Albania has a total area of 28,750 km2 and a population of 3.5 mln. About 70% of Albania is mountainous making Albania the second country in Europe in height above sea-level. In the north-east the mountains are high, rugged and inaccessible; the highest summit Golem Korab (2764m) is on the boarder with Macedonia. Moving south the mountains become sweeping hills and flatten to a plain near the Adriatic coast. The Ion sea coast in the south, called the Albanian Riviera, is lined with beautiful bays and cliffs. Albania is the only country on the Balkan peninsular that has sandy beaches. Much of the low-land is river-delta area that is cut off from the sea by lagoons. The three largest and deepest tectonic lakes of the Balkan peninsular lie partly within Albania’s boarders. In the northwest Lake Shkodër is shared with Montenegro, Lake Ohrid straddles the boarder with Macedonia and Prespa is divided between Albania, Greece and Macedonia. Albania has 13 national parks and numerous nature reserves that help protect the wild beauty.
In the low-lying land near the shore the climate is typically Mediterranean. The summers are dry and the winters are mild and wet. By May the weather is hot and the sea is warm enough for bathing up until November. The temperature on the coast falls to 5-9 degrees C, in the winter, in the summer it is up to 30 C. In the mountains the climate is continental. The winter is cold and wet. The temperature can fall below –20 in the summer it is rarely above 15.
In the lowlands evergreen Mediterranean flora flourishes. Near the coast there are almond trees and orchids, a little higher there are olive groves and fig trees. In the highlands there are oaks, horse chestnuts, platanuus, hornbeams and buxus shrubs. Above 1800m there are beech and pine forests. Forests and shrub-land covers 43% of the country surface. The fauna in Albania is typical of Europe such as the bear, wolf, lynx, wild-goat, hare, deer, boar, fox but more exotic species can also be found such as seals, geckos, tortoises, pelicans or scorpions (that luckily are rare). Albania is a paradise for the fisherman with a large variety of sea fish and freshwater species. The latter can be found in mountain streams and in the Ohrid Lake. The lake, considered the deepest and oldest lake in Europe (362 km2, 287m deep) contains a variety of endemic species such as the Ohrid salmon, which can be ordered at a lakeside restaurant if you don’t have the time to take out your rod.