Bulgarians

Bulgarians

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The Bulgarians are a South Slavic
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

 nation and ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 native to Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.

History and ethnogenesis


The Bulgarians have descended from three main tribal groups, which mixed themselves and formed a Slavic-speaking nation and ethnicity in the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

: 1) the Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 invaders, who gave their language to the Bulgarians; 2) the Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, from whom the ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 and the early statehood were inherited; as well as 3) certain cultural elements taken from the 'indigenous' late Roman provincial peoples (Thraco-Roman
Thraco-Roman
The terms Thraco-Roman and Daco-Roman refer to the culture and language of the Thracian and Dacian peoples who were incorporated into the Roman Empire and ultimately fell under the Roman and Latin sphere of influence.-Meaning and usage:...

s and Thraco
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

-Byzantine
Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks or Byzantines is a conventional term used by modern historians to refer to the medieval Greek or Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire, centered mainly in Constantinople, the southern Balkans, the Greek islands, Asia Minor , Cyprus and the large urban centres of the Near East...

s). Between the 7th and the 10th centuries, the local population, the Bulgars and the other tribes in the empire, which were outnumbered by the Slavs gradually became absorbed by them, adopting a South Slav language. Since the late 10th century, the names “Bulgarians” and “Bulgarian” got prevalence and became permanent designations for the local population, both in the literature and in the spoken language.

The ethnic contribution of pre-Slavic populations (so-called Thracian
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

 and Daco-Getic
Getae
The Getae was the name given by the Greeks to several Thracian tribes that occupied the regions south of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria, and north of the Lower Danube, in Romania...

 peoples) was determined by some recent genetic studies. The ancient languages of the local people had gone nearly extinct before the arrival of the Slavs, mostly due to Hellenization
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 since the antiquity and to a lesser degree to Romanization
Romanization (cultural)
Romanization or latinization indicate different historical processes, such as acculturation, integration and assimilation of newly incorporated and peripheral populations by the Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire...

 during Roman rule, accompanied by Christianisation. Their cultural influence was also highly reduced due to the repeated barbaric invasions on the Balkans during the early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 by Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

, Celts, Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 and Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 and later slavicisation
Slavicisation
Slavicisation is a term used to describe a cultural change in which something non-Slavic becomes Slavic. The process can either be voluntary, or applied with varying degrees of force.* Bulgarisation* Croatisation* Czechification* Polonization...

. However, some of their linguistic and cultural traces are nevertheless present in modern Bulgarians (and Macedonians).

The 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
West Slavs
The West Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking West Slavic languages. They include Poles , Czechs, Slovaks, Lusatian Sorbs and the historical Polabians. The northern or Lechitic group includes, along with Polish, the extinct Polabian and Pomeranian languages...

, the East Slavs
East Slavs
The East Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking East Slavic languages. Formerly the main population of the medieval state of Kievan Rus, by the seventeenth century they evolved into the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian peoples.-Sources:...

 and the South Slavs
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

. The Slavs became the largest part of the ancestors of the Bulgarians. Similar to the rest of their South Slavic neighbours, the Bulgarians are clearly separated from the tight R1a1a cluster typical for Western and Eastern Slavs. However, I2a1b1
Haplogroup I2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup I2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup. Until 2008, it was known as Haplogroup I1b. Haplogroup I2 might have originated in Southeastern Europe some 15,000 - 17,000 years ago and developed into three main subgroups : I2*, I2a, and I2b.-Subclades:Note: The systematic subclade...

, which is typical of the South Slavic
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

 populations is not older than 2550 years and is probably result of the Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 invasion from the area north-east of the Carpathians.

The Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 are first mentioned in the 4th century in the vicinity of the North Caucasian
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

, although scholars speculate that their history may go back to the Central Asian Mongol-Turkic khaganates. Many scholars posit the origins of the Bulgars as a Turkic tribe of Central Asia (perhaps with Iranian elements). In the late 7th century, some Bulgar tribes, led by Asparukh and others, led by Kouber, permanently settled in the Balkans, and formed the ruling class of the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 in 680–681. It is assumed, that because Balkan Bulgars were not numerous, only a cultural, and low genetic influence was brought into the region, since the genetic background of the local populations was not significantly modified.

Genetic origin


According to some 20th century researchers as William Z. Ripley
William Z. Ripley
William Zebina Ripley was an American economist, lecturer at Columbia University, professor of economics at MIT, professor of political economics at Harvard University, and racial theorist...

, Carleton S. Coon
Carleton S. Coon
Carleton Stevens Coon, was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.-Biography:Carleton Coon was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a...

 and Bertil Lundman
Bertil Lundman
Bertil J. Lundman was a Swedish anthropologist. He is best known for having created a racial classification system of Europeans in his book The Races and Peoples of Europe .-Theory of European races:...

 the Bulgarians are predominantly Mediterranean people
Mediterranean race
The Mediterranean race was one of the three sub-categories into which the Caucasian race and the people of Europe were divided by anthropologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, following the publication of William Z. Ripley's book The Races of Europe...

, with unexplained Pre-Pontic, Alpine
Alpine race
The Alpine race is an historical racial classification or sub-race of humans, considered a branch of the Caucasian race. The term is not commonly used today, but was popular in the early 20th century.-History:...

, and Nordic strains, whose roots go back to the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

. Bulgarian DNA profile is congruent with those described for most European populations. Among the prehistoric events marked by the observed haplogroups, the greatest contribution comes from the range expansion of local Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 foragers. The Bulgarian gene pool also bears signals of the recolonization from different glacial refugia and the spread of agriculture (and farmers) from the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

. As for the interpopulation analysis of Y-DNA, similarly to mtDNA, Bulgarians belong to the cluster of European populations, still being slightly distant from them. Genetically
Genetic genealogy
Genetic genealogy is the application of genetics to traditional genealogy. Genetic genealogy involves the use of genealogical DNA testing to determine the level of genetic relationship between individuals.-History:...

, modern Bulgarians are more closely related to other neighbouring Balkan populations (Macedonians
Macedonians (ethnic group)
The Macedonians also referred to as Macedonian Slavs: "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness...

, Serbs, Romanians, Greeks and Albanians) than to the rest of the Europeans
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

.. Analyses shows that almost the entire Bulgarian mtDNA pool is made up of West Eurasian lineages; the Mediterranean contribution could be attributed to the Thracians, while the Eastern contribution could be attributed to the Bulgars and Slavs.

Demographics


Most Bulgarians live in Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, where they are around 6 million, constituting 85% of the population. There are significant Bulgarian minorities in the Republic of Macedonia
Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia
Bulgarians are a non-recognised ethnic minority in the Republic of Macedonia. Bulgarians are mostly found in the Strumica area, but over the years, the absolute majority of southwestern Republic of Macedonia have declared themselves Macedonian...

, Serbia
Bulgarians in Serbia
Bulgarians are an ethnic group in Serbia. This article focuses on Bulgarians in south-eastern Serbia, one of the two areas in which ethnic Bulgarians are concentrated....

 (see Western Outlands), Greece, Turkey, Albania
Bulgarians in Albania
Ethnic Bulgarians in present-day Albania live mostly in the areas of Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo. In the 1989 census a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Bulgarian or Czechoslovakian nationality. The US Department of State background note for Albania, dated 4 January 2011 further reported...

, Romania
Bulgarians in Romania
Bulgarians are a recognized minority in Romania , numbering 8,025 according to the 2002 Romanian census, down from 9,851 in 1992. Despite their low census number today, Bulgarians from different confessional and regional backgrounds have had ethnic communities in various regions of Romania, and...

 (Banat Bulgarians
Banat Bulgarians
The Banat Bulgarians are a distinct Bulgarian minority group which settled in the 18th century in the region of the Banat, which was then ruled by the Habsburgs and after World War I was divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary...

), as well as in Ukraine
Bulgarians in Ukraine
Ethnic Bulgarians have settlements in the southern regions of Ukraine where they make up a significant minority living primarily in the Odessa Oblast.- Location and number :...

 and Bessarabian Bulgarians
Bessarabian Bulgarians
The Bessarabian Bulgarians are a Bulgarian minority group of the historical region of Bessarabia, inhabiting parts of present-day Ukraine and Moldova.- Location and number :-Modern Ukraine:...

. 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
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, 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
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, and Germany and labour emigration at the end of the 1990s, directed for the most part to Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, 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 the US can be found in Chicago, Illinois. However, according to the 2000 US census most Bulgarians live in the cities of New York and Los Angeles, and the state with most Bulgarians in the US is California. Most Bulgarians living in Canada can be found in Toronto, Ontario, and the provinces with most Bulgarians in Canada are Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. The largest urban populations of Bulgarians are to be found in Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

 (1,1 million), Plovdiv
Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

 (302,858) and Varna
Varna
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

 (300,000+). The total number of Bulgarians stood at over 10 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 the 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
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

, which included most of the territory regarded as Torlak. Greater part of these people were also considered Bulgarians by most of the ethnographers until the early 20th century and beyond.

Language


Bulgarians speak a Southern Slavic language
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

 which is mutually intelligible with the Macedonian
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

 and with the Torlak dialect. The Bulgarian language is also, to some degree, mutually intelligible with Russian on account of the influence which Russia has had on the development of Modern Bulgaria since 1878, as well as the earlier effect of Old Bulgarian
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 on the development of Old Russian
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

. Although related, Bulgarian and the Western and Eastern Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 are not mutually intelligible.

Bulgarian demonstrates some linguistic developments that set it apart from other Slavic languages. These are shared with Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

, Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 (see Balkan linguistic union
Balkan linguistic union
The Balkan sprachbund or linguistic area is the ensemble of areal features—similarity in grammar, syntax, vocabulary and phonology—among the languages of the Balkans. Several features are found across these languages though not all need apply to every single language...

) with which it is not in any case mutually intelligible. Until 1878 Bulgarian was influenced lexically by medieval and modern Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, and to a much lesser extent, by Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

. More recently, the language has borrowed many words from Russian, German, French and English.

Comparatively small are the people of the diaspora who are Bulgarians by ethnic origin or descent but
do not speak the Bulgarian language (mostly representatives of the old emigration in the U.S., Canada, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

).

The majority of Bulgarian linguists consider the officialized Macedonian language
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

 (since 1944) a local variation of Bulgarian, just as the most ethnographers and linguists until the early 20th century considered the local Slavic speech in the Macedonian region. The president of Bulgaria Zhelyu Zhelev
Zhelyu Zhelev
Zhelyu Mitev Zhelev is a Bulgarian politician and former dissident who was the first democratically elected President of Bulgaria, he is elected for his first mandate by the Parliament for the period 1990 to 1992, in January 1992 general elections are held when he is reelected for his second...

, declined to recognize the Macedonian as a separate language when the Republic of Macedonia became a new independent state. The Bulgarian language is written in the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

.

Cyrillic alphabet


In the first half of the 10th century, the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 was devised in the Preslav Literary School
Preslav Literary School
The Preslav Literary School was the first literary school in the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It was established by Boris I in 885 or 886 in Bulgaria's capital, Pliska...

, Bulgaria
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

, based on the Glagolitic
Glagolitic alphabet
The Glagolitic alphabet , also known as Glagolitsa, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. The name was not coined until many centuries after its creation, and comes from the Old Slavic glagolъ "utterance" . The verb glagoliti means "to speak"...

, the Greek
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

 and Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

s. Modern versions of the alphabet are now used to write five more Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 such as Belarusian
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

, Macedonian
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

, Russian, Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

 and Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

 as well as Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 and some other 60 languages spoken in the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Medieval Bulgaria
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 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
Preslav Literary School
The Preslav Literary School was the first literary school in the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It was established by Boris I in 885 or 886 in Bulgaria's capital, Pliska...

 and Ohrid
Ohrid Literary School
The Ohrid Literary School was one of the two major medieval Bulgarian cultural centres, along with the Preslav Literary School . The school was established in Ohrid in 886 by Saint Clement of Ohrid on orders of Boris I of Bulgaria simultaneously or shortly after the establishment of the Preslav...

 developed a rich literary and cultural activity with authors of the rank of Constantine of Preslav
Constantine of Preslav
Constantine of Preslav was a medieval Bulgarian scholar, writer and translator, one of the most important men of letters working at the Preslav Literary School at the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century. Biographical evidence about his life is scarce but he is believed to have...

, John Exarch
John Exarch
John Exarch was a medieval Bulgarian scholar, writer and translator, one of the most important men of letters working at the Preslav Literary School at the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century. Evidence about his life is scarce but his literary legacy suggests an excellent...

, Chernorizets Hrabar
Chernorizets Hrabar
Chernorizets Hrabar was a Bulgarian monk, scholar and writer who worked at the Preslav Literary School at the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century, developing Medieval Bulgarian literature and spreading Old Church Slavonic.- Name :...

, Clement
Clement of Ohrid
Saint Clement of Ohrid was a medieval Bulgarian saint, scholar, writer and enlightener of the Slavs. He was the most prominent disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius and is often associated with the creation of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets, especially their popularisation among...

 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
Tarnovo Literary School
The Tarnovo Literary School of the late 14th and 15th century was a major medieval Bulgarian cultural academy with important contribution to the Medieval Bulgarian literature established in the capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo...

, with the work of Patriarch Evtimiy, Gregory Tsamblak
Gregory Tsamblak
Gregory Tsamblak ; was a Bulgarian writer and cleric, metropolitan of Kiev between 1413 and 1420. His name is also spelled Gregorije Camblak....

, Constantine of Kostenets
Constantine of Kostenets
Constantine of Kostenets , also known as Konstantin Kostenechki and Constantine the Philosopher , was a medieval Bulgarian writer and chronicler...

 (Konstantin Kostenechki). Bulgarian cultural influence was especially strong in Wallachia
Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

 and Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 where the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 was used until 1860, while Church Slavonic was the official language of the princely chancellery
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 and of the church until the end of 17th century.

Name system


There are several different layers of Bulgarian names. The vast majority of them have either Christian (names like Lazar, Ivan
Ivan (name)
Ivan is a Christian male given name that is primarily associated with Slavic languages.-Etymology:Ivan is the common Slavic Latin spelling, while Cyrillic spelling is two-fold: in Bulgarian, Russian, Macedonian, Serbian it is Иван, while in Belarusian and Ukrainian it is Iван.It is the Slavic...

, Anna, Maria, Ekaterina) or Slavic origin (Vladimir, Svetoslav, Velislava). After the Liberation in 1878, the names of historical Bulgar
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 rulers like Asparuh, Krum, Kubrat
Kubrat
Kubrat or Kurt was a Bulgar ruler credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in 632. He is said to have achieved this by conquering the Avars and uniting all the Bulgar tribes under one rule....

 and Tervel were resurrected. The old Bulgar name Boris
Boris (first name)
Boris, Borys or Barys is a male name, with Bulgarian roots. It is common in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and other countries...

 has spread from Bulgaria to a number of countries in the world with Russian Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

, British politician Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British journalist and Conservative Party politician, who has been the elected Mayor of London since 2008...

, and German tennis player Boris Becker
Boris Becker
Boris Franz Becker is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Germany. He is a six-time Grand Slam singles champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and the youngest-ever winner of the men's singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 17...

 being three of the examples of its use.

Most Bulgarian male surnames have an -ov surname suffix (Cyrillic: -ов). This is sometimes transcribed
Transcription (linguistics)
Transcription in the linguistic sense is the systematic representation of language in written form. The source can either be utterances or preexisting text in another writing system, although some linguists only consider the former as transcription.Transcription should not be confused with...

 as -off (John Atanasov—John Atanasoff), but more often as -ov (e.g. Boyko Borisov
Boyko Borisov
Boyko Metodiev Borisov is a Bulgarian politician who has been Prime Minister of Bulgaria since July 2009. Previously he was Mayor of Sofia from 8 November 2005 until his election as Prime Minister....

). The -ov suffix is the Slavic gender-agreeing
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

 suffix, thus Ivanov literally means "Ivan's". Bulgarian middle names are patronymic and use the gender-agreeing
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

 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 .

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 .

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 .

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 GanaGanin). The surname suffix -ich can be found only occasional, primarily among the Roman Catholic Bulgarians
Roman Catholicism in Bulgaria
Roman Catholicism is the third largest religious congregation in Bulgaria, after Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam. It has roots in the country since the Middle Ages and is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.As an entity, the Catholic...

. The surname ending –ich does not get an additional –a if the bearer of the name is female.

Religion


Most Bulgarians are at least nominally members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Bulgarian Patriarchate is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church with some 6.5 million members in the Republic of Bulgaria and between 1.5 and 2.0 million members in a number of European countries, the Americas and Australia...

 founded in 870 AD (autocephalous since 927 AD). The Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Bulgarian Patriarchate is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church with some 6.5 million members in the Republic of Bulgaria and between 1.5 and 2.0 million members in a number of European countries, the Americas and Australia...

 is the independent national church of Bulgaria like the other national branches of the Orthodox communion and is considered an inseparable 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
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

 and soon after raised again to Bulgarian Patriarchate
Patriarchate
A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either* one of the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, earlier, the five that were included in the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but now nine,...

. In 2001, the Orthodox Church at least nominally had a total of 6,552,000 members in Bulgaria (82.6% of the population), 6,300,000 of which were Bulgarians, and between one and two million members in the diaspora. The Orthodox Bulgarian minorities in the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Serbia, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Albania, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 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 century Roman Catholic missionaries converted a small number of Bulgarian Paulicians in the districts of Plovdiv
Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

 and Svishtov
Svishtov
Svishtov is a town in northern Bulgaria, located in Veliko Tarnovo Province on the right bank of the Danube river opposite the Romanian town of Zimnicea. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Svishtov Municipality...

 to Roman Catholicism. Nowadays there are some 40,000 Roman Catholic Bulgarians in Bulgaria, additional 10,000 in the Banat
Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

 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. Between the 15th and the 19th century, during the Ottoman rule, some Orthodox Bulgarians converted to Islam. At 2001 census, 131,000 declared that are ethnic Bulgarians with Islamic denomination (locally called Pomaks
Pomaks
Pomaks is a term used for a Slavic Muslim population native to some parts of Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. The Pomaks speak Bulgarian as their native language, also referred to in Greece and Turkey as Pomak language, and some are fluent in Turkish,...

) in Bulgaria in the Rhodope
Rhodope Mountains
The Rhodopes are a mountain range in Southeastern Europe, with over 83% of its area in southern Bulgaria and the remainder in Greece. Its highest peak, Golyam Perelik , is the seventh highest Bulgarian mountain...

 region, as well as few villages in the Teteven
Teteven
Teteven is a town on the banks of the Vit river, at the foot of Stara Planina mountain in north central Bulgaria. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Teteven Municipality which is a part of Lovech Province. As of December 2009, the town has a population of 10,613 inhabitants.The town...

 region in Central North Bulgaria, however nowadays most of the Pomaks live in Turkey where they are at least 270,000.

Art and science


Boris Christoff
Boris Christoff
Boris Christoff was a Bulgarian opera singer...

, Nicolai Ghiaurov
Nicolai Ghiaurov
Nicolai Ghiaurov was a Bulgarian opera singer and one of the most famous bass singers of the postwar period. He was admired for his powerful, sumptuous voice, and was particularly associated with roles of Verdi.Ghiaurov married the Italian soprano Mirella Freni in 1978...

, Raina Kabaivanska
Raina Kabaivanska
Raina Kabaivanska is a Bulgarian opera singer, one of the leading lyrico-spinto sopranos of her generation, particularly associated with Verdi and Puccini, although she sang a wide range of roles....

 and Ghena Dimitrova
Ghena Dimitrova
Ghena Dimitrova was a Bulgarian operatic soprano. Her voice was known for its power and extension used in operatic roles such as Turandot in a career spanning four decades.-Early career:...

 made a precious contribution to opera singing with Ghiaurov and Christoff being two of the greatest bassos
Bass (voice type)
A bass is a type of male singing voice and possesses the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C...

 in the post-war period. The name of the harpist-Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean
Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean
Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean is a Bulgarian harpist and composer.-Biography:Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean was born in Sofia. She studied with the Italian Professor and Harpist Liana Pasquali and continued her education in the USA with the pre-eminent Harpist and Professor Susann McDonald, at Indiana...

 is one of the best-known harpists today.
Bulgarians have made valuable contributions to world culture in modern times as well. Julia Kristeva
Julia Kristeva
Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, sociologist, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. She is now a Professor at the University Paris Diderot...

 and Tzvetan Todorov
Tzvetan Todorov
Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He has lived in France since 1963 with his wife Nancy Huston and their two children, writing books and essays about literary theory, thought history and culture theory....

 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
Environmental art
The term environmental art is used in two different contexts: it can be used generally to refer to art dealing with ecological issues and/or the natural, such as the formal, the political, the historical, or the social context....

 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
Peter Petroff
Peter Petroff New York Times: ) was a Bulgarian-American inventor, engineer, NASA scientist, and adventurer. He was instrumental in the evolution of the NASA space program, and was one of the most prolific inventors of the second half the 20th century...

, and Assen Jordanoff
Assen Jordanoff
Assen "Jerry" Jordanoff was a Bulgarian American inventor, engineer, and aviator...

. Bulgarian-American Stephane Groueff
Stephane Groueff
Stephane Groueff, was a writer, journalist and a political refugee, born in Sofia, Bulgaria.-Biography:He was studying law in the University of Geneva when the communists seized power in his country in 1944. His father was Chief of Cabinet of King Boris III and was executed by the communists in 1945...

 wrote the celebrated book "Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

", about the making of the first atomic bomb and also penned "Crown of Thorns", a biography of Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Boris III of Bulgaria
Boris III of Bulgaria
Boris III the Unifier, Tsar of Bulgaria , originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver , son of Ferdinand I, came to the throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father, following the defeat of the Kingdom of Bulgaria during World War I...

.
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
SAT (disambiguation)
SAT is a college admissions test in the United States.Sat, SAT, etc., may also refer to:- Aviation :...

 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. CERN
CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

 employed more than 90 Bulgarian scientists, and about 30 of them will actively participate in the Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....

 experiments.

Cuisine




Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy product
Dairy product
Dairy products are generally defined as foods produced from cow's or domestic buffalo's milk. They are usually high-energy-yielding food products. A production plant for such processing is called a dairy or a dairy factory. Raw milk for processing comes mainly from cows, and, to a lesser extent,...

s and the variety of local wines
Bulgarian wine
Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria, dating back to the times of the Thracians. Wine is, together with beer and grape rakia, among the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.-Viticultural regions:...

 and alcoholic beverages such as rakia
Rakia
Rakia is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit; it is a popular beverage throughout the Balkans. Its alcohol content is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger . Prepečenica is double-distilled rakia which has an alcohol content that may...

, mastika
Mastika
Mastika , mastícha; is a liquor seasoned with mastic, a resin gathered from the mastic tree, a small evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region...

 and menta
Menta
Menta is a sweet mint liqueur prepared from natural ingredients like spearmint oil. It is a refreshing drink popular in Bulgaria in the summertime. It is a component of some cocktails as the traditional "Cloud" where it is combined with Mastika....

. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator
Tarator
Tarator or Taratur , is a traditional Balkan dish. It is a cold soup , popular in the summertime in Albania, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, southeastern Serbia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Armenia and in Cyprus...

. 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
Veal
Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

 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.

Customs


Bulgarians may wear the martenitsa
Martenitsa
Martenitsa is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March . The name of the holiday is Baba Marta. "Baba" is the Bulgarian word for "grandmother" and Mart is the Bulgarian word for the month of March...

 (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
Baba Marta
Baba Marta is the name of a mythical figure who brings with her the end of the cold winter and the beginning of the spring. Her holiday of the same name is celebrated in Bulgaria on March 1 with the exchange and wearing of martenitsi.-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
Kubrat
Kubrat or Kurt was a Bulgar ruler credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in 632. He is said to have achieved this by conquering the Avars and uniting all the Bulgar tribes under one rule....

, the ruler of Old Great Bulgaria
Old Great Bulgaria
Old Great Bulgaria or Great Bulgaria was а term used by Byzantine historians to refer to Onoguria during the reign of the Bulgar ruler Kubrat in the 7th century north of the Caucasus mountains in the steppe between the Dniester and Lower...

. Other tales relate the martenitsa to Thracian and Zoroastrian beliefs.

The ancient ritual of kukeri
Kukeri
Kukeri is a traditional Bulgarian ritual to scare away evil spirits, with a costumed man performing the ritual. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt...

 (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
Nestinarstvo
Nestinarstvo is a ritual originally performed in several Bulgarian- and Greek-speaking villages in the Strandzha Mountains close to the Black Sea coast in the very southeast of Bulgaria. It involves a barefooted dance on smouldering embers performed by nestinari...

 (нестинарство), or firedancing, distinguishes the Strandzha
Strandzha
Strandzha is a mountain massif in southeastern Bulgaria and the European part of Turkey, in the southeastern part of the Balkans between the plains of Thrace to the west, the lowlands near Burgas to the north and the Black Sea to the east. Its highest peak is Mahya Dağı in Turkey, while the...

 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.

Sport


As for most European peoples, the football became by far the most popular sport for the Bulgarians. Hristo Stoichkov
Hristo Stoichkov
Hristo Stoichkov Stoichkov , sometimes Stoitchkov; born 8 February 1966 in Plovdiv) is a retired Bulgarian footballer. He is regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation and the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. Nicknamed The Dagger , The Dog , The Modern Left...

 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
FC Barcelona
Futbol Club Barcelona , also known as Barcelona and familiarly as Barça, is a professional football club, based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain....

. He received a number of awards and was the joint top scorer at the 1994 World Cup. Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov is a Bulgarian footballer who plays as a forward for Manchester United. He captained the Bulgarian national team from 2006 to 2010, and is its all-time leading goalscorer and has also won the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year a record seven times, surpassing the number of...

, currently in Manchester United and formely in 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
Dan Kolov
Dan Koloff , born Doncho Kolеv Danev , was a famous Bulgarian wrestler and a national hero of Bulgaria.-Early years:A very brave man...

 and Nikola Petroff
Nikola Petroff
Nikola Petrov , better known as Nikola Petroff, was a Bulgarian wrestler.He was born in the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa, Bulgaria. On 20 July 1898, in New York, he earned the title "Champion of America". In the next year in Vienna, he became the European Champion in Greco-Roman wrestling...

. Stefka Kostadinova
Stefka Kostadinova
Stefka Kostadinova is a Bulgarian retired athlete and the current women's world record holder in the high jump. She is the current president of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee.-Career:...

 is the best female high jump
High jump
The high jump is a track and field athletics event in which competitors must jump over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without the aid of certain devices in its modern most practiced format; auxiliary weights and mounds have been used for assistance; rules have changed over the years....

er, still holding the world record from 1987, one of the oldest unbroken world records for all kind of athletics. Ivet Lalova
Ivet Lalova
Ivet Lalova is a Bulgarian athlete who specialises in the 100 metres and 200 metres sprint events. She is the tenth fastest woman in 100 metres history, the fastest white woman in the world, and finished fourth in the 100 metres and fifth in the 200 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Her career...

 along with Irina Privalova
Irina Privalova
Irina Anatoljewna Privalova is a Russian athlete.She first competed in the sprint events, winning two Olympic medals in the 100 m and 200 m in 1992 whilst representing the Unified Team. Irina Privalova had been a formidable competitor during most of the 1990s but had not yet won an...

 is currently the fastest white woman at 100 metres
100 metres
The 100 metres, or 100-metre dash, is a sprint race in track and field competitions. The shortest common outdoor running distance, it is one of the most popular and prestigious events in the sport of athletics. It has been contested at the Summer Olympics since 1896...

. Kaloyan Mahlyanov
Kotooshu Katsunori
Kotoōshū Katsunori is a professional sumo wrestler or rikishi. He made his debut in 2002, reaching the top division just two years later...

 has been the first European sumo wrestler to win the Emperor's Cup in Japan. Veselin Topalov won the 2005 World Chess Championship
World Chess Championship
The World Chess Championship is played to determine the World Champion in the board game chess. Men and women of any age are eligible to contest this title....

. 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.

Symbols


The national symbols of the Bulgarians are the Flag
Flag of Bulgaria
The flag of Bulgaria is a tricolour consisting of three equal-sized horizontal bands of white, green, and red. The flag was first adopted after the Russo-Turkish War , where Bulgaria gained independence. The national flag at times was charged with the state emblem, especially during the People's...

, the Coat of Arms
Coat of arms of Bulgaria
The coat of arms of Bulgaria consists of a crowned golden lion rampant over a dark red shield; above the shield is the Bulgarian historical crown...

, the National anthem and the National Guard
National Guards Unit of Bulgaria
The National Guards Unit of Bulgaria is the successor of the Personal Cavalry Convoy of knyaz Alexander I, founded in 1879, when on July 12 the guards escorted the Bulgarian knyaz for the first time. Accordingly 12 July is the official holiday of the modern National Guard Unit...

, as well other unofficial symbols such as the Samara flag
Samara flag
The Samara flag is one of the most important military symbols of the Bulgarian Army. Sewed by local nuns and given to the Bulgarian volunteers in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 by the citizens of the Russian city of Samara on 18 May 1877, it became famous when it was heroically prevented from...

.

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
Coat of arms of Bulgaria
The coat of arms of Bulgaria consists of a crowned golden lion rampant over a dark red shield; above the shield is the Bulgarian historical crown...

 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
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state which existed between 1185 and 1396 . A successor of the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th-early 15th century...

, 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.

Bulgarians through history





See also

  • List of Bulgarians
  • Bulgarian diaspora
    Bulgarian diaspora
    Bulgarian diaspora consists of Bulgarian emigrants and their descendants.The number of Bulgarians outside Bulgaria has sharply increased since 1991, following the collapse of the communism in Eastern Europe. Over one million Bulgarians have left the country, either permanently or as temporary...

  • Bulgarian Americans
    Bulgarian Americans
    Bulgarian Americans are citizens of the United States with Bulgarian heritage. For the 2000 US Census, 55,489 Americans indicated Bulgarian as their first ancestry, while 92,841 persons declared to have Bulgarian ancestry...

  • Bulgarian Canadians
    Bulgarian Canadians
    Bulgarian Canadians are citizens of Canada with significant Bulgarian heritage. Those can include Bulgarian Canadians living in Canada for one or several generations, dual Bulgarian Canadian citizens, or any other Bulgarian Canadians who consider themselves to be affiliated to both cultures or...

  • Bulgarians in South America
    Bulgarians in South America
    Bulgarians have been settling in South America as economic emigrants since the late 19th century. Their presence has been documented in Uruguay since 1905, in Argentina since 1906 and in Brazil since the early 20th century....

  • Bulgarian Australian
    Bulgarian Australian
    Bulgarians in Australia are Australians of Bulgarian descent. According to the 2006 Australian census, 2,680 residents of Australia were born in Bulgaria. Of these, 850 lived in New South Wales, 840 in Victoria, 340 in Queensland and 340 in South Australia. Some 4,870 people claimed full or...

  • Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia
    Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia
    Bulgarians are a non-recognised ethnic minority in the Republic of Macedonia. Bulgarians are mostly found in the Strumica area, but over the years, the absolute majority of southwestern Republic of Macedonia have declared themselves Macedonian...

  • Bulgarians in Serbia
    Bulgarians in Serbia
    Bulgarians are an ethnic group in Serbia. This article focuses on Bulgarians in south-eastern Serbia, one of the two areas in which ethnic Bulgarians are concentrated....

  • Bulgarians in Greece
  • Bulgarians in Turkey
  • Bulgarians in Albania
    Bulgarians in Albania
    Ethnic Bulgarians in present-day Albania live mostly in the areas of Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo. In the 1989 census a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Bulgarian or Czechoslovakian nationality. The US Department of State background note for Albania, dated 4 January 2011 further reported...

  • Bessarabian Bulgarians
    Bessarabian Bulgarians
    The Bessarabian Bulgarians are a Bulgarian minority group of the historical region of Bessarabia, inhabiting parts of present-day Ukraine and Moldova.- Location and number :-Modern Ukraine:...

     (Bulgarians in Ukraine
    Bulgarians in Ukraine
    Ethnic Bulgarians have settlements in the southern regions of Ukraine where they make up a significant minority living primarily in the Odessa Oblast.- Location and number :...

    )
  • Banat Bulgarians
    Banat Bulgarians
    The Banat Bulgarians are a distinct Bulgarian minority group which settled in the 18th century in the region of the Banat, which was then ruled by the Habsburgs and after World War I was divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary...

     (Bulgarians in Romania
    Bulgarians in Romania
    Bulgarians are a recognized minority in Romania , numbering 8,025 according to the 2002 Romanian census, down from 9,851 in 1992. Despite their low census number today, Bulgarians from different confessional and regional backgrounds have had ethnic communities in various regions of Romania, and...

    )
  • Bulgars
    Bulgars
    The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

  • Bulgarian cuisine
    Bulgarian cuisine
    Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic, it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines...

  • Bulgarian months
    Bulgarian months
    The months of the year used with the Gregorian calendar by Bulgarians bear names derived from the Latin month names and these are used by the Bulgarian population...

  • Macedonians (ethnic group)
    Macedonians (ethnic group)
    The Macedonians also referred to as Macedonian Slavs: "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness...