Located on the Balkan peninsula amid rugged mountains, wild beaches and fortress towns, it’s easy to see why Albania is fast becoming every tourist's hidden gem. Yet, the country's long history of isolation and tight state control has often prevented its people from capitalising on their strongest assets.
As the country opens up - seeing migrant numbers leap and younger generations move abroad or to overcrowded cities - an ailing economy and organised crime continue to write the history books. 80,000 people in Albania - nearly one quarter of the population - lives in extreme poverty, surviving off of less than two US dollars per day.
The backwards effect of the massive depopulation of remote rural communities is inescapable. An ageing population, cut off from the outside world, face a number of acute threats including environmental risks such as deforestation and natural disaster as well as a grossly under-utilised agro-tourism industry.