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Macedonia Information - Page 2
Macedonia has been inhabited since early times; early European civilisation flourished in the region.

The most well known historical figure from the region was Alexander the Great, son of Philip II of Macedon (359-336 BC). Philip conquered the surrounding countries and defeated Greece's armies (338 BC). Under Alexander III, the armies of Macedon and Greece invaded and conquered Persia, taking Egypt and marching as far as India.

Following Alexander's death (323 BC) the Empire was divided between his generals. Macedon became part of the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire.

During the sixth and seventh centuries Slavic peoples moved into "Macedonia", part of a much wider migration of tribes into Europe.

Macedonia continued as a Byzantine territory, although there were various uprisings and periods of foreign rule. However, the latter part of the fourteenth century saw the beginning of centuries of Ottoman occupation in the region; the Ottoman Turks ruled until they were driven from Europe in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913).

After the Balkan Wars, Macedonia was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. Territory was redistributed, again, after the First World War (1914-1918). Thus today's Republic is part of the larger geographic area of Macedonia.

In 1919 the Kingdom of Serbians, Croats and Slovenes was formed which also included Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and [Vardar] Macedonia. In 1929 the name of the Kingdom was changed to Yugoslavia.

During the Second World War (1939-1945) Macedonia was occupied by Fascist armies. In August 1944 the country was declared a state by the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation of Macedonia.

The new state became part of the Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia) which came into existence in November 1945. Although Yugoslavia (1945-1991) had a communist government, the country's leader Josip Broz "Tito" distanced himself from the USSR.

After Tito's death in 1980 there was a struggle for political control of the country. In 1991 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke up: Slovenia, Macedonia and Croatia declared independence, followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since independence Macedonia has embarked upon a programme of privatisation. One of the least developed members of the former Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia has a high level of unemployment.

Industry and mining are important employers. Industries include steel, cement, energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, food processing, wine and beverages.

The agricultural sector produces tobacco, grapes, vegetables, milk and eggs. Cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry are reared.

The services sector earns the highest percentage of Macedonia's Gross Domestic Product. (2008)

Macedonia has an important collection of frescoes, mosaics, and religious icons; many can be seen in churches throughout the country. Among the best works are those in St. Panteleimon (Nerezi, near Skopje) and St.Sophia (Ohrid).

As well as art, the early church in Macedonia fostered Slavic literature. The Ohrid Literary School, founded by the Saints Clement and Nahum, was one of Europe's first libraries.

Today Macedonia builds upon its cultural heritage. Among numerous cultural events there are Poetry Evenings in Struga and the Festival of Balkan Folk Song and Dance in Ohrid. Events at national level are organised by the Macedonian Philharmonic and Directorate of Culture and Art.

Football is the most popular sport in Macedonia. Other sports in Macedonia include basketball, volleyball, karate and wrestling.

In the summer months swimming marathons are annual events on Lake Ohrid and during the winter months there is skiing in Macedonia's winter sports centres.

Macedonia takes part in the Olympic Games. Participation in the Games is organised by the Macedonian Olympic Committee.

New Year's Day is a public holiday. The Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on 7 January. Other public holidays include Ilinden Republic Proclamation (2 August 1903), Independence Day (8 September) and the Uprising Against Fascism (11 October).

News from Macedonia is available from Newslink.

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