Macedonia is a land-locked country just north of Greece which used to be part of Communist Yugoslavia. It declared independence in 1991 but had to call itself The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia because of Greece disputing the name. The capital city Skopje has a population of 500,000.

Macedonia was named after the Kingdom of Macedon, which was an ancient Greek kingdom, hence Greece’s opposition to the name. The Romans named the territory Macedonia in 146BC and held it until Slavs and Bulgarians occupied the lands during the conversion to Christianity. The Byzantine Empire re-captured it in the 11th century. After the fall of the Byzantines, the area was contested by many powers including the Normans, until the Bulgarians took it once again in the 13th century. More wars with the Byzantines occurred subsequently, but it was the Serbians who took over and made Skopje capital.

Serbian rule only lasted until the Ottoman Turks took control of the region, which lasted for 500 years. It became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after WW1 and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and eventually adopted communism after WWII becoming part of Tito’s Yugoslavia.

There was an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001 which was short-lived with UN intervention, but since then things have been quiet.

Macedonia receives 700,000 visitors annually. Tourists are generally attracted to the mountains, the rivers and the quaint regional villages. Festivals are held in Ohrid in the summer months.

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