The population of the Republic of Macedonia was 2,022,547 in 2002, with 1,644,815 speaking Macedonian as the native language. Outside of the Republic, there are Macedonians living in other parts of the geographical area of Macedonia. There are ethnic Macedonian minorities in neighbouring Albania, in Bulgaria and in Greece. According to the official Albanian census of 1989, 4,697 ethnic Macedonians reside in Albania. In the most recent Bulgarian census, 5,071 Bulgarian residents professed proficiency in the Macedonian language. In Greece, although groups may be considered to be speaking dialects heteronomous with standard Macedonian, they do not all identify their language with their national identity. The Slavic speaking minority in Greece varies on how it describes its language - most speakers describe it as Slavic and proclaim a Greek national identity; some smaller groups describe their speech as "Macedonian" and espouse an ethnic Macedonian identity; others describe it as "Bulgarian" and espouse a Bulgarian ethnic identity; and some prefer to identify as dopii and their dialect as dopia which mean "local" or "indigenous" in Greek.
A large number of Macedonians live outside the traditional Balkan Macedonian region, with Australia, Canada and the USA having the largest emigrant communities. According to a 1964 estimate, approximately 580,000 Macedonians live outside of the Republic of Macedonia, nearly 30% of the total population. The Macedonian spoken by communities outside the republic dates back to before the standardisation of the language and retains many dialectic though, overall, mutually intelligible variations.
The Macedonian language has the status of official language only within the Republic of Macedonia, and is a recognised minority language in parts of Albania. The language is taught in some universities in Australia, Canada, Croatia, Russia, Serbia, the United States and the United Kingdom among other countries.