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Macedonia, Land and Resources

Mount Korab, Rhodope Mountains, Prespa, upper course, largest lakes

The FYROM has an area of 25,713 sq km (9,928 sq mi). It is bounded on the north by Serbia, one of the constituent republics of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY); on the east by Bulgaria; on the south by Greece; and on the west by Albania. It is completely landlocked. The FYROM’s terrain is punctuated by deep valleys and rugged mountains and hills. Many of the mountain ranges rise to heights of 2,100 to 2,700 m (7,000 to 9,000 ft). The Rhodope Mountains dominate the republic’s eastern half. Mount Korab, on the Albanian border, is the highest point in the republic at 2,764 m (9,068 ft). The Babuna Mountains are in the center of the country. They separate the fertile Bitola Plain in the south from the Skopje Plain in the north and the fertile steppe (treeless grassy plain) of the southeast.

The republic’s three largest lakes are Lakes Ohrid, Prespa, and Doiran. Lakes Ohrid and Prespa are in the southwestern corner of the country, straddling the borders with Albania and Greece. Lake Doiran is in the southeast, on the border with Greece. The longest river in the FYROM is the Vardar River, which bisects the republic as it travels from its origin in the northwest. The Vardar flows into Greece, where it is called the Axios, and drains into the Aegean Sea. Not one of the rivers is navigable, and many are torrents that dry up during the summer dry season. A hydroelectric power system in the Mavrovo Valley along the upper course of the Radika River in the west provides electricity to Greece and the FYROM.

The steppeland of the republic has a modified Aegean climate, with hot summers and short, cold winters. The mountainous regions are characterized by hot, dry summers and autumns and cold winters with heavy snowfall. The valleys and basins record milder temperatures throughout the year. Skopje receives a large amount of rain. The average annual precipitation for the region around Skopje is about 700 mm (28 in), with much heavier precipitation at the higher elevations. At Skopje the mean January temperature is -1°C (30°F), and the mean July temperature is 23°C (74°F).

Forests of beech, pine, and oak, located primarily along the country’s western side, cover 36 percent of the territory. The FYROM possesses a variety of natural resources, including zinc, lead, manganese, nickel, chromium, copper, iron ore, and tungsten. Mineral and thermal springs are also common.

The FYROM is located in an area of high seismic activity. Skopje suffered a devastating earthquake in 1963.

The FYROM has environmental problems typical of the region, including air and water pollution—especially around Skopje—and disappearing forests. Of particular concern is air pollution from metallurgical plants.

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