Parliamentary republic, under a constitution passed in 1998.
Head of state:
President Bujar Nishani since 2012.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Edi Rama since 2013.
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Friendly, tolerant people, fascinating Ottoman cities teeming with history, magnificent mountain scenery and charming villages: Albania is a varied destination offering many pleasures. Hikers will love the Albanian Alps or the Tomorri massif, whilst cyclists will find a network of ancient tracks criss-crossing the country. Archaeology buffs can spend hours in the complex sites of Butrint and Byllis, history-lovers have plenty of ancient castles, Ottoman fortresses and the museum cities of Berati and Gjirokastra to explore, and art connoisseurs should visit the little-known medieval churches, with their beautiful frescoes, and the icon collections in Tirana, Korça and Berati.
At the end of a full day's exploration, enjoy menus boasting delicious seafood, mountain lamb, organic fruit and vegetables and, of course, excellent Albanian wine.
March 2010: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK advises against all but essential travel to Ajasëm, Bahçallëk and Tophane neighbourhoods in Shkodra City, Dajç and Ana e Malit communes in Shkodra district and Shengjin in Lezha district, due to severe flooding.
Travel to the northeast border areas against all travel to the north east border areas between Albania and Kosovo is not advised because of the risk of unexploded ordnance placed during the 1999 Kosovo crisis and the poor condition of the roads.
Although public security is generally good, particularly in Tirana, crime and violence still represent a serious problem in some areas. Gun ownership is widespread.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice: