Macedonia tourist information
Macedonia, officially the Republic of Macedonia (Ğ ĞµĞ¿ÑĞ±Ğ»Ğ¸ĞºĞ° ĞĞ°ĞºĞµĞ´Ğ¾Ğ½Ğ¸ÑĞ°, transliterated: Republika Makedonija, is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. It became a member of the United Nations in 1993 but, as a result of a dispute with Greece over its name, it was admitted under the provisional reference of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, sometimes abbreviated as FYROM.
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A landlocked country, the Republic of Macedonia is bordered by Kosovo[a] to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the northwestern half of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which also comprises parts of Greece and Bulgaria. The country's capital is Skopje, with 506,926 inhabitants according to a 2002 census. Other cities include Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Å tip, KoÄani, Gostivar and Strumica. It has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 m (6,562 ft). Macedonia is a member of the UN and the Council of Europe. Since December 2005 it has also been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership.
Macedonia has a total area of 25,713 km2 (9,928 sq mi). It lies between latitudes 40Â° and 43Â° N, and mostly between longitudes 20Â° and 23Â° E (a small area lies east of 23Â°). Macedonia has some 748 km (465 mi) of boundaries, shared with Serbia (62 km or 39 mi) to the North, Kosovo (159 km or 99 mi) to the northwest, Bulgaria (148 km or 92 mi) to the east, Greece (228 km or 142 mi) to the south, and Albania (151 km or 94 mi) to the west. It is a transit way for shipment of goods from Greece, through the Balkans, towards Eastern, Western and Central Europe and through Bulgaria to the East. It is part of a larger region also known as Macedonia, which also includes a region of northern Greece known by the same name; and the Blagoevgrad province in southwestern Bulgaria.
Macedonia has a transitional climate from Mediterranean to continental. The summers are hot and dry and the winters are moderately cold. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,700 mm (66.9 in) in the western mountainous area to 500 mm (19.7 in) in the eastern area. There are three main climatic zones in the country: temperate Mediterranean, mountainous and mildly Continental. Along the valleys of the Vardar and Strumica rivers, in the regions of Gevgelija, Valandovo, Dojran, Strumica and RadoviÅ¡ the climate is temperate Mediterranean. The warmest regions are Demir Kapija and Gevgelija, where the temperature in July and August frequently exceeds 40 Â°C (104 Â°F). The mountainous climate is present in the mountainous regions of the country and it is characterised by long and snowy winters and short and cold summers. The spring is colder than the fall. The majority of Macedonia has a moderate continental climate with warm and dry summers and relatively cold and wet winters. There are 30 main and regular weather stations in the country.
Tourism is an important part of the economy of the Republic of Macedonia. The country's large abundance of natural and cultural attractions make it an attractive destination of visitors. It receives about 700,000 tourists annually.
Skopje, the capital and largest city, is situated in the northern part of the country on the Vardar River. Skopje has a long history that is evidenced by its many archaeological sites, such as Scupi and the Skopje Aqueduct, and the large number of Ottoman buildings and monuments, particularly in the Old Bazaar, such as Mustapha Pasha Mosque. Today, Skopje, with over 500,000 inhabitants, is becoming a modern city with museums and many cultural and sporting events.
Ohrid, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the southwestern part of the country on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid. The town is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in the country, which is largely due to the beaches and atmosphere. However, Ohrid also has many historical monuments, such as Samuil's Fortress and the Antique Theatre.
Bitola, the second largest city, is situated in the southern part of the country. The town is considered to be the most "European" in Macedonia. Like many cities in the country, Bitola has also had a rich history. Heraclea Lyncestis, one of the Republic of Macedonia's largest archaeological sites, is located in Bitola. The long history of Bitola is also exemplified by the town's many neo-classical buildings, Ottoman buildings and monuments, and old churches. The town is also a great place for shopping; Å irok Sokak, a pedestrian street, is filled with an endless amount of stores and restaurants.
Å tip, the largest city east of the Vardar River, is located in the eastern part of the country. Å tip has existed for at least 2,000 years which is showcased by its many archaeological sites, such as Astibo, Bargala, and Estipeon. The city is also home to the healing waters of the KeÅ¾ovica Mineral Spa. Today, Å tip is the main cultural and economical centre of eastern Macedonia.
Other cities and towns in the country, such as Kratovo, KruÅ¡evo, Prilep, Strumica, and Struga, have many attractions of their own.
Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music. It has many ancient, protected religious sites. Poetry, cinema, and music festivals are held annually. Macedonian music styles developed under the strong influence of Byzantine church music. Macedonia has a significant number of preserved Byzantine fresco paintings, mainly from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. There are several thousands square metres of fresco painting preserved, the major part of which is in very good condition and represent masterworks of the Macedonian School of ecclesiastical painting.
The most important cultural events in the country are the Ohrid Summer festival of classical music and drama, the Struga Poetry Evenings which gather poets from more than 50 countries in the world, International Camera Festival in Bitola, Open Youth Theatre and Skopje Jazz Festival in Skopje etc. The Macedonian Opera opened in 1947 with a performance of Cavalleria rusticana under the direction of Branko Pomorisac. Every year, the May Opera Evenings are held in Skopje for around 20 nights. The first May Opera performance was that of Kiril Makedonski's Tsar Samuil in May 1972.
Macedonian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of the Balkansâreflecting Mediterranean (Greek and Turkish) and Middle Eastern influences, and to a lesser extent Italian, German and Eastern European (especially Hungarian) ones. The relatively warm climate in Macedonia provides excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse.
Famous for its rich Å opska salad, an appetizer and side dish which accompanies almost every meal, Macedonian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of its dairy products, wines, and local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija. TavÄe GravÄe and mastika are considered the national dish and drink of the Republic of Macedonia, respectively.