Society & Religion - The religious and ethnic history of Bulgaria.

The People

Population: 7,621,337 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.6% (male 572,961; female 543,004)
15-64 years: 68.5% (male 2,569,199; female 2,648,461)
65 years and over: 16.9% (male 540,109; female 747,603) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: -1.11% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 8.05 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 14.42 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 14.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.5 years
female: 75.22 years (2002 est.)
male: 67.98 years
Total fertility rate: 1.13 children born/woman (2002 est.)

Nationality: noun: Bulgarian(s)
adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups: Bulgarian 83.6%, Turk 9.5%, Roma 4.6%, other 2.3% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) (1998)
Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 83.8%, Muslim 12.1%, Roman Catholic 1.7%, Jewish 0.1%, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 2.3% (1998)
Languages: Bulgarian, secondary languages closely correspond to ethnic breakdown
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1999)


The official religion in Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

In the Republic of Bulgaria there is full freedom of religion. This democratic concept is also written in the Bulgarian Constitution.

Contemporary ethnic Bulgarians, nearly 90% of the population, are a mixture of the Slavs already settled in the Balkans and the Bulgars who came to the area from Central Asia during the Western Roman Empire and established a strong state in the land of the Thracians.

They are almost exclusively Bulgarian Orthodox Christians, and speak Bulgarian, a Slavic language written with the Cyrillic alphabet. Muslim ethnic Turks, the human residue of 500 years of Ottoman rule, are the largest minority, making up 8% of the population. Many consider Turkish to be their first language.

About 2.6% of the population are Gypsies, about half of whom are Christian and half Muslim. There are small ethnic groups of Armenians, Macedonians, Jews, Russians and Greeks making up for the remainder.

Rila Monastery