The grim Soviet-style apartment blocks of Tirana were given a colorful make-over under mayor Edi Rama, now Albania's Prime Minister. It had a dramatic effect on the city, although the structural problems and shoddy interiors of many buildings remain a long term problem.
Albania – Fact Check

Albania: the man who left his mark

Photo by Alvaro Leiva

Albania – Fact Check Albania: the man who left his mark

Former basketball star Edi Rama was voted prime minister of Albania after ten years as mayor of Tirana. His first act as mayor was to sweep away the city’s numerous hawkers and tackle a long-standing problem of trash, clearing the streets, parks and squares for its residents to enjoy.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

As a well-known muralist, perhaps his most radical change to the capital's image was painting its houses in bright colors, quite a shock after the drab years of Communism.

With a leader in his late 40s, the younger generation dares to hope for dramatic change at a national level, and a genuine attempt to curb corruption. Although Albania established a fragile democracy following the death in 1985 of Enver Hoxha, Europe’s last Stalinist dictator, his brutal legacy of authoritarian politics and contempt for the rule of law has haunted successive governments.

Europe’s last Stalinist dictator

“This is the first government that’s not linked to the Communists,” says my young guide Kela Qendro. “Their program appeals to a younger electorate. Of course we need improvements in health and education, but there’s a strong environmental element as well. The new coastal authority will establish the infrastructure to protect our heritage against uncontrolled development. Very good news in my business.

“Many of my friends have interesting jobs, but working with foreigners as a tour guide means I earn more than they do,” she says.

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Theth National Park can be reached only by four-wheel drive vehicles and is cut off in winter. An extension of the park across the borders of Montenegro and Kosova is planned to help increase the region's appeal for eco-tourism. Photo by Michael Runkel / Getty Images

Michael Runkel

Michael Runkel

Agency
Getty Images

Theth National Park can be reached only by four-wheel drive vehicles and is cut off in winter. An extension of the park across the borders of Montenegro and Kosova is planned to help increase the region's appeal for eco-tourism.

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