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Fun Facts About Macedonia: See How Many You Never Knew
You probably heard a thing or two about the small Balkan country named Macedonia but how much do you really know? In this article, we’ll include some of the most interesting facts related to this tiny but beautiful country. Let’s start!
The Second Most Mountainous Country In The World Is Macedonia
85% of Macedonia’s territory is covered in mountains. This makes this small country the second most mountainous in the world, falling behind only Montenegro, another Balkan country that has 89% of its territory covered in mountains. Macedonia also has 34 mountaintops above 2,000 meters.
This makes Macedonia the country with most mountaintops above 2,000 meters per square kilometer.
Macedonia One Of The Oldest Inhabited Regions In Europe
Human inhabitants on the territory of what is today Macedonia date back to 7,000 years ago. However, the first traces of organized cities date back to 808 B.C. when this area was controlled by the dynasty of the Argeads.
Throughout history, Macedonia saw the mightiest empires in Europe rise and fall. The small country was a part of Alexander the Great’s Emipre, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Yugoslavia, and it finally gained its independence in 1991.
It’s So Old That It’S Home To Parts Of The Cross On Which Jesus Was Crucified On
Macedonia is an Orthodox Christian country that’s home to more than 1,000 churches and it’s not surprising that in three of them, you can find parts of the cross Jesus was crucified on.
All three churches used the pieces of the cross they got in their foundations and all three are very interesting samples of medieval architecture. The first one is St. Bogodorica Prechista in Kichevo, another one is St. Jovan Bigorski near Gostivar, and the third one is St. Georgji Pobedonosec in the city of Debar. Talking about churches…
Macedonia Has A City With 365 Churches
Ohrid is a small town in the Southwest of the country that’s home to 365 churches (one for every day of the year). Some of these churches have been abandoned but Ohrid is still, probably, the city with most churches in the world per square meter. These churches are great places to scoop up a souvenir or two as well!
The city is also Macedonia’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site (there are a few more places on the tentative list). It’s also one of only 28 places in the world to be on both, UNESCO’s cultural and heritage site list. The main reason for this is…
Ohrid Lake, One Of The Oldest Lakes In The World
With a maximum depth of 288 meters, Ohrid Lake is the deepest lake in Europe but it’s also one of the oldest ones in the world. According to most scientists, the lake is estimated to be more than 4 million years old.
Additionally, more than 200 endemic species live in Ohrid Lake and hence, it’s no wonder that the lake is a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
It’s Home To One Of The World’s Oldest Observatories
According to NASA, Kokino is one of the oldest space observatories in the world. The site dates back to the bronze age and people used it to observe space as early as 19th century B.C.
The site spreads across 30 hectares, it’s located around 30 kilometers away from the city of Kumanovo and it was discovered by a Macedonian scientist in 2001. Today, Kokino is on UNESCO’s tentative list and it’s only a matter of time before it’s finally placed on UNESCO’s heritage list.
Macedonia’s Capital Is The Birthplace Of Mother Teresa
Most people relate Mother Teresa to Calcutta, where she did most of the humanitarian work. However, many people forget that she was actually born in Skopje in 1910.
Today, in Skopje’s center, near the Macedonia square, you’ll find a memorial house-museum dedicated to Mother Teresa’s life and achievements.
Macedonia Has A Country Within
After Macedonia became an independent country in 1991, the small village of Vevcani, located in the hills north of Ohrid Lake proclaimed itself to be the first micronation on the Balkan Peninsula, even though everyone living in the village were (and still are) ethnically Macedonian.
Vevcani had its own flag and currency but the republic didn’t last long and soon, it became a part of the nearest municipality- Struga. However, despite this, locals still use the “Republic of Vevcani” in order to attract tourists. They will even give you a “citizenship” if you can drink enough local wine.
Macedonia Has A Cave That Looks Almost Identical As The One From LOTR
Located in the western part of the country, Cave Peshna is one of the most beautiful caves on the Balkan Peninsula. According to the New York Times, it’s the closest thing our planet has to Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings.
Additionally, the entrance of the cave is 30 meters high, making it the biggest one on the Balkan Peninsula and one of the largest ones in Europe.
It’s Home To The Second Biggest Cross In Europe
Visible from almost every point of Macedonia’s capital, the Millennium Cross of Vodno Mountain is the second largest cross in Europe, and the fifth-largest in the world. It’s 66 meters high and it was built in 2000, to commemorate 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia.
Macedonia Is Home To (Arguably) The Deepest Underwater Cave In The World
Located in the Canyon of Matka, Cave Vrelo is one of the largest underwater caves in the world. There have been several attempts to fully explore the cave but no one still knows just how deep it is.
The last expedition reached a depth of 77 meters but according to their statements, the cave is a lot deeper than that.
The First Country In The World To Have Full Access To Wireless Broadband
You might be surprised by this fact, but back in 2006, Macedonia became the first country in the whole world to have a full access to a wireless broadband connection. The project was named “Macedonia Connects” and was sponsored by the US Agency for International Development.
Macedonia Was The Place Where Cyrillic Alphabet Was Invented
The Cyrillic alphabet that most people associate with Russia was developed on the territory of Macedonia by brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius.
The script was afterward taught by their pupils, Climent and Naum in one of the first universities in Europe in the city of Ohrid, from where it spread across the Slavic world.
Europe’s Only Ruby Mine Is Located In Macedonia
You probably didn’t know this fact but Macedonia is the only country in Europe to have naturally occurring rubies and this is where you’ll find the only ruby mine in Europe. In fact, many of the precious stones that you see in famous luxury magazines came from the ruby mine in Prilep. Talking about precious findings…
Macedonia Home To The Only Thallium Mine In The World
Located on Mount Kozhuv, Alshar is the only mine in the world where thallium was actively mined. Today, the mine still contains more than 500 tonnes of thallium which is a source for the creation of rare thallium minerals, like lorandite, a mineral that has the potential to produce ecologically clean energy but unfortunately, little research has been done regarding this.
Some historians claim that the lorandite of Alshar was used to cover the shields of Alexander the Great’s army because, supposedly, lorandite caused a sun reflection so powerful that could blind and disable their opponents and according to them, this is one of the main reasons why Alexander the Great lead most of its battle during the day.
Macedonia Has Two Flags
When Macedonia became an independent country, the flag was a bit different than the one you see today. Both had the same mix of colors and both featured a yellow sun on a red background.
However, the initial flag used the sun symbol that was discovered on ancient tombstones in the town of Vergina, located in the Greek part of Macedonia. This resulted in a dispute with Greece, culminating with a trade embargo.
Macedonia was forced to change its flag, even though this made little sense from a legal standpoint and it’s been using its flag since 1995. This brings us to the next fact that’s related to the Greece-Macedonia dispute…
It Changed Its Name Despite The Majority Of The People Didn’t Accept It
In February 2019, Macedonia changed its official name from the Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia. The change was made, mostly to please Greece and stop it from vetoing Macedonia’s entrance to the EU once again.
However, what’s interesting is that the name change happened after a referendum that was boycotted by nearly 65% of the country’s population, which means that only 35% of the country’s citizens actually voted for changing the country’s name.
It Has The Strongest Opium In The World
People in Macedonia have been traditionally cultivating the opium poppy flower for years and surprisingly, Macedonia is home to the most potent opium in the whole world. The opium cultivated in Macedonia has 14 morphine units (on average). That’s almost double than the morphine units in opium cultivated in China (8), India (7), and Turkey (6).
How many of these facts about Macedonia did you know? Did you learn some new things about this beautiful Balkan country? Which one was your favorite fact? Let us know in the comments!
More Ideas For Macedonia Travel
- Top Souvenirs To Pick Up
- Explore these incredible Macedonia winter destinations.
- Learn how to speak Macedonian before your trip.
- Grab a bit to eat at these beach cafes.
- Explore Ohrid with this list of best things to do in the city.
- Learn everything you need to know about Macedonia wine.