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THE TURKS OF BULGARIA

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About us

Ethnic Turks form approximately 10% of the population of Bulgaria and inhabit predominantly two main regions: Northeast Bulgaria (Dobruja or the so called Deliorman) and southern Bulgaria (the region of the Rhodope Mountains). The main districts in Bulgaria with a sizeable Turkish speaking population are Kardzhali, Razgrad, Targovishte, Silistra, Shumen some parts in Ruse, Varna, Burgas and Plovdiv regions.  

The Turks of Bulgaria are the main and largest remnants of Ottoman Turks in Europe outside Turkey. They number over 1 million and live mainly in Bulgaria and Turkey. Small immigrant communities are found in North Cyprus as well as Central and Northern Europe. Turkey also holds a large Turkish population whose descendants left Bulgaria after the carnage of the Russo-Turkish War in 1878 and the many refugee waves since. 

Permanent Turkish presence in Europe was established in several waves starting in the 13th century with a group of Seljuk Turks concentrating in Dobruja (Northeastern Bulgaria and the Danube delta) and in the 14th century with the Ottoman Turkish conquest of the Balkans. The region of Thrace and consequently Bulgaria were the first territories the Ottomans permanently gained in Europe and from 1354 until the end of the Balkan Wars in 1913 these formed a significant Turkish heartland. Ottoman decline in Europe followed the failed campaign to capture Vienna in 1683 but nevertheless until the beginning of the Russo-Turkish War in 1877 Turks, to a large extent, still maintained a vivid presence in most of the Balkan Peninsula.