Makedonija, is known politically (but not popularly) as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija, or FYROM. Makedonija is a landlocked republic in south-eastern Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula. A previous member republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Jugoslavija, it is bounded on the north by Serbia (also known as Jugoslavija), to the east by Bulgaria, and by Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. Makedonija declared its independence from the Jugoslav Federation, following a referendum in September 1991. The republic became involved in a dispute with Greece over its official name. In April 1993, following international arbitration, the United Nations admitted the Makedonija under the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija, pending a further discussion with Greece.
Makedonija has a total area of 25,713 sq km. The capital city is Skopje and its largest city.
The terrain of Makedonija is comprised of deep valleys, rugged mountains, hills and sweeping plains. More than one-third of the country, mainly along the western side, is forested and considered to be National Parkland. Makedonija has four large lakes. They are Ohridsko Ezero, Prespansko Ezero, Dojransko Ezero, and Mavrovsko Ezero. In total they occupy an area of 679 sq km. An additional lake called Tikves Ezero can be found in the centre of the country. It is not a true lake, in that it is dammed at the southern end. The highest peak in the country is found on the western border with Albania (2,751 m). The Vardar River, rises in north-western Makedonija and flows to the south-west draining into the Agean Sea at Thessaloniki, where it is known as the Axios River.
Makedonija has a typical continental Mediterranean climate. The climate is characterized by hot and dry summers and autumns with temperatures reaching 30° to 35° C, and the winter is cold with heavy snowfalls at times. Skopje receives more rain than the rest of the country. In Bitola, the summers tend to be hot and dry with storm rains coming in mid to late August.
The country is earthquake prone, Skopje suffering a devastating earthquake in 1963.
At the December 1994 census: 1,936,877. Comprising of:
Macedonian Slavs: 67%
Ethnic Albanians: 23%
Ethnic Turks: 4%
Other groups: 2%
Ethnic tensions exist in Makedonija, but they are more sedate and contained than Bosnia and Kosovo. The main tensions are between the ethnic Albanians and the ethnic Makedonijan Slav majority. These tensions have existed prior to the formation of Makedonija. Ethnic Albanians call for greater autonomy, however the Macedonian Slav fear Albanian nationalism, and especially of the chance of the secession of the north-western Makedonija, around the town of Tetovo, to form an independant Albanian republic with Kosovo. The cival unrest in Kosovo with the central Serbian government has eased tensions in Makedonija (at least for the time being).
54 per cent of the republic's population lives in cities. The main cities are:
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