General information on Albania

SOS Children's Villages started its work in Albania in 1992. SOS Children's Villages involvement in Albania has grown in recent years, and includes the provision of day-care, primary and secondary education, vocational training and counselling to support children, young people and families near the capital city of Tirana.

Children playing in SOS Children's Village Tirana - photo: B. Neeleman
Children playing in SOS Children's Village Tirana - photo: Benno Neeleman
Albania is located in south-eastern Europe. The country is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, Greece to the south, the Republic of Macedonia to the east, Montenegro to the north and Kosovo to the north-east. The capital and most important city is Tirana. There are just under 3 million people living in Albania, of which 32.6 per cent are children under the age of 18.

The main religion is Islam (70 per cent), a fifth of the population is Albanian Orthodox and one tenth is Roman Catholic. The languages most commonly spoken are Albanian (Tosk is the official dialect) and Greek.
Two boys drawing, SOS Children's Village Tirana - photo: Katerina Ilievska
Two boys drawing, SOS Children's Village Tirana - photo: Katerina Ilievska
Children often have to start working at an early age, and either drop out of education or work alongside attending school. According to UNICEF, around 12 per cent of children between the ages of 5-14 are involved in child labour. Children from families in rural areas, where the infrastructure is underdeveloped, are most at risk. There is more poverty in rural areas and access to health and social services is limited. The child labour rates in rural areas are four times higher than in urban areas.

Vulnerable children from deprived backgrounds are at risk of falling into the hands of organised crime. Girls in particular are susceptible of being trafficked to other areas of Europe and the Balkans.