The Republic of Macedonia gained its independence in 1991, after the Yugoslavian federation came apart. It is a small Country (2,022,547 inhabitants, 467,257 of whom living in Skopje) with a rich cultural and spiritual legacy, and a meeting point for several nationalities, cultures and beliefs. The religious structure is closely related to the national one, made up of 7 ethnic groups. The most represented communities are orthodox Christians (Macedonians, Walachs, Serbs) and Muslims (Albanians, Turks, Bosnians, gypsies). The long period under the rule of Communism, characterized by great political and economic changes, brought about spiritual and material poverty. The unemployment rate amounts to 36.1%, and 29.6% of the population live below poverty threshold.
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