1 Macedonia is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. It became a member of the United Nations in 1993 but, as a result of a dispute with Greece over its name, it was admitted under the provisional reference of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, sometimes abbreviated as FYROM. A landlocked country, the Republic of Macedonia is bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the northwestern half of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which also comprises parts of Greece and Bulgaria. The countrys capital is Skopje, other cities include Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Stip, Kocani, Gostivar, Kavadarci and Strumica. It has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 m. Macedonia is a member of the UN and the Council of Europe. Since December 2005 it has also been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership.
2In antiquity, most of what is now the Republic of Macedonia was inhabited by Paeonians, aThracian people, whilst the northwest was inhabited by the Dardani and the southwest bytribes known historically as the Enchelae, Pelagones and Lyncestae; the latter two are generallyregarded as Molossian tribes of the northwestern Greek group, whilst the former two areconsidered Illyrian. In 356 BC Philip II of Macedon absorbed the regions of Upper Macedoniainto the Kingdom of Macedon, including Lynkestis, Pelagonia, and the southern part ofPaeonia. Philips son Alexander the Great conquered the remainder of the region, reaching asfar north as the Danube, and incorporated it in his empire. The Romans established theProvince of Macedonia in 146 BC. By the time of Diocletian, the province had been subdividedbetween Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris; most of countrys modern boundaries fellwithin the latter, with the city of Stobi as the capital of Macedonia Salutaris. Cities to theextreme north such as Scupi fell within the Province of Moesia. Whilst Greek remained thedominant language in the south, Latin made significant inroads in Macedonia.
3 Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music. It has many ancient, protected religious sites. Poetry, cinema, and music festivals are held annually. Macedonian music styles developed under the strong influence of Byzantine church music. Macedonia has a significant number of preserved Byzantine fresco paintings, mainly from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. There are several thousands square metres of fresco painting preserved, the major part of which is in very good condition and represent masterworks of the Macedonian School of ecclesiastical painting. The most important cultural events in the country are the Ohrid Summer festival of classical music and drama, the Struga Poetry Evenings which gather poets from more than 50 countries in the world, International Camera Festival in Bitola, Open Youth Theatre and Skopje Jazz Festival in Skopje etc. The Macedonian Opera opened in 1947 with a performance of Cavalleria rusticana under the direction of Branko Pomorisac. Every year, the May Opera Evenings are held in Skopje for around 20 nights. The first May Opera performance was that of Kiril Makedonskis Tsar Samuil in May 1972.
4Macedonia has a total area of 25,713. It lies between latitudes40° and 43° N, and mostly between longitudes 20° and 23° E (asmall area lies east of 23°). Macedonia has some 748 km ofboundaries, shared with Serbia (62 km or 39 mi) to the North,Kosovo (159 km or 99 mi) to the northwest, Bulgaria (148 km or92 mi) to the east, Greece (228 km or 142 mi) to the south, andAlbania (151 km or 94 mi) to the west. It is a transit way forshipment of goods from Greece, through the Balkans, towardsEastern, Western and Central Europe and through Bulgaria tothe East. It is part of a larger region also known as Macedonia,which also includes a region of northern Greece known by thesame name; and the Blagoevgrad province in southwesternBulgaria.
5 Football is the most popular sport in Macedonia. Macedonia national football team is the national football team of Macedonia and is controlled by the Football Federation of Macedonia. The home stadium of the National team is the Philip II Arena. The most popular Macedonian footballer is Goran Pandev, which currently plays for Internazionale. Apart from football, handball is the most important team sport in the country. 2002 Kometal Skopje won the European Cup EHF Womens Champions League. The European Womens Handball Championship took place in 2008 in Macedonia. The venues in which the tournament took place were located in Skopje and Ohrid. The Macedonian womens national handball team arrived here a seventh place. The Macedonian national basketball team represents the Republic of Macedonia in international basketball. The Macedonian national basketball team is run by the Basketball Federation of Macedonia, the governing body of basketball in Macedonia which was created in 1992 and joined FIBA in 1993. Macedonia has participated in three Eurobaskets since then with its best finish at 4th place in 2011. It plays its home games at the Boris Trajkovski Arena in Skopje. In the summer months The Ohrid Swimming Marathon is an annual event on Lake Ohrid and during the winter months there is skiing in Macedonias winter sports centres. Macedonia also takes part in the Olympic Games. Participation in the Games is organized by the Macedonian Olympic Committee.