Veles (Велес)

 

Veles - a city in Macedonia and the center of the municipality of the same name. The city is located in the central part of Macedonia, more precisely on the banks of the river Vardar. Veles is the sixth largest city in Macedonia with a total population of 43,716 (2002). To the northwest of Veles is the capital of Macedonia, Skopje (54 km), to the northeast is the city of Sveti Nikole (34 km), to the east is the city of Stip (43 km), to the southwest is Prilep (79 km) and to the southeast are Kavadarci (43 km) and Negotino (40 km). Veles has a very favorable geographical position because it is a crossroads of international roads and railways and one of the main transit centers in Macedonia.

Throughout history, Veles has been called by different names, three of which are the most used. From the very foundation of the city, Veles was called Vilazora. Later in the Ottoman Empire the city was renamed Kupurli, which was later replaced by its current name. During SR Macedonia, but also in the first years of the independence of the state, Veles was called by the name Titov Veles, in honor of Marshal Josip Broz - Tito. Veles as a settlement has existed since 168 BC. and was located somewhat further east than the present location. Because the city has a strategic position, it was often the target of various foreign invasions and occupations and was part of various Balkan kingdoms and states, starting from Paeonia and ending with the SFRY.

Veles is important and known for many things. The city was home to many Macedonian revivalists, revolutionaries, writers and poets and it is one of the cradles of Macedonian culture, and throughout history is found as the city of the first theater in Macedonia, the city where the first actress, teacher Tenka A. Kolarova in the popular melodrama "The Suffering Genoveva" in 1875, the city of the first library, the first high school, the first music school, as well as the first museum. The city is characterized by its typical Veles and old town architecture. Veles is one of the industrial centers of Macedonia and an important trade, transport and economic center.

 

Origin of the term
Veles as an urban settlement dates back to 168 BC. The original ancient settlements were east of the city in relation to the present position of the city. With the later settlement of the Slavs, the city was placed in its current position and received its current name - Veles.

Throughout history, the city often changed its name, so it was known as Villa Zora, Kupurli, Titov Veles and Veles. It got its current name in the 7th century with the arrival of the Slavs in the Balkans, from the Slavic VLES meaning "in the forest", a name given because of the dense forests that surrounded the city. But some Slavists believe that because of the bare grassy hills and the river Vardar the place was inhabited by cattle breeders whose Slavic god of the herds was Veles.

History
Prehistoric period
The fossil remains near Veles in the village of Mamutchevo, as well as those in the earthenware factory "Kiro Kucuk" in the city, only confirm the theory that this area has always been inhabited by wildlife. The evolution and appearance of man are traced through numerous traces through time from the ancient Stone Age - the Paleolithic to the present day. The only paleolithic excavations in Macedonia were carried out near Veles, in a locality called Pesti, which is located 110 meters above the right bank of the Babuna River in the Makarovec Cave. According to scientists, the cave dates from 70,000 to 10,000 BC, and the found fossil fauna indicates that mammals from this time lived in the area, such as cave bear, cave hyena, cave lion, goat, wolves and foxes. The found stone artifacts indicate a late Paleolithic.

In the Bronze Age, when the beginnings of the formation of ethnic communities are characteristic, the region of Povardarie was inhabited by the Paionians, the Brigids and the ancient Macedonians. Veles and its environs are thought to have been inhabited by the Paeonian population throughout the first millennium BC. and that from the IV to the III century BC. formed a kingdom. Traces of such settlements are present in the Teke site, which is located 2 km away from Bashino Selo, near the confluence of the Otovicka River with Lake Mladost.

Iron Age finds contribute to the formation of the image of life in the first centuries of the first millennium BC. Such are located in the village of Dolno Orizari in the Svilara site where a necropolis was found, the mounds in the village. Ivankovci in the site Incherlak as well as the remains found in the locality Tumba in the village. Karaslari. The organized life of the Paionians enabled the later development of more organized forms of social life in this territory.

Ancient period
Villa Zora
During the early ancient period, the territory of Veles was part of the Paeonian state, which is supposed to have consisted of a number of urban settlements. The Hellenistic layer south of the city at the site of Kale at the entrance to the Veles Gorge covers a plateau of 3.5 hectares fenced with a rampart, which housed the largest Paeonian city Villa Zora (Bila Zora). Villa Zora was located at the very entrance from Dardania to Macedonia (Paeonia) so that Philip V, conquering it in 217 BC, defended his country from the invasion of the Dardanians. Villa Zora was an important military center until the last years of Macedonian rule. It was last mentioned in 168 BC. The continuity of the name Villa Zora and Veles can be difficult to determine, because Veles is mentioned only in 1018. It is assumed that in this time gap Villa Zora's power in Roman rule declined or its location should be sought elsewhere. In the wider area of ​​Veles there are several traces that indicate the ancient city of Argos connected to the territory of Macedonia.

Stobi
The ancient city of Stobi was a Paeonian, Macedonian and Roman city. The first documented memory of Stobi dates back to 197. BC, when at that place the Macedonian king Philip V defeated the Dardanian army. In the sources where the Roman historian Titus Livius mentions this fact, Stobi bears the epithet of "old town". The urban part of Stobi is surrounded by ramparts at the mouth of Erigon in Axios, today known as Crna Reka and Vardar. The city occupied a very important trade and military position. The changing struggles of the Macedonians with their northern neighbors were fateful for Stobi. Stobi and the surrounding area definitely fell under Macedonian rule in 217. п.н.е. during the reign of Philip V.

 

When in 168 п.н.е. The Romans defeated the Macedonian king Perseus at Pydna, the Macedonian kingdom disintegrated. Macedonia was divided into four independent administrative districts under Roman control, and Stobi became the center of the salt trade in the third district. In 148 п.н.е. Macedonia becomes a Roman province. Judging by the sporadic findings, Stobi in pre-Roman times was a small town with an area of ​​2.5 hectares. Significant changes are taking place in the city only from the time of the transition from the old to the new era. The new city was planned and conceived, on a terrain that was eight times larger than the previous settlement, which was probably inhabited by a large number of new inhabitants. Attracted by the Romans and their economic and political power, Stobi was inhabited at the same time by locals and settlers from the Hellenistic world. The intense expansion of the city can be related to the raising of its status to the rank of municipality that Stobi has had since 69. The growth of Stobi into a city with self-governing status is evidenced by the epigraphic monuments and the minting of local coins with the inscription "Municipium Stobensium" which cover the time from Vespasian 69 AD. to Elagabal 222 AD

Medieval period
Sclavinia
The location of Veles as the main crossroads of the Balkan roads Via Egnatia and Via Militaris and many other local communication links, was interesting for the Slavic population that entered the Balkan Peninsula in the VI century. The campaigns were first Paeonian, and only then when the grotto of the natives (Romanized population of Macedonian, Paeonian and Roman origin) retreated to the coast and the mountains, and the Slavs began to settle. The border between the ancient and the medieval period on the soil of the Veles region can be determined specifically in the 70s and early 80s of the VI century. Then the first sclavinia were created on the territory of Macedonia. They occupied the lowland fertile areas along Vardar, Topolka and Babuna, destroying cities and fortresses. Then the ethnic composition of the population changed, as well as the toponymy of the region. They became the dominant ethnic group and named the places after their speech. The main city center, the fortress at the mouth of the river Topolka in Vardar, which was known as Villa Zora, was named Veles.

Veles belonged to the Sclavia Verzitija which stretched on the territory between Veles, Ohrid, Bitola and Kicevo and was inhabited by Brsjaci. Although recognizing Byzantine nominal power, Verzitia was outside the realm of the empire's immediate administrative authority. What failed in Byzantium, succeeded the Bulgarian prince Boris who conquered Verzitia in the middle of the ninth century. At that time, the Veles region had to recognize the Bulgarian supreme authority. With it came the rise of Christianity, which, although not completely destroyed, was in stagnation with the arrival of the Slavs. The establishment of Bulgarian government contributed to the intensification of the feudalization process. This situation led to an intensified social struggle and the emergence of a broad, anti-church, anti-feudal liberation movement whose roots are precisely in the wider Veles territory - the Bogomil movement. His followers were later called Babuni (after the Babuna River), after the founder, the priest Bogomil. At its core, Bogomilism is a dualistic teaching about the eternal struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, embodied in God and Satan. They rejected church rites and cults, the cross as a symbol, holidays and icons. The teaching of the Bogomils is an expression of the dissatisfaction of the population with the secular and spiritual government.

Samuel's kingdom and Byzantium
With the conquest of Skopje by Byzantium, in 1004, the Veles area became the border territory of the Macedonian state and received the role of protector of its central parts. Emperor Samuel tried to stop the Byzantine invasion of Macedonian territory, but in the battle of Belasica in 1014 he suffered a catastrophic defeat. With the conquest of Prilep and Stip, Veles remained cut off from Macedonia. He managed to survive only until 1018, when for the first time since the arrival of the Slavs he was forced to fall under direct Byzantine rule. to become part of the Byzantine Empire. Military-administratively, Veles in the Byzantine rule belonged to the theme of Bulgaria, but the way of life, taxes and religious affiliation remained unchanged. Veles was still part of the Bitola Diocese within the Ohrid Patriarchate, which was later deprived of its rank and church status.

Ottoman period

Immediately after falling under Turkish rule in 1395, Veles fell under the rule of the Rumelia beglerbeglak. Until the 60s of the XIV century the area was called Veles Province, and then Veles Nahia as the lowest administrative-territorial unit. At the head of the vilayet was the subashi who lived in Veles and commanded the spahis who as a rule lived in the villages. In parallel, Veles became the center of the Veles kaza or Cadillac, which grew into a very important administrative-judicial unit. The Turks called the city Kupurli, which means "city of bridges".

The Turkish travel writer Evliya Çelebi described Veles from that time. The main object at that time was the Vardar bridge, which he explained as a new, wooden bridge with four openings, while his contemporary Hadzi Kalfa noticed: “Kupurli is located in a rocky gorge and has a stone bridge after which it got its name. However, both were right, because one talks about the bridge near the old part of Veles, and the other about the bridge at the place where Vardar was crossed by a raft.

The strictly centralized state system of the Ottoman Empire prevented the over-exploitation of paradise, but written laws could not prevent the abuse of the positions of feudal lords and dignitaries. The most used form of exploitation of the population was the imposition of numerous taxes. The number of privileged citizens who had special responsibilities such as falcons (catching and breeding falcons), rice farmers, horsemen, etc. was small. All this caused dissatisfaction and resistance among the people who in the beginning of the XVII century began to organize in armed groups, which led to the emergence of aide. In the Veles area there were ideal conditions for its development due to the dense forests and the numerous roads through which they carried out the attacks. The appearance of the aydut companies caused additional repressions on the people, which is an even bigger reason for riots and uprisings.

In the middle of the 19th century, Veles was divided into 12 neighborhoods, and the Veles kaza consisted of 93 villages. The heavy feudal anarchy and the growing handicraft development from the XVIII century were supplemented by the Terzian, Kiradzic, Bavchavanjian, Kalajdzic, Brasnar, Lebarian, Adzic, Aquatic, Papudzic, Abadzic, Bojadzic, Samardzian, Dulgeric, Sulgerian, Dulgerian, and other.

The reforms in the Turkish state-legal, political, economic, religious-educational and military system from 1839, popularly called the "Gilhan Hatisherif" or "Act of Justice and Benefits", had a favorable effect on the citizens of Veles. According to this act, equality was introduced between the Muslim and Christian population, the guarantees and inviolability of the person, honor and property, equality before the court and the law were increased. This enabled the opening of schools in the Macedonian language, the construction and reconstruction of churches and monasteries, and free trade and production.

In 1831 and again in 1840, Veles contracted the contagious disease cholera (plague), in 1833 it contracted unprecedented colds, in 1835 the Vardar River froze, and in 1847 major floods occurred. Nevertheless, the first half of the XIX century is the most significant for the rise of Veles. At this time, the renovation and construction of many churches and monasteries in Veles and the Veles region began.

The Balkan Wars and the First World War
The invasion of the Balkan allies in 1912 finally put an end to Turkish rule in Macedonia, and Veles came under Serbian rule. The artificially drawn borders throughout the natural whole of Macedonia disrupted the centuries-old unity of the territory. This contributed to a sharp decline in handicrafts, economy, trade and transport to the port of Thessaloniki. The use of the Macedonian language and Macedonian folklore was banned, and teaching in public schools was paralyzed.

With the beginning of the First World War, in 1914, Veles and the surrounding area were the target of recruitment, mobilization and requisition of the population. One year later, after the occupation of Bulgaria, the economic situation of the population deteriorated even more. With the signing of the armistice in 1918, the Vardar part of Macedonia was given to Serbia.

The war that was fought on the territory of Veles caused a lot of damage to the infrastructure, religious buildings and artistic values. The population was in social collapse. The most consistent supporters of national and social liberation and unification of Macedonia continued their struggle through the organization VMRO.

The Veles district, according to the Vidovden Constitution of 1921, belongs to the Skopje district. The decline in population over 20 years (until 1941) reflects the dire economic situation. Migration movements, wars, epidemics, low industrial development have contributed to the decline of the city's population. The villages were not spared from changes, which were subject to agrarian reform and colonization.

 

In parallel with the economic one, Veles lived its social and political life between the wars. The October Revolution and the movement in Europe for the liberation of small nations created the opportunity for the Veles intelligentsia and progressive forces to create a Socialist Workers' Party. The founding assembly was held in the cafe "Thessaloniki" on April 24, 1919, and the teacher Kosta Mincic from Bashino Selo was elected president. The organization numbered about 40 communists and socialists, including Panko Brashnarov.

A year later, the Socialist Workers' Party in Veles expanded into the countryside and strengthened its staff. From its ranks emerged names that permanently marked the history of Veles from this period. Political life initiated trade union organization in industrial and state-owned enterprises to protect workers' rights. The largest was the railway union, which in April 1919 organized the Railway Strike, which was joined by the rest of the population in protests against the government. Following the example of the railways, monopoly and other industrial workers formed trade unions. The organized socio-political life enabled the Communist Party to win the municipal elections in 1920, and Veles became the "Red Commune". Communist rule lasted from August 1920 to March 1921. This marked the end of democratic rule, but did not shake the revolutionary-socialist elements that at this time of arrest and persecution were the essence of the organization. The idea was especially widely accepted by young high school workers and students who were members of the Communist Youth Organization (SKOJ). The most progressive representatives of SKOJ in Veles and its organizers were: Todor Shoptrajanov, Laze Bogdanov and Gancho Hadzi Panzov. As a result of the great propaganda activity of the CP in Veles was the publication of the illegal newspaper "Iskra" and the printing of leaflets for the celebration of Labor Day and participation in all congresses of the party. At the congress in 1926, the representative from Veles was Panko Brashnarov. Authorities responded to the intensified party activity and the consolidation of the VMRO (United) party and the strengthened national consciousness with numerous political assassinations and arrests. From year to year new names appeared in the party ranks, including the name of Kocho Racin, who was a representative from Macedonia at the party congress in Dresden in 1928. While the KP strengthened, VMRO lost its significance due to internal divisions and external influences. In 1925, the founding conference of VMRO (United) was held in Vienna, whose Central Committee included Dimitar Vlahov, Panko Brashnarov and Rizo Rizov. The new platform attracted left-wing advanced Macedonian forces. After the pressure of the regime from 1928, the activity of VMRO (United) gradually decreased and its membership passed to the KP.

The dictatorship of January 6 (1929) shook the party activity in Veles. Frequent burglaries have resulted in numerous arrests and prosecutions. It was not until 1932 that real local committees were formed with a new generation of supporters - Strahil Gigov, Vasil Gjorgov, Jovche Patlidzankov, Bane Andreev, Bote Chkorkov, Orce Srebrov, Todor Dzipunov and others. Veles became a "communist fortress in Macedonia". From 1934 to 1937 new burglaries and new arrests followed. After each burglary, after each terror, MK strengthened the CP with new names that further expanded his activity. Young women and girls appeared who spread the idea of ​​national cognition among the female population. The years before the Second World War are a period of a wide network of party activities throughout the city and its surroundings. In parallel with the party, the trade union organization was strengthened, which took place through the formation of cultural and artistic sections, branches and agitation groups through which strikes and demonstrations were organized. The struggle for national freedom and equality was also expressed through the movement named as Macedonian People's Movement (MANAPO), the creation and popularization of which was contributed by the cultural and educational societies of the Macedonian students from "Vardar" at the University of Belgrade and Zagreb. The members of Veles were: Kosta Urumov, Boris Ribarov, Boris Sukarev and others. MANAPO's political platform was based on awakening the national consciousness of the Macedonian people and the affirmation of the national language, the struggle against Serbian hegemony and the struggle against fascism.

 

world War Two
German incursions into Macedonian territory were followed by air strikes. As early as April 6, 1941, Veles was flown 13 times by German planes. Fear and panic settled in the city from the plait. Kojnik, Buzaana, Megdan, Sarmaale, Varnalia, the railway, the bridge and the center were shaken by strong detonations on the morning of April 7. Whole families ended their lives that April morning. The next day the city was occupied by the occupying units and the entire economic and cultural life was blocked.

The changed military-political conditions contributed to the introduction of a military administration with strictly prescribed rules of living and behavior. This hampered the KP's political activity as a single political force. The engagements focused on collecting weapons and creating conditions for an armed uprising.

The military-police authorities in Veles were assigned to the Bulgarian allied state, which directed its entire activity towards detecting and disabling the activities of the CP. In addition to regular measures of violence, arrests and persecutions, she formed pro-fascist organizations in the intellectual nuclei with a tendency for national assimilation by falsifying the Macedonian national history, renaming historical figures into Bulgarian and the like.

The Bulgarian government carried out looting and terror against the population very successfully and systematically. The requisition and looting caused a shortage of consumer goods and the introduction of a coupon system. These conditions increased the dissatisfaction of the people who sought the only way out and help in the operation of the party. The members of the party were joined by the members of VMRO. Bane Andreev-Ronkata and Panko Brashnarov formed a local military committee and created conditions for the beginning of an armed struggle. The committee consisted of Nikola Kirkov, Boris Gonev, Blagojka Demnieva, Kolo Babunski, Jovce Kucuk, Dimko Mitrev, Jovce Matev and Strahil Gigov. Soon the activity spread to the Veles district, Azot and Klepa through Trajce Petkanovski, Stoilko Ivanovski-Mountainski, Boro Mokrov, Dimce Mirchev, Trajko Kapchev, Orce Lazov and others. In the local committees they received great help and support from the people. At the end of September 1941, the first partisan detachments were formed and by the spring of 1942, the Veles partisan detachment "Dimitar Vlahov" was expelled.

The organized resistance on the territory of Veles reached its greatest scale in 1942, when the strike of the students from the Veles high school was organized as a sign of protest against the Bulgarian assimilation policy. The strike was initiated by the decision of the director of the Gymnasium to expel the students who were suspected of being members of SKOJ. On March 14, 1942, the students demonstratively left the classrooms, and were spontaneously joined by other students. The next day, the strike from the high school yard spread to the streets of Veles. The students were joined by parents and citizens of Veles. As a sign of revolt for the recruitment of the people of Veles in the ranks of the Bulgarian army, the party leadership organized a women's protest. On the morning of May 11, 1942, more than 200 women shouted slogans against the Bulgarian government in front of the municipal building.

The most complex and conspiratorial activity in illegality was printing leaflets and newsletters. Several typewriters and a duplicating press were all the printing equipment available to the illegal printing house located in the house of Nada Butnikoshareva and in the houses of Dimko Mitrev and Jovce Chuchuk. The members of these families were engaged in the work of the printing house. Kocho Racin wrote articles for the newspaper "Naroden bulletin", and he was assisted by Dancho Zografski, Jordan Todorovski, Ljubomir Bosilkov, Nikola Kirkov and others. In 1942, with the construction of a hiding place in Mitrevi's house, the activity of the illegal printing house increased. Then brochures and leaflets were distributed, and the magazines "Proleter" and "Iskra" were printed. Printed material was supplied to party organizations throughout Macedonia. The raid on the printing house in December 1942 exposed the illegal activity of the KP.

 

The "Trajce Petkanovski" detachment appeared in very specific conditions on April 23, 1944 in the locality of Kadiica, composed of fighters from Veles and Prilep. The detachment initially consisted of 26 fighters and by September 1, 1944, the number had reached 500. In his 5-month operation, he did not make a single victim. From him and from newly arrived fighters on September 2, 1944 in the village. The Eighth (Macedonian) Veles Brigade was really formed. Its actions were aimed at the complete liberation of Macedonia from the fascist aggressor. On the night between November 8 and 9, the brigade arrived on the territory of Veles, more precisely in the village. Gorno Orizari. At 4 o'clock in the morning on November 9, they occupied the combat positions for attack and liberation of Veles. In the afternoon the city was liberated. After the liberation, with the Law on renaming the city of Veles to Titov Veles, adopted on October 10, 1946, the city of Veles was renamed Titov Veles.

On January 15, 1945, without a public trial, OZNA massacred 53 prisoners from the Veles prison, patriots and VMRO activists (including the famous Veles doctor Bogdan Pop Gjorcev) who were allegedly suspected of being notorious opponents of the National Liberation War and collaborators. with the occupier. Without a thorough investigation and without a public trial to prove their guilt, they were gang-shot and massacred, and then buried in a mass grave. The mass grave was found only in 1996 in the area of ​​Pusta Kula in the area of ​​the village Letevci. According to the autopsy, the prisoners were brutally killed with truncheons and irons, with blows to the head. This is the largest massacre of civilians committed by OZNA in liberated Macedonia. The Veles massacre is part of the so-called Bloody Christmas, where over 1,200 Macedonians who disagreed with the new Yugoslav policy were killed without trial.

In the following period from 1946 to 1990, Veles, as well as the state to which it belonged, ruled the Communist Party. The one-party system strengthened in the first 30 years, and then began to gradually weaken. In 1990, the first multi-party parliamentary elections were held within independent Macedonia.

Veles today
Since the independence of Macedonia on September 8, 1991, Veles has faced many crises. The economy, the large facilities with old and unproductive technologies did not withstand the competition on the market. Social constraints, falling standards, unemployment are still a problem facing the city.

The name of Titov Veles was officially changed to Veles on September 14, 1996 with the Law on the Territorial Division of the Republic of Macedonia and the designation of the units of local self-government of Macedonia. In addition to economic and social problems, Veles also faces environmental problems, especially pollution from the smelter located in the city. Due to the smelter, Veles was considered "the most polluted city in Macedonia".

When Macedonia faced the war in 2001, the people of Veles also made a great contribution to the defense of territorial sovereignty and integrity. A total of 6 defenders from Veles died, of which: Oliver Kitanovski - Mlekoto, Dushko Gocevski, Sasko Manaskov, Dejanco Bogdanov, Aleksandar Stojanovski and Ljamuran Shakirov. All were posthumously awarded the Medal of Courage by the President of Macedonia. They were part of the so-called "Veles Brigade", which during the seven months of military operations was deployed in Rasce, Matka, Karpalak, Kuckovo, Slupcane, Vaksince, Tanusevci.

In 2016, Veles became known in the world media due to the trend that appeared among part of the young population of spreading false news. They took advantage of the political situation in the United States and the presidential election that Donald Trump won by creating hundreds of news websites that posted fake news and shared it on social networks such as Facebook. Then, through Google's paid advertising system, they made money from visiting their websites.

 

Location
Veles has a central location in Macedonia. Not far from Veles in the southwest direction is the central point of Macedonia. The city of Veles is an important traffic junction where the most important road and rail routes intersect on the international traffic corridor that connects Europe with the Middle East and North Africa. The city is located in the valley of the river Vardar, on its two banks in the small Veles Valley above the Veles gorge at an altitude of 206 meters.

Population
In the Turkish census book of 1467/68, Veles had 190 Christian families, 12 unmarried, 35 Christian widows, as well as 12 Muslim families. The city was divided into several neighborhoods: Buliman, Kokora, Jovan, Radoslav, Stale, Dobroslav and Dabiziv.

In the middle of the 16th century, 214 Christian and 35 Muslim families lived in Veles. The social and professional structure of the population was reversed from the ethnic one. At the top of the social ladder was the Turkish, and at the bottom the Macedonian city poverty. Among them was the largest number of middle-class citizens of both ethnicities. In the turn of the 19th century, the national composition of the inhabitants consisted of 2/3 Christians (Macedonians and Vlachs) and 1/3 Muslims (Turkish Islamized population). A smaller group of Roma lived in the vicinity of Veles.

Recent history has shown a significant increase in rural-urban migration to the 1990s, and in the last ten years there has been reverse migration, especially of the elderly population. A significant increase in the migration of the working age population from the municipality outside the borders of Macedonia has been ascertained.

According to the statistics of Vasil K'nchov ("Macedonia, Ethnography and Statistics") from 1900, Veles was one of the largest cities in Macedonia with 19,700 inhabitants, of which 12,000 Macedonians, 6,600 Turks, 600 Roma and 500 Vlachs.

Together with the suburban settlement Prevalec (2,974 inhabitants) which is statistically listed as separate from the city of Veles, although urbanly part of the city, Veles has 46,690 inhabitants (of which 43,197 - 92.52% are Macedonians).

The city of Veles has an unfavorable demographic picture because its population is constantly declining. The Municipality of Veles has 55,108 inhabitants, of which 46,767 (84.86%) are Macedonians.


Tourism
The biggest tourist attraction in the vicinity of Veles is the ancient city of Stobi. Besides it, the Breza site and the Peshti site are also important, which abounds in caves with archeological remains from the Neolithic, early Christian caves. The fortress Velesko Kale is located outside the city.