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HistoryModern MacedoniaThe period from 1821 to 1870Economic developments (1821-1870)

Economic developments (1821-1870)

The primary sector
Foreign trade
Market organization

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Early 20th cent. black-and-white photograph showing a scene of tobacco being processed by tobacco farmers in Kavala, 1850-1913.

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In the 19th century, the lion's share of the land was in the hands of big Muslim landowners who were not interested in modernizing their Macedonian 'chiftliks'. The restoration of the international balance of power after the Napoleonic Wars (1815) had a widespread effect on agricultural production.

Thus, the opening of the Egyptian market in the first half of the 19th century drastically curtailed the cultivation of cotton in Macedonia. Later, the hostilities of the Crimean War (1853-1856) in the region of the Black Sea (a big wheat-growing area) caused a grain shortage in Western Europe and skyrocketing prices. Macedonian producers attempted to compensate, and crops did increase temporarily.

Early 20th century

The American Civil War (1861-1865) changed the orientation of Macedonian agriculture to another crop, namely cotton, the cultivation of which rose (at the expense of wheat), and before long was ten times what it had been thanks to encouragement from the British, who were desperate for raw materials for their textile mills.

The recovery of the American cotton market signalled the gradual abandonment of cotton cultivation in Macedonia, which was replaced by wheat and tobacco. The lack, however, of an agricultural infrastructure prevented Macedonia from being competitive under ordinary market conditions.

See Also
History - The primary sector (1430-1821)
The primary sector (1870-1913)
In Focus - Railways in Modern Macedonia

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.