Kukës (definite Albanian form: Kukësi) is a city in the Republic of Albania. The city is the capital of the surrounding municipality of Kukës and county of Kukës, one of 12 constituent counties of the republic. It spans 8.2 square kilometres (3.2 sq mi) and had a total population of 16,719 people as of 2011.[1][2] By air distance, Kukës is located 98 kilometres (61 mi) northeast of Tirana, 75 kilometres (47 mi) to the east of Shkodër and 34 kilometres (21 mi) to the south of Gjakovë and 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the west of Prizren in Kosovo.

Kukës central square
Kukës central square
Official logo of Kukës
Kukës is located in Albania
Coordinates: 42°5′N 20°25′E / 42.083°N 20.417°E / 42.083; 20.417
Country Albania
 • MayorSafet Gjici (PS)
 • Municipality934.80 km2 (360.93 sq mi)
 • Municipal unit8.2 km2 (3.2 sq mi)
350 m (1,150 ft)
 • Municipality
 • Municipality density51/km2 (130/sq mi)
 • Municipal unit
 • Municipal unit density2,000/km2 (5,300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal Code
8501, 8502, 8503
Area Code(0)24
WebsiteOfficial Website

Geologically, the terrain of the surrounding area is dominated by mountainous and high terrain. The city sprawls across the Luma Plain within the Albanian Alps between the banks of Lake Fierza and the hills of the northernmost Korab Mountains and westernmost Shar Mountains. At the confluence of the Black and White Drin, the Drin River originates close to the city's territory.

Kukës traces its history back over a thousand years. The region that nowadays corresponds to the city territory was inhabited by several ancient Illyrian tribes, as most of Albania. Numerous tombs from the Illyrians has been identified at Këneta and Kolsh nearby the city. The residential estate served as a stopping point on a branch road leading to the Via Egnatia, which connected Durrës on the Adriatic Sea in the west with Constantinople on the Marmara Sea in the east. In modern times and due to the close proximity to Kosovo, the city achieved worldwide recognition during the Kosovo War as thousands of Kosovo-Albanian refugees crossed the border and found security in the city.

The city was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in regard to hospitality and for embracing thousands of refugees during the Kosovo War.[3] It was the first time a town was nominated for the prize. In 2017, the city applied for the 2018 European Green Capital Award to become Europe's Green Capital.[4]


Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan during the 1999 Kosovo War crisis in Kukes

The old Kukës was located at the confluence of the White Drin and Black Drin. In 1976 the town was submerged beneath the Fierza Reservoir, which is held back by a dam.

The new town (Kukësi i Ri - "New Kukës") was built in the 1970s in the plateau nearby which is 320m over the sea level. Kukësi i Ri is surrounded by the artificial lake of Fierza and it looks like a peninsula from the above.

It is linked with the other parts of the country by three bridges. On the east it faces the snow-covered mountain of Gjallica, 2468 m above sea level.

Illyrian tombs were found at Këneta and Kolsh nearby Kukës.[5] It was a small Roman settlement, a stopping point on a branch road leading to the Via Egnatia, and a minor Ottoman market centre and trading post on the road to southern Kosovo.[a] It was there (Qafa e Kolosjanit) where Albanian resistance stood up against retreating Serbian army in 1912.

Kukës attracted international attention during the Kosovo conflict when 450,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees crossed the frontier and were housed in camps in and around Kukës.

This led, in 2000, to a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. It was the first time a town was nominated for the prize.[6]

There is a mosque and a closed alpine-style hotel, part of an attempt to establish a tourist industry there. OSCE maintained a villa there.


Eksod 99 Street overlooking Mount Gjallica

Kukës is situated in the northeast of the country. It lies mostly between latitudes 42° and 5° N, and longitudes 20° and 25° E. The city extend strategically within the Albanian Alps and is trapped on four sides by numerous two-thousanders including Gjallica in the south, Koritnik in the east, Pashtrik in the northeast and several mountains in the west. It lies on the Luma Plain and the southern shores of Lake Fierza.[2] It lies approximately 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) in the southeast of the former location of the city, which was relocated as part of a hydroelectric scheme.[2]


Like all East Albanians who are in the plain the zone is humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa), similar to the north of Italy, due to its interior location but near the Mediterranean. Despite its southern location, its distance to the east compensates for this difference.[7][8] The climate of the city is profoundly impacted by the Albanian Alps in the northeast, Shar Mountains in the east, Korab Mountains in the southeast and the Drin River in the south. The city experiences mostly continental climate.[2][9] This means that the winters are very cold and snowy and the summers are predominantly hot. The city's temperature varies a large deal across the seasons with a mild spring in April and May, hot summer months from June to August, frequently rainy and windy autumn months in September and October and very cold winter months, often with snow and frost, from December to March. The mean monthly temperature ranges between −25 °C (−13 °F)[dubious ] in winter and 25 °C (77 °F) in summer.[2] The mean annual precipitation ranges between 900 millimetres (35 inches) and 3,000 millimetres (120 inches) depending on longitude and latitude.[2]

Climate data for Kukës, elevation: 44 m or 144 ft, 1961-1990 normals and extremes[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.7
Average high °C (°F) 3.8
Average low °C (°F) −2.9
Record low °C (°F) −22.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 909.8
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 95.0
Average snowy days 17.0
Average relative humidity (%) 66.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 1,973.1
Source: NOAA[10]


The Kukës municipality was formed in 2015 by the merger of the former municipalities Arrën, Bicaj, Bushtricë, Grykë-Çajë, Kalis, Kolsh, Kukës, Malzi, Shishtavec, Shtiqën, Surroj, Tërthore, Topojan, Ujmisht and Zapod, that became municipal units.[11] The municipality spans 934.80 square kilometres (360.93 sq mi) and had a total population of 47,985 people as of 2011.[12][1]


There is also a local historical museum and a carpet factory.

The food industry is confined only to production of alcoholic drinks produced in a drink factory, and to some local small workshops producing drinks and dairy products.

The Highlanders in the region are well known for their developed agriculture. Kukës has a carpet factory whose products is for domestic and trade use. There is also a copper processing factory as the raw material, copper, is found in this place.

Kukës is a good centre for fishing and walking in the surrounding mountains.

Kukës has an Kukes International Airport of its own. It is located approximately about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south of Kukës city centre. The government of Albania granted permission for it to host international passenger traffic in 2016. Low-cost companies like the Irish Ryan Air and the Hungarian Wizz Air, as well the Slovenian Adria Airways have expressed their interest in operating from the Kukës International Airport.[13][14]

The A1 highway passes through Kukës.

Notable peopleEdit

Sister citiesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognised as an independent state by 97 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 112 UN member states have recognised Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
  2. ^ Monthly data only for temperatures


  1. ^ a b "Population and housing census - Kukës 2011" (PDF). INSTAT. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bashkia Kukës. "PLANI I ZHVILLIMIT I BASHKISE KUKES" (PDF). rasp.org.al (in Albanian). Kukës. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Kukësi, kryeqendra shqiptare më 16 prill". gazeta-shqip.com (in Albanian). p. 1. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  4. ^ "European Green Capital". ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  5. ^ Boardman, Edwards, John ,I. E. S. (1982). The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. p. 235. ISBN 9780521224963. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  6. ^ "KOSOVO: KUKES NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE | AP Archive". www.aparchive.com. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  7. ^ "Kukës climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Kukës weather averages - Climate-Data.org". en.climate-data.org. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  8. ^ Peterson, Adam (2016-11-02), English: Köppen climate types of Albania, retrieved 2019-05-12
  9. ^ Bashkia Kukës. "Programi i Zonës Funksionale Kukës" (PDF). km.dldp.al (in Albanian). Kukës. pp. 11–12.
  10. ^ "Kukës (13610) - WMO Weather Station". NOAA. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  11. ^ "FLETORJA ZYRTARE E REPUBLIKËS SË SHQIPËRISË" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-24.
  12. ^ "Correspondence table LAU – NUTS 2016, EU-28 and EFTA / available Candidate Countries" (XLS). Eurostat. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  13. ^ "Oranews.tv - Kukes airport, hungarian company Wizz Air showing interest in the airport". Oranews. Archived from the original on 2017-08-28. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  14. ^ "Wizz Air, Adria Airways, Ryanair eye flights from Albania's Kukes - report". seenews.com. Retrieved 2017-08-27.