Macedonia, the largest and northernmost of the 9 Greek Provinces, is bounded on the north by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Albania. It possesses great fertile plains, many large rivers like the Nestos, the Aliakmon, the Strymon, and the Axios, and several lakes. While the climate along the coast in the Mediterranean, further inland it is continental.
The archaeological digs which have taken place at Olynthos, Servia, and elsewhere show that Macedonia was inhabited in the Neolithic period, while the recent discovery of a human skull of the Neanderthal type in the Petralona cave, Halkidiki indicates that there was a human presence in the area in much earlier times.
Macedonia was an important part of ancient Greece, with a history of more than 3,000 years. This is proved by finds from the Mycenean period ( before 1100 BC ) and the Geometric period ( 1000 BC ), and above all by recent excavations at Vergina, which have brought to light the superb royal tombs of Philip of Macedon ( see Veria -Vergina ).
The language, religion, customs, and way of life of Macedonia were from the very earliest times identical to those of the rest of Greece. Aristotle, the great ancient philosopher, was born and brought up in Macedonia and, of course, spoke Greek. The twelve gods of Olympus, of whom Zeus was the chief, were worshiped by the ancient Macedonians as they were by the Greeks throughout the ancient Greek world.
Philip II ( 357-366 B.C. ) founded Macedonian greatness and eventually succeeded in extending his dominion by conquering southern Greece. After his assassination he was succeeded by his son Alexander III, better known as Alexander the Great, a military and political genius who pushed the frontiers of his kingdom deep into Asia, subduing a host of peoples as he went along.
After the Romans defeated King Perseus at Pydna ( 168 B.C. ), they became masters of Macedonia and its decline was very rapid. During the Byzantine era, it became one of the most important provinces of the Empire.
Under Turkish rule, after the 15th century, Macedonia retained its importance as a region of agricultural and commercial activities. During the Turkish occupation, the Macedonians often tried to liberate their country. Their efforts intensified in the years of the 1821 Greek Revolution against the Turks. Macedonia was incorporated into Greece after the 1st world war.