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The Slavic world consists of the Slavic-speaking states and populations in Eurasia. This area is situated in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, and Northern Asia, and includes the nations of Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine, and the disputed territories of Transnistria and Kosovo.
The Baltic states also have considerable Slavic populations plus large numbers of other citizens who can speak a Slavic language, particularly Russian. Over three-quarters of the population of Latvia speaks Russian either natively or as a second language. Roughly 29% of Latvia's and Estonia's population is Slavic (mostly Russian and Ukrainian), and 14.3% of the population of Lithuania speaks a Slavic language natively (mostly Polish).
Also included are Lusatia in eastern Germany (homeland of the Sorbs); parts of Carinthia, Burgenland and the city of Vienna in Austria; parts of Macedonia and Thrace in northern Greece; East Thrace in Turkey (by Bulgarians and Pomaks); north-eastern Italy (Trieste and surrounding areas, and in Molise); Romania (Caraș-Severin County, Timișoara and Dobruja); Moldova (home to Bessarabian Bulgarians and a considerable Russian and Ukrainian minority); Hungary (south and west, home to Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, north home to Slovaks and Ukrainians); and Albania in regions close to the border with former Yugoslav lands. These are home to historic Slavic-speaking minorities in what are majority non-Slavic nations.
Outside Europe, Russian is an official language in both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Among the other former Soviet states in Central Asia, Russian is spoken as a native language of 14% of the population of Uzbekistan and spoken as a second language by many more. Russian-speakers form at least 12% of the population in Turkmenistan. In Tajikistan, the number of native Russian-speakers has declined to less than 1%, though the language is widely used in government and business.
Russian is also an important language in the Caucasus. In Armenia, a majority of the population can speak the language and in Georgia, 9% of the population speaks Russian. In Azerbaijan, however, it is only spoken by about 2% of the population.
Throughout the late Middle and early Modern Ages, many Slavs were under foreign rule. Whilst the western Slavs were dominated by German Empires, South and East Slavs served as a buffer from Mongol and Turkish attacks onto the rest of Europe, falling under Asiatic rule for a few centuries.
In the 19th century, the consolidation of a national ideology searched for the ancestry of ethnic groups; one of the movements was called Pan-Slavism and it tried to unite nations of Slavic origins to a common interest and develop a common identity. These efforts failed for a number of reasons, one of them being attempts of Imperial Russia to take it over in order to justify its territorial expansion and the subjugation of nations of Slavic origin such as Ukrainians or Poles.
Another fact was due to independent developments among Slavic peoples and the development of antagonisms between them. Thirdly, due to divergent interests between various groups; for example, the Poles repressed the freedom of the Ukrainians both religiously and culturally. Also, while certain Slavic nations such as the Czechs and Slovaks in the Austro-Hungarian Empire desired Russian protection and wanted its dissolution, the Poles were pro-Austrian, because Austria treated its Polish subjects much better than either Germany or Russia, who both brutally repressed theirs. The city of Vienna has always had a population of Slavs who migrated there to find employment from 1800CE onward. The Slavs added a considerable influence to the culture of Vienna, and Russia did not release Vienna from Soviet wardship until 1955. Russia repatriated many Viennese Slavs north to Czechoslovakia to aid the Soviet economy after WW2 To a lesser extent Serb and Croat communities were repatriated to Hungary and the former Jugoslavia to the east and south.
With the Soviet Union came another period of attempts to use the idea of Slavic unity for political purposes, and post-war Soviet propaganda often made use of Pan-slavist ideology, while before World War II, Poland‘s repressive policy created a great deal of resentment among its populous Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities. See also Polish-Ukrainian War in which the Ukrainians fought for independence from Poland. Ukrainians did not fare any better under the Soviet Union as a 1932-33 famine (Holodomor) killed millions partially due to the inaction of Stalin's government.
Religion and culture
The two main religions within countries with Slavic populations are Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Religious areas are clearly divided between the East Slavic and West Slavic regions though historically western Ukraine was affected by Roman Catholicism resulting in a Uniate Church. South Slavs are divided between Orthodoxy in Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro and Roman Catholicism in Croatia and Slovenia, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina Muslims form a plurality.
Besides religion there are also divisions of culture and political orientations. Over time nations with West Slavic origins and the Slovenes increasingly patterned their thought and institutions on Western models in areas ranging from philosophy, art, literature, and architecture to government, law, and social structure, whereas Eastern Slavs developed their culture influenced by the once powerful Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).
For example, while Eastern Slavic people use Cyrillic (a larger alphabet derived from the Greek and Glagolitic alphabets), Western Slavic people use the Latin alphabet. South Slavs are split, Orthodox Bulgarians, Serbs, Macedonians and Montenegrins use the Cyrillic alphabet, while Roman Catholic Croats and Slovenes and Muslim Bosniaks use the Latin alphabet.
|Country||Official languages||Population||Area - km ²||GDP (nominal
in $ billion) by UN
in $ billion) by
CIA World Factbook
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||
- Central Statistical Bureau Database for 2000 Census, table on mother tongues (Latvian)
- Statistics Estonia
- Statistics Lithuania census 2001: (Lithuanian) Population by nationality and mothertongue
- Similarities in the case of some letters of the Latin alphabet is due to the common origin of the Greek and Latin alphabets.
- "GDP (Official Exchange Rate)". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
- ^ Michael Fleischer: Niemcy, Europa, USA i Rosja w polskim systemie kultury, Wrocław 2004 (in Polish)