In 1991, the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Commonly referred to as Macedonia, this country is located in the central Balkan peninsula and is bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west.
Interestingly, this country is part of a larger region also known as Macedonia, which includes a region of northern Greece known by the same name, and the Blagoevgrad province in southwestern Bulgaria. For this reason, Greece ships goods through the Balkans to eastern, western and central Europe and through Bulgaria to the east.
With an estimated population of just over 2 million, the largest ethnic group in Macedonia is the Macedonians. The Albanians, the second largest group, live primarily in the northwestern part of the country.
Historically, these two groups have been politically divided. In 2001, war divided this country as both groups fought for power. Later, in 2004, the government redrew local boundaries so that heavily concentrated Albanian areas gained greater autonomy. While political tensions continued for several years, elections have been peaceful, a requirement for entering the EU.
Macedonia's economy suffered tremendously when Greece imposed an embargo in 1994 lasted nearly throughout the entirety of 1995. Since then, however, many Greek companies have taken over several companies that were previously owned by the state. This includes, but is not limited to, the Okta oil refinery, the Zhito Luks baking company, and a marble mine in Prilep.
Macedonia has also established important partnerships with Germany, Italy, the United States, Slovenia, Austria, and Turkey.