Macedonia, officially the Macedonian Empire, is a country in Eurasia. At 17,176,117 square kilometers (6,631,736 sq mi), Macedonia is the largest country in the world by surface area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the third most populous, with over 896 million people as of January 2017. Macedonia's capital is Constantinople, which, with a population of more than twelve million people, is one of the largest cities in the world. Other major urban centers in the Empire include Athens, Bucharest, Tirana, Sarajevo, Budapest, Chrisnau, Syracuse, and Sofia in Europe; Ankara, Yerevan, Tiflis, Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, Beirut, Jerusalem, Amman, Riyadh, Mecca, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City, Kabul, and Islamabad in the Middle East; and Cairo, Alexandria, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, Casablanca, and Rabat in North Africa.
Extending from the Balkans Peninsula in southeastern Europe, through the southern and eastern Mediterranean, across Mesopotamia and out to the Indus River in western India, Macedonia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Macedonia shares land borders with Austria, Bohemia, Ukraine, Italy, Russia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Kazakhstan, China, and India. It shares maritime borders with Spain and France by means of the Mediterranean Sea and with Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia by means of the Red and Arabian Seas.
The Kingdom of Macedonia was founded in 1204 by the Byzantine nobleman and military commander Karanus Argaeos (r. 1204-34), who had managed to flee from Constantinople before its fall to the forces of the Fourth Crusade. He had established himself at Pella, located on the upper course of the Vardar River. During the first six decades of its existence, Macedonia survived in the midst of continual challenges from its neighbors such as the Despotate of Epirus, the Bulgarian Empire, Serbia, and the Empire of Nicaea. Nicaea, under the rule of the Palaiologos dynasty, eventually recovered Constantinople in 1261 and proclaimed the restoration of the Byzantine Empire. The attempts of Michael VII Palaiologos (1259-82) and of his son Andronicus II (1282-1328) to recover Macedonia failed, as the Macedonian kings Tyrimmas (1262-1312) and Perdiccas (1313-34), aligning themselves with Epirus, Thessalonica, and Bulgaria, managed to fight off all of their invasion efforts. But by the middle of the fourteenth century, the Ottoman Empire, established by Osman in 1299, was becoming a major threat to Byzantium and to other states in the region.
After 1354, Macedonia became involved in the complex military alliances formed by the states of the Balkans, by Byzantium, and by the rival Turkish sultanates against the advancing Ottomans. Nevertheless, the Macedonians, under Argaeus I (1334-72) and Philip I (1372-1410) managed to hold their own against the Ottomans, taking advantage of their realm's natural landscape, and embarking upon a program of fortification and of military reorganization, in order to bolster its defenses. By the end of the fourteenth century, the Ottoman Empire had extended itself from the Danube to Eastern Anatolia, but Macedonia and the states of southern Greece retained their independence. In 1402, with the defeat and capture of Ottoman Sultan Bayazaid I by Timur the Lame in the Battle of Ankara, and with the Ottoman realms cast into a state of civil war, Macedonia embarked upon its own period of territorial expansion. Philip I, during the last eight years of his reign, extended Macedonian jurisdiction over Thrace, to as far as Nicopolis and Adrianpole, and waged a series of successful campaigns against the Danubian Principalities, Bosnia, and the Ottoman holdings of Northern Greece. Under his successors Aeropus I (1410-36) and Alcetas I (1436-65), Macedonia gradually extended its authority over Eastern Thrace, Albania, Epirus, and into Northern Greece as far down as Athens; Thessalonica, the Despotate of the Morea, and the Knights of St. John on Rhodes aligned themselves with the Macedonians.
Amnytas I (1465-1504) came into conflict with the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1453-81) over control of Constantinople, Rhodes, Lesbos, and Chios. By crafting alliances with Trebizond, the Khanate of the Crimea, and the Emirate of Eretna in Eastern Anatolia against the Ottomans, he managed to maintain the Macedonian position on the Bosporus Straits and to deny Mehmed any chance of expansion into Greece. As the sixteenth century progressed, Macedonia gradually expanded further in the Balkans, subsuming the Morea, Epirus, and Rhodes; conquering Bulgaria in a series of Macedonian-Bulgarian Wars; and expanding into Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia to as far as the Danube. The reigns of Alexander I (1504-46) and Perdiccas II (1553-88) were especially significant, with Macedonia definitively establishing itself as one of the most powerful states in Europe. Perdiccas II completed the conquest of Constantinople (1561) and destroyed the Ottoman Empire (1574), extending Macedonian territory into the heart of Anatolia. By 1575, Macedonia was coming into conflict with Eretna, the Sultanate of Egypt, the Kingdom of Cyprus, and with the Apostolic Kingdom of Hungary. This ultimately culminated in a series of Macedonian wars with these states, which, by 1625, saw Macedonia in control of all of Anatolia, Cyprus, Crete, Moldova, the Crimea, and Croatia.
It was Philip II the "Conqueror" (1645-68), who embarked upon another major expansion of the Empire's territories. Implementing a series of important reforms to the Macedonian Army and sponsoring the establishment of a unified Macedonian Navy, Philip then utilized his forces to embark upon the expansion of the Empire's territory into the Levant and Mesopotamia. Between 1645 and 1658, he embarked upon the conquest of Armenia, Syria, and Lebanon, defeating the Sultanate of Egypt, the Republic of Venice, and the Caliphate of Baghdad in a series of decisive confrontations. He secured military alliances with the Georgian sub-kingdoms, the Tsardom of Muscovy, and the chieftains of Azerbajian, Chechnya, and Ossetia against the Sassanid Dynasty of Persia, thereby maintaining his rear. Philip then turned his attention to his European frontier, and gradually extended Macedonian authority over Slovenia, Dalmatia, and Transylvania (1658-63), inflicting a series of decisive defeats upon Hungary, under Leopold I, who was also Archduke of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor. In 1666, Philip conquered Galliee and parts of the Transjordan, and sent his armies to as far south as Beersheba, Hebron, and Gaza. He was preparing for the conquest of Jerusalem, Gaza, and Amman when he died two years later.
These plans were brought to fruition by his son Alexander III (1668-79), the "Great". Alexander spent the first two years of his reign suppressing rebellions in Anatolia, Cyprus, Crete, and Thrace, before turning his attention again to Palestine. Between 1670 and 1673, he conquered Jerusalem, Gaza, the Sinai, Amman, and the Arabian Peninsula to as far south as Riyadh, inflicting a series of humiliating defeats upon Al-Gazri, the Sultan of Egypt. In October 1673, Alexander proclaimed himself to be the first Emperor of Macedonia, thereby establishing the Macedonian Empire. In 1674-75, he launched the final invasion of Egypt itself; Cairo and Alexandria fell to him in August 1675, and Al-Gazri committed suicide. With all Egyptian territories under his control, Alexander then embarked on a series of decisive campaigns through North Africa, overrunning the Barbary States of Tripoli, Cyrene, Tunis, and Algiers (1675-78). He then returned to Constantinople a hero, but died there in July 1679 of the plague.
Macedonia then came under the co-rulership of his son Alexander IV (1679-92) and his half-brother Philip III (1679-85). In the decade that followed, Macedonian forces experienced reverses in Tripoli, against Malta (where the Knights, receiving assistance from Venice, Genoa, and Naples held off their offensives), and along the Danube, as Hungary sought to expand its territories in the Balkans. The Macedonian Court was torn by domestic disputes involving the two Emperors, and the threat of war loomed from the east, as the Sassanid Dynasty eyed Macedonian possessions in Armenia, Anatolia, and Syria. Eventually, the regent of Macedonia, Cassander (r. 1692-1705), following the sudden death of Alexander IV, proclaimed himself Emperor, and took control of the state. He resumed Macedonian efforts in North Africa, conquering Ceuta and Mellila (1696), defeating the Knights of Malta, Naples, and Venice in the First Sicilian War (1698-1702), and in 1703, seizing the Ionian Islands, previously a Venetian possession. His death in 1705 saw the throne left to his sons Alexander V and Antipater II (1705-08), who were then assassinated in 1708 by his chamberlain, who became Demetrius I. Demetrius I (1708-25) continued the Empire's expansion, defeating Malta and its Italian allies again in the Second Sicilian War (1710-13), conquering the Balearic Islands and Sardinia from Spain (1716), and in 1719-22, completing the conquest of Morocco.
Through the remainder of the century, though Macedonia continued to experience domestic turbulence and shifts in power, its expansion was unabated. By 1740, after two further Sicilian Wars, Malta itself, along with Sicily and Corsica, had been annexed into Macedonia; the Azores were taken from Portugal in 1748, and the Canary Islands followed, in 1752. Macedonia then participated in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and the War of the American Revolution (1775-1783), enabling it to seize Gibraltar from Great Britain (1779) and to expand into Western Sahara. On the eastern flank, Macedonia remained in a perpetual state of military hostilities with Persia, the Sheikdoms of Arabia, and the Emirate of Kuwait, but by 1783, was in control of Mesopotamia, Azerbaijan, and parts of Georgia. Philip V (1786-1828) saw himself at odds with France under Napoleon I, the most aggressive French ruler since Charlemagne, who attempted to extend his power over all of Italy, Spain, and into the Balkans. The ensuing Napoleonic Wars lasted from 1792 to 1815, and ended with Macedonia in full control of Hungary and Southern Ukraine. Philip then completed the conquest of Georgia and the Southern Caucasus (1821) and subdued Kuwait (1823). After his death in 1828, Macedonia, particularly under Constantine I (1840-59), Nicephorus I (1863-69), and Athanasius I (1876-1925), embarked on a period of great territorial expansion to the East. Bahrain (1843), Qatar (1849), Oman (1853-62), Yemen (1866), Mecca and Medina (1873), the Arab Emirates of the Gulf (1876), Persia and Media (1873-1890), Baluchistan (1893), and Interior Afghanistan (1897) were absorbed. Macedonia also waged wars with Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sherifate of Sudan, consolidating its hold over the Red Sea, and seized Aden from Portugal in 1887.
The twentieth century was a period of great tribulation and turmoil for Macedonia. The last half of Athansasius I's reign saw Macedonia interfering in the affairs of the declining Qing Dynasty of China, particularly with the Boxer Revolt (1900); the dispute with the German-Austrian Empire over the Mauritanian Borders (1905, 1913); and a short trade war with Great Britain and France (1910-13), over the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, Malta, and Cyprus. But in 1914, the outbreak of World War I placed Macedonia on the side of the Allied Powers, for German aggression was deemed a more substantive threat. Macedonia, Britain, France, and (after 1917), the United States fought against Germany-Austria, the Tsardom of Russia, Spain, and the Republic of China. The Empire itself fought on three fronts; against Russia and Germany-Austria in the Balkans and Caucacus, against Spain and Germany-Austria in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and against China in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Persia. Ultimately, after four years of military conflict, the Allies emerged victorious, and the Treaty of Versailles (1919), ended the war with Macedonia acquiring Mauritania and Cape Verde (from Germany), Adyega, Rostov, and Krasnador (from Russia), and Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (from China).
During the inter-war period (1919-1939), Macedonia underwent further domestic turmoil. Athanasius I's death in 1925 saw his wife Theodora seize the throne. She ruled until her untimely death in May 1927, and was then followed by Athanasius's nephew, Athanasius II (1927-1930), and then by his niece Anna (1930-1940). Macedonia was also disturbed by the internal activities of revolutionary organizations, espousing principles of socialism, communism, and anarchy, by rebellions in Palestine, Mauritania, and the Turkish Provinces, and after 1929, by the Great Depression. Its military fell into disrepair, thereby giving an opportunity to Russia and to Germany (which had been deprived of Austria and Bohemia in 1919, each of which had been given their independence), to rearm. Russia fell under the dictator Stalin; Germany under Adolf Hitler. China too, under the revanchist Nationalist Party, sought a recovery. World War II followed in September 1939, with Macedonia once again allied to Britain and France. Macedonia came under severe pressure during the next three years; by 1942, Chinese forces had occupied all Macedonian territories to as far as the Euphrates in Mesopotamia, while Russian forces held the Crimea, Caucasus, and most of Anatolia, and the Germans, almost all of the Balkans outside of Thrace.
But under Empress Constantia (1941-62), and with aid from the United States, drawn into the conflict after December 1941, Macedonia gradually revived, and in 1943-45, played the leading role in the ultimate destruction of Russia and of China. By September 1945, Macedonia had recovered all of its lost territories, and its forces were in control of Moscow and of Beijing. The post-war conventions of Oslo (1946) and Tokyo (1952), restored the Empire to its pre-war boundaries, but Macedonia installed puppet regimes in Tibet, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kazan, Astrakhan, the Ukraine, and Belarus, thereby seeking to ring itself with states more friendly to its interests. Obtaining nuclear weapons in 1949, it then entered into a period of hostility (the "Cold War") with the United States and its western allies. Between 1949 and 1991, Macedonia and America struggled for influence throughout the world, with proxy wars in Bangladesh, Korea, and Poland, diplomatic crises in Cuba, Portugal, and Somalia, and a nuclear arms race all typifying the tension. They also competed vigorously in the Space Race, with Macedonia sending the first satellite (1957) and first man (1961) into space, and America conducting the first moon landing (1969). Tensions reached a height in the early 1980s, with the Macedonian Bloc (comprised of the Empire, its satellite states, and its allies of Austria, Sudan, Central Africa, and Muscovite Russia) facing the American Bloc (with the U.S., Western Europe, North America, and the Republic of China). Eventually, after 1985, Theodora II (1962-96), seeking to de-escalate tensions, entered into talks with the U.S., culminating in the START treaties of 1987, 1990, and 1993, which limited the nuclear arms race, and in 1991-95 with Macedonia permitting the reunification of Russia and China, and the United States ending its support of regimes in Latin America, China, and Western Europe. The Cold War was over by 1996, and in the two decades since, Macedonia has had an uneasy, but consistent peace, with the Western Bloc.
The Macedonian economy is the world's second-largest by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity. Macedonia's extensive mineral and energy resources are the largest such reserves in the world, making it one of the leading producers of oil and natural gas globally. The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Macedonia is a superpower as well as a regional power. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, as well as a member of the G8, G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Tehran Cooperation Organization, OPEC, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, as well as a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Pact, and the Eurasian Economic Community.