Albania

ALBANIA IS A small and relatively underdeveloped country in southeast Europe. Since the collapse of the

Communist government there in 1991, Albania has transformed itself from an isolated country to one whose government has sought to take an active part in European affairs. The country has a population of 3.6 million (2007), and covers 11,100 sq. mi. (28,748 sq. km.), with a population density of 318.6 per sq. mi. (134 per sq. km.). Some 21 percent of the land is arable, with 5 percent under permanent cultivation, and 15 percent as meadow or pasture. In addition, some 38 percent of the country is forested; most of the trees are oak, elm, pine, or birch.

There are a number of environmental problems facing Albania, mainly with pollution. The country is largely self-sufficient in food, and its petroleum industry produces some 100,000 barrels per day. Because much of the country is underdeveloped, Albania has a relatively low carbon dioxide emission level per capita, with 2.2 metric tons emitted per person in 1990, 1.2 metric tons in the following year, and falling off markedly to 0.7-0.8 metric tons per capita in the 21st century, showing one of the more dramatic declines of any country in the world. Albania is now 139th in the world in terms of carbon dioxide emissions per capita, the second lowest in Europe; only Georgia has a lower emission level. Similarly, the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and the carbon monoxide emissions from Albania are all very low.

The main reasons for the low carbon emissions in Albania are relatively low private ownership of cars, heavy use of public transport, and a reliance on hydroelectric power. Only 3 percent of Albania's total electricity production comes from fossil fuels, with the remainder from hydropower generated from the dams along the Drin River, especially from where Vau I Dejes runs to the junction of the White Drin and Black Drin rivers at Kukes.

The building of the hydroelectric power network at Kukes resulted in some of the villages in the region being submerged in the early 1970s, with the building of a new town called Kukesi i Ri ("New Kukes"). The dam located at Fierze led to the formation of the largest artificial lake in the country at 28 sq. mi. (73 sq. km.), further adding to hydroelectric power. There are also other dams operated by the Albanian Energy Corporation (K.E.S.H.) that help in hydroelectric production, such as the Bovilla Dam. Not only does hydropower help Albania, but it also provides much electricity for Greece, helping reduce Greek carbon emissions.

The Albanian government of Sali Berisha, which came to power in April 1992, took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, as part of a move to involve Albania more with the West. However, it was not until the presidency of Alfred Moisiu that Albania accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which took place on April 1, 2005, coming into force on June 30, 2005.

sEE ALso: Georgia Nation; Greece; Kyoto Protocol.

BIBLioGRAPHY. Andrea Segre, Agricultural and Environmental Issues for Sustainable Development in Albania (Nardo, 1999); Orjan Sjoberg, "A Contribution to the Geography of Hydro-Electric Power Generation in Albania," Osterreichische Osthefte (v.29/1, 1987); Priit J. Vesil-ind, "Albanians: A People Undone," National Geographic (v.197/2, 2000).

JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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