Skopje was home to around half a million people in 2014, which is about a quarter of Macedonia's total population. As such, it is by far the largest city by population in the country. When including nearby Veles, Kumanovo and Tetovo — where many people commute from to jobs in Skopje's city center — the population number rises to around a million. Recent years have also shown a steady growth.
Around two-thirds of the people living in Skopje are Macedonian, but there is also a sizeable population of Albanians, who make up around a quarter of the city's population. Turks, Serbs, and Roma can also be found in the country, with Vlachs and Bosniaks less present in the country.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is the most dominant religion in Macedonia, but around 30 per cent of the city's people follow Islam, with Roman Catholic (0.5 per cent) and Protestant (0.04 per cent) minorities also present in the city. Albanian is the second official language of the city administration, with Macedonian the official language and English increasingly spoken in Skopje's business centers.
Skopje has a continental sub-Mediterranean climate, with rain typically fairly uncommon as a result of the city's location in the shadow of the Prokletije Mountains to the north-west. Rain is heaviest from October to December and from April to June.
Summers in Skopje tend to be long, hot and humid and it is not unheard of for temperatures to rise above 40°C, with typical temperatures in the 30–35°C range.
In the winter, the Skopje climate is relatively cold, but winters do not last for long in the city. Temperatures sometimes fall to below -10°C at night in the Skopje winter, but during the day it is usually above freezing.
Macedonia visa policy is broadly similar to the visa policy of the Schengen Area, with 15 day visa-free entry granted to all Schengen Annex II nationalities apart from Moldova. They can enter Macedonia with an identity card, while those with UN travel documents also do not require a visa to go to Skopje. Individuals traveling to Skopje from other countries must obtain a visa from one of the Republic of Macedonia diplomatic missions, and further approval from the Ministry of Interior is required for people from many African and Asian nations. Note that visas only regulate the right to enter the country — for longer stays, a temporary residence permit will need to be applied for at the Ministry of Interior. Similarly, a work permit is necessary when taking up employment.
Regardless of permits, anyone arriving in Skopje must register with the local police within 24 hours. This is also the case for expatriates who did not need a visa to enter the country. If you are staying at a hotel, this is taken care of automatically. During registration, the police issues a registration card for foreigners, which should be kept safe and needs to be shown again when leaving the country.