Tirana is a city of huge historical importance and Albanians tend to be fiercely patriotic. For example, well over 500 years after his death, George Kastrioti — known as Skanderbeg — remains a national hero for helping to lead and organize the Christian resistance against the Ottoman Muslims.
Located in the north of Albania and not far from the country's coastline, Tirana is becoming one of the easiest capital cities to reach for expats considering a move to Eastern Europe.
It is currently home to more than 400,000 people and the increasing foreign investment is attracting a large number of expats to the city. As the heart of political, economic, and cultural life in Albania, Tirana is a very lively and pleasant place in which to live. Tirana's urban population is close to 600,000 if the suburbs of Kamëz, Kashar, Paskuqan, and Farkë are included.
Around 55 percent of Tirana's population identify as Muslim, although there are also large Christian and atheist minorities living in the city. Albanian is the local language, with Italian one of the most common second languages spoken in Tirana. However, many of the locals — especially younger people — have a decent grasp of English, too.
Tirana's climate is a humid subtropical climate, meaning that it has hot and moderately dry summers, although the weather can be humid. Temperatures rise to around the 30°C mark during the height of the summer, which is usually in July and August.
Winters tend to be cool and wet. There is sometimes some snow, although the city is usually warm enough that it melts quickly. Even in the depths of winter — which runs from December to April in Albania — the mercury rarely drops to below freezing for an extended period of time.
Visa-free access to Albania is available to anyone with a passport from one of 78 jurisdictions around the world, including Australia, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Japan and Brazil. Note that this only applies for short-term, tourist visits of up to 90 days, though!
Expats who do need to apply for a visa at their closest Albanian Diplomatic Mission should do so in plenty of time as delays can occur. Visas tend to be granted for 90 days. Costs vary according to the nationality of the applicant and visas for longer terms are available, too.
Expatriates who are moving to Tirana for such a longer stay will also need to apply for a (temporary) residence permit. You can apply for these with the Albanian State Police.