The Greek tribe of Makednoi (Makedones) gave their name to the land of their final settlement, Makedonia. This land was identified with a political entity, the Kingdom of Macedonia, which expanded northwards and eastwards. The kingdom ceased to exist in 168 BC, when it was conquered by the Romans. Macedonia, however, survived in Roman and Byzantine times as a name for various administrative units not necessarily overlapping with the ancient Macedonian kingdom. It reappeared in various shapes on the printed Ptolemaic and other maps of Renaissance when the ancient Greek world was rediscovered. Its borders were reshaped and standardized in the later Ottoman period for the purposes of European intervention. Thus in the late 19th century European press, diplomacy, and literature Macedonia ended up to denote roughly the backbone of the remaining provinces of Turkey in Europe. It was an important region, which had been stabilized, willy-nilly to prevent Ottoman collapse. Various population groups employed the name of this geographical entity as their regional appellation.
Much later, in the midst of the 20th century, a part of the regions Slav population used the regional Macedonian name as their ethnic and, subsequently, as their national name. It was a historic irony that this very name was eventually chosen for a Yugoslav and then for an independent republic whose territory, in its vast majority, lies outside the Ancient Kingdom of Makedones. The following maps attempt to depict this irony. For a more extensive analysis please consult our FAQ.