The region called Macedonia (or Makedonia) in Greece is a large section of the north-northwestern part of the country which, together with Thrace, forms Northern Greece. It is also part of a larger Balkan region widely known in modern times as Macedonia. This Greek region comprises approximately half of that larger region, the rest being in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria.
The Greek position is that the name Macedonia should properly apply only to the region of the historical kingdom of Macedon, which is almost entirely contained within Greece. Thus, Greece uses the term Makedonia or Macedonia to refer to that specific part of its northern region; other countries, particularly Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, instead refer to the region as Aegean Macedonia or Greek Macedonia, reflecting their alternate position that the Greek region comprises only a portion of Macedonia, not its totality.
The region spans:
Though mostly mountainous, the region also encompasses the valleys of the Aliakmon, Axios, Nestos , and Strimon rivers, all of which drain into the Aegean Sea. The region has a population of approximately 2,450,000, and its largest city is Thessaloniki, with a population of around 1,350,000. Other cities include Grevena, Kastoria, Veria, Edessa, Florina, Drama, Kilkis, Serrai, Katerini, Kozani, and Kavala.
The particular region is said to be home of a small minority (estimated 0.5%) of speakers of Slavic languages. Before World War II, the number was slightly higher, but many of them migrated to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia after the end of the war and during the Greek Civil War (1946-49). On the other hand, the Human Rights Watch released a report in 1994 on how the actually larger number (almost 10.000) of Slav Macedonians in the region is harassed by the Greek government and systematically denies their ethnic identity. The Greek government argues that ethnic Slavs (or of Slavic origin) inhabitants of the wider geographical region are not forming an ethnic identity, which can be solely be referred to as Macedonian.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 09:14:12