Landlocked Macedonia was hit hard by the sanctions placed on its northern trading partners in the mid-1990s, and by violent conflict with ethnic Albanians in 2001.
Geography: Mainly mountainous or hilly, with deep river basins in the center. Plains in the northeast and southwest.
Climate: Continental climate with wet springs and dry autumns. Heavy snowfalls in northern mountains.
People and Society: Slav Macedonians are mostly Orthodox Christians, with some Muslims. Officially, Muslim Albanians account for 25% of the population, but they claim to number a third. In 2001 Albanian militants fought a bitter war against the government. A peace deal promised greater equality. A major stumbling block to EU and NATO accession is Greece’s objection to the name Macedonia, in order to prevent any possibility of claims to historic “Macedonian” lands in north Greece.
The Economy: Steel, minerals, clothing, shoes, and tobacco exported. Slow transition to market economy. Organized crime and large gray economy. Investment boosted by EU candidate status.
Insight: Ohrid is the deepest lake in Europe at 964 ft (294 m)
Official Name: Republic of Macedonia
Date of Formation: 1991
Population: 2.04 million
Total Area: 9781 sq. miles (25,333 sq. km)
Density: 206 people per sq. mile
Languages: Macedonian*, Albanian*
Religions: Orthodox Christian 59%, Muslim 26%, other 11%, Catholic 4%
Ethnic Mix: Macedonian 64%, Albanian 25%, other 5%, Turkish 4%, Serb 2%
Government: Mixed presidential–parliamentary system
Currency: Macedonian denar = 100 deni