Albania covers 28,748 square kilometres (11,100 square miles) and is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south. The Adriatic and Ionian Seas make up the entire west border of the country. It lies mostly between latitudes 42° and 39° N, and longitudes 21° and 19° E. The relief is dominated by mountainous or high terrain, with a wide variety of natural features. Only one-third consists of lowlands located in the west along the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, with a coastline length of about 476 km (296 mi). The mountain chains run the length of the country from north to south such as the Albanian Alps in the north, Sharr Mountains in the northeast, Skanderbeg Mountains in the center, Korab Mountains in the east, Pindus Mountains in the southeast and the Ceraunian Mountains in the southwest along the Albanian Riviera.
The hydrographic network of Albania is composed of lakes, rivers, wetlands, seas and groundwaters. There are about 250 lakes of different origins, including tectonic, glacial, and fluvial lakes. Among the most important is the lake of Shkodër, the largest lake in Southern Europe, followed by Ohrid, which is considered as one of the most ancient lakes in the world. However, the rivers have also an important effect on the local's coastal biodiversity. There are 152 rivers in the country, most notable amongst them Drin, Vjosa, Shkumbin, Mat, Ishëm and Osum. The coasts along the Mediterranean Sea are home to various lagoons including Karavasta and Narta.
Albania is distinguished for its diverse flora and fauna. The variation of geomorphology, climate and terrain create favorable conditions for a number of endemic and sub-endemic species. It is host to 30% of the entire flora and 42% of fauna of Europe. Phytogeographically, the country straddles the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature and the European Environment Agency, it falls within four terrestrial ecoregions of the Palearctic ecozone, including the Illyrian deciduous forests, Balkan mixed forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forests and Dinaric Alpine mixed forests. Albania is home to 799 designated protected areas, covering a surface of 5.216,96 square kilometres. These include 14 national parks, 1 marine park, 4 ramsar sites, 3 world heritage sites, 45 important plant areas, 16 important bird areas and 786 protected areas of various caterogies.
Albania can be divided into four categories, which are Mediterranean, Balkanic, European and Eurasian. The flora contains between 3,200 vascular plant species, 2,350 non-vascular plant species and 15,600 invertebrates and vertebrate species.
About 3,000 different species of plants grow in Albania, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. Coastal regions and lowlands have typical Mediterranean macchia vegetation, whereas oak forests and vegetation are found on higher elevations. Vast forests of black pine, beech and fir are found on higher mountains and alpine grasslands grow at elevations above 1800 meters. The genus of flora with the most species in Albana Trifolium (clover) with a total of 63 species. This is mainly due to the Mediterranean climate on the coastline of the nation. The country is also home to almost 27 species of Verbascum, which is due to the greater proximity to Anatolia, that is the main development center of the king candles.
Around 10,000 square kilometres (3,861 square miles) of the country's land area consists of forests. Most of the forests are covered by a mixture of coniferous and deciduous forests, mainly occupy regions of higher altitude. Most of the forests are situated on mountain slopes and non-arable lands. The concentration of deciduous trees dominates in the forests, ranging from almost 56.8% or 609,304.10 hectares (6,093 square kilometres) of the forested territory. Oak (Quercus) represents an important natural forest resource in Albania with 32.1% or 343,916.10 hectares (3,439 square kilometres), followed by beech (Fagus) with 18.4% or 197,093.50 hectares (1,971 square kilometres). Further, there are 12 oak species in Albania, distributed over almost all the Albanian territory from north to south, and east to west.
The coniferous forests cover 175,558.90 hectares (1,756 square kilometres), which is 16.4% of the country's forested total area. Although, black pine (Pinus nigra) dominates and is among the most significant tree species in the country, occupying an surface area of 109,199.40 hectares (1,092 square kilometres) or roughly 10.2%. It is primary found in the Central Mountain Range such as in the mountains of Korab, Koritnik and Gjallica but also scattered in the Northern and Southern Mountain Range including the Albanian Alps and Ceraunian Mountains. Silver fir (Abies alba) accounts 1.4% of the conifers with 15,181.00 hectares (152 square kilometres). It is common in the slopes and valleys of the Albanian Alps in the north, the Skanderbeg and Dajti Mountains in the center and along the Adriatic and Ionain Sea coasts in the west.
There are around 760 vertebrate species found so far in the nation. Among these there are over 350 bird species, 330 freshwater and marine fish and 80 mammal species. There are some 91 globally threatened species found within the country, among which the Dalmatian pelican, pygmy cormorant, and the European sea sturgeon. Rocky coastal regions in the south provide good habitats for the endangered Mediterranean monk seal. Some of the most significant bird species found in the country include the golden eagle, that is known as the national symbol of the country vulture species, capercaillie and numerous waterfowl.
The Albanian forests still maintain significant communities of large mammals such as the brown bear, gray wolf, chamois and wild boar. The north and eastern mountains of the country are home to the last remaining Balkan lynx – a critically endangered population of the Eurasian lynx.
Some of the 30% of the European plant species, and 42% of the European mammals can be found in the country. Albania's variety of wetlands, lagoons and large lakes also provide critical winter habitat for migratory birds (1).
Approximately 30% of all European floras occur in Albania.