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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 themselves.

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.

Macedonian Anthem

“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 schooling.

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 companies.

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 tickets.

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 immobilizers, etc.

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 approximately US$300.

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 denars ($10).


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 02.

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. 20521-7120

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. standards.

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 drugs here.

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 6:00 PM

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 communities.

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 coppersmiths—remain.

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 arrival date.


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 and Turkey.

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 Greece.

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 Macedonia.

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 expensive here.

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 such as:

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 communities.

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.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM At this time, there are five schools in Skopje serving the international community with English-language instruction.

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:

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:

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:

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 schools.

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 rates.

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 reasonable rate.

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 annually.

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.

Social Activities

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 holiday events.

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.

Official Functions

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 purpose.

Passage Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM

As of September 1, 2000, American citizens do not need visas to enter Macedonia.

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 Macedonia.

The metric system of weights and measures is used in Skopje.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/31/2002 6:00 PM


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:

Macedonian Holidays:

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

American Holidays:

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

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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