The desperation of its populace has meant that Albania continues to lag more successful former communist nations like Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in modernization and quality of life, although recently the Albanian government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and instituted fiscal reform packages to reduce corruption, curtail the 'gray' or quasi-illegal activities supporting the economy, and to attract foreign investments. Still, much of Albania's most talented individuals often move abroad, although they often send money home. It is estimated that the Albanian "economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad of $600-$800 million, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy," which also helps offset the towering trade deficit ("Albania," 2008, CIA Fact Book).
The one bright spot has been Albania's relatively smooth transition to democracy, as it is has not been afflicted by the xenophobic uprisings that characterized the dissolution of neighboring Yugoslavia. Economic corruption has been the primary problem for Albania, however, but with the curtailment of economic pyramid schemes: "When five of these schemes collapsed in the beginning of the year, robbing Albanians of an estimated $1.2 billion in savings, Albanians' rage turned against the government, which appeared to have sanctioned the nationwide swindle. Rioting broke out; the country's fragile infrastructure collapsed, and gangsters and rebels overran the country, plunging it into virtual anarchy' ("Albania, 2008, Infoplease). However, after these uprisings, Albania was able to reassert the rule of law: "international observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability in 1997. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward" ("Albania, 2008, CIA Fact Book).
The perpetual problem suffered by Albania is its lack of technological expertise in its population and infrastructure, and the digital divide has only widened this. Even agriculture, "which accounts for more than one-fifth of GDP, is held back because of lack of modern equipment," and unclear property rights that are the result of rapid government transitions and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land" ("Albania," 2008, CIA Fact Book). "Energy shortages and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment, which make it difficult to attract and sustain foreign investment. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore and improved transmission line between Albania and Montenegro will help relieve the energy shortages. Also, the government is moving slowly to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. On the positive side, macroeconomic growth was strong in 2003-07 and inflation is low and stable" ("Albania," 2008, CIA Fact Book). How the global economic crisis will affect Albania, however, remains unclear.
Still, despite its considerable challenges, Albania is considered a helpful partner in the world community today towards the major Western powers. It is considered a friendly nation in the world community, and played an important role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe. If it can improve its economy it is likely to join NATO and the EU in the future. The latter would be particularly important, given the benefits the EU has conveyed to poorer member nations, such as Ireland in the past. Also, "Albania, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism" ("Albania," 2008, CIA Fact Book).
No matter what its difficulties, Albania has shown itself to be a dedicated and ethical member of the world community, by and large, in a way that exceeds the good will of many of its wealthier neighbors.
Albania. (2008). CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 11 Oct 2008 at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/al.html
Albania." (2008). Infoplease. Retrieved 11 Oct 2008 at http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107268.html
Albania under communist rule." (2005, November 7). Library of Congress. Retrieved 11 Oct 2008 at (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r-frd/cstdy:@field (DOCID+al0059)
The Balkan Wars and creation of an independent Albania." (2005, November 7). Library of Congress. Retrieved 11 Oct 2008 at (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r-frd/cstdy:@field (DOCID+al0021)
Social and economic conditions after World War I." (2005, November 7). Library of Congress. Retrieved 11 Oct 2008 at (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r-frd/cstdy:@field (DOCID+al0026)