Macedonia

A landlocked country, the Republic of Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the north-western third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which also comprises the neighbouring parts of northern Greece and smaller portions of southwestern Bulgaria and south-eastern Albania. The country’s geography is defined primarily by mountains, valleys, and rivers. The majority of the residents are ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25 percent, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, and others.

Population: 2.1 million

Languages: Macedonian, Albanian

Religions: Christianity, Islam

Currency: Denar

On 8 September 1991 Macedonians held a referendum on independence. Over seventy percent voted in favour and in January 1992 the country declared its full independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Traditions are based on the country’s rural past, although almost 40 percent of Macedonians now live in towns and cities. Architecture plays an important part, with urban single-story houses built around a central courtyard, emphasizing the significance of close family ties. Macedonians are intensely proud of their land, and their nationalistic fervour is especially noted in the works of writers and poets, many of which have been translated into other European languages and published across the Western world.

Macedonia is a veritable treasury of cultural heritage. Macedonia treasures a large number of cultural and historical monuments: churches, monasteries, icons, archaeological sites, mosques, old books, and other artefacts. National folklore and traditional arts and crafts are still cherished. The finely embroidered national costumes, the numerous old crafts shops have played an important part in preserving the tradition. It also has three national parks and 33 natural reserves.

Any village can be a tourist attraction, and most villagers are very hospitable across the Republic of Macedonia. Local municipalities intend to promote the Macedonian countryside for the purpose of attracting visitors, tourists and potential investors as one of the still unutilized ways of filling up their municipal budgets. The village, rural or eco-tourism has started developing as a factor of protection of the natural heritage, mainly concentrated mountainous Macedonian villages.

The municipalities say that alpinism, cycling, and a meal in the country instead of a luxury hotel is the real offer that the travel agencies could, in cooperation with the government – to offer to the foreign tourists throughout the year. Rural tourism in Macedonia focuses on participating in a rural lifestyle. Rural tourism exists in Macedonia provides the travellers accommodation in a scenic location ideal for rest and relaxation.

According to travel agents, the Miyak villages of Vevcani, Galicnik, Lazaropole, and the villages in the foothills of Mt. Pelister from both Prespa (Brajcino, Dolno Dupeni, Ljubojno and Kurbinovo) and Bitola side (Magarevo, Capari, Nizepole and Malovista), are excellent sites for the countryside and alpine tourism. However, the lack of road infrastructure, water, and water management systems poses a problem, though. Another interesting destination for foreigners is the Elsani village in the Ohrid region.

There are 346 registered caves in Macedonia although their number is believed to be between 400 and 500 – a heaven for adventurers and high-adrenaline lovers. The caves of Ubavica, Slatinski Izvor, Bela Voda, Alilica, and Dona Duka are among the biggest and most significant ones. Some caves have underground rivers, waterfalls, and small lakes, while most of them abound in stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, drapers, and corals. The caves are home to a variety of interesting fauna, such as crabs, spiders, bats, and various insects, which are accustomed to live in the dark and food shortage. Fossil remains of the extinct Pleistocene fauna, such as cave bears and sword tigers, are found, too. All remaining caves are a challenge for explorers.

Mavrovo, located in the northwestern part of the country, is the largest of the three national parks. It is home to several river valleys, gorges, waterfalls, caves, and other morphological formations. Galičica, located between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa, is the second largest national park in the country. The park is home to an abundance of diverse flora and fauna and offers terrific views of Ohrid and Lake Ohrid. Pelister, located in the southern part of the country, near Bitola, is the smallest of the three national parks. The park consists of land that surrounds Baba Mountain. On top of the mountain are two glacial lakes, known as Gorski Oči, or mountain eyes.

The traditional Macedonian cuisine combines Balkan and Mediterranean characteristics, inherited largely from Turkish tastes that prevailed during long centuries of Ottoman rule.

The travellers are delighted with the taste of Macedonian tomato, carrots, lettuces, parsley, onions, a garlic, and not to mention the rich flavour and aroma of fresh fruit, such as watermelons, melons, cherries, apricots, grapes, peaches, and others. Most herbs are collected in the local mountains and in the countryside, and these herbs are renowned for their taste, have scent and healing properties.

The culture of Macedonia is intricately linked to the Orthodox Church, founded by the Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius, as well as the numerous empires which occupied the land over two millennia. Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian, Greek, Ottoman and Serbian cultures all play a part in the rich heritage of literature, arts, music, cuisine, and architecture in the land, forming a modern yet traditional culture totally unique to the newly independent country.

It is expected that people act more formal and respectful around their elders. For example, one would refrain from swearing or tell rude jokes. Macedonians have quite a relaxed view of time. It is common to be late or for meetings and other events to run over time.

Do not leave two windows open in a room. There is a cultural belief in Macedonia that when wind passes through a room, it will cause people to get sick. This belief is called ‘promaja’.

Macedonians generally stay up quite late and may socialise into the later hours of the night.

 

Hello (General greeting)         Здраво (Zdravo)

How are you?                          Како си? (Kako si?)

My name is …                          Јас се викам …

Good morning                         Добро утро (Dobro utro)

Good afternoon                       Добар ден (Dobar den)

Good evening                          Добра вечер (Dobra večer)

Goodbye                                  Довидување (Doviduvanye)

Please                                      Ве молам (Ve molam)

Thank you                                Благодарам (Blagodaram)