The area of today’s Macedonia was probably from 2000 BC. populated by Illyrian-Thracian tribes. From the 7th century BC it was part of the Kingdom of Macedon, which extended east and south and included parts of Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. The Macedonian kingdom experienced its greatest expansion under Alexander the Great, who in the 4th century BC. conquered the Persian Achaemenid Empire and established a great empire that reached far into the Orient.
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After Alexander’s death in 323 BC. the Macedonian empire fell into several rival states, which were ruled by the “Diadochen” (successor) of Alexander. In the area of what is now Macedonia, the dynasty of the Antipater ruled in 276 BC. from which the antigonid was replaced. This ruled until 168 BC, when King Perseus had to surrender to the troops of the emerging Roman Empire in the decisive battle at Pydna. Macedonia was first divided into four republics, then 148 BC. incorporated into the Roman Empire as the province of “Macedonia”.
After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD Macedonia came to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine Empire).
Medieval and modern times
From the 6th century, Slavic peoples immigrated to what is now Macedonia. In the 10th century the country came under the rule of Bulgaria. The town of Ohrid in the south became the residence of the Bulgarian tsar around 1000. From 1018 Byzantine troops conquered the area again.
In 1331 Macedonia became part of the Serbian empire. After the battle on the blackbird field (Kosovo polje) in 1389, when the Christian army of the Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians and Albanians suffered a heavy defeat against the Islamic Turks (Ottomans), Macedonia fell to the Ottoman Empire and remained for the next five centuries under this rule.
From the 19th century, several wars between rival peoples and powers took place on the soil of Macedonia (Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks, Ottomans). According to AbbreviationFinder, the area officially remained part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of the Second Balkan War in 1913, when the territory was divided between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria (Bucharest Peace).
In 1918 Macedonia was incorporated as a non-autonomous province in the newly founded Kingdom of Serbia (“United Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes”), which was called “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” from 1929. All movements within Macedonia that opposed the Serbian domination were suppressed. The independence movement in Macedonia was mainly supported by the “Inner Macedonian Revolutionary Organization” (IMRO), which had already emerged towards the end of the 19th century.
After the end of the Second World War, Macedonia became part of the Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945 (from 1963 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and received limited internal autonomy.
When the fall of Yugoslavia became apparent in the late 1980s, the Macedonian communist government had to agree to the introduction of a multi-party system and lost its monopoly on power in the first elections in October 1990. Social Democrat Kiro Gligorov became the new head of government. In a referendum, around 95% of the Macedonian population voted for the detachment from Yugoslavia. On September 18, 1991, the “Republic of Macedonia” declared itself an independent state with Skopje as the capital and Gligorov as the first president. (Croatia and Slovenia had already formally declared independence from Yugoslavia in June.)
The influx of refugees from the war zones in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the so-called name and flag dispute with Greece were a burden for the young state: Greece asked the Macedonian government to use a different state name because it feared territorial claims to the Greek region of Macedonia. The flag with the insignia of Alexander the Great was also criticized. A trade embargo imposed by Greece additionally burdened the Macedonian economy. Only after the mediation by the United Nations did a first compromise come about in 1993: Macedonia was admitted to the UN after a name change (now “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) and thus received international recognition. The flag emblem was changed slightly in 1995 and the Macedonian constitution stated that there were no territorial claims to the historical region of Macedonia in Greece.
In October 1994, in the first parliamentary elections since independence, the “Alliance for Macedonia” (SZM), which consisted of socialists, liberals and social democrats, won an absolute majority. President Kiro Gligorov was confirmed in office for a further five years in the concurrent presidential election.
Clashes with Albanians
The social tensions between Macedonians and the Albanian minority, who lived mainly in the province of Illyria and demanded autonomous status, presented a domestic political burden. Due to the unstable situation in the region, a UN peacekeeping force had been stationed in Macedonia since 1993, and its mandate has been repeatedly extended. The war in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo increased tensions in Macedonia. The UN peacekeeping force was enlarged to prevent the conflict from spreading to Macedonia. In December 1998 the new Macedonian government (alliance of “Inner Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity” / VMRO-DPMNE and the newly founded liberal “Democratic Alternative”/ DA) the deployment of a protective force of the western defense alliance NATO. However, armed conflicts between Macedonian security forces and Albanian extremists, which were largely part of the National Albanian Liberation Army (UÇK), continued to occur.
By that time, around 20,000 Kosovar Albanians had fled to Macedonian territory. The Macedonian government, led by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, expressed concerns about a shift in the population in favor of the Albanians, who have so far made up around a third of the total population and whose radical wings sought to unite with Albania. In June 1999, after NATO troops invaded Kosovo, the return flow of Albanian refugees began.
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In December 1999 Boris Trajkovski became the new President of Macedonia from the ruling VMRO-DPMNE. At the beginning of 2001, the conflict between Albanian rebels and Macedonian soldiers in the area of the city of Tetovo intensified and a series of attacks and fighting took place. A political solution was in sight when a government of “National Unity” was formed in May 2001, which also included members of the Albanian “Party for Democratic Wealth” (PDP). In November 2001, Parliament passed a series of constitutional amendments that gave minorities more rights.In addition to defining Albanian as the second official language (in areas with more than 20% Albanians), this included limited local self-government in predominantly Albanian populated areas.
Nevertheless, attacks by Albanian extremists occurred again, which were answered by offensives by the Macedonian armed forces. On August 13, 2001, a peace treaty was signed by the parties to the conflict in Ohrid. After adhering to the agreed ceasefire, NATO sent around 3,500 men to Macedonia (“Essential Harvest”). In September 2001, the Albanian rebels announced the UÇK’s self-dissolution.
After the Ohrid Peace Agreement
The ruling VMRO-DPMNE only reached 24% in the parliamentary elections in September 2002. The Social Democrats (SDS) became the strongest party. After President Trajkovski’s plane crash in February 2004, government positions were filled: the Social Democratic head of government Branko Crvenkovski was the winner of the presidential election and was thus elected for the second time; Hari Kostov became prime minister.
In the parliamentary elections in July 2006 there was a change of power: the opposition alliance “For a better Macedonia” led by the conservative party VMRO-DPMNE won with 44 seats, while the alliance “Macedonia together” of the social democratic governing party SDSM could only achieve 32 seats. The winning party then formed a government with the “Democratic Party of the Albanians” (DPA) and other small parties. Nikola Gruevski remained head of government.
After a government crisis caused by the rivalry between the government’s “Democratic Party of the Albanians” (DPA) and the opposition Albanian party “Democratic Union for Integration” (DUI) – among other things, there was a mass brawl at the end of September 2007 Houses of Parliament; in March 2008 the DPA temporarily withdrew its ministers from the government – Prime Minister Gruevski had the parliament dissolved in early April 2008. Clashes between supporters of the Albanian parties took place in the June elections. Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE election alliance once again became the strongest party with over 48 percent. The DUI had won numerous votes, while the DPA lost votes; VMRO-DPMNE and DUI then agreed to a coalition.
The local elections in March 2009 confirmed the power position of the VMRO-DPMNE; her candidate Gjorge Ivanov also won in the simultaneous presidential election.
A border agreement between Macedonia and Kosovo was signed on October 16, 2009. The two countries then established full diplomatic relations.
The governing parties VMRO-DPMNE and DUI were able to maintain their parliamentary majority in the early elections in July 2011.