Preface Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
A melding of Greek, Serb, Bulgarian, and Albanian cultures and of
Orthodox Christianity with Islam has produced a fascinating culture
and a uniquely distinct country. Macedonia is medieval monasteries,
timeworn Turkish bazaars, Orthodox churches and space-age shopping
centers. It is also the drone of the local bagpipes, Turkish-style
grilled mincemeat, and Balkan burek (cheese or meat pie). The
country is unbelievably green and breathtakingly beautiful; its
people are hospitable and welcome visitors.
It would all be one happy playground but for its position at the
southern end of what was once Yugoslavia. The Balkan Peninsula has
often been an unhappy place, and Macedonia’s situation between
Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece makes it a political powder
keg. Showdowns between Albanian rebels and Macedonian forces in the
country’s north threaten to tear apart the previously peaceful
country along the ethnic divide.
Historical Macedonia (from whence Alexander the Great set out to
conquer the ancient world in the 4th century B.C.E.) is today
contained mostly in present-day Greece, a point Greeks are always
quick to make. The Romans subjugated the Greeks of ancient Macedonia
in the mid-2nd century B.C.E., and when the empire was divided in
the 4th century C.E., this region became part of the Eastern Roman
Empire ruled from Constantinople. Slav tribes settled here in the
7th century, changing the ethnic character of the area.
In the 9th century, the region was conquered by the Bulgarians.
Their defeat by Byzantium in 1014 ushered in a long period when
Macedonia passed back and forth between Byzantium, Bulgaria, and
Serbia. After the crushing defeat of Serbia by the Turks in 1389,
the Balkans became part of the Ottoman Empire, and the cultural
character of the region again changed.
The First Balkan War in 1912 brought Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria
together against Turkey. In the Second Balkan War in 1913, Greece
and Serbia ousted the Bulgarians and split Macedonia between
In 1943 it was agreed that postwar Macedonia would have full
republic status in future Yugoslavia. By recognizing Macedonians as
an ethnic group distinct from both Serbs and Bulgarians, the
Belgrade authorities hoped to weaken Bulgarian claims to Macedonia.
In January 1992 the country declared its full independence from
former Yugoslavia. For once, Belgrade cooperated by ordering all
federal troops present to withdraw, and because the split was
peaceful, road and rail links were never broken.
Although most of the fighting has occurred near Macedonia’s
border with Kosovo in the north, fears are that these clashes might
spread to the capital, Skopje, and trigger ethnic bloodletting
throughout the country. Others are optimistic that the Albanian
insurgents will be brought to heel quickly and the situation
defused. The last thing anyone in the region wants or can afford is
another human tragedy.
“Today over Macedonia”
Today over Macedonia, the new Sun of freedom is born, Macedonians
strive For their rights.
Again the banner of The Krushevo Republic, Gotse Delchev, Pitu
Guli, Dame Gruev, Sandanski is fluttered.
The Macedonian forests loudly sing New songs, new words,
Macedonia is free, Let it live in freedom!
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The Republic of Macedonia is a landlocked mountainous country, a
little larger than the state of Vermont. It is situated in southern
Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. Occupying a central geographical
position in the Balkans, it is a transportation and communications
crossroad linking Europe, Asia, and Africa. Macedonia is a land of
sunshine, lakes, valleys and mountains. A country of great history
and tradition, it covers an area of 25,713 square kilometers and
lies 245 meters above sea level. Macedonia borders the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia to the north; Bulgaria to the east; Greece to
the south; and Albania to the west.
The Republic of Macedonia has 1,100 water sources. These sources
run into three different basins: the Aegean, the Adriatic and the
Black Seas. The Aegean basin is the largest. The Vardar River, which
runs through Skopje, flows into this basin.
Macedonia’s lakes are an important country resource for food and
developing of tourism. The largest three lakes are: Ohrid, the
largest in the Balkans, situated in the southwestern corner of
Macedonia and shared with Albania; Prespa, in the same area; and
Dojran in southeastern Macedonia. Twenty-five other small glacial
lakes are scattered throughout the country.
Mostly a country of hills and mountains, Macedonia has a
continental Mediterranean climate characterized by long, dry, rather
hot summers and short, cold winters. The average air temperature in
the summer is 25°C (77°F) and 0.5°C (33°F) in winter. However, short
periods of extreme temperatures of 110–115°F in summer and low 20s
in the winter are common. The average annual precipitation is 445.5
mm. The humidity in Macedonia averages 66%. Occasionally, there are
dust storms in the Vardar River valley. Macedonia is on a fault line
and the country averages four earthquakes a year (most go unnoticed)
with a median reading of 6 on the Medvedev-Sponheuer-Karnik
International Seismological Scale.
Population Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The population of 2.2 million is approximately 65% Macedonian,
22% Albanian, 4% Turkish, 3% Serbian, 3% Roma (gypsy) and 3% other.
About 59% of the population live in urban areas. Skopje, the
capital, has 600,000 inhabitants. Tetovo, Kumanovo, Gostivar and
Bitola are other large cities and each has more than 100,000 people.
Life expectancy is 69.6 years for men and 74 years for women.
Macedonia is traditionally an Orthodox country with 65% of its
citizens being Orthodox Christian, 29% Muslim, 4% Catholic, 1%
Protestant and 1% other religions.
Macedonian is the official language of the country. The alphabet,
consisting of 31 Cyrillic letters, dates back to the 9th century,
coinciding with the time of the beginning of Slavonic literacy.
Codification of standard Macedonian was done in 1944. Approximately
89% of the population are literate. Other languages spoken in
Macedonia include Albanian, Turkish and Roma. English is a popular
second language and many Macedonians also understand the related
Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian languages.
In view of the religious and cultural diversity in Macedonia,
foreigners should be sensitive to cultural prohibitions against the
consumption of certain foods (for example, Muslims will not eat
pork) or alcoholic drinks. In addition, in some Albanian homes,
customs may dictate that the woman of the house may not be present
when entertaining guests, except to serve. This also may be true in
some Macedonian homes.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The Republic of Macedonia established a parliamentary political
system with the country’s independence in 1991. The Constitution
provides for the basic principles of democracy and guarantees civil
freedom. The executive power is shared between the President and the
Government of the Republic of Macedonia. General elections, by rule,
take place every 4 years. Currently a coalition of the Internal
Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for National
Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), the Democratic Alternative and the Party for
Democratic Prosperity of the Albanians has the majority in the
Parliament, and the opposition parties are the Social Democratic
Union, the Party for Democratic Prosperity, the Liberal Democratic
Party of Macedonian, and the socialist party.
Former President Kiro Gligorov, an octogenarian and former
communist official, was appointed by a Parliament of Macedonians and
Albanians in 1991 and was elected by majority vote in 1994. In
October 1995, he was badly injured by a car bomb in Skopje, but soon
returned to his duties. He still remains a popular individual whose
influence has proven critical in balancing political disputes.
In 1999, Macedonia held its second presidential elections in
history. Boris Trajkovski, the former Deputy Minister for Foreign
Affairs, was chosen as the nation’s second President.
Although accepted as a member of the United Nations under the
provisional name “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (F.Y.R.O.M.)
in April 1993, Macedonia was not recognized diplomatically by most
Western countries until late 1993/early 1994. Macedonia exists under
a provisional name because of Greek objections regarding the use of
the constitutional name “Republic of Macedonia.” United Nations
mediated negotiations between Greece and Macedonia continue in order
to resolve this dispute.
Macedonia also has many non-political public unions,
non-governmental organizations and associations (NGOs), including
associations of the disabled. There is a Macedonian Red Cross; an
Institute for the Blind and other institutes for physically or
mentally challenged persons, orphanages, professional rehabilitation
centers, youth camps and many environmental NGOs.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Macedonia is often referred to as the “magical country of
archaeology” because of its mixture of monuments and ancient
treasures found throughout the country. In the town of Ohrid (known
as the Pearl of the Balkans) alone, located on the shores of one of
the oldest lakes in the world (about 4 million years old),
settlements dating back about 8,000 years, to the early Stone Age,
have been discovered. One can find architectural remnants of
temples, palaces, public buildings, ornaments, pillars, sculptures
and wonderful amphitheaters. Some of the sites are currently used in
the summer time as the location for theater plays, such as the
Heraklea amphitheater near Bitola.
Macedonia is a country of rich cultural and historical heritage,
reflected in its folklore. Visiting the national museums and
attending the performances of many cultural celebrations and village
events will give you insight into this unique folklore environment.
Macedonian country lifestyle is revealed through the sound of the
pipes (the national folk instrument), the rhythm of the folk dances
and the various decorative ornaments worn by the people in the
countryside. The traditional costumes are knitted and embroidered by
the skillful hands of Macedonian women and represent their folk
culture. Large regional differences exist in the costumes, both in
style and color. Folklore is nurtured by both professional and
amateur groups in Macedonia, which have folklore shows including
groups of Macedonians, Albanians, Turks and Roma.
Macedonia has 13 professional theater groups. The Macedonian
National Theater (MNT) has drama, opera and ballet departments. Two
other theaters also have superb productions: the Drama Theater in
Skopje, and the National Theater in Bitola. Skopje also has “The
Theater of Nationalities,” dedicated to productions put on by the
ethnic minorities of Macedonia. In Skopje alone Albanian, Turkish
and Romany companies, a Youth Theater group, and three other amateur
theater groups offer a variety of talented shows.
Macedonia has a century-long tradition in the film industry.
Their film production company is called Vardar. Milton Manakee, from
Bitola, was the first film cameraman in the Balkans. In 1994, the
film Before the Rain, directed by Milcho Manchevski, Macedonian, won
the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated
for an Oscar.
Macedonia has two universities: the Saints Cyril and Methodius
University in Skopje, and the University of Bitola, with a total
enrollment of 25,000 to 30,000 students each academic year.
Universities in Macedonia offer free education to all students,
regardless of nationality, and also have begun to allow students to
enroll by “participation,” or privately paying for their own
The Constitution guarantees instruction in schools in the mother
tongue (Macedonian, Albanian, or Turkish) up to the eighth grade.
Currently, only about 25% of minority elementary school students
continue with secondary school studies. Low attendance at the
secondary school level is a result of poverty, cultural barriers
that deny higher education to women, and a paucity of instruction in
the mother tongue at the secondary level.
Recently, a new law for higher education was passed by the
Macedonian Parliament. This law regulates the conditions and the
procedure for the establishing, financing and cessation of the work
of higher education institutions, and sets out the principles
governing the organization, management and development and the
performance of the higher education activity. It provides for the
establishment of privately financed tertiary educational
institutions in the country.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The Republic of Macedonia is pursuing the transition to a market
economy, initiated in 1991. Reports on development for 1999 show
that the Republic of Macedonia’s economic reforms had a positive
impact with industrial production showing a 2.5% increase. The
government’s challenge is to sustain the current stability of the
denar and continue to expand in the global market and reduce
unemployment. Many economic reforms have taken place, including
changes in the social security system, the pension system,
rehabilitation of banks and the privatization of enterprises.
Banking system reform is the next step the government is planning to
undertake, as well as the restructuring of the largest loss-making
Macedonia has the potential to be largely self-sufficient in many
items and in electrical energy (hydro and coal). The major
agricultural products are tomatoes, rice, peppers, and tobacco.
Fruits and other vegetables also are grown in significant
quantities. Macedonia produces good red and white wines as well.
The country’s industry is primarily low technology and includes
oil refining, mining (coal, chromium, lead, zinc, nickel), basic
textiles, timber, and tobacco processing. Raw materials and spare
parts constitute the largest component of imports. Major trading
partners are Germany, Serbia, and Greece followed by the United
States and some other European countries.
Automobiles Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The main roads and highways in Macedonia are good and one can get
almost any place in the country within a few hours. Unfortunately,
due to the increased number of heavy trucks and military traffic
related to the Kosovo crisis in recent years, potholes are becoming
more prevalent. Generally roads are well maintained in the winter.
The road signs are like those found elsewhere in Europe. The speed
limit in towns is usually between 40 to 60 km per hour. Right-of-way
exists for cars coming from the right and at traffic circles.
Diplomatic immunity does not apply to traffic violations and parking
It is advisable to bring a car or buy one locally, especially for
touring the small towns and cities in Macedonia. Rental cars (Hertz
and Avis) are available, but costly.
Service is easier to obtain and more reliable for Japanese or
European vehicles than for American models. One German service
center within Skopje provides reliable but expensive service to all
models of vehicles. Basic car parts can be found in Skopje or in
Thessaloniki, but they are often expensive and not always
compatible. It would be best to ship some items for your car such as
oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, replacement windshield wiper
blades, American specification headlights, and etc. Auto theft is
not usually a problem here, although in neighboring countries it is
necessary to have adequate security systems: clubs, alarms, engine
Good quality oil is available here. Most gasoline stations have
leaded gas and the larger ones offer unleaded gas and diesel.
Gasoline is expensive (about 90 cents a liter or $3.50 a gallon). On
April 1, 2000, a 19% Value Added Tax (VAT) was implemented.
Diplomats can purchase tax reimbursable gas coupons. Diplomats also
may claim VAT reimbursement for other purchases over MKD 5,000.
Macedonian law requires all drivers to have an international
driver’s license. The license must be renewed annually. An
international driver’s license can be obtained from AAA (Triple A)
in the U.S. local third-party-liability insurance is mandatory under
Macedonian law. International automobile travel insurance (called a
Green Card) must be obtained not later than 1 month after arriving
at post. The green insurance card is valid for all countries but
Iraq. There are different plans of green card insurance (from one
individual trip, up to 1-year insurance). Macedonian insurance
companies will not insure vehicles against theft in Bulgaria.
Comprehensive insurance is available, but can be very expensive. It
is recommended that an insurance policy (especially for collision)
be arranged with a company in the U.S. prior to arrival at post.
There is no limitation on the year or size of the engine that can
be shipped into the country. The Embassy must arrange final customs
clearance for all personally owned vehicles either driven into the
country or imported by ship/truck. The employee must be in country
before customs arrangements can be made. A copy of the passport and
vehicle information, which includes motor and serial numbers, the
title of ownership, and insurance information, must be submitted to
the customs office for the vehicle to clear customs. Make sure you
have the Certificate of Title/Origin for your car. The Mission
arranges CD (Corps Diplomatic) license plates for all employees with
diplomatic status. The cost for customs clearance, technical
inspection, a green card, liability insurance and license plates is
There are no restrictions on the sale of POVs to other diplomats.
Sales to Macedonian nationals or others without tax-free privileges
are possible only if the vehicle is over 3 years and less than 6
years old, and has a catalytic converter. The buyer will have to pay
all the customs and tax duties.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The downtown area of Skopje is readily accessible by foot, taxi
or bus. Public transportation is inexpensive. Taxis are usually
metered, safe, reliable and easy to hire either by calling or
hailing one on the street. Taxi meters charge you a flat rate of
60MKD (a little bit less than $1) for the first 3 kilometers, after
which 50 denars are added for each additional kilometer. Tipping is
not necessary, but due to the influx of many foreigners in the last
few of years, it sometimes is expected. There also are many buses
available throughout Skopje and other areas in Macedonia. Public bus
tickets are about $2 for a book of 10 and are usually available at
newspaper kiosks around town and at the public transportation
dispatchers’ offices. Police cars are blue and white and police
frequently stop non-diplomatic vehicles to check papers. Although
there are some new ambulances in Skopje, generally “ambulances” are
white cars with a blue light on the top. Fire vehicles are red.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Macedonia is connected by air with some of the Balkan countries,
Europe and the rest of the world. The airports that service
Macedonia operate domestically and internationally. Skopje’s nearest
airport is at Petrovec; about 25 km from Skopje (a 20–30 minute
drive) and the Ohrid Airport is 7 km from the town of Ohrid, a
2-1/2-hour drive from Skopje. In the late fall and winter, Skopje
Airport frequently closes due to thick fog. In this case, most
planes will land in Ohrid and arrange a bus to drive you back to
Skopje. Avioimpex (Macedonian), MAT (Macedonian), Adria (Slovenian),
Austrian Airlines, Olympic Airways (Greek), Crossair, Croatian Air,
Turkish Air and Malev (Hungarian) are the airlines that connect
Skopje with cities such as Athens, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich,
Istanbul, Budapest, and Rome.
Train service between Skopje, Thessaloniki (Greece), Ljubljana
and Belgrade operates on a daily basis. The approximate cost of a
railroad ticket from Skopje to Thessaloniki, Greece, is about 600
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Skopje and the rest of the country are covered by a digital
telephone system network. The Embassy is connected to Skopje’s main
digital switchboard, making incoming and outgoing calling easy.
There is a public phone card system installed in Skopje and
throughout the country. For 75 denars, users can purchase a pre-paid
telephone card valid for a certain number of calling units (usually
100 minutes) for local phone calls. These cards are available in all
post offices and newspaper kiosks in the city. There are public
telephones in the kiosks. A paging system was established in 1995
and there is a mobile telephone network as well. Electronic mail
(e-mail) is available through several local servers in Skopje and
there are many internet cafés.
A new mobile telephone system was established Macedonia in 1996.
The purchase of this system is very costly (US$500 for a unit,
US$350 for the line, though the price is dropping.) The direct AT&T
number to U.S. from Macedonia is 00-800-4288. When making
long-distance calls, dial 00 first, then the country code. Every
diplomatic residence has a direct digital touchtone telephone line.
International calls to the U.S. cost about $1.30 per minute (as of
March 1998). There are other international phone services besides
AT&T that can be used to reduce the rates of long-distance phone
calls. All private international telephone calls made from the
Embassy will be charged in dollars or denars and bills will be
distributed at the end of every month. These bills need to be paid
to the cashier within 10 days of the billing date.
The duty officer’s 24-hour cell phone number is 070-205-687. The
fax number at the Embassy is 389-2-117-103 and the phone number is
389-2-116-180. The country code is 389 and the Skopje city code is
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Mail for the American Embassy Skopje is handled through the
diplomatic pouch, which goes out twice a week from Washington, D.C.
Only letter mail can be sent by the pouch. Incoming mail usually
arrives at the Embassy twice a week (most of the times Mondays and
Fridays). Shipments take 2–3 weeks to arrive from the United States.
The pouch address is:
Name Department of State 7120 Skopje Place Washington, D. C.
The international address:
Name American Embassy Ilinden Blvd, b.b. 91000 Skopje Macedonia
International mail is not reliable; the transit time to and from
the U.S. varies and can take from one week to one month. All
international packages are opened and inspected by the local post
office upon arrival in Macedonia. There is delivery to residences
daily except Sundays.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
AM and FM radio reception is good. Macedonia has no
English-language programs on standard broadcasts, but local stations
offer a variety of good musical programs, both classical and modern.
VOA and BBC are available in the Skopje area, and broadcast by local
stations in many cities throughout Macedonia.
It is best to bring your own multi-system TV, VCR, radio, and
stereo since all the Macedonian channels broadcast in color in the
European system (Pal/Secam). Multi-system TVs are not readily
available locally; however European TVs can be purchased almost
everywhere. Small satellite dishes are also readily available. A
cable TV system is in its initial phase here, and is available with
5 English channels: CNN, a sports channel, a music channel, the
Cartoon Network/TNT, and a movie channel (mostly English movies with
subtitles in Macedonian). One can also purchase an AFN decoder
through the Camp Able Sentry PX which provides 6 channels in
English. Cost is around $600 for the decoder purchase. Installation
of the required satellite dish is additional. An American TV with
VCR can be used with a transformer to play computer games and
VHS/NTSC tapes. Video movies in VHS/PAL/Secam system are very
popular and readily available in Macedonia. Unfortunately, the
Embassy recommends that personnel not buy or rent local tapes due to
copyright infringement issues and poor quality.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Macedonia has a strong and growing media. A number of daily
newspapers and many weekly political magazines are published in
Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish. The International Herald Tribune
is available in Skopje the day after its publication. One can also
find U.S.A. Today, Newsweek, Time and Cosmopolitan, as well as the
Financial Times and The Independent. Preferred subscriptions to
English newspapers and magazines should be sent via pouch.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The U.S. Embassy’s Health Unit is staffed with one full-time
local registered nurse responsible for the care of the American
Embassy direct-hire employees and dependents. The nurse also is a
liaison with the local medical community. The Health Unit is
equipped to provide basic preventive/routine care and immunizations.
An extensive doctor referral system has been developed and the nurse
will make the appropriate referrals as needed. The nurse will give
you a list of recommended doctors who speak English. The Regional
Medical Officer (RMO) and the regional psychiatrist visit Skopje
once or twice a year and reside in Vienna. The regional Foreign
Service Nurse Practitioner is resident in Sofia and also visits post
on a regular basis.
Skopje has several hospitals and private clinics providing
specialties in all fields. The university and the military hospitals
are the largest and the most up-to-date. They each have modern
American and German equipment. The quality of cardiac care at the
university hospital is at a level of 80–85% when compared to U.S.
Most commonly prescribed medications are available in Skopje at a
much lower price. Private and state-owned pharmacies (APTEKAs) are
scattered throughout the city and are well stocked with medications
from Macedonia, Germany, France, Greece, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.
Some medications, including antibiotics, are available without
prescription. However, you should bring an adequate supply of
special brands you may prefer. You also should bring special allergy
medication that you need, since there is a limited number of allergy
Community Health Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Sanitary conditions are fair in Skopje. Municipal garbage removal
is twice weekly. Although the mayor is making a concerted effort to
clean up the city, there still are large amounts of trash visible on
the streets, in the parks, and in the ravines.
City tap water is potable but high in calcium carbonate and has
no added fluoride. Filtering water at home and purchasing bottled
water is recommended. Water distillers are available to U.S.
Government residents if they choose to use them. Infants from 6
months of age and children up to age 16 need to take supplemental
sodium fluoride tablets.
Air pollution and smog are problems and may at times reach
menacing and bothersome levels for allergy sufferers. Pollutants
from nearby factories, burning coal, burning wood, use of lead-based
fuel and high pollen counts are all contributing factors to the
pollution and may increase susceptibility to respiratory ailments.
The food is clean and most of the local restaurants in Macedonia
are safe and good. The local fruits and vegetables are excellent and
do not require any special preparation beyond normal washing. Meat
should be bought only from a clean, reputable butcher. Pasteurized
milk is available everywhere, though it is not always refrigerated.
Most people buy UHT, shelf-life whole milk. Imported, low-fat (UHT)
milk can be found occasionally in the larger shops in Skopje.
Although brucellosis in sheep has been a problem in Macedonia, the
pasteurized dairy milk and cheeses found in the stores are safe.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Twice yearly the Skopje area is sprayed to control mosquitoes and
other pests and vermin. There are no immunizations required for
entry into the country, although the CDC (Centers for Disease
Control) does recommend hepatitis A and B shots for stays longer
than 6 months or for stays out of the cities. Ticks carrying the
virus that causes tick-borne encephalitis are found in central and
eastern Europe, including countries of the former Soviet Union. Lyme
disease (also transmitted by ticks) is present in Macedonia. There
are no unusual health risks involved with living in Macedonia. All
personnel should make arrangements to bring their shot records up to
date in accordance with Mission medical recommendations before
arriving at post.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 5/31/2002
The U.S. Government and the Government of Macedonia recently
concluded a bilateral work agreement whereby the eligible family
members of official employees of each government are allowed on a
reciprocal basis to be employed on the local economy. The official
documentation states that the “Employment Office of the Republic of
Macedonia will be in charge of issuing work permits to the
dependents of official employees upon request.” An application
procedure has been established with the Employment Office. If any
family member is interested in employment with a Macedonian firm or
foreign employer operating in Macedonia, please contact the Embassy
Administrative Officer or the Personnel Assistant soonest.
The Embassy does have five PIT (Part-time, Intermittent, and
Temporary) positions and a few PSC (Personal Services Contract)
positions that are available to American Embassy eligible family
members. A number of PVOs (Private Voluntary Organizations) and
several international schools also have opportunities for eligible
family members to work. However, there is not a wide variety of
options. With the growing workload of the Embassy staff, American
eligible family members may be hired on a contract basis for special
projects. The presence of international contractors and
English-language schools, further limit the few opportunities for
work. Those interested in working at post should visit the Family
Liaison Office in the State Department and fill out a skills bank
form prior to departure from the U.S. The Embassy also sponsors a
summer employment program for dependent children ages 16 and older
if attending high school or college as funds permit.
American Embassy - Skopje
Post City Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The capital of Macedonia is Skopje. It has a population of
600,000 inhabitants. Skopje is an ancient city with a rich history.
As early as the Roman period it was known under the name of Scupi.
Later, extending to both sides of the Vardar River, the town
acquired its Slav name of Skopje. Skopje has experienced swift
development, particularly since the Second World War. This trend was
interrupted in 1963, when a disastrous earthquake hit. Thanks to
worldwide assistance, Skopje was quickly renewed and rebuilt.
Today, Skopje is a fairly small modern city, which is becoming an
important diplomatic center in the Balkans. It plays a vital part in
the cultural and academic life of the country because it is the
political and economic center of Macedonia. It houses the
headquarters of all state institutions, the archbishop of the
Macedonian Orthodox Church, and the seats of other major religious
Skopje is also the industrial, trading and banking center of
Macedonia. In addition, it is the heart of the Macedonian metal
processing, chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, electric and graphic
industries. Skopje’s industrial development has been accompanied by
an intensive development of trade and banking. More than 1,000
shops, cafes, restaurants and other services operate in the old
quarter and around the city.
Skopje’s old bazaar (market) is located on the left bank of the
Vardar River. Stretching over several blocks, it has long been an
attractive part of town for artists and visitors. Many poems have
been written about it, particularly the covered bazaar (“bezisten”),
which was once divided into 18 different bazaars, one for each
craft. However, with the passage of time, most crafts have died out
and only a few expert craftsmen—shoemakers, goldsmiths and
Skopje is an important tourist center in the Balkans. In addition
to the charming old town and the Kale fortress on the hill, Skopje
attracts guests for its rare cultural and historical monuments. The
Church of the Holy Savior (St. Spas), located in the old town area,
is famous for its wood-carved iconostasis and icons from the 18th
and 19th centuries. It also shelters the tomb of Goce Delcev, the
ideologist of the Macedonia national liberation movement. In
addition, the Izet Begovata and the Mustapha Pasha mosques in the
old town represent the Islamic culture.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The post, established in 1994 as a Liaison Office, became an
Embassy on March 23, 1996, and is located on Ilinden Blvd., about 2
km from downtown.
The U.S. Embassy in Skopje is growing with about 50 Americans and
over 240 Foreign Service nationals. The chancery building includes
offices for the Executive, Political, Economic, Consular,
Administrative Sections as well as the Office of Public Affairs and
the Defense Attache Office. USAID is located in a separate building
near downtown (Jurij Gagarin 15/3, Skopje 1000, telephone: (389 2
380-446) FAX: (389 2 380-449). The Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC)
is also located separate at Orce Nikolov St. # 118–a, next to the
Ministry of Defense. The working hours at the Embassy are 8 a.m. to
5 p.m. Civilian employees are paid biweekly by electronic funds
transfer issued via the Regional Administrative Management Center (RAMC)
in Paris or Financial Service Center in Charleston, S.C.
An Embassy representative will meet new employees at the airport.
Please inform the Embassy, in advance, of your travel plans and
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Every effort is made to have fully furnished assigned housing
ready for new arrivals. However, due to personnel overlaps or other
obstacles, this is not always possible. When necessary, suitable
temporary accommodations are made in other vacant quarters, or in
one of the local hotels.
The Embassy normally uses one of the best hotels in Skopje. It is
close to the Embassy, hotel costs are within approved per diem
rates, and meals can be obtained at the hotel or nearby local
restaurants at reasonable prices. Several small private comfortable
hotels are also available for TDYers. A hotel downtown has recently
been renovated and is close to U.S. standards.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
All U.S. Government personnel and their families live in
furnished short-term government-leased housing. The Ambassador lives
in a newly purchased residence; the DCM resides near the Ambassador.
Furnishings Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
All short-term lease (STL) homes are furnished with basic
furniture for the living room, dining room and bedrooms. The master
bedroom has a queen-sized bed, while the second bedroom usually has
two twin beds. The Embassy has hospitality (Welcome Kits) containing
basic housekeeping items that new arrivals may use until they get
their airfreight or shipment. The kit includes bath and bed linens,
pots and pans, kitchen utensils, plates, glasses, silverware, a
toaster and an iron.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Major appliances such as a stove, refrigerator, freezer, washer
and dryer are provided to each household by the Embassy. Some of the
appliances are European and thus smaller than U.S. models. The
electric current here is 220V, 50-cycle, A.C. Outlets are the
standard European two-pin type. The Embassy provides two
transformers for each household; employees are advised to bring a
supply of converter plugs and extra transformers and adapters for
entertainment equipment, computers and small kitchen appliances. A
transformer will change the voltage, but not the megahertz, which
means you can run 110V appliances, but any timing devices (clocks,
timers) will not run efficiently. Bring battery-operated clocks.
Ordinary equipment will run off transformers in the 50–250 watt
range. Devices with heating elements (hair curling irons,
microwaves, toasters, counter-top ovens, etc.) usually need 500 to
1,000 watts, or more. Check your appliances before buying
transformers to match wattage levels. Make sure you bring sufficient
adapters to plug in your 110V/220V U.S. appliances.
Appliances using 220V can be bought here without problem but can
be expensive. The power supply sometimes suffers from surges and
spikes. There have been some short and infrequent disruptions in
service, especially at high usage times of the year.
Food Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The availability of food has constantly improved since the
lifting of the embargo with Greece in 1995. Market areas are usually
complete with a grocer, butcher, florist, greengrocer, pharmacy, and
fish merchant. Markets and shops generally are open every day. On
Sundays shops close earlier. Meat and poultry, both local and
imported, are always available. Local beef is pretty good, as is
lamb. There are local butcher shops all over Skopje where one can
buy fresh (unfrozen) meat. Fruit and vegetables are abundant,
although there is less of a variety during the winter season. Citrus
fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits are imported on a
regular basis. One sometimes can find pineapples and mangoes as
well. Macedonia is well-known for its variety of sweet peppers, both
green and red. There are tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplants,
zucchini, and peppers from early spring to late fall. Cherries,
strawberries, peaches, apricots, apples, cantaloupe, watermelons and
grapes are locally produced and available all summer and fall. There
also are hot peppers and more exotic fruits, berries and vegetables
in the market. Produce is also imported fairly regularly from Greece
Skopje has several larger supermarkets (both Macedonian and
Greek) in which shoppers usually can find both international and
local products including canned goods, cheeses, processed and cured
meats, fish, frozen meats and vegetables, pasta, juices, packaged
foods, snacks, soft drinks, cleaning supplies, toiletries, food
wraps, ice trays, coffee (whole beans and ground), many teas, etc.
Some Western-style supermarkets are available. The CLO can provide
specific info. There are several open-air markets for fruits and
vegetables, and the CLO can recommend butcher places for fresh meat.
Canned fruits and vegetables are common. Some specialty items,
like cranberry sauce and applesauce, are not available.
Spices are available locally; however, you should consider
bringing spices for special ethnic dishes. Walnuts, hazelnuts and
cashews are available here, although there are no pecans or
macadamia nuts. You can find peanut butter here occasionally, but it
can be expensive. Macedonians use dried flavorings, like vanilla, in
their baking. Brown sugar is available but it is very expensive.
Chocolate chips and cream of tartar are not available. Baking
chocolate is not very good in quality although it is available
locally. Baking soda is readily available as well as yeast in both
dry and fresh (refrigerated) form. Packaged soups are available in
dry form only. There is no canned soup.
Macedonians mostly eat white bread (Italian style). They also
make rye bread, whole wheat, corn and a version of chewier peasant
bread. Pastries are very popular and sandwich types of rolls with
cheese and meat combinations are really good. Macedonia has two main
types of cheeses, the hard yellow, kashkaval and the soft white,
sirenje (like feta). There are different versions of these types,
some imported from other countries and some locally produced. Edam
and Gouda are imported and consistently available. There is no
mozzarella cheese available locally but it can be found in nearby
Spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas can be found locally, as
can rice. Lasagna noodles can be found occasionally, but not always.
One can find some cereals (corn flakes and rice puffs) or
porridge-like cereals, including cream of wheat and oatmeal. There
are local dairies and the milk is pasteurized; however, most
Americans buy the UHT shelf life milk, which is now available in low
fat version as well. Margarine and butter (local and imported) and
cream cheese are available. Yogurt is a mainstay to the Macedonian
diet and comes as a liquid and a more solid form (kiselo mleko);
there is also sour cream. Baby food is limited in variety and
expensive. It is recommended that you ship it.
Embassy employees are entitled to a consumables allowance from
the U.S. In addition, there is a small Post Exchange store (like a
7-Eleven store) at Camp Able Sentry by the Skopje Airport that is
open for U.S. Embassy employees holding a U.S. diplomatic passport.
Working hours: Mon – Sat 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., and Sun 11:00 a.m–5:00
p.m. Don’t forget your diplomatic passport and Embassy badge! You
can buy coffee, cereals, American non-alcoholic drinks and juices,
Campbell’s soups, cake mixes, chocolates and chewing gum, as well as
detergent, American toilet paper and other cleaning products and
toiletries. There are some generic brands of medicine and vitamins,
and towels, T-shirts, magazines, books and videotapes. The P.X. has
been growing and every time you go you find something new.
Some people travel to Thessaloniki, Greece (about 3-1/2 hours
away) for a wider selection. However, it would be advisable to ship
certain items and spices needed for ethnic dishes and special diets.
What You May Consider Bringing From the States. Aside from food
items mentioned above, you should think about bringing any specialty
foods you really like (tacos, Tex-Mex, Chinese, etc.). Ship any
preferred medicines or personal hygiene items, sewing material and
kits, games and toys, playing cards and accessories, children books,
favorite brands of cosmetics and perfume, contact lens enzyme
cleaner and solutions, and disposable diapers (which are expensive).
Also bring an extra pair of eyeglasses and U.S. stamps. Holiday
decorating items are available, but in limited supply and variety.
Macedonia has a variety of cleaning supplies, but you may
consider bringing those you prefer. If you need a non-perfumed or
hypoallergenic variety of clothes detergent you should bring it.
Paper napkins, facial tissue and toilet paper are readily available,
but not as soft. All food wraps are available, even a German brand
of Ziploc, but none of the material is as sturdy as American
products. You should bring your own linens. High-quality sheets and
towels can be quite expensive to purchase locally and are made to
fit European-size beds. The Embassy provides beds that are queen-
and twin-sized. There are no U.S.-size linens available in
Clothing Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Wardrobes for Skopje should include hot and cold weather
clothing. Good winter clothing, boots, gloves, hats, rain gear, and
umbrellas are recommended. Summer clothing should be lightweight.
Macedonia makes and exports clothes and shoes in average sizes of
reasonable quality. Skopje has several sporting goods stores, but
items are often very expensive.
Clothing requirements in Skopje are relatively informal. Most
Americans at the Embassy wear business attire (suit and tie for men,
suit or dress for women). The amount of clothes and variety of
dresses required for cocktail parties, receptions, and formal
dinners varies according to rank and representational activities.
European women dress fashionably, particularly for social occasions.
Black is always in style for dressy occasions. Men wear dark suits
for official functions, receptions, and informal dinners. Black tie
is rarely worn.
If you want to have clothing made here, tailoring is inexpensive
and you may consider bringing material and notions, as the selection
here is limited. Bring enough shoes for your entire tour of duty
such as sandals, sports shoes, shoes for hiking. Macedonia has a
beautiful countryside. Bring plenty of lingerie and stockings; size,
styles and colors are limited, and quality is not good. You can
order these items from catalogs or the Internet and have them
delivered via pouch. Good quality imported items are expensive here.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Skopje has a few shopping centers in the city with a good variety
of locally made and imported goods. You may prefer to ship your
favorite items from the U.S. using your consumables allowance. Bring
all toiletries, cosmetics and prescription medicines that you
normally use. A basic tool kit and a selection of nails, screws, and
hooks would be helpful. Macedonia has candles, party items,
stationery, greeting cards, and holiday items, though the quality
may be different. Craft supplies for children (paints, markers,
paper and clay) are available, but the quality is not the same and
cost more than in the U.S.; there is no construction paper. Photo
developing is quick and reliable, though a bit more expensive than
in the U.S. and of a bit lower quality. Computer sales and repair
shops do exist, and there is a small Apple computer office here.
However, the quality of work is questionable. Computers are
Laundry services are available, but Embassy residences have
washers and dryers. Dry cleaning and shoe repair can be done
locally. You can find dressmakers and tailors. Fabrics and other
materials are available, but the selection is limited (some people
travel to Greece for more variety). There are several satisfactory
and inexpensive beauty and barber shops in the city. Some hair
products are available locally, but employees are advised to bring a
supply of the brands they prefer.
Prescription drugs and health-related items can be purchased by
mail through a U.S. pharmacy that specializes in shipping overseas
CVS Pharmacy 2125 E St. NW Washington, DC 20037 Phone:
202-338-6337 Fax: 202-625-6621
Domestic Help Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Good domestic help is easy to find in Skopje. Cooks, maids, and
gardeners are available for hire on an hourly basis. Usually the
salaries range from $3–$5 per hour. Senior officers at post usually
employ full-time or part-time workers, depending on representational
duties and family size. Single employees also hire day workers for
general housework and laundry. Supplying living quarters for
domestic help has not been the practice in Macedonia. Usually, it is
not customary for employees to receive bonuses at Christmas, Easter
and vacation. However, you may decide to reward your employee for
work well done at those times.
All American employers are expected to follow Macedonian law. For
hired help working more than 20 hours per week, a written contract
is required and the employer is responsible for all social payments
(about 30% of the base salary). Labor under 20 hours a week is
considered casual employment, with no legal requirements.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The Republic of Macedonia is a multi-confessional country and the
church is separate from the state. There are many churches and
monasteries in the country. Macedonians are predominantly Orthodox
Christians. There are also Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic
The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Skopje holds services every day
at 6.00 p.m. (18:00) and on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Croatian. There
is an International Church Meeting in English on Sundays at 11:00
a.m. in a local hotel. The Macedonian Orthodox Church holds services
every day at 7:00 a.m. and every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. The Islamic
Community holds regular daily prayer services in the mosques
throughout Skopje. There also are Jewish and other religious
communities that hold services weekly in Skopje.
At Post Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM At this time, there are
five schools in Skopje serving the international community with
QSI—International School of Skopje. QSI is a private non-profit
institution, which offers a high quality American education in the
English language for elementary students from 3 years through 13
years of age. The first QSI International School was founded in
Sanaa, Yemen, in 1971, and the QSI school in Skopje was established
in 1996. There presently are 19 QSI schools throughout the world.
The curriculum includes English (reading, grammar, composition, and
spelling), mathematics, cultural studies (history, geography,
economics, Macedonian culture and history), science, Macedonian
language, computer literacy, art, music, and physical education as
part of the regular program. A comprehensive Intensive English
program is in place for non-native English speakers. Accreditation
with Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools was granted
in May 2000 and all QSI schools are accredited by the Commission on
International and Trans-regional Accreditation (CITA). The school
presently enrolls 63 students from 22 nations, and has six U.S.
certified American citizen teachers on staff.
The school has an American citizen administrator and receives a
grant from the Office of Overseas Schools. All U.S. Mission
dependents attend the school. The school year begins the end of
August and ends mid-June.
Extracurricular activities include a computer club, ballet, arts
and crafts, soccer, Spanish, skating, cooking and karate. The school
does not have cafeteria facilities; children bring their lunches.
QSI International School of Skopje Ilinden Blvd. b.b. 91 000
Skopje, Macedonia Phone Number: (389) 91-367-678 E-mail: email@example.com
American School, Macedonia. American School Macedonia was
established in 1994 and is an independent, co-educational day school
offering an educational program for grades K-12 for all
nationalities. Currently, no U.S. Government employee dependents
attend this school. The high-school diploma is not recognized by the
Macedonian Ministry of Education. American School Macedonia has 49
students in the Elementary School and 15 in the High School. Their
staff consists of 12 members with a 7:1 student/teacher ratio; two
of their staff are Americans and the rest are Macedonians who are
fluent in English. The Elementary curriculum consists of English,
Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Physical Education and Foreign
Language from 4th grades and higher; and High School curriculum
consists of the same plus Computer Science. The school has a
computer lab of 15 computers plus educational videos and CD’s.
American School Macedonia Nikola Parapunov St. b.b. 91 000
Skopje, Macedonia Phone: 389-91-363-265 Fax: 389-91-377-344 E-mail:
NOVA High School. NOVA High School is an independent English
language, American-model secondary school in Skopje, Macedonia.
Founded in 1997 with an entering class of 40 students, NOVA is
accredited and endorsed by the Macedonian Ministry of Education and
was accepted as a candidate for CITA accreditation in February 1999.
During the 1999/2000 academic year, NOVA served 137 Macedonian and
foreign students representing 15 foreign countries. Three students
are American citizens. At present no U.S. Government employee
children attend this school. NOVA provides a comprehensive American
high school curriculum in mathematics, social and natural sciences,
English language and literature, foreign languages, fine and
performing arts, and physical education. The new NOVA building
scheduled for occupation by September 2000 will include over 20
modern classrooms and laboratories, an art studio, an auditorium, a
library, a full service cafeteria, and a physical fitness center.
NOVA provides extensive post-secondary school counseling to students
pursuing higher degrees abroad and serves as the PSAT/SAT testing
center for Macedonia. Several faculty members are American citizens.
NOVA High School Maxim Gorki St. 18 91 000 Skopje, Macedonia
Phone: (389-91) 118 - 440 (389-91) 127 - 438 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
American International School of the Republic of Macedonia.
American International is a non-profit, private international school
based on the American educational system, integrated into a
selective Macedonian classic high school curriculum, incorporating
European educational novelties. American International of Macedonia
is a member of the North West Association of Schools and Colleges
and, at the same time, it is a part of the growing family of private
high schools in Macedonia accredited according to American and
Macedonian standards and norms. Founded in 1997, it is the first
Macedonian school to be accredited by both countries. The curriculum
is conducted in English by American and international teachers, with
advanced academic degrees and special training.
American International School of The Republic of Macedonia
Director: Maria Kucoisma Makedonija Blvd, 9/11 91000 Skopje R.
Macedonia Phone: 389-91-126-123 E-Mail: email@example.com
Josef B. Tito High School. For 11th and 12th graders, an
International Baccalaureate Program.
This is an international program for junior and senior year
students accredited in Geneva. The program started in Skopje in 1996
and is taught here in the elite language school, Josef B. Tito High
School. During the school year 1999–2000 enrollment was 1,178
students. For more information, please contact the Director at
telephone no. 214–314 or 211–082
Away From Post Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM The State
Department provides an away-from-post education allowance for all
grades, K–12. Some parents have arranged for high school education
in boarding schools, such as in Switzerland, due to scarce
extracurricular activities and limited course selection in local
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
There are no resources for special education needs.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Private language tutors and teachers of dance, music, art,
crafts, martial arts and sports are readily available at reasonable
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Skopje provides many opportunities for both indoor and outdoor
sports. Soccer and basketball are popular for all ages. The city
offers body-building clubs, tennis courts, football stadiums,
basketball stadiums. There are three indoor/outdoor swimming pools
in the area. One can find many parks and jogging trails along the
Vardar River, which winds through Skopje.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Skopje offers a wide selection of museums and churches displaying
unique woodcarvings, ancient icons, and frescoes. There are many
beautiful places to visit in Macedonia. Hiking in the mountains,
hunting, and fishing are favorite past-times. The country has
attractive lakes and mountain resort areas within a 2-hour drive
from Skopje. Some people travel to Greece for long weekends: the
drive is 4–5 hours to some very nice beaches, and a train can take
you to many spots along the Aegean Sea.
For nature-lovers, constant sunshine in the summer is perfect for
mountaineering, free-climbing, paragliding, etc. There also are a
number of hunting areas, open almost all year-round. Most national
parks in Macedonia have mountain houses in which to sleep for a very
Matka Canyon is located 15km southwest of Skopje. This natural
treasure is well preserved and home to rare and endemic species of
flora and fauna.
Mavrovo is only 1 hour away from Skopje. In the winter, ski lifts
transport visitors to the most interesting areas of the mountain,
either for slalom skiing or pleasure. One- and-a-half hours from
Skopje is another popular mountain resort, Popova Shapka, both for
summer and winter recreation. Other areas are: Pelister, located in
the southern area of Macedonia, which is well known for exclusively
indigenous species of the “Molika” pine tree, and two mountain
lakes; and Krusevo, a settlement located in the highest position in
the Balkan peninsula and offering a beautiful natural winter
recreation area with pleasant ski-terrains and a natural health spa.
Lake Ohrid, a 2-hour drive from Skopje, seems to be the most
popular place to visit in Macedonia. This very deep freshwater lake
provides a summer retreat for Macedonians and international
tourists. Swimming, windsurfing, and sailing abound. It has been
referred to as the Pearl of Macedonia because of its beautiful
surroundings, historical monuments, old architecture and cultural
events. One of the architectural masterpieces of Macedonia from the
early period of Slavic culture is the Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid.
Its size and the arrangement of the fresco-painting in the sanctuary
seem to suggest that it was constructed as a cathedral. Ohrid
Fortress is considered the oldest and best-preserved fortress in
Macedonia. The quaint streets of the Ohrid bazaar are well worth
seeing with shops full of souvenirs, especially the handmade
jewelry. Many restaurants offer Ohrid trout, an indigenous species
of the lake, as a house specialty.
Entertainment Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Skopje has a rich cultural life, which includes concerts,
theaters, cinemas, opera and ballets. The Macedonian National
Philharmonic performs at the National Theater. Many festivals are
held throughout the year in Skopje and other cities. One major
highlight is the Skopje International Jazz Festival held in October,
that hosts many famous American musicians. The last festival in 1999
featured jazz great Herbie Hancock. Other famous jazz musicians,
such as BB King and Ray Charles, have also participated. Some of the
other popular festivals include the Ohrid summer festival, the
Struga poetry evenings, and various art festivals.
Macedonian folk life and culture are represented in the
traditional handknitted and embroidered costumes of the people, as
well as the music and dancing. Various village celebrations, such as
the Galichnik wedding in July and the gathering of Macedonian
emigrants in Bevchani in February, are special events that occur
Skopje has several movie theaters that show both current and old
American films with an English soundtrack and Macedonian subtitles.
They also feature European films. Prices are low.
The restaurants in Macedonia are plentiful, pleasant and
inexpensive. Those in the hotels are usually higher priced than the
ones scattered throughout the city. There is a Mexican restaurant in
old town, three McDonald’s, a macrobiotic/vegetarian restaurant, an
Indian restaurant, and a Chinese restaurant not far from the
Embassy. Most Macedonian restaurants offer traditional food, grilled
meats, salads and French fries. There are a lot of Macedonian fast
food places in Skopje—mostly franchise-type kiosks on the streets
that offer the popular “kebabs,” grilled sausage with or without a
bun, grilled chicken sandwiches or hamburgers. Pubs along with
restaurants provide good food, picturesque interiors, and dinner
music. There are many café‚ bars and some discos in town.
Macedonian beers (Skopsko, Star Licets and Zlaten Dab) are good
and inexpensive; local wines are plentiful and inexpensive and
compete well internationally.
Among Americans Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM The mission is
small so social life among the Americans is very informal. The CLO
organizes trips to local areas of interest. Most personnel socialize
casually by sharing meals in their own homes, or by going out to
restaurants with a few friends. The CLO sponsors the annual
children’s Halloween party, Christmas party and other organized
International Contacts Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM The
international community in Skopje is small but growing. The
International Women’s Association began in April 1997. The club is
open to all international women and meets once a month at a coffee
event, sponsors charity events, and organizes tours of local
museums, historical sites and other areas of interest. It also
sponsors personal enrichment programs such as art classes, cooking,
bridge, etc. The local Hash House Harriers group also is very
popular and meets every 2 weeks. Both of these groups can provide an
opportunity to meet others not associated with the Embassy.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Senior Embassy officers have frequent contact with the diplomatic
community and with Macedonian officials. American and other
diplomatic officers generally entertain with cocktail parties and
dinners at restaurants or in their homes.
Junior officers and staff personnel lead an active social life
within the international community. Although they have fewer social
requirements than senior officials do, they frequently attend and
host official functions.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Because the Embassy community is not large, formal calling on
principal officers and their spouses is not done. However, it is
important for Embassy newcomers, soon after their arrival in
country, to meet with the Ambassador, DCM, and senior section heads
in their offices. It also is appropriate for officers to call on
their counterparts in local government and at other missions.
You may bring calling cards or business cards or have these
printed locally, both in Macedonian and English. Local cards are
good quality and reasonably priced. Staff employees will find a
small number of these cards useful, but not essential.
Special Information Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Post Orientation Program
The CLO provides a social sponsor to help new family members
acquaint themselves with the city. Security briefings provide
additional information on the function and programs of the Embassy
in Macedonia. CLO will provide a welcome packet featuring a map of
Skopje and information about post, the city and Macedonia along with
a Health and Information booklet and housing handbook.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Skopje. Most
personnel travel first to Frankfurt, Zurich or Vienna on an American
or code-share carrier, then proceed to Skopje. Make sure your travel
plans comply with the Fly America Act.
Airfreight from the U.S. can sometimes take long to arrive. Be
sure to bring enough clothing and other personal items to suit your
needs prior to receipt of UAB. A hospitality kit with dishes, bed
linens and kitchen utensils is available for setting up temporary
housekeeping. If you have any children do not forget to bring their
special toys, games and books.
Documents to be handcarried to post should include diplomatic
passports with visas, additional identification photos, original
travel orders, tickets and travel itinerary, excess baggage coupons,
international drivers licenses, all shipping documents, vaccination
and medical records, and health records for pets.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
All U.S. Government personnel have the usual diplomatic
privileges of duty-free entry for their personal belongings,
household effects, automobiles, and other goods for their personal
use and convenience. All personal property must be properly cleared
through Macedonian customs. American personnel may not, under any
circumstances, import into Macedonia goods or items for the purpose
of resale, barter, payment of wages to employees, or for any similar
Passage Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
As of September 1, 2000, American citizens do not need visas to
Pets Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
There is no quarantine for pets coming into Macedonia, but all
animals must have a current health certificate, less than 10 days
old, certified by the country or Department of Agriculture (they
have offices for this in Annapolis and Richmond), and a rabies
certificate. All shots must be up-to-date before travel. Despite
what some books say, you do not need an import permit at this time.
When dogs and cats arrive in Macedonia, the Embassy will arrange to
have a state vet meet them at the airport. He will review the
papers, examine the animal, and give you an entry stamp. He may ask
to see all the medical records for the animal, so have them handy.
Macedonia has a veterinary hospital. Some Americans bring their
pets to a couple of private practitioners. Other Embassy employees
prefer to take their pets to Thessaloniki, Greece, for more serious
treatment. Veterinary pharmaceuticals are limited. If your pet
requires regular medication, it is a good idea to bring a supply
from the United States. This is also true for any special dietary
needs of your pet. A limited supply of pet supplies and foods
(Pedigree brand) are available at the vet hospital or pet stores in
the city. Food and accessories are expensive and limited in variety.
If you are arriving by air with a pet, please notify GSO so that
an expediter is available to help you complete customs formalities.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The Chief of Mission’s approval must be obtained before any
firearms may be brought into the country.
Employees must consult with the European regional bureau before
shipping personal firearms or ammunition into Macedonia.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The denar is the official currency in Skopje. As of October 2000
the exchange rate is about 70 denars to one U.S. dollar. Denars come
in bills of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000, while the coins are 1,
2 and 5 denars.
German Deutsche marks also are commonly used in Macedonia, and
many prices are denominated in them.
U.S. dollars can be exchanged in any bank or private exchange
office in the city. Usually the exchange rate in the private
exchange offices is a bit higher than in the banks. But, all
transactions are based on the exchange rate of the national bank of
The metric system of weights and measures is used in Skopje.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/31/2002
The GSO should be notified in advance if the employee wishes to
sell anything before his or her departure from post. Duty may apply
to some items.
The Government of Macedonia instituted a 19% Value Added Tax
(VAT) on April 1, 2000. Diplomatic personnel may request a quarterly
refund of VAT paid on purchases of 5,000 denars or more.
The Embassy has an agreement with a local bank to cash individual
personal checks for either dollars or denars. The Embassy cashier
will assist new arrivals in opening a local bank account for this
purpose. All American employees should have their salary directly
deposited in their U.S. bank or credit union.
Credit cards are accepted only in a few places in Macedonia. Some
of the larger hotels now take American Express, Diners Club, Visa
and MasterCard. Traveler’s checks can only be cashed for denars at
hotels and a few banks. There is an American Express office which
will issue counter checks from the credit card that can subsequently
be cashed at a bank. Local banks also issue travelers checks in U.S.
dollars or Deutsche marks.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
Poulton, Hugh: Who are the Macedonians?
Andonovski, Hristo: The Socialist Republic of Macedonia.
Glenny, Misha: The Fall of Yugoslavia.
Wolff, Robert Lee: The Balkans in our Time.
Delcev, Goce: The Republic of Macedonia.
Danaevska, Milijana: Macedonia Opens the Doors.
Malcom, Noel: Kosovo.
Coste, Dobnica: Time of Death.
Danfath, Loring: The Macedonian Conflict.
West, Rebecca: Black Lamb, Grey Falcon.
Kaplan, Robert: Balkan Ghosts.
Rupkik, Jacques: The Other Europe.
Babic, Gordana: Icons.
Carver, Robert: The Accused Mountains.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM
The following holidays are observed in the American Embassy:
New Year’s January 1 & 2 Christmas Day (Orthodox) January 7
Easter April/May Labor Day May 1 Ilinden Uprising Day August 2
Macedonia Independence Day September 8 People’s Uprising Against
Fascism October 11
New years January 1 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday 3rd Monday
in January President’s Day 3rd Monday in February Memorial Day Last
day in May Independence Day July 4 Labor Day 1st Monday in September
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October Veteran’s Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in Nov Christmas Day December 25