- The word ‘Balkan’ has sometimes been misused to imply that a person from the region is ill disciplined and aggressive. Be careful to only use the word as a geographical, linguistic or historical descriptor.
- Football is the most popular sport in North Macedonia. Any mention of it is likely to prompt an enthusiastic conversation.
- North Macedonia was the first all-broadband wireless country in the world, meaning Internet wireless access is available to virtually anyone – even in remote sheep-herding communities.
- Macedonians may throw coins in certain auspicious places to make wishes. If you see a place (usually a natural formation) with many coins in or around it, do not touch or pick up the money.
- There is a common belief that a slight draft, cross-breeze or wind can carry misfortune – ‘promaja’. For example, people may think that they can catch a bad illness from the breeze travelling between two open windows, having wet hair in the wind or feeling a slight draft if they have a gap between the back of their shirt and trousers/skirt.
The Naming Dispute
When the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ declared its sovereignty and independence in 1991, its name at the time became subject of a dispute with Greece. “Macedonia” is also the name of a region within northern Greece, and many Greeks claim that the country is implying a false claim over Greek cultural heritage and territory by using the same word. The Greek government protested the name and country by blocking its entry to the European Union and NATO, and imposing trade embargoes. It pushed for the term ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ (FYROM) to be used provisionally instead by the UN and the international community. Many Macedonians strongly detested this label and the associated acronym, feeling it was unfair, offensive and undermined their .
In 2019, both governments agreed to resolve the 27-year dispute by changing the country’s name to the ‘Republic of North Macedonia’. This name change outraged many Macedonians (and Greeks) who saw the naming issue as strictly non-negotiable. Some Macedonians feel that their right to has been infringed upon by being forced to adopt a qualifier such as ‘North’. The naming issue has been known to lead to negative Greek-Macedonian relations among in other countries. Both parties often feel that the other is trying to justify theft of their land, people and cultural heritage.
As of 2019, the country should be referred to as “North Macedonia”, while the citizens and language should continue to be called “Macedonian”.
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