Република Северна Македонија

Republika e Maqedonisë së Veriut - Republic of North Macedonia

North Macedonia is a small country between Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia. The country contains about 40% of the area and 45% of the population of the geographical region known as Macedonia. About 50% of this region belongs to Greece and 10% to Bulgaria. Between 1945 and 1991, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was one of the six constituent republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Yugoslav Macedonia seceded peacefully from the Yugoslav federation, declaring its independence as the Republic of Macedonia. But although the country did not take part in the Yugoslav war of the early 1990s, it was destabilized by some 360,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from the neighbouring Kosovo and an armed conflict in March 2001. So it is still difficult to visit the country.

The country was from 1992 formally known as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which was a sort of compromise. The neighbouring state of Greece is also called Macedonia, and the Greek believe, that they are historically the true Macedonians. They insisted that the name of the Republic of Macedonia must be changed. However, as said before the geographic region of Macedonia is split into three parts by the political borders. After a lot of Greek grouching the UN officially accepted the new name in an "ok, you're right, and now go out and play with the other kids" manner. Obviously the name dispute was a matter of honour for the Greek, while the rest of the world was astonished by the fuss they made about a bagatelle. So be careful not to use the name Republic of Macedonia, while travelling in Greece!

Since 2016 the country has a new government which seems to be willing to accept the Greek soft spots and to make compromises. As a result the country was renamed Republic of North Macedonia or short North Macedonia in 2019. In the same year it became a member of the NATO and began talks to join the EU.

Macedonia is a predominantly mountainous country, 80% of the country consists of hills and mountains. The country is divided into two groups of mountains, the Šar Mountains in the west which are the continuation of the Dinarides, and the Osogovo-Belasica mountains in the east which is the westernmost section of the Rila-Rhodope Mountains. About 10 % of North Macedonia are areas of karstified limestone, so there are plenty of caves. There are almost 500 caves in the cadastre, but only two are show caves, and two others are rather easy to visit. The main reason is probably that the country is rather poor and tourism is rather low, because it is not on the main tourist routes. The caves are not very well explored, in other words there is potential for further research. Very common are cave churches in North Macedonia, especially around lake Ohrid.