What makes Macedonia a unique country to travel to?
Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy that is slowly but steadily transforming its economy. Tourist facilities are available in the capital, Skopje, and other major towns. In tourist centers, such as Skopje and Ohrid, European-standard hotels and other travel amenities are available. The standard of tourist facilities throughout the rest of the country varies considerably.
You should take the same precautions against becoming crime victims as you would in any U.S. city. Violent crime against U.S. citizens is rare. Pick-pocketing, theft, and other petty street crimes do occur, particularly in areas where tourists and foreigners congregate. Do not leave valuables, including cell phones and electronic items, in plain view in unattended vehicles. You should securely lock the windows and doors of your residence when it is not occupied. Organized crime is present in Macedonia; organized criminal activity occasionally results in violent confrontations between members of rival organizations. ATM use is generally safe; however, travelers should take standard safety precautions.
Pickpockets remain a problem in crowded areas of Skopje. Be aware of your belongings and surroundings at all times. Pickpockets use various diversionary tactics to distract victims; one method involves groups of children swarming around you and asking for money to find and take your wallet. Victims of pick pocketing should report the crime to the police and cancel their credit cards as soon as possible.
Taxis are a common and generally safe form of transportation. Use a legitimate, metered taxi to avoid conflicts about the fare.
While you are traveling in Macedonia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Macedonia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
If Arrested: If you are arrested in Macedonia, Macedonian authorities are required to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.
The official language is Macedonian, which is written in a Cyrillic script. Albanian, Turkish, and Serbian are spoken widely. Sixty-seven per cent of the population in Macedonia are Macedonian, 22.9% are Albanian and there are between 2-3% Gypsy and Serb minorities.
Safety and Security
A small number of murders and armed robberies have occurred nationwide. None of these have targeted U.S. citizens or interests, but you should be aware of current events and your surroundings.
Macedonia has not experienced any incidents of large-scale public violence in recent years, although there have been occasions where protest activity devolved into localized violent incidents. Public protests, demonstrations, and strikes in response to world or local events can sporadically occur in Macedonia. Traffic disruptions and police diversion of traffic often occurs in connection with these demonstrations, particularly near the center of Skopje. While the vast majority of demonstrations in Macedonia are peaceful, you should be aware that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. You are urged to avoid demonstration areas if possible, and to exercise caution if traveling within the vicinity of any demonstrations. You should monitor media coverage to stay abreast of local events and should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Information regarding demonstrations in Macedonia can be found on the Embassy Skopje website. .
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
Driving safely in Macedonia requires excellent defensive driving skills. Many local drivers routinely ignore speed limits and other traffic regulations, such as stopping for red lights and stop signs. Drivers may make illegal left turns from the far right lane, or drive into oncoming lanes of traffic. The combination of speeding, unsafe driving practices, poor vehicle maintenance, the mixture of new and old vehicles on the roads, and poor lighting contributes to unsafe driving conditions. Drivers and passengers should always wear seatbelts in Macedonia. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution when crossing the street, even when using crosswalks, as local drivers often do not slow down or stop for pedestrians.
A valid U.S. driver's license and an International Driving Permit are required for U.S. citizens driving in Macedonia. Macedonians drive on the right side of the road. Speed limits are generally posted. Most major highways are in good repair, but many secondary urban and rural roads are poorly maintained and poorly lighted. Horse-drawn carts, livestock, dead animals, rocks, or other objects are sometimes found in the roadway. Some vehicles are old and lack standard front or rear lights. Secondary mountain roads can be narrow, poorly marked, and lacking guardrails, and may quickly become dangerous in inclement weather. Public transportation in Macedonia is dilapidated. Roadside emergency services are limited.
In case of emergency, drivers may contact the police at telephone 192, the Ambulance Service at telephone 194, and Roadside Assistance at telephone 196.