Macedonia (the Republic of) occupies about half of Macedonia (the geographic region). The rest of the region is split between Greece and Bulgaria. In a way a bit like the Republic of Ireland and Ireland.

Macedonia (the Republic of) is a landlocked country in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, the size of Vermont, population 2 million.

The East-West and the North-South roads traversing South-Eastern Europe cross in Macedonia. (The ancient Roman road Via Ignatia goes East-West and the valley of the river Vardar goes North-South, connecting the port of Salonika to Central Europe).

Population: ethnic Macedonians constitute 67%. The minorities include ethnic Albanians (23%), Turks (4%), Roma - Gypsies (2%), Vlachs (2%), Serbs (2%), etc.
(Statistical data by The World Factbook, prepared by the CIA.)

The ethnic Macedonians are Slavic people. The Macedonian language is related to Polish, Russian, Bulgarian and Serbian.

The terrain is mainly mountainous, with some peaks very, very rarely being visited by anyone other than chamois, wolves and eagles.

The Republic of Macedonia is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with GNP roughly the same as Jamaica.

The only Roma - Gypsy parliamentarian in the world sits in the Macedonian Parliament. His, however, is not the only Roma party in the country. In addition to having two Roma parties, the community boasts two (competing) Roma TV stations.

(The Republic of) Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia from the formation of Yugoslavia in 1918 till Yugoslavia fell apart in 1991.

Macedonia is the only part of former Yugoslavia which won independence without bloodshed. It was not involved in the wars of former Yugoslavia of the 90s (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo).

One quarter of the population lives in the capital, Skopje.

Skopje has suffered quite a few devastating earthquakes throughout history, the biggest ones in 518 and in 1963, leveling most of the city. In addition, the Austro-Hungarian General Piccolomini ordered the city burnt down in the 18th Century.

In the early 1990s, the Macedonian economy suffered from the effects of a Greek economic blockade and UN sanctions against Yugoslavia.

Since the chief crops in addition to grains, cotton, grapes and tomatoes are tobacco and opium (for the pharmaceutical industry), it's not surprising that the national coat of arms brandishes both a tobacco leaf and an opium poppy.

The first President of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov was seriously injured in an assassination attempt in October 1995; he lost one eye and has shrapnel lodged in his brain after a car bomb exploded on Skopje's main street, but returned to office early in 1996 to finish his second term in office at the age of 83.

In 1991 Macedonians voted for independence from Yugoslavia. Greece, fearing possible Macedonian claims on the Greek region of Macedonia, sought a change in the new nation's name and was able to slow, but not prevent, international recognition of Macedonia; Greece later instituted a trade embargo. In 1995 Macedonia granted concessions to Greece in return for an end to the embargo.

Relations between the government and the Albanian minority, who desire greater autonomy, have been tense, in spite of the fact that all governments since independence contained ethnic Albanian parties. At present, six of seventeen ministers are ethnic Albanians, in addition to several deputy ministers and ambassadors.

Armed groups cross both from Kosovo and Albania and have ambushed and killed both soldiers and policemen in Macedonia in March and May of 2001. The international community has strongly condemned their terrorist actions which are aimed at secession (in spite of the terrorists' strong human rights rhetoric). Bombs have exploded in most major cities, and the army has intervened, but the situation has been kept relatively calm.

Yes, Alexander the Great was the first world-size conqueror who extended his empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt. He contributed significantly to the spread of Hellenistic civilization.

Very little is known about Alexander's language, ancient Macedonian. It is, however, known that Alexander's Greek language tutor was Aristotle.

He founded Alexandria and died at the age of 33 without a direct heir, one of the greatest generals of all time.

After his death, the empire fell apart. It became the first Roman province in 146 B.C.

Czar Samoil fought the Byzantines for control of Macedonia in the 10th Century. After the initial success, he lost a fateful battle at Belasica (in the southeast of today's Republic of Macedonia). He got away, but 14,000 of his soldiers didn't. The Byzantines had all 14,000 blinded. All, but every one hundredth prisoner, who were spared an eye each so that they could lead the blinded army back to Samoil, who - according to legend - died upon seeing the horrifying sight.

The army of the Republic of Macedonia has 9,000 soldiers, 5,000 less than the soldiers captured in 1014 by the Byzantines. The army also has two airplanes.

Mother Theresa was born in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, in 1910.

The Cyrillic alphabet, official in Macedonia, is based on the alphabet developed by two Macedonian brothers, St Cyril (thus - Cyrillic) and St Methodius, in the 9th century. It was taught by their disciples at a monastery in Ohrid, from whence it spread across the eastern Slavic world.

More than one legend links the origin of the name Macedonia to Noah's grandchildren.

The father of the modern Turkish nation Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was born in Salonika and went to the Military Academy in Bitola, the second largest city in the Republic of Macedonia.

Hundreds of thousands Macedonians have left the country over the last 150 years. There are large communities in Toronto, Ohio, Australia, etc.