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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense); the basic population of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. Bulgarians also live in regions of Rumania, Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, the Ukrainian SSR, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia that border on Bulgaria, as well as in North and South America and in Australia. The number of Bulgarians in Bulgaria is more than 7.2 million persons (end of 1965). Outside the country, the Bulgarians in the USSR make up the largest group (351,000, according to the 1970 census). They speak Bulgarian. The majority of believers profess Orthodoxy. (Christianity was adopted in Bulgaria in A.D. 865 from Byzantium.) Some believers are also Protestants and Catholics. There is also a group of Bulgarian Muslims who live mainly in the Rhodope Mountains. Their ancestors were forcibly converted to Islam by the Turks in the 16th to 18th centuries. Bulgarians belong to the group of South Slavic peoples. The Slavic tribes that settled in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula in the sixth and seventh centuries and assimilated the local Thracian tribes played a major role in the ethnogeny of the Bulgarians. The Turkicspeaking proto-Bulgarians, who were related to the Bulgars, were another component in the formation of the Bulgarians. In the second half of the seventh century the proto-Bulgarians penetrated into the Balkans and together with the Slavic tribes formed a Slavic-Bulgar state in 680. Toward the ninth and tenth centuries the inhabitants of the First Bulgarian Empire were consolidated into a Slavic-speaking people who began to be called Bulgarians. The culture of the Bulgarians was formulated through a process of complex interaction of the ancient cultures of proto-Bulgarians, Thra-cians, and Slavs, who had been considerably influenced by the ancient tradition and culture of Byzantium in the Balkans.

The 500-year Ottoman yoke (from the end of the 14th century to 1878) retarded the national development of the Bulgarians. Their renaissance began at the end of the 18th century with the development of capitalist relations in the country; the Bulgarian nation began to be formed. The Bulgarians’ active struggle against Turkish oppression and also against the Greek merchant bourgeoisie and clergy, which had exerted a great influence in the country, contributed greatly to the rise of their national consciousness and the unification of their people.

The vigorous dissemination of professional and urban culture among broad strata of the people throughout the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the close cultural contacts between the separate areas of the country, and also the revival of some traditional customs, which—changing their content in accordance with the new conditions of life—are entering into the developing socialist culture of Bulgaria, are characteristic of the national development of the Bulgarians.


Narody Zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1964. (Bibliography, pp. 917–18.)
Istoriia Bolgarii, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1954–55.
Istoriia na Bulgariia, vols. 1–2. Sofia, 1954–55.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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