Europe Has a New Country (Sort Of)

Europe Has a New Country (Sort Of)

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The country we used to know as Macedonia — or, officially, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia — is changing. Its boundaries will remain the same, but it has officially decided to change its name to Northern Macedonia.

In 1991, the country then known as Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia. Greece immediately expressed its distaste for the name, saying that suggested “territorial pretensions” to the northern Greek province of the same name. It even tried to block United Nations membership for the new nation if it would not change its name, which in 1993 it did, when it joined the UN as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” often shortened with the unwieldy acronym of FYROM. In its constitution, however, the nation called itself Republic of Macedonia, and has been recognized as such by most other nations of the world, including the US. So Greece continued to block Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union and NATO — but a solution has come this week, with a negotiated name change.

The two countries have finally agreed to a long-term solution, settling on a renaming to Northern Macedonia. The name adjustment hasn’t been fully implemented yet, so you still may still see “Republic of Macedonia” or the FYROM acronym floating around. Just remember that it is not Greece.

Image by Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG via Getty Images
Image by Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG via Getty Images

Northern Macedonia is actually a beautiful travel destination, although not widely known by Americans. Its terrain encompasses everything from hike-able mountains to canyons surrounded by lush landscape. Plus, the country has beautiful historical architecture worth visiting. And while it is landlocked, it has beautiful lakes. Getting into one of its two commercial airports, Skopje (SKP) or Ohrid (OHD), requires one connection from the US. You can fly into the capital Skopje through major European cities including Vienna, Zurich and Milan.

Featured image of the Matka Canyon by Pierre Crom/Getty Images.

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June 13, 2018 at 08:35PM

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