Albania is a country of superlatives. This stretch of land wedged between the Dinaric Alps and the Adriatic Sea has one of the most complex and unique histories in all of Europe … and one of the most beautiful landscapes.

Despite successive invasions throughout their history, Albanians retained their ancient language and culture. Loyalty and “besa,” or word of honor, are sacred here. The concepts unite the people through many challenges, including decades of communist isolation. This has created a modern Albania that is secular and religiously tolerant, but with traditional views about hospitality.

In Albania, traditions and technology collide in interesting ways. While still primarily a cash-based economy, many business and government services are more digitized than their neighboring countries. While driving in Albania, be prepared to stop for goat crossings, even along the unspoilt riviera. Their coffee culture is one of the best in Europe; the cafe atmosphere easily competes with Vienna or Rome.

Interesting Fact: Albania was the only country in Europe with more Jewish people at the end of WWII than the beginning — despite being occupied by Italians and German Nazis — because of Albania’s promise, “besa,” to hide and protect them.