Albania, officially the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipërisë, or simply Shqipëria), is a country in South Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Greece to the south-east, Montenegro to the north, partially-recognized Kosovo to the northeast, and the Republic of Macedonia to the east. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west, and on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. It is less than 72 km (45 miles) from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea.
The country is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation,Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and Union for the Mediterranean. It is also a potential candidate for membership in the European Union and received a NATO membership invitation on 3 April 2008. Albania is expected to formally join the 26-nation pact next April on NATO's 60th birthday,and has provided support and troops for security and peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Albania is a parliamentary democracy which is converting its economy into a big business oriented system. The Albanian capital, Tirana, is home to 600,000 of the country's 3.6 million people. As a result of the opening of the country in the post-communist era, Albania is now undergoing a development boom as its telecommunications, transport and utilities infrastructure is being revamped.