After almost three decades of diplomatic dispute, punctuated by high drama with Greece, a new state called North Macedonia has finally assumed its place on the map of western Balkan nations. After declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the country chose the name Macedonia. But that title severely strained relations with neighbor Greece, which also has a region called Macedonia. The Greek region of Macedonia lies in the northern, mountainous part of the country and includes its second-largest city, Thessaloniki, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Philippi.
Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of warrior king Alexander’s empire, but under the Romans the province of Macedonia was expanded to include territory spanning what is now North Macedonia, as well as Bulgaria and Albania.
Greece, a member of both NATO and the European Union, had been blocking North Macedonia’s membership to the military alliance and the beginning of accession talks with the EU until the name dispute was resolved. But under a name deal reached between Athens and Skopje last month, Greece will lift its objections, paving the way for its neighbor’s integration.