The Drin (Albanian: Drin, definite Albanian form: Drini; Latin: Drilon; Macedonian: Дрим/Drim) is the longest river in Albania, having a total length of 335 km (208 mi), of which 285 km (177 mi) flow within Albania and the remainder in Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia. It is located in Southern Europe. Drin river has two distributaries, one flowing directly into the Adriatic Sea in the west, the other one into the Buna River.
The Drin River Basin extends into five countries, namely Albania, Greece, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro. Its catchment area conclude an area of 19,686 square kilometres (7,601 sq mi). It includes the Black Drin, which drains from Lake Ohrid and flows northwards to the outskirts of Kukës, where it merges with White Drin and forms the Drin River. The river basin is one of the most biodiverse hotspots in Europe.
The Drin originates near the town of Kukës, in the northeast of Albania, at the confluence of the rivers Black Drin and White Drin. It then flows west for about 335 km (208 mi) passing through the Albanian Alps and Fierzë then upon reaching the Dukagjini highlands, flowing then to the south through Apripë e Gurit, Toplanë, Dushman, Koman, Vjerdhë Mazrrek, Rragam, and Pale Lalej. At Vau i Dejës, it enters the low Shkodër Field and splits into two arms. One empties into the Bay of Drin into the Adriatic Sea southwest of Lezhë, forming the Mouth of Drin, Albanian: Gryk' e Drinit). The other empties into the Bojana River near the Rozafa Castle.
Measured from the source of White Drin, the rivers length is 335 km (208 mi), making it the longest river in Albania. The Black Drin flows out from the Lake Ohrid near Struga and flow through eastern Albania and western Macedonia. The White Drin originates from the Zhleb mountain, north of the town of Pejë in the Dukagjin region of Kosovo,[a] and flows from there through to Albania.
The area's varied geology and topography have resulted in a unique variety of flora and fauna. Due to the strategically location inside the Balkan Peninsula at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Drin river basin is a prominent hotspot for floral and faunal exchange between Europe and Asia. The basin encompasses the transboundary subbasins of Lake Shkodër (largest lake in Southern Europe), Lake Ohrid (one of the most ancient lakes in the World), Lake Prespa and Small Prespa Lake and also the tributaries, namely Black Drin, White Drin and Buna River. All these subbasins and tributaries are home to numerous species of mammals, vascular plants, insects, amphibians, fish and birds.
The Drin is extremely important for the Albanian economy, especially for its electrical production. Four hydropower facilities produce most of Albania's electricity (over 1200MW capacity). The artificial Lake Fierza (Albanian: Liqeni i Fierzës) created by the dam at Fierzë is the largest artificial lake in Albania with its surface of 73 km². The second largest artificial lake is also built on this river. Vau i Dejës lake (Albanian: Liqeni i Vaut të Dejës) has an area of 25 km². Construction of the Fierza power station caused some controversy in the 1980s. Without reaching any agreement, the Albanian government ordered the reservoir to be filled with water, which flooded some border areas of Kosovo, then part of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav government protested, but no solution was agreed on. Thus, today, Lake Fierza is shared by Albania and Kosovo.
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Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe; Lake Ohrid is a superlative natural phenomenon, providing refuge for numerous endemic and relict freshwater species of flora and fauna dating from the tertiary period. As a deep and ancient lake of tectonic origin, Lake Ohrid has existed continuously for approximately two to three million years.