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  • Vatican City!

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    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Macedonia!

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    Macedonia is a country still finding its unique identity, but its architecture is already one of a kind. Explore Macedonia!

  • Austria!

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MacedoniaThe name "Macedonia" is contested by various groups; the locals prefer the name simply Macedonia, but the Greeks disagree with its use so in international organizations the country is officially referred to as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Despite this, the country's official name is the "Republic of Macedonia."

The name Macedonia comes from the Greek word Makedonia, which was a kingdom and region named after the ancient Macedonians, who lived in the area that is today Macedonia. The Greek word means "tall" or "length," likely referring to the height of the people or the mountains in the region.



The Macedonians share many similarities with their neighbors, but are unique in many ways and the people tend to prefer focuses on what makes their culture unique rather than being tied to their similarities. Macedonian identity today is also a hotly debated political issue as what it means to be "Macedonian" is questioned.

Before the arguments, the similarities, and the differences, the people of modern day Macedonia settled the lands and made a living as farmers. Life was simple for much of history as these people, who are primarily ethnically Bulgar and Slavic, lived off the lands and lived a very rural lifestyle. Even today many of the people of Macedonia live off the land and share numerous similarities in terms of lifestyle with their ancestors.

Over time the modern Macedonian culture evolved, beginning in about 700 with their arrival to the region. This culture is defined by the people that today live on the lands of Macedonia, not the ancient Macedonians who are not closely related to the modern people. This culture began with the people who settled the lands and even today most Macedonians are ethnically similar to other southern Slavs and also speak a Slavic language that shares similarities with their neighbors.

Like their neighbors to the east, the Macedonians adopted Eastern Orthodox Christianity, linking these people to other people who lived under the rule of the Byzantine Empire, most particularly the Bulgarians. This connection to the Byzantine Empire and their neighbors helped develop the Macedonian culture, particularly in terms of food and politics. However, it was the Ottoman Turks who truly settled the lands and changed the culture, especially in terms of Albanian immigration to the region and the influence of Turkish foods and culture.

Despite all the changes over time, many argue the Macedonians are nearly identical to the Bulgarians in many ways and the Greeks argue the Macedonians have no right to use that name. The Macedonians argue both points as they claim they are distinctly different from the Bulgarians and their history would support this, although in other ways there are few differences. However, ethnically, the Macedonians today have no close relationship to the ancient Macedonians, although they do occupy nearly the same land mass. This has led to political arguments and the country of Macedonia calling itself the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in many diplomatic circles.

Today the confusion surrounding Macedonia continues and few people are willing to take a strong side on any issue. However, what seems clear is that the Macedonians today maintain a distinct culture and identity. The people cling to this "Macedonian" identity and their culture has many aspects that differentiate it from Bulgaria and the rest of the Peninsula, despite the many similarities.

The red and yellow on the flag of Macedonia are two historic colors associated with the color. The sun on the flag is known as the "Sun of Liberty."

Name: Republic of Macedonia
Independence: September 8, 1991
Capital: Skopje
Currency: Macedonian Denar
Population: 2,087,171 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Macedonian & Albanian
Language: Macedonian & Albanian
Religion: Macedonian Orthodox & Muslim

Information for Macedonia was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks