Albania is mainly a mountainous country; 28% is made of mountains and 47% are hills, whereas the plains comprise 25%, with an altitude up to 300 m above sea level. The average altitude of the country is 708 m above sea level, two times greater than the average altitude of Europe.
Albania’s mountain landscape is magnificent and breathtaking, with forests of oak, beech, pine and coniferous trees, clear and cold streams. The highest regions, where peaks rise to about 2.700 m are the dramatic Albanian Alps in the North and a range of forested mountains, which stretches the length of the country and to the Eastern border. The mountains are populated in the central part with trees giving way to pasture in the south.
On the basis of territorial peculiarity and structures of relief, four natural regions are distinguished: The Alps of North Albania; The Central mountainous region; The Southern mountainous region; the Western Lowlands.
The Alps of Northern Albania
These mountains are situated along the right side of the Drin valley. On the whole, the average altitude is 1.500 m above the sea level, however the greater part of them exceeds 2.000 m, in the highest peak being Jezerca at 2.603 m above sea level. The form of the region is very rugged, with pyramid like mountains full of deep ravines and valleys, which make them look higher than they actually are. The valleys of Boga, Thethi and Jezerca leave an amazing impression on the visitor.
The Central Mountain Region
These mountains are situated between the valley of Drin and the valleys and rivers of Lower Devoll and Upper Osum. They differ from the region of the Northern Alps in that they are not rugged. Three main mountains running northwest to southwest are in the general structure of the relieve. The highest peak in this range is Mount Korabi at 2.751 m above sea level. There are also two long depressions that stretch between them, Mati and Upper Shkumbini and the depression of Drin i Zi. The lakes of Lura, which are considered to be “the pearls of Albanian landscape” are the most fascinating part of the region .
At the south Eastern end of the region there is a zone of deeply embedded depression between the mountains, forming large and beautiful lakes of Ohri and Prespa.
The Southern Mountain Range
These mountains are situated south of the central region and offer a still more regular tectonic structure, characterized by the presence of a series of limestone mountains and valleys running parallel with each, from northeast to southwest. Most of the mountain peaks are 2.000 m above sea level, however there are some valleys that drop down to sea level. The highest mountains of the region are Tomorri at 2.417 m and Papingji at 2.486. The mountains of the southern region are mostly bare or covered with scant forests.
The Western Depression is situated on the western part of Albania extending along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea. It is composed of low altitude plains. This depression stretches for 200 km from the Lake of Hoti in the north, to Vlore in the south. In the east it extends up to the western slopes of the North Alps, of the central mountain range and those of the southern mountain range penetrating up to 50 km from the seashore. A range of hills divides the depression into separate plains. On the whole the plains have a negligible inclination and mostly they do not raise more than 20 meters above sea level. The lowland is extended from North to South and is penetrated by rivers with large watersheds like Shkumbini, Semani and Mati. The plains of lowland are characterized by a flat relief. Some parts of the lowland near the coastal area, like Tale (Lezha), Velipoja (Shkodra), Fushë-Kuqe (Laç) and Divjaka (Lushnja) are situated at the sea level. Along the seashore there are many lagoons and stretches of sand, the later forming ideal bathing beaches such as those of Shengjin, Velipoja, Durres, Karavasta, Godulla, Vaini, Kënalle, Divjake, etc.