Friday, May 2, 2008

The Republic of Macedonia

The Republic of Macedonia is a small country situated in the southern part of Balkan Peninsula. It is a natural bridge between East and West, North and South. The populations of the Republic of Macedonia are the citizens: Macedonians, Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Vlachs, Bosnians, Romanians and others.
The Republic of Macedonia abounds in natural beauties and rarities. Many have named it “The Pearl of the Balkans”. The numerous mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes present a great tourist attraction. The country is rich in water resources. That is why it is often called “The Land of Lakes” because of the many tectonic, glacial and man-made lakes. There are about fifty large and small lakes, the most significant ones: the lakes of Ohrid, Prespa and Doyran. The rivers form three basins, the largest one – the Vardar River.
The high mountains present its impressive, spectacular landscapes. Because of the great variety of plant, and animal species, some areas in the mountains have been proclaimed national parks: Mavrovo, Pelister and Galitchica.
There are various climatic zones in the country. Temperately Mediterranean in the south (with warm summers and mild winters), and moderately continental in the north with more marked seasonal extremes.
The main administrative centre of the country is Skopje, with a population of more than 550.000 inhabitants. It is a place where many roads and civilizations have met and mingled. Other larger towns are: Bitola, Prilep, Kumanovo, Tetovo, and Ohrid.
The town of Ohrid, situated on the shore of Lake Ohrid with its natural beauties, historical and cultural heritage enjoys the protection of UNESCO. Ohrid abounds with a large number of historical and cultural monuments, lovely beaches, and accommodation facilities.
The second “pearl” of Lake Ohrid, the town of Struga is renowned for its old architecture, the river Black Drim, its fine beaches, excellent hotels and camp sites.
The basin of Lake Prespa is another popular tourist destination with its wild beauty. The lake offers peace in several various accommodation facilities in Oteshevo and Pretor tourist centers.
Lake Doyran, the smallest of the tectonic lakes, due to its mild climate and warm water is considered to have medicinal qualities. There are several hotels and camp sites on the shore of this lake, too.
The position of the country and its configuration, climate and hydrograph provide favorable conditions for the development of tourism. For accommodation of tourist the Republic of Macedonia has at its disposal 90 hotels, 10 camps, 2 tourist settlements and some 27.000 beds in private sector. The total number of beds in all accommodation facilities amounts to about 80.000.
Te most popular tourist destinations are Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Lake Doyran where 80% of total accommodation capacities are located, and the biggest part of the tourism turnover and revenues derived.
For winter tourism there are several well known winter sports centers: Popova Shapka, Mavrovo, Krushevo, and Pelister. They provide all the necessary facilities for sports and recreation, such as comfortable resorts and hotels, cable cars and ski lifts.
There are more than 60 thermal springs tapped at several spas: Katlanovo Spa, Kosovrasti Spa, Bansko, Negorci, and Kezovica Spa. They offer facilities for treatment, rehabilitation and recreation.
Nowadays, the Republic of Macedonia is a veritable treasury of cultural heritage. The country treasures a large number of cultural and historical monuments: churches, monasteries, icons, archaeological sites, mosques, old books and other artifacts.
Many internationally recognized events are held in the country: Ohrid Summer Festival, Struga Poetry Evenings, Balkan Festival of Folk Songs and Dances, Galitchnik Wedding.
National folklore and traditional arts and crafts are still cherished. The finely embroidered national costumes, the numerous old crafts shops have played an important part in preserving the tradition.

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