UMDiaspora Reacts to Errors Posted by Lonely Planet

UMDiaspora reacts and tries to educate, a leading travel guide website, regarding posted historical errors about Macedonian history.

Below is a letter that one of our members sent to the editorial staff of

Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m writing about your ‘history’ background of Macedonia. In general, it is an excellent summary of the country’s history from the ancient past to the present. However, I have noticed a number of factual errors.

1. “Historical Macedonia is today contained mostly in present-day Greece”. This is incorrect, less than 50 per cent of ethnic-historical Macedonia is actually contained within present-day Greece, the majority of it is within the independent Republic of Macedonia and within present-day Bulgaria, which participated in Macedonia’s partition during the Second Balkan War.

2. In the first paragraph it also states that the “Romans subjugated the Greeks of ancient Macedonia”. The error here lies in the fact that ancient Macedonians were not Greek. Modern scholars (Borza, Gandeto, Badian & Green to name a few) have concluded that the ancient Macedonians were a distinct ethnic, cultural and linguistic group. Hence, the phrase is factually incorrect.

3. “Slav tribes settled here in the 7th century, changing the ethnic character of the area”. This is partly correct. Slavic tribes did settle there and they did change the ethnic character to a certain extent. However, it is more accurate to state that they intermingled with the ancient Macedonians and formed what is now the modern ethnic Macedonian population.

4. “Under Tsar Samuel, Macedonia was the centre of a powerful Bulgarian state”. In actual fact, Tsar Samuel was of Macedonian origin and clearly defined his kingdom as a Macedonian entity, not a Bulgarian state. His capital, Ohrid, was the center of Macedonian culture, language and religion (and still is) and his Macedonian Kingdom occupied Bulgaria and viewed it as an enemy.

Other suggestions for the Macedonian history section are the Macedonian saints Cyril and Methodius and the development of the Cyrillic alphabet based on the Macedonian language (in particular, the Salonika dialect of Macedonian), and the works of Saint Kliment (Clement) and Saint Naum.

I hope you take my notes into consideration and review the history section of your Macedonia guide. Lonely Planet is one of the most popular and widely accessible travel guides and I believe it is important to provide tourists with accurate information, particularly when they visit these regions and interact with locals.

Please feel free to contact me for further information. Some excellent sources can be found through the historians mentioned above, and at websites such as:

Thank you very much.

We received a reply that the World Guide team will look into correcting these mistakes.

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