Exploring Albanian Culture

Albania is one of the smallest European countries–smaller than the U.S. state of Maryland! The terrain is mostly mountainous, with rustic castles and white-sand beaches luring an increasing number of tourists each year. Albanians place a large value on families and their ethnic heritage. In fact, they honor a traditional code called besa, which translates to “keep the promise.” It is believed that observing besa, which includes family honor and hospitality, is the foundation for a successful life.

Host an Albanian student in the U.S.

People and Community

Teens in Albania

In Albania, most households consist of parents (or a parent) and their children. Some households have more than one relative living with the family, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Typically, in Albania, both parents work and are financially responsible for the family. The roles of women and men are also different in Albania. Usually, the father is the head of the family and makes big decisions, while the mother takes care of the children and the house. Both roles are highly respected. Hiring a housekeeper is not common in Albania; however, in the capital of Tirana, some middle- and upper-income families can now afford to have a housekeeper. In low and middle incoming families, the mother does the cleaning; children are required to clean up their own room or help their mothers.

Albania is small and it is typical for people to know each other. Parents often spend time with their family members and friends, and they try to socialize their children. Meeting with cousins or friends of the family and their children is normal. Depending on the size of the apartment, teenagers will typically spend time alone in their rooms. Many parents in Albania are actively involved in supporting or helping to arrange their children’s extracurricular activities. Albanian parents are often in frequent, direct contact with their children’s teachers at school and are kept aware of their academic progress through regular meetings.

Language and Communication Styles

People in Albania

Albanian is the official language of Albania. It has two distinct dialects: Tosk, spoken in the south, and Gheg, spoken in the north.


Byrek in Albania

Albania has a Mediterranean cuisine with a strong influence from the Ottoman Empire, as in all Balkan countries. Albanians try to eat healthy food and families spend a lot of money on food, as it is top priority for parents to provide good meals for their children. Dieting has become popular among women and young people, especially before the summer starts. In Albania, Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol.

Traditional specialties include varieties of gjellë (boiled vegetables with meat), fasule (bean stew), turshi (pickled vegetables), byrek (a pastry) with vegetables, cottage cheese, or minced meat, and tavë kosi (meat or liver baked in yogurt).