Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania and as well the heart of Albania's cultural, economic and governmental activity. It is located on the western center of the country surrounded by hills with the Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. The city is located some 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Athens, 290 km (180 mi) west of Skopje, 250 km (160 mi) south-east of Pristina and 160 km (99 mi) south of Podgorica.
Tirana is a city with a rich history dating from the Paleolithic times back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago to the present day. The oldest settlement located in the area of the city was the Cave of Pellumbas, in today's village of Pellumbas. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with ancient Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited. One of the ancient monuments, the Tirana Mosaic is believed to have been part of a 3rd century ancient Roman house. Later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Paleo-Christian Basilica was built around this site. Tirana was founded as a city in 1614 although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. An almost unimportant centre until the beginning of the 20th century, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the capital of Albania, which had acquired Independence in 1912.
The heritage of the classical period can be found in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Tirana Mosaic. Tirana also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a number of Ottoman monuments.
Tirana is one of largest cities in the Balkan Peninsula ranking 7th with a population of 800,000 and the largest Albanian-speaking city in the world. The municipality, has a total population of 800,986. It is also the biggest Metropolitan area in Albania and the only one with a population of over 800.000. The city is ranked in the Top 10 of the sunniest cities in Europe with a total of 2,544 hours of sun.
Being Albania's primate city, Tirana is considered as the heart of Albania because of its central location and its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, service, research and healthcare. Almost all of the largest companies, media and scientific institutions have their headquarters in the city. Tirana is also the seat of power of the Government of Albania, the residences for work of the President and the Prime Minister of Albania.
Tirana is located in the central part of Albania, about 32 kilometers (20 mi) inland. Its average altitude is 110 meters (360 ft) above sea level and its highest point measures 1,828 metres (5,997 feet) at Mali me Gropa. The city is mostly surrounded by hills, with Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
By road the city is 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Athens, 290 km (180 mi) west of Skopje, 250 km (160 mi) south-east of Pristina and 160 km (99 mi) south of Podgorica.
The Tiranë river runs through the city, as does the Lanë stream. Tirana has four artificial lakes, the Tirana Artificial Lake around which was built the Grand Park, Paskuqani Lake, Farka Lake, Tufina Lake and other smaller lakes or reservoirs. The present municipality was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities Baldushk, Bërzhitë, Dajt, Farkë, Kashar, Krrabë, Ndroq, Petrelë, Pezë, Shëngjergj, Tirana, Vaqarr, Zall-Bastar and Zall-Herr, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the city Tirana.
Tirana is surrounded by the Dajti Mountains on the east also on the southern and the western part of the city. The Dajti Mountain's highest peak is at 1,613 metres (5,292 feet). In winter, the mountain is often covered with snow and is a popular retreat to the local population of Tirana that rarely sees snow falls. Its slopes have forests of pines, oak and beech, while its interior contains canyons, waterfalls, caves, a lake, and an ancient castle. The park has a surface area of 29,384 hectares, is highly frequented by day and considered the Natural Balcony of Tirana. The mountain can be reached through a narrow asphalted mountain road onto an area known as Fusha e Dajtit. From this small area there is an excellent view of Tirana and its plain. This is the reason this place has been named as the Balcony of Tirana.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Tirana has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), and receives just enough summer precipitation to avoid Köppen's (Csa) Mediterranean climate classification, since every summer month has more than 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of rainfall, with hot and moderately dry/humid summers and cool and wet winters. Some snow falls almost every winter, but it usually melts quickly. The city is ranked in the Top 10 of the sunniest cities in Europe with a total of 2544 hours of sun.
Tirana is with Durrës the financial and business heart of Albania. It is also a major centre for trade, real estate, banking and finance, retailing, transportation, new media as well as traditional media, advertising, legal services, accountancy, insurance, and fashion in the country. The city began to develop at the beginning of the 16th century, when a bazaar was established, and its craftsmen manufactured silk and cotton fabrics, leather, ceramics and iron, silver, and gold artefacts.
Many domestic and international companies are based in Tirana such as the mineral AlbChrome (second largest mineral industry in Europe), the petroleum Taçi Oil (among the largest oil companies in the Balkans), the technology Albtelecom, Vodafone, Telekom Albania, the banking Central Bank, Raiffeisen Albania, Banka Kombetare Tregtare, American Bank of Albania, Credins Bank, Tirana Bank, electronic Neptun (largest in the Balkans) and many other companies.
The first international fast food chain (KFC) in Albania, were etablished in Tirana at Tirana East Gate and Ish-Blloku near the city centre. The ABA Business Center, the TID tower and the 4 Ever Green Tower, were being constructed in the city. Tirana has malls, such as Citypark, QTU, Toptani and Tirana East Gate. Stocks are traded at the Tirana Stock Exchange.
According to the World Bank, Tirana has made significant steps of starting a business in 2016. Tirana ranks 10 among 22 cities in Southeastern Europe before Belgrade, Serbia and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Tirana Logistic Park and Tirana Business Park are currently under construction.
Tourism in Albania is developing year by year since the fall of communism and the capital city of Tirana become a very popular tourist destinations after the southern Albanian Riviera and northern part of the country. Tirana has a majority of luxury hotels, modern restaurants, bars, pubs and very big nightclubs. The largest hotels of the city are the Tirana International Hotel and The Tirana Plaza situated in the heart of the city near the Scanderbeg Square. The luxury Sheraton Hotel Tirana is also located in city center of Tirana, near central business district next to the National Arena. Other major hotels present in central Tirana include the Xheko Imperial Hotel, Rogner Hotel, the Best Western Premier Ark Hotel and the Mondial Hotel. Tirana is a place that is known as a university center of students from regional countries like Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece.
According to the Polish Tour Operators Association, Tirana has entered into the 10th most visited cities by the Poles. The French Télérama ranked Tirana also to the Top 10 of best destination to be visited in 2017.
Most tourists to the city come from Greece, Italy, Kosovo and Europe, with the number of visitors from elsewhere growing every year, thanks to an increasing number of international airline arrivals at Mother Teresa International Airport as well as luxury cruises that arrive into the Port of Durrës that offers day trips to the City.
A large number of the monuments located in Tirana, date back to the Illyrian, Roman, Greek and Ottoman periods. Monuments include the Skanderbeg Square, Clock Tower of Tirana, Petrelë Castle, Et'hem Bey Mosque, Sacred Heart Church, Resurrection Cathedral, Tomb of Kapllan Pasha, Mother Albania, Blloku, Mount Dajti and Mosaic of Tirana.