Languages of Bulgaria

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Languages of Bulgaria
Official languages Bulgarian
Minority languages Turkish and Romani
Main foreign languages Russian, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
Sign languages Bulgarian Sign Language

The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian. According to the 2001 census, 84.5% of the country's population speak Bulgarian natively.[1] The most significant minority languages are Turkish, spoken by 9.6% of the population, and Romani, which is spoken by 4.1%.[1]

2001 Census[edit]

The 2001 census defines an ethnic group as a "community of people, related to each other by origin and language, and close to each other by mode of life and culture"; and one's mother tongue as "the language a person speaks best and usually uses for communication in the family (household)".[2]

Native Language By ethnic group Percentage By first language Percentage
Bulgarian 6,655,210 83.93% 6,997,000 88.46%
Turkish 746,660 9.42% 663,000 8.62%
Romani 370,910 4.67% 128,000 1.13%
Others 69,000 0.87% 71,000 0.89%
Total 7,928,900 100% 7,928,900 100% [2]


Main article: Bulgarian language

Bulgarian is the country's only official language. It's spoken by the vast majority of the Bulgarian population and used at all levels of society. It is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group. Its closest relative is the (Slavic) Macedonian language and the difference between the two are on dialectal level.

Bulgarian is written with Cyrillic, which also has been exported to other languages, notably Russian and Serbian.

Minority languages[edit]


Main article: Turks in Bulgaria

The Turks constitute the largest minority group in the country. The Turks in Bulgaria are descendants of Turkic settlers who came from Anatolia across the narrows of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus following the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, as well as Bulgarian converts to Islam who became Turkified during the centuries of Ottoman rule.[3][4]


The Romani constitute the second largest minority group in the country. The Romani in Bulgaria are descendants of Romani nomadic migrants who came from India across the narrows of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, in the late 13th century[5] and following the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, and also during the five centuries of Ottoman occupation.[5][6]

Foreign languages[edit]

According to a Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2005 [1], Russian was the most commonly known foreign language in Bulgaria (35% claimed workable knowledge of it), followed by English (23%), Italian and Greek (12%), and French (9%).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "НАСЕЛЕНИЕ КЪМ 01.03.2001 Г. ПО ОБЛАСТИ И МАЙЧИН ЕЗИК (Inhabitants as at 01.03.2001 by province and mother tongue)". NSI. 1 March 2001. 
  2. ^ a b Cultrual Policies and Trends in Europe. "Population by ethnic group and mother tongue, 2001". Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  3. ^ Stein, Jonathan. The Politics of National Minority Participation in Post-communist Europe, p. 238. M.E. Sharpe, 2000. ISBN 0-7656-0528-7
  4. ^ R.J.Crampton. "A concise history of Bulgaria", p. 36. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  5. ^ a b Tomova, Ethnic Dimensions of poverty in Bulgaria, p. 15
  6. ^ Marushiakova et al., Gypsies in the Ottoman Empire: a contribution to the history of the Balkans, p. 26

External links[edit]