Some 29 percent of Albania is forested with mixed stands of willow, poplar, elm, pine, oak, and white beech trees.Many of the forests near transportation routes have been heavily logged and some have given way to sheep pastures.In these areas, the soil is either washed or blown away during the summer drought, and even in humid months thegrass grows sparsely in clumps. Because of heavy grazing by livestock in the summer and the summer drought, muchof Albania is unfavorable for wildlife. Wolves, deer, and boars have been pushed back into the most remote forests.Wild fowl, however, are abundant in lowland forests.
Albania is rich in natural resources. The southwestern part of the country is well endowed with natural gas andpetroleum. The northeastern region has large reserves of mineral deposits including chromium, copper, iron, andnickel. Large deposits of lignite (a soft, brown coal) are found near Tirana, and natural asphalt is mined near Selenicë.For centuries the forests have provided fuel in wood and charcoal.
Albania’s climate varies with topography. The coastal lowlands have a Mediterranean climate with arid, almostcloudless summers featuring high temperatures both day and night. Winters are rainy but mild, and in the southernlowlands freezing temperatures are rare. In the mountains rain falls much more often in summer, and the northernregions experience more humidity than the south. Temperatures may soar in the daytime, but nights are much cooler.In winter the mountains, like the lowlands, are subject to heavy and frequent thunderstorms, but in the mountainsstorms are accompanied by heavy snow. The average temperatures in August, the hottest month, range from 17° to 31°C (63° to 88°F). In January, the coldestmonth, they range from 2° to 12°C (36° to 54°F). December, the wettest month, has an average rainfall of 211 mm(8.3 in) while the driest months, July and August, receive only 32 mm (1.3 in) of rain. On the coast annual rainfallaverages 1,000 mm (40 in), but it may be as great as 2,500 mm (100 in) in the mountains.
Both the former Communist government and new administrations have harvested timber in vast quantities. As aresult, many forests are degraded, wildlife is threatened, and farms have taken over land once forested. The effects of past deforestation, livestock grazing, and flooding have contributed to a rate of soil erosion that exceeds the naturalprocess of new soil production. The extraction of oil and minerals has also created environmental problems,contaminating air, soil, and groundwater, particularly in central Albania. Public education about conservation, pollutioncontrols, and recycling is limited, and the government has focused most of its resources on economic growth ratherthan environmental concerns. However, in the early 1990s several environmental interest groups were established,and the government created a committee to educate the public and offer solutions to environmental problems. Joining the international community in its concern over the degradation of the environment, Albania is party tointernational agreements concerning biodiversity, climate change, and wetlands.
THE PEOPLE OF ALBANIA
People of Albania