Macedonia Macedonia

Historical and geographical Macedonia is divided between the Republic of Macedonia, the Greek province of Macedonia and a corner of Bulgaria called Pirin Macedonia. The largest portion of the historic Macedonia region is now Greek territory, a point that Greeks are always quick to make when disputing Macedonia’s use of the name, as they invariably do. In any case, the region was the homeland of Alexander the Great, who sallied forth to conquer the ancient world in the 4th century BC. Rarely independent, the territory of the Republic of Macedonia has often been a staging post for invaders.

History

Historical and geographical Macedonia is divided between the Republic of Macedonia, the Greek province of Macedonia and a corner of Bulgaria called Pirin Macedonia. The largest portion of the historic Macedonia region is now Greek territory, a point that Greeks are always quick to make when disputing Macedonia’s use of the name, as they invariably do. In any case, the region was the homeland of Alexander the Great, who sallied forth to conquer the ancient world in the 4th century BC. Rarely independent, the territory of the Republic of Macedonia has often been a staging post for invaders. Roman rule was entrenched after the conquest of Macedonia in 168 BC, and over the next 500 years the ancestors of the Vlach people developed a Latin dialect. Today’s Vlach community speak a language called Aromanian, which, as the names suggests, is related to Romanian and Latin. Many Vlach villages lie along the route of the Roman Via Egnatia, a vital military road and trade route that stretched from Durrës in Albania to Istanbul (Constantinople) in Turkey. When the Roman Empire was divided in the 4th century AD, this region came under the Eastern Roman Empire, ruled from Constantinople. Slavs started settling in the area in the 7th century AD, and not long after adopted the Christian faith of earlier residents.



Nationalism

In 1893 Macedonian nationalists formed the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) to fight for independence from Turkey, culminating in the Ilinden uprising of August 1903, which was brutally suppressed in October of the same year. Although the nationalist leader Goce Delčev died before the revolt, he has become the symbol of Macedonian nationalism.

The First Balkan War of 1912 saw Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro fighting together against Turkey. During the Second Balkan War in 1913, Greece and Serbia ousted the Bulgarians and carved up Macedonia. Frustrated by this, VMRO continued the struggle against the new rulers, and in response the interwar government in Belgrade banned the Macedonian language and the name Macedonia. Though some VMRO elements supported Bulgarian occupation during WWII, many more joined Josip Broz Tito’s partisans, and in 1943 it was agreed that postwar Macedonia would have full republic status in a future Yugoslavia. Tito led the communist resistance to German occupation in WWII and later became prime minister, then president, of Yugoslavia.

Independence

On 8 September 1991 Macedonians held a referendum on independence. Seventy-four percent voted in favour and in January 1992 the country declared its full independence from the former Yugoslavia. Macedonian leader Kiro Gligorov artfully negotiated the only peaceful withdrawal of the Yugoslav army from any of the former republics.

Greece withheld diplomatic recognition of Macedonia and demanded that the country find another name, worried that it implied territorial claims over Aegean Macedonia, which they had obtained in the 1913 carve-up. At Greek insistence, Macedonia was forced to use the ‘provisional’ title Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in order to be admitted to the UN in April 1993. When the USA (following six EU countries) recognised FYROM in February 1994, Greece declared an economic embargo against Macedonia and closed the Aegean Macedonian port of Thessaloniki to trade. The embargo was lifted in November 1995 after Macedonia changed its flag and agreed to discuss its name with Greece. To date, there’s been no resolution of this thorny issue. Increasingly the name Macedonia is being used internationally, despite Greek intransigence.



Places to Visit in Republic of Macedonia

  • Skopje attractions
  • Ohrid attractions
  • Bitola attractions
  • Strumica attractions
  • Prilep attractions