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Macedonia Culture, Geography and History
About MACEDONIA, REPUBLIC OF
Even by Balkan standards, Macedonia’s history is characterised by complexity and controversy. Going back to the days of Alexander the Great (the country’s favourite son), Macedonia has been pin-balled between external powers, from the Romans to the Byzantines, the Serbs to the Ottoman Turks, the Bulgarians to the Greeks. In fact, it wasn’t until 1991 that the country officially attained its status as an independent nation – and even that remains a point of contention in certain circles.
From the sixth century AD until the fourteenth, the territory was wrestled to-and-fro between the Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgars and Serbs before eventually falling to the Ottoman Empire in 1371. The country remained under Turkish rule until the empire’s decline in the eighteenth century, then was once again split up but this time between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. Various pushes for independence and ‘reunion’ with Bulgaria were then stymied by the two World Wars and advent of communism. At the conclusion of World War II, the country was incorporated into the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia under the leadership of Tito – an era during which, by and large, the territory prospered. With the collapse of European communism, however, came new calls for Macedonian independence, and the state peacefully ceded from the republic in 1992.
Wary of ‘Macedonia’ being used as the country’s proposed name due to implied claims to Aegean Macedonia, Greece made its objections known and the compromise ‘The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ was eventually arrived at. Greek ire was re-aroused in 1994, culminating in its enforcement of an economic embargo that was eventually lifted upon Macedonia’s changing of its flag and agreeing to discussions about its name. The country evaded being embroiled in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, but experienced a potentially catastrophic civil conflict from 1997-2001 over tensions with its sizeable Albanian population. Hostilities were becalmed with a NATO ceasefire, but the Albanian-Macedonian relationship is still a touchy subject that’s best avoided. The same goes for Macedonian-Greek relations due to the still unresolved ‘naming issue’. And also Macedonian-Bulgarian relations for that matter.
Macedonia at a glance
- 2 million
- (GMT+01:00) Sarajevo, Skopje, Warsaw, Zagreb
- Type C (European 2-pin), Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
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