A troubled but beautiful land, this province of the former Yugoslavia is now charting an uncertain future as one of Europe's newest republics. West of Bulgaria, this poor and struggling country is a land beset by racial and ethnic tensions -- and often violence -- as it's inhabited by pockets of Slavs, Turks, Serbs, Bulgars, and Albanians. The political situation remains somewhat unstable and the threat of potential ethnic violence is real; both the U.S. and Great Britain advise its citizens to travel here with great caution and at their own risk.
For rail passengers, Macedonia lies on the main line between European countries in the West and Greece, so many passengers stop here briefly before continuing east. Even though it's been fought over by other nations for centuries -- it was once part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire -- most of the country's monuments, including ancient monasteries, mosques, old churches, historic buildings, and archaeological "gardens," remain relatively intact. Even so, Macedonia is only for the most adventurous of travelers.