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Coordinates: 39°52.5′N 20°0.6′E / 39.8750°N 20.0100°E / 39.8750; 20.0100

Beach in Saranda
Beach in Saranda
Sarandë is located in Albania
Coordinates: 39°52.5′N 20°0.6′E / 39.8750°N 20.0100°E / 39.8750; 20.0100
Country  Albania
County Vlorë County
 • Mayor Stefan Çipa (PS)
Elevation 0.8 m (2.6 ft)
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 37,757
Time zone Central European Time (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 9701-9703
Area code(s) 085

Saranda or Sarandë (Greek: Άγιοι Σαράντα, Agioi Saranda) is a municipality in Vlorë County, southern Albania. It is one of the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. It is situated on an open sea gulf of the Ionian Sea in the central Mediterranean, about 14 km (8.7 mi) east of the north end of the Greek island of Corfu. The city of Saranda has a population of about 30,000 (2001 estimate).[2] Near Sarandë are the remains of the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2014, USA Today listed Saranda among 10 great cruise ports you've never heard of including nearby Butrint.[3]


Saranda's current name derives from the name of the Byzantine monastery of the Agioi Saranda (Greek: Άγιοι Σαράντα), meaning the "Forty Saints" and honoring the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. Under Turkish rule, this became Aya Sarandi and then Sarandoz. Owing to Venetian influence in the region, it often appeared under its Italian name Santi Quaranta on Western maps.[4] This usage continued even after the establishment of the Principality of Albania, owing to the first Italian occupation of the region. During the second occupation in World War II, Benito Mussolini changed the name to Porto Edda, in honor of his eldest daughter.[5][6] Following the restoration of Albanian independence, the city employed its Albanian name Saranda.[7]


In antiquity the city was known by the ancient Greek name of Onchesmos or Anchiasmos[8][9][10] and was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians.[11] Onchesmos flourished as the port of the Chaonian capital Phoenice[12][13] (modern-day Finiq). In AD 552, it experienced repeated attacks from the Goths.[citation needed]

In 1878, a Greek rebellion broke out, with revolutionaries taking control of Sarandë and Delvinë. This was suppressed by the Ottoman troops, who burned twenty villages in the region.[14] The town was included in the newly formed Albanian state in 1913 under the terms of the Protocol of Florence.[15]

Italian occupied Sarande in 1917

It was occupied twice by Greece in 1913 and from 1914 to 1916, the second time by Greek insurgents from the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus. It was then occupied by Italy between 1916 and 1920 as part of the Italian Protectorate on southern Albania.[16] Sarandë was again occupied by Italian forces in 1939 and was a strategic port during the Italian invasion of Greece. During this occupation, it was called "Porto Edda" in honor of the eldest daughter of Benito Mussolini.

During the Greco-Italian War, the city came under Greek armies on 6 December 1940 until the German invasion in Greece in April 1941. On October 9, 1944 the town was captured by a group of British commandos under Brigadier Tom Churchill and local partisans of LANÇ under Islam Radovicka. The involvement of the British troops was considered problematic by LANÇ as they considered that they would use the town as their base and install their allies from Greece in the area as British documents indicate that EDES forces also joined the operation. However, the British troops soon withdrew from the region, leaving the region to the Albanian communist forces.[17]


Panorama of Sarandë

Given its coastal access and Mediterranean climate, Sarandë has become an important tourist attraction since the fall of communism in Albania, although visitors are almost exclusively Albanians and Greeks. Saranda as well as the rest of the Albanian Riviera, according to The Guardian, "is set to become the new 'undiscovered gem' of the overcrowded Med."[18] Tourism is thus the major economic resource, while other resources include services, fisheries and construction. The unemployment rate according to the population census of 2008 was 8.32%. It has been suggested that family tourism and seasonal work during the summer period help mitigate the real unemployment rate. Recently, the town has experienced an uncontrolled construction boom which may hamper the city's future tourism potential. Since 2012, the Port of Saranda is undergoing an expansion to accommodate cruise ships at its terminal. In 2014, Saranda hosted the Dea International Film Festival.[19]


Sarandë has a typical Mediterranean climate.

Climate data for Sarande (1991-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24
Average high °C (°F) 13.6
Average low °C (°F) 4.7
Record low °C (°F) −5
Precipitation mm (inches) 125
Avg. precipitation days 14 12 9 7 5 2 1 1 5 9 12 15 92
Source: METEOALB Weather Station


In 1912, right after the Albanian Declaration of Independence, the settlement had only 110 inhabitants.[20] At the 1927 census, it had 810 inhabitants, but was not yet a town.[20] In the 1930s, it had a good demographic development, and it is in this period that the first public buildings and the main roads were constructed.[20]

In 1957, the city had 8,700 inhabitants and was made the center of a district.[20]

According to a survey by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, in 1990 Sarandë numbered 17,000 inhabitants, of whom 7,500 belonged to the Greek minority.[21] At present, the population of Sarandë has nearly doubled. According to municipal sources, approximately 30,000[2] (2001 estimate) inhabitants are currently living in the city. According to a survey conducted by the Albanian Committee of Helsinki, in 2001, the Albanian population numbered about 26,500, while Greeks formed the rest with about 3,400 alongside a small number of Vlachs and Roma.[21][22] The city, according to the Albanian Committee of Helsinki, has lost more than half of its ethnic Greeks from 1991 to 2001, because of heavy emigration to Greece.[21] Sarandë is considered one of the two centers of the Greek minority in Albania,[23][24] Gjirokastër being the other.

Notable people[edit]

Italian singers Albano and Romina Power dedicated a song to Saranda entitled Saranda Okinawa.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Sarandë is twinned with:


See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Council of Europe (2001), Report Submitted by Albania". 
  2. ^ a b [1] Council of Europe (2001), Report Submitted by Albania
  3. ^
  4. ^ E.g., Walker, J. & C. "Turkey II: Containing the Northern Part of Greece." Published November 1st, 1829 by Baldwin & Cradock, 47 Paternoster Row, London. (London: Chapman & Hall, 1844). Accessed 24 Aug 2011.
  5. ^ Murzaku, Ines Angeli (2009). Returning Home to Rome - The Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata in Albania. Analekta Kryptoferris. p. 220. ISBN 978-88-89345-04-7. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Pearson, Owen (2004). Albania and King Zog: independence, republic and monarchy 1908-1939. I.B.Tauris. p. 470. ISBN 978-1-84511-013-0. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 
  7. ^ E.g., Wojskowe Zaklady Kartograficzne. Pergamon World Atlas. "Albania, Greece." Pergamon Press, Ltd. & P.W.N. Poland 1967. Sluzba Topograficzna W.P. Accessed 24 Aug 2011.
  8. ^ Strabo, The Geography, Book VII, Chapter 7.5: "...these mountains one comes to Onchesmus, another harbor, opposite which lie the western extremities of Corcyraea."
  9. ^ Bowden, William. Epirus Vetus: The Archaeology of a Late Antique Province. London: Duckworth, 2003, ISBN 0-7156-3116-0, p. 14. "Anchiasmos (Onchesmos)"
  10. ^ Hodges, Richard. Saranda - Ancient Onchesmos: A Short History and Guide. Butrint Foundation, 2007. ISBN 99943-943-6-3
  11. ^ Hammond, N.G.L. Philip of Macedon. London, UK: Duckworth, 1994. "Epirus was a land of milk and animal products...The social unit was a small tribe, consisting of several nomadic or semi-nomadic groups, and these tribes, of which more than seventy names are known, coalesced into large tribal coalitions, three in number: Thesprotians, Molossians and Chaonians...We know from the discovery of inscriptions that these tribes were speaking the Greek language (in a West-Greek dialect)."
  12. ^ Talbert, Richard J.A. and Bagnall, Roger S. Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, 2000, p. 815. "harbor, cape or town in Epirus between Onchesmos and Bouthroton."
  13. ^ Eidinow, Esther. Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks. Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-19-927778-8 "Onchesmos was the principal port of Phoinike, the capital of Chaonia,..."
  14. ^ M. V. Sakellariou. Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 292.
  15. ^ Ruche, Pyrrus. Albanians captive
  16. ^ Edith Pierpont Stickney. Southern Albania or northern Epirus in European international affairs, 1912-1923 Stanford University Press, 1926.
  17. ^ Fischer, Bernd J. (1999). Albania at war : 1939-1945. London: Hurst. pp. 232–233. ISBN 978-1-85065-531-2. 
  18. ^ 2009's hot new beach destination: Albania,
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c d Sarande Municipality. "Historiku i Qytetit" (in Albanian). Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  21. ^ a b c Council of Europe. "Report Submitted by Albania". Retrieved 28 July 2010. "According to a survey held last year by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, until 1990, the city of Saranda had about 17 thousand inhabitants, with nearly 7,500 of them belonging to Greek national minority." 
  22. ^ Pettifer, James. The Greek Minority in Albania - In the Aftermath of Communism. Conflict Studies Research Center, July 2001, ISBN 1-903584-35-3 - p. 11, "In 1991, Greek shops were attacked in the coastal town of Saranda, home to a large minority population, and inter-ethnic relations throughout Albania worsened."
  23. ^ Pettifer, James. The Greek Minority in Albania - In the Aftermath of Communism. Conflict Studies Research Center, July 2001, ISBN 1-903584-35-3 - p. 12, "The concentration of ethnic Greeks in and around centres of Hellenism such as Saranda and Gjirokastra could guarantee their election there, but nowhere else in the country is success for an Omonia-based candidate possible."
  24. ^ Human rights in post-communist Albania, Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch, p.119 "The town of Saranda has an ethnic Greek population large enough to warrant a school, but one still does not exist".
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Actor/Director, National Theater of Agioi Saranta"
  28. ^
  29. ^ Frasheri, Dash. "Shahu shqiptar, 76 vjet histori përmes kutive" (in Albanian). Retrieved 24 September 2010. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "AllCorfu.Com: Corfu's Twin Cities". Retrieved 25 February 2010.