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The name Macedonia is used in a number of competing or overlapping meanings to describe geographical, political and historical areas, languages and peoples in a part of south-eastern Europe. It has been a major source of political controversy since the early 20th century. The situation is complicated because different ethnic groups use different terminology for the same entity, or the same terminology for different entities, with different political connotations.

Historically, the region has presented markedly shifting borders across the Balkan peninsula. Geographically, no single definition of its borders or the names of its subdivisions is accepted by all scholars and ethnic groups. Demographically, it is mainly inhabited by four ethnic groups, three of which self-identify as Macedonians: two, a Bulgarian and a Greek one at a regional level, while a third ethnic Macedonian one at a national level. Linguistically, the names and affiliations of languages and dialects spoken in the region are a source of controversy. Politically, the rights to the extent of the use of the name Macedonia and its derivatives has led to a diplomatic dispute between Greecemarker and the Republic of Macedoniamarker. Despite mediation of the United Nations, the dispute is still pending resolution.


The name "Macedonia" derives from the tribal name of the ancient Macedonians, attested in Greek sources as (Makedōnes). It is usually linked to the Indo-European root *māk-, meaning 'long' or 'tall'. The root is also encountered in the Greek words makednos "long, tall", (attested in Homer, and recorded by Hesychius of Alexandria as a Doric word meaning "large"), or makros ('long, large'), as well as related words in other Indo-European languages. It is commonly explained as having originally meant 'the tall ones' or 'highlanders'. However, R.S.P. Beekes doubts its Greek origin claiming that the morphological analysis make- (root) + -dnos (suffix) is impossible in an Indo-European word and that it is more likely the word has a Pre-Greek etymology.

Ancient Greek mythology also speaks of a mythical figure Makednos, the eponymic ancestor of the Macedonians. He is described as a grandson of Deucalion and nephew to Hellen, the ancestor of the Greeks (according to Hesiod), or as a son to Aeolus, the ancestor of the Aeolians (according to Hellanicus).


The region of Macedonia has been home to several historical political entities, which have used the name Macedonia; the main ones are given below. The borders of each of these entities were different.

Early history

Ancient Macedonia

Macedonia or Macedon, the ancient kingdom, was centered on the fertile plains west of the Gulf of Salonica; the first Macedonian state emerged in the 8th or early 7th century BC. Its extent beyond the center varied; some Macedonian kings could not hold their capital; Philip II expanded his power until it reached from Epirus, across Thrace to Gallipoli, and from Thermopylaemarker to the Danube. His son Alexander the Great conquered most of the land in southwestern Asia stretching from what is currently Turkey in the west to parts of India in the east. The kingdom fell apart after his death in 323 BC; several of his Successors attempted to form a kingdom for themselves in Macedon; the kingdom formed by Antigonus Gonatas contained all the land Philip II had started with and controlled much of modern Greece; it lasted until the Romans divided it into four republics in 168 BC.

Roman Macedonia

The ancient Romans had two different entities called Macedonia, at different levels. Macedonia was established as a Roman province in 146 BC. Its boundaries were shifted from time to time for administrative convenience, but it usually extended west to the Adriatic. Diocletian divided it into Macedonia prima and Macedonia salutaris. Macedonia, was a late Roman diocese, organized some time around 300; authorities differ, but it certainly existed under Constantine. In addition to the two Macedonian provinces, it included Epirus vetus, Epirus nova, Thessaly, Achaea, and Crete – almost all of modern Greece and the present Republic, as well as much of Albania. Both the diocese and the provinces ceased to function as administrative units when the late Roman Empire lost control of the Balkans around 600 or 700.

Byzantine Macedonia

During the Byzantine period, Macedonia was a theme organised by Empress Irene, out of the Theme of Strymon, stretching of Adrianoplemarker and the Evros valley east along the Sea of Marmaramarker (ancient Macedon was the Theme of Thessalonica). John I Tzimisces replaced this with a ducate of Adrianople, which included much of his Bulgarian conquests. Themes were not named geographically and the original sense was "army". They became districts during the military and fiscal crisis of the seventh century, when the Byzantine armies were instructed to find their supplies from the locals, wherever they happened to be. Thus the Armeniac theme was considerably west of Armeniamarker; the Thracesian Theme was in Asia Minor, not in Thrace. The Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire acquired its name from its founder, Basil I the Macedonian. Basil was an Armenian by descent, who was born in the theme of Macedonia.

Ottoman Macedonia

The Ottomans did not keep Macedonia as an administrative unit: since 1864 parts of geographical Macedonia lay in three vilayet, which also comprised some non-Macedonian areas. Northern Macedonia was part of the Kosovo vilayet and then of Skopjemarker; the Thessalonikimarker (south Macedonia), and the Monastir vilayet were also created. This administrative division lasted until 1912–13, when Macedonia was divided among the Balkan states.

Modern history

Since the early stages of the Greek Revolution, the provisional government of Greece claimed Macedonia as part of Greek national territory, but the Treaty of Constantinople , which established a Greek independent state, set its northern boundary between Artamarker and Volosmarker. When the Ottoman Empire started breaking apart, Macedonia was claimed by all members of the Balkan League (Serbiamarker, Montenegromarker, Greece and Bulgaria), and by Romaniamarker. Under the Treaty of San Stefano that ended the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78 the entire region, except Thessaloniki, was included in the borders of Bulgariamarker, but after the Congress of Berlin in 1878 the region was returned to the Ottoman Empire. The armies of the Balkan League advanced and occupied Macedonia in the First Balkan War in 1912. Because of disagreements between the allies about the partition of the region, the Second Balkan War erupted, and in its aftermath the arbitrary region of Macedonia was split into the following entities, that existed or still exist in this region:

  • Macedoniamarker (as a contemporary sovereign state) refersN- to the conventional short form name of the Republic of Macedonia, which held a referendum and established its independence from Yugoslavia on 8 September 1991.


Macedonia (as a current geographical term) refers to a region of the Balkan peninsula in south-eastern Europe, covering some 60,000 or 70,000 square kilometers. Although the region's borders are not officially defined by any international organization or state, in some contexts, the territory appears to correspond to the basins of (from west to east) the Haliacmonmarker (Aliákmonas), Vardar / Axiosmarker and Struma / Strymónasmarker rivers, and the plains around Thessaloniki and Serres.

In a historic context, the term Macedonia was used in various ways. Macedonia was not an administrative division of the Ottoman Empire; its entire territory was part of the beylerbeylik of Rumelia.

* Rossos, Macedonia and the Macedonians, 51. The geographer H.R. Wilkinson suggests that the region "defies definition" but that many mappers agree "on its general location". Macedonia was well enough defined in 1897 for Gladstone to propose "Macedonia for the Macedonians"; philhellenes argued that the phrase could not be used by a man of impartiallity, while Turcophiles asserted that there are six different kinds of Macedonians, and only Turkish rule could prevail total anarchy in the region. The Balkan nations began to proclaim their rights to it after the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878 and its revision at the Congress of Berlin.

Many ethnographic maps were produced in this period of controversy; these differ primarily in the areas given to each nationality within Macedonia. This was in part a result of the choice of definition: an inhabitant of Macedonia might well have different nationalities depending on whether the basis of classification was denomination, descent, language, self-identification or personal choice. In addition, the Ottoman census, taken on the basis of religion, was misquoted by all sides; descent, or "race", was largely conjectural; inhabitants of Macedonia might speak a different language at the market and at home, and the same Slavic dialect might be called Serbian "with Bulgarian influences", Macedonian, or West-Bulgarian.

These maps also differed somewhat in the boundaries given to Macedonia. Its only inarguable limits were the Aegean Seamarker and the Serbian and Bulgarian frontiers (as of 1885); where it bordered Old Serbia, Albania, and Thrace (all parts of Ottoman Rumelia) was debatable.

The Greek ethnographer Nicolaides, the Austrian Meinhard, and the Bulgarian Kǎnčev placed the northern boundary of Macedonia at the Šar Mountainsmarker and the Crna hills, as had scholars before 1878. The Serb Gopčevič preferred a line much further south, assigning the entire region from Skopje to Strumicamarker to "Old Serbia"; and some later Greek geographers have defined a more restricted Macedonia. In addition, maps might vary in smaller details: as to whether this town or that was Macedonian. One Italian map included Prizrenmarker, where Nicolaides and Meinhard had drawn the boundary just south of it. On the south and west, Grevenamarker, Korçëmarker, and Konitsamarker varied from map to map; on the east, the usual line is the lower Mesta / Nestosmarker river and then north or northwest, but one German geographer takes the line so far west as to exclude Banskomarker and Nevrokop / Gotse Delchevmarker.


The region of Macedonia is commonly divided into three major and two minor sub-regions. The name Macedonia appears under certain contexts on the major regions, while the smaller ones are traditionally referred to by other local toponyms:

Major regions

The region of Macedonia is commonly split geographically into three main sub-regions, especially when discussing the Macedonian Question. The terms are used in non-partisan scholarly works, although they are also used in ethnic Macedonian literature of an irredentist nature.

Aegean MacedoniaN- (or Greek Macedonia) is a term that refers to an area in the south of the Macedonia region. The borders of the area are, overall, those of ancient Macedonia in Greece. It covers an area of

* Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict, pp. 82–83. (for discussion of the reported irredentist origin of this term, see Aegean Macedonia).

Pirin MacedoniaN- (or Bulgarian Macedonia) is an area in the east of the Macedonia region. The borders of the area approximately coincide with those of Blagoevgrad Provincemarker in Bulgaria. It covers an area of .

Vardar Macedonia (formerly Yugoslav Macedonia) is an area in the north of the Macedonia region. The borders of the area are those of the Republic of Macedonia. It covers an area of .

Minor regions

In addition to the above named sub-regions, there are also two smaller regions, in Albaniamarker and Serbia respectively. These regions are also considered geographically part of Macedonia. They are referred to by ethnic Macedonians as follows, but typically aren't referred to by non-partisan scholars.

Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo is a small area in the west of the Macedonia region in Albania, mainly around the Lake Ohridmarker. It includes parts of the Korçëmarker, Pogradecmarker and Devollmarker districts. These districts in whole occupy about , but the area concerned is significantly smaller. Gora (part of the municipality of Dragašmarker) and Prohor Pčinjskimarker are minor parts in the north of the Macedonia region in Serbia.For the conflicts between Serbs and ethnic Macedonians about the Gora region and Proho, see:




The region, as defined above, has a total population of about 5 million. The main disambiguation issue in demographics is the self-identifying name of two contemporary groups. The ethnic Macedonian population of the Republic of Macedonia self-identify as Macedonian on a national level, while the Greek Macedonians self-identify as both Macedonian on a regional, and Greek on a national level. According to the Greek arguments, the ancient Macedonians' nationality was Greek and thus, the use of the term on a national level lays claims to their history. This disambiguation problem has led to a wide variety of terms used to refer to the separate groups, more information of which can be found in the terminology by group section.

Demographic Macedonia

c. 5 million
All inhabitants of the region, irrespective of ethnicity

c. 1.3 million plus diaspora
An ethnic group, more rarely referred to as Macedonian Slavs

* or Slavomacedonians (used mostly by Greek authorities to refer to the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece)N-

c. 2.0 million
Citizens of the Republic of Macedonia irrespective of ethnicity

c. 2.6 million plus diaspora
An ethnic Greek regional group, also referred to as Greek Macedonians

(unknown population)
A group of antiquity, also referred to as Ancient Macedonians.

c. 0.3 million
A Bulgarian regional group, also referred to as Piriners.

c. 0.3 million
An alternative name for Aromanians

The self-identifying Macedonians (collectively referring to the inhabitants of the region) that inhabit or inhabited the area are:

As an ethnic group, Macedonians refersN- to the majority (64.7%, 2002) of the population of the Republic of Macedonia. Statistics for 2002 indicate the population of ethnic Macedonians within the country as c. 1,300,000. Macedonia, CIA — The World Factbook.

* On the other hand, as a legal term, it refers to all the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, irrespective of their ethnic or religious affiliation. However, the preamble of the constitution distinguishes between "the Macedonian people" and the "Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Romanics and other nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia", but for whom "full equality as citizens" is provided. As of 2002 the total population of the country is 2,022,547.

As a regional group in Greece, Macedonians refers to ethnic Greeks (98%, 2001) living in regions referred to as Macedonia, and particularly Greek Macedonia. This group composes the vast majority of the population of the Greek region of Macedonia. The 2001 census for the total population of the Macedonia region in Greece shows 2,625,681.

The same term in antiquity described the inhabitants of the kingdom of Macedon, including their notable rulers Philip II and Alexander the Great who self-identified as Greeks.

As a regional group in Bulgaria, Macedonians refers to the inhabitants of Bulgarian Macedonia, who in their vast majority self-identify as Bulgarians at a national level and as Macedonians at a regional, but not ethnic level. As of 2001, the total population of Bulgarian Macedonia is 341,245, while the ethnic Macedonians living in the same region are 3,117. The Bulgarian Macedonians also self-identify as Piriners (пиринци, pirintsi) to avoid confusion with the neighboring ethnic group.

Macedo-Romanians can be used as an alternative name for Aromanians, people living throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, and as an emigrant community in Northern Dobruja, Romania. According to Ethnologue, their total population in all countries is 306,237. This not very frequent appellation is the only one with the disambiguating portmanteau, both within the members of the same ethnic group and the other ethnic groups in the area. To make matters more confusing, Aromanians are often called "Machedoni" by Romanians, as opposed to the citizens of Macedonia, who are called "Macedoneni".

The ethnic Albanians living in the region of Macedonia, as defined above, are mainly concentrated in the Republic of Macedonia (especially in the northwestern part that borders Kosovomarker and Albania), and less in the Albanian minor sub-region of Macedonia around the Lake Ohrid. As of 2002, the total population of Albanians within the republic is 509,083 or 25.2% of the country's total population.


As language is one of the elements tied in with national identity, the same disputes that are voiced over demographics are also found in linguistics. There are two main disputes about the use of the word Macedonian to describe a linguistic phenomenon, be it a language or a dialect:

Linguistic Macedonia
MacedonianN- A contemporary Slavic language, also referred to as Slavomacedonian or Macedonian Slavic

* Poulton, Who Are the Macedonians?, p. ix.

* , N-
Macedonian        A dialect of Modern Greek, typically simply referred to as Greek, since its differences with the Greek spoken in the rest of Greece are only a few words, phrases and some features of the pronunciation.
Macedonian A language or dialect of antiquity, possibly a dialect of ancient Greek
Macedo-Romanian Another name for the Aromanian language

The origins of the Ancient Macedonian language are currently debated. At this time it is not conclusively determined whether the language / dialect was a Greek dialect related to Doric Greek

* and/or Aeolic Greek

* dialects among others, a sibling language of ancient Greek forming a Hellenic (i.e. Greco-Macedonian) supergroup, or viewed as an Indo-European language which is a close cousin to Greek (and perhaps somewhat related to Thracian and/or Phrygian languages). The scientific community generally agrees that, although sources are available (e.g. Hesychius' lexicon, Pella curse tablet) there is no decisive evidence to exclude any of the above hypotheses.

Modern Macedonian languageN- , a south Slavic language, is unrelated to the Ancient Macedonian language. It is currently the subject of two major disputes. The first is over the name (alternative ways of referring to this language can be found in the terminology by group section and in the article Macedonian language naming dispute). The second dispute is over the existence of a Macedonian language distinct from Bulgarian, the denial of which is a position supported by nationalist groups, Bulgarian and other linguists and also by many ordinary Bulgarians.

Macedonian is also the name of a dialect of Modern Greek, a language of the Indo-European family. Additionally, Macedo-Romanian is an Eastern Romance language, spoken in Southeastern Europe by the Aromanians.


The controversies in geographic, linguistic and demographic terms, are also manifested in international politics. Among the autonomous countries that were formed as a result of the break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, was the (until then) subnational entity of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker, by the official name of "Socialist Republic of Macedonia", the others being Serbia, Sloveniamarker, Croatiamarker, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Montenegromarker. The peaceful break-away of that nation resulted in the change of its name to "Republic of Macedonia".

Republic of MacedoniaN- is the constitutional name of the sovereign state which occupies the northern part of the geographical region of Macedonia, which roughly coincides with the geographic subregion of Vardar Macedonia. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is a term used to refer to this state by the main international organisations, including United Nations,European Union,NATOmarker,IMFmarker,WTO,IOCmarker,World Bank,EBRD,OSCE,FIFAmarker,and FIBA.The term was introduced in 1993 by the United Nations, following a naming dispute with Greece. Some countries use this term as a stop-gap measure, pending resolution of the naming dispute.

Greece and the Republic of Macedonia each consider this name a compromise: it is opposed by some Greeks for containing the Greek self-identifying name Macedonia, and by many in the Republic of Macedonia for not being the short self-identifying name. Greece uses it in both the abbreviated (FYROM or ΠΓΔΜ)N- and spellout form (Πρώην Γιουγκοσλαβική Δημοκρατία της Μακεδονίας).

Macedonia refers also to a geographic region in Greece, which roughly coincides with the southernmost major geographic subregion of Macedonia. It is divided in the three administrative sub-regions (peripheries) of West, Central, and East Macedonia. The region is overseen by the Ministry for Macedonia–Thrace. The capital of Greek Macedonia is Thessalonikimarker, which is the largest city in the region of Macedonia; Greeks often call it the "co-capital" of Greece.

Ethnic Macedonian nationalism

Ethnic Macedonian irredentists following the idea of a "United Macedonia" have expressed claims to what they refer to as "Aegean Macedonia" (in Greece), "Pirin Macedonia" (in Bulgaria), "Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo" (in Albania), and "Gora and Prohor Pčinjski" (in Serbia).


Loring Danforth, a professor of anthropology at Bates Collegemarker, asserts that ethnic Macedonian nationalists, who are concerned with demonstrating the continuity between ancient and modern Macedonians, deny they are Slavs and claim to be the direct descendants of Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians. Danforth stresses, however, that the more moderate Macedonian position, publicly endorsed by Kiro Gligorov, the first president of the Republic of Macedonia, is modern Macedonians have no relation to Alexander the Great, but are a Slavic people whose ancestors arrived in Macedonia in the sixth century AD. Proponents of both the extreme and the moderate Macedonian positions stress that the ancient Macedonians were a distinct non-Greek people. In addition to affirming the existence of the Macedonian nation, Macedonians are concerned with affirming the existence of a unique Macedonian language as well. They thus emphasize that the Macedonian language has a history dating to the Old Church Slavonic used by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century.

Although ethnic Macedonians agree Macedonian minorities exist in Bulgaria and Greece and these minorities have been subjected to harsh policies of forced assimilation, there are two different positions with regard to what their future should be. These were summarized by Danforth:

Schoolbooks and official government publications in the Republic have shown the country as part of an "unliberated" whole,


* although the constitution of the Republic, especially after its amendment in 1995, does not include any territorial claims.

Greek nationalism

Danforth describes the Greek position on Macedonia as follows: because Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians were Greeks, and because ancient and modern Greece are bound in an unbroken line of racial and cultural continuity, it is only Greeks who have the right to identify themselves as Macedonians. According to Danforth, this is why Greeks generally refer to Ethnic Macedonians as "Skopians", a practice comparable to calling Greeks "Athenians". Danforth asserts that the negation of Macedonian identity in Greek nationalist ideology focuses on three main points: the existence of a Macedonian nation, a Macedonian language, and a Macedonian minority in Greece. More specifically, Danforth says:

Thus from the Greek nationalist perspective the use of the term "Macedonian" by the "Slavs of Skopje" constitutes a "felony", an "act of plagiarism" against the Greek people. Greek nationalists believe that, by calling themselves "Macedonians", the ethnic Macedonians are "stealing" a Greek name, "embezzling" Greek cultural heritage, and "falsifying" Greek history. Greek fears that the use of the name "Macedonia" by the ethnic Macedonians will inevitably lead to the assertion of irredentist claims to territory in Greek Macedonia are heightened by fairly recent historical events.

From a different point of view, Demetrius Andreas M.-A. Floudas, of Hughes Hall, Cambridgemarker, a leading commentator on the naming dispute from the Greek side, sums up this nationalistic reaction as follows: the Republic of Macedonia was accused of usurping the historical and cultural patrimony of Greece "in order to furnish a nucleus of national self-esteem for the new state and provide its citizens with a new, distinct, non-Bulgarian, non-Serbian, non-Albanian identity". The Republic emerged thus to Greek eyes as a country with a personality crisis, "a nondescript parasitic state" that lived off the history of its neighbours, because it allegedly lacked an illustrious past of its own, for the sake of achieving cohesion for what Greeks regarded as an "unhomogeneous little new nation". Floudas criticizes Greek stance as follows:

As of early 2008, the official position of Greece, adopted unanimously by the four largest political parties, has made a more moderate shift towards accepting a "composite name solution" (i.e. the use of the name "Macedonia" plus some qualifier), so as to disambiguate the former Yugoslav Republic from the Greek region of Macedonia and the wider geographic region of the same name.



Names in the languages of the region


Terminology by group

All these controversies have led ethnic groups in Macedonia to use terms in conflicting ways. Despite the fact that these terms may not always be used in a pejorativeway, they may be perceived as such by the ethnic group to which they are applied. Both Greeks and ethnic Macedonians generally use all terms deriving from Macedoniato describe their own regional or ethnic group, and have devised several other terms to disambiguate the other side, or the region in general.

A proportion of Bulgarians and ethnic Macedonians have extremist views about their inter-relatedness. On the one hand, extremist ethnic Macedonians seek to deny the possibility of any national, linguistic and historical relatedness to the Bulgarians. On the other hand, extremist Bulgarians seek to downplay this distinctiveness,and are often supported by extremist Greeks.Bulgarians and ethnic Macedonians seek to deny the self-identification of the Slavic speaking minorityin northern Greece, which mostly self-identifies as Greek. Extremists on all sides have been known to fabricate and reproduce falsified information, along with denying genuine information and propagating unscientific and pseudoscientific theories.

Certain terms are in use by these groups as outlined below. Any denial of self-identification by any side, or any attribution of Macedonia related terms by third parties to the other side, can be seen as highly offensive. General usage of these terms follows:


  • Gărkomani (Гъркомани) is a derogatory term used to refer to the largest portion of the Slavic-speaking minority of Macedonia in Greece who self-identify as Greeks.
  • Macedonian (Македонец) is a person originating from the region of Macedonia – the term has only regional, not ethnic meaning, and it usually means a Bulgarian, or a clarification is made (Greek, Albanian...).
  • Macedonian (Македонски) and the Slavic dialects of Greece are considered dialects of Bulgarian by Bulgarian linguists; not independent languages or dialects of other languages (e.g. Serbian). This is also the popular view in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government, therefore, has officially recognized the language merely as "the constitutional language of the Republic of Macedonia". Translations are officially called "adaptations".
  • Macedonism (Македонизъм) is a term referring to the political ideology or simply views that the Slavs of Macedonia are an ethnic group separate from Bulgarians, with their own separate language, history and culture. It is also used to describe what Bulgarians view as the falsification of their history whether by Macedonian or foreign scholars who subscribe to the Macedonist point of view. It carries strong negative connotations.
  • Macedonistics (Македонистика) is a term, generally synonymous with disciplines such as study of the origins of the Macedonian language and history of the Macedonian people conducted in the Republic of Macedonia and in former Yugoslavia. It is generally considered in Bulgaria to be a kind of pseudoscience.
  • Macedonist (Македонист) is a term for a person (typically Macedonian Slav) who believes that Macedonian Slavs are not ethnic Bulgarians but a separate ethnic group, directly descended from the ancient Macedonians. It is a more negatively charged synonym of "Macedonian nationalist". More rarely it is used for someone associated with the study of the origins of the Macedonian language and history of the Macedonian people (not necessarily from the Republic of Macedonia or Yugoslavia), whose studies support the official historical doctrine of the Republic of Macedonia or former Yugoslavia.
  • Old Bulgarian (Старобългарски) is the name Bulgarians give to the Old Church Slavonic language used in the Ohrid Literary Schoolmarker among others. In contrast, Old Church Slavonic is rarely referred to by ethnic Macedonians as "Old Macedonian" or "Old Slavic".


  • Macedonia (Μακεδονία) can refer to the region of Macedonia or to Macedonia in Greece depending on the context – usually the first being disambiguated.
  • Macedonian (Μακεδόνας) refers to an ethnically Greek Macedonian.
  • Ancient Macedonian (Αρχαίος Μακεδόνας) refers to an Ancient Macedonian.
  • Macedonian Slav, Slavic Macedonian or SlavomacedonianN- (Σλαβομακεδόνας) refers to a member of the Macedonian ethnic group.
  • Macedonian Slavic, Slavic Macedonian or SlavomacedonianN- (Σλαβομακεδονικά) refers to the Macedonian language.
  • Republic of Skopje (Δημοκρατία των Σκοπίων) refers to the Republic of Macedonia.
  • State of Skopje (Κράτος των Σκοπίων) refers to the Republic of Macedonia.
  • Skopje, or Skopia (Σκόπια) refers to either the Republic of Macedonia or its capital city of Skopje.
  • Skopjan, or Skopian (Σκοπιανός) refers to a member of the ethnic Macedonian ethnic group living in the Republic or outside it, but not to any group native to Greece.
  • Skopiana or Skopianika (Σκοπιανά or Σκοπιανικά) refers to the Macedonian language.
  • Slavophone (Σλαβόφωνος) refers to a member of the Slavic speaking minority in Greece.
  • Bulgaroskopian (Βουλγαροσκοπιανός) is a term used to refer to ethnic Macedonians, implying Bulgarians ethnic affiliation.
  • Pseudomacedonian (Ψευδομακεδόνας) is a term used to refer to ethnic Macedonians, and asserts their nationhood is contrived.
→The last eight terms are often considered offensive in the Republic of Macedonia.

Ethnic Macedonian

  • Macedonia (Македонија) can refer to either the region of Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia.
  • Macedonians (Македонци) generally refers to the Macedonian ethnic group associated with the Republic of Macedonia, neighbouring countries and abroad.
  • Aegean Macedonia (Егејска Македонија – Egejska Makedonija) refers to Macedonia in Greece (as defined by the administrative division of Greece).
  • Pirin Macedonia (Пиринска Македонија – Pirinska Makedonija) refers to the Blagoevgrad Province of Bulgaria (as defined by the administrative division of Bulgaria).
  • Bugarashi (бугараши) or bugarofili (бугарофили) are derogatory terms used to refer to people in the Republic of Macedonia self-identifying as Bulgarian, or having a pro-Bulgarian orientation.
  • Egejci (Егејци) refers to people living in the Republic of Macedonia and abroad that are originating from Aegean Macedonia (Greek Macedonia), mainly refugees from the Greek Civil War, also knowns as Aegean Macedonians.
  • Grkomani (гркомани) is a derogatory term used to refer to the largest portion of the Slavic-speaking minority of Macedonia in Greece who self-identify as Greeks.
  • Srbomani (србомани) or srbofili (србофили) are derogatory terms used to refer to people in the Republic of Macedonia self-identifying as Serbian, or having a pro-Serb orientation.
→The first three terms are often considered offensive in Greece.


n-[1] During the Greek Civil War, in 1947, the Greek Ministry of Press and Information published a book, I Enandion tis Ellados Epivoulis ("Designs on Greece"), namely of documents and speeches on the ongoing Macedonian issue, many translations from Yugoslav officials. It reports Josip Broz Tito using the term "Aegean Macedonia" on the October 11, 1945 in the build up to the Greek Civil War; the original document is archived in ‘GFM A/24581/G2/1945’. For Athens, the "new term, Aegean Macedonia", (also "Pirin Macedonia"), was introduced by Yugoslavs. Contextually, this observation indicates this was part of the Yugoslav offensive against Greece, laying claim to Greek Macedonia, but Athens does not take issue with the term itself. The 1945 date concurs with Bulgarian sources. Further information on this can be found in the article Aegean Macedonia.

n-[2] Despite a history of use by Bulgarian nationalists, the term "Pirin Macedoniamarker" is today regarded as offensive by certain Bulgarians, who assert that it is widely used by Macedonists as part of the irredentist concept of United Macedonia. However, many people in the country also think of the name as a purely geographical term, which it has historically been. Its use is, thus, controversial.

n-[3] The constitutional name of the country "Republic of Macedonia" and the short name "Macedonia" when referring to the country, can be considered offensive by most Greeks, especially inhabitants of the Greek province of Macedonia. The official reasons for this, as described by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are:

n-[4] The abbreviated term "FYROM" can be considered offensive when used to refer to the Republic of Macedoniamarker. The spellout of the term, the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", is not necessarily considered offensive, but some ethnic Macedonians may still find it offensive due to their right of self-identification being ignored. The term can also be offensive for Greeks under certain contexts, since it contains the word Macedonia.

n-[5] Although acceptable in the past, current use of the name "Slavomacedonian" in reference to both the ethnic group and the language can be considered pejorative and offensive by ethnic Macedonians living in Greece. The Greek Helsinki Monitor reports:


  1. Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and society, p. 455.
  2. ;
  3. Poulton, Who Are the Macedonians, p. 14.
  4. For an attempt to delineate the boundaries of the region, see
  5. For the difficulties to determine the national divisions of the population through the Ottoman census, see For the Ottoman census and surveys about the population of Macedonia between 1882–1906, see
  6. E.g., see Poulton, Who are the Macedonians, p. 146; Rossos, Macedonia and the Macedonians, p. 2: "Albania received the relatively small areas of Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo."
  7. See Rossos, Macedonia and the Macedonians, 132, for the small parts of the region of Macedonia, which were given to Albania in 1912.
  8. Oxford English Dictionary Unabridged — Draft Revision (Mar. 2005) — "Macedo-"
  9. B. Joseph (2001): "Ancient Greek". In: J. Garry et al. (eds.) Facts about the world's major languages: an encyclopedia of the world's major languages, past and present. Online paper
  10. Dubois L. (1995) Une tablette de malédiction de Pella: s'agit-il du premier texte macédonien ?, Revue des Études Grecques (REG) 108:190–197
  11. "Interim Accord between the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", United Nations, September 13, 1995.
  12. Danforth, Macedonian Conflict, p. 83.
  13. Greek Macedonia "not a problem", The Times (London), August 5, 1957
  14. Patrides, Greek Magazine of Toronto, September – October, 1988, p. 3.
  15. Danforth, ibid. Most quotations within the text are from Evangelos Kofos: "Most precious jewels" from a Boston Globe article of January 5, 1993, the others from Nationalism and communism, Thessalonica, 1964
  16. Danforth quotes Kofos, telling a foreign reporter, "It is as if a robber came into my house and stole my most precious jewels—my history, my culture, my identity."
  17. Danforth, ibid : "During World War II Bulgaria occupied portions of northern Greece, while one of the specific goals of the founders of the People's Republic of Macedonia in 1944 was "the unification of the entire Macedonian nation", to be achieved by "the liberation of the other two segments" of Macedonia."
  18. Floudas, Demetrius Andreas;
  19. Shea, Macedonia and Greece, 125
  20. Shea, Macedonia and Greece, 198

Principal sources

  • (pb)

  • Danforth, Loring M. (1995), The Macedonian Conflict: ethnic nationalism in a transnational world Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Pressmarker. ISBN 0691043574
  • (pb)

Albanian: Greek: ( )   Serbian: ,
Armenian: ( )   Ladino: ,   Serbian (archaic): ,
Aromanian:   Macedonian: ( )   Turkish:
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