Counties (Prefectures) in Albania

Albania is divided into twelve administrative divisions, known as counties or prefectures, each with its own unique identity, geography, and cultural heritage.

1. Overview of Albania’s Administrative Divisions:

According to simplyyellowpages, Albania is divided into twelve counties or prefectures, known as qarku in Albanian. These administrative divisions serve as the primary units of local government and are responsible for delivering public services, implementing policies, and managing resources at the regional level. The counties are further subdivided into municipalities or communes, each with its own local government structure and responsibilities.

2. Provinces of Albania:

The twelve provinces of Albania are as follows:

a. Berat County: Berat County is located in central Albania and is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage. The city of Berat, also known as the “City of a Thousand Windows,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture, medieval castle, and picturesque old town. The county is also home to the Osum Canyon, one of the country’s natural wonders.

b. Dibër County: Dibër County is situated in northeastern Albania and is characterized by its rugged mountain landscapes, pristine rivers, and traditional villages. The city of Peshkopi serves as the administrative center of the county and is a gateway to outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and ecotourism in the nearby mountains.

c. Durrës County: Durrës County is located along the Adriatic coast in western Albania and is home to the country’s main port city, Durrës. The city of Durrës is one of the oldest in Albania, with a history dating back to ancient times. It boasts attractions such as the Roman amphitheater, Venetian tower, and beautiful beaches. The county also includes the historic town of Krujë, known for its castle and Skanderbeg Museum.

d. Elbasan County: Elbasan County is situated in central Albania and is named after the city of Elbasan, which serves as its administrative center. The city has a long history dating back to Roman times and features historical landmarks such as the Elbasan Castle and the King Mosque. The county is also known for its agricultural production, particularly of grains, fruits, and vegetables.

e. Fier County: Fier County is located in southwestern Albania and is known for its fertile agricultural plains, industrial centers, and historical sites. The city of Fier is an important economic hub, with industries such as oil refining, chemical production, and manufacturing. The county is also home to the ancient city of Apollonia, founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BCE.

f. Gjirokastër County: Gjirokastër County is situated in southern Albania and is named after the city of Gjirokastër, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture and medieval castle. The county is also home to the Blue Eye Spring, a natural wonder with crystal-clear waters, as well as the ancient city of Butrint, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

g. Korçë County: Korçë County is located in southeastern Albania and is known for its vibrant cultural scene, historic landmarks, and scenic landscapes. The city of Korçë is the cultural capital of Albania, with a rich tradition of literature, art, and music. The county is also known for its agricultural products, particularly tobacco, grapes, and dairy products.

h. Kukës County: Kukës County is situated in northeastern Albania and is known for its mountainous terrain, pristine nature, and outdoor recreation opportunities. The city of Kukës is located near the border with Kosovo and serves as a gateway to the Valbona Valley National Park, Theth National Park, and other natural attractions.

i. Lezhë County: Lezhë County is located in northwestern Albania and is named after the city of Lezhë, which has historical significance as the site of the League of Lezhë, a medieval alliance of Albanian noble families. The county is known for its coastal towns, archaeological sites, and agricultural production, particularly of citrus fruits, olives, and grapes.

j. Shkodër County: Shkodër County is situated in northern Albania and is named after the city of Shkodër, the largest in the county and one of the oldest in the country. The city is known for its cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and scenic location near Lake Shkodër, the largest lake in the Balkans. The county is also home to the Albanian Alps, a popular destination for hiking, trekking, and outdoor adventures.

k. Tiranë County: Tiranë County is located in central Albania and is named after the capital city, Tirana, which serves as the administrative center of the county and the country. Tirana is the political, economic, and cultural hub of Albania, with a vibrant nightlife, bustling markets, and historical landmarks such as Skanderbeg Square and the Et’hem Bey Mosque. The county is also home to the Dajti National Park, a popular recreational area.

l. Vlorë County: Vlorë County is situated in southwestern Albania and is named after the city of Vlorë, a major port city and tourist destination. Vlorë is known for its beautiful beaches, historic sites, and scenic coastline. The county also includes the Llogara Pass, a mountainous road offering stunning views of the Ion

ianian Sea, as well as the Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park, Albania’s first marine protected area.

3. Historical Significance:

Each of Albania’s provinces has its own unique historical significance, shaped by centuries of cultural influences, conflicts, and developments. From ancient Illyrian settlements to medieval castles and Ottoman architecture, Albania’s provinces are rich in historical landmarks and archaeological sites that offer insights into the country’s past.

For example, Berat County’s UNESCO-listed city of Berat is known for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture, including the iconic “City of a Thousand Windows,” a cluster of whitewashed houses perched on a hillside overlooking the Osum River. The city’s medieval castle, dating back to the 13th century, provides a glimpse into Albania’s feudal history and strategic importance.

Similarly, Gjirokastër County’s city of Gjirokastër boasts a stunning ensemble of Ottoman-era buildings, including the imposing Gjirokastër Castle, which has served as a military fortress, prison, and museum over the centuries. The city’s cobblestone streets, traditional bazaar, and historic homes offer visitors a glimpse into Albania’s Ottoman heritage and cultural traditions.

In Korçë County, the city of Korçë is known for its rich cultural heritage, including the National Museum of Medieval Art, which houses a collection of religious icons, frescoes, and artifacts dating back to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The city’s Orthodox Cathedral, known for its elaborate iconostasis and frescoed ceilings, reflects Albania’s religious diversity and architectural heritage.

4. Cultural Diversity:

Albania’s provinces are home to a diverse array of cultural traditions, languages, and ethnic communities, reflecting the country’s complex history and geographic location at the crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean.

In the southern provinces of Gjirokastër and Vlorë, for example, the Albanian ethnic identity is intertwined with a strong sense of regional pride and distinct cultural traditions. Folk music, dance, and cuisine play a central role in local celebrations and social gatherings, with traditional costumes, instruments, and recipes passed down through generations.

In the northern provinces of Shkodër and Kukës, cultural influences from neighboring countries such as Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia are evident in the architecture, language, and customs of local communities. The region’s mountainous terrain and remote villages have preserved traditional lifestyles and customs, including pastoralism, handicrafts, and folk rituals.

Throughout Albania’s provinces, religious diversity is also reflected in the presence of Orthodox Christian, Muslim, and Catholic communities, each contributing to the country’s cultural tapestry and heritage. Mosques, churches, and religious festivals are important symbols of communal identity and coexistence in Albania’s diverse society.

5. Economic Activities:

Albania’s provinces are characterized by a variety of economic activities, ranging from agriculture and tourism to industry and services. Each province has its own economic strengths and opportunities, influenced by factors such as natural resources, infrastructure, and historical development.

In coastal provinces such as Durrës, Vlorë, and Shkodër, tourism is a major driver of economic growth, with beaches, historic sites, and cultural attractions attracting visitors from Albania and abroad. The hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, and tour operators, provides employment opportunities and generates revenue for local communities.

Inland provinces such as Berat, Korçë, and Elbasan are known for their agricultural production, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock. Farming and agribusiness play a crucial role in these regions’ economies, providing livelihoods for rural communities and contributing to food security and economic development.

In urban centers such as Tirana, the capital city, and Fier, an industrial hub, manufacturing and services sectors drive economic activity, with businesses engaged in textiles, construction, transportation, finance, and telecommunications. These provinces attract investment and skilled labor, serving as engines of growth and innovation in Albania’s economy.

6. Future Development:

Albania’s provinces face opportunities and challenges in terms of future development and sustainability. Key priorities include:

  • Promoting inclusive economic growth and job creation in all provinces, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
  • Investing in infrastructure, education, and healthcare to improve living standards and quality of life for residents.
  • Protecting natural resources, cultural heritage, and biodiversity through sustainable land use and conservation measures.
  • Enhancing regional cooperation and connectivity to foster economic integration, trade, and investment across provinces and neighboring countries.
  • Strengthening local governance, community engagement, and public-private partnerships to ensure effective management and development planning at the provincial level.