Advertisers from all over the world have descended on the Albanian capital of Tirana for the annual Design Overview, an annual celebration of creativity and communications in traditional and new media. If you, like many, have little to no knowledge of Albania, then it might be time to read our quick introduction to the region. And don’t miss our unique coverage highlights this week from Tirana.
#1 Kinda like North Korea
From the end of the Second World War until 1990, the Albanian people were under the rule of the dictator Enver Hoxha, in a situation similar to what can be seen in North Korea today. You and your family could and would go to jail for life if you listened to the Rolling Stones, wore blue jeans, created a DIY antenna to receive TV channels and radio stations from countries nearby, or just by simply implying that the dictatorship was not the best thing ever.
#2 Bunkers, bunkers everywhere
An estimated 700,000 concrete bunkers were built under Hoxha’s regime, while at the same time the population was living in extreme poverty. The dictator was sure that capitalist nations like the United States, England and Germany were constantly plotting to invade the small Balkan country. You can still see some of the remaining bunkers in the Albanian countryside or in the coastline. Our favourite? The bunker near the beach with a big Coca-Cola painting on top of it.
Capitalism 1, hard line communist dictator nil!
#3 (Not really) at war with Greece
Although the Albanian government has relatively good diplomatic relations with Greece nowadays, the two countries are technically at war, as there is still an active law in place that says so. This paradoxical situation has continued for decades, and nobody is quite sure why politicians haven’t found a solution yet.
#4 Multi-faith FTW
Albania is considered one of the very few countries in the world where Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox Christians live in harmony. Quite the achievement, when you consider the fact that it is located in a region rife with religious conflict. Way to go Albania!
#5 A hidden place in Europe to explore
Over the last 5 years, almost all travel reviews from main international publishing agencies include Albania as a top touristic destination, and a must-visit location, for a variety of reasons. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone with passing knowledge of the country. Albania has natural beauty across a range of landscapes, from mountains to beaches, making it a hiker’s dream. Throw in the treat that is Albanian hospitality, and you have the perfect destination.