Macedonia (region, Europe)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Macedonia (region, Europe)

Macedonia (măs´ədō´nēə), region, SE Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula, divided among Greece, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia.

Land and People

Corresponding roughly with ancient Macedon, it extends from the Aegean Sea northward between Epirus in the west and Thrace in the east and includes the Vardar, Struma, and Mesta (in Greece, the Axiós, Strimón, and Néstos) river valleys. The region is predominately mountainous, encompassing parts of the Pindus and Rhodope mts. Tobacco is the main crop; grains and cotton are also grown, and sheep and goats are raised. The mining of iron, copper, lead, and chromite is important.

Greek, or Aegean, Macedonia (c.13,000 sq mi/33,670 sq km) includes the Khalkidhikí (Chalcidice) peninsula, the site of Thessaloníki (Salonica), a major industrial and shipping center. As a result of population movements after World War I, Greek Macedonia has a largely homogeneous Greek population. Bulgarian, or Pirin, Macedonia is largely coextensive with the Blagoevgrad (formerly Gorna Dzhumaya) province of Bulgaria (c.2,500 sq mi/6,475 sq km) and is largely populated by Macedonians. The inhabitants of the Republic of Macedonia are largely Macedonian, but there is a sizable Albanian minority.


Early History through Ottoman Rule

Like neighboring Thrace and Epirus, Macedonia has been, since the early Middle Ages, a meeting place of nations, a fact that has contributed in large measure to its complex and turbulent history. Macedonians first appear historically about 700 BC By about 400 BC, they had adopted the Greek language and had begun to build a kingdom (Macedon) that was greatly enlarged by the conquests of Philip II (359–336 BC) and Alexander the Great (336–323 BC). In the 2d cent. BC, Macedonia became a Roman province.

With the division (AD 395) of the Roman Empire, Macedonia came under Byzantine rule. Devastated by the Goths and Huns, it was settled (6th cent.) by the Slavs, who quickly made most of Macedonia a Slavic land. However, it continued under intermittent Byzantine domination until the 9th cent., when most of Macedonia was wrested from the Byzantine Empire by Bulgaria. Emperor Basil II recovered it (1014–18) for Byzantium, but after the temporary breakup (1204) of the Byzantine Empire during the Fourth Crusade, Macedonia was bitterly contested among the Latin Empire of Constantinople, the Bulgars under Ivan II, the despots of Epirus, and the emperors of Nicaea. It again became part of the Byzantine Empire, which was restored in 1261, but in the 14th cent. Stephen Dušan of Serbia conquered all Macedonia except for present-day Thessaloníki.

The fall of the Serbian empire in the late 14th cent. brought Macedonia under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, which lasted for five centuries. In the 19th cent. the national revival in the Balkans began; national and religious antagonism flared, and conflict was heightened by the Ottoman policy of playing one group against the other. Meanwhile the Ottoman Empire lost control over the major sections of Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria, each of which claimed Macedonia on historical or ethnical grounds. In the Treaty of San Stefano (1878), which terminated the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Bulgaria was awarded the lion's share of Macedonia. However, the settlement was nullified by the European powers in the same year (see Berlin, Congress of), and Macedonia was left under direct Ottoman control.

Modern History

A secret terrorist organization working for Macedonian independence sprang up in the late 19th cent. and soon wielded great power. The komitadjis, as the terrorist bands were called, were generally supported by Bulgaria, which gained a major share of Macedonia in the first of the Balkan Wars (1912–13). Greece and Serbia turned against Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War, and the Treaty of Bucharest (1913) left Bulgaria only a small share of Macedonia, the rest of which was divided roughly along the present lines. Thousands of Macedonians fled to Bulgaria.

In World War I the Salonica (present-day Thessaloníki) campaigns took place in Macedonia. After the war Macedonia became a hotbed of agitation and terrorism, directed largely from Bulgaria. The population exchange among Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria after 1923 resulted in the replacement by Greek refugees from Asia Minor of most of the Slavic and Turkish elements in Greek Macedonia. Charging that the Greek minority in Bulgarian Macedonia was being mistreated, Greece in 1925 invaded Bulgaria. The League of Nations, however, forced a cession of hostilities and awarded (1926) a decision favorable to Bulgaria.

Bulgarian relations with Yugoslavia (before 1929 the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) remained strained over the Macedonian question. Frontier incidents were frequent, as were Yugoslav charges against Bulgaria for fostering the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), a nationalist group that used violence, in Yugoslavia. Macedonian agitation against Serbian rule culminated (1934) in the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia by a Macedonian nationalist at Marseilles.

In World War II all Macedonia was occupied (1941–44) by Bulgaria, which sided with the Axis against Yugoslavia and Greece. The Bulgarian armistice treaty of 1944 restored the prewar boundaries, which were confirmed in the peace treaty of 1947. The Yugoslav constitution of 1946 made Yugoslav Macedonia an autonomous unit in a federal state, and the Macedonian people were recognized as a separate nationality.

Tension over Macedonia continued in the early postwar years. During the Greek civil war there was much conflict between Greece and Yugoslavia over Macedonia, and the breach between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria after 1948 helped to make the Macedonian question explosive. However, with the settlement of the civil war and with the easing of Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations after 1962, tension over Macedonia was reduced. In 1990, Yugoslav Macedonia elected its first non-Communist government and the following year the Republic of Macedonia was born.


See H. N. Brailsford, Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future (1971); H. Lydall, Yugoslavia in Crisis 1989).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Macedonia (region, Europe)


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.