MACEDONIA, a stretch of territory in the Balkan penin sula which till the outbreak of the Balkan wars was included in European Turkey. Since Macedonia has never been a political or administrative unit in modern times it is impossible to assign precise boundaries. About its general position there is no doubt. Between the western edge of the Rhodope upland, that is broadly the western frontier of Bulgaria, and the hills which stretch from the Sar mountains southwards to the Pindus range lies an area in which extensive depression has occurred. To the south, in the Gulf of Salonika, the sinking of the land has been sufficient to submerge it below sea-level, but north of the Gulf the depression has been partial and incomplete. At no very distant date, geo logically speaking, it was sufficient to lead to the flooding of large tracts by fresh water, giving rise to extensive lakes. Some of these lakes remain, but the rivers, particularly the Vardar and its afflu ents, have been able to cut down the bounding sills sufficiently to drain many of these earlier lakes, and leave in their place level, fertile basins.
The zone of depression is not confined to the area directly north of the Gulf of Salonika but is continued to the east in the area between the Rhodope upland and the Aegean, where it in cludes the basin of Seres in the lower Struma valley, the basins of Drama and Kavala further east, and others. The eastern limit, that is the boundary between Macedonia and Thrace in this coastal strip, is usually taken as the River Mesta, though some writers extend Macedonia as far eastward as the lower course of the river Maritza.
The northern frontier of Macedonia is the Crna Gora, the western the mountains on the Albanian frontier beginning with the Sar Planina and continuing S. of L. Prespa to Mt. Grammos. Here the boundary may be said to swing south-east along the right bank of the river Vistritza to reach the sea at Mt. Olympus. To the east of the Crna Gora the boundary is the edge of the Rhodope upland, or more precisely it is formed successively by the Osogov, Male'g and Pirin Mts., with a somewhat artificial eastern
limit on the lower course of the Mesta. On the Aegean coast the Khalkidike peninsula with its three prongs is included.
The area so limited is not, however, a unit, but falls into an eastern and western section. The division line is a belt of mountain country having as important elements the Nidie Planina to the south-east of Bitolj (Monastir), which includes the peak of Kaj makCalan on the present Serbian-Greek frontier, and the Babuna Mts. to the north. To the west of this mountain tract the basins cover a smaller area than the surrounding mountains, so that the impression produced is that of a hill country. The basins also lie at a comparatively high level, that of Lake Prespa at about 3,000 ft., and since the climate approaches the continental type, with summer rains and often copious winter snowfall, the chief crops are cereals, while the extensive pastures support large flocks. The fish of the lakes also afford an accessory food-supply. Among the chief basins are the Ohrid (Okhrida) and Prespa, which retain the original lakes; that of Pelagonia containing the town of Bitolj, which has been drained by the UpperCerna; that of Morichovo along the lower Cerna; that of Debar on the Black Drim, and so on.
The eastern section presents striking contrasts. Here the basins are at a lower level, their floors sinking as the Aegean is ap proached. A whole series, from the basin of Skoplje and the Ov't'e Polje ("sheep field") in the north to the Campania of Salonika in the south are strung along the River Vardar, and are traversed by an Important line of communication. Even those grouped round the distinct river system of the Struma have di rect and open communication with the Vardar series, this ease of communication marking a contrast with the relative isolation of the western basins, sunk in the hill country.