North Macedonia (Macedonian: Северна Македонија, Severna Makedonija), officially known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia (Macedonian: Република Северна Македонија, Republika Severna Makedonija) and also known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonian: поранешна Југословенска Република Македонија, Poranena Jugoslovenska Republika Makedonija), is a tiny Slavic Southern European nation nestled in the middle of the Balkan Peninsula. The national language, Macedonian, is very closely related to Bulgarian, to the point where they are mutually intelligible and is sometimes considered the same language (most certainly not in Macedonia, however). The capital is Skopje.
"Macedonia", the ethnic homeland of Macedonians, was historically a much larger region which was divided up in 1913 among nations who'd taken advantage of the weakness of the Ottoman Empire: the southern part went to Greece, the northeastern part went to Bulgaria, and the northwestern part — the part that makes up the present-day Republic of North Macedonia — became the southern half of Serbia. This Serbian region later became the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, as a constituent republic of Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia broke up, this constituent republic became the independent Republic of Macedonia.
In fact, the complex mix of nationalities and ethnicities in the area led to the French culinary term Macedoine meaning a mixture (mostly mixed vegetables).
However, the newly independent Macedonia found itself at odds with Greece, due to Greece's northern region (the territory annexed in 1913) having the same name. Greece felt that, due to its cultural and historic importance, the name should be considered exclusively Greek. Macedonia, on the other hand, felt that it was within its rights to call itself whatever it pleased and refused to even acknowledge the dispute. Greece has even argued that the nation's name implies a desire to annex the northern Greek region, which in Macedonia is seen as Insane Troll Logic. The ancient Kingdom of Macedon from which the name is drawn had borders which encompassed the entirety of both the modern republic and the modern Greek region. As a result, the neighbors have had a rocky relationship, which has led to incidents such as the rejection of Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union, as joining either group requires unanimous approval of the current members. Because of Greece's pressure, Macedonia is a member of the United Nations under the name "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"note (as well as the Olympic Games, where the full name is used in the alphabetical order it is marching innote ) and Greece itself only recognises Macedonia under that name or the name "Macedonia-Skopje", just to make the point.
In 2018, a deal called the Prespa agreement was struck to rename the country to "Republic of North Macedonia", after which Greece promises to drop its objections to NATO and European Union membership. While the deal was controversial, the rename eventually came into effect on the 12th of February, 2019, finally ending the naming dispute with Greece, and North Macedonia has applied for NATO membership.
Notably, the country avoided any bloodshed during the breakup of Yugoslavia, the only one of the republics to do so. There was, however, a series of skirmishes between the North Macedonian police and armed forces vs. local Albanian separatists in 2001. The conflict left some 100-300 dead and ended with a compromise that promised to improve the rights of local Albanians.
Historically, their greatest claim to fame is Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the known world in the 4th century B.C.; his father, Phillip II, had conquered most of Greece. To this day, North Macedonians and Greeks have a bit of a rivalry over who can properly lay claim to Alexander the Great. Macedon was at the time considered to be part of the Greek world; the inhabitants of the territory generally spoke a form of Greek, but it was a dialect most other Greeks regarded as rather savage and rough, and although the Slavic language currently spoken by most citizens of the country we're talking about here didn't move in until no earlier than the 5th or 6th century AD, the fact is that the modern culture of Macedonia—on either side of the border—is a hybrid of both Greek and Slavic influences (with Greek ones predominating no matter what language you speak), and that the people on both sides of the border are probably a mix of both Greek and Slavic ancestry.note As for the debate about Alexander, he was also born in a town which is today part of Greece and not North Macedonia but wasn't at the time, which complicates issues. It's nothing too serious, but it's worth knowing. Aristotle was also born in the Kingdom of Macedon, but few people call him anything but a Greek.
North Macedonian media:-
- Before the Rain, the first North Macedonian movie to get an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
The North Macedonian flag