Region of SE Europe, occupying part of the Balkan Peninsula and extending northward from the Aegean Sea. In general it corresponds with the ancient country of Macedon, which formed the nucleus of the Macedonian Empire. Today part of it is in NE Greece, part in SW Bulgaria, and the rest in Macedonia. The original inhabitants were introduced to Greek culture as early as the eighth century b.c. when colonies were founded on the coast. Persia occupied the region from 490 to 480 b.c., and after 146 b.c. it was a Roman province. After the Roman Empire was divided between E and W in a. d. 395, Macedonia came under the Byzantine Empire but suffered invasion by the Goths and the Huns. Slavs began penetrating the Byzantine Empire in 576, and they made most of Macedonia a Slavic region.
Macedonia changed hand s many times in the following centuries. In the ninth century Bulgaria took it, but between 1014 and 1018 the Byzantines won it back. After the Byzantine Empire was broken up temporarily in 1204 by crusaders, Macedonia was fought over by the Latin Empire of Constantinople, Ivan II of Bulgaria, the despots of Epirus, and the empire of Nicaea. In 1261 it became part of a restored Byzantine Empire, but in the 14th century Stephen Dushan, king of Serbia, conquered almost all of the region. Next came the Ottoman Empire, which controlled it from the late 14th until the 19th century. The Ottoman Turks fell into decline by the late 19th century; and the Treaty of San Stefano, which ended a war between Russia and the Turks, gave most of Macedonia to Bulgaria. Later in the same year, however, the major powers of Europe reversed this decision at the Congress of Berlin and left Macedonia to the Turks. A strong independence movement arose, but the treaty ending the Second Balkan War in 1913 divided Macedonia mostly along present lines, leaving a small part to Bulgaria.
In World War I Greece allowed the Allies to operate the Salonika, now Thessaloníki, campaigns aimed at Bulgaria from Macedonian territory. The post–World War I period was one of much agitation and upheaval among the ethnic groups in the region. Greece invaded Bulgaria in 1925, charging that Greeks in Bulgarian Macedonia were being mistreated, but the League of Nations ended the fighting. In Yugoslavia, Macedonian hatred of Serbian rule resulted in 1934 in the assassination of Yugoslav king Alexand er. Macedonia was occupied from 1941 to 1944 in World War II by Bulgaria, which was a German ally. After the war, prewar boundaries were restored, and Yugoslavian Macedonia became an autonomous region. During the civil war in Greece from 1946 to 1949 there was conflict between Greece and Yugoslavia over the area. Tensions between Greece, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia over the Macedonian issue have finally eased.