Albania is one of the oldest countries in Europe, therefore, Albanians have a culture and language of their own. A combination of old traditions and modern elements is what makes Albanian culture special. Having been under the rule of other countries for a long time throughout history Albanians have borrowed some traditions from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Slavs, and the Italians. Nevertheless, Albanians have managed to also preserve their own traditions which are inherited from generation to generation. The national Albanian symbol is the eagle. The double-headed eagle on the red Albanian flag represents the independent state of Albania.
Folklore is an important part of the Albanian culture. Literature, music, choreography and dramatic folklore is rich, diverse, with great artistic values and it is inherited from generation to generation. Handcrafts consist of beautiful, artistic items adorned with national motifs and traditional creativity of the local people. There are also many archaeological findings which provide great information on the past and the formation of present culture. For instance, the oldest architectural monuments in Albania were constructed by the Illyrians. Later on, the Greeks and Romans who occupied Albania built structures still visible in urban and rural landscapes.
Traditionally, Albania has been 70% Sunni Muslim, 10% Roman Catholic (mostly in the north) and 20% Albanian Orthodox, making it the only European country to have a Muslim majority.
Here are some interesting facts regarding Albanian culture and social interaction.
A nod of the head usually means ‘no’ and shaking one’s head means ‘yes’.
A greeting can be done with a kiss on the right cheek between close acquaintances. Handshaking is an accepted form of greeting in more formal settings.
It is culturally acceptable to express strong emotions when amongst familiar people.
Albanians will usually pay for their guests’ meals and will insist on paying the bill, even when you have invited them to your favorite restaurant.
Education is very important to young Albanians and those who get to attend university consider themselves lucky. Knowledge of at least one foreign language is considered a necessity and many people spend money and time to learn at least a new language.
Albanians still practice arranged marriage and believe this helps built respect among their families and the couple.