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The name of the state is controversial between the Greek and Macedonian governments. As a member of the United Nations, Macedonia bears the name “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM), which Greece wanted. According to the Macedonian constitution, the country name is “Republic of Macedonia” (Republika Makedonija).

The republic, which has been independent since 1991, is located in southeastern Europe on the Balkan peninsula and, with an area of 25 714 kmĀ², is about two thirds the size of Switzerland. The country borders Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the northeast, Greece to the southeast and south, and Albania to the west. Macedonia is the only country on the Balkan Peninsula without direct access to the sea.

The country is characterized by several mountain ranges and lies in a tectonically active region. The west is occupied by high mountains, which belong to the Dinaric Alps. Here lies the highest elevation of the country at the border to the neighbouring country Bulgaria (Golem Korab, 2 764 m). Between the individual mountain ranges there are basin landscapes and partly deeply cut valleys. In the east of Macedonia, low mountain ranges reach heights of up to 1,000 m on average, occasionally up to 1,700 m. The Vardar flows through the centre of the country as the longest river in a wide valley. In Greece it flows into the Aegean as Axios. In the southwest of Macedonia there are several large lakes, which were created by tectonic processes. These include Lake Ohrid, through which the border with Albania runs, and Lake Prespa, in which Albania and Greece also have a share. The capital Skopje lies in the upper valley of the Vardar in the north of the country.

Political system

According to the 1991 constitution, Macedonia is a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The head of state is the president (since 2009 Gjorgje Ivanov), who is elected by the people for a term of five years. He is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appoints the Prime Minister (since 2006 Nikola Gruevski) as head of government.

The legislative power lies with the Parliament, which consists of one chamber (Sobranie). The 120 deputies and three representatives of the Macedonians abroad are elected by the people for a term of four years.

Macedonia is divided into eight statistical regions with 84 municipalities (Opstini), whereby the ten Opstini of Skopje are grouped together as “Greater Skopje”.


Macedonia was the economically least developed republic of the former socialist Yugoslavia. Two thirds of trade was with the other Yugoslav republics. The dissolution of Yugoslavia and the international sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro (1992) as well as the Greek trade embargo against Macedonia had a devastating effect. From the mid-1990s onwards, most foreign investors withdrew their capital due to the Kosovo crisis. With the help of loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the economy recovered, but slipped back into recession in 2009 as a result of the global financial and economic crisis; gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3% in 2012. At the same time, high unemployment (approx. 31 % in 2012) and an extremely active black market are weighing on the economy.

Agriculture accounts for around 11 % of GDP, and employs an estimated 20 % of the workforce. More than half of the state territory is agricultural land. The main crops are cereals, sugar beet, sunflowers, tobacco, fruit and wine. Livestock farming (especially sheep) plays only a minor role.

Macedonia has mineral resources such as coal, zinc, lead, silver, gold, antimony, iron ore, copper and chromium, but the deposits are only partially developed. Almost a third of all employees work in industry, which accounts for 28% of GDP. The most important branches of industry are the iron and steel industry, food processing and the manufacture of textiles.

Macedonia’s most important exports are iron and steel, chemical products and textiles. Germany and Serbia are the most important trading partners. The main imports are crude oil, chemical products and food from Greece, Germany and Great Britain.

The road network covers about 10,600 km, of which about 5,500 km are paved. There is a total of almost 930 km of rail, and a main line runs through the Vardar valley from Belgrade to Soloniki. Skopje and Ohrid each have an international airport. The currency is the Macedonian dinar.