Main hazards and health threats in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is located in a geographical area of high seismic activity. Earthquakes of magnitudes up to 7.8 on the Richter scale have been measured from 10 different seismic zones in the country. The strongest earthquakes occurred in Pehcevo-Kresna (1904, M=7.8) and Valandovo-Dojran (1931, M=6.7).

Earthquakes of magnitude greater than 6.0 on the Richter scale are rather infrequent and, during the last 50 years, few strong earthquakes have affected the country. Moderate earthquakes (M < 6.0) can, however, cause serious destruction, particularly in rural areas, since traditional houses are structurally weak and would not withstand even minor tremors. Earthquakes of high magnitudes (M = 6.9–7.9) as could be expected from the Pehcevo-Kresna and Valandovo-Dojran seismic zones, would be catastrophic not only for the country but the entire Balkan region.


Floods are common in the country. They are usually caused by river overflows, most often due to torrential rains, and are most frequent in the following areas: Dolno Povardarie, Strumicko pole, Polog, Strusko and Prespansko pole. Over 100 000 hectares of arable land is situated in high-risk flood zones.

Man-made disasters

These include industrial accidents and chemical spills.


Wild fires frequently occur, especially in the spring and summer in woods, national parks, meadows and farms. In 2000, forest fires destroyed about 35 000 hectares in the western part of the country.

Epidemiological threats/hazards

Bird migration routes pass through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and surrounding countries and create a risk of avian influenza outbreaks.

Experience from past emergencies suggests that lack of appropriate amounts of potable water, as well as inappropriate maintenance of basic sanitation/hygiene increases the threat of watery and bloody diarrhoea, typhus, para-typhus and dysentery.