Macedonia Economy and Culture
Following the long period of economic stagnation during the Ottoman domination, between the two world wars the reclamation of the swamps eliminated malaria, allowing a migration of settlers from the rest of Yugoslavia who, thanks to the agrarian reform, had land available to cultivate.. At the time of the socialist federation, the foundations of industrialization were laid, even if Macedonia has never managed to bridge the economic gap that penalized it compared to the other republics, remaining the poorest in the state. In the aftermath of independence, the country’s economic situation was particularly affected by the international sanctions against Serbia, the loss of traditional commercial outlets and the hostility of neighboring Greece. This situation, together with the need to confront the competition underlying the market economy, produced a serious crisis until 1995 involving a drop in productivity (GDP decreased by 35% from 1990 to 1995) and heavy unemployment.. Since the mid-1990s, however, the situation has improved thanks to international aid from the IMF, the World Bank and the EU which provided capital for structural improvements that, with the reduction of production costs and the privatization of state-owned enterprises, would allow entry into the market economy. Since then the situation has improved significantly, so much so that in 2008 the GDP was 9,569 and inflation was arrested at 8.3% (in 1991 it was 23.5%); however, the problem of unemployment, which in 2007 stood at 34.9%, and that of the trade deficit, whose liabilities amounted to US $ 937 million, have not been resolved. The use of so-called informal activities (undeclared work) mitigates the effects of insufficient employment, the extent of which, however, given their nature, is difficult to quantify. The structure of the farms, small in size and mostly family-run, it remains rather backward. This is proved by the fact that agriculture, while employing approx. a quarter of the active population produces only 10.6% of GDP. The main crops are cereals (wheat, barley and maize), cotton, sugar beet and tobacco, which represents an important item of exports. See for import guide of PAULSOURCING.COM. Relevant is the production of marijuana. The breeding consists mainly of sheep. The Pelagonia lignite deposits guarantee the country autonomy in the energy field. Other minerals include iron (deposits in Gevgelija), chromite (Raduša), magnesite (Štip), copper, lead and zinc(Zletovo and Kratovo). Heavy industry, largely obsolete, has its centers in Kumanovo (iron and steel industry) and Titov Veles and Radivoš (lead and zinc metallurgy). Chemistry is concentrated in the Skopje area which, together with Ohrid and Kočani, is also one of the centers of the mechanical industry. Other sectors of some importance are textiles, tobacco (Prilep, Skopje, Kumanovo), cement (Skopje), paper and sugar industries. The communication routes, as is generally the case in the Balkans, tend to follow the valley floors. Of the nearly 13,000 km of roads, in 2001 approx. the goal; the railway lines that extend for less than 700 km, in 2002 were electrified for approx. one third. There are two main airports, in Skopje and Ohrid.
As for many modern Balkan nations that have been part of the Ottoman Empire, also for Macedonia the birth of a real cultural autonomy dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, when the constraints imposed by the stagnant Ottoman domination seem to be loosening, and the country begins to rediscover its national identity. In previous centuries, and after the great cultural fervor of the Slavic Middle Ages, the destiny of Muslim Macedonia had rather been that of a region not strategically decisive on the fringes of a great empire in progressive decline. Only with the end of the Second World War and with the creation of the Republic within Tito’s Yugoslavia, Macedonia experienced a period of great cultural affirmation, which resulted not only in the literary and artistic use of a language that was previously neglected or even forbidden, but in the creation of a capillary network of cultural infrastructures such as theaters, music and ballet schools, organizations of poets and intellectuals. This pedagogical attention to education will not be lost even in the difficult years following the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, despite the precariousness of the economic and political events of the entire Balkans, and has ensured that Macedonia’s cultural offer was rapidly brought to European research levels., overcoming the difficulties given by language and isolation, and the voluntary exile chosen by many intellectuals. On the contrary, Macedonia has a leading role in seeking cultural mediation between the various ethnic realities of the Balkans. In the country there are numerous theatrical and musical festivals, and two literary festivals of ancient tradition, the poetic evenings of Struga, born in 1961, and the meetings dedicated to Kosta Racin, one of the fathers of Macedonian prose. L’ UNESCO has declared the city of Ohrid a World Heritage Site, both for the ancient Ottoman houses with wooden overhangs, and for the religious buildings of Byzantine and Slavic antiquity, such as the monastery of St. Pantelejmon which has a unique collection of Byzantine icons in the world. In Macedonia there are three universities: San Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, San Clemente di Ohrida in Bitola and one in Tetovo, established on the autonomous initiative of the Albanians in 1995 and recognized by the state only in 2000. § For Art see Macedonia (region).