North Macedonia, formally the Republic of North Macedonia, is a nation located in Southeast Europe’s Balkan peninsula. It is one of the former Yugoslavia’s successor nations, having proclaimed independence from the old Yugoslavia in 1991. It joined the United Nations in 1993, but due to an ongoing dispute with Greece over the use of the name “Macedonia,” was admitted under the provisional designation former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (sometimes abbreviated FYROM), a term also used by international organizations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, and NATO.
The Republic of Macedonia is a landlocked nation bordered on the northwest by Kosovo, on the north by Serbia, on the east by Bulgaria, on the south by Greece, and on the west by Albania. It encompasses about the northwestern third of Macedonia’s broader geographical area, which also includes neighboring sections of northern Greece and lesser portions of southern Bulgaria and southeastern Albania. Mountains, valleys, and rivers dominate the country’s landscape. Skopje, the capital and biggest city, is home to about a quarter of the country’s 2.06 million residents. Residents are mostly ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic group. Albanians are a sizable minority, accounting for about 25% of the population, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, and others.
Macedonia’s history stretches all the way back to antiquity, when the kingdom of Paeonia, a Thracian state, existed. The region was absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the late sixth century BCE and subsequently conquered by the Greek kingdom of Macedon in the fourth century BCE. In the second century BCE, the Romans captured the area and included it into the much larger province of Macedonia. Macedonia was a part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire until the sixth century CE, when it was often attacked and inhabited by Slavic peoples. After decades of conflict between the Bulgarian and Byzantine empires, it eventually fell under Ottoman control beginning in the 14th century. Beginning in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an unique Macedonian identity developed, despite the current region of Macedonia fell under Serbian control after the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. Following the First World War (1914–18), it was annexed by the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which was reestablished as a republic following the Second World War (1945), and was renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963. Macedonia was a constituent socialist republic inside Yugoslavia until 1991, when it declared its independence peacefully.
Macedonia is a United Nations and Council of Europe member. Since 2005, it has also been a candidate for membership in the European Union and NATO. Although Macedonia is one of Europe’s poorest nations, it has made considerable strides in developing an open, market-based economy.