26 August 2014

Family Tree of Languages, Albanian one of the oldest -New York Times

Albanian Language is among 3 oldest languages! What a great discovery! Albania is ancient, and we are proud of that. Thank New York Times for publishing the findings! 

Biologists using tools developed for drawing evolutionary family trees say that they have solved a longstanding problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages. 



The family includes English and most other European languages, as well as Persian, Hindi and many others. Despite the importance of the languages, specialists have long disagreed about their origin.
Linguists believe that the first speakers of the mother tongue, known as proto-Indo-European, were chariot-driving pastoralists who burst out of their homeland on the steppes above the Black Sea about 4,000 years ago and conquered Europe and Asia. A rival theory holds that, to the contrary, the first Indo-European speakers were peaceable farmers in Anatolia, now Turkey, about 9,000 years ago, who disseminated their language by the hoe, not the sword.
The new entrant to the debate is an evolutionary biologist, Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He and colleagues have taken the existing vocabulary and geographical range of 103 Indo-European languages and computationally walked them back in time and place to their statistically most likely origin.
The result, they announced in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, is that “we found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin.” Both the timing and the root of the tree of Indo-European languages “fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago,” they report.
But despite its advanced statistical methods, their study may not convince everyone.
The researchers started with a menu of vocabulary items that are known to be resistant to linguistic change, like pronouns, parts of the body and family relations, and compared them with the inferred ancestral word in proto-Indo-European. Words that have a clear line of descent from the same ancestral word are known as cognates. Thus “mother,” “mutter” (German), “mat’ ” (Russian), “madar” (Persian), “matka” (Polish) and “mater” (Latin) are all cognates derived from the proto-Indo-European word “mehter.”
Dr. Atkinson and his colleagues then scored each set of words on the vocabulary menu for the 103 languages. In languages where the word was a cognate, the researchers assigned it a score of 1; in those where the cognate had been replaced with an unrelated word, it was scored 0. Each language could thus be represented by a string of 1’s and 0’s, and the researchers could compute the most likely family tree showing the relationships among the 103 languages.
A computer was then supplied with known dates of language splits. Romanian and other Romance languages, for instance, started to diverge from Latin after A.D. 270, when Roman troops pulled back from the Roman province of Dacia. Applying those dates to a few branches in its tree, the computer was able to estimate dates for all the rest.
The computer was also given geographical information about the present range of each language and told to work out the likeliest pathways of distribution from an origin, given the probable family tree of descent. The calculation pointed to Anatolia, particularly a lozenge-shaped area in what is now southern Turkey, as the most plausible origin — a region that had also been proposed as the origin of Indo-European by the archaeologist Colin Renfrew, in 1987, because it was the source from which agriculture spread to Europe.
Dr. Atkinson’s work has integrated a large amount of information with a computational method that has proved successful in evolutionary studies. But his results may not sway supporters of the rival theory, who believe the Indo-European languages were spread some 5,000 years later by warlike pastoralists who conquered Europe and India from the Black Sea steppe.
A key piece of their evidence is that proto-Indo-European had a vocabulary for chariots and wagons that included words for “wheel,” “axle,” “harness-pole” and “to go or convey in a vehicle.” These words have numerous descendants in the Indo-European daughter languages. So Indo-European itself cannot have fragmented into those daughter languages, historical linguists argue, before the invention of chariots and wagons, the earliest known examples of which date to 3500 B.C. This would rule out any connection between Indo-European and the spread of agriculture from Anatolia, which occurred much earlier.
“I see the wheeled-vehicle evidence as a trump card over any evolutionary tree,” said David Anthony, an archaeologist at Hartwick College who studies Indo-European origins.


http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/24/science/0824-origins.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

20 June 2014

All about Albania- London Evening Standard

With the Pope planning a visit to the once cut-off country, Tim Adler samples its eccentricities first hand


Stride along the seafront at Durrës, a seaside town an hour from the capital Tirana, and as you look up at hot peach and lime green hotels and apartment blocks you could be in a jolly cross between Blackpool and Miami. But then everything in Albania is a clash between something, which is what makes the country so hard to define. “Even for us it’s hard sometimes,” one Albanian told me. After all, what did I know about Albania before coming here — other than that Pope Francis is gracing the nation with a visit in September?
 Read more
http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/all-about-albania-9545436.html
 

18 June 2014

Walking Albania: Beautiful country and intriguing cities in this Balkan nation

Yet, another writer, Richard Webber from UK,  falls in love with the beauty of our country, stunned by our spectacular mountains and tasty, bio and cheap food! Enjoy the reading.

This forgotten Balkan country has some of Europe's most specular mountains and as it hopes to join the EU, some of its cheapest prices too…

Not far to go, just another hour," said Alix, our ebullient guide, as we bounced along the deeply rutted track. As the bone-shaking minibus crawled its way farther into the rugged mountains, I felt every bump and vowed never to complain about British potholes again.

When the occasional oncoming vehicle meant our driver steered perilously close to the track's edge and the steep-sided valley below, I started wondering if I had been right to embark on an eight-day walking tour of the former Communist country of Albania.
While the main routes are surfaced - there is even a stretch of motorway in the south - many secondary roads, especially in the mountains, are nothing more than rocky tracks.
My fellow walkers, who included a biochemist, vicar, software engineer, supermarket manager, and accountant, and I cheered through sheer relief when Alix pointed towards flickering lights ahead and announced: "There's Thethi!" This tiny village was our base for the next two nights. Surrounded by jagged peaks up to 9,000ft high, Thethi's remoteness means only the most intrepid travellers make it to this scenic spot.

Read the full story here!
http://www.express.co.uk/travel/activity/483037/Albania-walking-holiday

15 June 2014

Huffington post : planet appetite into mysterious Albania

Planet Appetite: Into Mysterious Albania

The author could see only Tirana, Durres and Lezha, but he is very impressed about our country, especially food! Finally his call ...Albanian tourism has a great future, but get there before everyone else finds out.

Long seen as one of the severest former communist countries, Albania has now emerged from the darkness and is a surprisingly attractive tourist destination
.. The most curious building in the centre is what was meant to be a museum, dedicated to the memory of former dictator Enver Hoxha. It's an ugly rumbling concrete pyramid, designed by his daughter and has been a nightclub, then TV HQ, but is now desolate.

23 April 2014

Albania is number 7 on Top Ten Best Value Destination Worldwide by Rough Guides for 2014

Rough Guides listed #Albania as number 7 among top ten best value destination in the world. Albania truly is  a best value offering rich history beautiful nature with lowest prices in #Balkans region!


 Unfairly shunned by many tourists because it’s seen as dangerous or backward (neither of which are true), Albania offers secluded beaches, locals who take a genuine interest in travellers, tasty Turkish-style food, Ancient Greek ruins and Ottoman towns. Imagine a trip to the Balkans before it got discovered and you’ve pretty much got it, with prices to match.



Tell your friends or family that you’re off to Albania, and you’ll likely receive a stock response: “Isn’t it dangerous?”, “Isn’t there a war going on there?”, and “Is that even in Europe?” are some of the most common. Speak instead to those who have been, and the associations with the country’s name become infinitely more positive – you’ll hear of rippling mountains, Ottoman architecture, pristine beaches and endlessly hospitable locals. Following decades of isolationist rule, this rugged land still doesn’t seem to fit into the grand continental jigsaw, with distinctly exotic notes emanating from its language, customs and cuisine. Pay a visit to this beguiling corner of Europe now, before it garners the popularity it deserves.


 Things not to miss :
  1. TIRANA -Sip an espresso in Albania’s colourful, chaotic capital
  2. BERAT The 'town of the thousand windows' is known for its pretty rows of Ottoman houses lining the hills
  3. IONIAN COAST-Albania has some wonderful stretches of beach along its Ionian shore 
  4. GJIROKASTRA-Birthplace of dictator Enver Hoxha, this stone city with its busy bazaar is now listed by UNESCO
  5. KRUJA-Hilltop scene of national hero Skanderbeg’s resistance


http://www.roughguides.com/best-places/2014/best-value-destinations/


10 April 2014

Travel Top 5: Rivieras you’ve never heard of- Albania Riveria no 2

#Albanian #riviera - Nice to be number 2 among top 5 "Rivieras" you would start hearing more and more. Listed from @canadadotcom

There was a time when travellers spoke of their holidays on the riviera and they were referring to a trip to Italy, or maybe France, but these days just about any coastal area with an eye on attracting tourists is calling itself a riviera.
The word is actually from Italian and means coastline but in today’s tourism marketing lingo the connotation is luxury living by the sea. If you look hard enough, you’ll find several dozen regions around the world that style themselves as “rivieras.”
Here are five of them that have probably never heard of:
1. Chinese Riviera
China is famous for copying consumer goods from other countries, so why not copy destination names? The Chinese Riviera refers to the coastal region near the city of Zhuhai in Southern Guangdong Province. But they’re already fighting over the title because the trendy area on Hainan’s west coast between Sanya Haitang Bay and XianghsuiWan also refers to itself as the Chinese Riviera.

2. Albanian Riviera
Albanian Riviera

Sandwiched between Greece and its Balkan neighbours is the overlooked country of Albania. On its southern shores is a gorgeous coastline that lines the Ionian Sea. Dotted with mountains, castles and sandy beaches, this region is a bargain compared to many of the world’s other “rivieras.”

3. Austrian Riviera

So how does a landlocked country get its own riviera? It doesn’t. You have to go back in time to when the Austro-Hungarian empire spread to the shores of the Mediterranean. In those times, the elite flocked to the resorts near Trieste, which is now in Italy, and south along the coast of Slovenia and Croatia. Travellers still go there today to enjoy a relaxing lifestyle by the sea.
4. English Riviera

England isn’t famous for its warm waters, so to dub the coast of South Devon a riviera might sound like a stretch, but you will find palm trees in Torbay, so maybe it deserves the moniker after all. The town of Torquay is also famous as the birthplace of Agatha Christie so you can always read a book if the sun isn’t shining.
5. Brazilian Riviera

The euphonius beach names of Ipanema and Copacabana are already world-famous, so why does Brazil need to promote its coast with a “riviera?” Because there’s a lot more to the South American country than Rio de Janeiro. The nation’s long coastline has a bounty of beautiful beaches and just a few hours northeast of Rio, you can head to Armação dos Búzios, or Búzios for short, to sample the sands of the dozens of nearby beaches and stay in its many of the Brazilian Riviera’s resorts which range from budget to extravagant.
Have you been to any of these rivieras? What about the original rivieras or some of the many other regions which have adopted the label? We’d like to hear about it in the comments.

Adria Airways launches new routes- 4 times weekly flights between Tirana and Frankfurt

Welcome on board! The crew of the first Adria Airways flight from Warsaw Chopin Airport to Ljubljana get ready to greet the route’s first customers on 1 April. The airline will operate the route thrice-weekly with CRJ 200s and faces no direct competition.
  • Adria Airways has launched two new routes in the last week. On 1 April it began thrice-weekly flights on the 810-kilometre route between Ljubljana (LJU) and Warsaw Chopin (WAW) using its CRJ 200s. The following day it started four times weekly flights on the 1,290-kilometre route between Tirana (TIA) in Albania and Frankfurt (FRA) using its A319s. Neither route is served by any other carrier. This summer Adria Airways will be operating non-stop to 20 destinations from Ljubljana. The Tirana-Frankfurt route was previously served by Albanian Airlines.
Source: http://www.anna.aero/2014/04/10/adria-airways-adds-new-routes-frankfurt-warsaw/