Macedonian immigration

2011-02-22 10:42:30

According to the U.S. census of 2000 and the Canadian census of 2001, 38,051 Americans and 31,265 Canadians claimed Macedonian descent. Detroit has the largest Macedonian community in the United States, with significant concentrations in the Chicago area and throughout Ohio. Canadian Macedonians have always been highly concentrated in the Toronto metropolitan area. About 95 percent live in Ontario.
Macedonia occupies 25,100 square miles in east Europe, on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It is bordered by Bulgaria on the east, Greece on the south, Albania on the west, and Serbia on the north. In 2002, the population was estimated at 2,046,109. The people are principally ethnic Macedonians (66 percent) and Albanians (23 percent); about 67 percent are Eastern Orthodox, and 30 percent, Muslim, roughly corresponding to ethnic divisions. Macedonia enjoyed its greatest political success as the core of a great empire under Alexander the Great during the fourth century B.C. but thereafter was usually ruled as part of larger, multiethnic political units. It was successively ruled by Rome, Bulgaria, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Following the unsuccessful Ilinden uprising of 1903, about 6,000 Macedonians made their way to Canada and about 50,000 to the United States. Most were single men from peasant backgrounds, working as laborers or in transient jobs. Numbers are difficult to ascertain, as Macedonians were usually classified variously as Bulgarians, Turks, Serbs, Albanians, or Greeks. Most of these Macedonians were probably from the Bulgarian minority in the region.
After more than 500 years under Muslim Ottoman rule (1389–1912), Macedonia was wrested from Turkey but was then divided among Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. Serbia received the largest part of the territory, with the rest going to Greece and Bulgaria. In 1913, Macedonia was incorporated into Serbia, which in 1918 became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia). The restrictive Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 all but halted immigration to the United States from Yugoslavia, and tens of thousands returned to Europe. The Macedonian population in North America continued to grow, however, as there was a strong community in Toronto, and many Macedonians entered the United States by way of Canada in order to avoid the quotas. During the depression years of the 1930s, Macedonian business organizations were formed in Toronto that led to the establishment of bakeries, restaurants, dairies, hotels, and other business enterprises.
Following World War II (1939–45), the Yugoslav Federation was reconstituted as a communist state but one which recognized a certain degree of Macedonian autonomy. Thousands of Macedonians were displaced by the war, with about 6,000 immigrating to Canada in the late 1940s. There was little movement after the 1940s, however, as Yugoslavia strictly controlled emigration; only about 2,000 Macedonians went to the United States between 1945 and 1960. Others came through Greece, where Macedonians formed a small minority. The Yugoslav government liberalized immigration policies in the 1960s, leading as many as 40,000 Macedonians to emigrate, many to Canada and the United States. With independence in 1991, Macedonians again sought refuge abroad.
The breakup of Yugoslavia beginning in 1991 was accompanied by much bloodshed, creating hundreds of thousands of refugees and much political instability. Macedonia itself became independent in 1991 and was admitted to the United Nations in 1993. A UN force, including several hundred U.S. troops, was deployed there to deter the warring factions in Bosnia from carrying their dispute into Macedonia. In 1994, both Russia and the United States recognized Macedonia. By 1999, however, ethnic cleansing in the Serbian province of Kosovo drove more than 250,000 Kosovars into Macedonia. More than 90 percent were eventually repatriated, though some sought refuge in the West. Ethnic Albanian guerrillas launched an offensive in 2001 in northwestern Macedonia, further destabilizing the country. Between 1994 and 2002, an average of more than 700 Macedonians immigrated to the United States. Of Canada’s 7,215 Macedonian immigrants in 2001, 2,170 came between 1991 and 2001.
See also Greek immigration; Gypsy immigration; Yugoslav immigration.