Macedonians ( mk|Македонци|Makedonci) are a nation and a South Slavic ethnic group native to the region of Macedonia in South-East Europe. They speak the Macedonian language, a South Slavic language. About two thirds of all ethnic Macedonians live in North Macedonia and there are also communities in a number of other countries.


The formation of the ethnic Macedonians as a separate community has been shaped by population displacement as well as by language shift, both the result of the political developments in the region of Macedonia during the 20th century. Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the decisive point in the ethnogenesis of the South Slavic ethnic group was the creation of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia after World War II, a state in the framework of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This was followed by the development of a separate Macedonian language and national literature, and the foundation of a distinct Macedonian Orthodox Church and national historiography.

Ancient and Roman period

In antiquity, much of central-northern Macedonia (the Vardar basin) was inhabited by Paionians who expanded from the lower Strymon basin. The Pelagonian plain was inhabited by the Pelagones, an ancient Greek tribe of Upper Macedonia; whilst the western region (Ohrid-Prespa) was said to have been inhabited by Illyrian tribes. During the late Classical Period, having already developed several sophisticated ''polis''-type settlements and a thriving economy based on mining, Paeonia became a constituent province of the ArgeadMacedonian kingdom. In 310 BC, the Celts attacked deep into the south, subduing the Dardanians, Paeonians and Triballi. Roman conquest brought with it a significant Romanization of the region. During the Dominate period, 'barbarian' federates were settled on Macedonian soil at times; such as the Sarmatians settled by Constantine (330s AD) or the (10 year) settlement of Alaric's Goths.''Macedonia in Late Antiquity'' p. 551. In A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Wiley -Blackwell, 2011 In contrast to 'frontier provinces', Macedonia (north and south) continued to be a flourishing Christian, Roman province in Late Antiquity and into the early Middle Ages.

Medieval period

Linguistically, the South Slavic languages from which Macedonian developed are thought to have expanded in the region during the post-Roman period, although the exact mechanisms of this linguistic expansion remains a matter of scholarly discussion. Traditional historiography has equated these changes with the commencement of raids and 'invasions' of Sclaveni and Antes from Wallachia and western Ukraine during the 6th and 7th centuries. However, recent anthropological and archaeological perspectives have viewed the appearance of Slavs in Macedonia, and throughout the Balkans in general, as part of a broad and complex process of transformation of the cultural, political and ethno-linguistic Balkan landscape before the collapse of Roman authority. The exact details and chronology of population shifts remain to be determined. What is beyond dispute is that, in contrast to "barbarian" Bulgaria, northern Macedonia remained Roman in its cultural outlook into the 7th century. Yet at the same time, sources attest numerous Slavic tribes in the environs of Thessaloniki and further afield, including the Berziti in Pelagonia. Apart from Slavs and late Byzantines, Kuver's "Bulgars" – a mix of Byzantine Greeks, Bulgars and Pannonian Avars – settled the "Keramissian plain" (Pelagonia) around Bitola in the late 7th century. Later pockets of settlers included "Danubian" Bulgars in the 9th century; Magyars (Vardariotai) and Armenians in the 10th–12th centuries, Cumans and Pechenegs in the 11th–13th centuries, and Saxon miners in the 14th and 15th centuries. Having previously been Byzantine clients, the ''Sklaviniae'' of Macedonia probably switched their allegiance to Bulgaria during the reign of Empress Irene, and was gradually incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire before the mid-9th century. Subsequently, the literary and ecclesiastical centres in Ohrid, not only became a second cultural capital of medieval Bulgaria, but soon eclipsed those in Preslav. On the other hand cultural, ecclesiastical and political developments of Slavic Orthodox Culture occurred in Byzantine Macedonia.

Ottoman period

After the final Ottoman conquest of the Balkans by the Ottomans in the 14/15th century, all Eastern Orthodox Christians were included in a specific ethno-religious community under ''Graeco-Byzantine'' jurisdiction called Rum Millet. The belonging to this religious commonwealth was so important that most of the common people began to identify themselves as ''Christians''. However ethnonyms never disappeared and some form of primary ethnic identity was available. This is confirmed from a Sultan's Firman from 1680 which describes the ethnic groups in the Balkan territories of the Empire as follows: Greeks, Albanians, Serbs, Vlachs and Bulgarians. The rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century brought opposition to this continued situation. At that time the classical Rum Millet began to degrade. The coordinated actions, carried out by Bulgarian national leaders supported by the majority of the Slavic-speaking population in today Republic of North Macedonia in order to be recognized as a separate ethnic entity, constituted the so-called "Bulgarian Millet", recognized in 1870. At the time of its creation, people living in Vardar Macedonia, were not in the Exarchate. However, as a result of plebiscites held between 1872 and 1875, the Slavic districts in the area voted overwhelmingly (over 2/3) to go over to the new national Church. Referring to the results of the plebiscites, and on the basis of statistical and ethnological indications, the 1876 Conference of Constantinople included most of Macedonia into the Bulgarian ethnic territory. The borders of new Bulgarian state, drawn by the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano, also included Macedonia, but the treaty was never put into effect and the Treaty of Berlin (1878) "returned" Macedonia to the Ottoman Empire.


Anthropologically, Macedonians possess genetic lineages postulated to represent Balkan prehistoric and historic demographic processes. Such lineages are also typically found in other South Slavs, especially Bulgarians, Serbs, Bosniaks and Montenegrins, but also in Greeks and Romanians. Y-DNA studies suggest that Macedonians along with neighboring South Slavs are distinct from other Slavic-speaking populations in Europe and a majority of their Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups are likely to be inherited from inhabitants of the Balkans that predated sixth-century Slavic migrations. A diverse set of Y-DNA haplogroups are found in Macedonians at significant levels, including I2a1b, E-V13, J2a, R1a1, R1b, G2a, encoding a complex pattern of demographic processes. Similar distributions of the same haplogroups are found in neighboring populations.Trombetta B. "Phylogeographic Refinement and Large Scale Genotyping of Human Y Chromosome Haplogroup E Provide New Insights into the Dispersal of Early Pastoralists in the African Continent" http://gbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/7/1940.long R1a1 and I2a1b are typically found in Slavic-speaking populations across Europe while haplogroups such as E-V13 and J2 occur at high frequencies in neighboring non-Slavic populations. On the other hand R1b is the most frequently occurring haplogroup in Western Europe and G2a is most frequently found in Caucasus and the adjacent areas. Genetic similarity, irrespective of language and ethnicity, has a strong correspondence to geographic proximity in European populations. In regard to population genetics, not all regions of Southeastern Europe had the same ratio of native Byzantine and invading Slavic population, with the territory of the Eastern Balkans (Macedonia, Thrace and Moesia) having a higher percentages of locals compared to Slavs. Considering the majority of the Balkan Slavs came via the Eastern Carpathian route, lower percentage on east does not imply that the number of the Slavs there was lesser than among the Western South Slavs. Most probably on the territory of Western South Slavs was a state of desolation which produced there a founder effect. The region of Macedonia suffered less disruption than frontier provinces closer to the Danube, with towns and forts close to Ohrid, Bitola and along the Via Egnatia. Re-settlements and the cultural links of the Byzantine Era further shaped the demographic processes which the Macedonian ancestry is linked to.


The large majority of Macedonians identify as Eastern Orthodox Christians, who speak a South Slavic language, and share a cultural and historical "Orthodox Byzantine–Slavic heritage" with their neighbours. The concept of a "Macedonian" ethnicity, distinct from their Orthodox Balkan neighbours, is seen to be a comparatively newly emergent one. The earliest manifestations of incipient Macedonian identity emerged during the second half of the 19th century among limited circles of Slavic-speaking intellectuals, predominantly outside the region of Macedonia. They arose after the First World War and especially during 1930s, and thus were consolidated by Communist Yugoslavia's governmental policy after the Second World War.

Historical overview

Throughout the Middle Ages and Ottoman rule up until the early 20th century the Slavic-speaking population majority in the region of Macedonia were more commonly referred to both (by themselves and outsiders) as Bulgarians. However, in pre-nationalist times, terms such as "Bulgarian" did not possess a strict ethno-nationalistic meaning, rather, they were loose, often interchangeable terms which could simultaneously denote regional habitation, allegiance to a particular empire, religious orientation, membership in certain social groups. Similarly, a "Byzantine" was a ''Roman'' subject of Constantinople, and the term bore no strict ethnic connotations, Greek or otherwise. Overall, in the Middle Ages, "a person's origin was distinctly regional", and in Ottoman era, before the 19th-century rise of nationalism, it was based on the corresponding confessional community. After the rise of nationalism, most of the Slavic-speaking population in the area, joined the Bulgarian community, through voting in its favor on a plebiscites held during the 1870s, by a qualified majority (over two-thirds).

19th-century emergence

With the creation of the Bulgarian Principality in 1878, the Macedonian upper stratum had to decide whether Macedonia was to emerge as an independent state or as part of a "Greater Bulgaria". During this period, the first expressions of Macedonism by certain Macedonian intellectuals occurred in Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul, Thessaloniki and St. Petersburg. In the 1860s, according to Petko Slaveykov, some young intellectuals from Macedonia were claiming that they are not Bulgarians, but they are rather Macedonians, descendants of the Ancient Macedonians. In a letter written to the Bulgarian Exarch in February 1874 Petko Slaveykov reports that discontent with the current situation “has given birth among local patriots to the disastrous idea of working independently on the advancement of their own local dialect and what’s more, of their own, separate Macedonian church leadership.” The activities of these people were also registered by Stojan Novaković. The nascent Macedonian nationalism, illegal at home in the theocratic Ottoman Empire, and illegitimate internationally, waged a precarious struggle for survival against overwhelming odds: in appearance against the Ottoman Empire, but in fact against the three expansionist Balkan states and their respective patrons among the great powers. The first prominent author that propagated the concept of a Macedonian ethnicity was Georgi Pulevski, who in 1875 published ''Dictionary of Three languages: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish'', in which he wrote: On the other hand, Theodosius of Skopje, a priest who have hold a high-ranking positions within the Bulgarian Exarchate was chosen as a bishop of the episcopacy of Skopje in 1885. As a bishop of Skopje, Theodosius renounced de facto the Bulgarian Exarchate and attempted to restore the Archbishopric of Ohrid as a separate Macedonian Orthodox Church in all eparchies of Macedonia, responsible for the spiritual, cultural and educational life of all Macedonian Orthodox Christians. During this time period Metropolitan Bishop Theodosius of Skopje made several pleas to the Bulgarian church to allow a separate Macedonian church, and ultimately on 4 December 1891 he sent a letter to the Pope Leo XIII to ask for a recognition and a protection from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1892 the local Bulgarian Exarchate parish school council in the city of Kastoria (then Kostur) adopted the proposal of a group of teachers "to eliminate both Bulgarian and Greek and introduce local dialect as the language of instruction in the town school," but the idea failed the same year.''A Companion to Ancient Macedonia''
Joseph Roisman, Ian Worthington. John Wiley and Sons, 2010, p. 545
In 1903 Krste Petkov Misirkov published his book ''On Macedonian Matters'' in which he laid down the principles of the modern Macedonian nationhood and language. This book written in the standardized central dialect of Macedonia is considered by ethnic Macedonians as a milestone of the ethnic Macedonian identity and the apogee of the process of Macedonian awakening. In his article "Macedonian Nationalism" he wrote: Misirkov argued that the dialect of central Macedonia (Veles-Prilep-Bitola-Ohrid) should be taken as a standard Macedonian literary language, in which Macedonians should write, study, and worship; the autocephalous Archbishopric of Ohrid should be restored; and the Slavic people of Macedonia should be identified in their Ottoman identity cards (''nofuz'') as "Macedonians". The next great figure of the Macedonian awakening was Dimitrija Čupovski, one of the founders of the Macedonian Literary Society, established in Saint Petersburg in 1902. In the period 1913–1918, Čupovski published the newspaper ''Македонскi Голосъ (Macedonian Voice)'' in which he and fellow members of the Petersburg Macedonian Colony propagated the existence of a Macedonian people separate from the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs, and sought to popularize the idea for an independent Macedonian state.

20th-century development

After the Balkan Wars, following division of the region of Macedonia amongst the Kingdom of Greece, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Serbia, and after World War I, the idea of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation was further spread among the Slavic-speaking population. The suffering during the wars, the endless struggle of the Balkan monarchies for dominance over the population increased the Macedonians' sentiment that the institutionalization of an independent Macedonian nation would put an end to their suffering. On the question of whether they were Serbs or Bulgarians, the people more often started answering: "Neither Bulgar, nor Serb... I am Macedonian only, and I'm sick of war." Stratis Myrivilis, an important Greek writer, in his ''Life in the Tomb'', from his experiences as a soldier in the Macedonian front (1916–18), described also the self-identitification of the local population: "...They don't want to be called Bulgar, neither Srrp, neither Grrts. Only Macedon Orthodox...." The consolidation of an international Communist organization (the Comintern) in the 1920s led to some failed attempts by the Communists to use the Macedonian Question as a political weapon. In the 1920 Yugoslav parliamentary elections, 25% of the total Communist vote came from Macedonia, but participation was low (only 55%), mainly because the pro-Bulgarian IMRO organised a boycott against the elections. In the following years, the communists attempted to enlist the pro-IMRO sympathies of the population in their cause. In the context of this attempt, in 1924 the Comintern organized the filed signing of the so-called May Manifesto, in which independence of partitioned Macedonia was required. In 1925 with the help of the Comintern, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (United) was created, composed of former left-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) members. This organization promoted in the early 1930s the existence of a separate ethnic Macedonian nation. This idea was internationalized and backed by the Comintern which issued in 1934 a resolution supporting the development of the entity. This action was attacked by the IMRO, but was supported by the Balkan communists. The Balkan communist parties supported the national consolidation of the ethnic Macedonian people and created Macedonian sections within the parties, headed by prominent IMRO (United) members. The sense of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation gained credence during World War II when ethnic Macedonian communist partisan detachments were formed. In 1943 the Communist Party of Macedonia was established and the resistance movement grew up. After the World War II ethnic Macedonian institutions were created in the three parts of the region of Macedonia, then under communist control,History of the Balkans, Vol. 2: Twentieth Century. Barbara Jelavich, 1983. including the establishment of the People's Republic of Macedonia within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ). The available data indicates that despite the policy of assimilation, pro-Bulgarian sentiments among the Macedonian Slavs in Yugoslavia were still sizable during the interwar period. However if the Yugoslavs would recognize the Slavic inhabitants of Vardar Macedonia as Bulgarians, it would mean that the area should be part of Bulgaria. Practically in post-World War II Macedonia, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia's state policy of forced Serbianisation was changed with a new one — of Macedonization. The codification of the Macedonian language and the recognition of the Macedonian nation had the main goal: finally to ban any Bulgarophilia among the Macedonians and to build a new consciousness, based on identification with Yugoslavia. As result Yugoslavia introduced again an abrupt ''de-Bulgarization'' of the people in the PR Macedonia, such as it already had conducted in the Vardar Banovina during the Interwar period. Around 100,000 pro-Bulgarian elements were imprisoned for violations of the special ''Law for the Protection of Macedonian National Honour'', and over 1,200 were allegedly killed. In this way generations of students grew up educated in strong anti-Bulgarian sentiment which during the times of Communist Yugoslavia, increased to the level of state policy. Its main agenda was a result from the need to distinguish between the Bulgarians and the new Macedonian nation, because Macedonians could confirm themselves as a separate community with its own history, only through differentiating itself from Bulgaria. This policy has continued in the new Republic of Macedonia after 1990, although with less intensity. Thus, the Bulgarian part of the identity of the Slavic-speaking population in Vardar Macedonia has died out.

21st-century uncertainty

Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, the issue of Macedonian identity emerged again. Nationalists and governments alike from neighbouring countries (especially Greece and Bulgaria) espouse the view that the Macedonian ethnicity is a modern, artificial creation. Such views have been seen by Macedonian historians to represent irredentist motives on Macedonian territory. Moreover, some historians point out that ''all'' modern nations are recent, politically motivated constructs based on creation "myths". The creation of Macedonian identity is "no more or less artificial than any other identity". Contrary to the claims of Romantic nationalists, modern, territorially bound and mutually exclusive nation states have little in common with their preceding large territorial or dynastic medieval empires; and any connection between them is tenuous at best. In any event, irrespective of shifting political affiliations, the Macedonian Slavs shared in the fortunes of the Byzantine commonwealth and the Rum millet and they can claim them as their heritage. Loring Danforth states similarly, the ancient heritage of modern Balkan countries is not "the mutually exclusive property of one specific nation" but "the shared inheritance of all Balkan peoples". A more radical and uncompromising strand of Macedonian nationalism has recently emerged called "ancient Macedonism", or "Antiquisation". Proponents of this view see modern Macedonians as direct descendants of the ancient Macedonians. This view faces criticism by academics as it is not supported by archaeology or other historical disciplines, and also could marginalize the Macedonian identity. Surveys on the effects of the controversial nation-building project Skopje 2014 and on the perceptions of the population of Skopje revealed a high degree of uncertainty regarding the latter's national identity. A supplementary national poll showed that there was a great discrepancy between the population's sentiment and the narrative the state sought to promote. Additionally, during the last two decades, tens of thousands of citizens of North Macedonia have applied for Bulgarian citizenship. In the period 2002–2021 some 90,000 acquired it while ca. 53,000 applied and are still waiting. Bulgaria has a special ethnic dual-citizenship regime which makes a constitutional distinction between ''ethnic Bulgarians'' and ''Bulgarian citizens''. In the case of the Macedonians, merely declaring their national identity as Bulgarian is enough to gain a citizenship. By making the procedure simpler, Bulgaria stimulates more Macedonian citizens (of Slavic origin) to apply for a Bulgarian citizenship. However, many Macedonians who apply for Bulgarian citizenship as ''Bulgarians by origin'', have few ties with Bulgaria. Further, those applying for Bulgarian citizenship usually say they do so to gain access to member states of the European Union rather to assert Bulgarian identity. This phenomenon is called ''placebo identity''. Some Macedonians view the Bulgarian policy as part of a strategy to destabilize the Macedonian national identity. As a nation engaged in a dispute over its distinctiveness from Bulgarians, Macedonians have always perceived themselves as being threatened from its neighbor. Bulgaria insists its neighbor to admit the common historical roots of their languages and nations, a view Skopje continues to reject. As result, Bulgaria blocked the official start of EU accession talks with North Macedonia.


The national name derives from the Greek term ''Makedonía'', related to the name of the region, named after the ancient Macedonians and their kingdom. It originates from the ancient Greek adjective makednos, meaning "tall", which shares its roots with the adjective ''makrós'', meaning the same. The name is originally believed to have meant either "highlanders" or "the tall ones", possibly descriptive of these ancient people.Macedonia
Online Etymology Dictionary
With the conquest of the Balkans by the Ottomans in the late 14th century, the name of Macedonia disappeared as a geographical designation for several centuries. The name was revived just during the early 19th century, after the foundation of the modern Greek state with its Western Europe-derived obsession with Ancient Greece. As result of the rise of nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, massive Greek religious and school propaganda occurred, and a process of ''Hellenization'' was implemented among Slavic-speaking population of the area. In this way, the name ''Macedonians'' was applied to the local Slavs, aiming to stimulate the development of close ties between them and the Greeks, linking both sides to the ancient Macedonians, as a counteract against the growing Bulgarian cultural influence into the region. As a consequence since 1850s some Slavic intellectuals from the area, adopted the designation ''Macedonian'' as a regional identity, and it began to gain a popularity. Serbian politics then, also encouraged this kind of regionalism to neutralize the Bulgarian influx, thereby promoting Serbian interests there. In the early 20th century the local ''Bulgarians'' already called themselves Macedonians, and were called in this way by their neighbors. During the interbellum Bulgaria also supported to some extent the Macedonian ''regional identity'', especially in Yugoslavia. Its aim was to prevent the Serbianization of the local Slavic-speakers, because the very name ''Macedonia'' was prohibited in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Ultimately the designation Macedonian, changed its status in 1944, and went from being predominantly a regional, ethnographic denomination, to a national one.


The vast majority of Macedonians live along the valley of the river Vardar, the central region of the Republic of North Macedonia. They form about 64.18% of the population of North Macedonia (1,297,981 people according to th
2002 census
. Smaller numbers live in eastern Albania, northern Greece, and southern Serbia, mostly abutting the border areas of the Republic of North Macedonia. A large number of Macedonians have immigrated overseas to Australia, United States, Canada, New Zealand and in many European countries: Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria and Malta among others.



The existence of an ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece is rejected by the Greek government. The number of people speaking Slavic dialects has been estimated at somewhere between 10,000 and 250,000. Most of these people however do not have an ethnic Macedonian national consciousness, with most choosing to identify as ethnic Greeks or rejecting both ethnic designations and preferring terms such as ''"natives"'' instead. In 1999 the Greek Helsinki Monitor estimated that the number of people identifying as ethnic Macedonians numbered somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000,Report about Compliance with the Principles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Greece) – GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
Macedonian sources generally claim the number of ethnic Macedonians living in Greece at somewhere between 200,000–350,000. The ethnic Macedonians in Greece have faced difficulties from the Greek government in their ability to self-declare as members of a ''"Macedonian minority"'' and to refer to their native language as ''"Macedonian"''. Since the late 1980s there has been an ethnic Macedonian revival in Northern Greece, mostly centering on the region of Florina. Since then ethnic Macedonian organisations including the Rainbow political party have been established. ''Rainbow'' first opened its offices in Florina on 6 September 1995. The following day, the offices had been broken into and had been ransacked. Later Members of ''Rainbow'' had been charged for "causing and inciting mutual hatred among the citizens" because the party had bilingual signs written in both Greek and Macedonian. On 20 October 2005, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the Greek government to pay penalties to the ''Rainbow Party'' for violations of 2 ECHR articles. ''Rainbow'' has seen limited success at a national level, its best result being achieved in the 1994 European elections, with a total of 7,263 votes. Since 2004 it has participated in European Parliament elections and local elections, but not in national elections. A few of its members have been elected in local administrative posts. ''Rainbow'' has recently re-established ''Nova Zora'', a newspaper that was first published for a short period in the mid-1990s, with reportedly 20,000 copies being distributed free of charge.


Within Serbia, Macedonians constitute an officially recognised ethnic minority at both a local and national level. Within Vojvodina, Macedonians are recognised under the Statute of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, along with other ethnic groups. Large Macedonian settlements within Vojvodina can be found in Plandište, Jabuka, Glogonj, Dužine and Kačarevo. These people are mainly the descendants of economic migrants who left the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in the 1950s and 1960s. The Macedonians in Serbia are represented by a national council and in recent years the Macedonian language has begun to be taught. The most recent census recorded 22,755 Macedonians living in Serbia.


Macedonians represent the second largest ethnic minority population in Albania. Albania recognises the existence of a Macedonian minority within the Mala Prespa region, most of which is comprised by Pustec Municipality. Macedonians have full minority rights within this region, including the right to education and the provision of other services in the Macedonian language. There also exist unrecognised Macedonian populations living in the Golo Brdo region, the "Dolno Pole" area near the town of Peshkopi, around Lake Ohrid and Korce as well as in Gora. 4,697 people declared themselves Macedonians in the 1989 census.


Bulgarians are considered most closely related to the neighboring Macedonians and it is sometimes claimed that there is no clear ethnic difference between them. As regards self-identification, a total of 1,654 people officially declared themselves to be ethnic Macedonians in the last Bulgarian census in 2011 (0,02%) and 561 of them are in Blagoevgrad Province (0,2%). 1,091 of them are Macedonian citizens, who are permanent residents in Bulgaria. Krassimir Kanev, chairman of the non-governmental organization Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, claimed 15,000–25,000 in 1998 (se
. In the same report Macedonian nationalists (Popov et al., 1989) claimed that 200,000 ethnic Macedonians live in Bulgaria. However, ''Bulgarian Helsinki Committee'' stated that the vast majority of the Slavic-speaking population in Pirin Macedonia has a Bulgarian national self-consciousness and a regional Macedonian identity similar to the Macedonian regional identity in Greek Macedonia. Finally, according to personal evaluation of a leading local ethnic Macedonian political activist, Stoyko Stoykov, the present number of Bulgarian citizens with ethnic Macedonian self-consciousness is between 5,000 and 10,000. In 2000, the Bulgarian Constitutional Court banned UMO Ilinden-Pirin, a small Macedonian political party, as a separatist organization. Subsequently, activists attempted to re-establish the party but could not gather the required number of signatures. File:Map of the majority ethnic groups of Macedonia by municipality.svg|Macedonians in North Macedonia, according to the 2002 census File:Macedonians in Serbia.png|Concentration of Macedonians in Serbia File:MalaPrespaiGoloBrdo.png|Regions where Macedonians live within Albania File:Torbesija.png|Macedonian Muslims in North Macedonia


Significant Macedonian communities can also be found in the traditional immigrant-receiving nations, as well as in Western European countries. Census data in many European countries (such as Italy and Germany) does not take into account the ethnicity of émigrés from the Republic of North Macedonia.


Most Macedonians can be found in Buenos Aires, the Pampas and Córdoba. An estimated 30,000 Macedonians can be found in Argentina.Nasevski, Boško; Angelova, Dora. Gerovska, Dragica (1995). Македонски Иселенички Алманах '95. Skopje: Матица на Иселениците на Македонија.


The official number of Macedonians in Australia by birthplace or birthplace of parents is 83,893
. The main Macedonian communities are found in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Canberra and Perth. The 2006 census recorded 83,983 people of Macedonian ancestry and the 2011 census recorded 93,570 people of Macedonian ancestry.


The Canadian census in 2001 records 37,705 individuals claimed wholly or partly Macedonian heritage in Canada, although community spokesmen have claimed that there are actually 100,000–150,000 Macedonians in Canada.

United States

A significant Macedonian community can be found in the United States. The official number of Macedonians in the US is 49,455
. The Macedonian community is located mainly in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey


There are an estimated 61,000 citizens of North Macedonia in Germany (mostly in the Ruhrgebiet)


There are 74,162 citizens of North Macedonia in Italy
Foreign Citizens in Italy


In 2006 the Swiss Government recorded 60,362 Macedonian Citizens living in Switzerland.


Macedonians are an officially recognised minority group in Romania. They have a special reserved seat in the nations parliament. In 2002, they numbered 731.


Macedonians began relocating to Slovenia in the 1950s when the two regions formed a part of a single country, Yugoslavia.

Other countries

Other significant Macedonian communities can also be found in the other Western European countries such as Austria, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the whole European Union. Also in Uruguay, with a significant population in Montevideo.


The culture of the people is characterized with both traditionalist and modernist attributes. It is strongly bound with their native land and the surrounding in which they live. The rich cultural heritage of the Macedonians is accented in the folklore, the picturesque traditional folk costumes, decorations and ornaments in city and village homes, the architecture, the monasteries and churches, iconostasis, wood-carving and so on. The culture of Macedonians can roughly be explained as a Balkanic, closely related to that of Bulgarians and Serbs.


The typical Macedonian village house is influelnced by Ottoman Architecture .Presented as a construction with two floors, with a hard facade composed of large stones and a wide balcony on the second floor. In villages with predominantly agricultural economy, the first floor was often used as a storage for the harvest, while in some villages the first floor was used as a cattle-pen. The stereotype for a traditional Macedonian city house is a two-floor building with white façade, with a forward extended second floor, and black wooden elements around the windows and on the edges.

Cinema and theater

The history of film making in North Macedonia dates back over 110 years. The first film to be produced on the territory of the present-day the country was made in 1895 by Janaki and Milton Manaki in Bitola. In 1995 Before the Rain became the first Macedonian movie to be nominated for an Academy Award. From 1993 to 1994, 1,596 performances were held in the newly formed republic, and more than 330,000 people attended. The Macedonian National Theater (drama, opera, and ballet companies), the Drama Theater, the Theater of the Nationalities (Albanian and Turkish drama companies) and the other theater companies comprise about 870 professional actors, singers, ballet dancers, directors, playwrights, set and costume designers, etc. There is also a professional theatre for children and three amateur theaters. For the last thirty years a traditional festival of Macedonian professional theaters has been taking place in Prilep in honor of Vojdan Černodrinski, the founder of the modern Macedonian theater. Each year a festival of amateur and experimental Macedonian theater companies is held in Kočani.

Music and art

Macedonian music has many things in common with the music of neighboring Balkan countries, but maintains its own distinctive sound. The founders of modern Macedonian painting included Lazar Licenovski, Nikola Martinoski, Dimitar Pandilov, and Vangel Kodzoman. They were succeeded by an exceptionally talented and fruitful generation, consisting of Borka Lazeski, Dimitar Kondovski, Petar Mazev who are now deceased, and Rodoljub Anastasov and many others who are still active. Others include: Vasko Taskovski and Vangel Naumovski. In addition to Dimo Todorovski, who is considered to be the founder of modern Macedonian sculpture, the works of Petar Hadzi Boskov, Boro Mitrikeski, Novak Dimitrovski and Tome Serafimovski are also outstanding.


In the past, the Macedonian population was predominantly involved with agriculture, with a very small portion of the people who were engaged in trade (mainly in the cities). But after the creation of the People's Republic of Macedonia which started a social transformation based on Socialist principles, a middle and heavy industry were started.


The Macedonian language () is a member of the Eastern group of South Slavic languages. Standard Macedonian was implemented as the official language of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia after being codified in the 1940s, and has accumulated a thriving literary tradition. The closest relative of Macedonian is Bulgarian, followed by Serbo-Croatian. All the South Slavic languages, including Macedonian, form a dialect continuum, in which Macedonian is situated between Bulgarian and Serbian. The Torlakian dialect group is intermediate between Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian, comprising some of the northernmost dialects of Macedonian as well as varieties spoken in southern Serbia. The Macedonian alphabet is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script, as well as language-specific conventions of spelling and punctuation. It is rarely Romanized.


Most Macedonians are members of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. The official name of the church is Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric and is the body of Christians who are united under the Archbishop of Ohrid and North Macedonia, exercising jurisdiction over Macedonian Orthodox Christians in the Republic of North Macedonia and in exarchates in the Macedonian diaspora. The church gained autonomy from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1959 and declared the restoration of the historic Archbishopric of Ohrid. On 19 July 1967, the Macedonian Orthodox Church declared autocephaly from the Serbian church. Due to protest from the Serbian Orthodox Church, the move was not recognised by any of the churches of the Eastern Orthodox Communion, and since then, the Macedonian Orthodox Church is not in communion with any Orthodox Church. A small number of Macedonians belong to the Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches. Between the 15th and the 20th centuries, during Ottoman rule, a number of Orthodox Macedonian Slavs converted to Islam. Today in the Republic of North Macedonia, they are regarded as Macedonian Muslims, who constitute the second largest religious community of the country.



Macedonian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of the Balkans—reflecting Mediterranean (Greek) and Middle Eastern (Turkish) influences, and to a lesser extent Italian, German and Eastern European (especially Hungarian) ones. The relatively warm climate in North Macedonia provides excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse. Shopska salad, a food from Bulgaria, is an appetizer and side dish which accompanies almost every meal. Macedonian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of its dairy products, wines, and local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija. Tavče Gravče and mastika are considered the national dish and drink of North Macedonia, respectively.


Official symbols

* Sun: The official flag of the Republic of North Macedonia, adopted in 1995, is a yellow sun with eight broadening rays extending to the edges of the red field. * Coat of arms: After independence in 1991, North Macedonia retained the coat of arms adopted in 1946 by the People's Assembly of the People's Republic of Macedonia on its second extraordinary session held on 27 July 1946, later on altered by article 8 of the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Macedonia. The coat-of-arms is composed by a double bent garland of ears of wheat, tobacco and poppy, tied by a ribbon with the embroidery of a traditional folk costume. In the center of such a circular room there are mountains, rivers, lakes and the sun. All this is said to represent "the richness of our country, our struggle, and our freedom".

Unofficial symbols

* Lion: The lion first appears in the Fojnica Armorial from 17th century, where the coat of arms of Macedonia is included among those of other entities. On the coat of arms is a crown; inside a yellow crowned lion is depicted standing rampant, on a red background. On the bottom enclosed in a red and yellow border is written "Macedonia". The use of the lion to represent Macedonia was continued in foreign heraldic collections throughout the 16th to 18th centuries. Nevertheless, during the late 19th century the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization arose, which modeled itself after the earlier Bulgarian revolutionary traditions and adopted their symbols as the lion, etc. Modern versions of the historical lion has also been added to the emblem of several political parties, organizations and sports clubs. However, this symbol is not totally accepted while the state coat of arms of Bulgaria is somewhat similar. * Vergina Sun: (official flag, 1992–1995) The Vergina Sun is used unofficially by various associations and cultural groups in the Macedonian diaspora. The Vergina Sun is believed to have been associated with ancient Greek kings such as Alexander the Great and Philip II, although it was used as an ornamental design in ancient Greek art long before the Macedonian period. The symbol was depicted on a golden larnax found in a 4th-century BC royal tomb belonging to either Philip II or Philip III of Macedon in the Greek region of Macedonia. The Greeks regard the use of the symbol by North Macedonia as a misappropriation of a Hellenic symbol, unrelated to Slavic cultures, and a direct claim on the legacy of Philip II. However, archaeological items depicting the symbol have also been excavated in the territory of North Macedonia. In 1995, Greece lodged a claim for trademark protection of the Vergina Sun as a state symbol under WIPO. In Greece the symbol against a blue field is used vastly in the area of Macedonia and it has official status.The Vergina sun on a red field was the first flag of the independent Republic of Macedonia, until it was removed from the state flag under an agreement reached between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece in September 1995. The Vergina sun is still used unofficially as a national symbol by some groups in the country and Macedonian diaspora. On 17 June 2018, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia signed the Prespa Agreement, which stipulates the removal of the Vergina Sun's public use across the latter's territory. In a session held on early July 2019, the government of North Macedonia announced the complete removal of the Vergina Sun from all public areas, institutions and monuments in the country, with the deadline for its removal being set to 12 August 2019, in line with the Prespa Agreement. File:Coat of arms of North Macedonia.svg|The official coat of arms File:Flag of North Macedonia.svg|The current flag of North Macedonia File:Flag of Macedonia (1992–1995).svg|Flag of the Republic of Macedonia (1992−1995) depicting the Vergina Sun File:RoM unofficial coat of arms.svg|Proposed coat of arms of North Macedonia....as the Macedonian national symbol is a yellow lion on red background
Skopje in Your Pocket, Sco, Jeroen van Marle

See also

* Demographic history of North Macedonia * List of Macedonians * Demographics of the Republic of North Macedonia * Macedonian language * Ethnogenesis * South Slavs * Macedonians (Greeks) * Macedonians (Bulgarians)


Further reading

* Brown, Keith, ''The Past in Question: Modern Macedonia and the Uncertainties of Nation'', Princeton University Press, 2003. . * * Cowan, Jane K. (ed.), ''Macedonia: The Politics of Identity and Difference'', Pluto Press, 2000. A collection of articles. * * * * * Danforth, Loring M., ''The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World'', Princeton University Press, 1995. . * * Karakasidou, Anastasia N., ''Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870–1990'', University Of Chicago Press, 1997, . Reviewed in ''Journal of Modern Greek Studies'' 18:2 (2000), p465. * Mackridge, Peter, Eleni Yannakakis (eds.), ''Ourselves and Others: The Development of a Greek Macedonian Cultural Identity since 1912'', Berg Publishers, 1997, . * Poulton, Hugh, ''Who Are the Macedonians?'', Indiana University Press, 2nd ed., 2000. . * Roudometof, Victor, ''Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian Question'', Praeger Publishers, 2002. . * Κωστόπουλος, Τάσος, ''Η απαγορευμένη γλώσσα: Η κρατική καταστολή των σλαβικών διαλέκτων στην ελληνική Μακεδονία σε όλη τη διάρκεια του 20ού αιώνα'' (εκδ. Μαύρη Λίστα, Αθήνα 2000). asos Kostopoulos, ''The forbidden language: state suppression of the Slavic dialects in Greek Macedonia through the 20th century'', Athens: Black List, 2000* The Silent People Speak, by Robert St. John, 1948, xii, 293, 301–313 and 385. * *

External links

New Balkan Politics – Journal of Politics

Macedonians in the UK

United Macedonian Diaspora

World Macedonian Congress

House of Immigrants
{{DEFAULTSORT:Macedonians (Ethnic Group) Category:Ethnic groups in Albania Category:Ethnic groups in Greece Category:Ethnic groups in Macedonia (region) Category:Ethnic groups in Serbia Category:Ethnic groups in North Macedonia Category:Slavic ethnic groups Category:South Slavs