North Macedonia - Introduction
Since the end of the Second World War, Macedonia's population has grown steadily, with the greatest increases occurring in the ethnic Albanian community. From 1953 through the time of the latest official census in 2002 (initial official results were released December 2003), the percentage of ethnic Albanians living in Macedonia rose threefold. The western part of the country, where most ethnic Albanians live, is the most heavily populated, with approximately 40% of the total population. As in many countries, people have moved into the cities in search of employment. Macedonia has also experienced sustained high rates of permanent or seasonal emigration.
North Macedonia is located in the heart of south central Europe. It shares a border with Greece to the south, Bulgaria to the east, Serbia and Kosovo to the north, and Albania to the west. The country is 80% mountainous, rising to its highest point at Mt. Korab (peak 2,764 m). The Republic of North Macedonia is situated in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula (Southeastern Europe) covering an area of 25.713 square kilometers. Its relief is characterized by large and high mountain massifs giving way to extensive, flat valleys and plains. Almost the entire territory of North Macedonia lies between latitudes 40 and 42 and is a transitional region between the Mediterranean and Continental climates. The climate is classified as being transitory from Continental climate to a Mediterranean climate.
The country is bordered by Serbia and Kosovo to the North, Bulgaria to the East, Greece to the South and Albania to the West. It is a major transit way for shipment of goods from Greece, through the Balkans, towards Eastern, Western and Central Europe and through Bulgaria to the East. The capital is Skopje. Other major cities are Bitola, Kumanovo, Ohrid, Tetovo, Veles, Gostivar, Stip and Strumica.
The territory of the Republic of North Macedonia distinguishes between the following homogenous climate regions: the sub-Mediterranean region (from 50 meters to 500 meters above sea level), the moderate continental sub-Mediterranean region (up to 600 meters); the warm continental region (from 600 to 900 meters above the sea level); the cold continental region (from 900m. to 1100 m); the sub-forest continental mountain region (1100 - 1300 meters); the forested continental mountain region (from 1300 meters to 1650 meters above seal level), the sub-Alpine mountain region (from 1650 meters to 2250 meters) and the Alpine mountain region (above 2250 metes above sea level).
The natural conditions in the Republic of North Macedonia (geological content, relief, climate, hydrography, soil, flora, fauna) make it one of the rare countries in Europe with wealth of natural values. In the past five decades of organized protection of natural rarities in the Republic of North Macedonia, 74 objects of nature have been included in the protected areas network, with a total area of 187,895 ha, or 7,30% of the national territory. In the Republic of North Macedonia the following have a status of protected wealth: 3 national parks, with an area of 108,338 ha, or 4,2%; 4 strict natural reserves, with an area of 12.855 ha, or 0,50%; 3 landscapes with special natural characteristics, with an area of 2.338 ha, or 0,09%; 14 distinct plant and animal species outside the natural reserves, with an area of 2709 ha, or 0,10%;; 33 nature parts protected in the category of monuments of nature, with an area of 61.655 ha, or 2,4%.
North Macedonia is a country where with every step is overwhelmed by the feeling of interlaced centuries, between the antique and the modern, with the civilizations’ inheritance throughout the époques at your reach. Visitors are offered the opportunity to enjoy the rich multicultural experience by visiting the medieval monasteries, churches, mosques, vineyards and fascinating nature, bazaars and modern shopping malls. The moderate Mediterranean climate in North Macedonia has influenced peoples’ lifestyles, who welcome tourists with friendly conversation and openness, introducing them to their everyday life flows with natural spontaneity.
North Macedonian museums are abundant with artifacts and testimonies of over 3.000 years long history and culture. The archeological sites, the rich cultural and historical heritage, the national parks, lakes and impressive nature, the landscapes and villages with preserved authenticity, the sunny valleys – have enabled the flourish of lake tourism, cultural and monastery tourism, wine tourism, spa tourism, eco and mountain tourism, rural and agricultural tourism.
Entering the country from the North you will come across one of the greatest manmade miracles – Kokino, the fourth megalith observatory registered by NASA. From this point on the adventure through the land of the Sun begins. In Skopje another stunning sight awaits you – the Fortress of the great emperor Justinian, across which is the most famous city monument – the Stone Bridge over the river Vardar, which leads you from the central city area to the cobblestone streets of the Old Skopje Bazaar. The capital is surrounded with the Matka Canon and the breathtaking monasteries witnessing the life in this region in the middle ages. Skopje is also renowned as the city where Mother Theresa was born, and the Memorial House dedicated to the great humanitarian tells the story of her life and grand deeds.
The story continues down to the vineyards of Central North Macedonia, a region traditionally known for the high quality wines and the wine cellars. The Road of the Wine in North Macedonia provides unique experience and a perfect blend of traditional North Macedonian food, good wine, music and culture. The fields in the South-East of the country are blessed with the abundance of sunny days enabling rich production of vegetables and fruits. It is the region of fertile soil and healthy food, but also of untouched nature, waterfalls, spas, archeological sites and monuments.
The fantastic nature, the national reserves and parks, the menmade and natural lakes, and the natural and historical wonders meet you at every step of the way to Western North Macedonia. One of the most attractive regions in the Republic of North Macedonia, known for the pleasant climate, natural beauties, and above all – cultural and historical value, is the region of the City of Ohrid. The city recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, placed on the shores of one of the oldest lakes in the world, captures visitors' eyes not only with the remarkable and unique old-city architecture, numerous churches and monasteries, but also with the clean beaches, modern accommodation facilities and the nightlife. Ohrid is the hometown of the Cyrillic alphabet and the Slavic literacy, and the place where one of the oldest European universities was founded. The old part of the town is crowned with a grandiose fortress dating from the period of the antique. The Ohrid lake, the deepest in Europe, is a home of many enedemic species, of which the Ohrid trout is most famous.
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