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Albania (Albanian: Shqipëria) is a small country in the Balkans. It shares borders with Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, andMontenegro.
Albania is rugged, craggy and mountainous inland. However, on its shores lie very fertile, verdant Adriatic coast, perfect for sustaining Albania’s largely agricultural economy. The coastal climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The mountainous interior, especially in the north, has severe winters and mild summers. Over one third of Albania's land is covered by forests and swamps and only about one fifth of all the land is cultivated. These geographic obstacles, rivers and mountains, historically isolated Albania from its neighboring states.
Traditional Albanian culture honors the role and person of the guest. In return for this place of honor, respect is expected from the guest. Albanians enjoy the long walks in the city streets, drinking coffee, and among the younger generations, participating in nightlife activities such as cafe lounging and dancing.
While the relative majority of the people in Albania are of Muslim heritage (55-65%), according to the polls, around 35% of the Albanians are agnostics; 22% are atheists; 19% are Muslim; 15% are Orthodox; 8% are Catholics and 1% are of other religions. Mixed marriages are very common and in some places, even the rule.
Albanians have never had a national religion with which to identify as a people. For the last century and a half, national (ethnic) identity has predominated over religious identity, and this is unlikely to change in the coming years in a small and struggling nation surrounded by hostile neighbors. Organized religion still plays only a marginal role in public life. Religious fervor is extremely rare, and religious extremism is virtually unknown.
Throughout history, Albania has been sieged and occupied by other countries; in addition it has endured many civil wars within its turf. Thus, its people tend to be resilient and strong. Albania's per capita income is among the lowest in Europe, but economic conditions in the country are gradually improving.
Albanians are exceptionally generous and hospitable. A person invited to dinner will be given enormous amounts of food, even if the host may go without the next day. Albanian families often will spend a month's salary on a visitors' meal. Weddings and other ceremonial occasions will feature feasts of copious amounts of meat and Albanian raki, an alcoholic beverage.