Tirana /tᵻˈrɑːnə/ (Standard Albanian: Tiranë; regional Gheg Albanian: Tirona) is the capital and largest city of Albania. It is situated on the western center of the country. Tirana is one of largest cities in the Balkan Peninsula and ranks 7th with a population of 600,000.
The population of the city proper at the 2015 census was 610,070 and the municipality of Tirana, created in 2015, has a total population of 800,986. It is the biggest metropolitan area in Albania, and the only one with a population of over 500.000. The city is host to many public institutions and public and private universities, and is the centre of the political, economic, and cultural life of the country. The city is mostly surrounded by hills, with Dajti Mountain on the East and a slight valley opening on the North-West overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since Paleolithic times dating back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago as suggested by evidence from tools found near Mount Dajt's quarry and in Pellumba Cave. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited.
Tirana was founded as a city in 1614 although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. An almost unimportant centre until the beginning of the 20th century, Tirana was proclaimed as the capital of Albania in 1920. The city planning and construction activity of Italian neighbors during the years 1930s until the capitulation of Fascism in 1943, provided to the city an axis and a look in the centre, which preserves its configuration even at the present days. The city centre and the Old Bazaar were destroyed during the communist regime, new arteries were opened and the central square, the Skanderbeg Square, was expanded.
In 1703, Tirana had about 4,000 inhabitants and by 1820 the number tripled to 12,000. The first census conducted a few years after becoming capital showed a total population of 10,845. During the 1950s, Tirana is experiencing rapid industrial growth and the population increased to about 137,000. After the end of communist rule in 1991, Tirana experienced its fastest population growth when people from rural areas moved to the capital for better economic opportunities. In 1990, Tirana had 250,000 inhabitants, but the large-scale influx increased the population to well over 500,000.
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