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A country-by-country look at the Balkans

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Ethnicity: Greek.

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Unresolved land claims: Disputes with Turkey over Aegean Sea islands.

Government: Parliamentary system. Reforming, with membership in NATO and the European Union.

Infamous for: "November 17" terrorist group, which has targeted multinational companies since the 1970s.

Balkan relations: Friction with Turkey, Albanian, and MACEDONIA.

Religion: Christian Orthodox.

Population: 10.7 million.

Defining moment: Oppressive military government forced from power in 1973 and 1974.

Reason to be optimistic: Economy steadily improving; will play host to summer Olympics in 2004.

Macedonia

Current crisis: Macedonia has infuriated China by establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Taiwan. It also has a restive ethnic Albanian population that is sympathetic to the Kosovar Albanians.

Ethnicity: Slavic Macedonian (68 percent), Albanian (25 percent).

Unresolved land claims: None.

Government: Strong coalition parliament, but retirement of moderate President Kiro Gligorov could cause instability.

Infamous for: Birthplace of modern terrorism: The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization fought Turkish occupiers at the end of the 19th century.

Balkan relations: Improving ties with Bulgaria, but otherwise surrounded by enemies.

Religion: Christian Orthodox, Muslim.

Population: 2 million.

Defining moment: Mr. Gligorov orchestrates secession from Yugoslavia in 1993 without firing a shot.

Reason to be optimistic: New governing coalition includes ethnic Albanians.

ROMANIA

Current crisis: Miners have caused civil unrest in violent protests about working conditions. Also, relations with Yugoslavia are likely to suffer with Romania's agreeing to support NATO in possible Kosovo action.

Ethnicity: Romanian, Gypsy (Roma) (9 percent), Hungarian (7 percent).

Unresolved land claims: The Romanians claim the former Soviet republic and now independent country of Moldova, while Hungarians claim parts of the northern territory of Transylvania.

Government: Parliamentary system. Showing increasing maturity.

Infamous for: Vlad IV the Impaler, who gave rise to "Dracula."

Balkan relations: Neutral.

Religion: Christian Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic.

Population: 22.4 million.

Defining moment: Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, whose regime was the most brutal in the Eastern bloc, was overthrown and executed in 1989.

Reason to be optimistic: Improved rights for ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania, and French support to become a member of NATO.

YUGOSLAVIA

Current crisis: President Slobodan Milosevic has a four-front war: In the Serbian province of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians want independence; in the republic of Montenegro, where US-backed President Milo Djukanovic is gradually pulling away from Belgrade; in Bosnia, where Mr. Milosevic still has influence, and many still have a war mentality; and in Belgrade, where support for the ruling coalition is dwindling.

Ethnicity: Serb (62 percent), ethnic Albanian (16 percent), Montenegrin (5 percent), Hungarian (3 percent), Muslim (3 percent).

Unresolved land claims: Serbian nationalists speak of a "Greater Serbia" - including Bosnia, Macedonia, and most of Croatia - but they have only lost territory under Milosevic.

Government: Authoritarian.

Infamous for: Chetniks, bearded nationalist fighters who are accused of massacres during World War II, and during the 1990s in Bosnia and Croatia.

Balkan relations: Ties with Greece, but otherwise hostile.

Religion: Christian Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic.

Population: 11.2 million.

Defining moment: "No one will dare beat you," Milosevic told the minority-population Serbs of Kosovo in 1987, touching off nationalism and the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Reason to be optimistic: Popular Montenegrin President Djukanovic wants democracy and ties with the West.