|9 - 11.3 million
7.3 million Bulgaria nationals
|Regions with significant populations|
|Bulgaria 6,000,000a[›] (2011 est.)|
|Turkey||300,000 - 600,000|
|Ukraine (2001 area)||204,574-500,000|
|Moldova (incl. Transnistria)||79,520|
|Russia (2010 area)||24,038-330,000|
|Cyprus (excl. TRNC)||19,197|
|Serbia (excl. Kosovo)||18,543|
|South Africa||15,000 – 20,000|
|Poland||10,000 – 12,000|
|Portugal||7,553 – 12,000|
|United Arab Emirates||6,000-7,000|
|Protestant - > 0.5%|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other South Slavs, especially Macedonians|
^ a: The 2011 census figure is 5,664,624 anyway the question on ethnicity was voluntarily and 10% of the population didn't declare any ethnicity, thus the figure is considered insufficient and ethnic Bulgarians are estimated at around 6 million.
^ b: Additional number of ethnic Bulgarians did not declare their ethnic group and religion at the same time at the census so these census statistics excludes a significant number of irreligious people (31% of Bulgaria's population.)
- 1 Citizenship
- 2 History
- 3 Genetic origins
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Related ethnic groups
- 6 Culture
- 7 See also
- 8 Gallery
- 9 References
- 10 External links
According to the Art.25 (1) of Constitution of Republic of Bulgaria, a Bulgarian citizen shall be anyone born of at least one parent holding a Bulgarian citizenship, or born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, should they not be entitled to any other citizenship by virtue of origin. Bulgarian citizenship shall further be acquirable through naturalization.
The Bulgarians descend from tribal groups with different origins and numbers, which became assimilated and formed a Slavic-speaking ethnicity in the First Bulgarian Empire, three of which left something remarkable:
- the ancient indigenous peoples: Thracian stock (Dacians, Thraco-Romans, Thraco-Byzantines), from whom cultural and ethnic elements were taken;, as well as Celts, Goths, Romans, Greeks, Huns etc.
- the Early Slavs from whom the language was inherited;
- the Bulgars, from whom the ethnonym and the early statehood were inherited.
The Thracian language, still spoken in the 6th century, probably became extinct afterwards. However, some pre-Slavic linguistic and cultural traces might have been preserved in modern Bulgarians (and Macedonians). Classical Daco-Thracian was indisputably a satem language along with Proto-Slavic. Scythia Minor and Moesia Inferior appear to have been Romanized, although the region became a focus of barbarian re-settlements (various Goths and Huns) during the 4th and early 5th centuries AD, before a further "Romanization" episode during the early 6th. According to archeological evidence from the late periods of Roman rule, the Romans did not decrease the number of Thracians significantly in major cities. By the 4th century the major city of Serdica had predominantly Thracian populace based on epigraphic evidence, which shows prevailing Latino-Thracian given names, but thereafter the names were completely repalced by Christian ones. According to peregrinus statistics of a region north of the Danube that was under Roman control: the majority carried either Italic or Celtic names, but Illyrian names in one part, this area and others north of the Danube were later usually part of the First Bulgarian Empire where the Bulgarian ethnicity was formed.
The Early Slavs emerged from their original homeland in the early 6th century, and spread to most of the eastern Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, thus forming three main branches — the West Slavs, gradually inflicting total linguistic replacement of Thracian if the Thracians had not already been Romanized or Hellenized. The Byzantines grouped the numerous Slavic tribes into two groups: the Sklavenoi and Antes. Some Bulgarian scholars suggest that the Antes became one of the ancestors of the modern Bulgarians.
The Bulgars are first mentioned in the 4th century in the vicinity of the North Caucasian steppe. According to epigraphic evidence at least the aristocracy of the Bulgars was Oghur Turkic in culture and Tengrist, but it is suggested that other ethnic elements may have been part of their composition. Scholars often suggest that their ultimate origins can be traced to the Central Asian nomadic confederations, specifically as part of loosely related Oghuric tribes which spanned from the Pontic steppe to central Asia. However, any direct connection between the Bulgars and postulated Asian counterparts rest on little more than speculative and "contorted etymologies". In the late 7th century, some Bulgar tribes, led by Asparukh and others, led by Kouber, permanently settled in the Balkans. The Bulgars are not thought to have been numerous and became a ruling elite in the areas they controlled. Asparukh's Bulgars made a tribal union with the Severians and the "Seven clans", who were re-settled to protect the flanks of the Bulgar settlements in Scythia Minor, and the capital Pliska was built on the site of a former Slavic settlement. Omurtag was the last ruler with a Turkic name and during the reign of Boris the Slavonic language reached an official level.
During the Early Byzantine Era, the Roman provincials in Scythia Minor and Moesia Secunda were already engaged in economic and social exchange with the 'barbarians' north of the Danube. This might have facilitated their eventual Slavonization, although the majority of the population appears to have been withdrawn to the hinterland of Constantinople or Asia Minor prior to any permanent Slavic and Bulgar settlement south of the Danube. The major port towns in Pontic Bulgaria remained Byzantine Greek in their outlook. The large scale population transfers and territorial expansions during the 8th and 9th century, additionally increased the number of the Slavs and Byzantine Christians within the state, making the Bulgars quite obviously a minority. The establishment of a new state molded the various Slav, Bulgar and earlier or later populations into the "Bulgarian people" of the First Bulgarian Empire speaking a South Slav language. In different periods to the ethnogenesis of the local population contributed also different indo-European and Turkic people, who settled or lived on the Balkans.
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The First Bulgarian Empire was founded in 681. After the adoption of Orthodox Christianity in 864 it became one of the cultural centers of Slavic Europe. Its leading cultural position was consolidated with the invention of the Cyrillic script in its capital Preslav at the eve of the 10th century. The development of Old Church Slavonic literacy in the country had the effect of preventing the assimilation of the South Slavs into neighboring cultures and it also stimulated the development of a distinct ethnic identity. A symbiosis was carried out between the numerically weak Bulgars and the numerous Slavic tribes in that broad area from the Danube to the north, to the Aegean Sea to the south, and from the Adriatic Sea to the west, to the Black Sea to the east, who accepted the common ethnonym "Bulgarians". During the 10th century the Bulgarians established a form of national identity that was far from modern nationalism but helped them to survive as a distinct entity through the centuries.
In 1018 Bulgaria lost its independence and remained a Byzantine subject until 1185, when the Second Bulgarian Empire was created. Nevertheless, at the end of the 14th century, the Ottomans conquered the whole of Bulgaria. Under the Ottoman system, Christians were considered an inferior class of people. Thus, Bulgarians, like other Christians, were subjected to heavy taxes and a small portion of the Bulgarian populace experienced partial or complete Islamisation. Orthodox Christians were included in a specific ethno-religious community called Rum Millet. To the common people, belonging to this Orthodox commonwealth became more important than their ethnic origins. This community became both, basic form of social organization and source of identity for all the ethnic groups inside it. In this way, ethnonyms were rarely used and between the 15th and 19th centuries, most of the local people gradually began to identify themselves simply as Christians. However, the public-spirited clergy in some isolated monasteries still kept the distinct Bulgarian identity alive, and this helped it to survive predominantly in rural, remote areas. Despite the process of ethno-religious fusion among the Orthodox Christians, strong nationalist sentiments persisted into the Catholic community in the northwestern part of the country. At that time, a process of partial hellenisation occurred among the intelligentsia and the urban population, as a result of the higher status of the Greek culture and the Greek Orthodox Church among the Balkan Christians. During the second half of the 18th century, the Enlightenment in Western Europe provided influence for the initiation of the National awakening of Bulgaria in 1762.
Some Bulgarians supported the Russian Army when they crossed the Danube in the middle of the 18th century. Russia worked to convince them to settle in areas recently conquered by it, especially in Bessarabia. As a consequence, many Bulgarian colonists settled there, and later they formed two military regiments, as part of the Russian military colonization of the area in 1759–1763.
Bulgarian national movement
Bulgarian emigrants formed the Bulgarian Countrymen's Army and joined the Russian army, hoping Russia would bring Bulgarian liberation, but its imperial interests were focused then on Greece and Valachia. The rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire led to a struggle for cultural and religious autonomy of the Bulgarian people. The Bulgarians wanted to have their own schools and liturgy in Bulgarian, and they needed an independent ecclesiastical organisation. Discontent with the supremacy of the Greek Orthodox clergy, the struggle started to flare up in several Bulgarian dioceses in the 1820s.
It was not until the 1850s when the Bulgarians initiated a purposeful struggle against the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The struggle between the Bulgarians and the Greek Phanariotes intensified throughout the 1860s. In 1861 the Vatican and the Ottoman government recognized a separate Bulgarian Uniat Church. As the Greek clerics were ousted from most Bulgarian bishoprics at the end of the decade, significant areas had been seceded from the Patriarchate's control. This movement restored the distinct Bulgarian national consciousness among the common people and led to the recognition of the Bulgarian Millet in 1870 by the Ottomans. As result, two armed struggle movements started to develop as late as the beginning of the 1870s: the Internal Revolutionary Organisation and the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee. Their armed struggle reached its peak with the April Uprising which broke out in 1876. It resulted in the Russo-Turkish War(1877–1878), and led to the foundation of the third Bulgarian state after the Treaty of San Stefano. The issue of Bulgarian nationalism gained greater significance, following the Congress of Berlin which took back the regions of Macedonia and Adrianople area, returning them under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Also an autonomous Ottoman province, called Eastern Rumelia was created in northern Thrace. Аs a consequence, the Bulgarian national movement proclaimed as its aim the inclusion of most of Macedonia, Thrace and Moesia under Greater Bulgaria.
Eastern Rumelia was annexed to Bulgaria in 1885 through bloodless revolution. During the early 1890s, two pro-Bulgarian revolutionary organizations were founded: the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization and the Supreme Macedonian-Adrianople Committee. In 1903 they participated in the unsuccessful Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising against the Ottomans in Macedonia and the Adrianople vilayet. Macedonian Slavs were identified then predominantly as Bulgarians, and significant Bulgarophile sentiments endured up among them until the end of the Second World War.
In the early 20th century the control over Macedonia became a key point of contention between Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia, who fought the First Balkan War of (1912–1913) and the Second Balkan War of (1913). The area was further fought over during the World War I (1915–1918) and the World War II (1941–1944).
The study of Y-DNA haplogroups has received the most attention. Bulgarians show the highest diversity of haplogroups in Europe, marked by significant (> 10%) frequencies of 5 major haplogroups (compared to Atlantic Europe, dominated by > 50% R1b). Most Bulgarians belong to three unrelated haplogroups, 20% of whom to I-M423 (I2a1b), 18% to E-V13 (E1b1b1a1b1a) and 17.5% to R-M17 (R1a1a), but the biggest part belongs to macro-haplgoroup R (~28%). The major haplogroups, groupped by age of around 20 kya, are:
- Haplogroup I-L460 (I2a) is presented at levels ~22%  according to 808 Bulgarian male samples. By higher levels may be defined the profiles of Romanians, Ukrainians and all South Slavs other than Bulgarians. Evidence points to European origin for haplogroup I, and Levantine for its immediate ancestor- IJ. Its exclusive and now patchy distribution within Europe suggests a very early entry in to Europe; perhaps with Palaeolithic colonization. Bulgarian Hg I2a most often belongs specifically to the P37.2, M423 branch ("Hg I2a1b"), representing 20% of Bulgarian males. I2a1b is the most common haplogroup of European male remains dated to the Mesolithic. According to some data, Bulgarian males who belong to M423, belong to CTS10228 Dinaric (I2a1b2a1), the prevalent clade among Slavs, and none of them belongs to the Disles L161 branch or the CTS595 branch found in west Europe and Sardinia. The Dinaric is descended by several 'only child' sublclades and has an estiamted most recent common ancestor only at the age of 2200 years making it the youngest and most common micro-group. It makes up an absolute majority among the highest populations. The largest marker group among Bulgarians is Dinaric-North, the largest SNP group is Z17855, being the prevailing clade in the eastern Balkans and rare elsewhere. Another major part are representatives of Dinaric-South S17250+, which is the most common subclade among west Balkan peoples and a minority northwards. Initially a Holocene expansion of I2 in SEE is supposed; however the homogeneity of Balkan Hg I2 and its star-like clustering suggests a far more recent expansion time. It was confirmed later that I2 started to resettle Eastern Europe only around 2,300 YBP. Around 2% of Bulgarian males belong to another Paleolithic European subclade M223 (I2a2).
- Haplogroup E-V68 (E1b1b1a) is presented at levels ~19.5%. The ultimate origin of E-V68 points to northeastern Africa, specifically near the Nile and Lake Alexandria. Thus this haplogroup represents a more recent Bronze Age "out of Africa" movement into Europe via the Balkans. Holocene movement into the Near East is proposed, then several thousand years ago, a movement into the Balkans. Through the long-term migrations the sub-Saharian maternal lineage Hg L was lost lacking completely today in the Balkans. All V68-positive Bulgarians were recorded as M78-positive. The presently mostly European V13 (E1b1b1a1b1a) originated in the Middle East and is presented at ~18% among Bulgarian males. According to deeply traced data its internal structure is divided among Z5016, Z5017 and S17461. Recent findings of V13 in a Neolithic context in Iberia (dated to ~ 7 kya) give a terminus ante quem. However, it might have really begun to expand in the Balkans somewhat later, perhaps during the population growth of the Bronze Age. Like I-P37 above, it is spread throughout Europe but peaks in the Balkans, only the Albanians, Greeks, Macedonians, Romani, Montenegrins and Serbs may have it at higher levels than Bulgarians.
- Haplogroup R-M420 (R1a) is identified at 17.5%. It is the dominant group among Balts, most Slavs, Hungarians and the Indostan area. The M458 branch, which is most common in Poland and the Czech Republic, is present in Bulgarians at 7.5% and the Bulgarian R1a structure divided by the largest clades is closest to the Czech. M458 and Z280 both constitute 45% of it, 7% being of their parent Z282 and only 3% is made up by the Asian branch Z93 that is the most common subclade from China to Anatolia. The most common subclade appears to be the L1029 subclade (R1a1a1b1a1b1) of M458, prevailing in most of the eastern Balkans and various spased parts of central and northern Europe.
- Haplogroup R-M343 (R1b): present in Bulgarians at ~11%. R1b is the most frequently occurring haplogroup in western Europe, though the Bulgarian internal structure is heterogeneous and only 4% of Bulgarian males carry western subclades, at least 2% are carriers of U152. The Z2103 branch shows a clear relationship with Anatolia and the Near East. Despite most Bulgarians belong to Z2103, the majority of them belong to its subclade Z2110 (R1b1a1a2a2c1a), which is limited around Europe. The overall evidence suggests that the macro-haplogroup R arose in southern or central Asia descending from Haplogroup IJK. The subsequent path into Europe, and the major settlement is thought to have happedned in the Bronze Age by the Kurgan hypothesis, R1 clades are found at minority levels in Europe since the Mesolithic; a subsequent Balkan entry of R1b into Europe is a major theory.
- Haplogroup J-M172 (J2) is presented at levels 10.5%. Higher levels of it are observed in the Balkans as far as Bosniaks, Italians, while Anatolia and the surroundings are dominated by the group. Whilst its origin is north Levantine, its current pattern reflects more recent events connecting the Aegean and western Anatolia during the Copper and Bronze Ages, as well as Greek settlement around the Mediterranean. Its settling in Europe was sooner than that of the haplogroups above. Several subclades within J2 are present: J-M410 (J2a) is represented at 6% and J-M12 (J2b) at 4%, the prevailing is the L26 deep subclade of J2a, it is furtherly divided into M67, M92, L24 and other subclades.
- Finally, there are also some other Y-DNA Haplogroups presented at a lower levels among Bulgarians ~ 20% all together, as G-P15 (G2a) at ~5%, Haplogroup I-M253 (I1, mostly Scandinavian L22, Yutland Z58 and continental Z63) at ~4%, J-M267 (J1) at ~3.5%, E-M34 (E1b1b1b2a1) at ~2%, T-M70 at ~1.5%, at less than 1% Haplogroup C-M217, H-M82, N-231, Q-M242, L-M61, I-M170, E-M96(excl. M35), R-M124, E-M81, E-M35.
Complimentary evidence exists from mtDNA data. Bulgaria shows a very similar profile to other European countries – dominated by mitochondrial haplogroups Hg H (~42%), Hg U (~22%), Hg T (~11%), Hg J (~8%) and Hg K (~6%). Like most Europeans, H1 is the prevailing subclade among Bulgarians. Recent studies show greater diversity within mt Haplogroups than once thought, as sub-haplogroups are being discovered, and often separate migrations and distributions of the Y-DNA haplogroups.
The overall Y-DNA profile of the 808 Bulgarians was not compared to Macedonians, Serbians and Montenegrins and they were situated at shortest distance to some 147 sampled Romanians, also backed by studies as early as 2000. The study of the 147 Romanians itself concludes that they are closer to Ukrainians and Hungarians than to the Bulgarian group sampled by the study. Another Y-DNA analysis of 215 Hungarians confirmed that the closest Europeans to them are the Bulgarians. Other Y-DNA studies concluded that Bulgarians are more distant to Romanians and Hungarians, and closest either to Macedonians, Serbs, Bulgarian Turks or Gagauzes.
A study compared all Slavic nations and combinined all lines of evidence, autosomal, maternal and paternal, including more than 6000 people for the chromosomal data and at least 700 Bulgarians from previous studies, and 296 for its autosomal analysis scanning a small number of SNP groups, of which 13 were Bulgarians. It claims that the major part of the Balto-Slavic genetic variation can be primarily attributed to the assimilation of the pre-existing regional genetic components. For Slavic peoples correlations with linguistics came out much lower than high correlations with geography. The South Slavic group is predominantly quite different and separated from their northern linguistic relatives genetically. Therefore, the Bulgarians and most other South Slavs are more often included in Balkan genetic clusters and the most plausible explanation would be that their most sizable genetic components were inherited from the assimilated pre-Slavic and pre-Bulgar population, predominantly of indigenous Balkan origin, which is also the similar case of most European peoples, whose genetic structure is usually clinal and dependent on geography rather than on language, dominant regional genes often predate the arrival of the current linguistic family by milleniums. The southeastern group (Bulgarians and Macedonians) are situated together in a cluster with Romanians and are related to other South Slavs, a conclusion backed also by a pan-European autosomal study sampling 2 Bulgarians, another more extensive one twining together Bulgarians and Romanians. Another pan-Slavic Y-DNA study concludes that most of the Southern Slavic group is distinct from their Northern Slavic relatives, whose homogeneity on the other hand stretches form the Alps to Volga end even as far as the Pacific Ocean in Russia. This means that there is a paternal genetic rather than a geographical factor separating these Slavic peoples. The South Slavs are characterized by featuring NRY hgs I2a and E plus 10% higher Mediterranean k2 autosomal component, while the Eastern and Western Slavs are characterized by the k3 component and hg R1a. The current differentiation of high I-P37 and lower R-Z282 among South Slavs and vice versa among North Slavs suggests it was present prior to the Slavic settling in the Balkans as no relevant migrations occur later to change the frequencies. The contribution of the Y chromosomes of peoples who settled in the Balkans before the Slavic expansion is the most likely explanation of the phenomenon according to the other study on Y-haplotypes, concluded by its two separate analyses because of the complicity of the methods tracing the alleles. The presence of two distinct genetic substrata in the genes of East-West and South Slavs would conclude that assimilation of indigenous populations by bearers of Slavic languages was a major mechanism of the spread of Slavic languages to the Balkan Peninsula. Though Southern Slavs are often more related to non-Slavic populations than to other Slavs, the short genetic distance of South Slavs does not extend to populations throughout the whole Balkan Peninsula and they are differentiated from all Greek sub-populations that are not Macedonian Greek. Despite various invasions of Altaic-speaking peoples in Europe, no significant impact from such Asian descent is recorded throughout southern and central Europe.
The results of the studies above showing that the Bulgarians remain distant from North Slavs and related to other Balkan peoples are backed by the other Y chromosomal and autosomal studies excluding those studying the mitochondrial DNA. The mtDNA PCA analyses find the Bulgarians in a cluster with Central Europeans and related to more Northern than Southern Slavic populations. According to such a mtDNA PCA analysis of 855 Bulgarian samples, which does not take into account the subclades of Haplogroup H, the Bulgarians came out most related to the Poles, followed by Ukrainians, Croats, Czechs, while neighbouring Turks, Romanians and Greeks remain more or very distant. Several other pan-European mtDNA PCA analyses of the same Bulgarian samples indicate that the neighbouring populations except the Macedonians are distant from the Bulgarians. According to these the Bulgarians are most related by mtDNA either to Hungarians, Szekelys Slovaks or to Balkan Macedonians, followed either by Ukrainians, Croats or Czechs, while neighbouring populations such as Turks, Romanians, Serbs and Greeks remain more distanced. The subclades of Haplogroup H may have not been studied but subclusters H1b and H2a are more common in Eastern than in Western Europeans. Those studies do not make claim if the mitochondrial closeness between the Bulgarians and North Slavs is due to Slavic or prehistoric common heritage.
Most Bulgarians live in Bulgaria, where they number around 6 million, constituting 85% of the population. There are significant Bulgarian minorities in Serbia, Turkey, Albania, Romania (Banat Bulgarians), as well as in Ukraine and Moldova (see Bessarabian Bulgarians). Many Bulgarians also live in the diaspora, which is formed by representatives and descendants of the old (before 1989) and new (after 1989) emigration. The old emigration was made up of some 2,470,000 economic and several tens of thousands of political emigrants, and was directed for the most part to the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Germany. The new emigration is estimated at some 970,000 people and can be divided into two major subcategories: permanent emigration at the beginning of the 1990s, directed mostly to the U.S., Canada, Austria, and Germany and labour emigration at the end of the 1990s, directed for the most part to Greece, Italy, the UK and Spain. Migrations to the West have been quite steady even in the late 1990s and early 21st century, as people continue moving to countries like the US, Canada and Australia. Most Bulgarians living in Canada can be found in Toronto, Ontario, and the provinces with the most Bulgarians in Canada are Ontario and Quebec. According to the 2001 census there were 1,124,240 Bulgarian citizens in the city of Sofia, 302,858 in Plovdiv, 300,000 in Varna and about 200,000 in Burgas. The total number of Bulgarians stood at over 9 million.
Related ethnic groups
Bulgarians are considered most closely related to the neighboring Macedonians; indeed it is sometimes said there is no discernible ethnic difference between them. The ethnic Macedonians were considered Macedonian Bulgarians by most ethnographers until the early 20th century and beyond with a big portion of them evidently self-identifying as such. The Slavic-speakers of Greek Macedonia and most among the Torlaks in Serbia have also had a history of identifying as Bulgarians and many were members of the Bulgarian Exarchate, which included most of the territory regarded as Torlak. The greater part of these people were also considered Bulgarians by most ethnographers until the early 20th century and beyond.
Bulgarians speak a Southern Slavic language which is mutually intelligible with Macedonian and with the Torlak dialect. Although related, Bulgarian and the Western and Eastern Slavic languages are not mutually intelligible. The eastern Bulgarian dialects are related to standard Polish and Belarusian, while the western dialects are related to standard Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian.
Bulgarian demonstrates some linguistic developments that set it apart from other Slavic languages. These are shared with Romanian, Albanian and Greek (see Balkan language area) with which it is not at all mutually intelligible. Until 1878 Bulgarian was influenced lexically by medieval and modern Greek, and to a much lesser extent, by Turkish. More recently, the language has borrowed many words from Russian, German, French and English.
Bulgarian linguists consider the officialized Macedonian language (since 1944) a local variation of Bulgarian, just as most ethnographers and linguists until the early 20th century considered the local Slavic speech in the Macedonian region. The president of Bulgaria Zhelyu Zhelev, declined to recognize Macedonian as a separate language when the Republic of Macedonia became a new independent state. The Bulgarian language is written in the Cyrillic script.
In the first half of the 10th century, the Cyrillic script was devised in the Preslav Literary School, Bulgaria, based on the Glagolitic, the Greek and Latin alphabets. Modern versions of the alphabet are now used to write five more Slavic languages such as Belarusian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian as well as Mongolian and some other 60 languages spoken in the former Soviet Union. Medieval Bulgaria was the most important cultural centre of the Slavic peoples at the end of the 9th and throughout the 10th century. The two literary schools of Preslav and Ohrid developed a rich literary and cultural activity with authors of the rank of Constantine of Preslav, John Exarch, Chernorizets Hrabar, Clement and Naum of Ohrid. Bulgaria exerted similar influence on her neighbouring countries in the mid- to late 14th century, at the time of the Tarnovo Literary School, with the work of Patriarch Evtimiy, Gregory Tsamblak, Constantine of Kostenets (Konstantin Kostenechki). Bulgarian cultural influence was especially strong in Wallachia and Moldova where the Cyrillic script was used until 1860, while Church Slavonic was the official language of the princely chancellery and of the church until the end of the 17th century.
There are several different layers of Bulgarian names. The vast majority of them have either Christian (names like Lazar, Ivan, Anna, Maria, Ekaterina) or Slavic origin (Vladimir, Svetoslav, Velislava). After the Liberation in 1878, the names of historical Bulgar rulers like Asparuh, Krum, Kubrat and Tervel were resurrected. The old Bulgar name Boris has spread from Bulgaria to a number of countries in the world.
Most Bulgarian male surnames have an -ov surname suffix (Cyrillic: -ов), a tradition used mostly by Eastern Slavic nations such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. This is sometimes transcribed as -off or "-of" (John Atanasov—John Atanasoff), but more often as -ov (e.g. Boyko Borisov). The -ov suffix is the Slavic gender-agreeing suffix, thus Ivanov (Bulgarian: Иванов) literally means "Ivan's". Bulgarian middle names are patronymic and use the gender-agreeing suffix as well, thus the middle name of Nikola's son becomes Nikolov, and the middle name of Ivan's son becomes Ivanov. Since names in Bulgarian are gender-based, Bulgarian women have the -ova surname suffix (Cyrillic: -овa), for example, Maria Ivanova. The plural form of Bulgarian names ends in -ovi (Cyrillic: -ови), for example the Ivanovi family (Иванови).
Other common Bulgarian male surnames have the -ev surname suffix (Cyrillic: -ев), for example Stoev, Ganchev, Peev, and so on. The female surname in this case would have the -eva surname suffix (Cyrillic: -ева), for example: Galina Stoeva. The last name of the entire family then would have the plural form of -evi (Cyrillic: -еви), for example: the Stoevi family (Стоеви).
Another typical Bulgarian surname suffix, though less common, is -ski. This surname ending also gets an –a when the bearer of the name is female (Smirnenski becomes Smirnenska). The plural form of the surname suffix -ski is still -ski, e.g. the Smirnenski family (Bulgarian: Смирненски).
The ending –in (female -ina) also appears rarely. It used to be given to the child of an unmarried woman (for example the son of Kuna will get the surname Kunin and the son of Gana – Ganin). The surname suffix -ich can be found only occasionally, primarily among the Roman Catholic Bulgarians. The surname ending –ich does not get an additional –a if the bearer of the name is female.
Most Bulgarians are at least nominally members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church founded in 870 AD (autocephalous since 927 AD). The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the independent national church of Bulgaria like the other national branches of the Orthodox communion and is considered a dominating element of Bulgarian national consciousness. The church was abolished once, during the period of Ottoman rule (1396—1878), in 1873 it was revived as Bulgarian Exarchate and soon after raised again to Bulgarian Patriarchate. In 2011, the Orthodox Church at least nominally had a total of 4,374,000 members in Bulgaria (59% of the population), down from 6,552,000 (83%) at the 2001 census. 4,240,000 of these pointed out the Bulgarian ethnic group. The Orthodox Bulgarian minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Albania, Ukraine and Moldova nowadays hold allegiance to the respective national Orthodox churches.
Despite the position of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as a unifying symbol for all Bulgarians, small groups of Bulgarians have converted to other faiths through the course of time. In the 16th and the 17th centuries Roman Catholic missionaries converted a small number of Bulgarian Paulicians in the districts of Plovdiv and Svishtov to Roman Catholicism. Nowadays there are some 40,000 Roman Catholic Bulgarians in Bulgaria, additional 10,000 in the Banat in Romania and up to 100,000 people of Bulgarian ancenstry in South America. The Roman Catholic Bulgarians of the Banat are also descendants of Paulicians who fled there at the end of the 17th century after an unsuccessful uprising against the Ottomans. Protestantism was introduced in Bulgaria by missionaries from the United States in 1857. Missionary work continued throughout the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Nowadays there are some 25,000 Protestant Bulgarians in Bulgaria. Also, a minority group of Muslim Bulgarians live in the country.
Art and science
Boris Christoff, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Raina Kabaivanska and Ghena Dimitrova made a precious contribution to opera singing with Ghiaurov and Christoff being two of the greatest bassos in the post-war period. The name of the harpist-Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean is one of the best-known harpists today. Bulgarians have made valuable contributions to world culture in modern times as well. Julia Kristeva and Tzvetan Todorov were among the most influential European philosophers in the second half of the 20th century. The artist Christo is among the most famous representatives of environmental art with projects such as the Wrapped Reichstag.
Bulgarians in the diaspora have also been active. American scientists and inventors of Bulgarian descent include John Atanasoff, Peter Petroff, and Assen Jordanoff. Bulgarian-American Stephane Groueff wrote the celebrated book "Manhattan Project", about the making of the first atomic bomb and also penned "Crown of Thorns", a biography of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria. According to MENSA International, Bulgaria ranks 2nd in the world in Mensa IQ test-scores and its students rate second in the world in SAT scores. Also, international MENSA IQ testing completed in 2004 identified as the world's smartest woman (and one of the smartest people in the world) Daniela Simidchieva of Bulgaria, who has an IQ of 200.As of 2007[update] CERN employed more than 90 Bulgarian scientists, and about 30 of them will actively participate in the Large Hadron Collider experiments.
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of local wines and alcoholic beverages such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.
Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is not very typical, but grilling – especially different kinds of meats – is very common. Pork meat is the most common meat in the Bulgarian cuisine. Oriental dishes do exist in Bulgarian cuisine with most common being moussaka, gyuvetch, and baklava. A very popular ingredient in Bulgarian cuisine is the Bulgarian white brine cheese called "sirene" (сирене). It is the main ingredient in many salads, as well as in a variety of pastries. Fish and chicken are widely eaten and while beef is less common as most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is a natural byproduct of this process and it is found in many popular recipes. Bulgaria is a net exporter of lamb and its own consumption of the meat is prevalent during its production time in spring.
Bulgarians may wear the martenitsa (мартеница) – an adornment made of white and red yarn and worn on the wrist or pinned on the clothes – from 1 March until the end of the month. Alternatively, one can take off the martenitsa earlier if one sees a stork (considered a harbinger of spring). One can then tie the martenitsa to the blossoming branch of a tree. Family-members and friends in Bulgaria customarily exchange martenitsas, which they regard as symbols of health and longevity. The white thread represents peace and tranquility, while the red one stands for the cycles of life. Bulgarians may also refer to the holiday of 1 March as Baba Marta (Баба Марта), meaning Grandmother March. It preserves an ancient pagan tradition. Many legends exist regarding the birth of this custom, some of them dating back to the 7th-century times of Khan Kubrat, the ruler of Old Great Bulgaria. Other tales relate the martenitsa to Thracian and Zoroastrian beliefs.
The ancient ritual of kukeri (кукери), performed by costumed men, seeks to scare away evil spirits and bring good harvest and health to the community. The costumes, made of animal furs and fleeces, cover the whole of the body. A mask, adorned with horns and decoration, covers the head of each kuker, who also must have bells attached to his waist. The ritual consists of dancing, jumping and shouting in an attempt to banish all evil from the village. Some of the performers impersonate royalty, field-workers and craftsmen. The adornments on the costumes vary from one region to another.
Another characteristic custom called nestinarstvo (нестинарство), or firedancing, distinguishes the Strandzha region. This ancient custom involves dancing into fire or over live embers. Women dance into the fire with their bare feet without suffering any injury or pain.
As for most European peoples, football became by far the most popular sport for the Bulgarians. Hristo Stoichkov was one of the best football (soccer) players in the second half of the 20th century, having played with the national team and FC Barcelona. He received a number of awards and was the joint top scorer at the 1994 World Cup. Dimitar Berbatov, currently in PAOK F.C. and formerly in Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Bayer Leverkusen and others, the national team and two domestic clubs, is still the most popular Bulgarian football player of the 21st century.
In the beginning of the 20th century Bulgaria was famous for two of the best wrestlers in the world – Dan Kolov and Nikola Petroff. Stefka Kostadinova is the best female high jumper, still holding the world record from 1987, one of the oldest unbroken world records for all kind of athletics. Ivet Lalova along with Irina Privalova is currently the fastest white woman at 100 metres. Kaloyan Mahlyanov has been the first European sumo wrestler to win the Emperor's Cup in Japan. Veselin Topalov won the 2005 World Chess Championship. He was ranked No. 1 in the world from April 2006 to January 2007, and had the second highest Elo rating of all time (2813). He regained the world No. 1 ranking again in October 2008.
The national flag of Bulgaria is a rectangle with three colors: white, green, and red, positioned horizontally top to bottom. The color fields are of same form and equal size. It is generally known that the white represents – the sky, the green – the forest and nature and the red – the blood of the people, referencing the strong bond of the nation through all the wars and revolutions that have shaken the country in the past. The Coat of Arms of Bulgaria is a state symbol of the sovereignty and independence of the Bulgarian people and state. It represents a crowned rampant golden lion on a dark red background with the shape of a shield. Above the shield there is a crown modeled after the crowns of the emperors of the Second Bulgarian Empire, with five crosses and an additional cross on top. Two crowned rampant golden lions hold the shield from both sides, facing it. They stand upon two crossed oak branches with acorns, which symbolize the power and the longevity of the Bulgarian state. Under the shield, there is a white band lined with the three national colors. The band is placed across the ends of the branches and the phrase "Unity Makes Strength" is inscribed on it.
Both the Bulgarian flag and the Coat of Arms are also used as symbols of various Bulgarian organisations, political parties and institutions.
Henry Wilkinson's map from 1876
Ernst Georg Ravenstein's ethnic map of European Turkey in 1880
Peoples at the Balkan Peninsula, Andrees Allgemeiner Handatlas, 1881,
Ethnic groups in the European orient by Johann Samuel Heinrich Kiepert in 1882
Map of the Southwestern Balkan Peninsula by Gustav Weigand, 1890
Map of A. Scobel, Andrees Allgemeiner Handatlas, 1908
Distribution of the Balkan peoples in 1911, Encyclopedia Britannica
Ethnic map of Dobruja in 1918
Ethnic map of Eastern Europe 1919, Le Matin
Ethnic map of the Timok region in 1941
People celebrating Epiphany as seen in Kalofer
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The key fact about Macedonian nationalism is that it is new: in the early twentieth century, Macedonian villagers defined their identity religiously—they were either "Bulgarian," "Serbian," or "Greek" depending on the affiliation of the village priest. While Bulgarian was most common affiliation then, mistreatment by occupying Bulgarian troops during WWII cured most Macedonians from their pro-Bulgarian sympathies, leaving them embracing the new Macedonian identity promoted by the Tito regime after the war.
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