Bulgarians are the South Slavic people, who mostly live in Bulgaria, where they make up about 85% of the population.
Bulgarians are mostly of the Orthodox faith, but there are also Muslims and Catholics. Bulgarians of the Islamic faith are known as Pomaks.
The Bulgarian language belongs to the Slavic group of the Indo-European language family.
According to estimates, there are a total of about 9 million Bulgarians, and the most in Bulgaria, about 6 million.
The population of Bulgaria comes from people of very different origins and numbers, and is therefore the result of the "melting in the pot" effect. The main ethnic elements that fit into the creation of a modern Bulgarian ethnicity are:
Thracians - indigenous ancient Balkan Indo-European people, since when cultural and ethnic elements have been preserved;
Old Slavs - Indo-European group of tribes that migrated from Eastern Europe to the Balkans in the period 6-7. century and imposed their language and culture on local Thracian, Roman and Greek communities.
Proto-Bulgarians - a semi-nomadic conglomerate of tribes from Central Asia who arrived in the 7th century, united with the local Slavic and Slavicized population, organized the early medieval Bulgarian statehood and bequeathed their ethnonym to the modern Bulgarian nation, while eventually assimilating into the local Slavic population.
The first Bulgarian empire was founded in 681. After the adoption of Orthodox Christianity in 864, it became one of the cultural centers of Slavic Europe. Its leading cultural position was consolidated with the discovery of the Cyrillic alphabet in the capital Preslav on the eve of the 10th century. The development of Old Slavic literacy in the country had the effect of preventing the assimilation of South Slavs into neighboring cultures, and also stimulated the development of a special ethnic identity. The symbiosis was performed between numerically weak Proto-Bulgarians and numerous Slavic tribes in that wide area from the Danube in the north, to the Aegean Sea in the south, from the Adriatic Sea in the west, to the Black Sea in the east, which accepted the common ethnonym "Bulgarians". During the 10th century, the Bulgarians established a form of national identity that was far from modern nationalism, but helped them survive as a separate entity for centuries.