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North Macedonia: Orthodox monasteries and mountains

Macedonia (Republika Severna Makedonija) is a small parliamentary republic located in the southern Balkans. The country has common boundaries to the north with Serbia, to the east with Bulgaria, to the south with Greece and to the west with Albania. Macedonia has no access to the sea. The country became independent in 1991 with the collapse of Yugoslavia. The main cities are the capital Skopje, Bitola, Štip and Kumanovo.

Geographically the territory of Macedonia is very rough, mainly formed by mountains. Rugged mountain ranges alternate with wide valleys, where numerous rivers flow. In the center of the country is the largest valley with the Vardar River, which passes the capital Skopje, flowing into Greek territory – there known as Axios – and finally reaching the Gulf of Thessaloniki of the Aegean Sea.

The mountains make up about 80% of the territory of Macedonia. The Macedonian mountains are formed by three major chains. The Šar Mountains extend along the north-western border with Serbia and along the Albanian border. Here are the highest mountains of the country, for example the Mount Titov Vrv with 2.747 meters, but the highest mountain of Macedonia is Mount Korab with 2.764 meters, lying on the border with Albania.

Macedonia map

Macedonia map

To the south at the border with Greece lies the mountain range of Vardar/Pelagonia, which is a part of the Dinaric Alps. These mountains also reach considerable heights. The highest mountain in this chain is Mount Pelister in the Baba mountains, which reaches 2.601 meters. To the east on the border with Bulgaria are the mountains Osogovo-Belasica, which form a part of the mountain range of the Rhodopes. These mountains exceed two thousand metres. Their highest peak is Mount Ruen with 2.251 meters. Almost in the center of the country is the Jakupica massif, whose highest mountain is Mount Solunska Glava with 2.540 meters, being the fourth highest mountain of Macedonia.

In the south-west on the border with Albania and Greece there are two large lakes: Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. On the other hand to the south-east on the border with Greece the smaller Lake Dojran is to be found.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 25.713 sq km
  • Population: 2.040.000: Macedonians 66,4%, Albanians 23,1%, Turks 3,9%, Roma 2,3% and Serbs 1,9%.
  • State Capital: Skopje
  • Language: The official and most widely spoken language is Macedonian. Other languages include Albanian, Bulgarian, Romani, Turkish, Serbian, Vlach, Circassian and Greek.
  • Religion: Orthodox Christians of the Macedonian Church 66,6%, Muslims 30,1%.
  • Currency: Macedonian denar (MKD)
  • Time Zone: GMT+1, Daylight Saving Time GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October.

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