Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania as well as heart of Albanias cultural, economic and governmental activity. It is located on the western center of the country surrounded by hills with the Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. The city is located some north of Athens, west of Skopje, south-east of Pristina and south of Podgorica. Tirana was founded as a city in 1614, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Evidence of human settlement dates back to the Paleolithic period, between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago. The oldest settlement in the area was the Cave of Pellumbas, in todays village of Pellumbas. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with ancient Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited. One of the ancient monuments, the Tirana Mosaic is believed to have been part of a 3rd-century Ancient Roman house. Later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Paleo-Christian Basilica was built around this site. Tirana did not attain much significance until the early 20th century, when the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed it Albanias capital following the countrys declaration of independence in 1912. The heritage of the classical period can be found in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Tirana Mosaic. Tirana also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a number of Ottoman monuments.
Tirana is one of largest cities in the Balkans, ranking 7th, with a population of 800,000. It is also the largest Albanian-speaking city in the world. Being Albanias primate city, Tirana is considered the heart of Albania because of its central location and its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, service, research and healthcare. Almost all of the countrys largest companies, media and scientific institutions have their headquarters in the city. Tirana is also the seat of power of the Government of Albania, the residences for work of the President and the Prime Minister of Albania.