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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Bulgaria

Ethnicity

Much of Bulgaria consists of ethnic Bulgarians, who are a group of southern Slavs. Ethnically, the Bulgarians are a combination of the Bulgars, which are a varied Asian group, and the Slavs. Today the Bulgarians are much more closely related to their neighboring Slavs than they are to the ancient Bulgar people. This is especially true when comparing the Bulgarians to the Macedonians (who many Bulgarians see as ethnic Bulgarians), and to a further degree the Serbs. There are also traces that link the Bulgarians more distantly to the Greeks, Romanians, and Albanians. Among the largest minority groups in Bulgaria are the Turks and Roma; the Romas closest genetic relative being the people of India today.

Language

Nearly everyone in Bulgaria speaks Bulgarian, which is a southern Slavic language. The Macedonians claim their language (Macedonian) and Bulgarian are two distinct languages, while the Bulgarian government claims that Macedonian is just a dialect of Bulgarian. If they are two distinct languages they are obviously very closely related, as both have further relations to the other southern Slavic languages.

Most of the Turks and Roma speak their native languages, as some learn Bulgarian, but in many communities few people learn these languages. English and other popular international languages are growing in popularity in Bulgaria, but few people speak these languages at the present.

Religion

Bulgarian Architecture - Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Most ethnic Bulgarians are Bulgarian Orthodox while the Turkish minority tends to be Muslim.

Orthodoxy is a Christian religion that claims to be the most loyal to the Christian faith and religion as it was described by Jesus and the Gospels in the New Testament. Christianity, including Orthodoxy, was founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD; various branches of Orthodoxy were officially recognized by governments long before Catholicism was recognized in the Roman Empire.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism have many of the same beliefs; both believe that there is a single God who created everything and a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins. However, Orthodoxy is decentralized so each bishop oversees their local country or region, giving each orthodox country a different leader. In this way, no bishop has more power than any other, meaning the tenants and interpretations of the faith remain relatively unchanged. These beliefs are based on the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, in particular the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

This page was last updated: May, 2014