A land between poverty and progress

Foreign Affairs  

Mercedes are everywhere - here in the capital Tirana and elsewhere across the country

Saranda in the south: piles of rubbish and recently built blocks of flats as far as the eye can see

Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, plums and cherries: a farmers' market in Lushnja in central Albania

Gjirokastro, one of the country's three UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Tirana: begging on the street - in any weather

The building boom in Saranda, the country's tourist centre

Përmet in southern Albania: donkeys and mules remain the usual way of getting around in the countryside

In a minibus, a so-called fourgon, you can get almost everywhere

An improvised - and functional - bridge outside Përmet

These ruins outside Saranda offer shade on a hot day

Collecting rubbish by Lake Ohrid, on the border with Macedonia

Sit on this for a long time and you'll feel it: rustic park benches in Përmet

Satisfied with the catch: fishermen near Pogradec on Lake Ohrid

Back to the stall in rural southeast Albania

Bikes for hire in the middle of Tirana

The station in Tirana has only two platforms - enough for Albania's hardly overloaded rail network




For a long time Albania was a blank spot and isolated from the rest of the world. Today, the country is heading towards Europe – albeit at a slow pace. Poverty, unemployment and structural shortcomings remain, but so do beautiful stretches of land, untouched nature and hope.

(Text and photos: Gaby Ochsenbein)

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