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Bulgaria: The Slavs and the Bulgars
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > Early Settlement and Empire > The Slavs and the Bulgars

THE SLAVS AND THE BULGARS


Waves of Huns, Goths, Visigoths, and Ostrogoths invaded and plundered the Balkans beginning in the third century A.D. None of these invaders permanently occupied territory. Small Slavic groups began settling outlying regions in the fifth century, and by the seventh century the Slavs had overcome Byzantine resistance and settled most of the Balkans. The Slavs brought a more stable culture, retained their own language, and substantially slavicized the existing Roman and Byzantine social system.

The immigration of the first Bulgars overlapped that of the Slavs in the seventh century. Of mixed Turkic stock (the word Bulgar derives from an Old Turkic word meaning "one of mixed nationality"), the Bulgars were warriors who had migrated from a region between the Urals and the Volga to the steppes north of the Caspian Sea, then across the Danube into the Balkans. Besides a formidable reputation as military horsemen, the Bulgars had a strong political organization based on their khan (prince). In A.D. 630 a federation of Bulgar tribes already existed; in the next years the Bulgars united with the Slavs to oppose Byzantine control. By 681 the khan Asparukh had forced Emperor Constantine V to recognize the first Bulgarian state. The state, whose capital was at Pliska, near modern Shumen, combined a Bulgarian political structure with Slavic linguistic and cultural institutions.

Data as of June 1992




Last Updated: June 1992


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bulgaria was first published in 1992. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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