Natural regions of Albania

Natural regions of Albania

Bearing in the mind the differences in the relief, the hydrographic, the soils and plant cover, Albania can be divided into four big natural regions: the northern mountainous region, the central mountainous region, the southern mountainous and western lowlands together with the hilly regions around them.

The northern mountainous region
The northern mountainous region lies in the northern part of the country, on the right side of the Drin River. It comprises the mountainous zone of the most rugged relief in the country. The Albanian Alps, the mean altitude of which is 1500 m above sea-level, occupy the greater part of it. Deep valleys and gorges run through the Alps.

The Mesozoic limestone are predominant here. The flycsh formations, magmatic and metamorphic rock occupy smaller areas. The characteristic feature of this region is its complicated geological structure and the intensive activity of external processes in the formation of the relief (the activity of water-flows, the glaciers of the quaternary period and Karstic processes). All these have given the Alps a specific physiognomy. Viewed from afar, the Albanian Alps give the impression of a gigantic monolithic dome, but from nearer at hand one sees the silhouettes of jagged mountains, towering bare peaks in the form of gigantic spear pints and traces of snow which shine like the diamonds in a great crown.

The river valleys divide the Alps into four big blocks and series of mountain ridges. The highest peaks are Jezerca (2694 m), Radohima (2569 m), Shkelzen (2407); while the main valleys are those of the Valbona, the Shala and the Cem rivers which in their upper parts have been formed by the glaciers of the quaternary period. Therefore, in those parts they are broader and have vertical sides. Glacial activity has carved hollows on many mountain slopes making their relief more rugged and varied.

In the Alpe which have a typical mountain climate, the temperatures fall as you travel from the periphery to the center. There the fluctuations in the temperature are pronounced and frosts occur frequently. In general, the summer is fresh while during the cold winter precipitation amounts to 2500 mm per year. The overwhelming bulk of this quantity falls in the form of snow which frequently accumulates in depths of 2 to 3 meters. The cover of snow lasts a considerable time, frequently more than three months a year, while on the hollows at high altitudes facing north and east snow lies permanently.

The hydrographic of the Alps is very rich and with alpine characteristic. The rivers carry ample, clear, cold water, the maximum flows occurring in the spring and summer when the snow is thawing. Hence, the minimum flows of these seasons are not so marked as in the other rivers of the country. The rivers of the Alps, with their large flows of water and suitable morphological conditions, have large hydro-power reserves which began to be utilized only after the liberation of the country. At the same time they are rich in high quality fish, such as trout and eels. As well as rivers in the Alpes there are many glacial lakes, especially in the northeastern part. These groups of small lakes are outstanding for their natural beauty.

The flora in the Alps is extremely rich in varieties and in endemic plants, a fact which is linked with the great ecological conditions and soil types. Because the relief in the Alps is in the form of a dome, the flora there forms a number of concentric bands differentiated by the altitude. The band of conifers and beech and the alpine pastures are of considerable extent. Cultivated plants occupy an important place in the flora of the Alps. Despite the rugged relief there are considerable reserves of agricultural zone. Much new land has been opened up there during the years of the people’s power. As a result, besides livestock-raising and the exploitation of forests, agriculture has also assumed importance there.

Deposits of minerals such as chromite, quartz,bauxite, etc., have been discovered in the alpine zone and are being exploited. Beside their economic importance, the Alps also have special importance for tourism. The rare natural beauty, the cold water, the pure air and healthy mountain climate make them very attractive for holiday-makers, tourists and alpinists. There are many points from which alpinists set out for the most rugged and lofty peaks of the mountains.

The central mountain zone
The central mountain zone is the biggest of the natural zones of Albania. It extends from the Drin river in the north of the country to the Upper Osum and Lower Devoll in the south. In the west it is bounded by the hilly regions of the western lowlands. This zone is noted for its great natural contrast. The geological make-up of the central mountain zone is varied. Magmatic rocks containing rich deposits of metallic minerals (chromium, iron-nickel, copper) occupy an important place. Besides these, there are also metamorphic rocks, flysch and mollasic deposits.

Although the relief of this zone is mainly mountainous, valleys, depressions and plateus make up a considerable area. Although the mean altitude of this zone is less than that of the Alps, the highest peak in the country lies within it (Korab 2751 m). The predominant direction of the mountain chains and main valleys runs northwest-south-east. As a result of tectonic processes, however, alterations in the direction of mountain ranges have been caused in this zone. Frequently they take a north-south direction or form an arch with its convexity towards the west. In the central mountain zone there are many large tectonic depressions which sink in the plioquartemary period. The largest depressions line in the southeastern part of this zone. At the highest altitudes in this zone we find hollows gauged out by glacial activity in the quartenary period. The relief in this zone is predominantly rounder, and this is sue to formations of magmatic rocks and terrigeneous processes. But in places it is rugged and broken like Albanian Alps. This appearance is linked with the limestone formations.

In this zone the climate varies greatly from one place to another. The temperature and amount of precipitation diminishes towards the east, but the fluctuations in tern-rature and the quantity of snow increase. The hydrographic of the central mountain j*ne is very rich. The biggest rivers of the country with the greatest hydro-power potential run through it. It also contains many lakes. Lakes Ohri and Prespa and many glacial lakes lie in this zone.

The central mountain zone is also noted for its great wealth of flora. The biggest forests of oak, beech and conifers are located there. The exploitation of these forests is the basis of the country’s timber industry. The valleys and flats and terraced slopes of hills and mountains have been turned into important zones for agriculture and livestock-raising.

Outstanding features of this zone are the Korab mountain range which lies in the east, the high rugged relief, the lack Drin-Drin Valley, which is a densely populated and important agricultural zone and also important for electric power production; the Lura Mountains which lie in the central part of the zone and are notable for their varied relief and many mineral deposits (chromium, copper, iron-nickel) and their wealth of forests. The densely populated Mat Valley which is an important industrial region (mining and processing of chromium and electric power production) and an agricultural region; the Skenderbeg mountain ranges, which lie in the western part of the zone and are rich in forests. In the southeastern part of the central mountain zone lie the biggest depressions of the country among which the Kor9a Plain is outstanding.

The southern mountain zone
This zone lies in the south of the country and has broad opening into the sea. High mountain predominate in this zone too, but the valleys and depression occupy considerable areas. The southern mountain region has a more regular relief. The alternating mountain chains and valleys run in a northwest-southeast direction. In this zone there are also two large tectonic depressions (the Delvina Plain and the Dukat Valley). The mountain ranges are comprised of limestone rock and the jagged peaks, and widespread Karstic processes are linked with this. The valleys and depressions are comprised of terrigenous formations. In general they are wide. In special small sectors where the valleys interrupt the mountain ranges, they take the form of narrow gorges.

The climate in this zone is of Mediterranean type. It is distinguished for its generally mild wet winter and extremely hot dry summer. These features are most marked in the west of the zone. The southern mountain zone has a rich hydrographic. The Vjosa River and its tributaries and a number of smaller rivers which carry a lot of water run through it. Its flora is made up of Mediterranean pines. At the highest altitudes there are alpine pastures of the Mediterranean type. In this region the natural flora has been more heavily damaged than anywhere else in Albania. Therefore, since the establishment of the people’s state power a great amount of afforestation work has been carried out on denuded and degraded areas.

Notable features of this zone are the Tomorr-Melesin highlands, which have a very rugged and broken relief; the Vjosa Valley, the biggest in the zone; the mountain ranges between the Vjosa the Drino, which are noted for their high rugged relief but rich in flora and pastures; the Drino Valley; the highlands of KurvelesH-Mali i Gjere with a harsh relief but with many natural riches (forests, pastures); the Delvina Plain with its flat relief, formerly marshy but now completely reclaimed and systematized by the state, an important region for subtropical crops; the coastal mountains which run parallel with the sea, with a rugged relief, the western slopes of which constitute the Albanian Riviera.

The western lowlands and its hilly regions
In the west of the country, along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, lies the western lowlands, the biggest and most important area of plains in the country. It is about 200 km long with an average breadth of 17-20 km and a maximum breadth of 50 km. The western lowlands are at a small altitude above sea-level. The bulk of it lies at no more than 20 m altitude while there are some sectors below sea level. Its steepnees declines from east to west. Large areas are completely flat. But a few ridges of hills rise from it. This lowland plain has been formed by alluvial deposits from the rivers which flow into the Adriatic Sea, i. e. it is the result of the extension of the land in the direction of the sea. Measurements have shown that in the last 60 years the plain has extended in the direction of the sea adding an extra of 3600 ha of land, and this extension is continuing. The western lowlands have a mild climate and are crossed by the lower courses of the biggest rivers of the country.

Because of the very small fall where the rivers cross the flat plains the accumulation of alluvial deposits in river-beds is great making them ever shallower and raising them above the level of the plain. Besides this, low-lying sectors have been formed between water courses. In these conditions, during the frequent floods in the rivers these low-lying sectors were filled with water, thus forming the former swamps and marshes in the western lowlands (Terbuf, Roskovec, Thumana). There were numerous swamps along the coastline, too (Hoxhara, Karavasta, Durres). This situation is western lowlands changed only after second World War period.

Natural regions of Albania Natural regions of Albania Friday, February 03, 2017 Rating: 5
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