Macedonia

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Introduction to Macedonia

Macedonia is medieval monasteries, timeworn Turkish bazaars, Orthodox churches and space-age shopping centres. It is also the drone of the local bagpipes, Turkish-style grilled mincemeat and Balkan cheese pies. The country is unbelievably green; its people are hospitable and welcoming.

Caution

In northern and western Macedonia, travel should be restricted to main roads and daylight hours. Unexploded ordnance plagues pockets of these areas, and the border with Serbia and Montenegro is a military zone. Ethnic tensions in the region bordering Kosovo can erupt into occasional violence.

Full country name: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Area: 25,333 sq km

Population: 2.06 million

Capital City: Skopje

People: Macedonian 66%, Albanian 23%, Turkish 4%, Gypsies 3%, Serb 2%

Language: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Bosnian

Religion: Eastern Orthodox 67%, Muslim 30%

Government: parliamentary democracy

Head of State: President Branko Crvenkovski

Head of Government: Prime Minister Vlado Buchkovski

GDP: US$10.57 billion

GDP per capita: US$5,100

Annual Growth: 4.5%

Inflation: 3%

Major Industries: Coal, metallic chromium, lead, zinc, ferronickel, textiles, wood products, tobacco, rice, tobacco, wheat, corn, millet, cotton, sesame, mulberry leaves, citrus, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton

Major Trading Partners: Bulgaria, other former Yugoslav republics, Germany, Italy, Austria

Member of EU: No

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Traveler Facts

Visas: Most EU and Yugoslav passport-holders require no visa. Canadians, Americans and Australians need a visa, but it's issued free of charge at the border. The situation changes regularly; check with the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Health risks: sunburn

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1

Dialling Code: 389

Electricity: 220V ,50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric



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Events

Macedonians celebrate Orthodox Christmas on 7 January, followed by the Old New Year on 13 January. Otherwise, a lot of the nation's special events center around military milestones: Ilinden or Day of the 1903 Rebellion is 2 August; Republic Day is 8 September; and 1941 Partisan Day is 11 October. The Balkan Festival of Folk Dances and Songs, held in Ohrid in early July, draws folkloric groups from around the Balkans. The Ohrid Summer Festival, held from mid-July to mid-August, features classical concerts. Poets gather in Struga at the end of August for an International Festival of Poetry.

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Best time to Visit

There's no bad time to go to Macedonia weather-wise, as the country benefits from being close to the Aegean, which keeps it relatively warm in winter and very nice in summer. July and August are the best months to catch festivals: the Balkan Festival of Folk Dances and Songs is held in Ohrid in early July, while the Ohrid Summer Festival takes place later that same month.



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Currency / Costs / Approx. Spending

Currency: Macedonian Denar

Meals

Budget: MKD100-300

Mid-range: MKD300-500

High: MKD500-800

Deluxe: MKD800+

Lodging

Budget: MKD500-2000

Mid-range: MKD2000-2500

High: MKD2500-3500

Deluxe: MKD3500+

Macedonia's hotels are very expensive and will take up most of your budget. If you're able to find a private room rather than a hotel, you'll be better off financially and able to get by on about US$20-40 a day. If not, count on spending at least US$50 a day for a roof over your head and some food in your belly. More palatable versions of each will require closer to US$100 a day.

The denar is now a stable currency, but outside Macedonia it's worthless. Travellers' cheques can be changed at most banks with no commission deducted. Small private exchange offices can be found throughout central Skopje and Ohrid, and the rate they offer is generally good.

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Attractions

Skopje

Macedonia's capital, Skopje, is strategically set on the Vardar River at a crossroads of Balkan routes almost midway between Tirana and Sofia, capitals of neighbouring Albania and Bulgaria. The Romans recognised the location's importance when they made the city the centre of Dardania Province.

Later conquerors included the Slavs, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Normans and Serbs, until the Turks arrived in 1392 and managed to hold onto Skopje until 1912. After a devastating earthquake in 1963, aid poured in from the rest of Yugoslavia to create the modern urban landscape you see today.

Ohrid

The town of Ohrid is the Macedonian tourist mecca. Some 30 'cultural monuments' in the area keep visitors busy. Predictably, the oldest ruins readily seen are Roman. Lihnidos (Ohrid) was on the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic to the Aegean.

Macedonia boasts Lake Ohrid, a natural tectonic lake which is the deepest lake in Europe and one of the world's oldest. A third of its surface area belongs to Albania. The Macedonian section of the lake is beautiful, with striking vistas of the water from the beach and hills.

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Disclaimer: We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify critical information like (visas, health and safety, customs, and transportation) with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Sources: CIA FactBook, World FactBooks and numerous Travel and Destinations Guides.

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