Flowing through the heart of North Macedonia, the Vardar River is a vital natural resource of the country. Originating in the Vrutok village on the slopes of the Bistra Mountain, it spans over 388 kilometers before it reaches the Aegean Sea near Thessaloniki in Greece. It is one of the most important rivers in the region, holding immense ecological, cultural, historical, and recreational significance.
First mentioned by Homer in The Iliad, the wide-running waters of the Vardar River are home to a diverse range of plants and animals, including many rare and endangered species. These include the endemic Vardar spined loach, Pelagos trout, and the Prespa trout, as well as numerous bird species like the griffon and Egyptian vultures, or the rare pygmy cormorant.
Apart from its ecological importance, the Vardar River has also been a significant cultural and economic force in the region for centuries. It has shaped the lives of local communities, serving as a transportation route for trade and commerce while the fertile lands of the Vardar Valley enabled agriculture. The river has also been a source of inspiration for art, literature, and folklore, bearing testament to its historical and cultural significance.
Despite its importance, the Vardar River is under significant threat from pollution, unsustainable land use and development, and climate change. Our partners from Eko-Svest, a non-governmental organization from North Macedonia, have started the process to protect the Vardar River in the Demir Kapija Gorge.
The gorge is a famous rock-climbing and hiking site in North Macedonia and is one of the most valuable ornithological reserves in the country. It is also popular with kayakers and attracts visitors from all over who spend their visit swimming in the river and visiting numerous cultural landmarks in the area.
The Vardar River is a precious natural resource that holds ecological, cultural, and recreational significance in North Macedonia. It is a haven for diverse plant and animal species, a source of inspiration for art and culture, and a lifeline for local communities. Conservation efforts are essential to protect and preserve this natural treasure for all to enjoy.