Ease of Doing Business Rank: 17
The Republic of North Macedonia is a successor state of the former Yugoslavia. It is a landlocked Balkan nation in Southeastern Europe. Albania lies to the west, Kosovo and Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, and Greece to the south.
The official and national language of North Macedonia is Macedonian. Albanian is also an official language in some parts of the country. In some areas, Turkish, Romani, Aromanian, Bosnian, and Serbian are considered co-official languages at the local and state level.
English is also extremely common, as well as Serbo-Croatian, and German.
The 2019 population estimate for North Macedonia is 2.09 million. Approximately one quarter of the population lives in the capital city of Skopje. All remaining cities have a population of less than 75,000.
According to fourth-quarter data for 2018, the top industries in North Macedonia are construction, arts, entertainment and recreation, energy, telecommunication, other services, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage, and accommodation and food service activities.
The Legatum Prosperity Index ranks Macedonia 49th for global education. However, it is important to the note the country rose 17 places in the rankings over the past year.
UniRank lists the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje as the number one university in the country.
The most common business entities in North Macedonia are Limited Liability Company, Joint Stock Company, Limited Partnership, General Partnership, and Limited Partnership with Shares.
According to The State Statistical Office, the majority (70.1%) of enterprises are limited liability companies or joint stock companies.
The Macedonian government actively supports foreign and domestic investment to increase domestic consumption and industrial output. Government reforms include the introduction of private sector investment in public services and infrastructure. The country continues to liberalize their trade policies and has loosened the reins on financing as well.
The creation of tax free zones throughout the country can greatly reduce the tax burden for investors. Technological industrial development zones (TIDZ) support technological development paired with high-level environmental standards.
Tax incentives may include tax holidays of up to 10 years on corporate income tax and employee personal income tax. Investors may also enjoy VAT and customs duties exemptions and other incentives.
Skopje is the capital city and the largest economic center in the country.
Macedonia is a small nation, but it’s a melting pot of culture and historical interest. The country’s capital of Skopje blends old and new with the most striking landmark in the city, the Millennium Cross looming over the city.
From narrow cobblestone streets of the 12th century to Skopje’s modern downtown square, visitors can discover a variety of architectural styles which demonstrate how the country’s evolved through the centuries.
Ohrid is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with historic churches and St. Panteleimon, the world’s oldest Slav monastery complete with intricate rockwork. The city once had a church for each day of the year and it is often called the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”.
Tetovo is home to one of the grandest buildings in Macedonia – the Painted Mosque. It dates to the 15th-century and features swirling geometric artwork on every inch of its walls and balconies.
Macedonia is also brimming with natural wonders. Its limestone landscape includes over 300 caves, including the huge Gorna Slatinska underground labyrinth.
Conversely, the Shar Mountains reach upwards of 8,000 feet and offer countless hiking trails, fantastic views, and wildflower-dotted meadows. Matka Canyon is an ideal attraction for rock climbers and Macedonia’s largest park, Mavrovo, is a haven for wildlife.
Macedonia’s geographic location at the crossroads of various empires created a tumultuous history. Throughout the centuries, many rulers claimed the area including Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire. Later Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires overtook the region until it fell under Ottoman rule through to the early 20th century.
When the Ottoman Empire fell and the Balkan Wars ensued, the political geography of the Balkans changed radically with the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest. The agreement divided Macedonia between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia.
At the end of World War I Macedonia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which later became the state of Yugoslavia. However, in WWII, the country was divided again by the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Bulgarian and Italian forces occupied the area.
Macedonian partisans fought back and in 1944 under the leadership of Tito and the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation of Macedonia the region created the foundation for an independent Macedonian state.
When WWII ended, Macedonia became a republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia had a high standard of living and more political and cultural freedom than most Eastern European countries of the era. Consequently, Macedonia underwent large-scale economic development.
During the 80’s and early 90’s, tensions grew between Yugoslav and Macedonian ethnicities and each republic wanted to form its own state. Macedonia gained independence and became a sovereign nation with its own constitution in 1991.
However, turbulent economic and social times laid ahead as the two nations went their own way. The most significant was a huge influx of ethnic Albanian refugees after the 1999 conflict in Kosovo which led to further unrest.
In 2001, Macedonia and Albania signed a peace agreement and the Macedonian Parliament approved amendments to their constitution to strengthen minority rights.
In 2018, a 27-year old feud with Greece ended when the two nations agreed on the country’s official name. Greece had previously objected to the Republic of Macedonia’s admittance into the European Union and NATO, because Greece also used the name in some regions.
The alternative name of Republic of North Macedonia clarified any legal confusion. This could lead to the nation’s entrance into the EU and NATO.
Residents of the Republic of Northern Macedonia are primarily Macedonian Orthodox (67%), followed by Muslim (30%), and a small number of other religious affiliations.
Macedonians make up 64% of the population, followed by Albanians (25%), Turkish (4%), Romas (3%), and others (4%).
According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business, the Republic of North Macedonia ranks 68th overall globally for conducting business and states, “Its low tax rates and free economic zones have helped to attract foreign investment.”
The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates North Macedonia 33rd globally.