tons.