Europe

Macedonia country profile

  • 15 April 2016
  • From the section Europe
Map of Macedonia

Macedonia was spared the inter-ethnic violence that raged elsewhere in the Balkans following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s but it came close to civil war a decade after independence.

Rebels staged an uprising in early 2001, demanding greater rights for the ethnic Albanian minority. The conflict created a wave of refugees and the rebels made territorial gains.

After months of skirmishes, EU and Nato support enabled the president, Boris Trajkovski, to strike a peace deal. Under the Ohrid agreement, Albanian fighters laid down their arms in return for greater ethnic-Albanian recognition within a unitary state.

The country's name remains a contentious issue. It is still referred to as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the United Nations.

International recognition of the country's split from Yugoslavia in 1991 was held up over Greek fears that its name implied territorial ambitions toward the northern Greek region of Macedonia.

FACTS

Republic of Macedonia (listed by the UN as The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

Capital: Skopje

  • Population 2.1 million

  • Area 25,713 sq km (9,928 sq miles)

  • Major languages Macedonian, Albanian

  • Major religions Christianity, Islam

  • Life expectancy 73 years (men), 77 years (women)

  • Currency denar

Getty Images

LEADERS

President: Gjorge Ivanov

Image copyright Getty Images

Professor Gjorgje Ivanov was sworn in as Macedonia's fourth democratically-elected president on 12 May 2009, following his victory in the second round of the presidential election.

He was re-elected in April 2014, beating the Social Democratic Union candidate in the run-off.

Although he was put forward as a presidential candidate by the governing VMRO-DPMNE party, he is not a member.

President Ivanov, who was born in 1960, has spent most of his professional life as a university law professor.

His predecessor, Social Democrat Branko Crvenkovski, who was elected in 2004, won praise in the West for supporting reconciliation with the substantial Albanian minority.

Macedonia's presidents are directly elected for a five-year term. The president appoints the prime minister, and legislative power is vested in parliament.

Interim prime minister: Emil Dimitriev

Emil Dimitriev was sworn in in parliament in January 2016 to serve as interim prime minister, guiding the country to an early parliamentary election scheduled for June 2016.

MEDIA

Television is Macedonia's most popular news medium. Public networks face stiff competition from commercial stations, which dominate the ratings.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in the Macedonia's history:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ethnic Albanians pressing for greater minority rights staged an armed uprising which brought the country to the brink of civil war

1913 - Ottoman rule in Europe ends after five centuries. Macedonia is partitioned between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. What is now FYROM is incorporated into Serbia.

1914 - First World War. Macedonia is occupied by Bulgaria.

1918-19 - Macedonia becomes part of Serbia again. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is founded, and is renamed Yugoslavia in 1929.

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. International recognition is slow because Greece objects to the use of the name Macedonia, the same as one of its own provinces.

2001 - Uprising by ethnic Albanians. Rebel militia engages in skirmishes which bring country to brink of civil war. Peace deal involves greater recognition of ethnic Albanian rights in exchange for rebel pledge to lay down arms.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A huge statue of Alexander the Great dominates Skopje's central square

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