Macedonia is right at the heart of the Balkans and is one of the successor states of former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. It became a member of the United Nations in 1993 and as a result of a dispute with Greece over its name, it was admitted under the provisional reference of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The country's name derives from the Greek Makedonía, a name that was used for the Kingdom of Macedon and is originally believed to have meant either "highlanders" or "the tall ones". In antiquity, most of what is now the Republic of Macedonia was inhabited by a Thracian people, and was absorbed into the Kingdom of Macedon after the early victories of king Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father.
A landlocked country, the Republic of Macedonia is bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west.
To this day, Macedonia remains somewhat unknown where tourism is concerned. Not many venture to this part of the Balkans, but those who do find a welcoming and laid-back country, with numerous national parks, beautiful monasteries and a tumultuous history that has left its mark on the culture and traditions of the country.