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Safety Travel Safety: Europe: Macedonia

Macedonia: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Capital: Skopje
Population: 2,054,800
Currency: Macedonian denar (MKD)
Languages: Macedonian 70%, Albanian 21%, Turkish 3%, Serbo-Croatian 3%, other 3%
Religions: Macedonian Orthodox 67%, Muslim 30%, other 3%
Borders: Albania 151 km, Bulgaria 148 km, Greece 246 km, Yugoslavia 221 km

Macedonia is a developing nation undergoing economic change. Conditions in tourist facilities vary considerably and may not be up to western standards.

While the security situation in Macedonia has stabilized, occasional inter-ethnic and criminal violence remains a concern. The overall number of security incidents has diminished significantly since 2001. Travelers should be alert for unusual behavior and other possible indicators that something out of the ordinary is in progress. Acts of intimidation and violence against American citizens have not occurred recently but remain possible.

Americans should avoid demonstrations and other sites, such as roadblocks, where large crowds are gathered, particularly those involving political causes or striking workers.

Crime in Macedonia is low by U.S. standards; however, incidents of theft and other petty crimes do occur, and travelers should take the same precautions they would take in any unfamiliar environment. Criminal inter-gang rivalries and individuals associated with organized crime, particularly in western Macedonia, have been the source of periodic violent confrontations resulting in serious injury and even death to innocent people.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country�s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Macedonian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Macedonia are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Although Macedonian physicians are trained to a high standard, most hospitals and clinics are generally not equipped and maintained at U.S. or Western European standards. Basic medical supplies are available, but specialized treatment may not be obtainable. Travelers with previously diagnosed medical conditions may wish to consult their physician before travel.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Macedonia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Driving safely in Macedonia requires good defensive driving skills. Drivers routinely ignore traffic regulations including driving through red lights and stop signs and turning left from the far right hand lane. These driving practices cause frequent traffic accidents. With a rate of 7.8 deaths per million kilometers driven, drivers, passengers and pedestrians in Macedonia are over seven times more likely to die from a traffic accident than if they were in the United States. Macedonia is currently one of the highest ranked countries in the world for per capital traffic related fatalities.

Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are generally posted. Americans driving in Macedonia should possess a valid American driver�s license and an International Driving Permit. Most major highways are in good repair, but secondary urban and rural roads are poorly maintained, often unlit and are used by horse-drawn carts and livestock. While driving, it is not unusual to come across dead animals, rocks, or objects that have fallen from trucks. Some vehicles are old and lack standard front or rear lights. Secondary mountain roads can be narrow, poorly marked, lack guardrails and quickly become dangerous in inclement weather. Overall public transportation in Macedonia is dilapidated. Roadside emergency services are limited.

In case of emergency, drivers may contact the police at telephone 192, the Ambulance Service at telephone 194 and Roadside Assistance at telephone 196.

Please visit Macedonia's national tourist office website at:
for more information.

As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Macedonia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Macedonia's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Macedonia's air carrier operations. 

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at 1-703-697-7288.

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities. If in doubt, please ask permission before taking photographs.

Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

October 22, 2004

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