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Key facts:

Official Name:

Republic of Macedonia

Date of Independence:

8 September 1991 (independence day; day when referendum was held)

Population:

2,048,619 (latest estimation 2008, State Statistical Office)

Capital:

Skopje (506,926, census 2002)

Other important cities:

Bitola, Kumanovo, Ohrid, Tetovo.

Area:

25,713 sq km (9,779 sq miles)

Main religions:

Christianity (Orthodox), Islam

Languages:

Macedonian, Albanian

Main ethnic groups

Macedonians    64.2 %
Albanians         25.2 %
Turks                  3.9 %
Roma                  2.7 %
Serbs                   1.8 %
Vlachs                 0.5 %
Others                 1.9 %

Currency:

Macedonian Denar (MKD)

President:

Gjorge Ivanov (elected 12 May 2009)

Prime minister:

Nikola Gruevski (2nd term)

EU relations

Macedonia was the first Western Balkan country to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU on 9 April 2001. On 22 March 2004 the country applied for EU membership and on 17 December 2005 the European Council granted Macedonia official candidate status for EU membership. The Macedonian government hopes to open accession negotiations in 2010, as recommended by the European Commission October 2009. The European Parliament has also urged to open negotiations in a resolution passed in February 2010.

International organizations:

Macedonia joined the UN on 8 April 1993 under the name "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM). It is also a member of the Council of Europe, The World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Francophonie. Besides Macedonia's aspirations to join the EU, it has also applied for NATO membership (though accession has so far been blocked by Greece on account of its dispute with Macedonia about the country's name).

Political parties:  

Following the most recent parliamentary elections in June 2008, the following coalitions and parties are represented in the 120-seat Parliament:
The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski led an 18-party coalition "For a Better Macedonia". The coalition and Gruevski were the clear winners of the elections, taking 63 of the 120 seats.
The biggest opposition party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) had also formed a coalition. Together with 7 smaller parties they ran under a coalition called "Sun Coalition for Europe", but less successful, taking only 27 seats (down from 32 in 2006).
The Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) of former rebel-leader Ali Ahmeti was able to win a majority of the ethnic Albanian vote and obtained 18 parliamentary seats.
The Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), the outgoing government partner of VMRO-DPMNE, led by Menduh Thaci, managed to obtain 11 seats.
The small Party for a European Future obtained one seat.
The VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition and DUI announced the formation of a new government in July 2008.

August 2010

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