:: INTRODUCTION ::...
The Macedonians are an ethnic group which inhabits the geographical region of Macedonia (and Republic of Macedonia), in south-eastern Europe and speaks the Macedonian language. They are generally associated with the Macedonian Orthodox Church. The Macedonians are primarily the descendants of the Slavic tribes, Brsjaci (Berzites), Smoljanes, Dragovites, Velegezites, Sagudates, Rihnines and Strujmans, which settled the territory of Macedonia during the early Middle Ages. Basically, the Macedonians are Slavic ethnic group, that settled the region during the early middle ages, in the 6th-7th century.
However, there is a small group of Macedonian that are Muslims. Although they are Macedonians by nationality, there are known as Torbeši, and Gorani.
The Macedonian Slavs call themselves Macedonians, and many foreign sources also refer to them by this name. However, this is somewhat ambiguous, as several different peoples inhabit the region and could equally call themselves "Macedonians"; for the sake of clarity, this article uses the term "Macedonian Slavs".
and are said to be the descendants of ancient tribes that existed on the region of Macedonia, mostly the ancient Macedonians (this is still an open issue).
:: AREAS OF SETTLEMENT ::...
The Macedonians in huge number live in the Republic of Macedonia. Out of the borders of their fatherland they live in Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Australia, USA and Canada.
It is estimated that approximately 500,000 ethnic Macedonians live in northern Greece, the province of Macedonia, a region that is also known as Aegean Macedonia. However, Greece still denies existence of Macedonians, claiming that there are no nationalities living in the country.
The number in Bulgaria is around 250,000, but the Macedonians are mostly situated in the south-western part of the country, a region that is being called Pirin Macedonia.
In Albania the Macedonians live in parts of the eastern part of the country, known as Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo, but they also live in the Albanian capital, Tirana. Their number in Albania is beleived to be around 150,000, although the population census in Albania does not provide a graph with Macedonian by nationality.
Living abroad in the USA, Canada, there are more than 350,000 Macedonian, settled in Detroit, Michigan (USA), and Montreal, Toronto and Windsor (Canada).
the valley of the river Vardar, the central region of the Republic of Macedonia. Smaller groups of Macedonian Slavs live in eastern Albania, south-western Bulgaria, northern Greece and southern Serbia and Montenegro, mostly abutting the border areas of the Republic of Macedonia.
:: ORIGINS AND IDENTITY ::...
The geographical region of Macedonia, which is divided between Bulgaria, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, has been inhabited by a variety of other peoples including Albanians, Bulgarians, Jews, Turks, Serbs, Roma, Greeks and Vlachs.
In Bulgaria, and to some extent in Greece, the question of whether the Macedonians constitute a distinct ethnic group is controversial - the popular and the academic consensus in these countries regards them as a subset of another people, usually the Bulgarians. The vast majority of international organizations consider modern ethnic Macedonians a distinct ethnic group.
Historians generally date the arrival of the Slavs in Macedonia and the Balkans to the 6th or 7th centuries AD. The Macedonians had little or no political and national identity of their own until the 20th century. Medieval sources traditionally describe them as Bulgarians, a definition which survived well into the period of Ottoman rule as attested by the Ottoman archives and by descriptions of historians and travellers, for example Evliya Celebi and his Book of Travels.
In the late 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, there were lot of clashes of Serbophile Chetniks (originating from Macedonia) and Bulgarophile Komitas all over the Slavic-speaking Macedonia, which shows the lack of their proper national feeling. During the Turkish rule, the Macedonians had little or no political and national identity of their own until the 20th century.
19th century ethnographers and travellers were generally united in identifying them as Bulgarians until the period between 1878 and 1912 when the rival propaganda machines of Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria succeeded in effectively splitting the Slavophone population of Macedonia into three distinct parties, a pro-Serbian, pro-Greek and pro-Bulgarian one (Henry Brailsford).
The key events in the formation of a distinctive "Macedonian" identity thus came during the first half of the 20th century in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and especially following the Second World War.