Republic of Macedonia

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Europe; European Countries

country-name" colspan="3" style="line-height:1.2em; padding:0.25em 0.33em 0.33em; font-size:1.25em;">Република Македонија
Republika Makedonija
Republic of Macedonia
Flag of the Republic of Macedonia Coat of arms of the Republic of Macedonia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Слобода или смрт
(English: "Freedom or Death")
Anthem:  Денес над Македонија
(English: "Today over Macedonia")
Location of the Republic of Macedonia
Location of the  Republic of Macedonia  (orange)

on the European continent  (white)  —  [ Legend]

Largest city Skopje
Official languages Macedonian1
Demonym Macedonian
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President Branko Crvenkovski
 -  Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski ( VMRO–DPMNE)
Independence from Yugoslavia 
 -  Independence declared
Officially recognised
September 8, 1991
8 April 1993 
Area
 -  Total 25,713 km² ( 148th)
9,779  sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.9%
Population
 -  Jan. 01, 2006 estimate 2,038,514 ( 143rd)
 -  2002 census 2,022,547 
 -  Density 79/km² ( 111th)
205/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2006 estimate
 -  Total $16.94 billion ( 103rd)
 -  Per capita $7,645 
GDP (nominal) 2006 estimate
 -  Total $16,410 billion ( 121st)
 -  Per capita $7,645 ( 80th)
Gini (2004) 29.3 (low
HDI (2005) 0.801 (high) ( 69th)
Currency Macedonian denar ( MKD)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 -  Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Internet TLD .mk
Calling code +389
1 Albanian is widely spoken in Western Macedonia. In some areas Turkish, Serbian, Romany and Aromanian are also spoken.

The Republic of Macedonia ( Macedonian: Република Македонија, Republika Makedonija listen ), often referred to as Macedonia, is a landlocked country on the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Serbia and Kosovo to the north, Albania to the west, Greece to the south, and Bulgaria to the east.

It was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional reference the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia commonly abbreviated to FYROM, pending resolution of a naming dispute with Greece. Many other international institutions and countries have recognised the country under the same reference, although an overall majority of countries recognise it under its constitutional name.

The Republic of Macedonia forms approximately 35.8% of the land and 40.9% of the population of the wider geographical region of Macedonia, as it was defined in the late 19th century. The capital is Skopje, with 506,926 inhabitants according to a 2004 census, and there are a number of smaller cities, notably Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Štip, Kočani, Gostivar and Strumica. It has more than 50 natural and artificial lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 meters (6,550  ft).

The country is a member of the UN and the Council of Europe and a member of La Francophonie, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Since December 2005 it is also a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership.

History


The lands governed by the Republic of Macedonia were previously the southernmost part of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. Its current borders were fixed shortly after World War II when the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia declared the People's Republic of Macedonia as a separate nation within Yugoslavia.

Over the centuries the territory which today forms the Republic of Macedonia was ruled by a number of different states and former empires.

Ancient History

The first recorded state on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia was the Thraco-Illyrian kingdom of Paionia, which covered the Axius River valley and the surrounding areas. Philip II of Macedon took over the southernmost regions of Paeonia in 336 BC and founded the city of Heraclea Lyncestis, near what is now Bitola. Philip's son Alexander the Great conquered the remainder of Paeonia, which then became part of his empire. Subsequently the territory was conquered by Rome and became part of two Roman provinces. The greater part was within Macedonia Salutaris, but the northern border regions, inhabited by the Dardani, became a part of Moesia Superior. By 400 AD the Paeonians had lost their identity, and Paeonia was merely a geographic term.

The Medieval period

Presence of Slavic tribes c. 700 AD
Presence of Slavic tribes c. 700 AD

In the late 6th century AD, as Byzantine control over the area disintegrated, the region was increasingly settled by various Slavic tribes from the north, such as Draguvites, Bersites, Sagudates, Smoleanoi and Strymonoi. During this decay in Byzantine power, some of the pre-Slavic inhabitants retreated to fortified Greek cities along the Aegean Sea, others took refuge in mountains, whilst many others were assimilated by the Slavs. These people were a large mix of indigenous Balkaners ( Greeks, Illyrians and Thracians as well as "Roman" settlers and foederati that had settled the area over the preceding centuries; sharing a sense of Graeco-Roman identity (by was of language and customs). The Slavs of Byzantine Macedonia organised themselves in autonomous rural societies called by the Greeks "Σκλαβινίαι" ( Sklaviniai). The Byzantine emperors would aim to Hellenise and incorporate the Sklaviniai into the socio-economic rule of Byzantium. While Byzantine achieved this with the Slavs of the Thracian theme, the emperors had to resort to military expeditions to pacify the Sklaviniai of Macedonia, often repeatedly. These expeditions reached their peak with Justinian II, and Byzantine accounts report that as many as 200,000 from Macedonia to central Anatolia, forcing them to pay tribute and serve in the imperial army. Whilst many of the Slavs in Macedonia had to acknowledge Byzantine authority, the majority remained ethnically independent, and continued to form the demographic majority in the region as a whole. Rather than forming a unified Slavic state, they continued to live as separate tribes. Circa 850 AD, the First Bulgarian Empire expanded into the region of Macedonia. John Fine suggests that Bulgaria's expansion into Macedonia was smooth, since Byzantine authority in the area was nominal, and most of the Slavic tribes of Macedonia willingly joined (the predominantly Slavic) Bulgarian confederacy.

Medieval Orthodox Monastery of St. Naum on Lake Ohrid
Medieval Orthodox Monastery of St. Naum on Lake Ohrid

The Slavic peoples of Macedonia accepted Christianity as their own religion around the 9th century, during the reign of prince Boris I of Bulgaria. The creators of the Glagolitic alphabet, the Byzantine Greek monks Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, under the guidance of the Patriarchate at Constantinople, were promoters of Christianity and initiated Slavic literacy among the Slavic people. They were based in Thessaloniki, where Slavic was spoken universally as a second language after Greek, and used the Macedonian dialect spoken in the hinterland of Thessaloniki as the basis for what would become the universal Old Slavonic. Their work was accepted in early medieval Bulgaria and continued by St. Clement of Ohrid, creator of Cyrillic alphabet and St. Naum of Ohrid as founders of the Ohrid Literary School.

Fortress of Tsar Samuel
Fortress of Tsar Samuel

In 1014, Emperor Basil II finally defeated the armies of Tsar Samuil and by 1018 the Byzantines restored control over Macedonia (and all of the Balkans) for the first time since the 600s. However, by the late 12th century, inevitable Byzantine decline saw the region become contested by various political entities, including a brief Norman occupation in the 1080s. In the early 13th century, a revived Bulgarian Empire gained control of the region. Plagued by political difficulties the empire did not last and the wider geographical Macedonia region fell once again under Byzantine control. In the 14th century, it became part of the Serbian Empire, who saw themselves as liberators of their Slavic kin from Byzantine despotism. Skopje became the capital of Tsar Stefan Dusan's empire.

However, with Dusan's death, a weak successor and power struggles between nobles divided the Balkans once again. This coincided with the entry of the Ottoman Turks into Europe. With no major Balkan power left to defend Christianity, the entire Balkans fell to Turkish rule - which would remain so for five centuries.

The National Awakening

Ottoman rule over the region was considered harsh. One of the earliest uprisings against Ottoman rule came in 1689 with Karposh's Rebellion. Several movements whose goals were the establishment of autonomous Macedonia, encompassing the entire region of Macedonia, began to arise in the late 1800s; the earliest of these was the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committees, later transformed to SMORO. In 1905 it was renamed as IMORO and after World War I the organization separated into the IMRO and the ITRO. The early organization did not proclaim any ethnic identities; it was officially open to "...uniting all the disgruntled elements in Macedonia and the Adrianople region, regardless of their nationality...". The majority of its members were however Slavic/Bulgarian-speakers. In 1903, IMRO organised the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising against the Ottomans, which after some initial successes, including the forming of the Krushevo Republic, was crushed with much loss of life. The uprising and the forming of the Krushevo Republic are considered the cornerstone and precursors to the eventual establishment of the Republic of Macedonia.

Kingdoms of Serbia and Yugoslavia

Boundaries on the Balkans after the First and Second Balkan War.
Boundaries on the Balkans after the First and Second Balkan War.

Following the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, most of its European held territories were divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. The territory of the present-day Republic of Macedonia was then named Južna Srbija, " Southern Serbia". After the First World War, Serbia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, the Kingdom was officially renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and divided into provinces called banovinas. Southern Serbia ( Vardar Macedonia), including all of what is now the Republic of Macedonia, became known as the Vardar Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslav Macedonia in World War II

In 1941, Yugoslavia was occupied by the Axis Powers and the Vardar Banovina was divided between Bulgaria and Italian-occupied Albania. Local recruits and volunteers formed the Bulgarian 5th Army, based in Skopje, which was responsible for the round-up and deportation of over 7,000 Jews in Skopje and Bitola. Harsh rule by the occupying forces encouraged some to support the Communist Partisan resistance movement of Josip Broz Tito.

Macedonia in Socialist Yugoslavia

After the end of the Second World War, when Tito became Yugoslavia's president, the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established. The People's Republic of Macedonia became one of the six republics of the Yugoslav federation. Following the federation's renaming as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963, the People's Republic of Macedonia was likewise renamed, becoming the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. It dropped the "Socialist" from its name in 1991 when it peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia.

Declaration of independence

The country officially celebrates September 8, 1991 as Independence day ( Macedonian: Ден на независноста, Den na nezavisnosta), with regard to the referendum endorsing independence from Yugoslavia, albeit legalising participation in future union of the former states of Yugoslavia. The anniversary of the start of the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising (St. Elijah's Day) on August 2 is also widely celebrated on an official level.

Robert Badinter as a head of Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on the former Yugoslavia recommended EU recognition in January 1992.

The Republic of Macedonia remained at peace through the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s. A few very minor changes to its border with Yugoslavia were agreed upon to resolve problems with the demarcation line between the two countries. However, it was seriously destabilised by the Kosovo War in 1999, when an estimated 360,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo took refuge in the country. Although they departed shortly after the war, soon after, Albanian radicals on both sides of the border took up arms in pursuit of autonomy or independence for the Albanian-populated areas of the Republic.

Macedonian civil conflict

The civil war was fought between government and ethnic Albanian rebels, mostly in the north and west of the country, between March and June 2001. This war ended with the intervention of a NATO ceasefire monitoring force. In the Ohrid Agreement, the government agreed to devolve greater political power and cultural recognition to the Albanian minority. The Albanian side agreed to surrender separatist demands and to fully recognise all Macedonian institutions. In addition, according to this accord, the NLA were to disarm and hand over their weapons to a NATO force. In 2005, the country was officially recognised as a European Union candidate state, under the reference "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".

Geography

Topography

Korab mountain, the highest mountain in the country
Korab mountain, the highest mountain in the country
Solunska glava peak on Jakupica mountain in spring
Solunska glava peak on Jakupica mountain in spring

The Republic of Macedonia is a landlocked country that is geographically clearly defined by a central valley formed by the Vardar river and framed along its borders by mountain ranges. The Republic's terrain is mostly rugged, located between the Šara and Osogovo, which frame the valley of the Vardar river. Three large lakes — Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Dojran Lake — lie on the southern borders of the Republic, bisected by the frontiers with Albania and Greece. Ohrid is considered to be one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world. The region is seismically active and has been the site of destructive earthquakes in the past, most recently in 1963 when Skopje was heavily damaged by a major earthquake, killing over 1,000.

The Republic of Macedonia also has scenic mountains. They belong to two different ranges: Dinarska and Rodopska. The Dinarska range is the oldest with subsequent erosion; the Rodopska range is younger offering rugged, alpine scenery. The ten highest mountains in the Republic of Macedonia are:

Name Height (m) Height (ft)
Mount Korab 2,764 9,396
Šar Mountain 2,747 9,012
Baba Mountain 2,601 8,533
Jakupica 2,540 8,333
Nidže 2,521 8,271
Deshat 2,373 7,785
Galičica 2,288 7,507
Stogovo 2,273 7,457
Jablanica 2,257 7,405
Osogovo 2,251 7,383
Mount Bistra 2,163 7,096
Plačkovica 1,754 5,754

Climate

Macedonian mountains covered with snow
Macedonian mountains covered with snow

The Republic of Macedonia has transitional climate from Mediterranean to continental. The summers are hot and dry and the winters are moderately cold. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,700 mm (67 inches) in the western mountainous area to 500 mm (20 inches) in the eastern area. There are three main climatic zones in the country: temperate Mediterranean, mountainous and mildly Continental. Along the valleys of the Vardar and Strumica rivers, in the regions of Gevgelija, Valandovo, Dojran, Strumica and Radovish the climate is temperate Mediterranean. The warmest region is the Demir Kapija and Gevgelija region, where the temperature in July and August frequently exceeds 40 C. The mountainous climate is present in the mountainous regions of the country and it is characterised by long and snowy winters and short and cold summers. The spring is colder than the fall. The majority of the country has a moderate continental climate with warm and dry summers and relatively cold and wet winters. There are 30 main and regular weather stations in the country.

Wildlife

Phytogeographically, the Republic of Macedonia belongs to the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency, the territory of the Republic of Macedonia can be subdivided into four ecoregions: the Pindus Mountains mixed forests, Balkan mixed forests, Rodope montane mixed forests and Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests.

Administrative regions

Regions

Macedonian statistical regions
Macedonian statistical regions

Macedonia's statistical regions exist solely for legal and statistical purposes. The regions are:

  • Skopje
  • Pelagonia
  • Polog
  • Eastern
  • Southeastern
  • Northeastern
  • Southwestern
  • Vardar

Municipalities and cities

In August 2004, the Republic of Macedonia was reorganised into 85 municipalities (opštini; sing. opština), 10 of which comprise Greater Skopje. This is reduced from the previous 123 municipalities established in September, 1996. Prior to this, local government was organised into 34 administrative districts.

Politics

The Republic of Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy with an executive government composed of a coalition of parties from the unicameral legislature (Собрание, Sobranie) and an independent judicial branch with a constitutional court. The Assembly is made up of 120 seats and the members are elected every four years. The role of the President of the Republic is mostly ceremonial, with the real power resting in the hands of the President of the Government. The President is the commander-in-chief of the state armed forces and a president of the state Security Council. The President of the Republic is elected every five years and he or she can be elected twice at most. The current President is Branko Crvenkovski.

President of the Republic of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski
President of the Republic of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski

With the passage of a new law and elections held in 2005, local government functions are divided between 78 municipalities (општини, opštini; singular: општина, opština). The capital, Skopje, is governed as a group of ten municipalities collectively referred to as the "City of Skopje". Municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia are units of local self-government. Neighbouring municipalities may establish co-operative arrangements. The country's main political divergence is between the largely ethnically-based political parties representing the country's ethnic Macedonian majority and Albanian minority. The issue of the power balance between the two communities led to a brief war in 2001, following which a power-sharing agreement was reached. In August 2004, the Republic's parliament passed legislation redrawing local boundaries and giving greater local autonomy to ethnic Albanians in areas where they predominate.

After a troublesome pre-election campaign, the country saw a relatively calm and democratic change of government in the elections held on 5 July 2006. The elections were marked by a decisive victory of the centre-right party VMRO-DPMNE led by Nikola Gruevski. Gruevski's decision to include the Democratic Party of Albanians in the new government, instead of the Democratic Union for Integration - Party for Democratic Prosperity coalition which won the majority of the Albanian votes, triggered protests throughout the parts of the country with a respective number of Albanian population. However, recently a dialogue was established between the Democratic Union for Integration and the ruling VMRO-DMPNE party as an effort to talk about the disputes between the two parties and to support European and NATO aspirations of the country.

Parliament

Parliament Building in Skopje
Parliament Building in Skopje

Government

Law and courts

Judiciary power is exercised by courts, with the court system being headed by the Judicial Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and the Republican Judicial Council. The assembly appoints the judges.

Foreign relations

The Republic of Macedonia became a member state of the United Nations on April 8, 1993, eighteen months after its independence from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is referred within the UN as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", pending a resolution to the long-running dispute about the country's name. Other international bodies, such as the European Union, European Broadcasting Union, and the International Olympic Committee have adopted similar conventions. NATO also uses the reference in official documents but adds an explanation on which member countries recognize the constitutional name.

The UN's member states all recognise the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but are divided over what to call it. A number of countries recognise the country by its constitutional name – the Republic of Macedonia – rather than the UN reference, notably three of the five permanent UN Security Council members (the United States, Russia, and the People's Republic of China) and over 100 other UN members; but the constitutional name is never used in relations where a country not recognizing the constitutional name is a party.

The architecture in the town of Ohrid
The architecture in the town of Ohrid
The architecture in the city of Bitola
The architecture in the city of Bitola

Macedonia naming dispute

After the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia's name and history became the object of a dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia (see also Vergina Sun). From 1992 to 1995, the two countries also engaged in a dispute over the Republic's first flag, which incorporated the Vergina Sun symbol, a symbol of the ancient Kingdom of Macedon. Its adoption by the Republic, on 3 July 1992, was seen as a reaction by Skopje to Athens' pressure to change the name. This aspect of the dispute was resolved when the flag was changed under the terms of an interim accord agreed between the two states in October 1995.

Even when the European Union-nominated Arbitration Commission (consisting of the five presidents of constitutional courts - German, French, Italian, Spanish and Belgian) has handed down its opinion that "that the use of the name `Macedonia' cannot therefore imply any territorial claim against another State", Greece objected the use of the term Macedonia in the newly sovereign state and resorted to disputing its use.

Due to the dispute over the name, the United Nations agreed to a provisional reference — "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" ( Macedonian: Поранешна Југословенска Република Македонија) — when it became a member state in 1993 . Most international organisations adopted the same convention, including the European Union, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, the European Broadcasting Union, and the International Olympic Committee, among others. The EU recognises the country as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the negotiations with the EU are held using this reference, EC report]. The same reference is also used in any discussion to which Greece is a party but is inconsistently used by other countries. Bulgaria uses the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’ even if it is seen as interfering with the traditional use of the name ‘ Pirin Macedonia’, insisting however that any solution to the naming dispute with Greece should "take account of the historical, cultural, and other realities related to the geographic region of Macedonia".

On the other hand, the government of the Republic of Macedonia never signs any documents with a name different than the constitutional name. However, an increasing number of countries have abandoned the United Nations provisional reference and have recognised the country as the Republic of Macedonia or simply Macedonia instead. These include four of the five permanent UN Security Council members, the United States, Russia, United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China, as well two of its immediate neighbours, Bulgaria and Serbia. Negotiations continue between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia but have yet to reach any settlement of the dispute.

Military

Macedonian military - the Macedonian Armed Forces - is the name of the unified armed forces of the Republic of Macedonia with Macedonian Army, Macedonian Air Force. The national defence policy aims to guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state, the integrity of its land area and airspace and its constitutional order. Its main goals remain the development and maintenance of a credible capability to defend the nation's vital interests and development of the Armed Forces in a way that ensures their interoperability with the armed forces of NATO and European Union member states and their capability to participate in the full range of Alliance missions.

The Ministry of Defence develops the defence strategy and works out the assessment of the possible threats and risks. The MOD is also responsible for the defence system, training, readiness of the Armed Forces, the equipment and the development and it proposes the defence budget.

Economy

Recently ranked as the fourth 'best reformatory state' out of 178 countries ranked by the World Bank, the Republic of Macedonia has undergone considerable economic reform since independence. The country has developed an open economy with trade accounting for more than 90% of GDP in recent years. Since 1996, the country has witnessed steady, though slow, economic growth with GDP growing by 3.1% in 2005. This figure is projected to rise to an average of 5.2% in the 2006-2010 period. The government has proven successful in its efforts to combat inflation, with an inflation rate of only 3% in 2006 and 2% in 2007 and has implemented policies focused on attracting foreign investment and promoting the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The current government introduced a flat tax system with the intention of making the country more attractive to foreign investment. The flat tax rate was 12% in 2007 and will be further lowered to 10% in 2008.

Despite these successes, as of 2005 Macedonia's unemployment rate was 37.2%and as of 2006 its poverty rate was 22%. Corruption and a relatively ineffective legal system also act as significant restraints on successful economic development. The Republic still has one of the lowest per capita GDPs in Europe. Furthermore, the country's grey market is estimated at close to 20% of GDP.

In terms of structure, as of 2005 the service sector constituted by far the largest part of GDP at 57.1%, up from 54.2% in 2000. The industrial sector represents 29.3% of GDP, down from 33.7% in 2000 while agriculture represents only 12.9%, up from 12%. Textiles represent the most significant sector for trade, accounting for more than half of total exports. Other important exports include iron, steel, wine and vegetables.

Infrastructure and e-Infrastructure

Macedonia, together with Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, belonged to the less developed region of the former Yugoslavia. It suffered severe economic difficulties after independence, when the Yugoslav internal market collapsed and subsidies from Belgrade ended. In addition, it faced many of the same problems faced by other former socialist East European countries during the transition to a market economy. Its main land and rail exports route, through Serbia, remains unreliable with high transit costs, thereby affecting the export of its formerly highly profitable, early vegetables market to Germany.

Trade and investment

The outbreak of the Yugoslav wars and the imposition of sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro caused great damage to the Republic's economy, with Serbia constituting 60% of its markets prior to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. When Greece imposed a trade embargo on the Republic in 1994–95, the economy was also affected. Some relief was afforded by the end of the Bosnian war in November 1995 and the lifting of the Greek embargo, but the Kosovo War of 1999 and the 2001 Albanian crisis caused further destabilisation. Since the end of the Greek embargo, Greece has become the most important business partner of the Republic of Macedonia. Many Greek companies have bought former state companies in the country, such as the oil refinery Okta, the baking company Zhito Luks, a marble mine in Prilep, textile facilities in Bitola etc. Other key partners are Germany, Italy and Slovenia.

Tourism

Demographics

The Republic of Macedonia has an estimated population of 2,061,315 citizens. Following is a list of the largest Macedonian cities according to the 1994 census data (as the 2002 census data does not list both city populations and municipality populations):

SKOPJE
Bitola
Veles
Štip
Strumica
Tetovo
Kumanovo
Prilep
Gostivar
Ohrid
Struga
Kočani
Radoviš
Largest cities in the Republic of Macedonia
Largest Macedonian cities and municipalities
City City
Population
Coat
of arms
Administrative
division
Division
Population
Skopje 444,000 Greater Skopje 506,926
Bitola 80,000 Bitola municipality 95,385
Kumanovo 71,000 Kumanovo municipality 105,484
Prilep 68,000 Prilep municipality 76,768
Tetovo 60,000 Tetovo municipality 86,580
Ohrid 51,000 Ohrid municipality 55,749
Veles 48,000 Veles municipality 55,108
Gostivar 46,000 Gostivar municipality 81,042
Štip 42,000 Štip municipality 47,796
Strumica 40,000 Strumica municipality 54,676
Kočani 27,000 Kočani municipality 38,092
Radoviš 16,223 Radoviš municipality 28,244
Number  %
TOTAL 2,022,547 100
Macedonians 1,297,981 64.18
Albanians 509,083 25.17
Turks 77,959 3.85
Roma people 53,879 2.66
Serbs 35,939 1.78
Vlachs 9,695 0.48
others 38,011 1.88

The largest ethnic group in the country are the Macedonians. The following table shows ethic affiliation of the population according to the 2002 census:

The Jewish community

The Jewish community of the Republic of Macedonia, which numbered some 7,200 people on the eve of World War II, was almost entirely destroyed during the War, with only 2% of Macedonian Jews surviving the Holocaust. After their liberation and the end of the War, most opted to emigrate to Israel. Today, the country's Jewish community numbers approximately 200 persons, almost all of whom live in Skopje. Most Macedonian Jews are Sephardic - the descendants of 15th century refugees who had fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions.

Ethnic and cultural diversity

A wide variety of languages are spoken in the Republic of Macedonia, reflecting its ethnic diversity. The official and most widely spoken language is Macedonian, which belongs to the Eastern branch of the South Slavic language group. Macedonian is closely related to and mutually intelligible with Standard Bulgarian. It also has some similarities with standard Serbian and the intermediate Torlakian and Shop dialects spoken mostly in southern Serbia and western Bulgaria (and by speakers in the north and east of Macedonia). The standard language was codified in the period following World War II and has accumulated a thriving literary tradition.

Other languages including Albanian, Bulgarian, Romani, Turkish, Serbian, Vlach ( Aromanian and Megleno-Romanian), Circassian, Greek and others are spoken roughly in proportion with their associated ethnic groups.

Macedonian is the only language explicitly designated as an official national language in the constitution. It also provides however that languages spoken by over 20% of the total population are also official—at present, only Albanian fulfills this requirement—additionally, in municipalities where at least 20% of the population is from other ethnic minorities, their individual languages are used for official purposes in local government.

Science

Education

The Macedonian education system consists of:

The higher levels of education can be obtained at one of the four state universities: Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, St. Clement of Ohrid University of Bitola, State University of Tetovo and Goce Delchev University of Shtip. There are a number of private university institutions, such as the European University, Slavic University in Sveti Nikole, the South East European University and others.

The United States Agency for International Development has underwritten a project called "Macedonia Connects" which has made the Republic of Macedonia the first all-broadband wireless country in the world. The Ministry of Education and Sciences reports that 461 schools (primary and secondary) are now connected to the internet. In addition, an Internet Service Provider (On.net), has created a MESH Network to provide WIFI services in the 11 largest cities/towns in the country.

Society

Culture

Traditional Macedonian female oro (folk dance)
Traditional Macedonian female oro (folk dance)

The Republic of Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music. It has many ancient, protected religious sites. Poetry, cinema, and music festivals are held annually. Macedonian music styles developed under the strong influence of Byzantine church music. The Republic of Macedonia is amongst one of the countries with the most beautiful preserved Byzantine fresco paintings, mainly from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. There are several thousands square metres of fresco painting preserved, the major part of which is in very good condition and represent masterworks of the Macedonian School of ecclesiastical painting.

In the Republic of Macedonia the past meets the present. Its age-old architecture and monasteries and churches of exquisite beauty make an interesting contrast to the super modern new architecture. Most of the Macedonian monasteries, built in various periods, and particularly those built between the 11th and 15th–16th centuries, have been completely preserved until today. The Macedonian collection of icons, and in particular the Ohrid ones, are among the most valuable collections in the world today. After the Sinai and the Moscow collection of icons, it is third in importance in Orthodoxy. From a Byzantological aspect, it is unique.

The most important cultural events in the country are the Ohrid Summer festival of classical music and drama, the Struga Poetry Evenings which gather poets from more than 50 countries in the world, Skopje May Opera Evenings, International Camera Festival in Bitola, Open Youth Theatre and Skopje Jazz Festival in Skopje etc.

Religion

The majority (64.7%) of the population belongs to the Macedonian Orthodox Church (which declared autocephaly in 1968, that is still not recognised by the Serbian and other Eastern Orthodox Churches, although the Archbishop's Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with Decision No. 06/1959, has recognised the autonomy of the Macedonian Orthodox Church Muslims comprise 33.3% of the population and other Christian denominations comprise 0.37%. The remainder (1.63%) is recorded as "unspecified" in the 2002 national census. Most of the native Albanians, Turks and Bosniaks are Muslims, as are a minority of the country's ethnic Macedonian population, known as Macedonian Muslims. Altogether, there are more than 1200 churches and 400 mosques in the country. The Orthodox and Islamic religious communities have secondary religion schools in Skopje. There is an Orthodox theological college in the capital. Macedonia has the largest proportion of Muslims of any country in Europe after Turkey, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Orthodox

The Macedonian Orthodox Church is the dominant church in the country. It has 10 provinces (seven in the country and three abroad), 10 bishops, and about 350 priests. Macedonians, who are the majority of the population, are generally Orthodox Christians. A total of 30,000 people are baptised in all the provinces every year. The church has issues with the Serbian Orthodox Church after the separation and self-declaration of autocephaly (not recognised by any other Orthodox church) in 1967. However, the Archbishop's Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with Decision No. 06/1959, has recognised the autonomy (self-dependence) of the Macedonian Orthodox Church). After the negotiations between the two churches were suspended, the Serbian Orthodox Church recognised a group led by Zoran Vraniškovski (also known as Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, a former Macedonian church bishop, as the Archbishop of Ohrid. The reaction of the Macedonian Orthodox Church was to cut off all relations with the clergy of the Ohrid Archbishopric and to prevent bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church from entering the Republic of Macedonia. Bishop Jovan was jailed for 18 months for "defaming the Macedonian Orthodox church and harming the religious feelings of local citizens" by distributing Serbian Orthodox church calendars and pamphlets.

Catholicism

The Macedonian Byzantine Catholic Church has approximately 11,000 adherents in the Republic. The Church was established in 1918, and is made up mostly of converts to Catholicism and their descendants. The Church is of the Byzantine Rite and is in communion with the Roman and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its liturgical worship is performed in Macedonian.

Protestant Christianity

There is a small Protestant community. The most famous Protestant in the country is the former president Boris Trajkovski. He was from the Methodist Community, which is the largest and oldest Protestant Church in the Republic, dating back to the late nineteenth century. Since the 1980s the small Protestant community has grown, partly through new confidence and partly with outside missionary help.

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