What You Need To Know
Skopje is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Macedonia. It is the country’s political, cultural, economic, and academic center. It was known in the Roman period under the name Scupi. The territory of Skopje has been inhabited since at least 4000 BC; remains of Neolithic settlements have been found within the old Kale Fortress that overlooks the modern city centre. On the eve of the 1st century AD, the settlement was seized by the Romans and became a military camp. When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western halves in 395 AD, Scupi came under Byzantine rule from Constantinople. During much of the early medieval period, the town was contested between the Byzantines and the Bulgarian Empire, whose capital it was between 972 and 992. From 1282, the town was part of the Serbian Empire and acted as its capital city from 1346. In 1392, the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks who called the town Üsküp. The town stayed under Turkish control for over 500 years, serving as the capital of pashasanjak of Üsküb and later the Vilayet of Kosovo. At that time the city was famous for its oriental architecture. In 1912, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Serbia during the Balkan Wars and after the First World War the city became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kingdom of Yugoslavia). In the Second World War the city was conquered by the Bulgarian Army, which was part of the Axis powers. In 1944, it became the capital city of Democratic Macedonia (later Socialist Republic of Macedonia), which was a federal state, part of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (later Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). The city developed rapidly after World War II, but this trend was interrupted in 1963 when it was hit by a disastrous earthquake. In 1991, it became the capital city of an independent Macedonia. Skopje is located on the upper course of the Vardar River, and is located on a major north-south Balkan route between Belgrade and Athens. It is a center for metal-processing, chemical, timber, textile, leather, and printing industries. Industrial development of the city has been accompanied by development of the trade, logistics, and banking sectors, as well as an emphasis on the fields of transportation, culture and sport.
Area: 571.5 km²
Population: About 502,700
The Macedonia Denar is the currency in Macedonia (The Former Yugoslav Republic, MK, MKD). The symbol for EUR can be written €. The symbol for MKD can be written MKD. The Euro is divided into 100 cents.
Being the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje is home to the largest cultural institutions of the country, such as the National and University Library “St. Kliment of Ohrid”, the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the National Theatre, the National Philarmonic Orchestra and the Macedonian Opera and Ballet. Among the local institutions are the Brothers Miladinov Library which has more than a million documents, the Cultural Information Centre which manages festivals, exhibitions and concerts, and the House of Culture Kočo Racin which is dedicated to contemporary art and young talents. Skopje has also several foreign cultural centres, such as a Goethe-Institut, a British Council, an Alliance française, anAmerican Corner. The city has several theatres and concert halls. The Univerzalna Sala, seating 1,570, was built in 1966 and is used for concerts, fashion shows and congresses. The Metropolis Arena, designed for large concerts, has 3,546 seats. Other large halls include the Macedonian Opera and Ballet (800 seats), the National Theatre (724), and the Drama Theatre (333). Other smaller venues exist, such as the Albanian Theatre and the Youth Theatre. A Turkish Theatre and a Philharmonic hall are under construction.
Skopje is a medium city at European level, but because of their administrative function, they can be compared to small regional metropolis like Sofia and Thessaloniki. Being the capital and largest city in the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje concentrates a large share of the national economy. The Skopje Statistical Region, which encompasses the City of Skopje and some neighbouring municipalities, produces 45,5% of the Macedonian GDP. In 2009, the regional GDP per capital amounted to USD 6,565, or 155% of the Macedonian GDP per capital. This figure is however smaller than the one of Sofia (USD 10,106), Sarajevo (USD 10,048) or Belgrade (USD 7,983), but higher than the one of Tirana (USD 4,126). Because there are no other large city in the Republic of Macedonia, and because of political and economical centralization, a large number of Macedonians living outside of Skopje work in the capital city. The dynamism of the city also encourages rural exodus, not only from Macedonia, but also from Kosovo, Albania and Southern Serbia.
Macedonian, a South Slavic language, is the official language of (the Former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia, though other non-official languages such as Greek and Bulgarian are spoken by members of those communities who live in the FYRoMacedonia.
- Skopje has several public and private hospitals and specialized medical institutions, such as a psychiatric hospital, two obstetric hospitals, a gerontology hospital and institutes for respiratory and ocular diseases. In 2012, Skopje had a ratio of one physician per 251.6 inhabitants, a figure higher than the national ratio (one per 370.9). The ratio of medical specialists was also higher than in the rest of the country. However, the ratio of hospital beds, pharmacists and dentists was lower in Skopje. The population in Skopje enjoys better health standards than other Macedonians. In 2010, the mortality rate was at 8.6‰ in Skopje and 9.3‰ on the national level. The infant mortality rate was at 6.8‰ in Skopje and 7.6‰ in Macedonia.
Skopje is located near three other capital cities, Prishtina (87 km away), Tirana (291 km) and Sofia (245 km). Thessaloniki is 233 km south and Belgrade is 433 km north. Skopje is also at the crossroad of two Pan-European corridors: Corridor X, which runs between Austriaand Greece, and Corridor VIII, which runs from the Adriatic in Albania to the Black sea in Bulgaria. Corridor X links Skopje to Thessaloniki, Belgrade and Western Europe, while Corridor VIII links it with Tirana and Sofia. Corridor X locally corresponds to the M-1 motorway (E75), which is the longest Macedonian highway. It also corresponds to the Tabanovce-Gevgelija railway. Corridor VIII, less developed, corresponds to the M-4 motorway and the Kičevo-Beljakovce railway. Skopje is not quite on the Corridor X and the M-1 does not pass on the city territory. Thus the junction between the M-1 and M-4 is located some 20 km east, close to the airport. Although Skopje is geographically close to other major cities, movement of people and goods is not optimised, especially with Albania. This is mainly due to poor infrastructure. As a result, 61.8% of Skopjans have never been to Tirana, while only 6.7% have never been to Thessaloniki and 0% to Sofia. Furthermore, 26% of Thessalonians, 33% of Sofians and 37% of Tiranans have never been to Skopje.
Rail and coach stations
The main station in Skopje is serviced by the Belgrade-Thessaloniki and Skopje-Prishtina international lines. After the completion of the Corridor VIII railway scheduled for 2022, the city will also be linked to Tirana and Sofia. Daily trains also link Skopje with other Macedonian towns, such as Kumanovo, Kičevo, Štip, Bitola or Veles. Skopje has several minor train stations but the city does not have its own railway network and they are only serviced by intercity or international lines. On the railway linking the main station to Belgrade and Thessaloniki are Dračevo and Dolno Lisiče stations, and on the railway to Kičevo are Skopje-North, Gjorče Petrov and Saraj stations. Several other stations are freight-only. Skopje coach station opened in 2005 and is built right under the main train station. It can host 450 coaches in a day. Coach connections to and from Skopje are much more efficient and diverse than train connections. Indeed, it is regularly linked to many Macedonian localities and foreign cities including Istanbul, Sofia, Prague, Hamburg and Stockholm.
Skopje has a bus network managed by the City and operated by three companies. The oldest and largest is JSP Skopje, a public company founded in 1948. JSP lost its monopoly on public transport in 1990 and two new companies, Sloboda Prevoz and Mak Ekspres, obtained several lines. However, most of the network is still in the hands of JSP which operates 67 lines on 80. Only 24 lines are urban, the others serving localities around the city. Many of the JSP buses are red double-decker buses designed to look like the British-made buses that were in use in the 1950s and 1960s. A tram network has long been planned in Skopje and the idea was first proposed in the 1980s. The project became real in 2006 when the mayor Trifun Kostovski asked for feasibility studies. His successor Koce Trajanovski launched a call for tenders in 2010 and the first line is scheduled for 2019. A new network for small buses started to operate in June 2014, not to replace but to decrease the number of big buses in the city center.
Skopje has an international airport, Skopje “Alexander the Great” Airport. It is located in Petrovec, some 20 km east of the city. Since 2008, it has been managed by the Turkish TAV Airports Holding and it can accommodate up to four million passengers per year. The annual traffic has constantly risen since 2008, reaching one million passengers in 2014. Skopje airport has connections to several European cities, including Vienna, Zürich, Brussels, Istanbul, London and Rome. It also maintains a direct connection with Dubai.
The climate of Skopje is usually classified as continental sub-Mediterranean, while according to the Köppen climate classification it has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), with a mean annual temperature of 13.5 °C (56 °F). Precipitation is relatively low due to the pronounced rain shadow of the Prokletije mountains to the northwest, being only a quarter of what is received on the Adriatic Sea coast at the same latitude. The summers are long, hot and humid. Skopje’s average July high is 31 °C. On average Skopje will see 88 days above 30 °C each year, and 10.2 days above 35.0 °C every year. Winters are short, relatively cold, and wet. Snowfalls are common in the winter period, but heavy snow accumulation is rare and the snowcover lasts only for a few hours or a few days if heavy. In summer, temperatures are usually above 31 °C (88 °F) and sometimes above 40 °C (104 °F). In spring and autumn, the temperatures range from 15 to 24 °C (59 to 75 °F). In winter, the day temperatures are roughly 6 °C (43 °F), but at nights they often fall below 0 °C (32 °F) and sometimes below −10 °C (14 °F). Typically, temeperatures throughout one year range from −13 °C to 39 °C. Occurrences of precipitation are evenly distributed throughout the year, being heaviest from October to December and from April to June.