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History of Macedonia

Although the ancient kingdom of Macedonia once stood approximately where the modern country of Macedonia (or the Republic of Macedonia or the Former Yugoslav Republic (F.Y.R.) of Macedonia) stands, the people of these two entities have no close relation. The ancient Macedonians were very similar to the Greeks, while today's people in the region are primarily a combination of Bulgars and Slavs, but with numerous other ethnicties as well. Today the people are more ethnically and culturally Bulgar or Slavic, being nearly identical (on an ethnic level) to the Bulgarians.

The ancestors of the modern-day people of Macedonia first arrived in about the 700s, the same time the ancestors of today's Bulgarians arrived in Bulgaria. These people converted to Christianity in the 800s. During much of the time between the 800s and the 1300s the region was ruled over by the Byzantium Empire, although the people also gained independence from time to time.

In the 1300s the people became a part of the Serbian Empire, which was also a primarily Slavic group, but later that same century the Ottoman Turks came in and took control over what is today Macedonia and most of the Balkan Peninsula. This foreign rule lasted through the 1700s when the people began to rebel against their rulers, but with no success for nearly another two centuries.

Under Ottoman rule the region was very stable as the region of Macedonia was a stronghold for the Ottomans for centuries, however this also led to immigration of foreign people into the region and the drafting of Macedonians into the Ottoman army.

The 1800s continued the movements to gain independence in both the regions of Macedonia and Bulgaria, but again these movements didn't have the power to overthrow the Ottoman Empire. In 1903 the Macedonians finally obtained an independent state, but this legal establishment didn't translate to any success on the battlefield as they eventually lost the war ensuing for independence.

In the early 1900s the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the region that is today Macedonia was incorporated into the state of Serbia. After World War I, the region was incorporated into the country called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was later renamed Yugoslavia.

During World War II (WWII) Yugoslavia was occupied by the Axis powers and the region that is today Macedonia was divided between the Bulgarians and the Italians (via Albania). One of the largest resistance movements during the war was led by the Yugoslav communists and as WWII concluded, the communist party came to power in Yugoslavia, which again took control of all of modern day Macedonia.

When communism in Yugoslavia collapsed in 1991, Macedonia peacefully declared independence. However, the Kosovo War in 1999 had a strong effect on Macedonia as many Albanian refugees fled into the country to escape the war. This led to a few battles with the ethnic Albanians, who then fought for independence within Macedonia's borders, but NATO quickly stepped in and the two sides came to a peaceful agreement in 2001.

This page was last updated: March, 2013