NORTH MACEDONIA

Date of establishment: September 8, 1991

Brief history:

6th to 4th century BCE: The territory of present-day North Macedonia is part of ancient Paeonia and later becomes influenced by ancient Greece. The region eventually falls under the control of the Macedonian Empire led by Alexander the Great.

2nd century BCE to 1st century CE: The territory becomes part of the Roman province of Macedonia after Roman conquest.

4th to 6th century: The region is integrated into the Byzantine Empire, influencing its culture and administration.

14th to 15th century: The Ottoman Empire takes control of the territory, ruling it for about five centuries.

19th century: National liberation movements and struggles occur as part of the Balkan nations’ fight against Ottoman rule, leading to uprisings and revolutionary activities.

1912-1913: Following the Balkan Wars, the territory of present-day North Macedonia is divided among Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. Most of it becomes part of Serbia.

1918: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) is established, including the territory of present-day North Macedonia.

1941-1944: During World War II, the territory is occupied by Axis powers, mainly by Bulgaria, under Nazi Germany’s influence.

1944: The partisan movement led by Josip Broz Tito liberates the territory, and it becomes part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.

1991: Through a referendum-supported vote, the Republic of Macedonia gains independence from Yugoslavia.

1991-1999: North Macedonia avoids the violent conflicts that affect much of the former Yugoslavia during its breakup.

2001: Ethnic tensions between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians lead to the Ohrid Agreement, which aims at political reconciliation and grants greater rights to the Albanian minority.

2004: North Macedonia becomes a candidate for European Union membership.

2018: The Prespa Agreement is signed with Greece, resolving a long-standing name dispute.

2019: The country officially changes its name to North Macedonia after the Prespa Agreement is ratified.

 

International abbreviation: NMK

 

Currency: Macedonian Denar (MKD)

The denar (MKD) is the official currency of North Macedonia, used for all transactions and payments within the country. It was introduced in 1992, replacing the Yugoslav dinar. The denar comes in various denominations, including banknotes of 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2000 denars. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 deni (subunits of the denar), and 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 denars.

 

Internet domain: .mk

 

Dialing code: +389

 

Time zone: +1 GMT

 

Geography:

A landlocked country in southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, North Macedonia has a mostly mountainous terrain with significant features such as the Šar Mountains and the Osogovo-Belasica range. It shares borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. The country includes several large lakes, such as Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa, and Lake Dojran, and is traversed by the Vardar River.

 

Highest peak: Mount Korab at 2 764 meters (9 068 feet) above sea level.

Mount Korab, standing at 2,764 meters (9,068 feet), is the highest peak in both North Macedonia and Albania, part of the Shar Mountains range. It spans the border between the two countries, offering breathtaking alpine scenery and diverse flora and fauna. The area around Mount Korab is popular for hiking, mountaineering, and nature tourism, attracting outdoor enthusiasts from around the region.

 

Fauna and flora:

North Macedonia’s diverse fauna includes notable species such as brown bears, gray wolves, and the rare Eurasian lynx, which resides primarily in the Mavrovo National Park. The country is also home to various bird species, including the imperial eagle, peregrine falcon, and great white pelican.

The forested areas are dominated by European beech, sessile oaks, and Norway spruces. Endemic plant species, such as the Macedonian iris and the Ramonda nathaliae, flourish in the region’s unique habitats.

North Macedonia’s rich biodiversity is supported by its varied landscapes, from high mountain ranges to fertile plains and wetlands.

 

Climate:

Southern and southeastern parts of North Macedonia, near the Greek border, experience a modified Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild, wet winters. Inland and mountainous areas, including the capital Skopje, have a more continental climate. Winters in these areas can be cold and wet with snow, while summers are warm to hot and dry.

In the summer, average temperatures in the Mediterranean-influenced regions range from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F). In Skopje and other inland areas, summer temperatures average between 20°C and 30°C (68°F to 86°F).

During winter, coastal regions average 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F), while the inland and mountainous regions see temperatures averaging between -5°C and 5°C (23°F to 41°F), with higher elevations experiencing even colder conditions. Snow is common in the mountains, making them suitable for winter sports.

 

Agriculture:

In North Macedonia, agriculture is a vital sector of the economy, with crops such as wheat, barley, corn, and oats being widely cultivated. Important vegetable crops include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, onions, and potatoes. The country is also known for its fruit production, particularly apples, pears, apricots, peaches, and grapes, which are essential for both fresh consumption and wine production.

The Tikveš region is especially renowned for its vineyards and high-quality wine production. Additionally, North Macedonia grows other fruits like cherries, plums, and watermelons.

Animal husbandry plays a significant role in agricultural production, with farmers raising cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry. Sheep farming is particularly important, contributing to the production of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Livestock farming supports the country’s food industry, providing meat, milk, and other animal products.

 

Raw materials:

North Macedonia extracts several important minerals, including copper, zinc, lead, and chromium ores. Significant mining operations are located near towns such as Kičevo, Zletovo, and Sasa.

The country possesses reserves of various rocks, including limestone, marble, and slate, which are used in construction, stonework, and decoration. The Prilep region is particularly known for its high-quality white marble.

North Macedonia also has reserves of bauxite, a crucial raw material for aluminum production. However, while the country extracts bauxite, it does not have significant industrial plants for processing bauxite into aluminum. Instead, the extracted bauxite is often exported for processing elsewhere.

Additionally, North Macedonia has smaller deposits of other minerals such as nickel and manganese, and the mining industry contributes significantly to the country’s economy. The country is also exploring opportunities in renewable energy resources, such as hydroelectric power, to diversify its energy sector.

 

Industry:

The food industry in North Macedonia is significant, processing agricultural products like fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy. Food production is important both domestically and for export, with products such as wine, canned vegetables, and dairy products gaining international recognition.

Other key sectors include textiles and clothing manufacturing, which have a long tradition in the country, and are significant for both local employment and export. The chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries are also important, producing a variety of products for domestic use and export.

The construction sector is crucial, involving residential, commercial, and infrastructure development. This sector has been bolstered by various government and EU-funded projects aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure.

The timber industry processes wood into various products, contributing to both the construction sector and the production of furniture and other wood-based goods.

The energy industry encompasses electricity and heat production, primarily from coal reserves and hydroelectric power. While coal is still a major energy source, there is an increasing emphasis on developing renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to diversify and modernize the energy sector.

 

Services and other economic sectors: Services, tourism, and road transportation.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

North Macedonia boasts a rich cultural heritage including ancient sites, medieval monasteries, historic towns, and the traditions of various cultures. Skopje, the capital, features diverse architecture and monuments.

Mountains, lakes, and rivers provide a beautiful natural backdrop. National parks like Mavrovo offer opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and outdoor activities.

The country is known for its winemaking tradition. Visitors can tour wineries, taste wines, and experience local culinary specialties.

 

 

Form of Government: Parliamentary republic

The head of state in North Macedonia is the president, who is elected for a five-year term. The president’s role is primarily representative but includes certain powers such as appointing the prime minister, calling referendums, and acting in exceptional situations.

Legislative power lies with the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, known as the Sobranie. It is a unicameral body with 120 members elected for a four-year term through a proportional representation system. The Sobranie enacts laws, approves the budget, and oversees the executive branch.

Executive powers are vested in the government, which is led by the prime minister. The prime minister is the head of government and is responsible for the administration and implementation of policies. The prime minister is appointed by the president and must be approved by the Sobranie.

The judiciary in North Macedonia is independent and consists of a multi-tiered court system. The Supreme Court of North Macedonia is the highest judicial authority, overseeing the uniform application of laws. The Constitutional Court is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and protecting constitutional rights. Additionally, the country has administrative courts and appellate courts to handle various legal matters.

Overall, North Macedonia’s government operates as a parliamentary republic with a clear separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

 

Capital city: Skopje

Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, is rich in cultural landmarks and historical sites. These include the iconic Stone Bridge, which spans the Vardar River and connects the old and new parts of the city. The Kale Fortress offers panoramic views and traces its origins back to the 6th century. The city’s diverse religious heritage is reflected in its many monasteries, churches, and the Mustafa Pasha Mosque. The old town (Čaršija) features narrow streets, traditional houses, and the Old Bazaar, one of the largest and most well-preserved in the Balkans. Modern landmarks include the Skopje 2014 project, which added numerous statues, monuments, and buildings to the city’s landscape.

Skopje is a vibrant cultural hub, hosting concerts, theater performances, festivals, and exhibitions throughout the year. Major cultural events include the Skopje Summer Festival, which showcases arts and music, and the Skopje Jazz Festival, renowned for its international lineup. The city also hosts the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, and various art galleries and museums.

It serves as the administrative, economic, and academic heart of North Macedonia, housing the country’s main governmental bodies and the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, the largest and oldest university in the country.

The population of the city is about 616 000.

 

Area: 25 713 square kilometers (9 928 square miles)

 

Population: 2 094 000 (2022 estimate)

The largest ethnic group in North Macedonia is the ethnic Macedonians, constituting the majority of the population. Albanians are the largest ethnic minority, making up about 25% of the population. There are also smaller ethnic groups, including Serbs, Turks, Romani, Bosniaks, Vlachs, and others.

The official language is Macedonian, which uses the Cyrillic script. Albanian is also an official language, particularly in municipalities where ethnic Albanians are predominant. Other languages, such as Serbian, Turkish, Romani, and Aromanian, are commonly used within their respective minority communities.

Religion plays a vital role in the lives of North Macedonians. Orthodox Christianity is the most widespread religion, especially among ethnic Macedonians, with the Macedonian Orthodox Church being the largest religious organization. Islam is the second most practiced religion, primarily among ethnic Albanians, Turks, and some Romani.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 2

 

  1. The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007) – These forests are located across various parts of Europe, including 94 components in 18 countries.
  2. The Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region (1979) – This region in southwestern North Macedonia is known for its rich natural and cultural heritage. Its main features include Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, attracting visitors with its blue waters for relaxation and activities.

 

National parks: 3

 

  1. Mavrovo National Park
  2. Pelister National Park
  3. Galichica National Park