North Macedonia

General information   


Official name: Republic of North Macedonia

Location: North Macedonia is situated in Southeastern Europe, bordering Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Serbia and Kosovo to the north, and Albania to the west.

Area: 25,713 sq. km.

Population: 2,084,367 (census from 2017)

Capital: Skopje, about 600,000 inhabitants

Ethnic composition: 64.17% Macedonians, 25.17% Albanians, 3.85% Turks, 2.66% Roma, 1.78% Serbs, 3.0% others and unspecified

State government: North Macedonia is a Parliamentary Republic

President: Gjorge Ivanov

Official Language: Macedonian (Southern Slavic language)

Religions: Orthodox Christians 64, 78%; Muslim 33,33%

Time difference: Winter time: UTS +1 hours (October through March) Summer time: UTS +1 hours (April through September)

Weather: Summer temperatures: average 26º to 35ºC (40 ºC is not uncommon) Winter temperatures: average -5º to 5ºC

Country dialing code: +389

Measure units: degree Celsius (ºC), meter (m.), gram (gr.), liter (l.)

History   


Pre-20th Century History

The Republic of North Macedonia occupies one part (so called Vardar Macedonia) of the historical and geographical region of Macedonia (nowadays split between Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria). For the last 10,000 years the entire region has been the cradle of many ancient civilizations, including the first European Neolithic farmers, Ancient Macedonians, Paeonians, Illyrians, and Thracians. In 357 BC Philip II of Macedon conquered the entire region and it remained part of the Macedonian Kingdom until the Roman conquest in 145 BC, when Macedonia was turned to Roman province. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD the region became part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Between 4th and 6th AD the countryside and many wealthy cities of Roman Macedonia suffered from Gothic, Hun, and Avar invasions.

In the 7th century AD, Slav tribes settled here and through their dominance changed the area culturally and ethnically. In the 9th century, the region was incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire. Later, in the 970s, Ohrid became the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire after the Byzantines and Russians devastated the eastern regions of the country and plundered the former Bulgarian capital of Preslav. Even today Ohrid has special significance as an ecclesiastical and cultural centre for the entire Slavic World. The Byzantine Empire managed to take control over the area again in 1018. A long period followed in which Macedonia was passed back and forth between Byzantium, Bulgaria and Serbia. In the late fourteenth century, Macedonia became part of the Ottoman Empire, and the cultural identity of the region changed once again.

Modern History

As a result of the Russian victory over the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of an independent Bulgarian state, in 1878 North Macedonia was ceded to Bulgaria by the Treaty of San Stefano. The Great Powers, fearing the creation of a powerful Russian satellite in the heart of the Balkans, forced Bulgaria to return North Macedonia to the Ottoman Empire. In the subsequent period, the Macedonian struggle for independence began, which culminated with the Ilinden uprising on August 2, 1903. The uprising was brutally suppressed by Ottoman troops. The First Balkan War in 1912 brought Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro together for the liberation of those areas of the Balkans which still remained under Ottoman control. They managed to defeat the Ottomans, but disagreements among the allies led to the Second Balkan War in 1913, when Greece and Serbia ousted the Bulgarians and split the greater part of North Macedonia between them. In hopes of liberating North Macedonia, Bulgaria fought on the losing sides in World War One (1915-1918) and World War Two (1940-1945). As a defeated power, Bulgaria had to return the region twice (after each war) to the winners, Greece and Yugoslavia and was not able to defend its diasporic population from assimilation policies.

In 1944, North Macedonia was constituted as are public in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The North Macedonian language was codified in 1944 based on the Prilep-Bitola dialect. The modern North Macedonian language still remains closely related to and shares a high degree of mutual intelligibility with the Bulgarian language, although this tie is rejected by the political concept of Macedonism (created in the first half of 20th century by Comintern). North Macedonian is also related to a certain extent to the Serbo-Croatian language (due to Serbian and Yugoslav political supremacy over Vardar Macedonia between 1912and 1992). The first North Macedonian grammar was published in 1952. On September 8, 1991, a referendum on independence was held in North Macedonia and 74% voted in favour. Thus, in January of 1992, the country declared its full independence from the Former Yugoslavia.

The processes of democratization and economic transition, though successful, were long and hard, and now the country is on its way to membership in NATO and the European Union.

The Name Dispute With Greece

Greece has delayed diplomatic recognition of Macedonia by demanding that the country find another name, alleging that the term “Macedonia” implies territorial claims on northern Greece. Greece is worried that if the North Macedonians use the term “Macedonia,” they may aspire to lay claim to all of ancient Macedonia, which included (and still includes) parts of Greece. At the insistence of Greek officials, Macedonia was forced to use the “temporary” title of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for the purpose of being admitted to the United Nations in April of 1993.

After vacillating for two years, six of the EU countries established diplomatic relations with Macedonia in December of 1993, despite strong objections from Greece, and in February of 1994 the United States also recognized Macedonia.

In response, Greece declared an economic embargo against Macedonia and closed the port of Thessaloniki to the country’s trade. The embargo was lifted in November of 1995 after Macedonia changed its flag and agreed to enter into discussions with Greece about the name of the country. Shortly after these discussions were made, Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov was almost assassinated in a car bombing. To date, a final resolution of this thorny issue has been reached by the adoption of the name "North Macedonia".

Language   


The North Macedonian language is a South Slavic language, very close to Bulgarian and also related to Serbian and Croatian. One should remember one simple and useful rule: Every Written Letter Is Pronounced. This will help you read name plates and street signs in the cities. You can use the following dictionary of the most common and necessary words and phrases in North Macedonian. However, it will also help you communicate with the local people (although most young North Macedonians do speak English) and find, for example, your way to the bus station in Skopje.

Macedonian-Cyrillic letters are:

A (а), Б (b), В (v), Г (g), Д (d), Ѓ (gj), Е (e), Ж (zh,ž), З (z), Ѕ (dz) И (i), Ј (j), К (k), Л (l),Љ (lj) М (m), Н (n), Њ (nj) О (o), П (p), Р (r), С (s), Т (t), Ќ (kj) У (u), Ф (f), Х (h), Ц(tz), Ч (ch,č), Џ (dzh) Ш (sh,š)

Here are some of the MOST HELPFUL WORDS and phrases in North Macedonian:   

  

YES/NO DA/NE
No problem Nema problem
Excuse me Seizvinuvam
Please Ve molam
Thank you Blagodaram
I’m sorry Zhal mi e
Good morning Dobar den
Good evening Dobra vecher
What time is it? Kolku e chasot?
Where I can find an exchange office? Kade mozham da najdam

menuvachni- ca?

How much is it? Kolkukosta?
Where? Kade?
When? Koga?
How? Kako?
Yesterday Vcera
Today Denes
Tomorrow Utre
Bus station Avtobuska stanica
How far? Kolku daleku?
Railway sta tion Zheleznicka stanica
Left/Right Levo/Desno
Straighton Pravo
Street Ulica
Ticket for Bitola Karta za Bi- tola
I don’t understand Ne razbiram
Good/Bad Dobro/Lo- sho
I’m getting off at bus station Sleguvam na avtobuska stancia
How long? Kolku dolgo?
Where is the bus to Bito- la? Kade e av- tobusot za Bitola?
Where is….? Kade e …?

Travel Basics   


Weather

Moderate continental climate influenced by surrounding mountains dominates in Stobi and the area, making springtime refreshingly cool and rainy (15-25 C, 60-77 F). Occasionally lower temperatures may occur, but August could also be surprisingly hot (up to 40-45 C; 100 – 110 F).

Food & Drinks

North Macedonian cuisine tends to be oriented toward meat and potatoes, but vegetarians needn’t worry as several of the more popular dishes are dairy-based and in general North Macedonians consume a lot of salads (the most popular is shopska salad, a tasty mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and occasionally roasted peppers, topped by white brined sheep cheese). Another distinctive salad is taratur, consisting of dense yogurt, cucumbers and garlic. Among the most flavorful meat and vegetable dishes are those baked in covered clay pots, such as Turlitava. A popular snack and breakfast item is burek, baked pastry filled with cheese (and sometimes leeks or spinach), washed down by boza, a non-alcoholic malted beverage that dates back several centuries. North Macedonian wines are internationally renowned and one of the country’s prime exports. North Macedonian beer is also noteworthy, such as Skopsko, Zlaten Dab. The national spirit, rakia, is a fiery brandy ritually consumed with a variety of appetizers (meze). Most popular drinks among young people when go out are beer, vodka, wine and cocktails.

Travel

By Plane:

North Macedonia has two international airports, so if you come by plane you should arrive in Skopje (90 km from Stobi) or Ohrid (169 km from Stobi). So you can take a bus or taxi to the bus - or railway station but it is recommended to request a Balkan Heritage organized pick-up due to unreasonable taxi prices from the airports to the downtowns (50 EUR or more for a single ride, app. 15 km).

North Macedonian Airports:

www.airports.com.mk

Ohrid Airport

Address: Ohrid “St. Paul The Apostle” Airport P.O.Box 134 Ohrid 6000, North Macedonia

Telephone: +389 (46) 25 28 30

Fax: +389 (46) 25 28 40

E-mail: [email protected][email protected]     

Skopje Airport

Address: Skopje Alexander the Great Airport 1043, Petrovec - North Macedonia

Telephone: +389 (2) 3148 333

Fax: +389 (2) 3148 777

E-mail: [email protected]

You can also choose to fly to the Thessaloniki International Airport “Makedonia”,in Greece. In this case it is also highly recommendable to request Balkan Heritage pickup. If you decide take a random taxi you risk to pay unreasonable high price.

Thessaloniki Airport:

www.thessalonikiairport.com

Thessaloniki International Airport “Makedonia”

Address: P.O.BOX 22605 GR-55103 KALAMARIA

Telephone: +30 2310 - 985000, 473212,

473312, 985177, 985

Fax: +30 2310 – 475555

E-mail: [email protected]

You can find information for the Skopje airport bus shuttle service at:

www.skp.airports.com.mk/default.aspx?ItemID=491

Border crossing

Visitors arriving from the EU do not require a visa, although it is advisable to carry a passport and/or other valid identification that can confirm the nationality of the bearer. Citizens of some non-EU countries (such as USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, etc.) are permitted to travel to North Macedonia for tourism and/or business purposes without a visa as long as the planned stay in does not exceed 90 days. For further information,visit the North Macedonian Embassy website or Consulate website specific to your country.   

  

    

All other foreigners may cross the border of the Republic of North Macedonia as long as they hold a valid passport and an appropriate visa (Airport Transit Visa, Transit Visa, Regular Visa or Work Visa). Valid health insurance is required.All visitors to Macedonia, other than EU nationals, must register as foreigners at the passport directorates within five days of arrival. This registration is usually done as a matter of course through the hotel or accommodation establishment. Immigration and entry regulations are very strictly enforced.   

Passports of all visitors should be valid for at least six months on entry for those requiring a visa, and three months on entry for visa exempt nationals other than those from EU countries, whose passports must be valid for the period of stay. Upon crossing the state borderline of the Republic of North Macedonia, passengers may import and export commodities that in type, quantities, and value are not of a commercial nature. These do not include objects the passenger carry for personal use and consumption objects.   

     

Passengers have the right to import at no custom duty or import fees the objects necessary to the foreign individuals for their stay in the country, which in their type and quantity correspond to both purpose and the duration of their stay, as well as consumption objects:

  • tobacco products (passengers over 16 years of age): cigarettes - 200 items, or cigarillos (cigars with a max. weight of 3gr. per piece) - 100 pieces, or cigars - 50 pieces, or smoking tobacco - 250 gr.

  • alcoholic beverages (passengers over18 years of age) - wine - 2 litres, and alcoholic liquors - 1 litre;
  • other drinks: coffee - 500 gr., or coffee extract - 200 gr., tea - 100 gr., or tea extract - 40 gr.;
  • perfumes - 50 ml. and toilet water -0,250 ml.
  • medicines - in quantity and type corresponding to the personal needs of the passenger.

Passenger older than 16 can import duty-free commodities, acquired abroad other than the listed above, at a total value up to US $ 100 or the equivalent in other currency units. For passengers under 16the duty-free import rate for commodities acquired abroad is US $50 or their equivalent in other currency units.   

Personal use objects, new and used, which a passenger may normally need during one’s trip, taking into account all circumstances of the travel, are placed under the regime of temporary import with a full exemption of all customs dues.   

Re-exporting personal belongings cannot take place later than the moment when the natural person who has imported them is leaving the customs territory of the Republic of North Macedonia.

For more information:

www.mfa.gov.mk/

Money / banks / credit cards

The North Macedonian currency is the North Macedonian DENAR (MKD). You can not pay in Euros or other foreign currency except in casinos and big hotels (where the exchange rate is really unfair)! The exchange rate is approximately 1 euro= 61.5 denari (MKD) and 1 USD = 53.45 denari (MKD).

North Macedonian banks accept all credit cards and travellers’ cheques. Usually, banks are open from 8.00 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Monday to Friday), Sat from 8.00 am to noon.

Shopping malls, supermarkets and many shops in the bigger towns and resorts will also accept credit cards. This is not valid for the smaller “domestic” shops throughout the country where the only way of payment is cash. Exchange of foreign currencies is practised not only by banks but also by numerous exchange offices. NB! Most of them don’t collect commission fee and have acceptable exchange rates (+/- 0.5-1,5% of the official rate) however, those located in shopping areas of big cities, resorts, railway stations, airports etc. can “tenderly” or “sharply” decrease your financial abilities. Ask in advance how much money you will get!

ATMs are available all over the country and POS-terminals are in every bank office.

You can see North Macedonian notes and coins in circulation here.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you plan to use your credit/debit card in North Macedonia, please inform your bank on your intention before departure! Otherwise it is very possible that your bank will block your account/ card for security reasons when you try to use it abroad! Unblocking your card, when abroad, may cost you lots of phone calls and troubles!

Communications

Post offices - all over North Macedonia offer international postal, telephone, telegraph, and fax services.

Phone calls - Phone cards can be bought at the post offices and the Tobacco shops, or you can use the paid phones in the post offices or hotels. The country is covered by a network of street phones. The cheapest phone card for any of the companies preferred costs 150 MKD/2,5 EUR and includes for 4 – 6 minute conversation with any European country.

Internet - in every town and even in smaller villages you may find one or several Internet cafés. The prices vary depending on the location. One hour for example, can cost from 0,50EUR/30MKD up to 1 EUR/60MKD. Bigger Internet cafés usually offer long distance call services as well. A wireless Internet connection is available in many public areas in the big towns (cafes, restaurants, hotels, malls, etc.), and in most cases you only need to ask for the security key.

Cell-phones and roaming

(companies in North Macedonia):

  • VIP www.vip.mk
  • ONE www.one.mk
  • T – Mobile www.t-mobile.mk/public
  • Electricity

    The electricity power in the country is stable at 220 - Volts A.C. (50 Hertz). Don’t forget to bring a voltage converter, if necessary! Outlets in North Macedonia generally accept 1 type of plug.   

    Two round pins. If your appliance's plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter.

    Business hours

    Offices - 8.30 am to 4.30 pm (Monday to Friday)

    Banks - 8.00 am - 6.00 pm (Monday to Friday), Sat 8.00 am - Noon, with longer hours at airports and railway/bus stations.

    Shops – 8.00 am to 9.00 pm (Monday to Friday, Saturday until 4.00 pm) but many shops are opened even on Sundays.

    Emergency

    National emergency number is: 112

    Police: 192

    Fire brigade: 193

    Ambulance: 194

    Road assistance: 196

    Purchasing power

    Bottle (0,33 l) of mineral water(in a restaurant): 0,5 EUR/30 MKD – 1 EUR/60 MKD

    Bottle (0,5 l) of mineral water (in a store): 0,3 EUR/18 MKD – 0,5 EUR/30 MKD

    Coffee (in a café): 1 EUR/60 MKD – 2 EUR/120 MKD

    Apple (organic): 0,5 EUR/30 MKD

    Pizza (in a restaurant): 4 EUR/250 MKD - 6 EUR/370 MKD

    Vegetable salad 250 gr (in a restaurant): 1,5 EUR/90 MKD – 2,5 EUR/150 MKD

    Fresh natural orange juice 150 ml: 1,5 EUR/90 MKD– 2,5 EUR/150 MKD

    Cinema ticket: 2,5 EUR/150 MKD

    Night club entrance fee: 1,6 EUR/ 100 MKD

    Theater ticket: 1,6 EUR/100 MKD – 3,5 EUR/200 MKD

    BHFS Towns


    Bitola and Environs

    Bitola is the second biggest town in the Republic of North Macedonia.

    Stobi and the Middle Vardar Region
    Ohrid and Environs