(Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM)
An independent landlocked republic in south-eastern Europe, bounded by Albania to the west, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia) to the north, Bulgaria to the east and Greece to the south. Administratively, the country is divided into 34 counties (opstinas).
Area: 25,300sq km; capital: Skopje;population: 2m. (2001 estimate), comprising ethnic Macedonians 65%, Albanians 22%, Turks 4%, Roma 3%, Serbs 2%, others 4%; official language: Macedonian; religion: Eastern Orthodox 67%, Muslim 30%, other 3%.
Under the 1991 Constitution, legislative power rests with a unicameral Assembly of the Republic (Sobranie), which has 120 members elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term, 85 in single-member constituencies and 35 by proportional representation. The executive President is directly elected for a five-year term. The Cabinet, headed by a Prime Minister, is accountable to the legislature.
History: The present-day republic occupies the western part of the ancient kingdom of Macedon, dating from the 6th century BC and from 338 BC the ruler of the Greek Hellenistic world. A Roman province from 148 BC, Macedon came under the authority of the Byzantine Emperor after the Roman Empire was divided in 395 AD. In the 6th century Slavic peoples settled the region, which subsequently fell under intermittent Bulgarian and Byzantine influence until it became a part of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century. Turkish rule lasted for the next 500 years, up to the Balkan wars of 1912-13, when the geographical area of Macedonia was divided between Serbia (which took the territory of the present-day republic), Bulgaria and Greece. After the First World War Serbian Macedonia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Yugoslavia in 1929). During the Second World War it was occupied by Bulgaria (which was allied with Nazi Germany), before becoming at the end of the war a separate republic within a reconstituted (and communist-ruled) Yugoslav federal state under Tito.
Following President Tito's death in 1980, Yugoslavia's federal structure became increasingly unable to contain ethnic and nationalist rivalries between the