The Southwest Planning Region is one of the eight within the Republic of Macedonia, and it includes the 9 municipalities: Vevcani, Debar, Debrca, Ohrid, Kicevo, Makedonski Brod, Plasnica, Struga and Centar Zupa.
The relief of the Southwest planning region is mountainous and valley. High mountains prevail whose altitude exceeds 2000 m. The largest in the region is the Ohrid-Struga valley located between the mountains Jablanica and Galicica, in one part filled with Lake Ohrid. The region is characterized by the extraordinary representation of caves given the limestone composition of the mountains. It abounds in natural, artificial and glacial lakes, and is one of the most forested in the Republic of Macedonia.
Population and demographic characteristics
On the territory of 3,340 km ², in 286 settlements, live a total of 222,064 inhabitants, of which 50.15 percent are men. The estimate for 2008 is that the number of inhabitants in the Republic of Macedonia is 2,048,619, which means that on the territory of the Southwest planning region live 10.83 percent of the total population in the country. However, in terms of the distribution of the population within the Southwest region, the large inter-municipal difference is characteristic, as well as the difference by settlements. In three municipalities in the region – Struga, Ohrid and Kicevo live 79.19 percent of the total population in the region. The average population density in the country is 81.3 inhabitants, and in the Southwest planning region it is 66.4 per km ².
The total number of registered business entities in the Southwest region is 11,696 of which only 6,484 are active. GDP per capita in the region is € 1,807. GDP at the regional level is 21,033 million denars. The largest share in the creation of GDP in the Southwest planning region have industry and energy, trade, hotels and restaurants and traffic, financial sector, agriculture and fisheries and other service activities. The share of the Southwest planning region in the creation of GDP at the state level is 6.9%, and of the Skopje planning region as much as 48.5%.
The region has agricultural areas of 103,373 ha, of which slightly less than 50 percent are arable land, ie 50,667 ha. The rest belongs to the pastures. The total agricultural areas in Macedonia are 1,077,235 ha, which means that in the Southwest planning region there are only 9.59% of the total arable land at the country level. The region produces the most wheat, corn and potatoes, and the orchards have the highest yields of apples, plums, pears and cherries.
An important branch in the region is tourism given the fact that of the total number of rooms at the state level – 26,503, as many as 16,400 or 61.87% are on the territory of this region. Most of them are in the two most important tourist centers in the country – Ohrid and Struga, which stretch on the shores of one of the oldest lakes in Europe and the world – Lake Ohrid. Of the total number of visitors who come to the country annually, as much as 46.6% stay in the settlements in the Southwest planning region. Thus, on average, about 1,300,000 overnight stays are made here annually by domestic and foreign guests, which is 65% of the total overnight stays in the country.
The Southwest Planning Region sees its prospects for further development in the promotion of classical tourism and the development of alternative forms, such as winter, health, monastery, spa and agro tourism. Given the fact that the whole region is not polluted, there is great potential for organic food production.