Albania from a Physical Point of View

By | January 4, 2022

From the orographical point of view, the relief of Albania is very complicated, and, while it is connected with that of the whole remaining western part of the Peninsula, it can be poorly coordinated in well-defined systems. For convenience of description, four main groupings can be distinguished: the Northern Albanian Alps, the border chains on the right of the Drin, the central mountainous region, and the southern and southwestern chains.

According to topschoolsintheusa, the Northern Albanian Alps, locally known as Montagna Grande (Malcija Madhe), are a rugged and impervious ridge whose axis is generally directed by OSO. to ENE., from the basin of Lake Scutari to the karst plains of Còssovo and Metohija. On the whole they have a massive structure, domed in the culminating areas; but glacial erosion has carved the ancient leveling surfaces into large cirques, separated by sharp, serrated ridges. In the central area, several peaks exceed 2500 m., But the highest (Kozi Rtarij or Maja Gjavaricë, 2656 m.) Is located towards the NE end, indeed it is in politically Yugoslav territory. At midday steep spurs descend precipitously over the deeply embedded valley of the Drin; the valleys between spur and spur, closed by glacial bars, are almost inaccessible. To N., on the other hand, the valleys of Zem, Lim and southern Bistrica (or Bistrica di Deciani), once occupied, in the upper parts, by considerable glaciers, allow access to the culmination area. The widest valley is that of the Lim, already occupied by a glacier about 25 km long, whose terminal basin is represented by the basin that today houses Lake Plav, surrounded by moraine amphitheaters. The chain, formed largely by powerful limestone piles and also by dolomites, is rich in karst phenomena: dolines, uvala, wells, with sinkholes, in which the waters are lost. Thick forests of fir trees cover the ridges almost to the most sublime peaks; the country is inhabited by mountain tribes who lead an isolated life within the remote mountain cantons; fairly dense in the west, the population in the east,

The chains to the right of the Drin form the eastern bulwark of the country. The great Koritnik ridge is closely connected with the Šar (see): it has peaks above 2200-2300 m. covered with pastures, or rather in S. it rises up to 2535 m. in Djalica and Lumës. At even greater heights rises the imposing indented crest of the Krabë, whose sides, shaped by large glaciers of the Ice Age, are hollowed out by numerous cirques housing small lakes; the highest peak (2764 m.) is also the highest in Albania. A little less elevated is the Deshat (2384 m. In the Veli Var), which follows S., engraved by many valleys, confluent to the Drin; at the northern foot of it opens the basin of Peshkopìë, lapped to the W by the Drin; in S. the largest basin of Dibra widens (450-500 msm),

At noon of the transverse valley of the Drin begins the central mountainous region, a large part of which was very imperfectly known until a few years ago. The limestone chains and massifs have an appearance similar to that of the Albanian Alps, although less wild; the presence of green rocks introduces an element of variety, giving the mountain sweeter shapes; the waters, which gush out in copious springs in contact between permeable limestones and impermeable coils, enliven the landscape. A complicated network of waterways breaks the unity of the relief by determining a number of districts separated from each other, each of which usually constitutes the center of a tribe or a well-identified group of population.

The ridges that accompany on the left the deep gorges of the middle Drin and constitute the mountainous village of the Ducagjini and the Mirditi, do not reach 2000 m., Culminating in the bald massif, engraved by large sinkholes, of Munela (1980 m.); but further to the South., the mountain ranges that are interposed between the longitudinal valley of the black Drin and the range of transversal valleys that meet in the lower part of the Mati, already exceed 2000 m in several points. (Neshda and Lurës 2110 m.; Mal’i Dejs 2246 m.; Oloman 2065 m.); they are often formed of dark masses of serpentine and lined with vast, impenetrable pine forests; the valleys that intersect them to the West are inhabited by the Mirditi, whose center is Oroshi. The deep indentation formed from the high Mati separates these hills from the Tirana Mountain, consisting of bare limestone ridges or covered with woods, that the tributaries of the Ishmi cut into sunken gorges. To the east, it rejoins the elevated ridge which separates the Shkumbî spring basin from the upper Drin valley exiting Lake Ochrida; this ridge, which in the highest part bears the name of Jablanica, rises to 2312 m. in the central node called Vishjarica, engraved by large cirques, which separate it from other slightly lower peaks (Crno Kamenjé or “Black Rocks” 2210 m.; Kristaq 2257 m.). Yet another depression, marked by the wide valley of the Shkumbî, a natural route of penetration from the Adriatic to the lake of Ochrida, separates the Jablanica from the grandiose amphitheater of mountains that surrounds the main branch of the Shkumbî itself, coming from S., called Mokrë, is fertile and densely inhabited; but the surrounding mountain – culminating in the SW. in the Gur’i Topit (2380 m.), covered, like the Jablanica, with dense forests of beech and fir, a refuge for bears, wolves and chamois – it escaped from the residents themselves. This high ridge, made up of dark serpentines, scattered with small lakes occupying the bottom of glacial cirques, in turn dominates the great gorge furrowed by the Devoli, the emissary of Lake Maliq; to S. of it the central mountainous region is still continued, geologically and morphologically, by the tormented massifs of the Opari and the Skrapari, dissected by the streams that flow into the Devoll and Osùm. Masses of dark serpentines largely form these mountains as well, but on them emerges the sharp and whitening crest of the Ostravicë (2384 m.), The southernmost of the great massifs of Albania.

The structure of the reliefs of central-southern Albania and of SO. it is much simpler. These are backbones, directed in general from NO. to the SE., of secondary limestone, almost always emerging from an Eocene flysch mantle ; to S. these ridges reach the sea, forming the harsh Chimara region and the backbone of the Acrocerauna peninsula; in the center, on the other hand, they are continued by series of tertiary hills which, maintaining the same orientation, protrude over the sea with elongated promontories.

The most imposing massif is that of Tomorr (2480 m.), Whose summit, naked and whitish, can be seen from afar, as a sort of sign, from all of central Albania and is considered almost like the king of the Albanian mountains. Covered with dense wood below 2000 m., It slopes to S. towards Osùm, to S. of which a complicated series of reliefs connects to Gramos to E. of Leskovik.

Another very high ridge happens, always with the axis oriented from NW. to the SE., further to the South.; it accompanies the Voiussa on the left and has the name of Nemerçkë in the higher southern part (Papingut, 2495 m.); to N. the Voiussa itself cuts it in a wild gorge, deeply embedded (Klissura, alb. Këlcyrë) upstream of Tepeleni; its continuation to N. of the gorge remains below 2000 meters. Always in the same direction, another limestone massif, that of Mal’i Lunxheriës, on the right of the Dhrino (Voiussa) to the NE. of Gjirokastra, has in the highest part (Mt Vuva, 2160 m.) the appearance of a thin crest, affected by glacial cirques.

Instead on the left of the Voiussa-Dhrino groove rises the ridge of M. Griba (Qendrevica, 2120 m.), Continued to S. by the massifs of Kurvelesh and then by those of Mal’i Gjërë; the latter, although having the same general orientation, are notable for the flattened or domed shapes of the culminating areas, which perhaps actually represent the remains of ancient flattening surfaces; they do not exceed 1600 m. in Kurvelesh, while they reach 1797 m. in Maja and Frashërit, which dominates from O. Gjirokaster.

Finally, along the Ionian Sea, from C. Linguine to the Butrint lagoon, the long chain that has been called Acroceraunî since ancient times rises with steep escarpments; gray due to the nakedness of the limestone, almost everywhere cleared for a long time, it culminates at 2060 m. in the central part, which still shows evident, albeit narrow, traces of ancient glaciers, then it slopes down towards the south in ever lower ridges on Santi Quaranta and on the Bistrica valley. A N. descends steeply on the Bay of Valona extending, indeed, in the islet of Saseno (331 m.).

A landscape of tertiary hills, forming alignments, also generally directed from the NW, is placed in front of these limestone ridges to the west, towards the sea – as has already been said -. to the SE: between Voiussa and Semeni are the Malakastra, at most 700-800 m high, sloping to the NW. up to the hill of Apollonia to then disappear under the blanket of recent floods; between Semeni and Shkumbî the hills of Lushnjë and other isolated, low ridges, just emerging from the alluvial mantle, one of which, M. B; cerit, overlooks the sea at C. Laghi; between Shkumbî and Arzèn the Mal’i Krabës and the Tsakulmans’ ridges whose last appendage is the M. di Durazzo, ending at C. Pallë; finally between Arzèn and Ishmi the Mal’i Kërçokës (487 m.) which protrudes into the Adriatic with the strange spur ending at C. Rodòni.

From Lake Scutari to the Gulf of Valona a flat, more or less wide, leaves stretches along the coast, however interrupted by the extreme offshoots of the hilly ridges just mentioned. This coastal plain results from a series of ancient inlets filled by the floods of the Albanian rivers; but recent lifting movements have probably contributed to its formation as well. The plain of Scutari, of which the innermost part is still occupied by the lake of the same name, was originally a deep gulf of the Dinaric type, and the low limestone ridges of Mali Renzit and Mal’i Kakarrìqit, which run through it between Boiana and Drin, represent the last offshoots of the dinaric coastal chains. Between S. Giovami di Medua and Capo Rodòni is the vast plain, crossed by the Mati and the Ishmi, still largely marshy, then the plain of Durazzo, crossed by the Arzèn; finally to S. the largest plain of Albania, Musacchia (Myzeqè), crossed by the lower courses of Shkumbî, Semeni and Voiussa, flooded in winter over large areas, still partly occupied by lagoons with uncertain banks (Kravasta, Terbuf, Arta lagoon), sometimes separated from the sea by thin coastal strips, extremely unhealthy due to the raging of malaria and therefore scarcely cultivated and poor in permanent settlements. Larger lagoons, which existed in antiquity, such as that of Soli on which ancient Apollonia had its port, have been filled, others are in the process of drying up, such as that of Arta and also the lagoon of Durres, separated from the sea, to N., by a thin cord. The Albanian coast is therefore an anthropogeographically unfavorable coast, scarce of landings and unhealthy; however, river regulation and reclamation works could entirely transform their value, because the soil of the coastal plain is very fertile everywhere, as evidenced by the rich summer pastures, the beautiful corn crops of the drier areas and the luxuriant woods of poplars, oaks, cork trees, which are still encountered here and there, especially in Musacchia.

Albania from a Physical Point of View