Gostivar (Macedonian: Гостивар [ˈɡɔstivar] (listen), Albanian and Turkish: Gostivar), is a city in North Macedonia, located in the upper Polog valley region. It is one of the largest municipalities in the country with a population of 81,042,[1] and the town also covers 1.341 square kilometres (331 acres). Gostivar has road and railway connections with the other cities in the region, such as Tetovo, Skopje, Kičevo, Ohrid, and Debar. A freeway was built in 1995, from Gostivar to Tetovo, 24 km (15 mi) long. Gostivar is the seat of Gostivar Municipality.

Гостивар (Macedonian)
Center of Gostivar
Center of Gostivar
Flag of Gostivar Gostivari
Official seal of Gostivar Gostivari
Location in Northwestern North Macedonia
Location in Northwestern North Macedonia
Gostivar Gostivari is located in North Macedonia
Gostivar Gostivari
Location within North Macedonia
Coordinates: 41°48′N 20°55′E / 41.800°N 20.917°E / 41.800; 20.917
CountryNorth Macedonia
RegionLogo of Polog Region.svg Polog
MunicipalityCoat of arms of Gostivar Municipality.svg Gostivar
 • MayorArben Taravari (AA)
 • Total1.341 km2 (0.518 sq mi)
 • Total35,847
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)


The name Gostivar comes from the Slavic word gosti meaning "guests" and the Turkish word "dvar" meaning castle or fort.[2]


Gostivar, at an elevation of 535 meters, is situated on the foothills of one of the Šar Mountains. Near to Gostivar is the village of Vrutok, where the Vardar river begins at an altitude of 683 meters (2,241 ft) from the base of the Šar Mountains. Vardar River extends through Gostivar, cutting it in half, passes through the capital Skopje, goes through the country, enters Greece and finally reaches the Aegean Sea.


According to the 2002 census, the city of Gostivar had a population of 35,847 inhabitants and the ethnic composition is the following:[3]

  • Albanians, 16,890 (47.1%)
  • Macedonians, 11,885 (33.2%)
  • Turks, 4,559 (12.7%)
  • Romas, 1,899 (5.3%)
  • others, 614 (1.7%)

The most common mother tongues in the city were the following:

  • Albanian, 16,877 (47.1%)
  • Macedonian, 13,843 (38.6%)
  • Turkish, 4,423 (12.3%)
  • Romani, 301 (0.8%)
  • Serbian, 124 (0.3%)
  • others, 279 (0.7%)

The religious composition of the city was the following:

  • Muslims, 23,686 (66.1%)
  • Orthodox Christians, 11,865 (33.1%)
  • others, 296 (0.8%)
City of Gostivar population according to ethnic group 1948-2002[4]
census 1948 census 1953 census 1961 census 1971 census 1981 census 1994 census 2002 census 2021
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Macedonians .. .. 2,637 27.7 5,092 39.8 8,109 41.7 10,127 36.5 12,084 36.7 11,885 33.2 10,305 31.4
Albanians .. .. 4,313 45.4 2,904 22.7 6,044 31.1 10,791 38.9 14,128 42.3 16,890 47.1 13,585 41.4
Turks .. .. 1,924 20.2 4,349 34.0 4,449 22.9 4,378 15.8 4,475 13.6 4,559 12.7 4,725 14.4
Romani .. .. 353 3.7 0 0.0 219 1.1 1254 4.5 1,609 4.9 1,899 5.3 1,648 5.0
Vlachs .. .. 11 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 6 0.0 11 0.0 15 0.0 14 0.0
Serbs .. .. 133 1.4 249 2.0 254 1.3 233 0.9 233 0.7 146 0.4 65 0.0
Bosniaks .. .. 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 34 0.1 21 0.0
Others .. .. 138 1.4 193 1.5 392 2.0 947 3.4 388 1.2 419 1.2 455 1.4
Persons for whom data are taken from administrative sources 1,996 6.1
Total 7,832 9,509 12,787 19,467 27,726 32,926 35,847 32,814


Gostivar's clock tower
Gostivar Market April 1911, during Ottoman rule
Gostivar 20 July 1916

It is known that there was a town called Draudacum, Draudàkon (Δραυδάκον in Ancient Greek), built in 170BC, near or on the current place of Gostivar.

Oldest home in Gostivar

Early mentions of the town was made by the Roman historian Livy. He records how during the Third Macedonian War the King of Macedon Perseus at the head of 10000 men, after taking Uskana (Kicevo), attacked Drau-Dak, today Gostivar.

Ottoman PeriodEdit

In the late 14th century, Gostivar came under Ottoman rule along with the rest of Vardar Macedonia.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Gostivar was part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. During this period it became the centre of a kaza (municipality) and grew into one of the richer towns of Ottoman Vardar Macedonia.

Gostivar remained under Ottoman rule for more than 500 years until 1912, when it was occupied by Serbian troops during the First Balkan War.

Yugoslav PeriodEdit

From 1929 to 1941, Gostivar was part of the Vardar Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and then became part of Italian-occupied Albania.


Gostivar is a merchant city. From the second half of the 19th century, merchants started moving in and opening stores. There is also a market day, Tuesday. Merchants from Kruševo, Kičevo, Tetovo and Veles were the founders of the Gostivar merchant centre at that time. Today they have become electricians, mechanics workers, and Gostivar is a modern city.[citation needed]

There are 20,000 Expatriate citizens who are a key source of income in the municipality economy.[citation needed] It is calculated that each year between June and August, approximately 500,000 euros are brought into the city when they return.[citation needed]

In May 2015, an automotive company announced that it would open a new plant in Gostivar in the summer of 2015.[5]

Gostivar Bazaar in 1920


Leaving Gostivar on the way to Ohrid, the village Vrutok has the gorge of the biggest river in North Macedonia, Vardar, which is 388 km (241 mi) long and flows into the Aegean Sea, at Thessaloniki. Gostivar is one of the biggest settlements in the Polog valley. The Polog valley can be observed from the high lands of Mavrovo and Galičnik.

Approximately 26 km (16 mi) from Gostivar is a ski resort, "Zare Lazarevski", in the Mavrovo National Park. Mavrovo attracts tourists during all seasons,[citation needed] but is more popular in winter when it is all covered with snow.[citation needed] The tourist resort has 1200 beds and over 1000 villas, with hotels, restaurants and shops.[citation needed] The Mavrovo region hosts ski tournaments and other sport recreations. The peaks on the northern part of the Bistra mountain: Rusino Brdo, Sultanica and Sandaktas, host winter sport activities.

The Šar Mountain is one of the most important Alpine mountain ranges in North Macedonia together with neighbouring Mount Korab and Bistra mountains.[citation needed] The range is 80 km (50 mi) long and 12 km (7 mi) wide and is covered with snow from November till March or April every year. Its highest peak, Titov Vrv, is situated on 2,760 meters (9,055 ft) above sea level.

Fauna of the area includes the Šarplaninac dog, which are used by the sheep-herders of Šar Mountain (Šar Planina in Serbian and Macedonian), to guide and protect their sheep herds. Bears, wild boar and deer exist also. The area has a variety of vegetation and wildlife, including medical herbs, and even hunt activities can be arranged.[citation needed]

Šar Mountain is among the largest compact area covered with pastures on the European Continent.[citation needed] This provides opportunities for animal husbandry. Dairy products, mainly cheese and feta cheese, are made in the many sheepfolds on Šar and the adjacent mountains. These include several kinds of feta cheese, like Shara and Galicnik.

Located in the northwestern part of North Macedonia, Popova Shapka is another winter ski resort. It is situated on the Šar Mountain, 1,780 meters (5,840 ft) above the sea level, just 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the capital Skopje. Popova Shapka has hotel accommodation.

Visitors not from the Republic of North Macedonia, and elsewhere other countries, use the facilities. Popova Shapka has been a host to both the European and Balkan Ski Championships. Not far from the resort, there are a number of small glacial lakes around on the mountain. There are two ways to get to Popova Shapka: by car, and by rope-railway with a starting location in Tetovo. The rope-railway is 6 km (4 mi) long and it takes about 36 minutes to reach the top.


Football club KF Gostivar has played in the Macedonian First League and stage their home games at the City Stadium Gostivar.

Sister citiesEdit

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ 2002 Census results
  2. ^ Evans, Thammy; Briggs, Philip (2019). North Macedonia : the Bradt travel guide (Sixth ed.). Bucks, England. p. 176. ISBN 1784770841.
  3. ^ Macedonian Census (2002), Book 5 - Total population according to the Ethnic Affiliation, Mother Tongue and Religion, The State Statistical Office, Skopje, 2002, p. 87, 224, 361.
  4. ^ Censuses of population 1948 - 2002 Archived 2013-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Lear Corp. (LEA) to Open Automotive Plant in Macedonia" (Press release). Nasdaq. May 19, 2015.

External linksEdit


Coordinates: 41°48′N 20°55′E / 41.800°N 20.917°E / 41.800; 20.917