The Republic of Macedonia is a country located in the central Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe. It gained its independence from Yugoslavia peacefully in 1991. Bordering Serbia to the north, Greece to the south, Bulgaria to the east, Albania to the west, and Kosovo to the northwest, Macedonia is a landlocked country.
The capital of Macedonia, as well as the biggest city in this small country is Skopje. Out of the 2,072,086 people living on the 25,713 sq km of land, more than a quarter of the population is situated in the capital of Skopje. Other larger cities include Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilpe, Tetvo, Ohrid, Veles, Štip, Kočani, Gostivar and Strumica.
Although Macedonia does not have coastlines, it has some of Europe’s most beautiful and oldest lakes Lake Ohrid. Situated in the southwestern part of the country is the second oldest lake in Europe as well the deepest lake in the Balkans, home to a unique ecosystem with more than 200 endemic species.
The currency of Macedonia is the Macedonian denar (MKD). The official language is Macedonian, although Albanian is widely spoken in the west of the country, and in some areas Turkish, Serbian, Romany and Aromanian is also spoken. Macedonia is a multiethnic country that has a diversity of ethnicities as well as religions that make up the vital part of the country’s rich cultural life.
General Information about Macedonia
Macedonia is situated on a total area of 25, 713 km2. It has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 meters. It is a landlocked country defined by mountain ranges which are divided by a central valley formed by the river Vardar. Macedonia’s mountains are divided into two groups: Rhodope and Dinaric mountains. The Rhodope group also known as Osogovo-Belasica mountain chain is located in the eastern region of Macedonia and are some of the older mountains here. The Dinaric group or the chain of Šar Mountains or Shara zone are younger mountains relative to the Rhodope group and they are located on both sides of the river Vardar continuing all the way to the West Vardar/Pelagonia group of mountains. The highest point in Macedonia is the peak Golem Korab at2764 meters above sea level located precisely in the Shara zone.
Macedonia has three beautiful natural lakes. Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa, and DojranLake lie on the southern borders and are shared with Albania and Greece. As well as the lakes, there are additional 1,100 larger sources of water in Macedonia. The largest river is Vardar which rises at Vrutok, near the city of Gostivar. The river is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje.
The biggest valley is the Pelagonija valley which is home to specific cultures adopted to its environment, such as tobacco which is mostly cultivated in the Prilep region. Macedonia has three national parks and they are Mavrovo National Park , Galicica National Park, and Pelister National Park. Macedonia’s strategic location in the heart of the Balkans serves as a transportation corridor from Greece towards the rest of Europe and vice versa. The country’s natural resources include low-grade iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromate, manganese, nickel, tungsten, gold, silver, asbestos, gypsum, timber, and arable land. The region is seismologically active and there have been some major catastrophes in the past with the biggest one being the Skopje eartuquake of 1963, which destroyed almost 80% of thecity and took 1,000 casualties.
Maps of Macedonia http://www.worldmapfinder.com/En/Europe/Macedonia/
Almost all municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia today are amalgamated from the previous 123 municipalities that had been formed in 1996. In August of 2004, new boundaries were drawn up and the Republic of Macedonia reorganized its territory into 84 administrative units. These 84 administrative units, which make up the municipalities of Macedonia are a part of eight statistical regions. These statistical regions exist solely for legal and statistical purposes. One of these regions is the Skopje, which encompasses the city of Skopje and its immediate surroundings, a distinct administrative unit with local self-government and the capital of the county. According to population number, the biggest municipality is the Municipality of Kumanovo with 105,484 inhabitants while the smallest one is the municipality of Vranestica with 1,322 inhabitants. By area, the biggest municipality in the municipality of Prilep with 1,194km2, and the smallest one is the municipality of Cair with 3.5km2 which is found in the greater region of Skopje.
Climate and Weather
Macedonia’s climate ranges from a Mediterranean to a Continental climate, starting from southern and eastern parts which are in proximity of influence to the Black Sea, and the northern and western parts of the country which are surrounded by mountainous areas which are responsible for Macedonia’s continental climate. Macedonia has distinct seasons, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. It is not uncommon for summer temperatures to reach 40°C with the maximum ever recorded being 44.5°C, around the plains and valleys of the river Vardar. Winter has an average of about 0°C, accompanied with abundant snowfall, the lowest temperature ever recorded is -31.5°C. Rainfall is also very abundant, especially in the western and eastern parts of the country. The region is also marked by a flow of warm air brought in from the wind vardarec, which sometimes influences the climate so that winters are gentler and temperatures warmer.
Skopje with its low-lying topography, experiences hot and humid summers and cold and wet winters. Summer temperature as usually above 31 °C (88 °F), and sometimes, above 40 °C (104 °F). In spring and autumn, the temperatures range from 15 to 24 °C (59 to 75 °F). In the winter, the day temperatures are about 6 °C (43 °F), but in the nights they often fall below 0 °C.
Meteorological and Hydrological Service (with forecasts) www.meteo.gov.mk