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Geographical Location: Europe, the Balkans, Macedonia
The Balkans are the mountains beginning at the Timok River and ending at the Black Sea-a range with a total length of more than 350 kilometers. In Turkish, the word balkan means "wooded mountain," and at the beginning of the 19th century such a mountain gave its name to an entire geographic region: the southeastern part of Europe. Washed by the waters of the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the west, the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara to the east, and the Aegean Sea to the south, the Balkan Peninsula is separated from the rest of Europe by the Sava and Danube rivers. Thus, this region encompasses the territories of Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the fraction of Turkey located in Europe and the Romanian territory of Dobruja. The overall area of the Balkans amounts to 566,567 square kilometers, and the population numbers about 50 million.
Geologically, the "Balkan Peninsula" was formed by orogeny in the late Paleozoic, and its foundation is composed of Paleozoic slates covered by a layer of Mesozoic sediments. Politically, until 1918 the term "Balkan Peninsula" implied territory ruled by the Ottoman Empire, and did not include areas under the authority of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Russian scholars Gyndin and Merpert, in their joint work Ancient Balkan Studies and the Ethnogenesis of the Peoples in the Balkans write that "The first state formations and the first civilizations in Europe were established in the Balkans and, in fact, it is there that the source of all basic directions of European cultural development should be looked for-from literacy and the oldest literary texts, through a series of cultures which bloomed there... The Balkans were transformed into the center of the most complex ethnolinguistic phenomena of ancient history. Here too was the elaboration of crucial problems of ethnic composition of the ancient European population-both the non-Indo-European and the Indo-European."
This position relies on the so-far irrefutable arguments laid out by Marija Gimbutas, a Lithuanian, through her work with archeological findings concerning written signs from ancient Europe. Based on this research, Harold Harmann has written the most comprehensive documentary history to date concerning known systems of writing. He concludes that the land area of the Aegean and middle Balkans, the southern part of the Adriatic, the central area of the Danube River basin and the eastern Balkan districts also belonged to this highly developed zone of civilization, at a time between 7,000 and 6,000 B.C. By the middle of the seventh millennium B.C., the cultural complex of the central Balkans led the progress of civilization. Its continuity lasted for about two thousand years, until the middle of the third millennium B.C. and is known as the "Vincha culture", after the region of Vincha some forty kilometers from Belgrade.
This culture extended along the Danube River in territories of present-day Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, down along the middle part of Serbia and through Macedonia until reaching Chalcidice. The reason for the Vincha culture's importance compared to other cultures of the time-for example, those of Asia Minor-rests primarily upon its use of a written script. After recent scientific analysis, unearthed clay and votive tablets inscribed in Vincha script-particularly those from Vincha itself-prove that the beginnings of indigenous Balkan literacy date back to the close of the seventh millennium B.C. Suggestions that merchants conveyed a Sumeric script to this part of Europe have been convincingly rebuffed by Harmann, who proved that there is a gap of 2,000 years between the first known examples of the Vincha script and Sumeric script. By following parallels drawn by Marija Gimbutas between the Neolithic European and the Classical cultural traditions, Harmann defined the Vincha script as a means of communication between man and the gods during religious ceremonies, the reason why the inscriptions are short and often consist of a combination of several signs.
"On the basis of the Aegean and Mycenaean cultures," emphasizes Jovan Cvijich, "the magnificent Hellenic civilization developed in the Aegean area of [the Balkans], and radiated through all countries and times... In these areas, especially in Constantinople and Thessaloniki, Christianity became deeply rooted very early. Proselytizers of Christianity set off from Constantinople and Thessaloniki to Christianize many peoples, particularly the Slavic peoples." To quote the Bible:
And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia...
12 to 13 centuries before this Biblical account, the Balkans had been subject to waves of migration and invasion. This was an era when the ancient Mycenean culture was destroyed, when Troy fell, and when the ceramics of Peleganoia and Ohrid were created, to await discovery in the modern era.
The Balkans was and remains a territory where historic, political, religious, ethnic and spiritual coexistence is interwoven. These processes in this region were exposed to various influences and pressures, and in many cases the fate of peoples and states was sealed. The mixture of languages and cultures, as well as traditions of everyday life, did not, however, completely break down the continuing differences between peoples. According to written tradition, Macedonia had a significant place in this explosive center of civilization.

16.9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed to him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia, and help us.'
16.10. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

The Book of Philippians, The New Testament

The poet Ante Popovski captured the spirit-and spirituality-of Macedonia best when he wrote, "Standing and looking at the map of Macedonia, one cannot free themselves from the feeling that its territory could not look differently than to be open for all movements from the south towards the north... From the aspect of the mountain ranges which encircle Macedonia, it is an enclosed country. Created for secret caves and prayers of monks... It has all been recreated in spiritual movements, which advanced and agitated from the East and shifted to the European West across Macedonia, this natural and magnificent bridge-antique art, Christianity, Bogomilism, the fundamental spiritual initiatives of the European transformation. Without them, Europe would have continued to be an anonymous spiritual north, a cold territorial forgetfulness and a place of internecine struggles. So, standing and leaning over the map of Macedonia, one begins, even against one's own will, to stare at the deep spiritual roots of the Macedonian country, repeating the epistles of the apostles and seeing it as a fateful portal through which Europe is being transformed. It seems as if geography becomes more real than history. And exactly in that fact one should look for the deep roots of the anti-historical coveting for the amputation of Macedonia. Without it, without Macedonia, Europe would have been a claustrophobic continent of miniature kingdoms, shivering in fogs and cold Baltic winds."
Macedonia is a both a country located in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula and a geographic expression. The latter, including Chalcidice, covers about 66,600 square kilometers of territory with approximately 4.5 million inhabitants, mainly Macedonians as well as Greeks, Albanians, Bulgarians, Turks, Vlachs, Roms and others. The natural borders of geographic Macedonia in the north begin with Mt. Shar, continuing along the mountains of Skopska Crna Gora, Ruen, German and Osogovo, ultimately arriving at Mt. Rhila. The Rhodopes mark its border in the east while the Aegean Sea, Mt. Olympus and Mt. Pindus mark its historical, ethnic and geographical limit in the south. Mts. Mokrenska, Jablanitsa and Korab represent its western border.
Map of the Republic of Macedonia
The Republic of Macedonia, the country, covers the central part of the Balkans. The geographic coordinates at the furthest extensions of the Republic of Macedonia to the north are 42 22" 21' (north) and 22 18" 04' (south), intersecting at Anishta, near Kriva Palanka. In the south, the southernmost points of the Republic of Macedonia are 40 51" 16' (north) and 21 07" 33' (south), the intersection point being at Markova Noga near Resen. In the east, the furthest point is 41 42" 33' at Chengino Kale, near Berovo, and to the west at 41 31" 04' and 20 27" 32' (eastern longitude) at Kestenar, in the region of Debar.
The Republic of Macedonia borders on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the north (along 232 kilometers of border), the Republic of Albania to the west (along 191 kilometers), the Republic of Greece to the south (262 kilometers) and the Republic of Bulgaria to the east (165 kilometers). The total surface area of the Republic of Macedonia amounts to 25,713 square kilometers.
Population: The population of the Republic of is 1,936,877 inhabitants according to the 1994 census: 976,051 (50.4 percent) men and 960,826 (49.6 percent) women. The capital of the Republic of Macedonia is Skopje with 448,229 inhabitants, while other significant towns include Bitola (84,002), Prilep (70,152), Kumanovo (69,231), Tetovo (51,472), Titov Veles (47,326), Shtip (42,826), Ohrid (42,908), Gostivar (40,012), Kavadarci (32,429), and Strumica (34,396).
Compared to the 1981 census (1,909,136 inhabitants), the population of Macedonia has increased by slightly more than one percent. It is worth noting, however, that in 1900 only 908,904 people lived on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, while according to the 1948 census Macedonia possessed 1,152,986 inhabitants. In the Republic of Macedonia there are 505,852 households, dominated by four-member families (174,918). While there are more families with more or fewer members, four-member families make up the largest single category.
According to the 1994 census and supplementary estimates, the population of the Republic of Macedonia includes 1,288,300 Macedonians, 442,914 Albanians, 77,252 Turks, 43,732 Roms, 39,260 registered Serbs, 8,467 registered Vlachs and 87,089 members of other peoples including Jews, Moslems, Egyptians, Croats, Montenegrins, Englishmen, Frenchmen and Russians. A small minority of the population did not declare a nationality. The 1994 census, in comparison with that of 1981, proved that migration from villages to towns in the Republic of Macedonia continues: currently, 1,179,111 or roughly 57 percent of the total population live in urban areas and 757,766 or 43 percent live in the rural settlements. Ten years earlier, the urban population was 53.9 percent and the rural population 46.1 percent, so it is clear that urbanization continues apace in Macedonia. The average life expectancy in the Republic of Macedonia is 70.1 years for men and 74.4 years for women, while the average age is 32.7 years for men and 33.9 years for women.
For those who favor statistical data, in the Republic of Macedonia there live 646,713 male Macedonians and 641,617 female Macedonians; 224,862 male Albanians and 218,052 female Albanians; 39,390 male Turks and 37,862 female Turks; and 19,847 male Serbs and 19,413 female Serbs.
66.5 percent of the overall population of the Republic of Macedonia is comprised by Macedonians, 22.9 percent by Albanians, 4.79 by Turks, 2.73 by Roms, 2.17 by Serbs, 0.40 by Vlachs and 4.28 percent by the remaining nationalities.
In 1992, 33,238 babies were born, 17,380 by Macedonian mothers, 11,479 by Albanian mothers, 1,647 by Turkish mothers, 1,117 by Rom mothers, 13 by Vlach mothers and 1,602 of another or unknown nationality. 2,432 babies of the 1992 total were illegitimate, and 302 stillborn. In 1992, the total number of contracted marriages in the Republic of Macedonia was 15,354, while divorces reached the number of 578.

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