Dating macedonian republic
About a quarter of its two million population lives in the capital Skopje, a city on the Vardar River that combines Communist-era tower blocks with an Ottoman-era Old Town and filled with evidence of its 2,500-year history under Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Yugoslav rule.
The raging river divides the Albanian and Macedonian communities of Skopje.
The Lonely Planet travel guide describes the country as a "paradise" for outdoor types with numerous opportunities for skiing, hiking and climbing.
International recognition of Macedonia's independence was delayed by Greek objections to the name.
Almost two-thirds of the country's population are Orthodox Christians and a third is Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook.
As a result, the country has numerous monasteries, churches and mosques. Lake Ohrid, one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe, was once surrounded by 365 churches, some dating from the 4th century.
Macedonia gained independence from the former Yugoslav federation with overwhelming majority support in a referendum on September 8, 1991.
To its own citizens, the country is called the Republic of Macedonia, but both the United Nations and the European Union call it the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia).