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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Republika Makedonija


FLAG: The flag consists of a gold sun with eight rays on a red field.

ANTHEM: Denec Nad Makedonija (Today over Macedonia)

MONETARY UNIT: The currency in use is the denar (den). Denominations from smallest to largest are fifty deni, one denar, two denari, and five denari. us$1 = den0.02044 (or den1 = us$48.92; as of 2005), but exchange rates are likely to fluctuate.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in effect in Macedonia.

HOLIDAYS: Orthodox Christmas, 7 January; national holiday, 2 August; Day of Referendum, 8 September.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Macedonia is a landlocked nation located in southeastern Europe. Macedonia is slightly larger than the state of Vermont with a total area of 25,333 sq km (9,781 sq mi). Macedonia shares boundaries with Serbia to the n, Bulgaria to the e, Greece to the s, and Albania to the w, and has a total boundary length of 766 km (476 mi). Macedonia's capital city, Skopje, is located in the northwestern part of the country.


The topography of Macedonia features a mountainous landscape covered with deep basins and valleys. There are two large lakes, each divided by a frontier line. Approximately 24% of Macedonia's land is arable. Natural resources include chromium, lead, zinc, manganese, tungsten, nickel, low-grade iron ore, asbestos, sulfur, and timber. Located above a thrust fault line of the Eurasian Tectonic Plate, the nation experiences frequent tremors and occasional severe earthquakes. In 1963, 6.0 magnitude quake at Skopje caused the death of about 1,100 people and destroyed much of the city.


Macedonia's climate features hot summers and cold winters. Fall tends to be dry in the country. In July the average temperature is between 20 and 23°c (68 and 73°f). The average temperature in January is between -20 and 0°c (-4 and 32°f). Rainfall averages 51 cm (20 in) a year. Snowfalls can be heavy in winter.


The terrain of Macedonia is rather hilly. Between the hills are deep basins and valleys, populated by European bison, fox, rabbits, brown bears, and deer. Pine trees are common in the higher mountain regions while beech and oak cover some of the lower mountain regions. The Macedonian pine is an ancient native species found most prominently on Mount Pelister near the south-west border. Ducks, turtles, frogs, raccoons, and muskrats inhabit the country's waterways. As of 2002, there were at least 78 species of mammals, 109 species of birds, and over 3,500 species of plants throughout the country.


Air pollution from metallurgical plants is a problem in Macedonia, as in the other former Yugoslav republics. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 11.2 million metric tons. All urban dwellers have access to safe drinking water. Earthquakes are a natural hazard. Forest and woodland cover 35% of the nation's land area. As of 2003, approximately 7.1% of Macedonia's total land area was protected, including one World Heritage Site and one Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included nine types of mammals, nine species of birds, two types of reptiles, four species of fish, and five species of invertebrates. Threatened species include the field adder, Apollo butterfly, and noble crayfish. One species of mollusk has become extinct.


The population of Macedonia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 2,039,000, which placed it at number 139 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 11% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 20% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.4%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 2,120,000. The population density was 79 per sq km (205 per sq mi), with lowland regions being the most populated.

The UN estimated that 59% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.73%. The capital city, Skopje, had a population of 447,000 in that year. Most towns have fewer than 15,000 residents.


In February 1999, violence in Kosovo forced more than 10,000 refugees to flee to Macedonia. The situation reached an emergency level when hundreds of thousands of refugees were arriving in late March and early April. By early June, the refugee population had grown to some 260,000. Macedonia did not have sufficient resources to cope with an emergency of this magnitude. At the government's request, some third-country asylum nations enacted bilateral evacuation programs, independently of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Also, a joint UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme was established, under which more than 90,000 refugees were evacuated from Macedonia to 29 countries. A Humanitarian Transfer Programme was also organized to set up camps in Albania for 1,300 refugees. The total number of migrants that year was 626,000, including 484,400 refugees.

In 2003 remittances to Macedonia were $148 million. The net migration rate for Macedonia in 2005 was -0.7 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as too high.


According to the 2002 census, Macedonians comprise about 64.2% of the population. Another 25.2% are ethnic Albanians, mostly living in the west, particularly the northwest. Other groups include Turks (3.9%), Roma (2.7%), Serbs (1.8%), and others (including Bosniaks and Vlachs, 2.2%).


Macedonian is a southern Slavic tongue that was not officially recognized until 1944, and is the primary language of 66.5% of the population. Bulgarians claim it is merely a dialect of their own language. As in Bulgarian, there are virtually no declensions and the definite article is suffixed. Also as in Bulgarianand unlike any other Slavic languagean indefinite article exists as a separate word. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but with two special charactersr and k. Minority languages are officially recognized at the local level. Albanian is spoken by about 25.1% of the population, Turkish by about 3.5%, Roma by 1.9%, Serbian by 1.2%, and various other languages by 1.8%.


About 66% of the population are nominally Macedonian Orthodox; another 30% are Muslim, 1% are Roman Catholic, and about 3% belong to various other faiths. The other faiths are mostly various Protestant denominations. Islam is commonly practiced among ethnic Albanians living primarily in the western part of the country and in the capital of Skopje. The Roman Catholic community is centered in Skopje, as is a small Jewish community.

Though the constitution allows for religious freedom, the government places some restrictions on religious groups that concern the establishment of houses of worship and the collection of monetary donations. Religious groups are registered under the Law on Religious Communities and Religious Groups.


A railway connects Skopje with Serbia to the north and the Greek port of Salonika to the south. In 2004, rail trackage totaled 699 km (434 mi) of standard gauge track, of which 233 km (144 mi) were electrified. As of 2002, a 56 km (35 mi) extension of the Kumanovo-Beljakovce line to the Bulgarian border at Gyueschevo was under construction. In 2001, there were 8,684 km (5,396 mi) of highways, of which 5,540 km (3,442 mi) were paved, including 133 km (83 mi) of expressways.

As of 2004, there were an estimated 17 airports, including 10 with paved runways (as of 2005). In 2003, about 201,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


Origin and Middle Ages

Macedonia is an ancient name, historically related to Philip II of Macedon, whose son became Alexander the Great, founder of one of the great empires of the ancient world. As a regional name, Macedonia, the land of the Macedons, has been used since ancient Greek times for the territory extending north of Thessaly and into the Vardar River Valley and between Epirus on the west and Thrace on the east. In Alexander the Great's time, Macedonia extended west to the Adriatic Sea over the area then called Illyris, part of today's Albania. Under the Roman Empire, Macedonia was extended south over Thessaly and Achaia.

Beginning in the 5th century ad Slavic tribes began settling in the Balkan area, and by 700 they controlled most of the Central and Peloponnesian Greek lands. The Slavic conquerors were mostly assimilated into Greek culture except in the northern Greek area of Macedonia proper and the areas of northern Thrace populated by "Bulgarian" Slavs. That is how St. Cyril and Methodius, two Greek brothers and scholars who grew up in the Macedonian city of Salonika, were able to become the "Apostles of the Slavs," having first translated Holy Scriptures in 863 into the common Slavic language they had learned in the Macedonian area.

Through most of the later Middle Ages, Macedonia was an area contested by the Byzantine Empire, with its Greek culture and Orthodox Christianity, the Bulgarian Kingdom, and particularly the 14th century Serbian empire of Dušan the Great. The Bulgarian and Serbian empires contributed to the spread of Christianity through the establishment of the Old Church Slavic liturgy.

After Dušan's death in 1355 his empire collapsed, partly due to the struggle for power among his heirs and partly to the advances of the Ottoman Turks. Following the defeat of the Serbs at the Kosovo Field in 1389, the Turks conquered the Macedonian area over the next half century and kept it under their control until the 1912 Balkan war.

Under Ottoman Rule

The decline of the Ottoman Empire brought about renewed competition over Slavic Macedonia between Bulgaria and Serbia. After the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 ended in a Turkish defeat, Bulgaria, an ally of Russia, was denied the prize of the Treaty of San Stefano (1878) in which Turkey had agreed to an enlarged and autonomous Bulgaria that would have included most of Macedonia. Such an enlarged Bulgariawith control of the Vardar River Valley and access to the Aegean Seawas, however, a violation of a prior Russo-Austrian agreement. The Western powers opposed Russia's penetration into the Mediterranean through the port of Salonika and, at the 1878 Congress of Berlin, forced the "return" of Macedonia and East Rumelia from Bulgaria to Turkey. This action enraged Serbia, which had fought in the war against Turkey, gained its own independence, and hoped to win control of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had been given over to Austrian control, for itself.

In this situation both Serbia and Bulgaria concentrated their efforts on Macedonia, where Greek influence had been very strong through the Greek Orthodox Church. The Bulgarians obtained their own Orthodox Church in 1870, that extended its influence to the Macedonian area and worked in favor of unification with Bulgaria through intensive educational activities designed to "Bulgarize" the Slavic population. Systematic intimidation was also used, when the Bulgarians sent their terrorist units (komite) into the area. The Serbian side considered Macedonia to be Southern Serbia, with its own dialect but using Serbian as its literary language. Serbian schools predated Bulgarian ones in Macedonia and continued with their work.

While individual instances of Macedonian consciousness and language had appeared by the end of the 18th century, it was in the 1850s that "Macedonists" had declared Macedonia a separate Slavic nation. Macedonian Slavs had developed a preference for their central Macedonian dialect and had begun publishing some writings in it rather than using the Bulgaro-Macedonian version promoted by the Bulgarian Church and government emissaries. Thus, Macedonia, in the second half of the 19th century, while still under the weakening rule of the Turks, had become the object of territorial and cultural claims by its Greek, Serb, and Bulgarian neighbors. The most systematic pressure had come from Bulgaria and had caused large numbers of "Bulgaro-Macedonians" to emigrate to Bulgariasome 100,000 in the 1890smainly to Sophia, where they constituted almost half the city's population and an extremely strong pressure group.

Struggle for Autonomy

More and more Macedonians became convinced that Macedonia should achieve at least an autonomous status under Turkey, if not complete independence. In 1893, a secret organization was formed in Salonika aiming at a revolt against the Turks and the establishment of an autonomous Macedonia. The organization was to be independent of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece and was named the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), a group that became Socialist, revolutionary, and terrorist in nature. Much like Ireland's IRA, IMRO spread through Macedonia and became an underground paragovernmental network active up to World War II. A pro-Bulgarian and an independent Macedonian faction soon developed, the first based in Sophia, the second in Salonika. Its strong base in Sophia gave the pro-Bulgarian faction a great advantage and it took control and pushed for an early uprising in order to impress the Western powers into intervening in support of Macedonia.

The large scale uprising took place on 2 August 1903 (Ilinden"St. Elijah's Day") when the rebels took over the town of Kruševo and proclaimed a Socialist Republic. After initial defeats of the local Turkish forces, the rebels were subdued by massive Ottoman attacks using scorched earth tactics and wholesale massacres of the population over a three-month period. Europe and the United States paid attention and forced Turkey into granting reforms to be supervised by international observers. However, the disillusioned IMRO leadership engaged in factional bloody feuds that weakened the IMRO organization and image. This encouraged both Serbs and Greeks in the use of their own armed bandsSerbian Cetniks and Greek Andartecreating an atmosphere of gang warfare in which Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece fought each other (instead of the Turks) over a future division of Macedonia. In the meantime, the Young Turks movement had spread among Turkish officers and military uprisings began in Macedonia in 1906. These uprisings spread and Turkish officers demanded a constitutional system. They believed that Turkey could be saved only by Westernizing. In 1908 the Young Turks prevailed, and offered to the IMRO leadership agrarian reforms, regional autonomy, and introduction of the Macedonian language in the schools. However, the Young Turks turned out to be extreme Turkish nationalists bent on the assimilation of other national groups. Their denationalizing efforts caused further rebellions and massacres in the Balkans. Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro turned for help to the great powers, but to no avail. In 1912 they formed the Balkan League, provisionally agreed on the division of Turkish Balkan territory among themselves, and declared war on Turkey in October 1912 after Turkey refused their request to establish the four autonomous regions of MacedoniaOld Serbia, Epirus, and Albaniaalready provided for in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.

Balkan Wars

The quick defeat of the Turks by the Balkan League stunned the European powers, particularly when Bulgarian forces reached the suburbs of Istanbul. Turkey signed a treaty in London on 30 May 1913 giving up all European possessions with the exception of Istanbul. However, when Italy and Austria vetoed a provision granting Serbia access to the Adriatic at Durazzo and Alessio and agreed to form an independent Albania, Serbia demanded a larger part of Macedonia from Bulgaria. Bulgaria refused and attacked both Serbian and Greek forces. This caused the second Balkan War that ended in a month with Bulgaria's defeat by Serbia and Greece with help from Romania, Montenegro, and Turkey. The outcome was the partitioning of Macedonia between Serbia and Greece. Turkey regained the Adrianople area it had lost to Bulgaria. Romania gained a part of Bulgarian Dobrudja while Bulgaria kept a part of Thrace and the Macedonian town of Strumica. Thus Southern Macedonia came under the Hellenizing influence of Greece while most of Macedonia was annexed to Serbia. Both Serbia and Greece denied any Macedonian "nationhood." In Greece, Macedonians were treated as "Slavophone" Greeks while Serbs viewed Macedonia as Southern Serbia and Serbian was made the official language of government and instruction in schools and churches.

First and Second Yugoslavia

After World War I, the IMRO organization became a terrorist group operating out of Bulgaria with a nuisance role against Yugoslavia. In later years, some IMRO members joined the Communist Party and tried to work toward a Balkan Federation where Macedonia would be an autonomous member. Its interest in the dissolution of the first Yugoslavia led IMRO members to join with the Croatian Ustaša in the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou in Marseille on 9 October 1934. During World War II, Bulgaria, Hitler's ally, occupied the central and eastern parts of Macedonia while Albanians, supported by Italy, annexed western Macedonia along with the Kosovo region. Because of Bulgarian control, resistance was slow to develop in Macedonia; a conflict between the Bulgarian and Yugoslav Communist parties also played a part. By the summer of 1943, however, Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav Partisans, took over control of the Communist Party of Macedonia after winning its agreement to form a separate Macedonian republic as part of a Yugoslav federation. Some 120,000 Macedonian Serbs were forced to emigrate to Serbia because they had opted for Serbian citizenship. Partisan activities against the occupiers increased and, by August 1944, the Macedonian People's Republic was proclaimed with Macedonian as the official language and the goal of unifying all Macedonians was confirmed. But this goal was not achieved. However, the "Pirin" Macedonians in Bulgaria were granted their own cultural development rights in 1947, and then lost them after the Stalin-Tito split in 1948. The Bulgarian claims to Macedonia were revived from time to time after 1948.

On the Greek side, there was no support from the Greek Communist Party for the unification of Macedonian Slavs within Greece with the Yugoslav Macedonians, even though Macedonian Slavs had organized resistance units under Greek command and participated heavily in the postwar Greek Communists' insurrection. With Tito's closing the Yugoslav-Greek frontier in July 1949 and ending his assistance to the pro-Cominform Greek Communists, any chance of territorial gains from Greece had dissipated. On the Yugoslav side, Macedonia became one of the co-equal constituent republics of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia under the Communist regime of Marshal Tito. The Macedonian language became one of the official languages of Yugoslavia, along with Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian, and the official language of the Republic of Macedonia where the Albanian and Serbo-Croatian languages were also used. Macedonian was fully developed into the literary language of Macedonians, used as the language of instruction in schools as well as the newly established Macedonian Orthodox Church. A Macedonian University was established in Skopje, the capital city, and all the usual cultural, political, social, and economic institutions were developed within the framework of the Yugoslav Socialist system of self-management. The main goals of autonomy and socialism of the old IMRO organization were fulfilled, with the exception of the unification of the "Pirin" (Bulgarian) and "Greek" Macedonian lands.

All of the republics of the former Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia share a common history between 1945 and 1991, the year of Yugoslavia's dissolution. The World War II Partisan resistance movement, controlled by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and led by Marshal Tito, won a civil war waged against nationalist groups under foreign occupation, having secured the assistance, and recognition, from both the Western powers and the Soviet Union. Aside from the reconstruction of the country and its economy, the first task facing the new regime was the establishment of its legitimacy and, at the same time, the liquidation of its internal enemies, both actual and potential. The first task was accomplished by the 11 November 1945 elections of a constitutional assembly on the basis of a single candidate list assembled by the People's Front. The list won 90% of the votes cast. The three members of the "coalition" government representing the Royal Yugoslav Government in exile had resigned earlier in frustration and did not run in the elections. The Constitutional Assembly voted against the continuation of the Monarchy and, on 31 January 1946, the new constitution of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was promulgated. Along with state-building activities, the Yugoslav Communist regime carried out ruthless executions, massacres, and imprisonments to liquidate any potential opposition.

The Tito-Stalin conflict that erupted in 1948 was not a real surprise considering the differences the two had had about Tito's refusal to cooperate with other resistance movements against the occupiers in World War II. The expulsion of Tito from the Cominform group separated Yugoslavia from the Soviet Bloc, caused internal purges of pro-Cominform Yugoslav Communist Party members, and also nudged Yugoslavia into a failed attempt to collectivize its agriculture. Yugoslavia then developed its own brand of Marxist economy based on workers' councils and self-management of enterprises and institutions, and became the leader of the nonaligned group of nations in the international arena. Being more open to Western influences, the Yugoslav Communist regime relaxed somewhat its central controls. This allowed for the development of more liberal wings of Communist parties, particularly in Croatia and Slovenia, which agitated for the devolution of power from the federal to the individual republic level in order to better cope with the increasing differentiation between the more productive republics (Slovenia and Croatia) and the less developed areas. Also, nationalism resurfaced with tensions particularly strong between Serbs and Croats in the Croatian Republic, leading to the repression by Tito of the Croatian and Slovenian "Springs" in 197071.

The 1974 constitution shifted much of the decision-making power from the federal to the republics' level, turning the Yugoslav Communist Party into a kind of federation (league) of the republican parties, thus further decentralizing the political process. The autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo were also given a quasi-sovereign status as republics, and a collective presidency was designed to take over power upon Tito's death. When Tito died in 1980, the delegates of the six republics and the two autonomous provinces represented the interests of each republic or province in the process of shifting coalitions centered on specific issues. The investment of development funds to assist the less developed areas became the burning issue around which nationalist emotions and tensions grew ever stronger, along with the forceful repression of the Albanian majority in Kosovo.

The economic crisis of the 1980s, with runaway inflation, inability to pay the debt service on over $20 billion in international loans that had accumulated during Tito's rule, and low productivity in the less-developed areas became too much of a burden for Slovenia and Croatia, leading them to stand up to the centralizing power of the Serbian (and other) Republics. The demand for a reorganization of the Yugoslav Federation into a confederation of sovereign states was strongly opposed by the coalition of Serbia, Montenegro, and the Yugoslav army. The pressure towards political pluralism and a market economy also grew stronger, leading to the formation of non-Communist political parties that, by 1990, were able to win majorities in multiparty elections in Slovenia and then in Croatia, thus putting an end to the era of the Communist Party monopoly of power. The inability of the opposing groups of centralist and confederalist republics to find any common ground led to the dissolution of Yugoslavia through the disassociation of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia, leaving only Serbia and Montenegro together in a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The years between 1945 and 1990 offered the Macedonians an opportunity for development in some areas, in addition to their cultural and nation-building efforts, within the framework of a one-party Communist system. For the first time in their history the Macedonians had their own republic and government with a very broad range of responsibilities. Forty-five years was a long enough period to have trained generations for public service responsibilities and the governing of an independent state. In addition, Macedonia derived considerable benefits from the Yugoslav framework in terms of federal support for underdeveloped areas (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro). Macedonia's share of the special development funds ranged from 26% in 1966 to about 20% in 1985, much of it supplied by Croatia and Slovenia.

In the wake of developments in Slovenia and Croatia, Macedonia held its first multiparty elections in NovemberDecember 1990, with the participation of over 20 political parties. Four parties formed a coalition government that left the strongest nationalist party (IMRO) in the opposition. In January 1991 the Macedonian Assembly passed a declaration of sovereignty.


While early in 1989 Macedonia supported Serbia's Slobodan Milošević in his recentralizing efforts, by 1991, Milošević was viewed as a threat to Macedonia and its leadership took positions closer to the confederal ones of Slovenia and Croatia. A last effort to avoid Yugoslavia's disintegration was made 3 June 1991 through a joint proposal by Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, offering to form a "community of Yugoslav Republics" with a centrally administered common market, foreign policy, and national defense. However, Serbia opposed the proposal.

On 26 June 1991one day after Slovenia and Croatia had declared their independencethe Macedonian Assembly debated the issue of secession from Yugoslavia with the IMRO group urging an immediate proclamation of independence. Other parties were more restrained, a position echoed by Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov in his cautious statement that Macedonia would remain faithful to Yugoslavia. Yet by 6 July 1991, the Macedonian Assembly decided in favor of Macedonia's independence if a confederal solution could not be attained.

Thus, when the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia took place in 199091, Macedonia refused to join Serbia and Montenegro and opted for independence on 20 November 1991. The unification issue was then raised again, albeit negatively, by the refusal of Greece to recognize the newly independent Macedonia for fear that its very name would incite irredentist designs toward the Slav Macedonians in northern Greece. The issue of recognition became a problem between Greece and its NATO allies in spite of the fact that Macedonia had adopted in 1992 a constitutional amendment forbidding any engagement in territorial expansion or interference in the internal affairs of another country. In April 1993, Macedonia gained membership in the UN, but only under the name of "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Greece also voted against Macedonian membership in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe on 1 December 1993. However, on 16 December 1993, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands had announced the initiation of the recognition process for Macedonia and other countries joined the process, which resulted in recognition of Macedonia by the United States on 8 February 1994. In April 1994 the EU began to take legal action in the European Court of Justice against Greece for refusing to lift a trade blockade against Macedonia that it initiated two months earlier. However, by October 1995, Greece agreed to lift the embargo, in return for concessions from Macedonia that included changing its national flag, which contained an ancient Greek emblem depicting the 16-pointed golden sun of Vergina. The dispute over the name of Macedonia remained, but the agreement defused the threat of violence in the region.

On 3 October 1995, Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov narrowly survived a car-bomb attack that killed his driver. The next day, parliament named its speaker, Stojan Andov, as the interim president after determining that Gligorov was incapable of performing his functions. Gligorov resumed his duties in early 1996. As tensions between majority Albanians and minority Serbs in the neighboring Yugoslav province of Kosovo heated up from 1997 to 1999, fears mounted that full-scale fighting would spread to Macedonia. Ethnic violence erupted in the town of Gostivar in July 1997 after the Macedonian government sent in special military forces to remove the illegal Albanian, Turkish, and Macedonian flags flying outside the town hall. Several thousand protesters, some armed, had gathered and were in a stalemate with police. During the skirmish, police killed three ethnic Albanians and several policemen were shot. The Albanian nationalist Kosovo Liberation Army also claimed attacks against two police stations in Macedonia in December 1997 and January 1998. As the violence mounted the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on 21 July 1998 to renew the UNPREDEP (United Nations Preventive Deployment Force) mandate another six months and to bolster the contingent with 350 more soldiers.

When full-scale fighting in Kosovo erupted in early 1999 and NATO responded with air strikes against Serbia, Macedonia became the destination for tens of thousands of Kosovar Albanian refugees fleeing from Serbian ethnic cleansing. For a while the situation in Macedonia remained tense as the government, fearful of a spillover of the fighting into its territory, closed its frontiers to refugees. Nonetheless, the presence of NATO forces and pledges of international aid prevented (aside from errant bombs and a couple of cross-border incursions) a spread of the fighting and maintained domestic stability in Macedonia.

However, in 2000, violence on the border with Kosovo increased, putting Macedonian troops in a state of high alert. In February 2001, fighting broke out between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels, many of who were from the Kosovo Liberation Army, but some were also ethnic Albanians from within Macedonia. The insurrection broke out in the northwest, where rebels took up arms around the town of Tetovo, where ethnic Albanians make up a majority of the population. NATO deployed additional forces along the border with Kosovo to stop the supply of arms to the rebels; however, the buffer zone proved ineffective. As fighting intensified in March, the government closed the border with Kosovo. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 22,000 ethnic Albanians had fled the fighting by that time. Fears in Macedonia of the creation of a "Greater Albania," including Kosovo and parts of Macedonia, were fueled by the separatist movement, and mass demonstrations were held in Skopje urging tougher action against the rebels. The violence continued throughout the summer, until August, when the Ohrid Framework Agreement was signed by the government and ethnic Albanian representatives, granting greater recognition of ethnic Albanian rights in exchange for the rebels' pledge to turn over weapons to the NATO peacekeeping force.

In November 2001, parliament amended the constitution to include reforms laid out in the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The constitution recognizes Albanian as an official language, and increases access for ethnic Albanians to pubic-sector jobs, including the police. It also gives ethnic Albanians a voice in parliament, and guarantees their political, religious and cultural rights. In March 2002, parliament granted an amnesty to the former rebels who turned over their weapons to the NATO peacekeepers in August and September 2001. By September 2002, most of the 170,000 people who had fled their homes in advance of the fighting in 2001 had returned.

Parliamentary elections were held on 15 September 2002, which saw a change in leadership from the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party of Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski to the moderate Social Democratic League of Macedonia (SDSM)-led "Together for Macedonia" coalition. Branco Crvenkovski became prime minister. At that time Boris Trajkovski was president; he had been elected from the VMRO-DPMNE party in 1999. In the September 2002 elections, former ethnic Albanian rebel-turned-politician Ali Ahmeti saw his Democratic Union for Integration party (DUI) claim victory for the Albanian community, which makes up more than 25% of the Macedonian population. Ahmeti, former political leader of the National Liberation Army (NLA), delayed taking his seat in parliament until December, for fear it would ignite protests among Macedonians who still regarded him as a terrorist. Indeed, in January 2003, the DUI headquarters in Skopje came under assault from machine-gunfire and a grenade, the fourth such attack on DUI offices.

In November 2002, NATO announced that of 10 countries aspiring to join the organization, 7 would accede in 2004, leaving Albania, Macedonia, and Croatia to wait until a later round of expansion. In January 2003, Albania and Macedonia agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation, especially in the economic sphere, so as to prepare their way for NATO and EU membership.

The year 2004 was a rather tumultuous one for Macedonia, and Macedonians. In February, President Trajkovski, who was on his way to a conference in Mostar, Bosnia, died in a plane crash. Two months later, elections were staged to replace him. Branko Crvenkovski, the acting prime minister and the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, won the second round of the election, with 62.7% of the vote; his main opponentSasko Kedev of the VMRO-DPMNEgot 37.3%. In June 2004, Hari Kostov, the former minister of interior, became prime minister following approval by the parliament. His reign was to be chaotic and short lived thoughethnic protests littered the country as parliament implemented legislation that gave Albanians more autonomy in the areas where they predominated. In November 2004, Kostov resigned and his place was taken by the defense minister, Vlado Buckovski (who also took over the leadership of the Social Democratic Union). In the summer 2005, the parliament passed a law that allowed ethnic Albanians to fly the Albanian flag in the areas where they compose the majority.


Macedonia achieved its independence from the former Yugoslavia on 20 November 1991, having adopted its constitution on 17 November 1991. Macedonia's unicameral assembly of 120 seats is called the Sobranje. Eighty-five members are elected in single-seat constituencies, and 35 are elected by proportional representation. The executive branch consists of the president (elected by popular vote for a five-year term) and the Council of Ministers (elected by the majority vote of all the deputies in the Sobranje). The prime minister is elected by the assembly. In November 2001, parliament amended the constitution to include greater recognition of ethnic Albanian political, religious, and cultural rights. In October 2005, the president of Macedonia was Branko Crvenkovski, while Vlado Buckovskithe leader of the Social Democratic Unionoccupied the prime minister post.


Following the 2002 elections, party representation in the Sobranje (Assembly) was as follows: the Together for Macedonia coalition (composed of 10 parties led by the Social Democratic League of Macedonia and the Liberal Democratic PartySDSM-LDP), 40.5% (59 seats); Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian Unity (VMRO-DMPNE), 24.4% (34 seats); Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), 11.9% (16 seats); Democratic Party of Albanians (PDS), 5.2% (7 seats); Democratic Prosperity Party (PDP), 2.3% (2 seats); National Democratic Party (NDP), 2.1% (1 seat); and the Socialist Party of Macedonia (SPM), 2.1% (1 seat). The DUI, PDS, PDP, and NDP are ethnic Albanian parties. The next legislative elections were scheduled to take place in 2006. The last presidential election was held in 2004 and Social-Democrat Branko Crvenkovski won a majority in the second round over his main opponent, VMRODPMNE candidate Sasko Kedev. The next presidential elections were scheduled to take place in April 2009.


Macedonia's 85 municipalities form the structure of local government. (Out of these municipalities, 10 represent the greater Skopje area.) The municipality is the basic self-managed sociopolitical community. Council members are directly elected for four-year terms, as are the mayors of the municipalities. Citizens may form neighborhood (village and suburb) governing bodies. Where the number of members of a particular nationality exceeds 20% of the total number of inhabitants in a municipality, the language and alphabet of that nationality shall be in official use, in addition to Macedonian and the Cyrillic alphabet.

The local elections held in April 2005 went without ethnic tensions, although international observers drew attention to irregularities during all of the three voting rounds. Despite criticism, Prime Minister Buckovski considered the local election process to be a "model" for the future. The ruling Together for Macedonia coalition won 36 mayoral races; the Albanian Democratic Union of Integration (a coalition partner of the former) won 15; the VMRO-DPMNE, 21; the VMRO-People's Party, 3; the Democratic Party of Albanians/Party of Democratic Prosperity, 2; the Macedonian Roma Alliance, 1; the rest of the seven mayoral seats were won by mayors supported by a voter's bloc. Trifun Kostovski won the city of Skopje race over the candidate of the SDSM-led coalitionRisto Penov.


The judicial system is comprised of three tiers: municipal courts, district courts, and the Supreme Court. A Constitutional Court handles issues of constitutional interpretation, including protection of individual rights. The constitution directs the establishment of a people's ombudsman to defend citizens' fundamental constitutional rights; the office became functional in 1997. An independent Republican Judicial Council appoints judges, who are confirmed by parliament. The Constitutional Court has not yet rendered any decisions in the area of protection of individual rights or liberties. The constitution guarantees the autonomy and independence of the judiciary.


In January 1992, the Macedonian Assembly approved the formation of a standing army of 25,00030,000 troops. However, the actual size of the military was 10,890 active personnel in 2005, of which the army was the largest service with 9,760 active members. The army was equipped with 61 main battle tanks, 51 reconnaissance vehicles, 11 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 207 armored personnel carriers, and 944 artillery pieces. Although there is no data as to the number of reservists, the nation's reserve forces were broken down in 2005 into eight infantry brigades and one (each) artillery, antitank and air defense regiments. The army also operated a maritime patrol arm equipped with five patrol/coastal vessels. The air force had 1,130 active personnel which had four combat capable aircraft made up of four fighter ground attack aircraft. The nation's paramilitary force consisted of a police force numbering 7,600, of which some 5,000 were armed. As of 2005, foreign forces stationed in Macedonia consist of 260 US personnel attached to KFOR 1. The national defense budget in 2005 totaled $129 million.

In March 1997, rioters in neighboring Albania looted government armories, making off with hundreds of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles. Substantial numbers of those weapons were smuggled into Macedonia and sold to ethnic Albanians.


The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations on 8 April 1993; it is a part of ECE and a member of several nonregional specialized agencies, such as FAO, IAEA, IMF, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and the World Bank. Macedonia is also a member of the Council of Europe, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the NATO Partnership for Peace, and the OSCE.

In February 1994 Macedonia's sovereignty was recognized by the United States and EU countries. Greece objected to the use of the name Macedonia by the nation and imposed a trade embargo for this and other issues. Greece and Macedonia signed an interim agreement in 1995 ending the embargo and opening negotiations for diplomatic recognition. Also in 1995, Macedonia ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. The convention includes several Eastern and Central European nations that see membership as a precursor to possible admission to the European Union in the future.

In environmental cooperation, Macedonia is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea and Climate Change.


Although the poorest of the six former Yugoslav republics, Macedonia nevertheless can sustain itself in food and energy needs using its own agricultural and coal resources. Due to the scarcity of arable land in the Vardar River Valley and other valleys in the west, expatriate employment in Serbia and Germany has become more common.

In August 1992, because it resented the use of "Macedonia" as the republic's name and feared a hidden ambition to lay claim to the Greek province with the same name, Greece imposed a partial blockade on Macedonia. Greece later imposed a full trade embargo against Macedonia in February 1994. This blockade, combined with the UN sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro, cost the economy an estimated $2 billion by the end of 1994. Macedonia's per capita GNP fell from $1,800 to less than $760 because of the sanctions and the Greek blockade. After threats of legal action by the EU, in October 1995 Greece ceased the embargo and promised not to interfere with Macedonia's commerce.

From 1998 to 2000 real GDP growth averaged a little over 4%, but in 2001, in the wake of rising global tensions and a global economic slowdown, real GDP growth fell 4.5%. Although 2002 saw an end to the contraction, growth was estimated at only 0.3%. Inflation had jumped to 6.1% in 2000, but moderated to 3.7% in 2001, and was projected at only 1% in 2002. Unemployment remains a serious problem. The official estimate for 2002 was almost 32%, with some 70% of 15- to 24-year-olds without work. In 2001, agriculture accounted for about 10% of GDP; industry, 32%; and services, 58%.

In 2004, the GDP growth rate was 5.3%, up from 4.7% in 2003; by 2005 however, it was expected to fall to 5.0%. Inflation decreased to negative values in 2004 (-0.4 %), but overall it tended to hover around 1%. At around 37%, unemployment remains a big problem for the Macedonian economy, although many of the seemingly jobless are thought to hold jobs in the informal sector. The economic growth is expected to remain steady over the next years, and will be fueled by rapid growth in a series of key sectors: transport and telecommunications, trade and financial services. This growth will in turn spur an increase in domestic demand, and a recovery of the industrial sector (especially steel production).


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Macedonia's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $15.6 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $7,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 11.7% of GDP, industry 32.1%, and services 56.2%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $171 million or about $8 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.7% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $234 million or about $114 per capita and accounted for approximately 5.0% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Macedonia totaled $3.46 billion or about $165 per capita based on a GDP of $4.7 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.1%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 33% of household consumption was spent on food, 15% on fuel, 6% on health care, and 9% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 30.2% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


There were an estimated 855,000 persons in the Macedonian labor force in 2004. As of 2003, 22% were in agriculture, 33.9% in industry, 43.8% in the services sector, with 0.3% in undefined occupations.

The constitution guarantees citizens the right to form labor unions with restrictions on the military, police, and government workers. Approximately 50% of the workforce is organized. The Confederation of Trade Unions of Macedonia (SSSM) is the labor confederation which is the successor to the old Communist Party labor confederation, and is still the government's primary negotiating partner on social issues. Employees have little bargaining power in the weak economic environment. Strikes may be utilized to protect employee interests.

Macedonian law establishes a 40-hour workweek, with a 24-hour rest period (minimum) plus vacation and sick leave. The minimum employment age by law is 15 years, with minors under the age of 18 limited by the number of hours they can work and by the types of work they can perform. The law provides that workplaces must meet minimum occupational health and safety standards but reports indicate that these are not effectively enforced. As of 2005, Macedonia did not have a legal national minimum wage. The average monthly wage that year was about $250, and did not provide a family with a living wage. It was estimated by the government that around 29.6% of the population lived below the poverty line.


As of 2003, there were some 612,000 hectares (1,512,000 acres) of arable land, representing 24% of the total land area. Most private farms are very small; 65% of private farmers own at most one hectare (2.7 acres) sometimes scattered in five or six locations.

Wheat production is concentrated in south central Macedonia and in public farms. Corn and barley are produced throughout the country, mostly by the private sector. About 80% of agricultural land is held by the private sector. The remaining 20% is held by state-owned enterprises known as Kombinats. Estimated grain production in 2004 included: wheat, 358,000 tons; barley, 150,000 tons; and corn, 146,000 tons. Rye, rice, and oats are also grown in smaller quantities. Other important crops produced in 2004 included (in 1,000 tons): tomatoes, 117; potatoes, 199; sunflower seeds, 7.4; sugar beets, 52; and walnuts, 3.7. In 2004, 247,600 tons of grapes and 26,000 tons of plums were produced. Tobacco is grown throughout Macedonia and is planted on 4% of the arable land. Production was 21,140 tons in 2004.


Meadows and pastures accounted for about 25% of the total land area. Livestock in 2005 consisted of 1,200,000 sheep, 265,000 head of cattle, 200,000 pigs, and 3,000,000 chickens. Cattle numbers have increased slightly since 1992 due mainly to the increase in cows. About 50% of cattle are for the dairy sector. There are about 30 state farms with 2501,200 cows in the Skopje and Bitola areas. Over 90% of cattle, however, are in private hands, with most farmers rarely having more than three cows because of limited land. Cow milk accounts for 74% of milk production; sheep milk, 26%. The rapidly growing goat sector is also contributing to increasing milk production. The raising of goats was prohibited during the socialist era in order to protect forestry resources. Production in 2005 included (in tons): mutton, 7,500; beef, 10,000; poultry, 4,000; and milk, 263,000.


Inland fishing occurs on Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa, and the Vardar River. The total catch in 2003 was 1,648 tons (primarily trout and carp), all from inland fishing. Macedonia has no direct access to the sea for marine fishing.


About 36% of the total area consisted of forests and woodlands in 2000, mostly in the eastern and southern regions. Bitola is the center for the wood products industry. Total roundwood production in 2004 was 812,000 cu m (28.7 million cu ft), with 85% used as firewood.


Macedonia's mining and quarrying sector output, by value, dropped approximately 39% in 2003 from the previous year, although the country's gross domestic product (GDP) that year rose by 3.1% from 2002. Lead-zinc ore was mined at Kamenica and Probistip; copper, at Bucim; and iron ore, at Tajmite, Demir Hisar, and Damjan. Gold, bentonite, diatomite, feldspar, lime, talc, pumice, stone (carbonite and silicate), gypsum, and sand and gravel were also produced in 2003. Most of the industrial minerals produced went mainly to Balkan countries, the EU, and Russia. Production totals in 2003 were: mined lead (by gross weight), 40,000 metric tons, down from 200,000 metric tons in 2002; zinc (refined primary and secondary metal), 15,100 metric tons, down from 38,000 metric tons in 2002; copper (concentrate by gross weight), 15,000 metric tons; silver, 10,000 kg, down from 12,000 kg in 2002; and gold 400 kg, down from 500 kg in 2002. No chromite was produced in 1998, 1999, 2000 or 2003. Nickel output in 2003 totaled 5,600 metric tons, up from 5.100 metric tons in the previous year.


In 2002, 5.762 billion kWh of electricity were generated, of which 86.7% came from conventional thermal plants and the rest from hydropower. Installed capacity totaled 1,568,000 kW in 2001. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was 6.150 billion kWh.

Macedonia's only domestic mineral fuel is coal. In 2002, the country produced 8,356,000 short tons, all of which was brown coal or lignite. Imports of coal totaled 183,000 short tons. Demand for coal in 2002 came to 8,092,000 short tons.

Macedonia imported an average of 11,540 barrels per day of refined petroleum products, with demand that year averaging 20,160 barrels per day. There were no record imports or production of natural gas in 2002.


Macedonia's industries are centered around Skopje. Steel and chemical production, along with buses, textiles, food processing, tobacco, furniture, and ceramics are important industries. In 1995, the government began privatizing its 25 largest public industries. Industry accounted for 31% of GDP in 2001. The Kosovo crisis of 1999 severely disrupted the Macedonian economy, as did the ethnic Albanian armed insurgency in Macedonia in 2001.

In 2004, industry made up 26% of the GDP, down from 32.8% in 2003. Services benefited from this loss, growing from a 55.5% participation in the GDP in 2003, to 62.8% in 2004. Agriculture remained relatively stable, at about 11%. The industrial production growth rate in 2004 was consequently 0%, indicating a loss of momentum for the industrial sector. Main industries were resource based and included coal, metallic chromium, lead, zinc, ferronickel, textiles, wood products, tobacco, food processing, buses, and steel. By 2005, industry showed signs of recovery, with the industrial output growth jumping to 8.2% in the first nine months of the year.


The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia uses only low levels of technology for its agriculture and mining industries. Oil refining is performed by distillation only.

The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1967 at Skopje, has sections of biological and medical sciences and of mathematical and technical sciences. The country also has an Association of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1960 at Bitola, as well as specialized learned societies concerned with physics, pharmacy, geology, medicine, mathematics and computers, veterinary surgery, engineering, forestry, and agriculture. Macedonia has research institutes dealing with geology, natural history, cotton, animal breeding, tobacco, animal husbandry, and water development.

The University of Skopje (founded in 1949) has faculties of civil engineering, agriculture, veterinary medicine, forestry, medicine, pharmacy, mechanical engineering, electro technical engineering, technology and metallurgy, natural and mathematical sciences, stomatology, and geology and mining. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 47% of university enrollment. The Natural History Museum of Macedonia (founded in 1926) is located in Skopje.

Macedonia in the period 19902001, had 387 scientists and engineers and 29 technicians per million people engaged in research and development (R&D). In 2002, Macedonia spent $34.212 million on R&D, or 0.68% of its GDP. Of that amount, government sources accounted for 76.3% of R&D spending, with foreign sources accounting for 8.6%; business accounted for 7.8%; and higher education 7.3%. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $9 million, or 1% of its manufactured exports.


The commercial and industrial center of the country is Skopje, with industries that include glass, beer, bricks, and tobacco. Prilep serves as the nation's agricultural center for tobacco and fruit. Kumanovu is an industrial center for canning and tobacco processing and a trading center for cattle, fruit, and liquor. Domestic commerce typically centers around an urban marketplace, where marketing of farm products is carried out. Formal trade of products and commodities through state enterprises has declined since independence. However, private traders do not always offer a consistent and reliable market outlet for producers.


In 1999, exports amounted to $1.2 billion, of which manufactured goods accounted for an estimated 89%; agriculture, 9%; and mining, 2%. Imports in 1999 totaled $1.8 billion, of which machinery and transport equipment accounted for an estimated 20%; manufactured goods, 16%; food and live animals, 12%; chemicals, 10%; fuels and lubricants, 9%; other manufactured products, 5%; raw materials (excluding fuels), 3%; and beverages and tobacco, 2%.

In 2004, exports totaled $1.6 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $2.7 billion. Macedonia's main export partners were Serbia and Montenegro (which received 31.4% of total exports), Germany (19.9%), Greece (8.9%), Croatia (6.9%), and the United States (4.9%). Imports mainly came from Greece (15.4%), Germany (13.1%), Serbia and Montenegro (10.4%), Slovenia (8.6%), Bulgaria (8.1%), Turkey (6%), and Romania (4.7%).

The structure of the trade has changed dramatically since 1999. Over the course of only five years, Macedonia's export structure changed to: textiles and clothing (which accounted for 32.3% of all exports), iron and steel (24.2%), chemicals (4.8%), petroleum and petroleum products (4.5%), and tobacco (4.4%). Principal imports included: petroleum and petroleum products (10.2%), road vehicles (6.3%), industrial machinery (4.9%), meat and meat preparations (3.0%), and medical and pharmaceutical products.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Macedonia's exports was $1 billion while imports totaled $1.6 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $600 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Macedonia had exports of goods totaling $1.15 billion and imports totaling $1.58 billion. The services credit totaled $234 million and debit $337 million.

Exports of goods and services totaled $1.7 billion in 2004, up from $1.4 billion in 2003. Imports grew from $2.1 billion in 2003, to $2.8 billion in 2004. The resource balance was on a negative upsurge, growing from -$0.7 billion in 2003, to -$1.1 billion in 2004. A similar trend was registered for the current account balance, which deteriorated from -$149 million in 2003, to -$414.8 million in 2004 (or -3.3% of the GDP). The national reserves (excluding gold) were $897 million in 2003, covering approximately five months of imports; in 2004, they grew to $905 million. Macedonia's balance of payment trade deficit was expected to decrease in 2005 as a result of export growth, especially of metals.


In 1992, the National Bank of Macedonia was created to issue currency, conduct monetary polices, and regulate the banking sector of the country.

Commercial banks in Macedonia include the Komercijalna Banka and Scopanska Banka, both in Skopje. The currency unit is the Macedonia denar (den) introduced on 10 May 1993, at a rate of 1:1,000 against the coupon. The central bank also introduced a floating rate for the denar against major currencies. There are no security exchanges in the country.

Under a five-year stabilization program agreed with the IMF, the government is focusing on reducing inflation, overhauling the financial system, and launching structural reforms. Despite the Greek blockade, the program met its fiscal targets in 1994 with the state deficit declining to 2.5% of GDP in 1994. Reform of the state banking system made progress in 1996, although banks are still lending to inefficient state enterprises. Privatization has made some progress with the privatization agency raising $8 million in revenue in 1994 through the sale of four large companies and 14 medium-sized and small companies.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 1,363.3 2,299.9 -936.6
Germany 278.4 303.9 -25.5
Serbia and Montenegro 273.8 212.6 61.2
Greece 179.8 300.2 -120.4
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 95.4 122.6 -27.2
United States 72.8 56.5 16.3
Croatia 66.1 63.5 2.6
France-Monaco 54.7 51.5 3.2
Netherlands 46.8 49.1 -2.3
United Kingdom 35.1 38.6 -3.5
Turkey 32.8 78.8 -46.0
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -278.5
    Balance on goods -851.5
      Imports -2,210.5
      Exports 1,359.0
    Balance on services 654.6
    Balance on income -32.4
    Current transfers 607.9
Capital Account -6.7
Financial Account 248.4
    Direct investment abroad -0.3
    Direct investment in Macedonia 94.6
    Portfolio investment assets 0.3
    Portfolio investment liabilities 3.3
    Financial derivatives
    Other investment assets 12.2
    Other investment liabilities 138.3
Net Errors and Omissions 90.4
Reserves and Related Items -53.5
() data not available or not significant.

equal to $164.1 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $887.3 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 10.7%.


In 1995, the Makedonija Insurance and Reinsurance Company was offering the following types of insurance: property, liability, life, accident, motor, fire, and marine.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Macedonia's central government took in revenues of approximately $2.1 billion and had expenditures of $2.2 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$84 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 32.6% of GDP. Total external debt was $2.207 billion.


As of 2005, Macedonia had a 15% corporate tax rate, which was also applied to branch operations. Capital gains, interest and royalties are considered income and are taxed at the corporate rate. Dividends paid to resident companies are not considered income, if the dividends were paid out of taxable income. Dividends paid to individuals are taxed at the corporate rate, but are applied to only 50% of the gross dividend amount. Personal income taxes range from 1.282.17%. Payroll taxes include a 21.2% rate for the pension fund, a 9.2% rate for the health fund, a 1.6% employment tax, and a 0.5% additional health fund contribution. On 1 April 2000 a value-added tax (VAT) was introduced. As of 2005, the standard VAT rate was 18%. There is also a reduced rate of 5% applied to basic goods and services. Other taxes include excise taxes on petrol, fuel oil, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and property taxes.


Macedonia has adopted a duty-free import agreement with Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia (as of October 1996). Importers pay only a border crossing tax for document handling. Macedonia is also seeking to establish a trade zone with Bulgaria and Albania. Tariffs, as of 2005, ranged from 030%, with the average at 10.5%, and were based on the item's cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value. However, products such as beverages, cereals, vegetables and fruit were subject to a 60% rate. The VAT is also applied to imports based on the CIF plus duty value. Corruption in the customs system discourages trade.


Macedonia's isolation, technological disadvantages, and penchant for political instability created a poor climate for potential foreign investors. In 1995, the government began restructuring and privatizing its largest state-owned companies. After 1997, inflows of foreign investment increased substantially.

The country has taken important steps towards attracting new foreign direct investment (FDI), and has created a legislative framework that does not discriminate between domestic investors and their foreign counterparts. In 2004, the Macedonian privatization process was almost complete, with residual shares still being owned by the government in a couple of key industries. By the end of 2005, the government planned to privatize the national electric companyESMand sell off its 48% participation in the telephone company.

After hitting a peak in 2001 (with capital in-flows totaling $445 million), when Hungary was the largest source of FDI, the rate of foreign investments slowed down in subsequent years, totaling $82 million in 2002, $98 million in 2003, and $104 million in the first three quarters of 2004. The biggest investing countries in 2004 were Switzerland (with $7.1 million invested), Greece ($6.6 million), and Slovenia ($1 million).


In May 1994, the EBRD established a $10 million facility to guarantee Komercijalna Banka's designated correspondent banks against nonpayment under confirmed letters of credit. By securing credit facilities, the bank's clients are able to stimulate production and increase exports. In 1995, net resource flows from international financial institutions consisted of $43 million from the World Bank, $37 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and $16 million from other institutions.

In 1995, the government began privatizing its largest state-owned industries. A total of 1,200 enterprises were to be privatized, 65% of them classified as small (fewer than 50 employees). The portion of a company's share capital, which is community-owned, is known as social capital; this forms the basis of the privatization process. In theory, social capital is owned by the company's employees. However, there are severe restrictions that make it nontransferable and hence valueless to the individual.

The Kosovo crisis of 1999 placed severe burdens on Macedonia's already-strained economy as an influx of Kosovar refugees flooded across the border and trade routes were disrupted. Fighting between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels that began in February 2001 further disrupted the economy. Real GDP declined by 4.5% in 2001, and government spending mushroomed. Spending on security raised the general government deficit to 7.2% of GDP, compared with a surplus of 1.8% in 2000.

In 2003, the IMF approved a $28 million standby arrangement for Macedonia, which expired in June 2004. The loan was geared to support the government's economic program for fiscal stability following the 2001 crisis, to promote growth, improve the business climate, and improve living standards for Macedonians.

Although Macedonia's economy has been improving steadily, there still are a number of problems that need to be dealt with. Two of the most important issues are the rampant unemployment and an inflation rate that discourages exports. A 2005 World Bank report that looked at the business climate in 155 countries ranked Macedonia 81st in terms of the ease of conducting commercial operations. The government responded promptly to the results of this report and implemented a package of laws that would make it easier for entrepreneurs or investors to start a business. However, the 2006 business climate still had numerous weak spots that needed to be addressed through a concerted effort by the legislative.


Macedonia, historically the poorest of the former Yugoslav republics, has suffered further from the imposition of international sanctions against Serbia, the rising tide of refugees, and increasing unemployment. Social care is funded by the government to assist the disabled, elderly, unemployed, and poor. Maternity benefits are available for nine months, and women are guaranteed the right to return to work within two years after childbirth.

Although women have the same legal rights as men, the traditional cultures of both Christian and Muslim communities have limited their advancement in society. There are some professional women but generally women are not represented in the higher levels of professional or public life. Sexual harassment in the workplace is prevalent, especially in the private sector. Widespread violence against women in the home remains unpunished by authorities, and it is extremely rare for criminal charges to be filed against abusive husbands. In 2004 Macedonia submitted its first report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Children, like adults, have been victims of internal conflict and ethnic violence. Resources are scarce to fund programs to benefit children.

Ethnic minorities, including Albanians and Turks, complain of widespread discrimination. Restrictive naturalization policies have left many Albanians without Macedonian citizenship, and therefore without voting rights. Abuse by police of prisoners and suspects is widespread, with most cases involving Roma, ethnic Albanians, or Kosovar refugees.


Following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the availability of health care statistics for Macedonia was hampered by internal hostilities. Separate health care data was slowly emerging from the new independent regions. Physicians in Macedonia are adequately trained, but there is a shortage of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Patients who are seriously ill will often go abroad for medical help.

As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 13.4 and 7.7 per 1,000 people. There were two births per married woman of childbearing age during 1999. The infant mortality rate has been reduced from 54 per 1,000 live births in 1980 to 10.09 in 2005. The life expectancy at birth for the average Macedonian was 73.73 in 2005

The immunization rates for children under the age of one were as follows: diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, 87%; measles, 85%; and tuberculosis, 90%. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 200 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


During the years of the former Yugoslav SFR, there was a chronic shortage of housing in Macedonia and the other republics. Since independence, the ability to find an available apartment or condominium has improved. Federal banks have begun loan programs making it now possible to finance the construction of seasonal homes in the country or by resort areas. In the 1994, there were about 580,342 dwellings supporting about 501,963 households. There was an average of 3.85 people per household. In 2002, there were about 698,143 dwelling units supporting 564,296 households. The average number of people per household was 3.58.


Public education at the primary level is compulsory for eight years, generally for students between the ages of 7 and 15. Elementary school covers these first eight years of study. This is followed by a four-year secondary program of general, technical, vocational, or special (arts) studies.

In 2001, about 28% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 91% of age-eligible students. In 2001, secondary school enrollment was about 81% of age-eligible students. Nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 20:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 16:1.

At the postsecondary level, there are two universities: the Bitola University, which was founded in 1979, and the University of Skopje, founded in 1949. The language of instruction is Macedonian, and there are faculties of law, engineering, medicine, arts, science, physical education, architecture, and agriculture. In 2003, about 27% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; 24% of men and 32% of women. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 96.1%, with 98.2% for men and 94.1% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.5% of GDP.


The Kliment Ohridski National and University Library in Skopje (1944) holds over 1.5 million items and is the largest collection in the country. The District of Skopje Public Library has 953,000 volumes.

In Skopje are the Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of the City of Skopje. There are also several archaeological and historical museums. The National Museums, specializing in archeology and ethnology, are in Ohrid and Stip, and there is an Islamic Art museum in Bitola. In Strumica is the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments, Natural Rarities, and Museum.


In 2003, there were an estimated 271 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 177 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Though most media are government owned, an independent television station, A-1, broadcasts from Skopje. Macedonian Radio and Television (MRTV) is the only public broadcaster in the country and has the widest range, reaching about 90% of the population. This government-owned station operates three national TV networks and one satellite network, as well as one radio station. In 2004, there were about 150 local radio and television stations registered in the country. In 2003, there were an estimated 205 radios for every 1,000 people. The number of television sets was unavailable in the same survey. In 2003, there were 100,000 Internet subscribers in the country.

Several daily newspapers are published in Skopje, as well as a number of periodicals. Newspapers in Albanian and a Turkish language paper are available nationally and subsidized by the government, including the Albanian-language Flaka e Vlazermit (Flame of Brotherhood ) and the Turkish language Birlik. In 1994 Delo, a new weekly with reportedly nationalistic leanings, began publication. As of 2002, the leading newspapers were Nova Makedonia (circulation 25,000) and Vecer (29,200).

The constitution forbids censorship and the government is said to respect this in practice. However, the government has restricted certain parts of the media during civil conflicts.


The Chamber of Economy of Macedonia coordinates trade and commerce with the world.

The Macedonian Academy of Science, founded in 1967, coordinates and finances scientific research conducted in Macedonia. Macedonian Medical Association promotes research and education on health issues and works to establish common policies and standards in healthcare. There are several other associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions. There are professional associations representing other fields as well.

There are youth organizations affiliated with major political parties. There is also an active scouting association. The National Student Union of Macedonia is an umbrella organization representing youth groups involved in cultural, educational, and social activities. National women's organizations include Journalism About Women's and Children's Rights and Environment in Macedonia and the Union of Women's Organizations of the Republic of Macedonia.

There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Caritas, and Habitat for Humanity.


Macedonia has very modest levels of tourist activity. Medieval monasteries and Orthodox churches are primary attractions. Turkish baths and bazaars can also be found. In the winter tourists are attracted to Popova Shapka, one of the most popular ski resorts in Macedonia. The city of Mavrovo, home to the Mavrovo National Park, has over 140 different bird species and over 45 different species of other animals making it attractive to hunters worldwide. The ski resorts, monasteries, and beautiful topography make Mavrovo one of the most visited cities in Macedonia. In 2000, there were about 224,000 tourist arrivals and tourism receipts totaled $37 million. The 6,636 hotel rooms had an occupancy rate of only 15% that year. A valid passport is required for entry into Macedonia. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays of up to 90 days.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Macedonia at $230.


Kiro Gligorov (b.1917) was president of Macedonia from 1991 to 1999. Boris Trajkovski (19562004) was president from 1999 to 2004. Trajovski died in a plane crash and was succeeded by Branko Crvenkovski (b.1962). Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, 19101997) was from Skopje but left at age 17 to join a convent in Calcutta, India. In 1948, Mother Teresa left the convent to found the Missionaries of Charity. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Phillip II (382 bc336 bc) was the father of Alexander the Great. During Philip II's reign of 359336 bc, he established a federal system of Greek States. Macedonian Alexander the Great (356 bc323 bc) founded an enormous empire that extended from Greece to northern India. Cassandar (353 bc297 bc) succeeded Alexander the Great, and was king of Macedonia between 316 bc and 297 bc. To consolidate his power, Cassandar murdered Alexander's mother, widow, and son. Philip V (237 bc179 bc) warred against the Romans and tried to rebuild the kingdom.


Macedonia has no territories or colonies.


Ackermann, Alice. Making Peace Prevail: Preventing Violent Conflict in Macedonia. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2000.

Allcock, John B. Explaining Yugoslavia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Civil-Military Relations in the Soviet and Yugoslav Successor States. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1996.

Danforth, Loring M. The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Frucht, Richard (ed.). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005.

Generation in Jeopardy: Children in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1999.

Georgieva, Valentina and Sasha Konechni. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 1998.

Pearson, Brenda. Putting Peace into Practice: Can Macedonia's New Government Meet the Challenge? Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2002.

Phillips, John. Macedonia: Warlords and Rebels in the Balkans. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002.

Poulton, Hugh. Who Are the Macedonians? Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Shea, John. Macedonia and Greece: The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1997.

Vacalopoulos, Apostolos E. Contemporary Ethnological Problems in the Balkans. Thessaloniki: Society for Macedonian Studies, 1991.

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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Republika Makedonija



Located in southeastern Europe, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (generally referred to as Macedonia) is a completely landlocked country, covering an area of 25,333 square kilometers (9,781 square miles). It is bounded on the north by Serbia and Montenegro (collectively the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)mostly by the province of Kosovoon the east by Bulgaria, on the south by Greece, and on the west by Albania. Comparatively, the country is slightly larger than the state of Vermont. The capital, Skopje, is situated in the north-central part of the country; other cities of importance include Bitola, Kumanovo, and Tetovo.


According to the 1994 census, the population was 1,945,932, or 88,000 fewer than the previous census recorded in 1991. This decline resulted from the emigration of ethnic Serbs after the breakup of Yugoslavia, and by a boycott of the census by ethnic Albanians. By July 2000, the population had risen to 2,041,467. Its birth rate is 13.73 per 1,000 population, and the death rate is 7.69 per 1,000 population, resulting in one of the highest rates of population growth in Europe. The population is expected to reach 2.2 million by 2010. The population density is nearly 79 persons per square kilometer (205 per square mile).

Macedonian Slavs constitute two-thirds of the population, with ethnic Albanians the second largest group, accounting for 22.7 percent. Turks make up 4 percent, Roma (Gypsies) 2.2 percent, and Serbs 2.1 percent. Several other small groups round out the total. Albanians dispute census results, claiming to represent one-third of the population. While Macedonia received many Kosovar Albanian refugees during the Kosovo war of 1999, most of them have since returned to their country. The population is young, with 23.8 percent below the age of 14 and 10 percent older than 65. Over 60 percent of the population live in urban areas, 23 percent of them in the capital city Skopje, and 5 percent in its suburbs.


An agricultural economy before World War II, Macedonia was the least developed of the 6 former republics of Yugoslavia. The country inherited a poorly located state-owned industry, predominantly heavy, from the Yugoslav socialist period (1945-91), which is now largely seen as a deterrent to foreign investment. The breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 deprived the country of protected markets and federal funds. In the first half of the 1990s, the economy suffered additionally from the United Nations (UN) embargo against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) as all exports to Serbian markets, especially of agricultural produce, were terminated, and land corridors to western Europe through Serbia were cut. Many violations of the sanctions occurred, fueling organized crime and corruption, and generating some huge illicit fortunes. Worse yet, when Macedonia declared independence in 1991, Greece imposed an economic blockade that was not lifted until 1995 and badly impaired foreign trade. Finally, in 1999, the country was affected by the Kosovo war and the in-flux of ethnic Albanian refugees.

In 1991, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was US$1,140; between 1991 and 1994 it shrank by over 10 percent annually; by 1997 it had rebounded slightly to US$1,100 a person, signaling a period of growth. The country's isolation and underdevelopment, and the instability generated by the conflicts in neighboring Serbia, have made it unattractive to investors. Money transfers from Macedonian workers abroad and foreign aid have helped towards a recovery, and the Stability Pacta U.S. and European Union (EU)-backed regional plan for economic development, democratization and securitymay generate new investment opportunities. Most importantly, the toppling of Yugoslavia's dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, is perceived as a major advantage towards achieving stability and growth in the region.

The decision of the EU in late 2000 to open up its market to imports from southeastern Europe, including Macedonia, brought up to 95 percent the proportion of industrial and farm goods not subject to EU customs fees. To the disappointment of the Macedonian government, however, the country was still regarded as a "potential" EU member when it had expected firm guarantees that it would be considered a membership candidate like Slovenia or neighboring Bulgaria. Macedonians expect their country to be more highly favored for its record of cooperation with the international community and are unimpressed with current EU plans to spend $2.4 billion of Stability Pact funds in the region as a whole, anticipating that they would receive only a minor portion of the money.

Economic progress depends on the Macedonian government's ability to attract foreign investment, redevelop trade with its neighbors and the EU, and liberalize the economy by disbanding loss-making state enterprises and privatizing those that might be profitable in the long term. Implementation of such structural reforms is vital for economic growth and integration with the European Community.

Macedonia's external debt was $1.13 billion in 1997. Although quite moderate by international standards, without substantial support the cash-stripped country could not meet its short-term financial obligations. Financial aid has been forthcoming in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with $10.5 million received from Taiwan, and an EU grant of $100 million to be split with Albania. The World Bank also granted an adjustment loan worth $50 million, of which $20 million came under conditions applying to the poorest countries and is interest-free for 35 years with a 10-year grace period, and the balance on terms for credit-worthy but poorer countriesfor 17 years, with an 8-year grace period.


Following its declaration of independence in 1991, Macedonia developed a consensual democratic multiparty system. Main parties include the ruling Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), a moderate nationalist and reformist party with deep historic roots and liberal positions on economic and international issues; the Democratic Alternative (DA), a liberal party and former VMRO-DPMNE coalition partner; the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM, reformed communists); and the 2 ethnic Albanian-dominated organizations, the Democratic Party of Albanians and the left-wing Party for Democratic Prosperity. Unlike other parts of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonian politics are not polarized along ethnic lines. Although there have been tensions between the Albanian minority and the government, the kind of ethnic violence seen elsewhere is rather unlikely, and Macedonia has occasionally compared itself with Switzerland as a land of peaceful ethnic co-existence.

The state still has considerable influence over the economy, but, since independence, the government has made progress in boosting private initiative and creating a viable private sector through its restitution and privatization program and by attracting foreign direct investment . The first step was the restitution (return) of nationalized property to former owners, considered a serious political gain by the VMRO-DPMNE, the first center-right reformist government since the country's independence. The privatization agency, a body overseeing both restitution and privatization, reserved a large cash fund to compensate the heirs of former property owners if restitution proved physically impossible. Out of 94 firms that were nationalized (claimed by the state) by the communist regime, restitution of physical assets was possible in 38 cases, and shares were distributed to the heirs in another 24 firms. Privatization of state assets is another, much more time-consuming, priority of the government, and it is being carried out through capital market offerings, mass privatization, and cash deals. The offerings on the capital market are very limited; in mass privatization, citizens and company employees are eligible to receive free vouchers for company shares; cash deals are by far the most attractive proposition for foreign direct investors. Taxes constitute 41 percent of the total government revenue, and continuing tax reform is aimed at reorienting taxation from direct towards indirect taxes and the value-added tax (VAT), which are believed to be more business-friendly.


Macedonia's transportation infrastructure includes 5,540 kilometers (3,450 miles) of paved roads with 133 kilometers (83 miles) of expressways and 699 kilometers (417 miles) of railroads, with a new 56-kilometer (35-mile) railroad line under construction to the Bulgarian border in 2000. Due to the old Yugoslav policy of keeping Macedonia economically dependent on Serbia and isolated from Bulgaria, most infrastructure runs north-south, while the improvement of the east-west transport corridor connecting Italy and Albania with Bulgaria and Turkey has only been included since the introduction of EU infrastructure development programs. The government claimed US$106.9 million in compensation from NATO for the use of its infrastructure during the 1999 Kosovo crisis and is planning to spend the money on new infrastructure projects. International airports operate in Skopje and Ohrid.

Macedonia has only 10 kilometers (6 miles) of oil and gas pipelines. The energy sector is state-owned and produced 6.664 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 1998 in thermal plants (85.37 percent) and hydro-electric facilities (14.63 percent). Electricity consumption was estimated at 6.198 billion kWh in 1998. Privatization is planned for ESM, the national electric utility, and in September 2000 the government began passing it into shareholder ownership. Talks have also been held with 2 potential foreign purchasers, Enron (U.S.) and RWE (Germany).

Of the international telecommunications operators interested in the privatization of the state-owned monopoly Makedonski Telekomunikacii (MT), the favorites are OTE (Greece), Matav (Hungary, owned by Deutsche Telekom), and Telekom Slovenije (Slovenia). A final decision on the bid was due to be made in 2001, with Matav considered the front-runner.

Growth in demand for transport and telecommunications services reflects the continuing logistical requirements of the international operations in Kosovo. The deployment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) peacekeepers and the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in 1999 required huge spending on transportation, energy, and telecommunications (as did the presence of the UN preventive deployment force in 1993).

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Macedonia 21 200 250 N/A 15 1.5 N/A 4.40 30
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Yugoslavia 107 297 259 N/A 23 1.9 18.8 7.65 80
Albania 36 217 109 0.0 1 3.6 N/A 0.24 3
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.


The largest sectors in terms of GDP contribution are services; light industry and mining; trade, tourism, and catering; agriculture, forestry and water management; transport and communications; and construction. Since independence, heavy industries have declined, while services have grown dynamically. In 1999, the economy recorded real GDP growth of 2.7 percent, the third consecutive year of moderate growth. In the first quarter of 2000, industrial production rose by 10.6 percent, and services (transport, communications, and retail ) expanded, mostly due to the continuing logistical requirements of the international operation in Kosovo. In 1998, the agricultural sector contributed 13 percent to GDP, industry contributed 32 percent, and services contributed 55 percent.


Macedonia produces a wide range of crops and other foodstuffs. Farmers grow rice, tobacco, wheat, corn, millet, cotton, sesame, mulberry leaves, citrus, and vegetables; beef, pork, poultry, mutton, and dairy products are also produced, and the country has traditionally been an exporter of sugar beets, fruits, vegetables, cheese, lamb, and tobacco. As elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia, farmland was only partly collectivized under communist rule, while in other eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, collectivization was almost complete (collectivization was the process by which communist countries coordinated production through state planning). The farming sector has, however, been hit by drought, and the wheat harvest was down by 16 percent in 2000.

The government has come under pressure from private farmers, who have threatened to organize protests unless it pays what it owes them for the 1999 harvest and compensates them for the rising price of fuel. They have also demanded subsidies for their agricultural exports and a cut in the rate of the new value-added tax for agricultural products from 19 percent to 5 percent.


Industry (including mining) contributed 32 percent of GDP in 1998 and employed about 40 percent of the workforce. While the coal industry provides for the needs of the country, all other fuels, machinery, transportation equipment, and manufactured goods are imported. Manufacturing is dominated by metallurgy (iron, copper, lead, zinc, and chromium), chemicals, and textiles. Many companies have been able to keep operating despite losses and delayed payments to workers and business partners. But the VMRO-DPMNE government has planned the sale or liquidation of seriously insolvent companies by 2002. Feni, a ferro-nickel plant in Kavadarci, was sold for $2.3 million to France's Société Commerciale de Métaux et Mineraux, which will invest $36 million, while retaining all 880 employees and selling metals to Krupp Thyssen of Germany. The privatization agency is trying to support the selling of other loss-making companies, such as the Okta oil refinery, by cutting selling prices substantially.

Increased demand for post-war reconstruction in Kosovo has improved the situation in the iron and steel, construction materials, and chemicals industries, and, ironically, neighboring EU member Greece, which imposed a crippling trade embargo in the early 1990s, is now the top source of foreign cash directed to banking, fuels, brewing, tobacco processing, and construction materials.


The growing services sector of the Macedonian economy accounted for 55 percent of the country's GDP in 1998 and was expected to continue to grow in importance in the coming decades.


As in the rest of the former Yugoslavia, most banks in Macedonia were not controlled directly by the government during the communist era but by the state enterprises, their largest customers. Large firms could force banks to lend them money even when they were not credit-worthy, an ineffective and risky system. The banking sector was badly hurt in the early 1990s when many firms defaulted on their loans. To make things worse, in the wake of the Yugoslav crisis, the cash-stripped National Bank of Yugoslavia in Belgrade refused to return the Macedonian foreign exchange deposits it was holding, thereby depriving the republic of hard currency . Because of the high inflation of the denar, most people in Macedonia used to save in foreign currency and this move severely undermined confidence in the banking system. Although the Macedonian government assumed the debts, all foreign-currency deposits had to be frozen and were paid out only over time. Confidence in banks was further shaken in 1997 with the collapse of TAT, a pyramid savings firm. The authorities have since tightened regulation of the sector and have initiated projects to rebuild confidence.


Tourism was an important factor when the republic was part of Yugoslavia. There are several major tourist destinationsresorts and beautiful historical towns situated mainly along the Ohrid lake and in the mountains. The wars reduced tourist trade in the early 1990s, but the industry subsequently began a recovery, with income from tourism totaling $27 million in 1997. NATO troops and international staff stationed in Macedonia and Kosovo often spend their leave in Macedonia, and the number of foreign visitors to the country averaged 18,485 per month in the first half of 2000, compared with 12,060 during the same period in 1999.


Retail in Macedonia is predominantly private and comparatively well developed, although foreign investment is still limited. Informal retail is sizeable, and small stores prevail. Figures in 2000 showed a massive yearly increase in real terms of 57.1 percent in retail revenue. This is partly explained by the Kosovo effect (the presence of NATO and international staff), and partly by a rise in consumer spending, driven by government's payments to pensioners , the unfreezing of foreign-currency accounts, and payments to TAT depositors.


In 1998, Macedonia faced a slightly negative balance of trade . In that year the country exported $1.317 billion in goods and services while importing $1.715 billion. However, several issues promised to ease this trade imbalance in the future. In late 2000, EU markets were opened to Macedonian industrial and agricultural goods (but not beef and wine) as part of a new EU policy towards the region. Macedonia shipped almost 50 percent of its exports to the EU in 2000. Wine, one of the more successful export categories, was excluded from the liberalization in response to active lobbying from EU domestic winegrowers.

The greatest current rise is in exports to Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro), with which Macedonia has a free-trade agreement. It is the largest single-state Macedonian export market, taking 23.7 percent of total exports in 2000. This state of affairs is likely to be reinforced by the political changes in Belgrade in 2000. In 2000, the head of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) agreed to assist in opening Kosovo further to Macedonian products. Macedonian firms secured construction contracts in Kosovo to rebuild the road between Pristina and Kosovska Mitrovica, and to a bus and truck terminal in Pristina. The contracts are worth $172 million. With the lifting of trade sanctions, Macedonia could expect to win similar contracts in Serbia proper, and to see a revival of traditional Serbian demand for their exports.

Principal Macedonian exports in 1998 included manufactured goods (34.2 percent); iron and steel (19.3 percent); drinks and tobacco (11 percent); machinery and equipment (7.5 percent); and food and livestock (5 percent). Imports in 1998 included machinery and transport equipment (19.1 percent); miscellaneous manufactured goods (14.5 percent); food products (13.4 percent); chemicals (10.6 percent); and fuels and lubricants (8.5 percent). Principal trade partners included Germany with 19.0 percent of all exports and 12.3 percent of all imports; Yugoslavia, with 23.7 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively; the United States with 15.2 percent and 3.0 percent; Greece with 5.9 percent and 7.9 percent; and Italy with 8.1 percent and 5.4 percent. Ukraine accounts for 11.7 percent of imports, and there is some trade with Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Croatia.


As in much of Eastern Europe, the monetary and public finance sectors of Macedonia remained under-developed during the era of the Yugoslav communist regime. After independence, the banking sector was plagued by the collapse of the old Yugoslav finance system, the insolvency of most companies, the freezing of hard currency deposits in Belgrade (the capital of the former Yugoslavia), and the pyramid schemes that captured the savings of thousands of citizens. With serious reforms needed in the monetary, foreign-exchange, and banking sectors, the government launched a scheme in 1995 to restructure the banks by removing bad loans (granted to loss-making state firms or insolvent private concerns) from their balance sheets. The first step taken to regain

Exchange rates: Macedonia
denars per US$1
Jan 2001 64.757
2000 65.904
1999 56.902
1998 54.462
1997 50.004
1996 39.981
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

investor confidence was payment of compensation to the holders of foreign-exchange accounts frozen by the central bank, with small depositors receiving cash and larger depositors given government bonds. A new banking law is expected to be passed providing for strict supervision by the National Bank of Macedonia to ensure that banks are adequately capitalized, but legislation on foreign exchange, foreign trade, and foreign credit is also needed to introduce stringent and transparent rules to the sector.

Reforms in the public finance sector include the introduction of a value-added tax; the reduction of excessive employment in the public sector ; the privatization of non-essential ministerial activities; the creation of a controlled treasury system; pension reform adding a private pension system to the present public one; the establishment of a macroeconomic and budget planning unit in the finance ministry; and a continuing movement towards indirect taxation.

The largest commercial bank, Stopanska banka, has been successfully restructured and privatized by selling a majority stake to the National Bank of Greece. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) also agreed to take stakes in Stopanska. The second largest bank is the privately owned Komercijalna banka, which was spun off from Stopanska under the communist regime. The EBRD has a stake in Komercijalna. Tutunska banka (Tobacco Bank), the third largest, was sold to Nova Ljubljanska banka of Slovenia.

Throughout the late 1990s and into the 21st century the denar has been declining in value compared to the U.S. dollar. In 1995, US$1 was exchanged for 37.882 denars. The rate has weakened since, with US$1 equal to 39.981 (1996), 50.004 (1997), 54.462 (1998), 56.902 (1999), and 59.773 denars (January 2000). By November 2000, the currency was trading at 71.22 denars to the dollar.


The state provides health and social benefits, including pensions, to all citizens, but inflation and economic

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Macedonia N/A N/A N/A N/A 1,349
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Albania N/A 916 915 842 795
Romania 1,201 1,643 1,872 1,576 1,310
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

hardship over the 1990s have dramatically reduced most such payments. Market reforms of the 1990s created both increased poverty and new wealth. Many new entrepreneurs, corrupt politicians and other officials, and politically protected smugglers exploiting channels through Greece and Bulgaria, amassed spectacular fortunes, particularly benefiting from breaches of trade sanctions against Yugoslavia. No specific data on the distribution of consumption and income is currently available. Income levels render Macedonia a poor country with education, health, life expectancy, and consumerism low by European standards. Nevertheless, the country enjoys greater economic equality than neighboring Greece.


The unemployment rate increased after independence, reaching 35 percent in 1999 and totaling 313,900 people out of work (out of a total estimated labor force of 890,000). The situation worsened in the first half of 2000, especially in manufacturing, due to the govern-ment's commitment to privatize or liquidate 12 large loss-making factories. Another cause of job losses was legislation requiring all employers to pay social security and pension contributions on newly hired staff, which forced many insolvent employers to lay off workers and freeze recruitment. The still weak economy does not generate new jobs fast enough to outweigh the loss of old ones.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Macedonia 33 5 15 6 9 9 23
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Serbia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Albania 62 3 13 3 10 5 4
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

To counter unemployment, in 2000 the Macedonian parliament allowed the early retirement of state employees, but the Constitutional Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional in discriminating between state and private-sector employees, and treating people differently according to gender. Early retirement was stopped, and those already retired were offered the option of returning to their jobs. Teachers demanded a 20 percent pay raise that was unlikely to be granted because the court ruling upset plans to cut jobs in education. The cash-stripped government also decided to offer public employees a 40-kg (90 lb) food package worth $85 instead of annual holiday pay, but trade unions protested.


1912-13. Serbia occupies and annexes what is now Macedonian territory, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

1913-41. The Slav majority in Macedonia, considered ethnic Bulgarian by themselves and by the international community prior to 1913, is regarded by the Serb government as "southern Serbs" and is subjected to brutal pressure to assimilate. The economy remains agricultural and underdeveloped.

1943. Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Broz Tito's Anti-Fascist Council for People's Liberation of Yugoslavia recognizes what is now Macedonia as a distinct ethnic and political entity.

1945. A standard grammar of the new Macedonian language is compiled upon instructions by the Yugoslav government. Belgrade actively promotes Macedonian nationalism.

1946. The People's Republic (later Socialist Republic) of Macedonia is included in the Federal People's Republic (later Socialist Federal Republic) of Yugoslavia and participates in socialist economic development.

1991. Yugoslavia breaks up and Macedonians vote for independence. Serbia does not interfere and Bulgaria recognizes the new republic, but Greece refuses to acknowledge it, claiming that its name, symbol, and constitution imply territorial claims to the neighboring Greek province of Macedonia. Greece imposes a trade embargo that damages the country's economy.

1993. Macedonia is admitted to the United Nations as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," until a further settlement with Greece is reached. The U.N. sends 1,000 troops (including 500 U.S. soldiers) to Macedonia to prevent the Bosnian conflict from spreading.

1995. Macedonia and Greece sign an interim accord, confirming the border and establishing diplomatic relations. Greece lifts the embargo, Macedonia agrees to remove the symbol and the articles of the constitution to which Greece objects. Negotiations continue regarding the country's name. Macedonia becomes a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

1999. NATO begins air strikes against neighboring Serbia as Serb assaults on Kosovo force ethnic Albanians to flee to Macedonia. An international peacekeeping force is dispatched to Kosovo to help ensure the safe return of Albanian refugees from Macedonia.

2000. The EU opens its market to industrial and some agricultural goods from Macedonia, as recognition of its record in the Kosovo crisis.


The Macedonian government has a long way to go before EU membershipwhich will fully integrate Macedonia with the developed economies of western Europe can become a reality. However, the country has much to gain from the victory of Vojislav Kostunica at the Yugoslav presidential election in 2000 and the dismantling of the Serbian dictatorial regime. Peace in Kosovo will be particularly beneficial to the stability and, significantly, to the economy, of Macedonia. Foreign investors will be encouraged to enter the market, following the lead of the Greek investors, and, over time, traditional Yugoslavian demand for Macedonian goods and services should increase. Transit trade along the north-south corridor (connecting Serbia with Greece) and the west-east corridor (connecting Italy and Albania with Bulgaria and Turkey) should also benefit the country. Agreement may now also be reached on the Yugoslav successionthe division of the assets and liabilities of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between its former republics. Finally, the expected EU membership of neighboring Bulgaria should be of major assistance to Macedonia's future efforts to join the union as a full member.


Macedonia has no territories or colonies.


The Economist Intelligence Unit. "Macedonia." <>. Accessed December 2000.

Roudometof, Victor, editor. The Macedonian Question. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Macedonia. <>. Accessed December 2000.

Valentin Hadjiyski




Macedonian Denar (MKD). One denar equals 100 deni. There are coins of 1, 2, and 3 denars and 50 denies; there are bills of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 denars.


Food, beverages, tobacco, miscellaneous manufactures, iron, steel.


Machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, food products.


US$7.6 billion (1999 estimate).


Exports: US$1.317 billion (1998). Imports: US$1.715 billion (1998).

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Region: Europe
Population: 2,041,467
Language(s): Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian
Literacy Rate: NA
Academic Year: September-June
Number of Primary Schools: 1,086
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.1%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 313
Libraries: 122
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 260,917
  Secondary: 83,746
  Higher: 30,754
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 99%
  Secondary: 63%
  Higher: 20%
Teachers: Primary: 13,594
  Secondary: 5,136
  Higher: 2,462
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 19:1
  Secondary: 17:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 98%
  Secondary: 62%
  Higher: 22%

History & Background

The contemporary country of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), referred to here as Macedonia, is a small, democratic nation nestled on the Balkan peninsula with Albania to the west, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Yugoslavia (Kosovo and Serbia) to the north. In terms of land mass, with 25,333 square kilometers (9,781 square miles), Macedonia is roughly the size of the American state of Vermont. Macedonia, which is a multi-party democracy, became a republic in 1991 when it broke off from the federation of states that had comprised Yugoslavia after World War II.

Macedonia (Makedonija in the slavic Macedonian language), has a population of 2,041,467 people, with a population growth rate of 0.04 percent. The country's rural population is about 38 percent. Macedonia is comprised of 66.6 percent ethnic Macedonians, 22.7 percent ethnic Albanians, 4.0 percent ethnic Turks, 2.2 percent Romanys, 2.1 percent Serbs, and 2.4 percent other minorities such as Vlachs and Bosnians. However, any census taken to date remains disputed by all parties.

The percentage of Gross National Product (GNP) that is spent on education is approximately 5.1 percent. The literacy rate in Macedonia is somewhat different for males and females, with 94 percent of males and 84 percent of females aged 10 and older with the ability to read and write.

Geographic Macedonia, to be distinguished from today's nation of Macedonia (FYROM), is the entire Balkan region stretching northwest to northeast from the Sâr mountains to the Osogoveska mountains to the Rila mountains, over to the eastern Pirin and Rhodope mountains. Across to the southwest, geographic Macedonia is cupped by the Pindus mountains, and to the south is Mount Olympus, Greece, and the Aegean Sea. There is, however, little agreement as to the precise borders of geographic Macedonia.

Macedonia has a complicated history in part because it has long been the crossroads of Eastern Europe. Ancient invaders traversed Asia Minor and Europe, first bringing the Vlachs (descendants of the Romanic Thracians) to mix with Greeks and smaller indigenous tribes. The Albanians inside Macedonia's current western border could be the descendants of the early Illyrians and possibly also the Thracians. In Classical times, Macedonia was permeated by Greek influences, although total control of Macedonia by Greece was inhibited by the harsh geographic and climatic differences between the two regions. The Turks ruled Macedonia for 500 years during the Ottoman Empire. Later, rule over Macedonia changed hands among the varied states of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. When the Ottoman Empire fell in the early twentieth century, Macedonia came under Serbian rule.

After World War I, geographic Macedonia was divided among Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Macedonians in what had become Greek territory (Aegean Macedonia) were penalized for speaking Macedonian and many were expelled. During World War II, Yugoslavia disintegrated into civil war. Bulgaria regained portions of Vardar Macedonia, eastern Aegean Macedonia, and a small part of western Aegean Macedonia. Following WWII, Josip Broz Tito gained power in Yugoslavia and incorporated the remaining Macedonian territory into Yugoslavia. Thus, by the end of WWII, several separate republics had been incorporated into Yugoslavia; Macedonia was the southernmost of these republics.

The Yugoslav government began developing a system of quality, formal education that was similar to systems found in western Europe, but it also had some aspects similar to systems in the Soviet bloc countries, such as required courses in Marxism and National Defense. By the end of the twentieth century, conflict in Kosovo and Albanian terrorist activity heightened tensions between Macedonians and Albanians inside Macedonia.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The constitutional provisions relating to education are found in Macedonia's Constitution of 1994. The Constitution includes systemic laws on primary, secondary, and higher education. The provisions of the Constitution and the law have been implemented through separate by-laws and other ministerial acts executing the laws. For example, for primary school, one such act is the document defining the content and organization of primary education, adopted by the Pedagogical Council of the Republic of Macedonia. The decision of what to teach at schools is shared between lower level governmental agencies and supervisory groups in which teachers from schools and universities participate.

Article 48, clause 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia regulates the education of ethnic minorities. Members of Macedonia's various ethnic nationalities have the right to instruction in their language throughout primary and secondary education, as determined by law. In schools where education is carried out in the language of a nationality, the Macedonian language is also studied.

Macedonian is the language of education in 803 primary schools with 182,465 pupils; Albanian is in 281 primary schools with 71,490 pupils; Turkish is in 54 schools with 5,491 pupils; and Serbian is in 14 schools with 751 pupils. Recent legislation provides for the Vlach and Romany languages to be taught in schools as well.

Macedonian language instruction is also delivered in 89 secondary schools with 67,202 pupils, whereas Albanian instruction is in 18 schools with 7,218 pupils, while Turkish instruction occurs in 4 schools with 383 pupils. Recent legislation also allows for Serbian secondary schools but, due to low numbers of pupils, no such schools were opened as of 2000.

Main laws governing higher education include the Law on Vocational Education, enacted January 16, 1985, which regulates universities, colleges, and academies; and the Law on the University of March 1, 1994, which deals only with universities. The administrative structure of higher education is overseen by the Ministry of Education and Physical Culture (MEPC).

Educational SystemOverview

Macedonia's current educational system was developed during the years in which Macedonia was a member state of Yugoslavia; it is a hybrid of systems common to most of western Europe. Textbooks and other aspects of instruction that reflect the years of Soviet influence are being phased out. Education is compulsory through eighth grade. In 1994 there were 1,067 elementary schools in Macedonia, with a total of 7,175 classes. Of those, 718 were ethnic Macedonian schools, attended by 188,051 ethnic Macedonian pupils. The 279 ethnic Albanian schools taught 72,121 ethnic Albanian pupils, and the remaining 55 elementary schools were attended by 5,342 ethnic Turkish children. The teachers for these schools were composed of 8,990 ethnic Macedonians, 3,571 ethnic Albanians, and 288 ethnic Turks.

The grading system in secondary school is on a five-point scale, with 5 as "excellent." In higher education, the grading system generally used for marking is on a scale of 5 through 10, with 6 as the minimum passing mark and 5 as the lowest mark on the scale.

About 70 percent of Macedonia's population completes secondary or higher (tertiary) education. In 1994 there were 97 high schools in Macedonia, with a total of 2,296 classes. Of these, 90 were ethnic Macedonian, with 2,218 classes; 5 were ethnic Albanian, with 72 classes; and two were ethnic Turkish, with 6 classes. There were 67,975 Macedonian, 2,535 Albanian, and 186 Turkish high school students. Of the high school teachers, 4,060 were ethnic Macedonians, 148 were ethnic Albanians, and 19 were ethnic Turks.

In the Republic of Macedonia, there are two major universities: the Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje and the St. Clement of Ohrid University in Bitola. Also, after years of protests by ethnic Albanians and much political and legal wrangling, a third university in Tetovo opened in 2001 for ethnic Albanian students and Albanian language instruction. While it remains a political flashpoint for ethnic conflict, it is now an accredited institution serving several thousand students. The Pedagogical Faculty trains teachers in the minority languages at all of Macedonia's universities. The two major universities employ 1,192 lecturers and 1,207 assistants. Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, which was founded in 1949, and other institutes of higher learning provide schooling for students seeking degrees of bachelor of arts and higher.

Some private schools exist at the primary and secondary levels. The University of Tetovo is the only private institution of higher education in the Republic of Macedonia, and its ability to garner state funding remains to be seen, for reasons of political strife. The new Law on Higher Education provides the possibility to establish other private and public higher education institutions and prescribes the conditions for establishing, performing, and ending their activity.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool starts at age three and lasts until age five when children typically enter into kindergarten. Compulsory education in Macedonia begins at age 7 and ends at age 16. The structure of the primary school system is twofold. Children ages 7 to 11 attend lower primary school, osnovno uciliŝte. Next, they enter the basic second stage and attend the upper primary school from ages 11 to 15. Instruction from primary school onward covers the customary foundational subjects, including mathematics, literature, native language, some foreign language instruction (usually English), history, and science.

Secondary Education

Secondary school education is provided by high schools, technical and other vocational schools, and art secondary schools. Education at a Gimnazija lasts four years, from ages 15 to 19. In the second half of the fourth year, pupils are supposed to write a project (maturska tema ), defend it, and pass a written examination in their mother tongue on literature. The final examination is the Matura and, after completing and passing all of the items above, students will receive their diploma.

The technical schools (tehnicki uciliŝte ) and other vocational schools (uciliŝte za zanimanja ) train technicians for different professionsmedical, financial and others. Students who attend technical schools usually attend from ages 15 to 18, whereas students who attend vocational or art schools (umetnicko uciliŝte ) attend from ages 15 to 19. In some schools, there are programs of shorter duration (from several months to three years of training) for different occupations and crafts. Entry to higher education is on the basis of the Secondary School Diploma, the Matura, plus an entrance examination.

Higher Education

Higher education study lasts from two to six years. Courses for vocational training on a college level (viŝhe obrazovanie ) are provided and last for two years, whereas courses offered at schools ranging between four and six years are in the domain of higher education (visoko obrazovanie.

There are two major universities in the Republic of Macedonia: Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje and the St. Clement of Ohrid University in Bitola. The Sts. Cyril and Methodius University consists of 23 schools, whereas the St. Clement of Ohrid University has 4 constituent schools and 2 colleges of further education. The third, and newest institution of higher learning, the controversial University of Tetovo, will educate students in two general branchesteacher education and public administration.

Three institutions in the Republic of Macedonia are devoted to scientific work: the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, and St. Clement of Ohrid University in Bitola. The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, established in 1967, is the highest scholarly institution in the country. The scientific work of the Academy is done in its two departments: the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Research Center and the Energy and Computer Studies Research Center. The institutes of the university are engaged in various scholarly and research activities in the fields of the humanities, sciences, medicine, technical engineering, and agriculture. There are, in addition, 14 independent scientific and research institutions employing 207 specialists and researchers.

Higher education is provided by colleges and pedagogical academies offering two-year courses, whereas university faculties (univerzitet ) and institutes offer four to six-year courses in a range of disciplines. Upon successful completion of higher education courses at faculties/institutes, students are awarded a diploma with professional titles (e.g., engineer, lawyer, or teacher at the lower (college) level; graduate engineer, graduate lawyer, or graduate teacher at the higher (faculty/institute) level). The exact duration of studies leading to higher level diplomas depends on the type of faculty. The financing mechanisms of higher education are under revision.

The Ministry of Education and Physical Culture (MEPC) is responsible for formal recognition of studies completed and credentials awarded in foreign countries. At MEPC questions relating to the recognition of foreign credentials and studies in higher education are addressed.

A university represents the ultimate autonomous higher education, scientific and artistic institution. It is composed of schools, art schools, colleges of further education, and scientific institutes. A school represents a higher education institution conducting higher education activities, scientific research, and highly skilled labor in one or several related branches of study or expertise. Schools and art schools also engage in higher education activities in the shape of primary degree courses lasting between 4 to 6 years and postgraduate courses up to the doctorate level, as well as in scientific research and artistic work.

A college of further education represents a higher education institution conducting higher education in specific branches of study and highly skilled activity in one or several branches of expertise. Colleges of further education are engaged in providing primary degree courses lasting between two and four years, with study courses leading to higher/graduate diplomas and applied studies.

In addition to the elements of its admission policy, each university relies on provisions contained within the Directed Education Act. There are standards and criteria related to the admission of students, in coordination with its constituent schools. This also applies to preparing and publicizing the Advertised Announcement on the Admission of Students (AAAS) and other acts regulating this issue. The number of new students is determined by the MEPC through its own act, based on proposals submitted by schools and the university. Since the late 1990s, the number of students has been divided into two categories: students financed by the state and students who pay part of their tuition fee. The scope of both categories is limited with regards to every constituent school or department. These limits are also publicized within the AAAS.

The basic requirements for the admission of candidates to the schools of the university are results obtained at the entrance examination and academic achievements (covering secondary education). The ratio between these two factors amounts to 70 percent (entrance examination results) against 30 percent (marks obtained during secondary education).

As far as academic achievement throughout secondary education is concerned (carrying a maximum of 30 points), they represent the arithmetic mean of grade results obtained during all four years of education. Due to the specific natures of study courses offered by a higher education institution, it is possible to establish a separate evaluation procedure in case of relevant subjects. In order to increase quality standards related to studying, the minimum threshold of 60 obtained points has been introduced to ensure admission to higher education institutions.

Foreign students are not required to complete the entrance examination in order to be admitted to universities (except in case of the School of Architecture, the Colleges of Education, the School of Physical Culture, and the Art Schools). There are no quotas restricting their admission, and their application must be submitted during the sessions outlined within the Advertised Announcement on the Admission of Students into the first year of studies.

There are mechanisms in the higher education system to monitor and evaluate the knowledge of students through internal assessment conducted by a teacher or an examination commission. This assessment of students is based on their overall performance throughout the year and on results achieved at the examinations. Students achieving higher results in their studies are enabled to complete their education in a shorter period of time than the scheduled duration of a full-time study course and to obtain higher education for another professional profile through parallel studies.

The entrance examination consists of two components, one of them being a subject-based examination corresponding to the selected course of studies. Depending on the latter, the candidate may be given the right to choose out of two or more subjects while the other represents an examination of general education contents, including questions related to Macedonian language, literature, history, the social system, and music. These components are compulsory for each school and are based on the same program.

Postgraduate study courses are organized as specialist studies in the field of medicine, which may last up to 4 years, and as Master's degree study programs, which last 2 years. The duration of postgraduate study courses varies from one year of studies leading to a higher/graduate diploma to two years for a Master's degree.

A doctorate degree is granted upon successful defense of a scientific work. After a Master's degree has been obtained, the law on higher education sets forth the introduction of Doctorate studies, in addition to primary degree courses and postgraduate programs, as a way to obtain a Doctoral degree. The right to admission, (i.e., the registering of a Doctoral dissertation), may be granted to an individual in possession of a Master's degree or a higher/graduate diploma in medicine, provided the Doctoral candidate has publicly defended a thesis at the Master's level.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The educational system and its administration of Macedonia is centralized. The funds to conduct the basic activity in primary, secondary, and higher education are provided through the budget of the Republic of Macedonia. Each higher education institution individually determines the required amount of funds in conformity with its annual program and then submits this to the Ministry of Education and Physical Culture for approval. Higher education institutions then receive one-twelfth of their allocation each month from the Ministry of Education and Physical Culture in order to implement their activity. These institutions then disburse these funds independently, based upon their internal by-laws.

Nonformal Education

There is a well-developed system of education for adults where they may complete their education and acquire special skills. Various institutions also organize a large number of courses, ranging from information science and computer science to the study of foreign languages. Special educational courses have also been organized in the fields of management and business. The Workers University (Rabutniski Univerzitet ) offers a wide variety of courses for additional education. It does not award degrees but offers special courses leading to various certifications or qualifications.

New modes of distance learning are continually being developed. Some examples of the kinds of distance learning available through the Internet include: UTOS, which is a web-based distance education system for learning, testing, and assessment in Macedonian; MATEISMathematical Electronic Interactive System, which is an education system for learning mathematics and informatics; and International Education and Resource Network, which enables students and teachers worldwide to conduct collaborative projects in Macedonian and English.

Teaching Profession

Training of primary or basic school teachers occurs at Pedagogical Academies and at Viŝe Skole. Primary teachers (Grades one through four) and subject teachers (Grades five through eight) have different training. Pre-service training lasts two years. Subject teachers may follow a four-year course at a pedagogical academy or at a university.

Training of secondary school teachers lasts four years. Secondary school teachers are university graduates; courses last four years. Both elementary and secondary school teachers are obliged to attend in-service seminars.

Within the higher education system, there is an evaluation of the teaching and associate staff by means of conducting a re-election procedure over a certain period of time. The election and re-election of teaching, teaching-research, and associate staff is conducted by means of an open competition, in compliance with existing legal solutions. Full-time professors are re-elected each sixth year until they reach the age of 60. Associate professors, assistant professors, and professors at colleges of further education are re-elected each fifth year, while senior lecturers, lecturers, and associates are subjected to re-election every third year.

The election and re-election of candidates into teaching, teaching-research, and associate posts is conducted by the Teaching Council of each college of further education (the Academic Council of each faculty) based upon the assessments of the Review Commission (Recenziona komisija ), as well as upon their own conclusions on the overall social, expert, scientific, and pedagogical achievements of the candidates. The Review Commission is established by the teaching and academic councils, and members of this Commission may be from among the teachers and research workers employed at the organization where the re-election is being conducted, as well as from among other teachers and research workers. Members of the Review Commission may not hold an academic post lower than the post for which a candidate is being selected.


Macedonia's current education system was organized during the years it was a part of the Yugoslav federation. Today, Macedonia's (FYROM's) education system is slowly being transformed and improved to satisfy the needs of its developing economic and democratic political systems. Macedonia's educational system includes educating ethnic minorities in their own languages from primary schools to universities. The system includes primary schools, which are attended for a total of 8 years; secondary schools, which are attended for 3 or 4 years; and further education and university, attended for 3 or 4 years (with the exception of medical studies).

Macedonia, like other countries, especially in the Balkans, is struggling to adapt and manage its educational institutions to promote democracy and inter-ethnic harmony. Among areas that need to be addressed include the ways textbooks discuss issues ranging from the preservation of the environment to minority issues and national identity. While it has a long way to go towards making extensive reforms, the infusion of NGOs and projects supported by organizations such as UNESCO and Soros are supporting Macedonia in its mission to improve its educational system while fostering access and diversity among schools.


Gorsevski, Ellen. "A Peaceful Warrior Speaks: Kiro Gligorov at the United Nations." Macedonian Review 27 (1997): 41-73.

Halpern, Joel and Kideckel. Neighbors at War: Anthropological Perspectives on Yugoslav Ethnicity, Culture, and History. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000.

Human Rights Watch. "Macedonia: Human Rights Developments." Human Rights Watch World Report 2001, 11 February 2001. Available from

International Association of Universities (IAU), Euro Education Net. "Macedonia," 11 February 2001. Available from

Kajevska, Ana A. "Environmental Update from the Republic of Macedonia: Environmental Education," 11 February 2001. Available from

Kramer, William. "Macedonia: Lessons in Tolerance After Conflict," 11 February 2001. Available from

Ellen W. Gorsevski

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The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Major Cities:
Skopje, Ohrid

Other Cities:
Bitola, Kumanovu, Prilep


On November 20, 1991, MACEDONIA declared its independence from Yugoslavia. This declaration of independence was met with widespread anger by Macedonia's neighbors, particularly Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. Nationalist elements within these countries claim that residents in Macedonia belonged, by virtue of language and culture, to one or all of their neighbors and should not have formed an independent nation.

Protests against Macedonian independence became particularly strong in Greece because the northernmost province of Greece is also called Macedonia. The Greeks claimed that they would not accept Macedonia's independence unless the country chose a different name. The United States and the European Union (EU) formally recognized Macedonia's independence in 1994. In April 1993, Macedonia was admitted as a member of the United Nations. It is also a member of INTERPOL, EBRD, FAO, IMF, and UNESCO.



The capital city of Macedonia, Skopje, is a thriving city of 582,000 people. Located on the Vardar River, the city was once the capital of ancient Serbia and for well over 500 years, from 1392 to 1913, was under Turkish rule. After a tragic earthquake destroyed or severely damaged 80 percent of the city in 1963, Skopje underwent extensive reconstruction, and now has the appearance of a very modern city, with new high-rise apartment buildings, factories, schools, and office buildings far outnumbering older structures. In contrast, the citizens of Skopje are mostly recent arrivals; the classic flow from rural to urban areas is visible here, where the population at the time of the earthquake was only about 160,000. The resulting mixture of a contemporary city environment inhabited by people still adjusting to the dynamic pace of modern urban life-styles make Skopje a fascinating study of contrasts and a challenging environment. Skopje is easily accessible via airplane, railway, and highway. An international airport located 14 miles (23 kilometers) southeast of Skopje handles international flights.

Skopje is Macedonia's commercial and industrial center. Several industries that produce glass, beer, bricks, tobacco, canned fruits and vegetables, and electrical goods are located in the city. Other industries include woodworking and leather processing.

Skopje has no English-language schools, but there is a suitable boarding school in Thessaloníki (Greece). Local day-care centers for preschool children are available at nominal cost.

Recreation and Entertainment

Macedonia has several good ski resorts within one to two hours' drive from Skopje, and acceptable overnight lodging is available. Good-quality ski equipment can be bought locally at reasonable prices. Renting is undependable. The mountains and rivers of Macedonia offer extensive opportunities for climbing, camping, and hiking, but overnight camping is allowed only in designated areas.

Hunting and fishing are widely available, although moderately expensive. A hunter must join a local club. Rifles and shotguns may be imported only by specia permit, and guns should be separately packed and listed for easier customs clearance. Shotgun ammunition is locally available; rifle ammunition must be brought from the U.S.

Skopje has a tennis club with clay courts. There also is an indoor swimming pool of acceptable quality and an outdoor pool (summer only) of marginal quality. Facilities are available in winter for ice skating and sledding, and for basketball and soccer, although the courts and fields are fairly crowded.

The city has a zoo, several interesting museums, and a large park. Travel to Greece and Bulgaria is convenient, and more extensive tours to other parts of Europe are possible at greater expense. The Adriatic coast is one hour by air or a tiring, but scenic, ten hours by car.

The numerous movie theaters in Skopje often show American films with subtitles in Serbo-Croatian. An opera company, two theater groups, a ballet company, and a philharmonic orchestra are based here.

North and south of Skopje, it is possible to view vestiges of Macedonia's ancient past. Approximately four miles (seven kilometers) south of the city is the Church of Sveti Pantelejmon. This church, constructed in the 12th century, offers beautiful frescoes and breathtaking views of Skopje and the surrounding countryside. Another church, the Markov Manastir, is situated 11 miles (17 kilometers) south of Skopje and is filled with many exquisite 14th century frescoes.

Other 13th and 14th century frescoes, many of them quite beautiful, can be viewed at the Manastir Sveti Nikita (Monastery of St. Nicholas). This monastery is located nine miles (15 kilometers) north of Skopje and is easily accessible by car.


Situated in southwest Macedonia beside picturesque Lake Ohrid is the city of Ohrid. Ohrid is Macedonia's major resort area and tourist center. Tourists flock to Ohrid's Ulica Samuilova, which is the city's main street, in search of copper coffee sets, native jewelry, and rustic pottery. However, most visitors come to Ohrid to view the city's many medieval churches. Ohrid's oldest surviving church is the Church of St. Sophia. Constructed in the 11th century, the church has many exquisite frescoes. When the Turks took control of Ohrid in the late 14th century, the Church of St. Sophia was turned into a mosque and its frescoes covered with whitewash. The frescoes were uncovered during excavation work in the 1950s and, because of their protective coat of whitewash, were remarkably preserved. These religious frescoes, along with St. Sophia's many fine examples of Byzantine art, are popular tourist attractions. Another church, the Church of St. Clement, was built in Ohrid during the late 13th century. During the Turkish occupation of Macedonia, the Church of St. Clement was the only church allowed to hold Christian services. Therefore, it became a repository for many works of religious art, frescoes, and beautiful icons framed in silver. All of these treasures can be viewed by visitors. Other frescoes and icons can be seen at the 13th century Church of Sveti Jovan-Kaneo (St. John the Divine at Kaneo), which is nestled on a lovely hilltop overlooking Lake Ohrid. It is also possible to view the remains of the Church of St. Pantelelmon. This church, built by St. Clement, was the site of the first Slavic university. It was destroyed by the Turks in the late 17th century and a mosque, the Imaret Mosque, was built in its place.

In addition to tourism, many agricultural crops are grown near the city. Abundant supplies of fish in Lake Ohrid has led to the emergence of a thriving fishing industry. Ohrid had a population of roughly 47,000 in 2002.


BITOLA is Macedonia's southernmost city. Located close to Macedonia's border with Greece, the city was founded by Slavic settlers in 1014. Under Turkish rule (1383-1913), Bitola became a thriving commercial, trading, and religious center. By the mid-seventeenth century, the city had over 70 mosques, many shops, and several commercial houses. Today, Bitola has a population of approximately 84,000 and is an important industrial center. Industries in the city manufacture carpets, textiles, and rubber products. Bitola's main attraction is the ruins of the ancient town of Heraclea Lyncestis, which is located two miles (three kilometers) from Bitola. Founded in the 4th century B.C., Heraclea offers visitors glimpses of well-preserved Roman baths, a large basilica filled with beautiful mosaics, an amphitheater, and wonderful examples of late classical and early Byzantine art.

The city of KUMANOVU is located in northern Macedonia. Located 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Skopje, Kumanovu is an industrial center for canning and tobacco processing. The economy of this city of 78,000 is also heavily dependent on the trading of cattle, fruits, and liquor. The Staro Nagoricane Monastery, with its beautiful frescoes, is a popular destination for visitors. The monastery is located approximately eight miles (13 kilometers) east of Kumanovu.

The city of PRILEP is located 47 miles (76 kilometers) south of Skopje. During the 14th century, Prilep was an important commercial and political center. Vestiges of Prilep's medieval past include the monastery of Archangel Michael, the Church of St. Dimitri, and St. Nikola's Church. Constructed in 1299, St. Nikola's contains many beautiful religious frescoes. Today, Prilep is an agricultural center for tobacco and fruit grown near the city. Prilep's population in 2002 was approximately 56,000.


Geography and Climate

The Republic of Macedonia is roughly rectangular in shape and occupies an area of 9,928 square miles (25,713 square kilometers), which is slightly larger than Vermont. Macedonia is a landlocked country surrounded on the north by Serbia, on the south by Greece, on the west by Albania, and on the east by Bulgaria. The terrain of Macedonia is rather hilly, with deep basins and valleys. Macedonia has three large lakes, Lake Prespa, Lake Doiran, and Lake Ohrid. Lake Ohrid, which is nine miles (15 kilometers) wide and 938 feet deep, is the largest of the three lakes. Macedonia's major river is the Vardar. The Vardar River flows across Macedonia from northwest to southeast and eventually flows through Greece into the Aegean Sea. Macedonia is prone to earthquakes and has experienced several devastating earthquakes throughout history.

The climate of Macedonia is varied. Winters tend to be cold with heavy snowfall while summers and autumns are hot and dry.


In July 2001, Macedonia had an estimated population of 2,046,000. Approximately 67 percent of the population are Macedonian. Albanians make up 23 percent of the population and are Macedonia's largest minority group. Most Albanians live in close communities along Macedonia's northwestern border with Albania. Ethnic Turks and Serbs make up four percent and two percent of the population respectively. Roma (Gypsies) account for 2 percent and other groups 2 percent.

The official language of Macedonia is Macedonian, which is similar to Bulgarian. However, the republic's sizeable Albanian population usually speaks Albanian. Other languages spoken in Macedonia include Turkish and Serbo-Croatian.

Macedonia is a land where several religions are represented. Approximately 67 percent of Macedonians are Eastern Orthodox, while 30 percent are Muslim. Macedonia's Albanian minority is overwhelmingly Muslim, although some are adherents of Roman Catholicism. Other minorities, such as the Turks, are also Muslim. Roman Catholics, Protestants, and others account for the remainder.

In 2001, life expectancy in Macedonia was approximately 72 years for males, 76 years for females.


Macedonia is in the process of establishing a democratic system of government after years of Communist rule. In November and December 1990, elections for a multi-party, 120-seat National Assembly (Sobranje ) were held in Macedonia. Results of the election showed that an alliance of two nationalist parties, the Movement for All-Macedonia Action (MAMA) and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (IMRODPMNU), had captured 37 seats. The Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDAM), which consists of former Communists, came in second with 31 seats. The Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP), which represents Macedonia's powerful Albanian minority, garnered 25 seats. The Alliance of Reform Forces (ARF) took 19 seats. The rest of the seats in the Sobranje were captured by several small opposition parties.

On January 27, 1991, members of the Sobranje elected Kiro Gligorov as State President of Macedonia. Also, on March 23, 1991, the Sobranje chose a new prime minister, Nikola Kjusev, and authorized him to create a new government.

In 1991, Macedonia's government took several major steps toward independence from the former Yugoslavia. On January 25, the Sobranje stated that Macedonia was a sovereign state with a right to self-determination. On September 8, Macedonians were asked by their government to vote on a referendum declaring Macedonian independence from Yugoslavia. At least 75 percent of the voters in the referendum had cast ballots in favor of secession. Albanian voters, fearful that an independent Macedonia would lead to widespread discrimination against the Albanian community, boycotted the election. On November 17, 1991, the Sobranje approved a new constitution that formally declared independence from Yugoslavia.

Throughout 1992, Macedonia's status remained unsettled. Although Macedonia was no longer viewed as a member of Yugoslavia, neither was it seen as an independent nation in its own right. The government was also faced with growing opposition from Macedonia's large Albanian minority, which demanded political autonomy over Albanian-dominated regions of Macedonia. Frustration over the failure to obtain world recognition of Macedonia's independence had taken its toll on the government. On July 7, 1992, Macedonia's entire government resigned over its failure to convince other countries to unconditionally recognize Macedonian independence. Prime Minister Kjusev formed a new government on August 23, 1992. Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993. The current president is Boris Trajkoviski, and Ljupco Georgievski is the country's premier.

Commerce and Industry

Macedonia was one of the poorest of the six republics in the former Yugoslavia. The economy of Macedonia is dependent upon agriculture, but has had growth recently in service and industry sectors. Agriculture provides 12 percent of Macedonia's gross domestic product (GDP). Principal crops are rice, tobacco, wheat, corn, millet, citrus fruit, vegetables, and sesame.

Industrial capacity in Macedonia is centered in Skopje and is growing. Most industrial production is limited to the manufacturing of wood products, tobacco, and textiles. Macedonia is rich in minerals, particularly metallic chromium, lead, zinc, coal, and ferro-nickel. Metallurgy is a major industrial activity. Privatization of companies has helped the GDP and reserves rise.

Political turmoil, both internally and in the region as a whole, has hampered Macedonia's economic development. Macedonia's geographical isolation, technological backwardness, and political instability placed it far down the list of countries of interest to Western investors. In 1994, United Nations sanctions against neighboring Serbia and Montenegro and a blockade by Greece cost the Macedonian economy an estimated $2 billion. After pressure from the European Union, Greece lifted its embargo in 1995. In recent years, however, strong internal commitments to reform and free trade have helped bolster the country's economic development.


Highways link Skopje with Ohrid and the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Macedonia's highways are in good condition.

Train service within Macedonia is inadequate. However, international train travel from Skopje to Athens, Greece and Belgrade, Serbia is fairly good.

Macedonia has sixteen airports. The largest airport, located 14 miles (23 kilometers) southeast of Skopje, handles international flights. A smaller airport is situated six miles (10 kilometers) north of Ohrid. Available flights between cities within Macedonia are very limited.


Telephone communication is available in Macedonia, although somewhat limited in remote areas. In 1997, there were approximately 408,000 telephones in Macedonia.

There are no English-language newspapers in Macedonia. All newspapers are published in Macedonian and Albanian.

There are both state-and privately-owned radio and television stations. Macedonia's main broadcasting organization, Radio-Television Skopje, transmits in Macedonian, Albanian, and Turkish.


The Department of State advises travelers to Macedonia that political and economic changes in the region make travel there difficult and potentially dangerous, and recommends that travelers defer their visit. Those entering or leaving Macedonia by its land border with Greece may experience delays. Delays may also be experienced at the Serbian-Macedonian border, especially by Americans of ethnic Albanian descent. Periodic closings of the border with Kosovo have occurred with little or no prior notice. The overall level of violence has diminished, but armed inter-ethnic disputes continue. Travelers should be aware of the threat of landmines, bombings, and violent demonstrations.

U.S. citizens are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Skopje located at Ilindenska bb, 91000; telephone: (389)(2) 116-180.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 7 Christmas (Orthodox)

April/May Easter*

May 1-2 Labor Day

Aug. 2Day of the Ilinden Uprising

Sept. 8 Independence Day

Oct. 11 Veteran's Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Borza, Eugene N. In the Shadow of Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Hammond, Nicholas G. The Macedonian State: The Origins, Institutions, & History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Hammond, Nicholas G. Miracle That Was Macedonia. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Yugoslavia. New York: Prentice Hall General Reference & Travel, 1991.

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PRONUNCIATION: mass-uh-DOE-nee-uhns

LOCATION: Macedonia

POPULATION: 1.95 million (about 70 percent are ethnic Macedonians)

LANGUAGE: Macedonian

RELIGION: Eastern Orthodoxy


Macedonia, also known as Vardar Macedonia, is named after the river that travels almost the entire length of the country. In the region's early history it was ruled by Philip II (359336 bc) and his son, Alexander the Great (336323 bc). After Alexander's death, his territory was divided into four sections. The smallest consisted of Macedonia and Greece. In the following centuries, Macedonia became part of the Roman Empire and, later, the Byzantine Empire. In the sixth and seventh centuries ad, Slavs began to settle in the Balkans. Eventually, Macedonia came under the control of the Bulgarian crown.

During the latter half of the fourteenth century, the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Macedonia was plunged into a lengthy struggle for the preservation of its Slavonic heritage and religious identity. With the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, Macedonia was divided unequally among Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Following World War I (191418), the Serbian section of Macedonia became the southernmost part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (eventually known as Yugoslavia). At the conclusion of World War II (193945), Macedonia became one of the six sovereign republics of communist Yugoslavia.

On September 8, 1991, Macedonians approved a referendum on their country's independence. A new constitution was adopted, that, for the first time ever, turned Macedonia into a parliamentary democracy. In April 1993, the Republic of Macedonia became a member of the United Nations.


Macedonia is situated in the south-central area of the Balkan Peninsula in Europe. Despite its landlocked status, its location makes it a crossroads linking Europe, Asia, and Africa. It covers an area of roughly 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers), and its capital city is Skopje (pronounced SKOP-yeh).

The population of the Republic of Macedonia stands at about 1,950,000, with males slightly outnumbering females.


The primary and official language of Macedonia is Macedonian. It is an Indo-European language of the Slavonic family. Like most Slavonic languages, Macedonian is written in the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet. However, it is derived primarily from Latin and Greek. The Macedonian language has also acquired thousands of Turkish and German words.

There are two customs in naming children. One gives children Christian names, such as Petar (Peter) and Jovan (John), or, for females, Petranka and Jovanka; the other reflects parental wishes, such as Zdravko (Healthy), Stojan (Stay [Alive]), and Spase (Saved).


Most of Macedonia's colorful folklore consists of folktales and aphorisms (witty sayings). The following are typical aphorisms: "Falsehoods have short legs" (lies are soon found out); and "Begin a task, but always have its conclusion in mind" (finish what you start.)

Macedonians like to tell folktales that emphasize a moral or philosophical message, like the following:

In ancient times, a tsar's (emperor's) daughter fell ill, but none of the royal doctors could help her. At last, an old healer took on the problem. He fashioned for the patient a ring on whose band he wrote the saying: "Everything that ever was has passed, and everything that ever will be will pass." One morning he took the ring to the princess and put it on her finger. He said that her illness would go away if she read the saying every night before going to bed, and every morning after waking up. It made her hopeful that her illness also would pass. Eventually, she did indeed become well again.


The predominant religion in Macedonia is Eastern Orthodoxy, one of the three principal branches of Christianity.

In every country, the Orthodox Church honors its own regional saints and martyrs in addition to the ones recognized by other Christians. The Macedonian Orthodox Church pays homage to Saints Cyril and Methodius.


On March 8 Macedonians honor the Day of the Woman, which is their counterpart to Mother's Day in the United States. During the communist era (194591), Labor Day (May 1) was celebrated with parades, demonstrations, and long political speeches. Today Macedonians regard the same holiday as a day of rest and recreation. The Ilinden (St. Elijah's Day) Uprising, commemorated on August 2, marks the beginning of the Macedonian nationalist movement.

As Orthodox Christians, Macedonians normally celebrate the main Christian holy days several days, or even weeks, later than Catholics and Protestants. For example, Orthodox adherents celebrate Christmas on January 7 rather than on December 25.


Like people in so many other societies, Macedonians regard the birth of a boy as the most momentous family event. Most babies, male and female, are baptized before their first birthday. A new mother is expected to stay at home and receive no visitors for at least six weeks.

A deceased person's children and siblings are expected to wear dark clothes for about one year following his or her passing. The mother and spouse traditionally continued to do so for the rest of their lives. Memorial services are held on the ninth day, the fortieth day, six months, one year, and three years after the death. On these days, family members go to church and/or to the deceased's graveside. They distribute homemade bread, black olives, feta cheese, and small cups of wine to those attending.


Macedonians usually greet one another with the word zdravo (pronounced ZDRAH-vo), meaning "health." They inquire about each other's family members' well-being and their recent activities. Children and teenagers refer to almost all older men as chichko or striko, meaning "uncle." They address almost all older women as tetko or strino, meaning "aunt."

In rural areas, there is a special greeting used when passing by people engaged in harvesting or other tasks. One normally exclaims, Ajrlija rabota! (pronounced ahr-LI-yah rah-BO-tah), or, loosely translated, "May your work meet with the success you are hoping for!"


Consumer goodsmost of them imported from Germanyare readily available in Macedonia. Automobiles, TVs, VCRs, refrigerators, washers, and dryers may be found in almost every household. Housing is no longer the major problem it was under communism. It is no longer difficult to find an apartment or a condominium. Many families have even built houses in the country or in villages near resort areas.


Many Macedonians live in nuclear families, with an average of two children per family. However, intergenerational extended families are also common. Newlyweds often live temporarily with the husband's parents. Also, accepting a widowed in-law from either side into the household is entirely expected. Most older individuals live out their last years in such an arrangement.

Single-parent families are, at least by Western standards, quite rare. Divorce is not unusual, although it is considered acceptable mostly for couples with no children.

Few women ask their husbands to help with any but the simplest household chores. Even younger, professional women insist on keeping the kitchen as their own domain.


Macedonians wear modern, Western-style clothing. However, they preserve a certain level of old-fashioned formality in their style of dress. For example, people will generally avoid entering a grocery store, bank, or other public place dressed in work clothes.

Macedonia's traditional, intricately embroidered folk costumes include garments made of coarse, tightly woven wool yarn. Men wear vests, white linen shirts, pants resembling English riding breeches, and a pojas (pronounced PO-yahs)a wide cloth belt. Women wear ankle-length dresses, a wide apron, a white linen shirt, a pojas, and a head scarf. Men's traditional attire is predominantly black, while women's is red and white. For footwear, both genders wear opinci (pronounced o-PIN-tsi)leather slippers with a curved tip.


The principal food on the Macedonian menu is stew, a mixture of meat and vegetables cooked by simmering. Stews are prepared spicy, combined with roux (a thickening agent), and always eaten with bread. Other main staples are feta cheese; roasted banana peppers; and zelnik, a flat pastry with cheese, leek, or spinach filling. Supper is the most important meal of the day, often eaten less than an hour before retiring for the night.

Many city-dwellers and probably all villagers make red wine and distill brandy, mostly from grapes or plums. Wine is consumed mainly during the winter months, with fried smoked kolbasi (homemade kiel-basa, or sausage).


Virtually all Macedonians are literate (able to read and write). Because the Macedonian language is spelled phonetically (as it sounds), just about every student is fully literate by the third grade.

Parental and cultural expectations also encourage higher education. Most parents regard it as a family "failure" for any of their children not to have achieved an advanced degree.


Despite its small size, Macedonia boasts thirteen active professional theater groups. It also has a philharmonic orchestra and a host of annual folk music festivals held in different cities. There are hundreds of amateur rock-and-roll bands, and professional pop groups, one of which is called Leb i Sol (Bread and Salt). In 1994 the Macedonian film Before the Rain received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film from the American Motion Picture Academy.

Traditional music is played by a band composed of a clarinet or a gajda a bagpipe made of lambskin; a bass drum, which hangs from the player's shoulder; an accordion; and a violin. Macedonia also has a great variety of folk dances. These range from the slow teškoto, or "heavy" dance, to the exuberant sitnoto, or "tiny-stepped dance."

The late-nineteenth-century poetry of the brothers Dimitar and Konstantin Miladinov is still recited by students from primary school through college. A famous twentieth-century work is Kosta Racin's collection of poems entitled Beli Mugri (White Dawns).

Every year Macedonia hosts several world-famous cultural events including the Struga Poetry Evenings, the Skopje International Jazz festival, and The World Cartoon Gallery.


Most of the jobs currently available in Macedoniaas in the United Statesare in the service industry. Much of the nation's economy is sustained by small, family-owned businesses such as grocery stores, restaurants, garages, and clothing stores. Women are well-represented in the work force. They account for at least half of all doctors, teachers, professors, and corporate lawyers.

The great majority of teenagers and college students in Macedonia do not hold summer jobs.


Soccer and basketball are the two most-watched spectator sports. Soccer is also the most popular sport played by Macedonian children. Young adults also play soccer, though basketball, tennis, table tennis, and chess are equally popular.


TVs and VCRs may be found in almost every household in Macedonia.

Most Macedonians regard social calls as a sign of respect. It is the custom to attend an open house on a person's name daytraditionally held by males on the feast day of the saint after whom they are named. Whole communities celebrate the name day of their village's patron saint. That day they take off work and freely visit each others' homes, where food and drinks are served.

In the cities, a popular leisure-time activity is the korzo. One of the city's main streets is closed to traffic and turned into a promenade (place to stroll) for a few hours every evening.


Villagers in Macedonia are known for weaving colorful blankets and carpets. In old bazaars (street markets) in the larger cities, one comes across dozens of artisans. These include small goldsmith and silversmith shops selling beautiful, delicate jewelry; stomnari, or urn-makers, who still produce glazed terra-cotta utensils such as urns, pitchers, cups, and bowls; and Asian-style carpet shops.


While it was part of Yugoslavia, Macedonia had a poor human and civil rights record. Today, there are dozens of political parties, and no political prisoners. Some long-standing social problems remain, such as alcoholism and spousal abuse. Other problems, such as drug addiction, have developed more recently.


Danforth, Loring M. The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Poulton, Hugh. Who Are the Macedonians? Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Sherman, Laura Beth. Fires on the Mountain: The Macedonian Revolutionary Movement and the Kidnapping of Ellen Stone. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs. New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1980.


Pan-Macedonian Network. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Macedonia. [Online] Available, 1998.

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Official name: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Area: 25,333 square kilometers (9,781 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Golem Korab (2,753 meters/9,032 feet)

Lowest point on land: Vardar River (50 meters/164 feet)

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 175 kilometers (109 miles) from north to south; 216 kilometers (134 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: 748 kilometers (465 miles) total boundary length; Albania 151 kilometers (94 miles); Bulgaria 148 kilometers (92 miles); Greece 228 kilometers (142 miles); Serbia and Montenegro 221 kilometers (137 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None


Macedonia is a landlocked country on the Balkan h2ninsula of southern Europe. It shares borders with Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania. With a total area of about 25,333 square kilometers (9,781 square miles), the country is slightly larger than the state of Vermont. Macedonia is administratively divided into 123 municipalities.


Macedonia has no outside territories or dependencies.


Macedonia's climate is a blend of continental and Mediterranean, with very cold winters and hot summers. The average annual temperature for the country is 12°C (53°F). Maximum summer temperatures in the lowlands can reach 40°C (104°F), and the coldest winter temperatures can drop to around 30°C below zero (22°F below zero).

Due to the influence of the Mediterranean Sea, which lies south of the Balkan Peninsula, rainfall is moderate in the Vardar River valley. Annual rainfall is scattered throughout the year and only averages about 50 to 70 centimeters (20 to 28 inches).


Macedonia lies inland in the middle of the Balkan Peninsula. About 80 percent of its territory is mountainous, with large and high massifs giving way to extensive valleys and plains. Low passes or deep ravines connect the valleys with one another. There are some interior highlands in the north-central region and in the southwest corner of Macedonia.

Macedonia is on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate. A fault line extends in a north-to-south direction in east-central Macedonia. This structural seam in the earth's crust periodically shifts, causing earth tremors and occasional destructive earthquakes. In 1963, an earthquake destroyed much of Skopje, killing 1,066 people.


Macedonia is a landlocked nation. The nearest open bodies of water are the Adriatic Sea, which lies on the far side of Albania to the west, and the Aegean Sea, which lies beyond Greece to the southeast. Both of these seas are extensions of the larger Mediterranean Sea.


Macedonia has fifty-three natural and artificial lakes. The three largest lakes are of tectonic origin: Ohrid, Prespa, and Dojran. Lake Ohrid is in the southwestern corner of Macedonia, covering 348 square kilometers (134 square miles). Only 230 square kilometers (89 square miles) of this lake lie within Macedonia's borders; the rest is within Albania. Lake Ohrid is some 30.4 kilometers (18.9 miles) long and 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) wide, with its surface 695 meters (2,280 feet) above sea level. The clarity of the water extends some 21.5 meters (70 feet) down and the lake's maximum depth is 287 meters (942 feet). Lake Prespa is the second-largest lake in Macedonia; of its total surface area of 274 square kilometers (106 square miles), only 177 square kilometers (68 square miles) lies within Macedonian territory. Greece and Albania share the rest of this lake. At 853 meters (2,799 feet) above sea level, the water in Lake Prespa gradually seeps through the porous limestone and ends up in Lake Ohrid, not far to the northwest.

Macedonia also has twenty-five glacial mountain lakes, known as oci, or mountain "eyes." Additionally, there are numerous mineral springs. The Katlanovo Spa outside Skopje is fed by several springs and has been famous since the Roman era for its therapeutic 46°C (115°F) waters.


Macedonia's rivers flow into one of three basins: the Aegean Sea, the Adriatic Sea, or the Black Sea. The Vardar River, which has a total length of 388 kilometers (241 miles), enters from Serbia and Montenegro in the north and flows southeast across Macedonia for 301 kilometers (187 miles), before crossing into Greece and eventually emptying into the Aegean. The Vardar is the longest and most important river in the country, draining 80 percent of its territory. Within Macedonia, the Vardar has thirty-seven tributaries, including the Bregalnica and the Crna. The Strumica in the southeast is the only other river of note flowing into the Aegean.

The Crni Drim River drains the westernmost 13 percent of Macedonia. It flows north out of Lake Ohrid and into Albania before turning west and draining into the Adriatic Sea. Less than 0.2 percent of the country is drained by the Binacka Morava River, which has its source in Macedonia. The Binacka Morava flows only a few miles through the country before crossing into Yugoslavia, eventually emptying into the Danube River and the Black Sea.


There are no desert regions in Macedonia.


Macedonia has nineteen separate lowland areas, covering a total area of about 7,690 square kilometers (2,970 square miles). Valley basin lowlands comprise about 4,900 square kilometers (1,900 square miles).


Most of Macedonia is mountainous; the average altitude of the country is about 850 meters (2,800 feet). The mountain systems are a complicated mass, with ridges running in many different directions and no truly dominant range. Some of the highest ranges are the Jakupica, in central Macedonia; Korab in the west; Plačkovica in the east; and Kožuf and Nidže in the south. Thirty-four mountain peaks exceed 2,000 meters (6,560 feet), ranging from Mount Belasica (2,029 meters/6,657 feet) to Golem Korab (2,753 meters/9,032 feet), which is the highest peak in Macedonia. Along the northern border with the Kosovo region of Serbia and Montenegro, Šar Planina, at 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and between 10 and 20 kilometers (6 and 12 miles) wide, is the largest natural massif in Macedonia, reaching a peak of 2,747 meters (9,012 feet).

The high mountains are covered mostly with pine trees. Lower mountains have a canopy of beech and oak trees. The Macedonian Pine is an ancient native species found in the forests on Mount Pelister near Lake Prespa.


Macedonia's canyons link the lowlands. There are 114 separate canyons in Macedonia totaling 297 kilometers (185 miles) in length, ranging from the 2.3-kilometer-(1.4-mile-) long Boshavica River canyon to the 42.5-kilometer- (26.4-mile-) long Radika canyon. The Derven, Taor, and Demir Kapija canyons are situated on the Vardar River. Demir Kapija has nearly vertical sides and several small caves.

There are dozens of glacial caves within the mountains, some of which feature water. One of these is Djonovica (located between Gostivar and Kičevo), which extends about 600 meters (2,000 feet) underground.


There are no plateau regions in Macedonia.


There are about fifteen artificial lakes in Macedonia. One of the largest is Mavrovo. Formed in 1953, Lake Mavrovo covers about 13.7 square kilometers (5.3 square miles). It is a reservoir on the Radika River that is linked to three hydropower plants. The lake is now part of Mavrovo National Park and has become a popular tourist spot.


The name Macedonia has historically been used to describe a region that includes parts of modern Greece, Bulgaria, and the current Republic of Macedonia. The ancient kingdom that was based there ruled Greece for centuries and produced its most famous conqueror, Alexander the Great. When the nation now known as Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro) in 1991 and took "Republic of Macedonia" for its name, the government of Greece objected. To them, Macedonia is a Greek name and an important part of Greek history and culture, which the new country could not rightfully claim. Due to the ongoing controversy, many countries refer to the Republic of Macedonia as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or by other names.



Brân, Zoë. After Yugoslavia. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 2001.

Georgieva, Valentina, and Sasha Konechni. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998.

Pettifer, James, ed. The New Macedonia Question. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Web Sites

Macedonia Cultural and Information Center. (accessed April 29, 2003).

" State of the Environment Report." Republic of Macedonia, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning. (accessed April 29, 2003).

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Macedonia (country, Europe)

Macedonia (măs´ədō´nēə), Macedonian Makedonija, officially Republic of Macedonia, republic (2005 est. pop. 2,045,000), 9,930 sq mi (25,720 sq km), SE Europe. It is bordered by Serbia and Kosovo on the north, Albania on the west, Greece on the south, and Bulgaria on the east. The capital and largest city is Skopje. The other main cities are Tetovo, Bitola (Bitolj), and Prilep. The United Nations and many nations recognize the country as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) because of Greek objections to the name Macedonia (see below).

Land and People

A predominately mountainous and landlocked country with deep river valleys, Macedonia is drained by the Vadar River, which runs through the center of the country, and its tributaries, including the Bregalnica, the Crna Reka, and the Treska rivers. Almost 40% of the country is forested, with a concentration of wooded areas in its western section. The climate is generally cold and snowy in the winter and hot and dry in the summer. The country is subject to occasional earthquakes.

Ethnic Macedonians constitute nearly two thirds of the population. The largest minority is Albanian, representing one fourth of the population and living largely in W Macedonia. There are smaller groups of Turks, Romani (Gypsies), Serbs, and others. About 65% of the people belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, while a third are Muslims, and there are small groups of non-Orthodox Christians. The predominant language is Macedonian, which is related to Bulgarian. Albanian is spoken by the sizable Albanian minority, and Turkish, Roma, and other languages are also spoken.


The poorest of the former Yugoslavian republics, Macedonia has a mostly agricultural economy. Wine grapes, tobacco, vegetables, grains, and cotton are grown, and sheep and goats are raised. Iron, copper, and lead are mined. There is agricultural processing and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, iron, steel, and pharmaceuticals. Exports include processed foods, tobacco, textiles, and iron and steel. The main imports are machinery, automobiles, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs. Macedonia's chief trading partners are Serbia, Germany, Greece, and Russia.


Macedonia is governed under the constitution of 1991 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is elected by the Assembly, as is the cabinet. The 120 members of the unicameral Assembly (Sobranie) are elected from party lists by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 85 municipalities.


For Macedonian history prior to independence, see Macedon, Macedonia, region, and Yugoslavia.

After the elections of 1990 that put in place Yugoslav Macedonia's first non-Communist government, the Yugoslavian federation began to disintegrate. Macedonia declared its independence in Sept., 1991. However, the new nation's sovereignty was not immediately recognized by the international community, largely due to Greek protests over the name Macedonia. Greece, fearing future territorial claims, wanted to further the distinction between Macedonia and Greek Macedonia. There were also tensions with Bulgaria, which recognized the new nation but had historically regarded the area as Bulgarian.

In 1993, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations under the provisional name of "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM). The United States recognized the new nation under the provisional name in 1994. Greece, however, imposed an economic blockade on the landlocked country, which already was suffering from international sanctions imposed on its biggest trading partner, Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Greece lifted the sanctions in 1995, after Macedonia had agreed to certain conditions, including a modification of its flag and a renunciation of any territorial claims against Greece. By the end of the decade, relations with Greece and Bulgaria had improved, and in 2001 Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and Macedonia signed an agreement demarcating the border. The lack of a resolution of the name issue, however, continued to be a source of tension with Greece, which opposed NATO and European Union membership for Macedonia until it was resolved. In 2011 the International Court of Justice ruled that Greek opposition to Macedonian membership in NATO and the EU was in breach of the 1995 agreement.

In 1994, Kiro Gligorov was reelected president in an election boycotted by the nationalist opposition; he was gravely injured in an assassination attempt in Oct., 1995. In June, 1996, the parliament suspended the constitution and repudiated opposition calls for a referendum on holding new elections. Following elections held in 1998, a center-right coalition government was formed that included members of the Albanian minority. In the presidential election in late 1999, the center-right candidate, Boris Trajkovski, won, but the result was tainted by fraud in some areas and was denounced by his opponent. The election was partially rerun in December, and vote-rigging again occurred, but it appeared irrelevant to the outcome, as it occurred in areas strongly supportive of Trajkovski.

Macedonia has been shaken by tensions between ethnic Macedonians and the Albanian minority, which were aggravated by the influx of Kosovar Albanian refugees in 1999 (see Kosovo). Isolated incidents of violence in 1999 and 2000 became sustained battling between Macedonian forces and Albanian rebels in 2001. Although the fighting was limited, it threatened to polarize further the nation's two main ethnic groups.

An accord ending the fighting was brokered by the European Union and the United States and signed in Aug., 2001. It called for NATO troops to disarm the Albanian rebels and for the parliament to establish Albanian as a semiofficial language and guarantee the political, cultural, and religious rights of ethnic Albanians. The rebels were disarmed, the constitution subsequently amended (although some Macedonian Slav politicians opposed the changes), and an amnesty enacted for ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

Elections in Sept., 2002, resulted in a near majority in parliament for the Slav-dominated center-left Together for Macedonia coalition and a sizable vote for the Democrat Union for Integration (DUI), an Albanian party dominated by the disarmed rebels. A coalition goverment including both groups was formed, and Social Democrat Branko Crvenkovski became prime minister. In Mar., 2003, European Union forces were deployed as peacekeepers in Macedonia, replacing the NATO force. President Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash in Feb., 2004. In April Prime Minister Crvenkovski was elected to succeed him, and Hari Kostov became prime minister in June.

Legislation redrawing municipal boundaries and giving more power to local councils, actions that were regarded as favoring ethnic Albanians, sparked riots in July, 2004, but was passed the next month. In Nov., 2004, a referendum on overturning the laws failed when too few Macedonians voted; the government had called for a boycott of the vote. Kostov subsequently resigned, asserting that minority rights issues were overshadowing needed reforms; Vlado Buckovski succeeded him as prime minister in December. In 2005 Macedonia was granted membership candidate status by the European Union.

In July, 2006, the center-right Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization–Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) won a plurality of seats in parliament, ousting the Social Democrats from power, but necessitating a coalition with the Democratic Party of Albanians and other parties. Nikola Gruevski, of the VMRO-DPMNE, became prime minister. The election was marred by some intimidation and ballot-stuffing, but was mainly free and fair. In 2007 the DUI, unhappy at being excluded from the governing coalition despite being the largest Albanian party, boycotted parliament until the end of May. The boycott ended when the government agreed that certain laws would not be passed unless they had Albanian support.

In Apr., 2008, the continuing dispute with Greece over Macedonia's name led Greece to veto an invitation from NATO to Macedonia to join the alliance; in 2011 the International Court of Justice ruled that Greece's veto had been contrary to the 1995 agreement. The June parliamentary elections resulted in a victory for the VMRO-DPMNE but were marred by violence between rival Albanian parties in ethnically Albanian areas. The VMRO-DPMNE and DUI formed a governing coalition; Gruevski remained prime minister. Former Prime Minister Buckovski was convicted in 2008 of abuse of office when he was defense minister; the case arose out of a 2001 defense contract for tank spare parts. Buckovski denounced the verdict as politically motivated, and an appeals court ordered a retrial, but he was convicted again in 2013.

In the 2009 presidential election, Gjorgje Ivanov, the VMRO-DPMNE candidate, was elected following a runoff in April. Snap parliamentary elections in June, 2011, led to losses for the VMRO-DPMNE, but it nonetheless gained a plurality; the DUI won sufficient seats to guarantee the ruling coalition a majority, and Gruevski remained prime minister. In Dec., 2012, political conflicts over the budget and scuffles in parliament led to the ejection of opposition legislators before the passage of the budget, which had been blocked in committee, leading Crvenkovski to call for a parliamentary boycott and civil disobedience campaign. The government accused the Social Democrats of an attempted coup.

In Apr., 2014, the presidential runoff and early parliamentary elections resulted in victories for the VMRO-DPMNE, with Ivanov winning a second term, and the party and the DUI winning a majority of the seats. Gruevski continued as prime minister. The Social Democrats denounced the elections as unfair and marred by vote buying, and boycotted parliament; some aspects of the campaign and vote were criticized by European and local observers. In Feb., 2015, opposition leader Zoran Zaev began releasing leaked telephone recordings that had been illegally taped by the government; the recordings led to antigovernment demonstrations and several ministerial resignations. In July the four main parties reached an agreement to hold new elections in 2016 under a caretaker cabinet and to establish a special investigation into the illegal wiretappings; the Social Democrats agreed to end their boycott in September.

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 2,046,209
Language(s): Macedonian Orthodo, Muslim, other
Literacy rate: NA
Area: 25,333 sq km
GDP: 3,573 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 31
Number of Television Sets: 510,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 249.2
Number of Radio Stations: 49
Number of Radio Receivers: 410,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 200.4
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 50,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 24.4

The media scene in Macedonia livened up within a few years after the country declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and commenced a double transition toward democracy and capitalism. Media outlets started to compete for the attention of a literate (94 percent) and multi-ethnic audience, hungry for respite from the propaganda humdrum in the communist-ruled Yugoslavia. Hundreds of private newspapers and magazines emerged, and some 250 private broadcasters took to the air.

The promise for a quick transition to Western-style free press in Macedonia has been since dampened. The media scene is still much livelier than during the Yugoslav period, but it has suffered from government interference, political and ethnic biases of publications, a malfunctioning economy, and uneven and often poor quality of journalism. Plagued by high unemployment and decline in living standards, Macedonia endured series of economic, political and social crises during the 1990s. It is hardly surprising that media have been preoccupied with issues of security and politics.

The Ministry of Information listed 818 officially registered newspapers and magazines as of June 2000, but the actual number is considerably smaller. Of those, 51 are published in Albanian language, 6 in Turkish, 4 in Vlachian, 3 in Romany (Roma), 2 in Bosnian, and 5 in English. More than 600 publications are based in Skopje.

In March 2000 Macedonia had 11 dailies, 2 in Albanian and 1 in Turkish. Most popular by circulation are: Dnevnik (daily 60,000; weekend 70,000), VeNAer (50,000), Utrinski Vesnik (30,000), Vest (25,000), Nova Makedonija (20,000), Denes (15,000), SportFakti (10,000), and Flaka (3,000). The independent Dnevnik is considered to be the most influential newspaper, and Nova Makedonija has traditionally been the voice of the government. Most newspapers are losing money.

The government owns one third of NIP Nova Make-donija, publisher of Nova Makedonija and VeNAer, as well as the weekly Puls, the Albanian-language daily Flaka, and the Turkish-language Birlik, which comes out three times a week. All other print media in Macedonia are private.

Fokus (12,000), Start (10,000), and Denes (7,500) are the most important weekly political magazines. Macedonia has a lucrative but limited market for entertainment weeklies, such as Kotelec (15,000), Ekran (9,500), and TEA (7,500). The biweekly political magazineForum (6,000) is also influential and profitable and, along with Fokus, charges the highest rates for advertising in print media.

Three television channelsthe state-owned Macedonian Television (MTV) and private A1 TV and Sitel TVprovide national coverage. Only MTV, broadcasting since 1966, has full 24-hour programming. A1 TV has a program split similar to MTV with about one fifth of its programming devoted to news, whereas Sitel TV is more entertainment-and sports-oriented.

The state-owned Macedonian Radio and private Kanal 77 have national radio coverage. There is a large number of local private stations, so many towns have at least one station; most are entertainment-oriented.

The multiethnic populace requires special program considerations, and MTV first broadcast in Albanian in 1967 and in Turkish in 1969. MTV maintains three hours of daily programming in Albanian (MTV-PA) and 90 minute of programming in Turkish. Similarly, Macedonian Radio has eight hours of daily programming in Albanian and five hours in Turkish.

Dozens of unlicensed, pirate radio and television stations operate locally without paying any fees and violating copyright laws. The government's efforts to enforce the regulations have been inconsistent.

Macedonia's principal information agencies are the government-owned Macedonian Information Agency and private Makfaks.

Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and access to information and forbids censorship. Instances of media suppression are still reported, although direct government involvement seems to be limited to crisis situations. For example, the 2001 ethnic Albanian insurgency precipitated a government crack-down on Albanian-language TV and radio programs, including the suspension of broadcasts for several days. Police also limited journalists' access to conflict areas, and ethnic-Albanian journalists complained of harassment.

Newspapers and magazines must register with the Ministry of Information according to a 1976 statute. Broadcast media are regulated by the Law on Broadcast Activity, adopted in 1997. The Broadcasting Council, whose members are selected by the parliament, disburses broadcast licenses. The government, however, gives the final approval and thus exerts a measure of control. A proposed draft law on public information in 2001 caused outcry from media organizations, as it intended to introduce licensing for local journalists and registration for foreign correspondents.

Political parties in power can manipulate the media by allocating advertising and ensuring income for some media and none for others. Political and business affiliations of owners also greatly influence the coverage and staffing decisions.

Although primarily a formality, distributors of foreign newspapers and magazines must obtain permits from the Ministry of Interior. Foreign media are readily available, especially in Skopje, but prices of Western print media are usually prohibitive for most Macedonians.

Broadcast programs from neighboring countries can be received in the border areas. Macedonia does not restrict individual Internet users, although the computer ownership is not particularly high because of its costs. Internet cafes are quickly becoming the alternative to home-based Internet. Most major media outlets maintain Web sites.

The Macedonian media has been polarized along ethnic lines, which has hurt the objectivity of reporting. With the allayment of ethnic tensions the quality of journalism can be expected to improve. Yet Macedonia's media faces a credibility problem. The public's trust in the media is generally low, especially among ethnic Albanians, and surveys indicate that a majority of the population believes news media serve the interests of powerful people and organizations.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001: Macedonia. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 2002.

Human Development Report 2001. New York: United Nations Development Program, 2002.

Macedonia: Press Overview. International Journalists Network, 2002. Available from

The Mass Media in the Republic of Macedonia. Skopje: Agency of Information, Ministry of Information, 2001.

Media Overview: Macedonia, 2000. Vienna, Austria: GfK, Austria, 2001.

Media Monitoring in Macedonia, 2002. Düsseldorf: European Institute for Media. Available from

Naegele, Jolyon. "Macedonia: News Media Under Fire for Poor Reporting, Government Manipulation." RFERL Newsline, May 3, 2002. Available from

Nations in Transit: 1999/2000. Washington, DC: Freedom House, 2000.

Republic of Macedonia Statistical Yearbook 2000. Skopje: National Statistical Office, 2001.

Sopar, Vesna, and Emilija Jovanova. "The Media System in the Republic of Macedonia: Broadcasting between the Normative and the Real." Media Online/Media Plan, June 12, 2000. Available from

Turner, Barry, ed. The Statesman's Yearbook 2002. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Christopher D. Karadjov

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Macedonia (region, Europe)

Macedonia (măs´ədō´nēə), region, SE Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula, divided among Greece, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia.

Land and People

Corresponding roughly with ancient Macedon, it extends from the Aegean Sea northward between Epirus in the west and Thrace in the east and includes the Vardar, Struma, and Mesta (in Greece, the Axiós, Strimón, and Néstos) river valleys. The region is predominately mountainous, encompassing parts of the Pindus and Rhodope mts. Tobacco is the main crop; grains and cotton are also grown, and sheep and goats are raised. The mining of iron, copper, lead, and chromite is important.

Greek, or Aegean, Macedonia (c.13,000 sq mi/33,670 sq km) includes the Khalkidhikí (Chalcidice) peninsula, the site of Thessaloníki (Salonica), a major industrial and shipping center. As a result of population movements after World War I, Greek Macedonia has a largely homogeneous Greek population. Bulgarian, or Pirin, Macedonia is largely coextensive with the Blagoevgrad (formerly Gorna Dzhumaya) province of Bulgaria (c.2,500 sq mi/6,475 sq km) and is largely populated by Macedonians. The inhabitants of the Republic of Macedonia are largely Macedonian, but there is a sizable Albanian minority.


Early History through Ottoman Rule

Like neighboring Thrace and Epirus, Macedonia has been, since the early Middle Ages, a meeting place of nations, a fact that has contributed in large measure to its complex and turbulent history. Macedonians first appear historically about 700 BC By about 400 BC, they had adopted the Greek language and had begun to build a kingdom (Macedon) that was greatly enlarged by the conquests of Philip II (359–336 BC) and Alexander the Great (336–323 BC). In the 2d cent. BC, Macedonia became a Roman province.

With the division (AD 395) of the Roman Empire, Macedonia came under Byzantine rule. Devastated by the Goths and Huns, it was settled (6th cent.) by the Slavs, who quickly made most of Macedonia a Slavic land. However, it continued under intermittent Byzantine domination until the 9th cent., when most of Macedonia was wrested from the Byzantine Empire by Bulgaria. Emperor Basil II recovered it (1014–18) for Byzantium, but after the temporary breakup (1204) of the Byzantine Empire during the Fourth Crusade, Macedonia was bitterly contested among the Latin Empire of Constantinople, the Bulgars under Ivan II, the despots of Epirus, and the emperors of Nicaea. It again became part of the Byzantine Empire, which was restored in 1261, but in the 14th cent. Stephen Dušan of Serbia conquered all Macedonia except for present-day Thessaloníki.

The fall of the Serbian empire in the late 14th cent. brought Macedonia under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, which lasted for five centuries. In the 19th cent. the national revival in the Balkans began; national and religious antagonism flared, and conflict was heightened by the Ottoman policy of playing one group against the other. Meanwhile the Ottoman Empire lost control over the major sections of Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria, each of which claimed Macedonia on historical or ethnical grounds. In the Treaty of San Stefano (1878), which terminated the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Bulgaria was awarded the lion's share of Macedonia. However, the settlement was nullified by the European powers in the same year (see Berlin, Congress of), and Macedonia was left under direct Ottoman control.

Modern History

A secret terrorist organization working for Macedonian independence sprang up in the late 19th cent. and soon wielded great power. The komitadjis, as the terrorist bands were called, were generally supported by Bulgaria, which gained a major share of Macedonia in the first of the Balkan Wars (1912–13). Greece and Serbia turned against Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War, and the Treaty of Bucharest (1913) left Bulgaria only a small share of Macedonia, the rest of which was divided roughly along the present lines. Thousands of Macedonians fled to Bulgaria.

In World War I the Salonica (present-day Thessaloníki) campaigns took place in Macedonia. After the war Macedonia became a hotbed of agitation and terrorism, directed largely from Bulgaria. The population exchange among Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria after 1923 resulted in the replacement by Greek refugees from Asia Minor of most of the Slavic and Turkish elements in Greek Macedonia. Charging that the Greek minority in Bulgarian Macedonia was being mistreated, Greece in 1925 invaded Bulgaria. The League of Nations, however, forced a cession of hostilities and awarded (1926) a decision favorable to Bulgaria.

Bulgarian relations with Yugoslavia (before 1929 the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) remained strained over the Macedonian question. Frontier incidents were frequent, as were Yugoslav charges against Bulgaria for fostering the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), a nationalist group that used violence, in Yugoslavia. Macedonian agitation against Serbian rule culminated (1934) in the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia by a Macedonian nationalist at Marseilles.

In World War II all Macedonia was occupied (1941–44) by Bulgaria, which sided with the Axis against Yugoslavia and Greece. The Bulgarian armistice treaty of 1944 restored the prewar boundaries, which were confirmed in the peace treaty of 1947. The Yugoslav constitution of 1946 made Yugoslav Macedonia an autonomous unit in a federal state, and the Macedonian people were recognized as a separate nationality.

Tension over Macedonia continued in the early postwar years. During the Greek civil war there was much conflict between Greece and Yugoslavia over Macedonia, and the breach between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria after 1948 helped to make the Macedonian question explosive. However, with the settlement of the civil war and with the easing of Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations after 1962, tension over Macedonia was reduced. In 1990, Yugoslav Macedonia elected its first non-Communist government and the following year the Republic of Macedonia was born.


See H. N. Brailsford, Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future (1971); H. Lydall, Yugoslavia in Crisis 1989).

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Culture Name


Alternative Names

Makedonski, Slavo-Macedonian, Skopia


Identification. The ancient Macedonians were considered non-Greek but are claimed as co-nationals by the modern Greeks. Modern Macedonians are Slavs descended from the peoples who arrived in the Balkans in the sixth and seventh centuries. There are six ethnic groups: Miyak, Brsyak, Southern, Struma-Mesta, Macedo-Shop, and Upper Vardar.

Location and Geography. Macedonia is a land-locked nation located in southeastern Europe. The current border runs along mountain chains that separate the republic from Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, and Kosovo and Serbia. Macedonia is slightly larger than the state of Vermont with a total area of 9,781 square miles (25,333 square kilometers). The country consists mostly of mountains separated by flat river valleys. The capital, Skopje, is the largest city.

Demography. In 1994, the population was 1,945,932. The population in that year was 67 percent Macedonian, 22 percent Albanian, and 4 percent Turkish, with smaller numbers of Roms (Gypsies), Vlahs (Aromanians), Serbs, Muslims, and others. The number of Macedonians in neighboring states is difficult to determine.

Linguistic Affiliation. Macedonian is a South Slavic language in the Indo-European family whose closest relatives are Bulgarian and Serbian. There is a major east-west dialectal division and about twenty subdivisions. Macedonian evolved in contact with non-Slavic languages such as Greek, Albanian, Aromanian, and Turkish. During the Ottoman period, multilingualism was the norm, but today young Macedonian speakers are more likely to know English than the other national languages. Multilingualism is common in urban areas but is less common in rural areas.

Symbolism. The unsuccessful Saint Elijah's Day (Ilinden) uprising of 1903 is the organizing metaphor of statehood. The Macedonian Peoples Republic (with Macedonian as the official language) was established in 1944. The sarcophagus of Gotse Delchev in a church in Skopje is near the site of a ceremonial commemoration that includes fireworks, picnics, and folk dancing. The national anthem refers to the sun of freedom, the struggle for rights, and the heroes of Ilinden. The first flag used after independence, featuring a yellow sixteen-pointed symbol in the center of a red field, was based on a symbol found at the presumed burial site of Philip of Macedon in Greek Macedonia in 1977. The use of this symbol infuriated the Greeks, and in 1995 the Macedonian parliament adopted a flag with a yellow circle with eight rays projecting to the edge of a red field. Other metaphors of community include "Mother Macedonia," "heart of the Balkans," and "oasis of peace."

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Byzantine documents indicate that the Slavs of Macedonia were a distinct group in the early medieval period, and Slavic dialects from Macedonia are identifiable from early Slavic documents. The modern national movement emerged in the nineteenth century. Although many Macedonians self-identified as Greeks, Bulgarians, or Serbs, a distinct sense of national identity developed from a sense of linguistic difference from Bulgarian and Serbian. Owing to Greek, Serbian, and Bulgarian territorial claims, Macedonian claims to nationhood were ignored until the end of World War II, when a Macedonian republic was established within the Yugoslav federation. That republic adopted an independent constitution on 17 November 1991.

National Identity. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the primary source of identity was religion, but the focus shifted to language before the end of the century. As the modern Bulgarian and Serbian literary languages took shape, Macedonians attempted to create a literary language based on their speech, but Macedonian did not receive official recognition until 1944. It is claimed that a Macedonian national identity arose during World War II to keep Yugoslavian Macedonia separate from Bulgaria, but there is documentation that the development of a national identity was indigenous in the nineteenth century.

Ethnic Relations. Ethnic Macedonians live in contiguous parts of Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania, and Muslim speakers of Slavic dialects classifiable as Macedonian who consider themselves to have a separate ethnicity (Goran) live in Kosovo and Albania. Albania recognizes as Macedonian only the Christians living in its southeast, omitting the Macedonian-speaking Muslim and Christian population of the eastern highlands and the Gorans. In 1999, Bulgaria recognized the independent existence of the Macedonian literary language, but in return Macedonia has renounced support for the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. Greece claims to have no national minorities and thus does not recognize the existence of its Macedonian minority. In Greek EU-funded minority language projects, Macedonian has never been included. Within Macedonia, religion is as important an organizing principle as language: Most Macedonians, Serbs, and Aromanians (Vlahs) are Christian, and most Albanians, Turks, and Rom are Muslim. The national culture is identified with the Macedonian Orthodox Church, and Macedonian-speaking Muslims are divided among those who self-identify as Macedonians on the basis of language and those who self-identify as Muslims.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

The traditional culture is rural, but today more than 60 percent of the population is urban, with a quarter of the national residents living in metropolitan Skopje. Traditional architectural influences are Mediterranean, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Modern high-rise apartment blocks have a balcony, which often is used for storage and clothes drying. A traditional Muslim household has separate rooms for male and female guests, whereas a Christian house has a single room. In older urban neighborhoods, individual single-story rooms open into a central courtyard. Wealthier traditional urban houses have one or more upper stories projecting over the street. Urban areas are characterized by a historical center with an open bazaar. Skopje was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1963. The old main train station, torn in half with its clock stopped at the moment of the quake, was reinforced and left standing as a monument to the disaster. Many public monuments commemorate those fallen in World War II or Ilinden. Since 1991, many villages have restored or built new churches or mosques.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Breakfast is eaten around nine a.m. by workers in offices, but earlier by factory workers, and in the field in the country. Dinner is the main meal and is eaten at around two p.m. Supper is eaten later after the afternoon siesta. Meals are prepared immediately before consumption, although they may include leftovers. Hot food often is allowed to cool to room temperature. Breakfast can consist of bread and cheese, sometimes with eggs. Other meals can begin with meze (appetizers) served with rakia (fruit brandy). Bean casserole (tavche-gravche) is the national dish, and bread is considered the most basic food. In restaurants, pizza is especially popular. Hotel restaurants are popular venues for banquets, and there are many private restaurants. There are no food taboos other than those associated with religion, but folk beliefs about food abound.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Among Christians, a bird is eaten for Christmas, and lamb for Easter. Among Muslims, a lamb is slaughtered for Kurban Bayram. At Christmas Eve dinner it is traditional to serve a cake with a coin in it. Sweet desserts are associated with religious holidays, New Year's Day, births, weddings, and funerals and commemorations. Blaga rakia (hot sugared fruit brandy) is served by the parents of the groom the morning after the wedding night if the bride is found to have been a virgin.

Basic Economy. The traditional economy was agricultural and pastoral. The nation is now industrialized and has been integrated in international trade.

Land Tenure and Property. Traditionally, land was held in common by the extended family, which was patrilocal and was defined patrilineally. After the division of property, wells and threshing floors often continued to be used collectively. Each village has a boundary that is the basic level of property division above that of the family. During the communist period, private property rights were restricted.

Commercial Activities. Cash crops include sugar beets, sunflowers, cotton, rice, tobacco, grains, fruits and vegetables, opium poppies, wine, livestock, dairy products, fish, and hardwoods. There is a tourist industry and a traditional crafts industry.

Major Industries. Steel, cement, mining, textiles, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, and furniture making are the largest industries.

Trade. Exports include food products, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. Serbia was the major trading partner before the imposition of international sanctions. Other important major trading partners include the former Yugoslav republics, other Balkan states, and the European Union.

Division of Labor. Labor is primarily based on agriculture, mining, and light industry. There were about one million persons in the labor force in 1998. In 1996, 38.8 percent of the labor force could not find employment. The minimum age of employment is fifteen years.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Differences in the distribution of wealth have increased since 1991, with Roms at the bottom. Other social differences result from differences between urban and rural populations. Serbs and Aromanians are well integrated into the economy, while Albanians are underrepresented in the state sector.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Ethnicity is more important than class. Dress and behavior are likely to follow ethnic lines, although national costumes and articles of clothing have become less common as a result of increasing urbanization and modernization.

Political Life

Government. Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy. Macedonia's unicameral assembly of one-hundred twenty seats is called the Sobranje. The executive branch consists of the President (elected by popular vote) and the Council of Ministers (elected by the majority vote of all the deputies in the Sobranje).

Leadership and Political Officials. Political parties tend to follow ethnic lines and draw their leaders from educated elites. The main exceptions are parties led by former communists, which tend to be multiethnic. Personal connections are an important aspect of political life.

Social Problems and Control. The revision of the legal system after the communist period is not complete. Police brutality can take on ethnic overtones. Albanians are significantly underrepresented in the upper ranks of the security structure. The lack of independence of the judiciary from the political system is a perceived problem. Informal social control involves the family, gossip, saving face, and the threat of vengeance. Violent crime is rare.

Military Activity. The army is small and has outdated equipment, although it is in the process of modernizing, especially since 1999. Macedonia's security has been guaranteed by international troops since January 1993. The most important military activity is protecting the country's borders.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The state provides social welfare to needy families and grants pensions to retirees.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Macedonia has numerous foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations. The boundaries between local organizations, cultural associations, and political parties is fluid.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Men and women work outside the home, but women are responsible for most domestic labor. In academia, men dominate in the sciences and engineering, whereas women are more visible in the humanities.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. In principle, the genders are equal. In practice, men have higher status, and women are likely to manage the household. Women occupy some positions of power but their representation is not in proportion to their numbers.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Traditionally, marriages were arranged by the parents, but today young people are likely to choose their own partners. Pregnancy often leads to marriage among urban youth, but in the traditional culture the bride is expected to be a virgin. Traditional marriages usually do not cross religious lines. Polygyny occasionally occurs among Muslims. Marriage is the norm, and adults who have never been married are rare. Divorce and remarriage are regulated by civil law.

Domestic Unit. The traditional unit is the patrilocal extended family consisting of a married couple, their unmarried daughters, and their sons with their own spouses and children. This is becoming increasingly less common in urban areas. Children tend to live with their parents until they are married.

Inheritance. Traditionally, inheritance goes through the male line except for what women take with them as a dowry. Today children inherit equally or by assignment.

Kin Groups. Traditionally, above the level of the family or extended family there was the exogamous clan. In rural areas, a clan often constituted a hamlet within a village. The church, however, allows intraclan marriage after three generations.


Infant Care. Infants are swaddled and carried, and sleep in cradles. They do not have separate play spaces. In urban areas, sleeping and playing arrangements depend on the space available.

Child Rearing and Education. Children are looked after by their mothers, grandmothers, neighbors, or older siblings. Children play freely at an early age. Boys are expected to be more active than girls. In urban areas there are also nursery schools and kindergartens. Eight-year elementary education is compulsory.

Higher Education. Society places a high value on higher education, but ethnic minorities are under-represented. Approximately 87 percent of those holding university degrees are ethnic Macedonians.


In the traditional culture, the young show deference to the old. It is normal for male friends to shake hands and for women to kiss when meeting and saying good-bye. A person entering a room where others are seated will shake hands with each person. Physical contact among friends of the same gender is considered normal. Although staring at strangers was once common, it became relatively rare in the 1990s. It once was the norm to remove one's shoes at the entrance of a home, but this practice is receding among urban Christians.


Religious Beliefs. The major religions are Orthodox Christianity (66 percent) and Islam (30 percent), with small groups of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and atheists. Most Jews were deported and killed by the Nazis, but a few still live in Macedonia. Belief in the evil eye is widespread, and religious practices in rural areas often reflect folk beliefs.

Rituals and Holy Places. Rituals take place at the church or mosque, at the cemetery, in the village, and at home. The most important holidays are Christmas and Easter for Christians and Ramadan and Kurban Bayram for Muslims. Among the Rom, Saint George's Day on 6 May is the major holiday. The Aromanians celebrate 20 May as the Day of the Vlahs, to commemorate the Ottoman recognition of a separate Aromanian church (and therefore millet "nationality") in 1905. Among the customs still practiced are the lighting of bonfires and the singing of special songs on Christmas Eve. Traditionally on the Feast of the Epiphany, a cross is thrown into a major body of water to bless it for the new year.

Death and the Afterlife. Relatives visit the grave on the third, ninth, and fortieth days after the burial; after six months; and after the first year to mourn, give out food, light candles and incense, and pour libations of water or wine. An unmarried young person is buried dressed for a wedding. Among folk beliefs are various practices to prevent a corpse from becoming a vampire.

Medicine and Health Care

Medicine is modern, but there are also the traditional folk healers, normally old women, who deal with mysterious illnesses such as warts and maladies caused by the evil eye.

Secular Celebrations

Official holidays include the New Year on 1 and 2 January, Orthodox Christmas on 7 January, Easter Monday, the International Day of Labor on 1 and 2 May, Saint Elijah's Day on 2 August, Macedonian Independence Day on 8 September, and the Day of the Uprising of the Macedonian People on 11 October to commemorate World War II.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The arts are supported by the state through the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, institutions of higher learning, and public theaters. Despite its small size, Macedonia boasts thirteen active professional theater groups that average over sixteen hundred total performances per year, a philharmonic orchestra (established in 1944), six chamber ensembles, and a host of annual folk music festivals.

Literature. Modern Macedonian literature made its appearance during the late 1800s with the poetry of the brothers Dimitar and Konstantin Miladinov, whose works are still recited by students. The growing literary collection grounded in the current, or codified, standards of the Macedonian language, on the other hand, marks its beginning with the 1939 publication of Kosta Racin's programmatic collection of poems entitled Beli Mugri (White Dawns). While most of the distinguished nineteenth and early twentieth century literary figures were poets, since the end of World War II there has been an increase in the number of prose writers and playwrights.

Graphic Arts. Villagers in Macedonia are known for their weaving of colorful blankets and carpets. Gold and silversmiths are plentiful in the bazaars of larger cities, and stomnari, or urn-makers, still produce glazed terra cotta utensils such as urns, pitchers, cups, and bowls.

Performance Arts. Since gaining independence, Macedonia has produced a number of promising film directors whose pictures have acquired international recognition and praise. The film Before the Rain, for example, was nominated in 1994 by the American Film Academy for the Best Foreign Language Film Award. It had already won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1967 at Skopje, has sections of biological and medical sciences and of mathematical and technical sciences. The country also has an Association of the Sciences and Arts, founded in 1960 at Bitola, as well as specialized learned societies concerned with physics, pharmacy, geology, medicine, mathematics and computers, veterinary surgery, engineering, forestry, and agriculture. Macedonia has research institutes dealing with geology, natural history, cotton, animal breeding, tobacco, animal husbandry, and water development.

The University of Skopje (founded in 1949) has faculties of civil engineering, agriculture, veterinary medicine, forestry, medicine, pharmacy, mechanical engineering, electrotechnical engineering, technology and metallurgy, natural and mathematical sciences, stomatology, and geology and mining. Between 1987 and 1997 science and engineering students accounted for 47 percent of university enrollment. During that same period, Macedonia had 1,335 scientists and engineers and 546 technicians per million people engaged in research and development. The Natural History Museum of Macedonia (founded 1926) is located in Skopje.


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The people of Macedonia are called Macedonians. About 65 percent of the population trace their ancestry to Macedonia. Other groups include Albanians, about 21 percent, and Turks, 5 percent. For more information on the Albanians, see the chapter on Albania in Volume 1; and on the Turks, the chapter on Turkey in Volume 9.

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