Albania has a bunker problem. Across this tiny country of 2.8 million people, thousands of bunkers continue to dot the landscape. How many thousands, no one knows. Indeed, no one knows how many were built in the first place; estimates range from 150,000 to 750,000. Accurate records are either lost, destroyed, or weren’t kept in the first place.
Some bunkers are little steel pillboxes, with just enough room for a man and a machine gun. Others are enormous underground complexes, the size of villages, designed to protect the entire Albanian government from the nuclear attack they thought was imminent.
They run from the coast to the mountains, north from the former Yugoslavia, south to Greece. They never saw action, and are today considered a monumental waste of money and resources. Communist Albania didn’t have enough for bread or decent housing, but apparently had plenty to build one bunker for every 11 Albanians.
But they are not without their uses, and 35 years after the last bunker was built, Albanians are coming up with all sorts of ingenious ways to turn concrete lemons into lucrative lemonade.
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