Kukës is a town in Albania located in the northeastern part of the country, close to the border point with Kosovo. It has a population of about 16,000 (2003 est) and is also the center of the district with the same name. The town is set among the mountains of northern Albania and is famous for its role in the Kosovo conflict for taking in 450,000 refugees from Kosovo. This led, in 2000, to it becoming the first ever town to be nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.
The town was relocated as part of a hydroelectric scheme. The old Kukës was submerged beneath an artificial lake in 1976, the lake being held back by Chinese-built dams. The new town (Kukësi i Ri - "New Kukës") was built in the 1970s in the plateau nearby which is 320m over the sea level. Kukësi i Ri is surrounded by the artificial lake of Fierza and it looks like a peninsula from the above. It is linked with the other parts of the country by three bridges. On the East it faces the snow covered mountain of Gjallica, 2468m over the sea level. The district is impoverished, with poor road connections, and major problems with crime.
Illyrian tombs were found at Këneta nearby Kukës. It was a small Roman settlement, a stopping point on a branch road leading to the Via Egnatia, and a minor Ottoman market centre and trading post on the road to southern Kosovo. Just before the First World War it was there (Qafa e Kolosjanit) where Albanian resistance stopped the Serbian invasion in 1912.
There is a mosque and a closed alpine-style hotel, part of a failed attempt to establish a tourist industry there. OSCE maintained a villa there.
A popular spot is a place just off the main square called the Bar America where the speciality is Tavë Dheu. There is also a local history museum and a carpet factory. The food industry is confined only to the production of alcoholic drinks produced in a drink factory, and to some local small workshops producing drinks and dairy products.
The Highlanders in the region are well known for their developed agriculture. Kukës has a carpet factory whose products is for domestic and trade use. There is also a copper processing factory as the raw material, copper, is found in this place. Kukës is a good centre for fishing and walking in the surrounding mountains. In the bad weather Kukës can be dramatic, with huge threatening cloud formations over the Vikut Mountains, and the sparse streets of the little town and the lake, subject to violent gusts of 'Bora' snow.