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Kavajë

Kavajë is a city centrally located in the Western Lowlands region of Albania.


Formerly the municipal seat of the district with the same name, it presently constitutes one of the five administrative divisions of Tirana County, upholding its previous status as a subprefecture. Kavajë has an urban population of about 39,672 (est.2012). 

It borders Durrës to the north, Tiranë to the east and Rrogozhinë to the south. To the west lies the Adriatic Sea.

History

The present day territory of Kavajë has been inhabited since the Late Antiquity. It is believed that the Illyrian tribe of Taulantii built their city Arnisa in the area today known as Zikxhafaj. After the eventual Roman Conquest of the region, Kavajë would become a transit route for Via Egnatia.

It was built by the Romans in order to link a chain of their colonies stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Bosphorus. The famous Battle of Pharsalus between Julius Caesar and his archrival Pompey took place near Shkëmbi i Kavajës, at the time known as Petra.

In the second half of the 13th century and up until the early 15th century, much of central Albania and its surrounding region were ruled by a few powerful feudal families. The two most prominent families that ruled Kavajë at this time were the feudal families of Skuraj and Matrangaj. The Skuraj family, as direct descendants of the dynasty that founded the Principality of Arbanon controlled the eastern part of Kavajë.

Their emblem depicted a lion standing up on one foot and reaching up to grab a fleur-de-lis. This symbol would later be used as the official Emblem of the City of Tirana. The Zguraj neighborhood of Kavajë (Lagja Zguraj) is named after the Skuraj Dynasty that ruled the region.

The Matrangaj family as the most powerful rulers of the region had established their center in Bashtovë. They controlled most of the Myzeqe plains and the coastal hills of Karpen.

The Albanian-American Institute of Agriculture, alternatively known as "The Albanian-American School of Agriculture and Domestic Science" was a technical school of higher education founded in Kavajë in 1926 by Dr.Charles Telford Erickson.

Dr. Erickson was a missionary to Albania who had offered political advice to the Vatra delegation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The school he founded, aimed to promote the knowledge of modern scientific agriculture and provide a thorough training in it for young Albanians.

The girls school was inaugurated on September 20 and the boys agriculture school opened on October 10 of that same year. Cost for enrollment was 50 gold franga per month. The students could study continuously for three straight years with an option for two additional years given to those with excellent results. Classes were taught in both Albanian and English language.

Funding for the project was made possible by the Near East Foundation who had commissioned New York based studio "Thompson & Churchill" in charge of the architectural design. Following the Italian fascist occupation of 1939, the school was briefly renamed Italian Agrarian Institute "Arnaldo Mussolini" in honor of Benito Mussolini's younger brother.

At the start of World War II, approximately 600 Jews lived in the Republic of Albania. About 400 of them were German and Austrian refugees and the rest were from nearby countries like Yugoslavia and Greece. The largest number of these refugees, some 200 in total, were placed at a camp in Kavajë. They would later find shelter amongst the local population.

The citizens of Kavajë gave an invaluable contribution in the housing and sheltering of Jewish refugees during the war. The names of Mihal Lekatari, Besim Kadiu and Shyqyri Myrto are placed on the list of the Righteous among the Nations honored by Yad Vashem.

Known primarily as an agricultural region, in the early decade of the 1960s, Kavajë started to emerge as an important industrial center in Albania. Following is a list of the major industrial plants that operated in the city:

The Nails and Bolts Plant (Uzina e Gozhdë-Bulonave) was inaugurated on November 28, 1963. Using Chinese technology, the plant produced nails, bolts and screws. In the later years, with its expansion, the plant started to produce wooden screws, metal wires, metal chains, rail bolts, barbed wires, etc. As of 1990 the plant employed 1,200 workers.

The Paper Factory (Fabrika e Letrës) was inaugurated on November 28, 1966. Using Chinese technology, it initially started to produce stationery paper for notebooks, books and textbooks as well as typographic paper for official documents and newspapers. This plant employed 750 workers at its peak.

The Glass Factory (Fabrika e Qelqit) was inaugurated in the late fall of 1970. Like the others, this factory also used Chinese technology. It produced glass packaging and other glass items for mass consumption. Later on, a ceramic production facility was opened. In 1975, new mirror production lines were set and attempts to produce seasoned glass gave little results. After 1985 the factory started producing items including pearls, stone rings, etc. The Glass factory along with the ceramic facility employed 2,500 workers.

The Carpet Production Plant (Ndërmarrja e Prodhimit të Qilimave) had a separate department for the production of artistic copper. It produced mainly tapestry carpets and artistic copper items for the domestic market. This plant employed 3,000 workers.

The Food Factory (Fabrika Ushqimore) processed fresh fruits, vegetables and bread for the local population. It also produced conserved fruits and vegetables for exports. This factory employed 300 workers.

The first anti-communist revolt in Kavajë took place in the Summer of 1988. It was a union strike organized by Nazmi Rroli, Fatmir Veliu, Skënder Germani. Viktor Rrapi and others, who were protesting against job cuts and poor working conditions on behalf of the pottery workers and those who worked at the textile plant and the glass factory.

In the following months, the city's youth who at the time was forced by the regime to work in agriculture cooperatives, started distributing anti-communist leaflets at local shops, schools and villages nearby. Enver Hoxha's portrait was torn apart at the city's main high school and at the SMT (Cars and Tractors Station).

The perpetrators were Qazim Kariqi, Dik Ejupi, Alket Alushi, Xhevat Hylviu, Artan Lajthia, Adem Hylviu, Arben Goga, Artan Çelhyka, etc. These were powerful blows that brought embarrassment to the leadership of the party and the state security apparatus. On March 26, 1990, the first active demonstration in Albania took place in the streets of Kavajë.

The event that triggered these demonstrations was the football match between local club Besa and Tirana club Partizani which had long been favored by the regime. Angry fans threw banners on the field detesting the system. After the match, numerous people were arrested by the police. Outraged citizens took on the streets and burned the city's police building thus marking the first event of importance against the regime at the time.

Geography

Kavajë is located in the central part of the Western Lowlands region of Albania's Adriatic Coast. It borders Durrës to the north at latitude 41°15'N with Përroi i Agait (Agai Stream) which flows into the Gulf of Durrës being the dividing border line. In the south it borders Lushnje District at latitude 41°N with River Shkumbin being the dividing border line. To the west it touches the Adriatic Sea along a coastline of 36.5 km (22.7 mi).

Kepi i Lagjit being its most extreme western point at longitude 19°25'E. In the east it borders Tirana District and in the south-east Peqin District. The most extreme eastern point being the locality of Rostej at longitude 19°45'E. Within these limits the whole district has a total surface area of 414 km2.

Villages

Agonas - Bago - Ballutaj - Bardhor - Beden - Blerimaj - Bukaq - Cikallesh - Çetë - Çollakaj - Golem - Golemas - Gjinaj - Habilaj - Hajdaraj - Hallull - Helmës - Kanaparaj - Karpen - Kazaz - Kryeluz - Kryemdhenj - Kryezi - Lis Patros - Luz i Vogël - Momël - Memzotaj - Mengaj - Peqinaj - Qerret - Rrakull - Rrikaj - Seferaj - Stan i Ri - Synej - Shehje - Shtodhër - Tilaj - Vorrozen - Zikularaj - Zikxhafaj

Coastline

The coastline in the formal district region of Kavajë which includes today's boundaries of Rrogozhinë is 36.5 km (23 mi) long and mostly flat with plenty of sandy and gravel beaches. The main beaches are: Golem(Mali i Robit, Qerret), Karpen(Kepi i Bishtit të Barbaut), Carina(Gjiri i Forsilukut), Kepi i Lagjit(Kalaja e Turrës), Plazhi i Gjeneralit, Spille(Guri i Lëmuar), Greth.

Climate

Kavajë is located in a Mediterranean Climate region where the summers are dry and hot and the winters are wet and mild. Average surface temperatures range annually between 15.5 to 16 °C (59.9 to 60.8 °F).

Monuments of Nature

Monuments of Nature are considered those objects/places of living or non-living nature which possess exceptional scientific, ecological, cultural, historical and religious value. The following objects/places are declared natural monuments in this region by decree nr.767 dated 20 December 2002: Salt Springs of Golemas, Sulfurous Springs of Fliballie, Laurel of Turrë Castle, Coastal Cliffs of Bardhor, Carina Beach, Sea Fossils of Thartor, Aligned Rocks in Cikallesh, General's Beach, Karstic Caves in Mengaj

Demographics

Population density in urban areas was 285 inhabitants per km2 and in rural areas much less. 57.6% of the people in the district lived in rural areas whereas 42.4% lived in the city. The gender structure of the population is almost equal. Only 48% of the workforce is employed.

Since 1990, more than 25% of the total population in the district has migrated elsewhere, mainly to countries like: Italy, Greece, Great Britain, France, Germany, United States and Canada. A smaller percentage has migrated towards neighbouring Durrës and the capital, Tirana.

Education

The first Albanian language school opened in Kavajë in the late summer of 1887. Kavajë District has established a public and a private school system which serves for the upbringing and education of the children and youth. Educational Institutions operating in Kavajë District are listed as follows:

50 kindergartens throughout the district, 7 within the Municipality of Kavajë and 43 in the surrounding communes; plus 2 private kindergartens.

42 primary public schools (9-year public schools), 6 within the municipality of Kavajë and 36 in the remaining communes;additionally there are 2 private primary schools. 7 secondary level high schools throughout the district: 3 within the municipality of Kavajë and 4 in the surrounding communes.

2 general level high schools throughout the district. "Aleksandër Moisiu" High School in the municipality of Kavajë and "Haxhi Qehaj" High School in the municipality of Rrogozhinë; and 2 professional level high schools, one is located in the Municipality of Kavajë and the other in the Commune of Golem.

Economy

In Kavajë the climate and soil are suitable for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, among others strawberries and artichokes. 2,451 ha of agriculture land is used for the cultivation of vegetables where the yield was 186.9 quintals/ha.

Fresh vegetables like: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, leek, cabbage, green beans, okra, spinach, carrots, etc. are planted on 1,214 ha of land with a yield of 179.2 quintals/ha. Dried vegetables such as onions, garlic, etc. are planted on 370 ha of land and yield 75.5 quintals/ha. Watermelons, cantaloupes, etc. are planted on 867 ha of land and provide an output of 245.4 quintals/ha. Potatoes are planted on 450 ha of land and yield 93.7 quintals/ha. Beans are planted on 1,415 ha of land and yield 11.6 quintals/ha.

Fodder is also widely cultivated: hay, clover, corncob, etc. cover 6,924 ha of land and yield an output of 291.3 quintals/ha. The largest production comes from hay.

Healthcare

A whole system of public and non-public (private) health institutions operates in the district to provide services and caring to the health of its citizens. In both municipalities operate 178 doctors (40 of which are family doctors) and 240 nurses and assistants. There are 5 hospitals, 11 health centers and 66 ambulances. In 2008 the central government provided funds to build a new hospital for the city. It was inaugurated 3 years later.

The health services provided by all health institutions include the following: Pathology, Pediatrics, Surgery, Cardiology, Infectious Disease Control, Neurology, Psychiatry, Nephrology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Orthopedics, Rheumatology, Hematology, Endocrinology, Emergency Services, Alergology, Physio-Therapy, Pediatrics, Gynocology, Obstretics.. etc. Dental Services are fully privatized with the exception of 9-year primary schools. A total of 8 private dental clinics operate in the city of Kavajë. Pharmaceutical Services are also fully private. In the whole district there are a total of 12 pharmacies.

Religion

The population of Kavajë belongs in part to two religious denominations, Muslim and Orthodox Christian. The Muslim population nominally makes up 3/4 of the total population. The remaining 1/4 belong to the Orthodox faith. These are estimates which don't hold into account atheists and other non-believers. The Municipality Office keeps no official statistics on religion.

The largest of the four mosques in the city is Kubelie Mosque (Xhamia Kubelie), named after the old mosque built by Kapllan Beu in 1736 and later demolished by the communist regime in 1967. The existing mosque was built in 1994.

The Piety Mosque (Xhamia e Devotshmërisë) was built in the Zguraj neighbourhood in 2001 with funds from a Saudi charity organization. The Dedei Mosque (Xhamia e Haxhi, Mynyre dhe Dervish Dedeit) was built in 2005 with funds from the Dedei Family. There is also a small teqe built in recent years within the city limits and another one in the locality of Luz i Madh.

Followers of the orthodox faith attend the Shën Kolli Church located near Besa Stadium. The church was rebuilt in 1997, on the same land as the old one with funds from Greece.

St.Paraskevi's Church (Kisha e Shën Premtes) is located 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) east of Kavajë in the locality of Çetë. It was built during the 13th century and today serves as a cultural monument. The frescos inside the church are works of the well-known iconic painter Kostandin Shpataraku.

A smaller church is found in the village of Rreth-Greth, formerly a part of Kryevidh Commune. It's attended by the locals of that area.


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