Lazarat (definite Albanian form: Lazarati) is a village in Gjirokastër County, in southern Albania. It is located in the Dropull valley.[1] Formerly functioning as a municipality, as part of the 2015 local government reform, it became a subdivision of the municipality of Gjirokastër.[2] The former municipality consisted of the villages Lazarat and Kordhocë.[3]

Lazarat is located in Albania
Coordinates: 40°3′N 20°9′E / 40.050°N 20.150°E / 40.050; 20.150Coordinates: 40°3′N 20°9′E / 40.050°N 20.150°E / 40.050; 20.150
Country Albania
 • Municipal unit
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal Code
Vehicle registrationGJ

The population at the 2011 census was 2,801.[4]

In recent years, Lazarat had gained the reputation as the cannabis capital of the country due to its large scale growth of cannabis by the local population.[5] However, in June 2014, the Albanian government cracked down and destroyed the local production and transit of the drug.


Lazarat is a village just outside Gjirokastër, situated on mountain slope of Mali i Gjerë.


During the Ottoman period, following the emigration of village inhabitants to Thrace, Labs from the nearby Kurvelesh region were placed in Lazarat by Kaplan Pasha.[1] Amidst the socio-political turbulence of the late eighteenth century in the area, Lazarat had bandits and it became a shelter for outlaws and criminals.[1]

Since the Albanian Government's attempts to stop the illegal cultivation of cannabis, there have been a growing number of activists from around the region demanding a special status for the small commune. The activists demand the right to legalize production and selling of cannabis inside municipality borders. The Albanian government has rejected the demand.[6]


In June 2014, Albanian police launched a major operation against the village, involving over 800 officers.[7][8] Heavily armed locals shot RPGs and fired mortar rounds at the officers, who returned fire.[9] Police took control of most of the village, with Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri saying the operation would continue until "every square centimetre in Lazarat is under state control". Smoke rose from the village as locals reportedly burned cannabis plants.[7]

On 24 June 2015, a member of the Albanian counter-terrorist force RENEA was shot and killed in the town, and two other soldiers wounded.[10] A car containing gunmen had been stopped at a checkpoint, with attackers then opening fire on the soldiers from a nearby house.[10] Ibrahim Basha was a RENEA officer who had previously served with NATO in Afghanistan. The United States Ambassador to Albania, Donald Lu, expressed condolences at the soldier's funeral, calling the incident a "national tragedy".[11] Additional police and RENEA officers were sent to reinforce the town and locate the attackers.[10][12]


Lazarat is inhabited by Muslim Albanians,[13] many of whom have traditionally been Bektashi.


The main activity is agriculture, especially animal husbandry. The area is known for its dairy products.


The village produced 900 tonnes of cannabis annually, worth €4.5bn, equivalent to around half of Albania's gross domestic product.[7]

Popular cultureEdit

The eponymous film The Brave (2019) (previously Lazarat) is centred on the conflict between locals and the police.[14][15][16]


  1. ^ a b c Konstantinos., Giakoumis (2002). "The monasteries of Jorgucat and Vanishte in Dropull and of Spelaio in Lunxheri as monuments and institutions during the Ottoman period in Albania (16th-19th centuries)" (PDF): 46-47. Retrieved 8 July 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Law nr. 115/2014 Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Greece – Albania Neighbourhood Programme Archived March 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ 2011 census results Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Besar Likmeta. "Is Albania Europe's new marijuana capital?". Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  6. ^ Albanian Village Europe's Weed Capital, Carbonated TV
  7. ^ a b c "Albanian police battle cannabis growers in Lazarat". BBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Albanian cannabis growers and 800 police battle in lawless village of Lazarat". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Grenades fired at Albanian police during cannabis crackdown". The Guardian. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Koleka, Benet (24 June 2015). "Albanian policeman shot dead in former cannabis stronghold". Reuters. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Kallivretakis, Leonidas (1995). "Η ελληνική κοινότητα της Αλβανίας υπό το πρίσμα της ιστορικής γεωγραφίας και δημογραφίας [The Greek Community of Albania in terms of historical geography and demography." In Nikolakopoulos, Ilias, Kouloubis Theodoros A. & Thanos M. Veremis (eds). Ο Ελληνισμός της Αλβανίας [The Greeks of Albania]. University of Athens. p. 51. "AM Αλβανοί Μουσουλμάνοι" p.56. "LAZARATI ΛΑΖΑΡΑΤΉ 2909 ΑΜ.
  14. ^ "The Brave (2019)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  15. ^ "Albania Villagers Fear Lazarat Movie Will Stereotype Them". Balkan Insight. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  16. ^ "The Brave, il film che racconta la lotta contro la criminalità al villaggio di Lazarat, Albania". Albania News (in Italian). 5 October 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2019.

External linksEdit