Ancient and Roman period
The Republic of Macedonia roughly corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Paeonia, which was located immediately north of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Paeonia was inhabited by the Paeonians, a Thracian people, whilst the northwest was inhabited by the Dardani and the southwest by tribes known historically as the Enchelae, Pelagonesand Lyncestae; the latter two are generally regarded as Molossian tribes of the northwestern Greek group, whilst the former two are considered Illyrian.
In the late 6th century BC, the Achaemenid Persians under Darius the Great conquered the Paeonians, incorporating what is today the Republic of Macedonia within their vast territories. Following the loss in the Second Persian invasion of Greece in 479 BC, the Persians eventually withdrew from their European territories, including thus from what is today the Republic of Macedonia.
In 356 BC Philip II of Macedon absorbed the regions of Upper Macedonia (Lynkestis and Pelagonia) and the southern part of Paeonia (Deuriopus) into the kingdom of Macedon. Philip's son Alexander the Great conquered the remainder of the region, and incorporated it in his empire, reaching as far north as Scupi, but the city and the surrounding area remained part of Dardania.
The Romans established the Province of Macedonia in 146 BC. By the time of Diocletian, the province had been subdivided between Macedonia Prima ("first Macedonia") on the south, encompassing most of the kingdom of Macedon, and Macedonia Salutaris (known also as Macedonia Secunda, "second Macedonia") on the north, encompassing partially Dardania and the whole of Paeonia; most of the country's modern boundaries fell within the latter, with the city of Stobi as its capital. Roman expansion brought the Scupi area under Roman rule in the time of Domitian (81–96 AD), and it fell within the Province of Moesia. Whilst Greek remained the dominant language in the eastern part of the Roman empire, Latin spread to some extent in Macedonia.
Medieval and Ottoman period
Slavic peoples settled in the Balkan region including Macedonia by the late 6th century AD. During the 580s, Byzantine literature attests to the Slavs raiding Byzantine territories in the region of Macedonia, later aided by Bulgars. Historical records document that in c. 680 a group of Bulgars, Slavs and Byzantines led by a Bulgar called Kuber settled in the region of the Keramisian plain, centred on the city of Bitola. Presian's reign apparently coincides with the extension of Bulgarian control over the Slavic tribes in and around Macedonia. The Slavic peoples that settled in the region of Macedonia converted to Christianity around the 9th century during the reign of Tsar Boris I of Bulgaria.
In 1014, the Byzantine Emperor Basil II defeated the armies of Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria, and within four years the Byzantines restored control over the Balkans (including Macedonia) for the first time since the 7th century. However, by the late 12th century, Byzantine decline saw the region contested by various political entities, including a brief Norman occupation in the 1080s.
In the early 13th century, a revived Bulgarian Empire gained control of the region. Plagued by political difficulties, the empire did not last, and the region came once again under Byzantine control in the early 14th century. In the 14th century, it became part of the Serbian Empire, who saw themselves as liberators of their Slavic kin from Byzantine despotism. Skopje became the capital of Tsar Stefan Dusan's empire.
Following Dusan's death, a weak successor appeared, and power struggles between nobles divided the Balkans once again. These events coincided with the entry of the Ottoman Turksinto Europe. The Kingdom of Prilep was one of the short-lived states that emerged from the collapse of the Serbian Empire in the 14th century. Gradually, all of the central Balkans were conquered by the Ottoman Empire and remained under its domination for five centuries.
With the beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival in the 18th century, many of the reformers were from this region, including the Miladinov Brothers, Rajko Žinzifov, Joakim Krčovski, Kiril Pejčinoviḱ and others. The bishoprics of Skopje, Debar, Bitola, Ohrid, Veles and Strumica voted to join the Bulgarian Exarchateafter it was established in 1870.
Several movements whose goals were the establishment of an autonomous Macedonia, which would encompass the entire region of Macedonia, began to arise in the late 19th century; the earliest of these was the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, later becoming Secret Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (SMARO). In 1905 it was renamed the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMARO), and after World War I the organisation separated into the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and the Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organisation (ITRO).
In the early years of the organisation, membership was open to only Bulgarians, but later it was opened to all inhabitants of European Turkey, regardless of their nationality or religion. The majority of its members, however, were Macedonian Bulgarians. In 1903, IMRO organised the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising against the Ottomans, which after some initial successes, including the forming of the "Kruševo Republic", was crushed with much loss of life. The uprising and the forming of the Krushevo Republic are considered the cornerstone and precursors to the eventual establishment of the Macedonian state.
Kingdoms of Serbia and Yugoslavia
Following the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, most of its European-held territories were divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. The territory of the modern Macedonian state was annexed by Serbia and named Južna Srbija, "Southern Serbia". Following the partition, an anti-Bulgarian campaign was carried out in the areas under Serbian and Greek control. As many as 641 Bulgarian schools and 761 churches were closed by the Serbs, while Exarchist clergy and teachers were expelled. The use of Bulgarian (including all Macedonian dialects) was proscribed.
In the fall of 1915, Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in the First World War and gained control over most of the territory of the present-day Republic of Macedonia. After the end of the First World War, the area returned to Serbian control as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and saw a reintroduction of the anti-Bulgarian measures of the first occupation (1913–1915): Bulgarian teachers and clergy were expelled, Bulgarian language signs and books removed, and all Bulgarian organisations dissolved.
The Serbian government pursued a policy of forced Serbianisation in the region, which included systematic repression of Bulgarian activists, altering family surnames, internal colonisation, forced labor, and intense propaganda. To aid the implementation of this policy, some 50,000 Serbian army and gendermerie were stationed in Macedonia. By 1940 about 280 Serbian colonies (comprising 4,200 families) were established as part of the government's internal colonisation program (initial plans envisaged 50,000 families settling in Macedonia).
In 1929, the Kingdom was officially renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and divided into provinces called banovinas. Southern Serbia, including all of what is now the Republic of Macedonia, became known as the Vardar Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
The concept of a United Macedonia was used by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) in the interbellum. Its leaders – including Todor Alexandrov, Aleksandar Protogerov, and Ivan Mihailov – promoted independence of the Macedonian territory split between Serbia and Greece for the whole population, regardless of religion and ethnicity.The Bulgarian government of Alexander Malinov in 1918 offered to give Pirin Macedonia for that purpose after World War I, but the Great Powers did not adopt this idea because Serbia and Greece opposed it. In 1924, the Communist International suggested that all Balkan communist parties adopt a platform of a "united Macedonia" but the suggestion was rejected by the Bulgarian and Greek communists.
IMRO followed by starting an insurgent war in Vardar Banovina, together with Macedonian Youth Secret Revolutionary Organization, which also conducted guerilla attacks against the Serbian administrative and army officials there. In 1923 in Stip, a paramilitary organisation called Association against Bulgarian Bandits was formed by Serbian chetniks, IMRO renegades and Macedonian Federative Organization (MFO) members to oppose IMRO and MMTRO.
The Macedonist ideas increased during the interbellum, in Yugoslav Vardar Macedonia, and among the left diaspora in Bulgaria, and were supported by the Comintern. In 1934, it issued a special resolution in which for the first time directions were provided for recognizing the existence of a separate Macedonian nation and Macedonian language.
World War II period
During World War II, Yugoslavia was occupied by the Axis Powersfrom 1941 to 1945. The Vardar Banovina was divided between Bulgaria and Italian-occupied Albania. Bulgarian Action Committees were established to prepare the region for the new Bulgarian administration and army. The Committees were mostly formed by former members of IMRO, but some communists such as Panko Brashnarov, Strahil Gigov and Metodi Shatorov also participated.
As leader of the Vardar Macedonia communists, Shatorov switched from the Yugoslav Communist Party to the Bulgarian Communist Party and refused to start military action against the Bulgarian army. The Bulgarian authorities, under German pressure, were responsible for the round-up and deportation of over 7,000 Jews in Skopje and Bitola. Harsh rule by the occupying forces encouraged many Macedonians to support the Communist Partisan resistance movement of Josip Broz Tito after 1943, and the National Liberation War ensued, with German forces being driven out of Macedonia by the end of 1944.
In Vardar Macedonia, after the Bulgarian coup d'état of 1944, the Bulgarian troops, surrounded by German forces, fought their way back to the old borders of Bulgaria. Under the leadership of the new Bulgarian pro-Soviet government, four armies, 455,000 strong in total, were mobilised and reorganised. Most of them re-entered occupied Yugoslavia in early October 1944 and moved from Sofia to Niš, Skopje and Pristina with the strategic task of blocking the German forces withdrawing from Greece. Compelled by the Soviet Union with a view towards the creation of a large South Slav Federation, the Bulgarian government once again offered to give Pirin Macedonia to such a United Macedonia in 1945.
Socialist Yugoslavia period
In 1944 the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) proclaimed the People's Republic of Macedonia as part of the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. ASNOM remained an acting government until the end of the war. The Macedonian alphabet was codified by linguists of ASNOM, who based their alphabet on the phonetic alphabet of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and the principles of Krste Petkov Misirkov.
The new republic became one of the six republics of the Yugoslav federation. Following the federation's renaming as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963, the People's Republic of Macedonia was likewise renamed, becoming the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. During the civil war in Greece (1946–1949), Macedonian communist insurgents supported the Greek communists. Many refugees fled to the Socialist Republic of Macedonia from there. The state dropped the "Socialist" from its name in 1991 when it peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia.
Declaration of independence
The country officially celebrates 8 September 1991 as Independence day (Macedonian: Ден на независноста, Den na nezavisnosta), with regard to the referendum endorsing independence from Yugoslavia, albeit legalising participation in future union of the former states of Yugoslavia. The anniversary of the start of the Ilinden Uprising (St. Elijah's Day) on 2 August is also widely celebrated on an official level as the Day of the Republic.
Robert Badinter, as the head of the Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia, recommended EC recognition in January 1992.
Macedonia remained at peace through the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s. A few very minor changes to its border with Yugoslavia were agreed upon to resolve problems with the demarcation line between the two countries. However, it was seriously destabilised by the Kosovo War in 1999, when an estimated 360,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo took refuge in the country. Although they departed shortly after the war, Albanian nationalists on both sides of the border took up arms soon after in pursuit of autonomy or independence for the Albanian-populated areas of Macedonia.
A conflict took place between the government and ethnic Albanian insurgents, mostly in the north and west of the country, between February and August 2001. The war ended with the intervention of a NATO ceasefire monitoring force. Under the terms of the Ohrid Agreement, the government agreed to devolve greater political power and cultural recognition to the Albanian minority. The Albanian side agreed to abandon separatist demands and to recognise all Macedonian institutions fully. In addition, according to this accord, the NLA were to disarm and hand over their weapons to a NATO force.