Bulgaria’s population has shrunk by one-fifth, or nearly 2 million, in just under 30 years since the collapse of communism in 1989. The decrease is estimated to be two-thirds due to the death of more Bulgarians than it is born, and one third to emigration.
The population decline accelerated during the 1990s, when many had financial and social difficulties during the transition to market economy. Childbirth fell significantly.
The development contributes to the over-represented group of older residents; almost every fifth of the population is over 65 according to a census in 2011. Those under the age of 15 make up only 13 percent.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Bulgaria, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The residents are geographically unevenly distributed. About a quarter of the residents live in and around the capital Sofia. The mountain areas, on the other hand, are quite sparsely populated.
The majority people, the Bulgarians, are a Slavic people mixed with Turkish people. The largest minority group is the Bulgarian Turks, ethnic Turks, which constitute close to a tenth of the population. In addition, there is a large group of Romans. The Romans are considered to be significantly more than the official figure of just under 5 percent. It has to do with high birth rates within the group and with the low status of the Roma in society (they sometimes choose themselves not to register as Roma in census). Figures of between half a million and one million Roma exist, which means they can be more than twice the official figure and more than the Bulgarian Turks. In addition, there are also smaller groups of Macedonians, Albanians, Armenians, Jews, Russians, Greeks and Romanians.
The Constitution prohibits ethnic discrimination, but in practice it still exists. The Roma are particularly vulnerable (see Social conditions). The government has taken steps to improve the situation of the Roma, including following pressure from the EU. However, the concrete results have been few.
Bulgarian Turks are now generally integrated into society. However, during most of the communist era (1944–1989), the Bulgarian Turks and the approximately 300,000 pomacos, ethnic Bulgarians who are Muslims, were oppressed. In 1984, the regime launched a “Bulgarian campaign” with the aim of wiping out the ethnic characteristics of the Bulgarian Turks. They were forced to change their name, were forbidden to speak Turkish in public and to practice their Muslim faith.
In May 1989, protests by the Bulgarian Turks against the campaign culminated in violent clashes that demanded several lives. The regime then opened the border crossings, which had been closed during the communist era. When Turkey closed the border after a few months, some 360,000 Bulgarian Turks had left Bulgaria for Turkey. More than a third of them had returned in January 1990.
After the fall of the communist regime, schooling in Turkish was introduced and newspapers in Turkish could be published. The situation of the Bulgarian Turks improved significantly during the 1990s, although the region in the southeast where most of them live is among the country’s poorest and has high unemployment. The economic situation has caused many Bulgarian Turks to apply abroad.
The official Bulgarian language is the mother tongue of most residents. It is a South Slavic language and originates from the ancient Bulgarian language that was spoken in the area as early as the 800s. Bulgarian is closely related to Russian and is written in Cyrillic letters. The Bulgarian Turks speak Turkish and the Romans Romani. Both groups, however, usually master Bulgarian as well. The Macedonians think they speak Macedonian, but the Bulgarian authorities claim that they speak a Bulgarian dialect, western Bulgarian.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
Bulgarians 84.8%, Bulgarians 8.8%, Romans 4.9%, others (Russians, Armenians, Vlachers, Greeks, etc.) 1.5% (Census 2011)
Number of residents
7 075 991 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
74.7 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
9.1 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
15.1 per 1000 residents (2016)
-0.7 percent (2017)
1.5 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
51.4 percent (2017)
75 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
78 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
71 years (2016)
Bulgarian is the official language; Turkish, Romani and Macedonian (not recognized) etc. are minority languages