The city's surrounding fields are rich in crude petroleum and are dotted by a series of oil wells established during the communistdictatorship. Only a fraction of these wells are operating today, but the city includes a working refinery, and outputs of naphthas are significant. It was called "Glavinitsa" during Bulgarian rule, later on the city was named Ballsh after Serbian ruler Balša II.
Ballsh is close to the ancient city of Byllis. The climate is Mediterranean. It is surrounded by the hills of Mallakastra. Its Latin name is Baletium. The Slavic invasions of the 6th and 7th centuries caused the decline of Byllis while Ballsh was built with materials plundered from Byllis.
The city has an important oil refining plant, the only one left in Albania, which was owned by Taçi Oil through ARMO (Anika Mercuria Refinery Associated Oil, owned by Anika Enterprises). In 2013 ARMO was sold to Heaney Assets Corporation, an Azerbaidjan corporation.