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Greek Macedonia

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Title: Greek Macedonia  
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Greek Macedonia

For other uses, see Macedonia (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 40°45′N 22°54′E / 40.750°N 22.900°E / 40.750; 22.900

Traditional region of Greece
Anthem: Famous Macedonia

Macedonia (blue) within Greece
Country  Greece
Capital Thessaloniki
Region 1913[1]
 • Body Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace
 • Minister for Macedonia and Thrace Theodoros Karaoglou (New Democracy)
 • Total 34,177 km2 (13,196 sq mi)
Area rank 1st
Highest elevation 2,917 m (9,570 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011 census)[3]
 • Total 2,400,721
 • Rank 2nd in Greece
 • Density 70/km2 (180/sq mi)
Demonym Macedonian
GDP (PPP) €44.72 billion[4] ($59.79 billion[5])
Per capita €18,600 ($24,900[5])
GDP (nominal) €41.46 billion[4] ($55.43 billion[5])
Per capita €17,300 ($23,100[5])
  • The flag is widespread, even on an official level, but bares no official legal standing as a symbol for the region.
  • The use of the Vergina Sun is widespread and it is an official state symbol of Greece. The country has copyright over the use of the Vergina Sun at the World Intellectual Property Organization,[6] but as with the flag, it bares no legal standing as an official emblem of the region.
  • Famous Macedonia is a military march of the Greek army, but is regarded as the regional anthem of Macedonia.
  • East Macedonia is part of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace.

Macedonia (Northern Greece.

It incorporates most of the territories of ancient Macedon, a kingdom ruled by the Argeads whose most celebrated members were Alexander the Great and his father Philip II. The name Macedonia was later applied to identify various administrative areas in the Roman and Byzantine Empires with widely differing borders (see Macedonia (region) for details).

Even before the establishment of the modern Greek state in 1830, it was identified as a Greek province, albeit without clearly defined geographical borders[7][8][9][10][11] By the mid 19th century, the name was becoming consolidated informally, defining more of a distinct geographical, rather than political, region in the southern Balkans. At the end of the Ottoman Empire most of the region known as Rumelia (from Ottoman Turkish: Rumeli, "Land of the Romans") was divided by the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913, following the Ottoman defeat in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria each took control of portions of the Macedonia (region), with Greece obtaining the largest portion; a small section went to Albania. The region was an administrative subdivision of Greece until the administrative reform of 1987, when the region was divided into the regions of West Macedonia and Central Macedonia and part of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace, the latter containing also the whole of the region of Thrace.[12] Central Macedonia is the most popular tourist destination in Greece with more than 3.6 million tourists in 2009 (18% of the total number of tourists who visited Greece that year).



Macedonia lies at the crossroads of human development between the Aegean and the Balkans. The earliest signs of human habitation date back to the palaeolithic period, notably with the Petralona cave in which was found the oldest European humanoid, Archanthropus europaeus petraloniensis. In the Late Neolithic period (c. 4500 to 3500 BC), trade took place from quite distant regions, indicate rapid socio-economic changes. One of the most important changes was the start of copper working.

Ancient History

According to Herodotus, the history of Macedonia began with the Makednoi tribe, among the first to use the name, migrating to the region from Histiaeotis in the south. There they lived near Thracian tribes such as the Bryges who would later leave Macedonia for Asia Minor and become known as Phrygians. Macedonia was named after the Makednoi. Accounts of other toponyms such as Emathia are attested to have been in use before that. A branch of the Macedonians may have invaded Southern Greece towards the end of the second millennium B.C. Upon reaching the Peloponnese the invaders were renamed Dorians, triggering the accounts of the Dorian invasion. For centuries the Macedonian tribes were organized in independent kingdoms, in what is now Central Macedonia, and their role in internal Hellenic politics was minimal, even before the rise of Athens. The Macedonians may have belonged to the Dorian branch of Greeks, while there were many Ionians in the coastal regions. The rest of the region was inhabited by various Thracian and Illyrian tribes as well as mostly coastal colonies of other Greek states such as Amphipolis, Olynthos, Potidea, Stageira and many others, and to the north another tribe dwelt, called the Paeonians. During the late 6th and early 5th century BC, the region came under Persian rule until the destruction of Xerxes at Plataea. During the Peloponnesian War, Macedonia became the theatre of many military actions by the Peloponnesian League and the Athenians, and saw incursions of Thracians and Illyrians, as attested by Thucidydes. Many Macedonian cities were allied to the Spartans (both the Spartans and the Macedonians were Dorian, while the Athenians were Ionian), but Athens maintained the colony of Amphipolis under her control for many years. The kingdom of Macedon, was reorganised by Philip II and achieved the union of Greek states by forming the League of Corinth. After his assassination, his son Alexander succeeded to the throne of Macedon and, retaining the office of "General of Greece", he became one of the best known persons to which this land ever gave birth.

Roman period

Macedonia remained an important and powerful kingdom until the Battle of Pydna (June 22, 168 BC), in which the Roman general Aemilius Paulus defeated King Perseus of Macedon, ending the reign of the Antigonid dynasty over Macedonia. For a brief period a Macedonian republic called the “Koinon of the Macedonians” was established. It was divided into four administrative districts. That period ended in 148 BC, when Macedonia was fully annexed by the Romans.[13] The northern boundary at that time ended at the Ochrid lake and Bylazora, a Paeonian city (modern Titov Veles). Strabo, writing in the first century AD places the border of Macedonia on that part at Lychnidos,[14] Byzantine Achris and presently Ochrid. Therefore ancient Macedonia did not significantly extend beyond its current borders (in Greece). This is stressed by 370 academics in their letter to US president Barack Obama.[15] To the east, Macedonia ended according to Strabo at the river Strymon, although he mentions that other writers placed Macedonia’s border with Thrace at the river Nestos, which is also the present geographical boundary between the two administrative districts of Greece.

Subsequently the provinces of Epirus and Thessaly as well as other regions to the north were incorporated into a new Provincia Macedonia, but in 297 AD under a Diocletian reform many of these regions were removed and two new provinces were created: Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris (from 479-482 AD Macedonia Secunda). Macedonia Prima coincided approximately with Strabo’s definition of Macedonia and with the modern administrative district of Greece[13] and had Thessalonica as its capital, while Macedonia Secunda had the Dardanian city of Stobi (near Gradsko) as its capital. This subdivision is mentioned in Hierocles’ Synecdemon (527-528) and remained through the reign of emperor Justinian.

The Slavic, Avar, Bulgarian and Magyar invasions in the 6-7th centuries devastated both provinces [16] with only parts of Macedonia Prima in the coastal areas and nearer Thrace remaining in Byzantine hands, while most of the hinterland was disputed between the Byzantium and Bulgaria. The Macedonian regions under Byzantine control passed under the tourma of Macedonia to the province of Thrace.

A new system of administration came into place in 789-802 AD, following the Byzantine empire’s recovery from these invasions. The new system was based on administrative divisions called Themata. The region of Macedonia Prima (the territory of modern Greek administrative district of Macedonia) was divided between the Thema of Thessalonica and the Thema of Strymon, so that only the region of the area from Nestos eastwards continued to carry the name Macedonia, referred to as the Thema of Macedonia or the Thema of “Macedonia in Thrace”. The Thema of Macedonia in Thrace had its capital in Adrianople.[17][18][19]

Medieval history

Familiarity with the Slavic element in the area led two brothers from Thessaloniki, Saints Cyril and Methodius, to be chosen to convert the Slavs to Christianity. Following the campaigns of Basil II, all of Macedonia returned to the Byzantine state. Following the Fourth Crusade 1203–1204, a short-lived Crusader realm, the Kingdom of Thessalonica, was established in the region, but it was subdued by the Greek Despotate of Epirus in 1224. Returning to the restored Byzantine Empire shortly thereafter, the area remained in Byzantine hands until the 1340s, when all of Macedonia (except Thessaloniki, and possibly Veria) was conquered by the Serbian ruler Stefan Dušan.[20] Divided between Serbia and Bulgaria after Dušan's death, the region fell quickly to the advancing Ottomans, with Thessaloniki alone holding out until 1387. After a brief Byzantine interval in 1403–1430 (during the last seven years of which the city was handed over to the Venetians), Thessalonica and its immediate surrounding area returned to the Ottomans.[21]

The capture of Thessalonica threw the Greek world into consternation, being regarded as the prelude to the fall of Constantinople itself. The memory of the event has survived through folk traditions containing fact and myths. Apostolos Vacalopoulos records the following Turkish tradition connected with the capture of Thessalonica:[23]

While Murad was asleep in his palace at Yenitsa, the story has it that, God appeared to him in a dream and gave him a lovely rose to smell, full of perfume. The sultan was so amazed by its beauty that he begged God to give it to him. God replied, "This rose, Murad, is Thessalonica. Know that it is to you granted by heaven to enjoy it. Do not waste time; go and take it". Complying with this exhortation from God, Murad marched against Thessalonica and, as it has been written, captured it.

Ottoman Rule

Main article: Ottoman Greece

Thessaloniki became a centre of Ottoman administration in the Balkans. While most of Macedonia was ruled by the Ottomans, in Mount Athos the monastic community continued to exist in a state of autonomy. The remainder of the Chalkidiki peninsula also enjoyed an autonomous status: the “Koinon of Mademochoria” was governed by a locally appointed council due to privileges obtained on account of its wealth, coming from the gold and silver mines in the area.

There were several uprisings in Macedonia during Ottoman rule, including an uprising after the Battle of Lepanto that ended in massacres of the Greek population, the uprising in Naousa of the armatolos Zisis Karademos in 1705, a rebellion in the area of Grevena by a Klepht called Ziakas (1730–1810) and the Greek Declaration of Independence in Macedonia by Emmanuel Pappas in 1821, during the Greek War of Independence. In 1854 Theodoros Ziakas, the son of the klepth Ziakas, together with Tsamis Karatasos, who had been among the captains at the siege of Naousa in 1821, led another uprising in Western Macedonia that has been profusely commemorated in Greek folk song.

Modern history

Main articles: Greek War of Independence, Greek Struggle for Macedonia and Macedonian Question

Greece gained the region from the Ottoman Empire, after the Second Balkan War with the Treaty of Bucharest (1913). In WW1 Venizelos was in support of the Allies and wanted Greece to join the war on their side, while the pro-German King wanted Greece to remain neutral, which would favor the plans of the Central Powers. The disagreement had wider implications, since it would also affect the character and role of the king in the state. The unconstitutional dismissal of Venizelos by the King resulted in a deep personal rift between the two and in subsequent events their followers divided into two radically opposed political camps affecting the wider Greek society.

With the landing of Allied forces in Thessaloniki with Venizelos' permission and the unconditional surrender by the King of a military fort in Macedonia to German-Bulgarian forces, the disagreement of the two men started to take the form of civil war. In August 1916, followers of Venizelos set up a provisional state in Northern Greece with Entente support with the aim of reclaiming the lost regions in Macedonia, effectively splitting Greece into two entities. After intense diplomatic negotiations and an armed confrontation in Athens between Entente and royalist forces (an incident known as Noemvriana) the king abdicated, and his second son Alexander took his place. Venizelos returned to Athens on 29 May 1917 and Greece, now unified, officially joined the war on the side of the Allies, emerging victorious and securing new territory by the Treaty of Sèvres.

In World War II Thrace and eastern Macedonia were occupied (1941–44) by Bulgaria, which sided with the Axis Powers. The Bulgarian government maintained a course of military passivity until 20 April 1941, when German troops crushed Greece and Yugoslavia. In April 1941, the Bulgarian Army entered the Aegean region, hoping for gaining an Aegean Sea outlet in Thrace and Eastern Macedonia, and occupied a territory between the river Struma and a line of demarcation running through Alexandroupoli and Svilengrad west of Evros with the cities of Alexandroupoli (Дедеагач, Dedeagach), Komotini (Гюмюрджина, Gyumyurdzhina), Serres (Сяр, Syar), Xanthi (Ксанти), Drama (Драма) and Kavala (Кавала) and the islands of Thasos and Samothrace.

From the 1870s, nashi[24]-speaking communities of northern Greece split into two hostile and opposed groups with two different national identities - Greek and Bulgarian.[25] By the Second World War and the defeat of Bulgaria, another split occurred among the Bulgarians. Conservatives departed with the occupying Bulgarian Army to Bulgaria. Leftists began identifying as Slavomacedonians, joining the communist-dominated rebel 'Democratic Army of Hellas'.[26] At the conclusion of the Civil War (1946–49), most Slavomacedonians left Greece and settled in the Yugoslavia. Some of them also emigrated to Canada or Australia.[27]


There are a number of theories for the etymology of the name Macedonia:

  1. According to Herodotus, both the Dorians and Macedonians descended from the tribe of the Makednoi. The name of the latter probably derives from the Doric noun μᾶκος, mākos (Attic and modern Greek μάκρος, mákros and μῆκος, mēkos), meaning "length", and the adjective μακεδνός, makednós, meaning "tall, tapering", possibly indicating that the Macedonians (Makedónes) and their Makednoi tribal ancestors were regarded as tall people. The adjective is used by Homer in Odyssey (7.105f), to describe a tall poplar tree, and by Aristophanes in his comedy the Birds, to describe a wall built around their imaginary city.
  2. The district of Macedonia took its name from the Macedonian people, who in turn owe their name to Macedon, who according to Hesiod was the son of Zeus and Thyia, Deucalion's daughter. Hesiod makes Magnes and Macedon brothers, cousins of Graecus, sons of Zeus and grandchildren of Deucalion, the mythological progenitor of all Greeks.

Local government

Macedonia is divided into three regions (Greek: Περιφέρειες) comprising fourteen regional units (Greek: Περιφερειακές ενότητες). The regional units are further divided into municipalities (Greek: δήμοι) or "communities" (Greek: κοινότητες – roughly equivalent to British or Australian shires). They are overseen by the Ministry for the Interior, while the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace is responsible for the coordination and application of the government's policies in the region.[28] Prior to the Kallikratis Reform in 2010, Greece's regional units were called "prefectures", and Thasos was part of the prefecture of Kavala.

Macedonia borders the neighboring regions of Thessaly to the south, Thrace (part of the East Macedonia and Thrace region) to the east and Epirus to the west. It also borders Albania to the north-west, the Republic of Macedonia to the north and Bulgaria to the north-east. The three Macedonian regions and their subdivisions are:

Map of Macedonia # regions, regional units and autonomous communities as of 2011 Capital Area Population
Total West Macedonia Kozani 9,451 km² 301,522
1 Regional Unit of Kastoria Kastoria 1,720 km² 53,483
2 Regional Unit of Florina Florina 1,924 km² 54,768
3 Regional Unit of Kozani Kozani 3,516 km² 155,324
4 Regional Unit of Grevena Grevena 2,291 km² 37,947
Total Central Macedonia Thessaloniki 18,811 km² 1,871,952
5 Regional Unit of Pella Edessa 2,506 km² 145,797
6 Regional Unit of Imathia Veria 1,701 km² 143,618
7 Regional Unit of Pieria Katerini 1,516 km² 129,846
8 Regional Unit of Kilkis Kilkis 2,519 km² 89,056
9 Regional Unit of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki 3,683 km² 1,057,825
10 Regional Unit of Chalkidiki Polygyros 2,918 km² 104,894
11 Regional Unit of Serres Serres 3.968 km² 200,916
Total East Macedonia (Part of East Macedonia and Thrace) Kavala 5,579 km² 249,029
12 Regional Unit of Drama Drama 3,468 km² 103,975
13 Regional Unit of Kavala Kavala 1,728 km² 131,289
14 Regional Unit of Thasos Thasos 379 km² 13,765
15 Mount Athos (autonomous community) Karyes 336 km² 2,262
Total Macedonia (Greece) Thessaloniki 34,177 km² 2,424,765[29]

The geographical region of Macedonia also includes the male-only autonomous monastic state of Mount Athos, but this is not part of the Macedonia precincts. Mount Athos is under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and enjoys a special status: it is inaccessible to women;[30] its territory is a self-governed part of Greece, and the powers of the state are exercised through a governor. The European Union takes this special status into consideration, particularly on matters of taxation exemption and rights of installation.[31] The governor of Mount Athos is appointed by the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Economy and transport

Macedonia possesses some of the richest farmland in Greece in the plains of Veria, Thessaloniki, Serres and Drama. A wide variety of agricultural products and cash crops are grown, including rice, wheat, beans, olives, cotton, tobacco, fruit, grapes, Florina peppers, wine and other alcoholic beverages. Food processing and textile weaving constitute the principal manufacturing industries. Tourism is a major industry along the coast, particularly in the Chalcidice peninsula, the island of Thasos and the northern approaches to Mount Olympus. Many tourists originate from Germany and Eastern Europe. Thessaloniki is a major port city and industrial center; Kavala is the second harbor of Macedonia. Apart from the principal airport at Thessaloniki (Makedonia Airport), airports also exist in Kavala (M.Alexandros Airport), Kozani (Filippos Airport), and Kastoria (Aristotelis Airport). The "Via Egnatia" motorway crosses the full distance of Macedonia,[32] linking most of its main cities. It also has a train system; it is usually criticized for being underfunded, and there has been much anger directed against OSE, the national railway company.


Main article: Culture of Greece

Macedonian cuisine

The arrival of Greek refugees from Asia Minor and Constantinople in the 20th century popularised Ottoman and Constantinopolitan recipes.

A continuation from ancient days is dishes such as lamb cooked with quince or various vegetables and fruits, goat boiled or fried in olive oil: modern recipes from Kavala to Kastoria and Kozani offer lamb with quince, pork with celery or leeks.

Some current specialties are trahana with crackling, phyllo-based pies (cheese, leek, spinach) and wild boar. Favourites are tyrokafteri (Macedonian spicy cheese spread), soupies krasates (cuttlefish in wine), mydia yiachni (mussel stew). Unlike Athens, the traditional pita bread for the popular souvlaki (kebab) is not grilled but fried. The variety of sweets has been particularly enriched with the arrival of the refugees. (Information included from 'Greek Gastronomy', GNTO, 2004)

Macedonian music

Music of Macedonia is the music of the geographic region of Macedonia in Greece, which is a part of the music of whole region of Macedonia. Folk dances in Macedonia include Makedonia (dance), chasapiko, leventikos, zeibekiko, zonaradiko, endeka Kozanis, Samarinas, stankena, Akritikos, baidouska, Macedonikos antikristos, mikri Eleni, partalos, kleftikos Makedonikos, mpougatsas, Kastorianos, o Nikolos and sirtos Macedonias. In Macedonia, there are also patriotic songs sung by the Greek army and local citizens like: famous Macedonia.


The inhabitants are overwhelmingly ethnic Greeks and most are Greek Orthodox Christians. Most Pontic Greeks and Caucasus Greeks who came to Greece during or shortly before the 1922-23 population exchange with Turkey were resettled in Greek Macedonia rather than elsewhere in Greece. From the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, the ethnic composition of the region of Macedonia is characterized by uncertainty both about numbers and identification. The 1904 Ottoman census of Hilmi Pasha recorded 373,227 Greeks and 204,317 Bulgarians in the vilayet of Selânik (Thessaloniki) alone. According to the same census, Greeks were also dominant in the vilayet of Monastir (Bitola), counting 261,283 Greeks and 178,412 Bulgarians. Hugh Poulton, in his Who Are the Macedonians, notes that "assessing population figures is problematic"[33] for the territory of Greek Macedonia before its incorporation into the Greek state in 1913.[33] The area's remaining population was principally composed of Ottoman Turks (including non-Turkish Muslims of mainly Bulgarian and Greek Macedonian convert origin) and also a sizeable community of mainly Sephardic Jews (centred in Thessaloniki), and smaller numbers of Roma, Albanians and Vlachs.

During the first half of the twentieth century, major demographic shifts took place, which resulted in the region's population becoming overwhelmingly ethnic Greek. In 1919, after Greek victory in World War I, Bulgaria and Greece signed the Treaty of Neuilly, which called for an exchange of populations between the two countries. According to the treaty, Bulgaria was considered to be the parent state of all ethnic Slavs living in Greece. Most ethnic Greeks from Bulgaria were resettled in Greek Macedonia; most Slavs were resettled in Bulgaria but a number remained, most of them by changing or adapting their surnames and declaring themselves to be Greek so as to be exempt from the exchange. In 1923 Greece and Turkey signed the Treaty of Lausanne in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), and in total 776,000 Greek refugees from Turkey (674,000), Bulgaria (33,000), Russia (61,000), Serbia (5,000), Albania (3,000) were resettled in the region.[34] They replaced between 300,000 and 400,000 Macedonian Turks and other Muslims (of Albanian, Roma, Slavic and Vlach ethnicity) who were sent to Turkey under similar terms.[35]

Macedonian cities during Ottoman rule were often known by multiple names (Greek, Slavic or Ottoman Turkish by the respective populations). After the partition of Ottoman Europe, most cities in Greece either became officially known by their Greek names or adopted Greek names; likewise most cities in Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia became officially known or adopted names in the languages of their respective states. After the population exchanges, many locations were renamed to the languages of their new occupants.

Year Greeks Bulgarians Muslims Others Total
1913 [34] 42.6%

After the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine ten thousands of Bulgarians left and after the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey almost all Muslims left the region, while hundreds of thousands of Greek refugees settled in the region thus changing the demography of the province.

Year Greeks Bulgarians Muslims Others Total
1926 League of nations data 88.8%

The 1928 Greek Census collected data on the religion as well as on the language.[36]

Year Christians Jews Muslims Total
1928 Greek Census data
Year Greek Slavic dialects Turkish Ladino Aromanian Armenian Other Total
1928 Greek Census data

The population was badly affected by the Second World War through starvation, executions, massacres and deportations. Central Macedonia, including Thessaloniki, was occupied by the Germans, and in the east Nazi-aligned Bulgarian occupation forces persecuted the local Greek population and settled Bulgarian colonists in their occupation zone in eastern Macedonia and western Thrace, deporting all Jews from the region. Total civilian deaths in Macedonia are estimated at over 400,000, including up to 55,000 Greek Jews. Further heavy fighting affected the region during the Greek Civil War which drove many inhabitants of rural Macedonia to emigrate to the towns and cities, or abroad, during the late 1940s and 1950s.

Macedonian dialect

Greek is by far the most widely spoken and the only official language of public life and education in Macedonia. The local Macedonian dialect is spoken alongside dialects from other parts of Greece and Pontic Greek still spoken by some Greeks of Pontic descent. Macedonian Slavic dialects are the most widely spoken minority language while Aromanian, Arvanitic, Megleno-Romanian, Turkish and Romani are also spoken. Ladino is still spoken by some Jews in Thessaloniki.

The Macedonian dialect of Greek is based on variations of vocabulary and especially in the pronunciation. In January 2012, Aegean Airlines produced a television commercial stressing the dialectic difference between Thessaloniki and Athens,[37] and presenting itself as a bridge for both cities to get to know each other better.

After the fall of communism throughout Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Eastern Europeans came to Macedonia to find work. Since the early 2000s, they have been joined by Africans and South Asians.

Population of largest towns

Town or city Greek name Population[29]
01. Thessaloniki (municipality) Δήμος Θεσσαλονίκης 363,987
02. Kavala Καβάλα 63,293
03. Katerini Κατερίνη 56,434
04. Serres Σέρρες 56,145
05. Drama Δράμα 55,632
06. Kozani Κοζάνη 47,451
07. Veria Βέροια 47,411
08. Giannitsa Γιαννιτσά 33,775
09. Ptolemaida Πτολεμαΐδα 28,942
10. Kilkis Κιλκίς 24,812
11. Naoussa Νάουσα 22,288
12. Aridaia Αριδαία 20,213
13. Alexandria Αλεξάνδρεια 19,283
14. Edessa Έδεσσα 18,253
15. Nea Moudania Νέα Μουδανιά 17,032
16. Florina Φλώρινα 16,771
17. Kastoria Καστοριά 16,218
18. Grevena Γρεβενά 15,481
19. Polygyros Πολύγυρος 10,721
20. Skydra Σκύδρα 5,081

Regional identity

Main article: Macedonians (Greeks)

Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) is the term by which ethnic Greeks originating from the region are known. Macedonians came to be of particular importance during the Balkan Wars when they were a minority population inside the Ottoman province of Macedonia. The Macedonians now have a strong regional identity, manifested both in Greece[38] and by emigrant groups in the Greek diaspora.[39] This sense of identity has been highlighted in the context of the Macedonian naming dispute after the break-up of Yugoslavia, in which Greece objects to its northern neighbour calling itself the "Republic of Macedonia", since explicit self-identification as Macedonian is a matter of national pride for many Greeks.[40] A characteristic expression of this attitude could be seen when Greek newspapers headlined a declaration by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis at a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in January 2007, saying that "I myself am a Macedonian, and another two and a half million Greeks are Macedonians."

Minority populations

The exact size of the linguistic and ethnic minority groups of Macedonia is officially unknown, as Greece has not conducted a census on the question of mother tongue since 1951. The main minority groups in Macedonia are:


Main articles: Slavic-speakers of Greek Macedonia and Macedonians (Bulgarians)

Slavic-speakers are concentrated in the Florina, Kastoria, Edessa, Giannitsa, Ptolemaida and Naousa regions. Their dialects are linguistically classified variously either as Macedonian or Bulgarian, depending on the region and on political orientation. The exact number of the minority is difficult to know, and its members' choice of ethnic identification is difficult to ascertain (since some people are cautious in the replies that they give when surveys are conducted). The Greek branch of the former International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights has estimated that those of an ethnic Macedonian national conscienceness number between 10,000–30,000.[41]


See also: Aromanians in Greece and Aromanian speakers of Greece

Aromanians form a minority population throughout much of Macedonia. They largely identify as Greeks or Romanians and most belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. In the 1951 census they numbered 39,855 in all Greece (the number in Macedonia proper is unknown). Many Aromanians villages can be found along the slopes of the Vermion Mountains and Mount Olympus. Smaller numbers can be found in the Prespes region and near the Gramos mountains.


Main article: Megleno-Romanians
Right: The Megleno-Romanian and the Aromanian linguistic area.
Left: Map of the Megleno-Romanians settlements.

Megleno-Romanians can be found in the Moglena region of Macedonia. The Megleno-Romanian language is traditionally spoken in the 11 Vlach villages, Archangelos, Notia, Karpi, Koupa, Lagkadia, Perikleia, Skra and Kastaneri (the other three are found in the Republic of Macedonia). They are generally adherents to the Orthodox Church while the former majority in Notia was Muslim.


Main article: Arvanites

Arvanites communities can be found in Greek Macedonia. Five Arvanite communities exist in Serres regional unit while many can be found in the capital, Thessaloniki. There are three Arvanites villages in the Florina regional unit (Drosopigi, Lechovo and Flampouro) with others located in Kilkis and Thessaloniki regional units.[42]

The Jews of Thessaloniki

The Jewish population in Greece was the oldest in mainland Europe, and was mostly Sephardic. Thessaloniki became the largest center of the Sephardic Jews, who nicknamed the city la madre de Israel (Israel's mother)[43] and "Jerusalem of the Balkans".[44] It also included the historically significant and ancient Greek-speaking Romaniote community. During the Ottoman era, Thessaloniki's Sephardic community comprised more than half the city's population; the Jews were dominant in commerce until the ethnic Greek population increased after independence in 1912. By the 1680s, about 300 families of Sephardic Jews, followers of Sabbatai Zevi, had converted to Islam, becoming a sect known as the Dönmeh (convert), and migrated to Salonika, whose population was majority Jewish. They established an active community that thrived for about 250 years. Many of their descendants later became prominent in trade.[45] Many Jewish inhabitants of Thessaloniki spoke Ladino, the Romance language of the Sephardic Jews.[46]

The Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 burned much of the center of the city and left 50,000 Jews homeless of the total of 72,000 residents who were burned out.[47] Having lost homes and their businesses, many Jews emigrated: to the United States, Palestine, and Paris. They could not wait for the government to create a new urban plan for rebuilding, which was eventually done.[48]

After the Greco-Turkish War in 1922 and the expulsion of Greeks from Turkey, many refugees came to Greece. Nearly 100,000 ethnic Greeks resettled in Thessaloniki, reducing the proportion of Jews in the total community. After this, Jews made up about 20% of the city's population. During the interwar period, Greece granted the Jews the same civil rights as other Greek citizens.[47] In March 1926, Greece re-emphasized that all citizens of Greece enjoyed equal rights, and a considerable proportion of the city's Jews decided to stay.

World War II brought a disaster for the Jewish Greeks, since in 1941 the Germans occupied Greece and began actions against the Jewish population. Greeks of the Resistance and Italian forces (before 1943) tried to protect the Jews and managed to save some.[43] By the 1940s, the great majority of the Jewish Greek community firmly identified as both Greek and Jewish. According to Misha Glenny, such Greek Jews had largely not encountered "anti-Semitism as in its North European form."[49]

In 1943 the Nazis began actions against the Jews in Thessaloniki, forcing them into a ghetto near the railroad lines and beginning deportation to concentration and labor camps. They deported and exterminated approximately 96% of Thessaloniki's Jews of all ages during the Holocaust.[43] Today, a community of around 1200 remains in the city.[43] Communities of descendants of Thessaloniki Jews – both Sephardic and Romaniote – live in other areas, mainly the United States and Israel.[43] Israeli singer Yehuda Poliker recorded a song about the Jews of Thessaloniki, called "Wait for me, Thessaloniki".


Other minority groups include Romaniotes, Armenians and Roma. Roma communities are concentrated mainly around the city of Thessaloniki. An uncertain number of them live in Macedonia from the total of about 200,000-300,000 that live scattered on all the regions of Greece.[50]

See also





External links

  • Macedonian Press Agency
  • Museums of Macedonia
  • Nikolaos Martis - Macedonia's Hellenism: Empirical documents and sources
  • An online review of Macedonian affairs, history and culture
  • University of Macedonia
  • University of Western Macedonia
  • Macedonia, The Historical Profile of Northern Greece
  • Map of Makedonia
  • Technological Educational Institution of Serres
  • Department of Physical Education Science & Athletics of Serres
  • Roman province of Macedonia
  • Macedonia, Greece - History And Politics - eBook Greek Language (ISBN 960-6-0337-5)
  • Alistrati Cave in Serres
  • Lake Kerkini in Serres - Kerkini Wetland (Ramsar & Natura 2000 Protected)

Official links

  • Macedonia and Thrace region site (English)
  • Ministry for Macedonia–Thrace (Greek)
  • Region of Central Macedonia
  • Region of Western Macedonia
  • Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
  • Serres Prefecture
  • City of Thessaloniki
  • City of Edessa
  • City of Serres
  • Map of Macedonia

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