Kukës County

Kukës County (Albanian pronunciation: [ku:kəs]; Albanian: Qarku i Kukësit) is a landlocked county in northeastern Albania, with the capital in Kukës. The county spans 2,374 square kilometres (917 sq mi) and had a total population of 74,388 people as of 2021.[1] The county borders on the counties of Dibër, Lezhë and Shkodër and the countries of Montenegro, Kosovo[a] and North Macedonia. It is divided into three municipalities: Has, Kukës and Tropojë.[2] The municipalities are further subdivided into 290 towns and villages in total.

Kukës County
Qarku i Kukësit  (Albanian)
Flag of Kukës County
Official logo of Kukës County
Map of Albania with Kukës County highlighted
Map of Albania with Kukës County highlighted
Coordinates: 42°10′N 20°20′E / 42.167°N 20.333°E / 42.167; 20.333Coordinates: 42°10′N 20°20′E / 42.167°N 20.333°E / 42.167; 20.333
Country Albania
3 municipalities:
 • Council chairmanAbdulla Domi
 • Total2,374 km2 (917 sq mi)
 • Rank7th
 • Total74,388
 • Rank11th
 • Density31/km2 (81/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
HDI (2018)0.749
high · 12th
NUTS CodeAL013

The human presence in the lands of modern Kukës County can be traced back to the Bronze Ages, when ancient Illyrians, Dardanians and Romans established settlements in the region.[3] Several Illyrian tombs were discovered in the villages of Këneta and Kolsh close to Kukës.[4]

Kukës is predominantly mountainous and framed by mountain ranges including the Albanian Alps in the northwest which is typified by karst topography. The northeast is dominated by the mountains of Gjallica, Koritnik and Pashtrik, while the southeastern bound is mostly formed by the Korab and Sharr Mountains.[5] At 2,694 metres (8,839 ft), Maja Jezercë is the county's highest peak, and the second highest peak of Albania. Karst topography predominates in the county, resulting in specific landforms and hydrology because of the interaction of the karst and the region's watercourses. It is crossed and drained by the Drin river. The county is also home to the sources of rivers such as the Valbona which is part of Tropojë,originates south of Maja Jezercë and Gashi a notable tributary of Valbona.

Located in the north of Albania, the climate is alpine and continental.[6][7] Mean monthly temperature ranges between 11 °C (52 °F) (in January) and 25 °C (77 °F) (in July). Mean annual precipitation ranges between 900 millimetres (35 inches) and 3,000 millimetres (120 inches) depending on geographic region and prevailing climate type.

According to the last national census from 2011 this county has 85,292 inhabitants. They are mostly Muslim and a significant Catholic Christian minority are present. They speak the Gheg dialect.


The Valbona Valley during the autumn season.
The artificial Lake Koman.

Kukës is one of 12 counties of Albania, located in the north and northeast of the Northern Region. The county area is 2,374 km2 (917 sq mi) and the seventh largest county by area in Albania and the third largest in the Northern Region, behind Shkodër County and Dibër County. It is bordered by the counties of Shkodër County in the west, Dibër County in the south, Lezhë County in the southeast, the countries of Kosovo in the east and northeast and Montenegro in the north and northwest. Its northernmost point is Çerem point at 42° 29' 52" northern latitude; the southernmost is Kalis point at 41° 50' 0" northern latitude; the westernmost point is Rrogam at 19° 50' 24" eastern longitude; and the easternmost point is Shishtavec at 20° 36' 0" eastern longitude.

The terrain of the county consists of small plains and high mountains. Elevations here range between 250 m (0.16 mi) and 2,200 m (1.4 mi).[8] The Albanian Alps are a high mountain range running through Tropojë across the northwest of the county. The northeast contain high and steep peaks including Gjallica, Koritnik and Pashtrik. Between these mountains are mostly narrow valleys, canyons and ravines. From southeast, the county is crossed by the Sharr and Korab Mountains.

Hydrologically, the county lies almost entirely within the basin of the Drin and its tributaries. The river flows into the Adriatic Sea after crossing the county territory from the confluence of Black Drin and White Drin. On their way, its basin and zone of influence naturally correspond to the areas destined for agricultural use. Lake Fierza and Koman lies in the county and are fed and drained by rivers Black Drin and White Drin. Other notable rivers include Gashi and Valbona.

Phytogeographically, the county falls within the Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Balkan mixed forests terrestrial ecoregions of the Palearctic temperate broadleaf and mixed forest. The Balkan mixed forests occupy the eastern portion of the county. Inside the county, there are a national parks, a nature park and a nature reserve, which include the Valbonë Valley National Park, Korab-Koritnik Nature Park and the Gashi River Nature Reserve. The northern and eastern bound of the county forms a part of the European Green Belt, which serves as a retreat for endangered mammal and plant species.[9][10] Furthermore, the Gashi River was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe.[11]


Kukës is the largest city in the county.

With an estimated total population of around 85,292 people as of the INSTAT census of 2011, Kukës is the second-to-last least populous county in Albania.[12] The population density is 36 inhabitants per square kilometre (93/sq mi). Compared to 2001, the county had approximately 112,000 people. It has lost almost a quarter of its population in the last ten years. Kukës has the highest total fertility rate of Albania with 2.29 children per woman (compared to the national number of 1.54 children per woman).

The county is inhabited mostly by Albanians (84,31%) and is ethnically a homogeneous county in Albania. Minority groups include Macedonians (0.85%), Greeks (0.01%), Aromanians (0.01%) and Egyptians (0.00%).[13]

According to the 2011 census, 83.81% of the Albanian population within the county identify as Muslims. Although Christianity is the second largest religion in Kukës. 2.72 identify themselves as Christians; of these, Roman Catholics make up the largest group, accounting for 2.62% of the population, after which follows Eastern Orthodoxy (0.03%), Evangelism (0.03%) and other Christianity (0.04%). 0.33% of the population describes themselves as non-religious.[13]

Religion in Kukës County (2011 census)
religion percent
Prefer not to answer
Not relevant/not stated
Believers without denomination
Other Christian
Evangelist or Protestant


Kukës County is Albania's poorest region both historically and presently.[14] Since the 1990s many of its inhabitants have migrated to Tirana or abroad. Prior to the collapse, Kukës industry was rug making, agriculture and textiles. However, since the 1990s much of Kukës population have migrated abroad, leaving to a decline in the local economy and making Kukës among Albania's and Europe's poorest regions and least developed.[15] However, in 2021, Edi Rama opened up Albania's second international Airport in Kukës to revive the stagnant economy there. Nonetheless, Kukës remains three times poorer than the capital city of Tirana.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is formally recognised as an independent state by 100 UN member states (with another 13 states recognising it at some point but then withdrawing their recognition) and 93 states not recognizing it, while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.


  1. ^ a b "Population on 1st January by prefecture and sex" (PDF). INSTAT. 7 May 2021. p. 6.
  2. ^ "Law nr. 115/2014" (PDF) (in Albanian). p. 6373. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  3. ^ Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology, vol. 30–31, University of London. Institute of Archaeology, 1991, pp. 11–14
  4. ^ Boardman, Edwards, John ,I. E. S. (1982). The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. p. 235. ISBN 9780521224963. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  5. ^ "STRATEGJIA TERRITORIALE E NJËSISË VENDORE KUKËS" (PDF). kukesi.gov.al. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-10-03. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  6. ^ "PLANI I ZHVILLIMIT I BASHKISE KUKES" (PDF). rasp.org.al (in Albanian). p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-10-14.
  7. ^ "Zona Funksionale Tropojë" (PDF). km.dldp.al (in Albanian). p. 5.
  8. ^ "Resurset kryesore te Qarkut te Kukesit". kqk.gov.al (in Albanian).
  9. ^ European Green Belt. "Brezi i Gjelbër Evropian" (PDF). europeangreenbelt.org (in Albanian). p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  10. ^ Euronatur. "BEECH FORESTS ALONG THE GREEN BELT ALBANIA" (PDF). euronatur.org. p. 2.
  11. ^ "PËRSHKRIMI I RRJETIT AKTUAL TË ZONAVE TË MBROJTURA" (PDF). mjedisi.gov.al (in Albanian). p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2018-12-29. PËRSHKRIMI I RRJETIT AKTUAL TË ZONAVE TË MBROJTURA
  12. ^ INSTAT. "Population and Housing Census" (PDF). instat.gov.al (in Albanian). p. 20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04.
  13. ^ a b INSTAT. "Population and Housing Census" (PDF). instat.gov.al (in Albanian). p. 39. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04.
  14. ^ News, Albanian (2021). "Poorest in Europe". {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ HDI. "HDI".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)