The capital of Macedonia is the city of Skopje. It is the largest city in the country and at the same time it represents an administrative-political, economic, cultural and educational-scientific centre. It is located in the northern part of the country, divided into two parts by the river Vardar. The city in the course of its existence, depending on the historical circumstances, was named by different names, and its ancient name is Skupi.
Skopje is a city in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula. It communicates easily with the Mediterranean region to the south and the area of Central and Northern Europe to the north. Through the Kacanicka Ravine it connects with the Adriatic Sea. To the east, through Kumanovo and Kriva Palanka it connects with the Republic of Bulgaria, to the west it connects with Polog, Kicevo valley, the Ohrid-Prespa region and the Republic of Albania.
Skopje is located at 21° 26′ geographic longitude and 42° north geographic latitude. The altitude in the centre of the city is 240 m, it extends on an area of 1,818 km2, with 9 km in width and 23 km in length. The city’s climate is characterized by an average annual temperature of about 12.4°C. The summers are long, dry and hot, and the winters are cold, with many misty days. The River Vardar flows through the valley of Skopje with its tributaries: Treska, Pchinja, Markova Reka, Lepenec and Kadina Reka. The Skopje valley is surrounded by the mountains: Vodno, Karadzica, Osoj, Zheden and Skopska Crna Gora.
In the Byzantine documents, the city of Skopje was called Skopia, and the Slavs also referred to it as Skopie, Skopje or Skoplje. During the reign of the emperor Samoil, the city belonged to the Samoil’s kingdom, while in the later period it was under Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian rule. In 1392, the city was captured by the Ottomans and it was named Uskup (Üsküp).
In 1962 due to heavy rains, the river Vardar flooded Skopje. The flood was an indication of the largest earthquake the city experienced. On July 26, 1963, at 5:17 am, the city was devastated by an earthquake measuring 9 degrees on the Mercalli scale (6.1 according to the Richter seismic scale). Due to the earthquake, 1,070 people have lost their lives, 90% of the city buildings have been demolished, and over 20,000 people have been left homeless. After the earthquake, the city began to be built on a model of the designs of Kenzo Tange and Adolf Ciborovski. The old railway station, today is a museum of the city of Skopje and a symbol of the great earthquake. The clock of the station has forever stopped at the fatal 05.17 hrs. in the morning.
Today, Skopje is considered a city of solidarity due to the fact that specifically with solidarity, the city managed to renew itself. The initial assistance to the citizens came from all Yugoslav republics at that period, and a few days after the earthquake aid and rescue crews from all over the world arrived. Exactly 87 nations in the world provided assistance and helped for the city to be built again.