Tuesday, March 2, 2021

2021 Travel the World - Week 9

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world, so I continued the series in 2020 and here I am in 2021, the third year of traveling the world. 

This week's country is...

North Macedonia

North Macedonia, formerly known as Macedonia is geographically located in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.

Even though it is a small landlocked country, it borders five neighboring countries. These are Kosovo and Serbia on the north, Bulgaria on the east, Greece on the south, and Albania on the west.

Macedonia was once one of the 6 countries that comprised one of the most powerful communist countries of the 20th century - Yugoslavia.

Macedonia is the only country that got independence from Yugoslavia without shedding a single drop of blood. It remained entirely at peace at the heat of Yugoslav wars in the early 1990s and got independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Most of Macedonia has a mild climate. Winters are fairly cold and humid, while summers are dry and warm. The spring is colder than the fall.

Eighty-five percent of Macedonia's territory is covered in mountains making it the second most mountainous country in the world.

Macedonia has a higher number of mountain peaks than any other country in the world. The country has as many as 34 mountain peaks, each with a height of more than 2,000 meters above the sea-level; with Mount Golem Karb being the highest at 2,753 meters above sea level. Most peaks in Macedonia have never been visited by people.

Skopje, Macedonia's capital, is the birthplace of Mother Teresa. Today in Skopje's center, near the Macedonia square, you’ll find a memorial house-museum dedicated to Mother Teresa’s life and achievements. 

One-fourth of the country's population lives in its capital city.

Macedonia is home to the fourth oldest astronomic observatory in the world.

The Millennium Cross is a 66 meter-high cross situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain in Skopje, and it is one of the largest crosses in the world. It was built in 2000 to commemorate 2000 years of Christianity in Macedonia.

Ohrid is a small Macedonia town that’s home to 365 churches (one for every day of the year). Some of these churches have been abandoned, but Ohrid is still, probably, the city with most churches in the world per square meter. 

Macedonian sidewalks are used not for walking but for parking.

Macedonia has another country that lies within its borders. The small village of Vevchani is located around the hills to the north of Ohrid Lake. It declared itself the Independent Republic of Vevchani and has it's own passports and currency. The village has a current population of 2,500 citizens, but if you drink enough Vevchani wine then you can also become an honorary citizen of Vevchani.

In traditional Macedonian culture, the young show deference to the old. It is normal for male friends to shake hands and for women to kiss when meeting and saying good-bye. A person entering a room where others are seated will shake hands with each person. Physical contact among friends of the same gender is considered normal.

A family has great importance to people in Macedonia and neighborhood and friendship ties follow right behind. The importance of strong family ties is often visible in the architecture of the Macedonian houses that have central courtyard shared by all family members.

In Macedonia people often bring something homemade and special (such as jam or wine) to the host when visiting. It is important that the gift be homemade.

Most people give money rather than gifts for birthdays and weddings in Macedonia.

Hosts give their houseguests food and drink far past when they think they've had enough, but it is rude to refuse this hospitality, as Macedonians are very proud of their stellar hospitality.

The guest is the most important person in the Macedonian home and as such should not try to clean up or wash dishes. Likewise, it is offensive to open a cabinet to look for something needed. Guests should ask for anything they need.

People often wave one finger in a back and forth action while saying "No" in Macedonia. They also will sometimes click their tongue and shake their head no ever so slightly.

Most people beckon with the whole hand.

In Eastern Macedonia, closer to Bulgaria, shaking the head can mean "Yes" and nodding the head can mean "No" as is common in Bulgaria.

The Cyrillic alphabet that most people associate with Russia was developed on Macedonia’s territory by brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius.

Breakfast is eaten around nine a.m. by workers in offices, but earlier by factory workers, and in the field in the country. Dinner is the main meal and is eaten at around two p.m. Supper is eaten later after the afternoon siesta. Meals are prepared immediately before consumption, although they may include leftovers. Hot food often is allowed to cool to room temperature. Breakfast can consist of bread and cheese, sometimes with eggs. Other meals can begin with meze (appetizers) served with rakia (fruit brandy). Bean casserole (tavche-gravche) is the national dish, and bread is considered the most basic food. In restaurants, pizza is especially popular.

Ohrid Lake is the deepest lake in Europe, but it's also one of the world's oldest ones. According to most scientists, the lake is estimated to be more than four million years old.

Lake Ohrid has around 200 species of fish, and many of them can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Macedonia has a cave that looks almost identical to the one in Lord of the Rings. Located in the western part of the country, Cave Peshna is one of the most beautiful caves on the Balkan Peninsula. According to the New York Times, it’s the closest thing our planet has to Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings.

Macedonia is home to one of the deepest underwater caves in the world. Located in the Canyon of Matka, Cave Vrelo is one of the world’s largest underwater caves. There have been several attempts to explore the cave fully, but no one still knows just how deep it is.

Alexander the Great, the once-king of the Kingdom of Macedonia was the world’s first conqueror, who extended an empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt. 

In 2006, Macedonia became the first country in the whole world to have full access to a wireless broadband connection. The project was named “Macedonia Connects” and was sponsored by the US Agency for International Development.

Europe's only ruby mine is located in Macedonia.

Macedonia is home to many species of plants and animals. Because of the impressive diversity of species, Macedonia has three national parks and many other protected sites and reserves.

Considered to be a national symbol, and placed on the back of the 5 denar coin, the Macedonian wildcat, the Balkan lynx, is one of the rarest animals in the world.

Bears, deer, boars, and wolves roam the region’s mountains. In total, Macedonia contains up to 3,500 plant species, plus 485 species of vertebrate animals and 6,844 species of invertebrate animals.

Macedonia’s major industries are agriculture, textiles, chemicals, and the automotive industry. The country is also involved in construction and food processing.

Main agricultural products in Macedonia are grapes, wine, tobacco, eggs, milk, and a variety of vegetables.

Cash crops in Macedonia include sugar beets, cotton, rice, tobacco, grains, fruits and vegetables, wine, livestock, dairy products, fish, and hardwoods.

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about North Macedonia... One of Macedonia's many cash crops is the Sunflower.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp Set: Power Poppy In Praise of Sunflowers stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black Ink and colored with Copic Markers

Paper: Cougar 110# White and SU Early Espresso CS and DP from my scrap file

Dies: MFT Stitched Rectangle, MFT Stitched Rounded Rectangle, and SU Circles

Embellishments: Gina Marie Enamel Dots


Patti J said...

I so enjoy reading about these countries. It would be awesome to see this cross in real life! Thanks for all the work you do on these posts. I wish I had commented on them sooner! Just shy, I guess! Thanks for sharing your beautiful card, too!

Beth Norman-Roberts said...

I love sunflowers and would love to see the vast fields. Your card brightens my day.

kiwimeskreations said...

I wonder why I am not surprised that you used the sunflower fact for your card, knowing you love for them :)
Thanks for all the interesting facts you have gathered about Macedonia Jeanette
Stay safe

Lynn McAuley said...

Love this gorgeously colored vase of sunflowers! How beautiful, Jeanette!