|General background: International recognition
of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (F.Y.R.O.M.)
independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 was delayed by
Greece's objection to the new state's use of what it
considered a Hellenic name and symbols. Greece finally
lifted its trade blockade in 1995, and the two countries
agreed to normalize relations, despite continued disagreement
over F.Y.R.O.M.'s use of "Macedonia." F.Y.R.O.M.'s
large Albanian minority, an ethnic Albanian armed insurgency
in F.Y.R.O.M. in 2001, and the status of neighboring
Kosovo continue to be sources of ethnic tension.
Area comparative: Slightly larger than Vermont.
Climate: Warm, dry summers and autumns and
relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall.
Terrain: Mountainous territory covered with deep
basins and valleys; three large lakes, each divided
by a frontier line; country bisected by the Vardar River.
Ethnic groups: Macedonian 66.6%, Albanian
22.7%, Turkish 4%, Roma 2.2%, Serb 2.1%, other 2.4%
Religions: Macedonian Orthodox 67%, Muslim
30%, other 3%
Language: Macedonian 70%, Albanian 21%, Turkish
3%, Serbo-Croatian 3%, other 3%
Government type: Emerging democracy
Legal system: Based on civil law system; judicial
review of legislative acts.
Economic overview: At independence in November
1991, Macedonia was the least developed of the Yugoslav
republics, producing a mere 5% of the total federal
output of goods and services. The collapse of Yugoslavia
ended transfer payments from the center and eliminated
advantages from inclusion in a de facto free trade
area. An absence of infrastructure, UN sanctions on
Yugoslavia, one of its largest markets, and a Greek
economic embargo over a dispute about the country's
constitutional name and flag hindered economic growth
until 1996. GDP subsequently rose each year through
2000. However, the leadership's commitment to economic
reform, free trade, and regional integration was undermined
by the ethnic Albanian insurgency of 2001. The economy
shrank about 4% because of decreased trade, intermittent
border closures, increased deficit spending on security
needs, and investor uncertainty. The international
community hopes to restart growth with a donors' conference
Communication/Telephone system: Not available.
Places of interest: Macedonia is medieval
monasteries, timeworn Turkish bazaars, Orthodox churches
and space-age shopping centers.
Travel tips: The security situation is tense
and visitors should exercise caution, avoid travel
to the north, and keep informed of latest developments
through their embassy.