Albania is a relatively small country, smaller than The Netherlands, for instance. It is also relatively sparsely populated, with few urban centres, and most people living in the countryside, either on the coastal plains in the west or in the mountains towards the east. And a countryside it was, in the mid 1990s!
Although during communist times occasionally large scale agriculture was attempted, most people were occupied with extremely small-scale farming: a small piece of land, or a few sheep, or a cow. Transport was by donkey, or sometimes by horse. Cars didn’t exist yet, they were the realm of the townsfolk, and of the criminal elite – which tended to flock to the towns, too. Whatever motorised stock was available, looked very old indeed, and judging from Chinese characters on the trucks, may have been from well before 1978, when contact with China was severed.
The only exception was in the houses. Although in some of the villages houses were quite simple, built from rock boulders, mostly the country houses were relatively well-constructed, large and square, two floors, solid.
In smaller towns, an attempt had been made to provide ‘modern’ housing, often in the form of the infamous palatis – 4 to 5 story apartment blocks, cheap to construct and low enough not to have to install a lift, and with individual houses so small that with a family of four you didn’t notice you had no other possessions than the absolute minimum, because the house was full. What it didn’t hide, of course, was that Albania had suffered for years from a chronic shortage of decent housing, but you cannot win them all, can you? It is either houses or bunkers.