Country in a Box


Republic of Macedonia
Republika Makedonija

Saint Panteleimon Church in Ohrid, Macedonia

A Teacher’s Guide
Compiled by the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Macedonia in a Box: Table of Contents
Macedonia: Facts at a Glance


History of Macedonia


Timeline of Major Events in Macedonian History


Macedonian Culture
Children’s Folklore
Additional Resources on Macedonia


Morodvis Archaeological Ruins near Kocani


Macedonia: Facts at a Glance
Text taken directly from Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Macedonia.
Available at:
Country Name: Republic of Macedonia
Background: Macedonia gained its
independence peacefully from Yugoslavia
in 1991. Greece's objection to the new
state's use of what it considered a Hellenic
name and symbols delayed international
recognition, which occurred under the
provisional designation of "the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." In
1995, Greece lifted a 20-month trade
embargo and the two countries agreed to
normalize relations, but the issue of the
name remained unresolved and
negotiations for a solution are ongoing.
Since 2004, the US and over 130 other
nations have recognized Macedonia by its
constitutional name, Republic of
Macedonia. Ethnic Albanian grievances
over perceived political and economic
inequities escalated into an insurgency in 2001 that eventually led to the internationally brokered
Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended the fighting and established guidelines for
constitutional amendments and the creation of new laws that enhanced the rights of minorities.
Although Macedonia became an EU candidate in 2005, the country still faces challenges,
including fully implementing the Framework Agreement, improving relations with Bulgaria,
carrying out democratic reforms, and stimulating economic growth and development.
Macedonia's membership in NATO was blocked by Greece at the Alliance's Summit of
Bucharest in 2008.
Capital: Skopje
Location: Southeastern Europe, landlocked between Kosovo and Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to
the east, Albania to the west, and Greece to the south.
Area: total: 25,713 sq km (slightly larger than Vermont)
land: 25,433 sq km
water: 280 sq km
Terrain: mountainous territory covered with deep basins and valleys; three large lakes, each
divided by a frontier line; country bisected by the Vardar River


Elevation Extremes: lowest point: Vardar River 50 m
highest point: Golem Korab (Maja e Korabit) 2,764 m
Natural Resources: low-grade iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, manganese, nickel,
tungsten, gold, silver, asbestos, gypsum, timber, arable land
Natural Hazards: high seismic risks
Environmental Issues: air pollution from metallurgical plants
Population: 2,091,719 (July 2014 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Macedonian 64.2%, Albanian 25.2%, Turkish
3.9%, Roma (Gypsy) 2.7%, Serb 1.8%, other 2.2% (2002 census)
Religions: Macedonian Orthodox 64.7%, Muslim 33.3%, other
Christian 0.37%, other and unspecified 1.63% (2002 census)
Government Type: parliamentary democracy

The sun design is a simplified
version of Alexander the
Great’s Star of Vergina,
which appeared on
Macedonia's former national
flag. The sun also represents
"the new sun of liberty",
which is mentioned in the
country's national anthem.

Executive Branch: Chief of State: President Gjorge IVANOV
(since 12 May 2009)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Nikola GRUEVSKI (since 26
[Text taken directly from “World
August 2006)
Flags 101” Available at:
Cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the majority vote of all the
deputies in the Assembly; note - current cabinet formed by the
government coalition parties VMRO-DPMNE, BDI/DUI, and
several small parties
Elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term);
two-round election: first round held on 13 April 2014, second round held on 27 April 2014;
prime minister elected by the Assembly following legislative elections; the leader of the majority
party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister
Legislative Branch: unicameral Assembly or Sobranie (123 seats; all members elected by
popular vote from party lists based on the percentage of the overall vote the parties gain in each
of the six domestic and three diaspora electoral districts; members serve four-year terms)
Judicial Branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court (consist of NA judges); Constitutional Court
(consists of 9 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by the Judicial Council, a 7member body of legal professionals, and appointed by the Assembly; judge tenure NA;
Constitutional Court judges appointed by the legislature for nonrenewable, 9-year terms
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Basic Courts
Economy Overview: Since its independence in 1991, Macedonia has made significant progress
in liberalizing its economy and improving its business environment, but has lagged the Balkan
region in attracting foreign investment. Unemployment has remained consistently high at more

than 30% since 2008, but may be overstated based on the existence of an extensive gray market,
estimated to be between 20% and 45% of GDP, that is not captured by official statistics.
Macedonia’s economy is closely linked to Europe as a customer for exports and source of
investment, and has suffered as a result of prolonged weakness in the euro zone. Macedonia
maintained macroeconomic stability through the global financial crisis by conducting prudent
monetary policy, which keeps the domestic currency pegged against the euro, and by limiting
fiscal deficits. The government has been loosening fiscal policy, however, and the budget deficit
expanded to 4.2% of GDP in 2013. Macedonia achieved modest GDP growth in 2013 after a
small contraction in 2012; inflation is under control.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $22.57 billion (2013 est.)
GDP (composition by sector): agriculture: 10.2%,
industry: 27.5%, services: 62.3% (2013 est.)
Labor Force (by occupation): agriculture: 18.8%,
industry: 27.5%, services: 53.7% (31 September 2013)
Industries: food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals,
iron, steel, cement, energy, pharmaceuticals.
Exports (commodities): food, beverages, tobacco; textiles,
various manufactures, iron, steel
Exports (partners): Germany 20.2%, Italy 7.1%, Bulgaria
7.1%, Greece 6.4% (2010)
Imports (commodities): machinery and equipment,
automobiles, chemicals, fuels, food products.
Imports (partners): Germany 36.9%, Bulgaria 7.6%, Italy
6.5%, Kosovo 6.5%, Serbia 6.3%, Greece 5% (2012 est.)

The denar (MKD) is
Macedonia’s official unit of
currency. One denar is equal to
100 Deni. In 1993, reforms
replaced the old denar with the
new denar (worth 100 of the
old), which has been in use ever
since. Images and information from:

Debt (external): $7.451 billion (30 September 2013 est.); country comparison to the world: 107
International Disputes: Kosovo and Macedonia completed demarcation of their boundary in
September 2008; Greece continues to reject the use of the name Macedonia or Republic of


History of Macedonia
Taken from:
During the 1st millennium bce the Macedonian region was populated by a mixture of peoples—
Dacians, Thracians, Illyrians, Celts, and Greeks. Although Macedonia is most closely identified
historically with the kingdom of Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century bce and
the subsequent expansion of that empire by his son Alexander III (the Great), none of the states
established in that era was very durable. At the end of the 3rd century bce, the Romans began to
expand into the Balkan Peninsula in search of metal ores, slaves, and agricultural produce. By
the mid-6th century Slavic tribes had begun to settle in Macedonia, and from the 7th to the 13th
century the entire region was little more than a system of military marches governed uneasily by
the Byzantine state through alliances with local princes.
By the end of the 14th century the Macedonian region had been incorporated into the Ottoman
Empire. Within the empire, administrators, soldiers, merchants, and artisans moved in pursuit of
their professions. For all these reasons, many Balkan towns acquired a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
This was particularly the case in Macedonia during the 19th century, when, as the Serbian,
Greek, and Bulgarian states began to assert their independence, many who had become
associated with Turkish rule moved into lands still held by the Sublime Porte.
Conflict and confusion deepened in Macedonia in the closing decades of the 19th century. As the
Turkish Empire decayed, Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria all looked to benefit territorially from the
approaching division of Macedonia that would inevitably follow the end of Ottoman rule. The
Treaty of London (May 1913), which concluded this First Balkan War, left Bulgaria dissatisfied,
but, after that country’s attempt to enforce a
new partition in a Second Balkan War, the
Treaty of Bucharest (August 1913) confirmed a
pattern of boundaries that (with small
variations) has remained in force ever since.
Although the region was again engulfed in
conflict during World War I, and Bulgaria
occupied large parts of Macedonia, the partition
of 1913 was reconfirmed at the end of war in
When war overtook the Balkans again in 1941,
the kingdom of Yugoslavia was again divided,
this time between the Axis powers and their
allies. Yugoslav Macedonia was occupied
principally by Bulgaria, the western part being
joined to a united Albania under Italian control.
In 1945 the area was reincorporated into
Yugoslavia, this time under communist control.
Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia


The autonomy of the republic was perhaps more cosmetic than real, although great efforts were
made to support a sense of national identity among Macedonians. A Macedonian language was
codified and disseminated through the educational system (including the first Macedonian
university), the mass media, and the arts. An important symbol of the existence of a Macedonian
nation was the creation of an autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church. The Macedonian
Orthodox Church is not recognized by the patriarch or by any other Orthodox church.
In contrast to the other Yugoslav republics, whose efforts to secede from Yugoslavia provoked
campaigns of nationalist violence and ethnic cleansing in the early 1990s, the Republic of
Macedonia was peacefully established as a sovereign and independent state on September 8,
1991, by a vote of the citizens of Macedonia.
Kiro Gligorov deftly guided the republic through its difficult early years as its first president. A
member of the moderate Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), which consisted of
former communists and social democrats, he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt
in 1995. After having turned over the reins of power to an acting president for six weeks, he
resumed his duties and served as president until 1999. That year power shifted to the right,
and Boris Trajkovski of the more nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization–
Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) came to power. In 2004 the
presidency shifted to the SDSM, to Branko Crvenkovski, then in 2009 back to the VMRODPMNE in the person of Gjorge Ivanov. Historically, the Albanian minority has voted as a bloc
for ethnic Albanian parties, and all governments since independence have been coalitions that
included an Albanian party.
In 1999, during the Kosovo conflict, more than 350,000 Kosovar Albanian refugees fled to
Macedonia with significant consequences for the republic. Living standards in Macedonia
plummeted, exports declined, and
unemployment, already at more than 30 percent
before the conflict, rose dramatically to as high as
40–50 percent, according to some estimates.
Another serious threat to the country’s political
stability was posed by the armed insurgency that
erupted between an Albanian military group and
Macedonian security forces in 2001. This conflict
was brought to an end in August 2001 by the
signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement,
which contained the government’s promises to
make Albanian an official language, to increase
autonomy for areas with large Albanian
populations, and to raise the number of Albanians
serving in the army and police as well as in the
government. The Macedonian economy gradually
recovered—with slow but steady GDP growth
and minimal inflation—until 2009, when it began
to struggle in response to the global financial
Gjorge Ivanov, President of Macedonia


By far the greatest challenge for the Republic of Macedonia was Greece’s effort to prevent its
neighbor from gaining international recognition under its constitutional name, along with
blocking Macedonia’s participation in international organizations. Greece’s attempt to
monopolize the name “Macedonia” successfully prevented the republic from gaining entry into a
variety of international organizations and from enjoying the economic and political stability that
membership in such organizations would provide.
Responding to the Republic of Macedonia’s attempt to gain recognition from the European
Community (EC; later the European Union), an EC arbitration commission concluded not only
that the newly independent country met all the criteria necessary for recognition but also that its
use of the name “Macedonia” implied no claims on Greek territory—the contention of the Greek
government. Only by acceding to a provisional designation as “the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia” did Macedonia gain admission to the United Nations in 1993.

Timeline of Major Events in Macedonian History
Text taken directly from BBC News. Timeline: Macedonia. Available at:
1913 - Ottoman rule in Europe ends after five centuries. Macedonia is partitioned between
Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece.
1914 - World War I. Macedonia is occupied by Bulgaria.
1918-19 - End of the war, Macedonia becomes part of Serbia again. The Kingdom of Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes is founded, and is renamed Yugoslavia in 1929.
1941 - Germany invades Yugoslavia.
1945 - Establishment of Yugoslav socialist federation, comprising six republics, including
Macedonia, with Tito as president.
1980 - Death of Tito, rise of nationalism among federation's constituent republics.
1991 - Declaration of Independence.
1993 - Gains UN membership under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
1995 - President Kiro Gligorov injured in assassination bid. Greece recognises independence,
lifts trade restrictions.


1998 - Thousands of ethnic Albanians gather in Skopje in support of ethnic Albanians in Serbia.
Elections bring into power a coalition government which is led by Ljubco Georgievski and
includes ethnic Albanian representatives.
1999 November - Boris Trajkovski elected president.
2001 November - Parliament approves new constitution incorporating reforms required by
August peace deal. It recognizes Albanian as an official language and increases access for ethnic
Albanians to public-sector jobs, including the police. Moderate Social Democrats leave
government coalition.
2004 March - Macedonia submits application to join EU.
2004 April - Branko Crvenkovski elected president.
2005 December - Macedonia becomes a candidate for EU membership.

Macedonian Culture
Text taken directly from the World InfoZone. Macedonia Information – Page 1. Available at:
The cuisine of Macedonia is influenced by its Balkan
neighbors. Traditional food includes bread, soups, stews,
lamb kebabs, stuffed vegetables, moussaka and minced
meat dishes such as kjebapchinja and meat balls.
Meat (pork, chicken, lamb, beef) and fish are served with
rice, pasta and vegetables: eggplant, beans, cucumber,
mushrooms, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Dairy
products include yoghurt and feta, a white salty cheese.

Sarma (rice wrapped in cabbage leaves)

Desserts eaten in Macedonia are fruit salads, puddings,
cakes and pastries.
Turkish coffee is popular. Wine, beer and soft drinks are produced locally.
Arts (Text taken directly from “Countries and their Cultures,” Macedonia. Available at:


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 urnmakers, 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.
Colorful carpets at a market in Skopje

Children’s Folklore: The Three Brothers and the Dragon
Text taken directly from “Macedonian Cultural & Information Centre.” Macedonian Fairy Tales.
Available at:
Once upon a time, there were three brothers, the youngest of whom was considered good-fornothing. The three brothers had a garden with different fruit trees. In the middle of the garden
stood an apple tree on which grew golden apples. As the apples ripened, somebody or something
took them from the tree. Seeing the problem, the oldest brother told the middle brother to watch
the garden the whole night through to discover who kept stealing the ripe apples. When the
good-for-nothing brother heard the oldest brother's words, he said to him, "My dear brother, let
me stay and watch the garden".
"Get out of my way, you good-for-nothing," replied his brother, "how could you even think that
you are capable of doing something like that?"
That night, the oldest brother went to the garden to watch the apple tree. He watched and
watched, but the moment he fell asleep, a she-dragon came and picked the ripe apples. When the

older brother awoke, he saw that somebody or something had picked the apples. The next night
the middle brother went to watch the apple tree. Again the youngest brother begged them to let
him guard the apple tree, but the two brothers would not let him. So the next night, the middle
brother went to guard, but he also fell asleep, and the she-dragon came and picked the apples. On
the third night, the worthless youngest brother begged his brothers to let him watch the apple
tree. The oldest brother shouted at him.
"Go to hell, you good-for-nothing. Stop boasting and pretending you are a hero. How can you
even think that you can watch the apple tree when we could not? Get out of my way before I slap
you so hard that you won't know which way to run!" As he spoke, the oldest brother slapped his
brother across the face.
"Slap me once again, my brother," said the good-fog-nothing, "but let me guard the apple tree
"Let him guard", said the middle brother. "We'll see what he does."
When the worthless brother got permission, he went to the garden and climbed up the apple tree.
Exactly at midnight, the she-dragon walked directly into the apple tree. Instantly the good-fornothing brother jumped down from the tree and ran to catch her. When the she-dragon saw the
good-for-nothing brother run after her, she was frightened and started to run away. As she ran,
the good-for-nothing brother kept running after her until they came to a hole in the ground. The
she-dragon went into the hole and hid there.
The next morning the good-for-nothing brother told his brothers where the she-dragon went. The
good-for-nothing brother asked for a stout rope. He asked his brothers to tie him with the rope
and lower him into the hole.
"When I shake the rope from inside the hole, pull me up," he said to his brothers.
They took a rope and the good-for-nothing brother tied the rope to his waist. Then his brothers
lowered him into the hole. Once inside, the good-for-nothing brother looked to and fro for the
she-dragon. He found a big chest full of jewelry. He tied the rope to the chest and shook the rope
to signal his brothers. They pulled the chest out of the hole and let the rope down again because
they expected to pull out more treasure. But the good-for-nothing brother could not find anything
else, and therefore tied the rope to his waist and shook it in order to be pulled out. The two
brothers began to pull the rope, but when they saw their brother, they paused.
"Let's drop him back down; let the dragon eat him because he is a better hero then we are," said
the oldest brother.
"That's a good idea, my brother," said the middle one. "Let's drop him down."
Instantly they dropped the good-for-nothing brother. He kept falling down and down until he
found himself in the underworld. He untied the rope and started walking along a narrow street
until he came to an old granny's house.

"Good evening, granny," said the good-for-nothing brother. "Please, my old mother, give me
some water to drink because I have been walking the whole day and I could find no water along
the way. Why is there no water in this world?"
"Oh, my dear son, there are many water fountains in our world, but all of them are shut by an
evil she-dragon. Each day she stops the water fountains. People cannot fetch drinking water until
we give her one person to eat for each day of water. That is why I have only a small amount of
water. I will let you drink a little. Then let's go to the edge of the town. There we shall watch and
pity the king's daughter, who will be eaten by the she-dragon. Today is the king's turn to feed the
she-dragon with a human body so that she will let the water fountains run."
The good-for-nothing brother drank a little water and together with the granny went to watch the
dragon eat the king's daughter. The young man went to the king's daughter and sat beside her.
"Don't sit near me, young man, because here comes the she-dragon to eat me up. Go away
because she may eat you up with me," she said to the good-for-nothing brother.
When the she-dragon arrived and saw the two people, she was happy and said, "Look! See, I'm
lucky today. I used to eat only one person a day, but now I'm going to eat two!" She opened her
mouth to eat them, but since the good-for- nothing brother was strong, he hit the dragon's
forehead with his mace and she fell down dead.
When the king saw what happened, he was very happy and he offered the good-for-nothing
brother a lot of money. But the young man would not accept anything. The only thing he wanted
was to return to the upper world. When the king heard the good-for-nothing brother's wish, he
gave him three eagles - one white, one black, and the third one red - to carry him to the upper
world. He gave him three young cows to feed the eagles with. The eagles took the good-fornothing brother on their wings and began to fly. Each time the eagles opened their beaks, the
good-for-nothing brother cut a piece of meat from the cows and gave meal to the eagles, saying,
"Here you are. Eat." But not having enough meat and fearing that the eagles might drop him back
into the underworld, he cut a piece of flesh from his own thigh and fed the eagles, and they took
him to the upper world.
Before the eagles returned to the underworld, each of them gave the good-for-nothing brother
one feather so that he could call them whenever he found himself in trouble. They told him that
he could light the feathers by touching each to a flame, and that then the eagle he chose would
come to help him.
When he returned home, his brothers wondered how he had managed to climb out of the hole in
which they had dropped him. The good-for-nothing brother said nothing and behaved as if they
had done nothing bad to him. During that time, the king wanted to get his three daughters
married. He therefore made an announcement to the entire world that the man who could jump
from one mountain to another on horseback would be given the king's daughter as his wife.
The good-for-nothing brother lit the feather of the white eagle and the white eagle came to him.
The young man asked for a strong white horse and white clothing for himself. The eagle brought

him the things he asked for. He took everything he needed and jumped from one mountain to
another the way the king required. He then took the king's daughter and hid her in his house. He
used the same trick and took the other two daughters of the king and hid them in his house. After
a few days he invited his brothers to his house and gave a bride to each of them. He kept one
bride for himself.
"Although you, my brothers, hurt me badly, I shall do something good for you. Each of you take
one of the king's daughters," he said, and they went on living the way real brothers should.

Select Bibliography of Sources on Macedonia
Beki Bahar-Engler. Building a Civil Society in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
(Washington, DC: National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, 1995).
CIA: The World Factbook. Macedonia. Central Intelligence Agency. Last updated October 21,
2011. Accessed on October 24, 2011.
Dimitris Litvianos. The Macedonian Question: Britain and the Southern Balkans: 1939-1949
(New York: University Press, 2008).
Exploring Macedonia – National Tourism Portal. February 2005. Ministry of Economy of the
Republic of Macedonia. Nov. 11, 2011 <>.
Republic of Macedonia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2007. Republic of Macedonia, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. Nov. 11, 2011 <>.


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