Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about 33 km (21 mi) west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically significant cities of Albania.
Durrës is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari (300 km or 186 mi away) and Brindisi (200 km or 124 mi away). Durrës is home to Albania's main port, the Port of Durrës, and to the newest public university, the Aleksandër Moisiu University. It has a population of 115,550, while the metropolitan area has a population of 265,330.Moreover, it is the meeting point of national roads SH2 and SH4.
Founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and Corcyra under the name Epidamnos, it has been continuously inhabited for 2,700 years and is one of the oldest cities in Albania. Durrës served as Albania's national capital from 7 March 1914 until 11 February 1920 during the reign of William of Albania in Principality of Albania.
Durrës is an important link to Western Europe due to its port and its proximity to the Italian port cities, notably Bari, to which daily ferries run. As well as the dockyard, it also possesses an important shipyard and manufacturing industries, notably producing leather, plastic and tobacco products. The southern coastal stretch is renown for its traditional mass beach tourism having experienced uncontrolled urban development. The city's beaches are also a popular destination for many foreign and local tourists, with an estimated 800,000 tourists visiting annually. Many Albanians from Tirana and elsewhere spend their summer vacations on the beaches of Durrës. In 2012, new water sanitation systems are being installed to completely eliminate sea water pollution. In contrast, the northern coastal stretch is mostly unspoiled and set to become an elite tourism destination as a number of beach resorts are being built since 2009. Neighboring districts are known for the production of good wine and a variety of foodstuffs. The port has experienced major upgrades in recent years culminating with the opening of the new terminal in July 2012. In 2012, The Globe and Mail ranked Durrës at no. 1 among 8 exciting new cruise ports to explore.