officially Republic of Macedonia
Country, southern Balkans region, southeastern Europe.
Area: 9,928 sq mi (25,713 sq km). Population (2003 est.): 2,056,000. Capital: Skopje . Two-thirds of the population are Slavic Macedonians, and about one-fifth are ethnic Albanians. Languages: Macedonian, Albanian. Religions: Serbian Orthodoxy, Islam. Currency: denar. Located on a high plateau studded with mountains, Macedonia has few mineral resources and is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Agriculture is central to its economy, the leading products including tobacco, rice, fruit, vegetables, and wine; sheep herding and dairy farming are also important. Macedonia is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. The Macedonian region has been inhabited since before 7000 BC. Under Roman rule, part of the region was incorporated into the province of Moesia in AD 29. It was settled by Slavic tribes by the mid-6th century AD and was Christianized during the 9th century. Seized by the Bulgarians in 1185, it was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1371 to 1912. The north and centre of the region were annexed by Serbia in 1913 and became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia ) in 1918. When Yugoslavia was partitioned by the Axis Powers in 1941, Yugoslav Macedonia was occupied principally by Bulgaria. Macedonia once again became a republic of Yugoslavia in 1946. After Croatia and Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia, fear of Serbian dominance prompted Macedonia to declare its independence in 1991. In deference to Greece, which has an area traditionally known as Macedonia, the country adopted as its formal title The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and normalized relations with Greece in 1995. Ethnic strife has periodically endangered national stability
e.g., in 2001, when pro-Albanian rebel forces in the north, near the Kosovo border, led guerrilla attacks on government forces.