Capital | Skopje
Population | 2,077,328 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 25,713 SQ KM
Official Language | Macedonian
Holidays | Independence Day, 8 September (1991); also known as National Day
Currency | Denar (MKD)
Time Zone | UTC +1
Best Time to Visit | July and August—the best months to catch Macedonia’s festivals
Connecting with the Culture | Wandering through Skopje’s Oriental bazaar district. Visiting the City Art Gallery housed in the Daud paša baths in Skopje, once the largest Turkish baths in the Balkans. Making a pilgrimage to the 17th-century Church of Sveti Naum at Ohrid. Scrambeling through the Ruins of Heraclea at Bitola. Skiing the southern slopes of Šar Planina, west of Tetovo. Hiking in the Pelister National Park.
Read | Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, a between-the-wars Balkan travelogue.
Listen | to the Tavijan Brothers Trio’s self-titled album, featuring some of the most famous jazz musicians in Macedonia.
Watch | Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain, a visually stunning vision of how inter-ethnic war in Macedonia might begin.
Eat | Turkish-style grilled mincemeat; burek—cheese or meat pies; Ohrid trout.
Drink | skopsko pivo- the local beer; rkija- the national firewater; a strong spirit distilled from grapes.
In a Word | Zdravo (hello)
Characteristics | Orthodox churches; splendid mosaics; Lake Ohrid; bazaar districts; smoky cafés and bars; Byzantine monasteries; ski resorts; Roman ruins.
Surprises | The gnarled, 900-year-old plane tree at Ohrid; the five-day Balkan festival of Folk Dances and Songs, held at Ohrid in early July.