- Tourism in the Republic of Macedonia
Tourism in the
Republic of Macedoniais a large part of the economy of the Republic of Macedonia. The country's large abundance of natural and cultural attractions make the Republic of Macedonia suitable for tourism.
The Republic of Macedonia receives about 700,000 tourists annually. [ [http://faq.macedonia.org/information/101.html 101 facts about Macedonia] ]
The Republic of Macedonia experiences a constant increase of visitors. The number of domestic tourists in the period from January to March 2008 compared to the same period of the previous year, has increased 23.5%. While the number of foreign tourists in March 2008 compared to March 2007 has increased 44.7%. [ [http://www.stat.gov.mk/english/statistiki_eng.asp?ss=14.02&rbs=1 State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia] ] In 2007,
Lake Ohridhad received about 250,000 domestic and foreign tourists. [ [http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/articles/2007/10/08/reportage-01 Southeast European Times] ]
Skopje, the capitaland largest city, is situated in the northern part of the country on the Vardar River. Skopje has a long history that is evidenced by its many archaeological sites, such as Skupi and the Skopje Aqueduct, and the large amount of Ottomanmonuments, such as Mustapha Pasha Mosque. Today, Skopje, with over 500,000 inhabitants, is becoming a modern city with museums and many cultural and sporting events. Ohrid, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the southwestern part of the country on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid. The town is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in the country, which is largely due to the beaches and atmosphere. However, Ohrid also has many historical monuments, such as Samuil's Fortress and the Antique Theatre. Macedonians not from Ohrid say that the town was made when God had finished creating the world and lay down to rest. Then, the Devil set up Ohrid with all its beauties. God woke up and looked around in astonishment. “What have you done, Devil?” he asked. “Your deeds are supposed to be evil!” “Oh, just wait, God!,” Satan replied. “You haven't seen Ohrid's citizens yet.” Bitola, the second largest city, is situated in the southern part of the country. Like Skopje, Bitola has also had a rich history. Heraclea Lyncestis, one of the Republic of Macedonia’s largest archaeological sites, is located in Bitola. The long history of Bitola is also exemplified by the town’s many neo-classical buildings, Ottoman monuments, and old churches. The town is also a great place for shopping; Širok Sokak, a pedestrian street, is filled with an endless amount of stores and restaurants. Štip, the largest city east of the Vardar, is located in the eastern part of the country. Štip has existed for at least 2,000 years which is showcased by its many archaeological sites, such as Astibo, Bargala, and Estipeon. The city is also home to the healing waters of the Kežovica Mineral Spa. Today, Štip is the main cultural and economical centre of eastern Macedonia.
Other cities and towns in the country, such as Kratovo,
Kruševo, Prilep, and Struga, have many attractions of their own.
National parks and natural reserves
The Republic of Macedonia has three national parks and 33 natural reserves:
* Mavrovo, located in the northwestern part of the country, is the largest of the three national parks. It is home to several river valleys, gorges, waterfalls, caves, and other morphological formations.
* Pelister, located in the southern part of the country, near
Bitola, is the smallest of the three national parks. The park consists of land that surrounds Baba Mountain. On top of the mountain are two glacial lakes, known as Gorski Oči, or mountain eyes.
Galičica, located between Ohrid Lakeand Prespa Lake, is the second largest national park in the country. The park is home to an abundance of diverse flora and fauna.
* Ezereni Bird Sanctuary, located on the northern shore of
Lake Prespa, is a strict natural reserve. It is home to over 120 different bird species. [ [http://www.brajcino.com.mk/region.html Prespa region tourist site] ]
* Tikveš Strict Natural Reserve, located 30 km southeast of
Kavadarci, is a natural reserve that covers an area of approximately 100 square kilometres. 23 species of predatory birds are present in the reserve and 17 of these nest in the area. Tikveš is said to be one of the most important ornithologicalsites in Europe.
* Lokvi-Golemo Konjari Strict Natural Reserve, located near
Kruševo, is a natural reserve that is the last remnant of a once enormous swamp.
Stobi, situated in Gradsko, in the center of the country, is considered to be the most famous archaeological site in the Republic of Macedonia. Some remains include basilicas, streets, thermae, living complexes, mosaics, and walls.
Kokino, located 30 km from Kumanovo, is a megalithic observatory similar to Stonehenge. Being over 3,800 years old, it is the fourth oldest ancient observatory in the world.
*Marko's Tower, located just outside of
Prilep, is a rocky mass composed of several fine scultptures. It is on the list of possible UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Stone town of Kuklica, located outside Kratovo, is an area consisting of more than 120 naturally formed stone pillars that are over 10 million years old.
* [http://www.exploringmacedonia.com/ National Macedonian Tourism Portal]
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