Macedonia (officially known as the Republic of Macedonia and sometimes as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) is a country located in south eastern Europe in the Balkan peninsula. Its neighbours are Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The capital of Macedonia is Skopje. Other big cities in Macedonia are Bitola and Kumanovo. The currency of Macedonia is the Macedonian denar.
The present country of Macedonia has been inhabited for thousands of years and the country has been part of many empires including the Roman Empire, Byzantine empire, Bulgarian empire, Serbian empire, Ottoman empire and, more recently, as a part of Yugoslavia. Macedonia was one of the 6 republics of Yugoslavia.
Macedonia became independent from Yugoslavia on September 8th, 1991. In the following years it faced disputes with Greece which also claims the Macedonia name (it's the name of a historical region which includes much of Greece as well as the Republic of Macedonia). At present the country has agreed to be known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Macedonia has applied to join the European Union and has been a candidate country since 2005.
Macedonia is a mountainous landlocked (it has no coastline) country with many lakes and valleys. The highest mountain is Mount Korab at 2764 metres. Lake Ohrid (see the picture below) is the country's largest lake and the deepest lake in the Balkan peninsula. The country is regionally famous for its spa resorts which are popular with locals and visitors.
People in Macedonia are a mixture of many nationalities. The majority of people in the country are ethnic Macedonian but there are also large minorities of Serbs, Albanians and Bulgarians. The most widely spoken language is Macedonian which is very closely related to Bulgarian. There are large numbers of Serbian and Albanian speakers in Macedonia.
700,000 people visit Macedonia every year with the majority visiting the capital Skopje, the city of Dojran and Lake Ohrid. The country has 3 national parks which are popular with all people: Mavrovo, Galičica and Pelister. Bears, wolves and lynx can be found in the country making it a popular location for wildlife enthusiasts.
Festivals are common throughout the year including the Balkan Festival of Folk Songs and Dances and Galičnik Wedding Festival, where a chosen couple are allowed to marry in the traditional Galička-style wedding clothes during the festivities. Macedonia's only UNESCO World Heritage Site is Ohrid Municipality, an area in south-west Macedonia which includes Church of St. John at Kaneo (pictured above).