|Government Type||Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic|
|Population||July 2016 estimate - 3,038,594|
Albania is a member of the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. It is also an official candidate for membership in the European Union. Albania is one of the founding members of the Energy Community, Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Union for the Mediterranean. It is home to the largest lake in Southern Europe and one of the oldest lakes in Europe.
With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons, Albania has a high number of climatic regions relative to its landmass. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean climate; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south. The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 °C (75 °F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5 °C (9 °F) higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5 °C (9 °F) during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.
Rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Adequate records are not available, and estimates vary widely, but annual averages are probably about 1,800 millimeters (70.9 in) and are as high as 2,550 millimeters (100.4 in) in some northern areas. The western Albanian Alps (valley of Boga) are among the wettest areas in Europe, receiving some 3,100 mm (122.0 in) of rain annually. The seasonal variation is not quite as great in the coastal area. The higher inland mountains receive less precipitation than the intermediate uplands. Terrain differences cause wide local variations, but the seasonal distribution is the most consistent of any area. In 2009, an expedition from the University of Colorado discovered four small glaciers in the Cursed mountains in Northern Albania. The glaciers are at the relatively low level of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), almost unique for such a southerly latitude.