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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Republic of North Macedonia

1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 27 November 2023

​​​​​​ Demographic situation



The results from the Census 2021 were published on 30.03.2022.

The results show that the population is 1,836,713, which is 185,834 people less than the number recorded in the previous census in 2002. Of these, 50.4% are females and 49.6% are males.

Together with 260,606 counted non-residents, whose participation in the census was optional, the number rises to a total of 2,097,319. 

132,269 people refused to take part in the census, but have been counted in the final number of residents. Their data has been taken from the existing national data bases but without any ethnicity or religion, since those data are a matter of personal identification, according to the explanation from the State Statistical Office.

Of the resident population, 58,44 per cent are ethnic Macedonians, 24,3 per cent are ethnic Albanians, 3,86 per cent are ethnic Turks, 2,53 per cent are Roma, 1,3 per cent are Serbs, 0,87 per cent are Bosniaks and 0,47 per cent are Vlachs.

Taking into account the non-residential population Macedonians comprise 54,21 per cent of all counted citizens while Albanians make up 29,52 per cent.

According to the age structure, the largest proportion of the population 7% - are in the age group of 40-44 years. An interesting fact is that 51 people over the age of 100 were enumerated in North Macedonia.

According to their ethnic affiliation, 58.44% percent of the population declared themselves as Macedonians, 24.30% percent as Albanians, 3.86% as Turks, 2.53% as Roma, 0.47% as Vlachs, 1.30% as Serbs, 0.87% as Bosniaks, and others.

According to their religious affiliation, 46.14% declared themselves as Orthodox, 32.17% as Muslims (Islam), 0.37% as Catholics, as well as a number of other religious communities that were not present in the previous censuses, such as: Evangelical Protestant Christians, Agnostics, Buddhists, and others.

61.38% of the enumerated population stated that their mother tongue is Macedonian, 24.34% Albanian mother tongue, 3.41% Turkish, 1.73% Romani, 0.17%, Vlach, 0.61% Serbian, and 0.85% Bosnian.

The number of households is 598 632, and the average number of household members is 3.06.

With the Census 2021, Macedonian citizens living and residing abroad for more than one year were given the possibility of selfenumeration via a web application that was available on the Census website. This opportunity was used by 258 932 of our fellow citizens, of whom 24.55% declared themselves as Macedonians, 66.42% as Albanians, 4.78% as Turks, and others. This category of citizens is not part of the total resident population of the Republic of North Macedonia.Активности/Вкупното-резидентно-население-на-Република-Северна-Македонија-изнесува-1-836-713-жители/



North Macedonia is a landlocked country with around 2.02 million inhabitants (Census of 2002). Geographically it is located on the Balkan Peninsula, in the north it borders with Serbia and Kosovo, in the east with Bulgaria, in the south with Greece and in the west with Albania. The territory comprises 25,713 square kilometers.[1] Due to such a geographic location, the Republic of North Macedonia is and has been an important crossroads of many different civilizations, religions and cultures throughout history.

According to the data from the last Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in 2002[2], the Republic of North Macedonia had 2.022.547 inhabitants, which is 3.9% more compared with the Census in 1994 and 43% more compared with the Census in 1948. The ethnic structure in Macedonia is as follows: 64.17% are Macedonians, 25.17% Albanians, 3.5% Turks, 2.66% Roma, 0.48% Vlachs, 1.78% Serbs, 0.84% Bosnians and 1.04% belong to other ethnic groups.





According to population estimates (on 30.06.2012), the Republic of Macedonia has 2 061 044 inhabitants, and the population density is 80.2 inhabitants per km2. As regards population ageing, in 2012, the participation of the young population (age group 0-14) in the total population was 17.1%, and the participation of the old population (age group 65 and over) was 11.9%.

In 2018, there were 21 333 live births and 151 stillbirths, and compared with the previous year 2017, the number of live births decreased by 1.9%.[3]

Almost a third of the population of the country lives on only 7% of its territory. The population growth is due to the natural increase and immigration in the region. About 35% of the total internal migration movements in the country took place only towards the Skopje region and within the region in the period 2005-2015. This intensive immigration has certain specificities. Most evident is the direction of movement of the migrants from other regions to certain parts of the Skopje region, more precisely to a place where someone from their previous area of residence had already moved, or an area that is spatially closer to them. Most attractive immigration location are the city municipalities. 60% of all immigrants to the Skopje region have moved only in four municipalities of the city of Skopje.[4] The  analysis  of  migrants,  according  to  their  place  of  origin  shows  that  most  of  the immigrants from 2005 to 2015 are from the Northeast region, while the smallest share of only 8.2% is from the Southeast region. The variation in terms of percentage share is directly con-nected with the intensive migration movements abroad.

International migration covers the migration of citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia from the country to another country and vice versa, as well as the migration of foreigners. Unfortunately, the fact that a census has not been conducted since 2002 makes the data on Macedonian emigrants unreliable. Bearing in mind that many Macedonian citizens live outside the borders of the country, aware of the need for enhanced cooperation with them, but also open to any assistance and support by their side, the Government in March 2019 adopted National Strategy of the Republic of North Macedonia for Cooperation with the Diaspora 2019-2023.[5] The National Strategy is based on four pillars:

  1. First pillar - political-legal and consular issues;
  2. Second pillar - the diaspora and economic development;
  3. Third pillar - education, science and youth;
  4. Fourth pillar - cultural relations, cultural identity and cultural heritage.

As strategic goals of the National Strategy are recognized:

  1. Improving the regulatory and institutional framework capacities aimed at greater political involvement and the realization of citizenship and the social rights of the diaspora, in order to build trust and establishing its effective cooperation with the state;
  2. Establishing economic cooperation between the state and the diaspora in different areas, based on partnerships, equal opportunities and mutual benefits;
  3. Expanding cooperation with the diaspora in the fields of education, science and youth;
  4. Establishing and expanding cultural links with diaspora in different areas for preserving cultural identity and cultural heritage;


Newborns in North Macedonia per year


Table 1. Newborns in North Macedonia per year, State Statistical Office[6]













One may notice that the population of North Macedonia decreases year by year, the fact is that in the last few years the number of people moving out of the state is decreasing.


Age distribution of the population


Macedonian population is getting older from decade to decade. As of estimate of 2004, the data for age distribution are as follows:


0–14 years: 19.5% (male 210,078; female 203,106)

15–64 years: 67.8% (male 707,298; female 696,830)

65 years and over: 12.7% (male 97,437; female 124,661) (2004 est)


Life expectancy at birth


Total population: 74.73 years

Male: 72.45 years

Female: 77.2 years (2004 est.)


The data for Life expectancy at birth are with relation to other South European countries, including almost all Balkan Conutries.[7]


Rates of Employment and Unemployment


As of 31 December 2019 the Employment rate in North Macedonia is 47.4%, and rate of unemployment if 17.7%. Total number of employed is 806244, and total number of unemployed is 148122. Average monthly net wage is 26836 MKD, which is equivalent to 437 EUR.[8] Employment growth accelerated to 5.2 percent y-o-y in H1 2019, compared to an average of 2.1 percent in 2018. Most of the new jobs created were in manufacturing, transport and storage, administrative services and entertainment. The employment rate improved to 47.4 percent–-up by 2.7 pp on an annual basis. Unemployment declined to a historic low of 17.7 percent in H1 2019.[9]




On the whole territory of the Republic of North Macedonia and in its international relations, the official language is the Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet. Another language spoken by at least 20% of the citizens (Albanian language) is also an official language and its alphabet. In the units of local self-government, the language and alphabet used by at least 20% of the citizens is an official language, in addition to the Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet. About the use of languages and alphabets spoken by less than 20% of the citizens in the units of local self-government, the bodies of the local self-government units decide.

The Constitution guarantees a multitude of rights related to education and to the use of language in municipalities populated by a substantial number of the members of national minorities.

As a rule, the language of instruction in higher education is Macedonian. Some Universities may also offer study programme in Albanian language. For Bachelor and Master degree could be delivered in a foreign language if it serves the objectives of the course of study. The institutions of higher education are making increasing use of this possibility. This particularly applies to the international degree courses. As a rule, the main element of these study courses is the fact that a foreign language – predominantly English – is used as the language of instruction and as a working language. This development is supported by the increasing internationalisation of institutions of higher education and the further evolution of the Bologna Process for the realisation of a European Higher Education Area.




Citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political and religious beliefs, property and social status. All citizens are equal before the Constitution and law.

Christianity is the major religion in North Macedonia but also there are several other religious communities which develop relations of mutual respect and tolerance. Mainly the people are of Orthodox affiliation, followed by the members of Islam, then Catholicism and others. The distribution of religious groups are as follow:

  1. Orthodox Christianity – Macedonian Orthodox Church: 1,300,000 or 61.6%
  2. Islam: 771,672 or 36.6%
  3. Catholicism (Roman Catholic Diocese of Skopje and Macedonian Greek Catholic Church): 8,229 or 0.4%
  4. Other: 28,801 or 1.4% (2010)