Author: Kapiton Smirnov; translated by Stefan Hristov, 3rd edition
Sources of Demographic Data on European Turkey and Ottoman Bulgaria
Until the 19th century, in a modern sense, it was not taken any regular census in the Ottoman Empire. Tapu-tahrir defterleri which were the registers of the fiscal administration, before the 19th century, were more or less the main reliable source containing demographic data. These records kept by the central government generally for every sub-provinces were containing the list of taxables. Though they were useful for the demographic studies, these sources did not represent the sum total of the population because they exclude different non-taxed segments of the male population, while women were left out altogether unless they were widow; these records were influenced by accidental circumstances; and in most cases did not indicate the number of individuals taxed, but only the number of households.
In the 19th century more comprehensive and regular records were kept as a
consequence of modernizing and centralizing reforms of the Ottoman Empire.
Beginning in 1831, several censuses, taking into account only the male
population, were conducted for military and administrative purposes connected
with the Tanzimat reforms. From the end of the 1860s Salname (statistical
annuals) began to be published. These annuals were containing information from
the general censuses conducted at different times in the separate provinces.
Though all of these new statistical materials were not completely accurate they
were useful for the
demographic studies and consequently were widely put to account by European travelers, statisticians and demographers concerning in Ottoman Empire’s population. Apart from the Ottoman sources there were some other sources containing information on the Ottoman population. These were European sources composed of consular reports, diplomatic correspondence etc., and ecclesiastical sources deriving from the institutions of the local millets. These sources too, were used by European travelers and demographers in their estimations of the population especially for given regions and periods.
In this part, the figures given by travelers on the Ottoman population in the European Turkey and specifically in the Ottoman Bulgaria will be evaluated. The distribution of population according to the races or ethnic families and religions in this latter region will also be investigated. Another subject of this part will be the fact of emigration, which had inevitable impact on the demographic and social structure of the Ottoman Bulgaria throughout the century. The impact of some epidemic and common diseases seen in Ottoman Bulgaria will also be dwelled upon.
Some of the 19th century’s travelers gave figures on the Ottoman population, comprising all the territories of the Ottoman Empire in their accounts. These figures were classified according to regions, races or ethnic families and religions. In addition, some of the travelers accounted their estimations on the population living in the Balkan cities and villages, sometimes giving the numbers of houses and sometimes giving the number of the individuals according to their religions or ethnicity. Travelers also gave some important information about the distribution of population according to races or religions in the regions through which they traveled.
Almost every traveler concerned in demography uttered that the results which they reached were not completely accurate. Because of the lack of official documents on the demographic statistical data, they regarded diverse considerations as point of departure, for example, the tithe income or capitation etc. However, with such type of calculations only approximate results could be obtained. Those who were exempt from the taxes could not be counted in these calculations.
Another method of calculation to find the number of the inhabitants of a city or village was to take into consideration the number of houses or families. However, “every family did not have only one house as it was in Europe, especially in the regions inhabited by Slavs. An enclosure contained very often two houses in the cities, and two, three, or even four small houses in the country, such that ten, twenty, thirty, and even forty individuals lived in the same enclosure”. Therefore, faultless population estimation was not possible.
European demographers, statisticians, travelers made also use of ecclesiastical sources in their estimations. However, their statistical values were disputable. Ubicini calls attention to the unreliability of the civil status registers recorded by village leaders in the Christian villages: "To return to the kodja-bachi. It was his duty likewise to attend to the civil registration of his district. He draws up annually a report of the births and deaths which take place within his jurisdiction; this he transmits to the bishop, with whom he is constantly in communication, and the bishop transmits it to Constantinople. The verification of these reports is made by in the offices of the patriarchate, and a duplicate is sent to the Porte. These documents, however, become of very little value in the way of general statistics, because, the annual contribution which the bishops are obliged to furnish to the patriarch being in proportion to the number of families in their several dioceses, wherefore they are accustomed to make their returns fall short of the reality".
Ottoman sources were also used by some of the Europeans who were concerned in Ottoman population. The main sources from which they benefited were the Ottoman censuses and yearbooks. The census of 1831 was known as the first census. This was carried out exclusively for fiscal purposes and included only the male population. Another census was taken in 1844, to reorganize the army and alter the method of recruitment. However, some historians claim that the Porte did not enumerate the population but only contented with periodic updates of its registers in 1831, 1835, 1838, 1844 and 1857, and probably in 1864. No matter what the features of these registers are it is known that they were used by some Europeans. The results obtained from the census of 1831 were reached and used together with some official information by William Eton, David Urquhart and Georg Hassel. Although not published by the Ottoman administration, the result of the 1844 census was accessed and published by Eugène Boré in his Almanach de l’Empire Ottoman pour l’année 1849-1850 and by Ubicini with very little modifications in his Lettres sur la Turquie. Ubicini’s modifications were based on several other sources communicated by Ahmed Vefik Efendi who was the ambassador of the Porte at Teheran and who also presided at the publication of the first volumes of the Yearbooks.
Besides the censuses, the second group of Ottoman sources from which some
Europeans benefited was the yearbooks. The publication of the yearbooks began in
1847 for the whole realm of the Ottoman Empire. The first provincial yearbook was published in 1866 for Bosnia. The first yearbook of the Danubean Province was published in 1868. By 1877, ten yearbooks had been produced. Aubaret, the French consul in Ruse, in his "Province Du Danube" appears to have benefited from these yearbooks. His figures are similar to those of the 1874 yearbook of the Danubean Province when the number of females is added. Indeed, at the last pages of his work he shows the central administration as the source of his information.
Population of Districts and Towns in Ottoman Bulgaria
Ottoman Turks and Bulgarians were the main nationalities living in the 19th century’s Ottoman Bulgaria. Bulgarians disseminated throughout the whole Danubean Province. They were in great majority, especially in the western part of the province. They lived rather in the villages. However, from an ethnological standpoint, the boundaries of Bulgaria could not be restricted only with the Danubean Province. A lot of Bulgarians had established in Macedonia, Upper Moesia, Thrace, and Albania since their conquest in the Balkans. As for the Turks or Muslims, they were rather in the eastern part of the Danubean Province. Unlike Bulgarians, the Ottoman Turks lived mostly in the towns and in villages on the military roads throughout the Danubean Province. With the permanent emigrations from Crimea and Russia, the number of the Muslims increased or at least was retained especially after the Crimean War. However, almost every traveler traveling to Bulgaria or to the other parts of the Balkans mentioned a serious decline of the Muslim population.
The Danubean Province that was established in 1864, forming a significant part of the present-day Bulgaria, covered an area of 91,624 squares kilometers in the European Turkey. It was subdivided into seven sub-provinces as follows: Toultcha, Varna, Ruse, Turnovo, Sofia, Vidin, and Nish.
— The sub-province of Toultcha was located at the Eastern end of the Province. It was composed by seven districts. These were Sulina, Babadag, Macin, Kustendji, Hirsova, Medgidia, and Toultcha. Among its Muslims inhabitants Turks, Crimean Tatars, Circassians, Albanians, Persians, Kurds, Bosnians and Gypsies could be listed. The Christians were composed of Vlachs, Cossacks, Lipovans, Bulgarians, Greeks, Christian Albanians, Catholic or Orthodox Armenians, Europeans, Hungarians, Germans, Serbians, Montenegrins. The ethnic composition changed from one district to another. As can be seen in the district of Sulina, non-Muslims were in great majority with their 585 houses against only 10 those of Muslims. According to the yearbook of 1874, in the district, the total number of Muslims was only 68 while that of non-Muslims was 5,306. Most of them were Christian emigrants coming from Russia and Moldo-Wallachia. Some of them were called Lipovans, who left Russia disapproving the reforms of Great Petro. The Sulina Port was practicable to commerce. Hence, the town of Sulina became also residence for a European colony that formed the great part of the town’s population.
In the district of Babadag, the Muslims seem dominant with respect to the number of households. In the district, there were 3,099 Muslim houses against 2,622 those of non-Muslims. However, according to the yearbook of 1874, the total number of Muslims was 9,512 while that of non-Muslims was 30,032. A great part of the Muslims was the Tatars coming from Crimea. They were known as Kabail Tatars. Fleeing from Russian invasion, the Don Cossacks settled in the villages of the Babadag district as well. In the town of Babadag, Muslims formed the two thirds of a whole of 7,300 dwellers.
In the district of Kustendji, the Muslims, composed of Turks and Tatars, were in great majority. As can be seen, Muslims owned 4,445 houses while non-Muslims had only 62 houses. This great difference in the number of houses was also reflected to the general population. According to the yearbook of 1874, there were 32,466 Muslims against only 602 non-Muslims179. The latter were mainly Lipovans and Vlachs and a small number of Bulgarians.
In the Macin district, non-Muslims were in majority. Non-Muslims owned 2,001 houses while Muslims possessed 1,230. According to the yearbook of 1874, the total number of non-Muslims was 17,848 while that of Muslims was 12,168. Vlachs and Turks were the main nationalities of the district. A Cossack village called Kamen was also within the district boundaries.
The town of Medgidia was founded soon after the Crimean War, at the time of Abdulmecid, in 1856 under an imperial decree. This town was established in the same location as Karasu, which had lost its importance because of a fire at the beginning of the 19th century and then of the ravage of the Russian army in 1829. This town was exclusively inhabited by the Crimean Tatar emigrants. In the district of Medgidia, Muslims were in great majority and almost all villages of this district were composed of Muslim Tatars. As can be seen, there were 4,342 Muslim and only 431 non-Muslim houses in this district. This difference I also clearly reflected in the population. According to the yearbook of 1874 the total number of Muslims was 24,044 while that of non-Muslims was 1,818.
Both in the district and the town of the Hirsova, Muslims again constituted the bulk of the population. As can be seen, Muslims possessed 2,653 and non-Muslims 936 of the total 3,589 houses. According to the yearbook of 1874, the total number of Muslims was 24,852 while that of non-Muslims was 7,344 correspondingly to the ratio of number of houses. The little town of Hirsova was one of the ports of Danube where the steamship was stationed and more than half of its population was Muslim. Among its inhabitants Vlachs were also considerable.
The town of Toultcha was one of the most important ports of the Danube with its position at the beginning of the delta. In accordance with its commercial significance, Toultcha gathered a population of diverse nationalities and sects. A score of dialects were spoken there. In the district of Toultcha non-Muslims were in great majority as it was in the Sulina district. Muslims possessed 1,050 while non- Muslims 4,610 of the total 5,660 houses. According to the yearbook of 1874, there were only 2,838 Muslims against 15,422 non-Muslims.
The total population in the Toultcha sub-province, according to Aubaret, was about 200,000. In concurrence with the yearbook of 1874 the total number of the sub-province was 201,742 similarly the figure proposed by Aubaret. The bulk of its population was Muslims. The density of population was not more than 17 persons per square kilometer. This was the lowest one in the whole Danubean Province.
— The sub-province of Varna was located at the south of Toultcha. It was subdivided into five districts. These were Varna, Pravadiya, Balchik, Dobrich and Mangalia. Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks, Muslims and non-Muslim Gypsies, Jews, Armenians, European colonies, Tatar and Circassian emigrants composed the population of this sub-province. In the district of Varna, Muslims were more populous than non-Muslims. There, Muslims possessed 3,739 while non-Muslims 2,226 of the total 5,965 houses. According to the yearbook of 1874, there were 15,956 Muslims and 10,340 non- Muslims in the district of Varna. Its population was mainly composed of Turks, Bulgarians and Tatar emigrants. Varna was the most important port of Bulgaria comparable with Odessa of the Russians. Its commercial importance gathered some European colonies, among which Italians took the first place. In Varna was also a Tatar colony. They were numerous and constructed a new faubourg there.
In the district of Pravadiya, Muslims were more populous than non-Muslims. There, Muslims possessed 2,959 while non-Muslims 1,079 of the total 4,038 houses. According to yearbook of 1874, there were 18,622 Muslims and 8,058 non-Muslims in the district of Pravadiya. Among the Muslim population Ottoman Turks were the majority. Some Circassian colonies were also settled in the villages within this district.
In the district of Balchik, Muslims were in great majority. Of the total 2,641 houses, 2,006 were Muslim and 635 were non-Muslims possessed. According to the yearbook of 1874, the total number of Muslims was 13,908 while that of non- Muslims was 7,236. As a consequence of the emigrations of Tatars and Circassians the number of Muslims had increased, especially after Crimean War.
The population of the Mangalia district was overwhelmingly composed of Muslims. Beside the Ottoman Turks, Crimean and Circassian emigrants made up of almost whole of its population. As presented, the Muslims possessed houses were 7,225 of the total 7,451 houses while non-Muslims houses numbered only 226. According to the yearbook of 1874 the total number of Muslims was 13,350 while that of non-Muslims was only 998.
Dobrich (Hacioglu Bazarcik) was one of the most populated districts in the sub-province of Varna. Its population was in great part composed of Muslims. Muslims possessed 4,640 while non-Muslims 523 of the total 5,163 houses. According to the 1874 yearbook, there were 27,920 Muslims against 6,770 non-Muslims. Ottoman Turks were in great majority. Circassians and Crimeans were also among its Muslim dwellers. In addition, there was a colony of Egyptians and Arabs. Bulgarians, Greeks and Armenians were the other communities.
The yearbook of 1874 states that, the total population of Varna sub-province was
123,158, and of this 89,756 as Muslims and 33,402 as non-Muslims. According
to Aubaret, the total number of population in Varna sub-province was about
136,000 and its distribution according to nationalities was as follows: 92,800
Turks; 32,200 Bulgarians; 6,842 Greeks; 2,900 Muslim Gypsies; 1000 non-Muslim Gypsies. It should be noted that the Crimean and Circassian immigrants and relatively small communities of Armenians, Jews and European colonies were not included in this classification. As can be seen, Muslims were in great majority in this sub-province. Lejean, known with his ethnographic investigations especially in the eastern part of Bulgaria, pointed out that the districts of Dobrich, Mangalia, Varna, and Deliorman were deemed Bulgarian by many, but in fact were predominantly Turk. The density of population was 18 persons per square kilometer. Both for the Toultcha and Varna sub-provinces the low density of the population stemmed from a vast deserted area known as Dobrudja extending from Varna to Toultcha.
— The sub-province of Ruse was located at the north-west of that of Varna. Ruse, the chief town of the sub-province, was also the residence of the general governor of the Danubean Province. The Ruse sub-province was the largest and one of richest of the province. It was subdivided into nine districts, which were Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Razgrad, Nikopol, Svishtov, Turgovishte, Tutrakan, and Pleven. Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks, Circassians, Armenians, Vlachs, Jews, Muslim and non- Muslim Gypsies and European colonies formed the population of this sub-province. In the district of Ruse, the Muslims were more populous than non-Muslims. As displayed there, of the total 23,961 houses 18,850 were Muslims possessed while 5,111 belonged to non-Muslims. According to the 1874 yearbook, there were 48,586 Muslims against 42,112 non-Muslims. It is noteworthy that when the numbers of houses are taken together with that of the general population, there is very little difference in the total Muslim population and non-Muslim population. The town of Ruse was an administrative and commercial center where Muslims and non-Muslims were almost equally distributed. Among its dwellers were also a Jew community, Armenians, Vlachs, Greeks and a European colony most of whom were Austro-Hungarians.
The population of the Shumen district was mostly Ottoman Turks. Bulgarians were the second biggest ethnic group. Muslims possessed 13,426 while non-Muslims 9,569 of the total 22,995 houses. According to the yearbook of 1874, in the district of Shumen, the total number of Muslims was 69,248 while that of non-Muslims was 25,708. Shumen was a fortified town and militarily was a very important center. In the town, Turks were in majority. Bulgarians, Armenians, Greeks and Jews were the other ethnic groups living in Shumen.
In the Tutrakan district, Muslims were more populous than non-Muslims. There, of the total 2,982 houses, Muslims possessed 2,033 while non-Muslims 949. According to the 1874 yearbook, the total number of Muslims was 15,512 and that of non-Muslims was 4,072. In the town of Tutrakan, Bulgarians were the majority. Here, Muslims, unlike the preceding districts, rather were settled in the villages.
The Silistra district, before the establishment of Danubean Province, was a great pashalik and an administrative center. After 1864, it turned into a district within the Ruse sub-province. In the district of Silistra, Muslims were in great majority. Muslims possessed 6,302 and non-Muslims 3,427 of the total 9,729 houses. 1874 yearbook states that in the district of Silistra there were 43,232 Muslims against 24,266 non-Muslims. According to Aubaret, Muslims and non-Muslims were equally distributed in the town of Silistra.
The majority of the population of the Razgrad district was Muslim. It was one of the most populous districts of the whole sub-province. Muslims possessed 14,852 and non-Muslims 3,487 of the total 18,339 houses. According to yearbook of 1874, in the district of Razgrad the total population of Muslims was 68,866 while that of non-Muslims was 31,370. Muslims formed the two third of the population of the Razgrad town. Boué also reported in his account that there were only 80 Bulgarian families in the town.
In the Turgovishte (Eski-Cuma) district Muslims were in majority. Of the total 7,362 houses, 6,302 were Muslims possessed and 1,060 belonged to non- Muslims. According to the yearbook of 1874, in the district of Turgovishte, the total population of Muslims was 26,078 while that of non-Muslims was 5,930. In the town, Christians formed only one third of the population. Both in the town and in the country, Muslims formed the bulk of the population.
In the Svishtov district, non-Muslims were in majority unlike the other districts. There, non-Muslims possessed 4,450 and Muslims 3,580 of the total 8,030 houses. According to Aubaret, there were two Christians for one Muslim in this district. The data in the 1874 yearbook also more or less verifies Aubaret’s records. According to it, in this district, there were 29,718 non-Muslims against 16,176 Muslims. The population of the Svishtov town was composed mainly of Bulgarians. Not far from Svishtov there were also four villages exclusively inhabited by Bulgarian Catholics. Their population was 4,500.
In the Nikopol district, non-Muslims were in majority. Muslims possessed 3,752 and non-Muslim 3,486 of the total 7,233 houses. Non- Muslims were twofold of Muslims even though the number of the houses belonging to non-Muslims was less than that of the latter. The data extracted from the yearbook of 1874 confirms this fact. According to it, the total population of Muslims was only 22,552 against 40,194 non-Muslims. The chief town Nikopol was a Turkish town where Muslims were in majority. The town was surrounded with several faubourgs inhabited mainly by Greeks and Bulgarians227. There was also a Jew community holding the commercial affairs in their hands, as it was in whole ports of Danube.
As it was in the preceding two districts, in the Pleven district also non-Muslims were twofold of the Muslims. The 1874 yearbook states there were 35,868 non-Muslims against 19,528 Muslims. The population of the small town of Pleven was also mainly Christian.
According to Aubaret, the total number of population of the Ruse sub-province was about 680,000 and its distribution according to the nationalities and religions was as follows: 388,000 Turks; 229,500 Bulgarians; 33,000 Circassians; 2,000 Armenians; 1,000 Vlachs; 2,200 Jews; 20,000 Muslim Gypsies; 3,500 non- Muslim Gypsies. According to the records on the Ruse sub-province in the 1874 yearbook, a total of 569,016 people lived here of which 329,778 were Muslim and 239,238 non-Muslim. Ruse was the most populous sub-province within the Danubean Province. Muslims formed almost two third of its population. Bulgarians were the second biggest ethnic group and they were especially populous in the Svishtov, Nikopol and Pleven districts. The density of population was approximately twofold that of the Varna and Toultcha districts, with 33 persons per square kilometer.
— The sub-province of Turnovo was situated to the west of Ruse. The chief town Turnovo was the ancient capital of the last kingdom of Bulgaria and was recognized as a holy city by Bulgarians. This sub-province was subdivided into five districts which were: Turnovo, Lovech, Omurtag (Osman-Bazar), Sevlievo, Gabrovo. The district of Turnovo was mostly populated by non-Muslims. In the Turnovo district Muslims possessed 10,321 and non-Muslims 19,480 of the total 29,801 houses. There, Bulgarians were the biggest ethnic group. In the town of Turnovo much more than half of the population was Bulgarian while in the country a lot of villages were exclusively Bulgarian. Gypsies were also among the dwellers of the town. In this district, according to Aubaret, there was only one Muslim for every three Christians. A similar ratio is also observed in the 1874 yearbook. According to this yearbook, there were 57,982 Muslims against 151,094 non-Muslims.
In the district of Lovech, Muslims were in majority. Both in the town and the country, Muslims were more populous than the Christians. In the chief town, Bulgarians formed only one third of the population. In this district, Muslims possessed 6,263 and non-Muslims 4,494 of the total 10,757 houses. The 1874 yearbook states that the district of Lovech was populated by 43,096 Muslims and 30,794 non-Muslims.
In the Sevlievo district non-Muslims were in majority. Almost half of its 33 villages were exclusively inhabited by Bulgarians. In the town of Sevlievo, Muslims and Christians were equally distributed. According to Aubaret, in this district, non- Muslims were twofold of Muslims. A similar ratio is given in the 1874 yearbook; there were 15,626 Muslims against 26,664 non-Muslims.
In the Gabrovo district the population was almost entirely Bulgarians. Within this district, there were no Turkish villages. There were only 25 Muslim houses in the town. According to the 1874 yearbook the total number of Muslims was only 90 while that of non-Muslims was 29,732 within this district. This was the greatest difference within the whole of the Danubean Province.
The population of the Omurtag district was mainly composed of Muslims. There, of
the total 5,014 houses, Muslims possessed 3,638 while non-Muslims had
1,376. Among the Muslim population were also Circassian emigrants. In the chief town, non-Muslims formed only one fifth of the whole population.
In the yearbook of 1874 for the Turnovo sub-province, a total number of 400,438 people are reported of which 276,256 are non-Muslims and 124,182. As to Aubaret, the total population was 390,000, the major part of which was Bulgarian. Aubaret did not impart the distribution of the population for this sub- province. Bulgarians, Turks, Circassians and Gypsies were among the main dwellers of the Turnovo sub-province. The density of population was 33 persons per square kilometer.
— The sub-province of Vidin was situated at the western end of the province, to the west of Turnovo. Vidin was subdivided into seven districts which were: Vidin, Lom, Oryakhovo, Vratsa, Berkovitsa, Belogradchik and Kula (Adliye). In the Vidin district, non-Muslims were more populous than Muslims. Muslims possessed 2,815 while non-Muslims 4,967 of the total 7,782 houses within this district. As to the yearbook of 1874, there were 21,678 Muslims against 31,636 non-Muslims. The main ethnic group was Bulgarians. In the town of Vidin, unlike the country, Turks were the major ethnic group. Bulgarians, Jews, Armenians and Vlachs were the other dwellers of this town. There was also a very small European colony as it was in the other towns of port on the Danube.
In the Lom district, Bulgarians were in great majority. The town of Lom was also
almost completely composed of Bulgarians. Jews were among the dwellers of
the town. In the whole district, there was only one Muslim for every six or seven Christians. According to Boué, there was also a Bulgarian Catholic community in the Lom district. Muslims possessed only 1,503 while non-Muslims 5,071 of the total 6,574 houses. As to the yearbook of 1874, there were only 12,348 Muslims against 65,762 non-Muslims within this district.
In the Oryakhovo district, non-Muslims were in majority. Muslims possessed houses were 4,302 and 11,129 belonged to non-Muslims of the total 15,431 houses within this district. According to the yearbook of 1874, there were only 3,712 Muslims against 15,046 non-Muslims. In the country, Bulgarians formed the most part of the population. As to the small chief town of Oryakhovo, its population equally consisted of Muslims and Christians. Among its population there was also a small Bulgarian Catholic community as in the preceding district and their total number was 2,000 together with Arcer and Lom Catholics.
Vratsa was the largest district of the Vidin sub-province. The vast majority of its population was non-Muslims. Muslims possessed only 270 while non-Muslims 6,816 of the total 7,086 houses within this district. The 1874 yearbook claims that there were only 2,586 Muslims against 54,044 non-Muslims. Bulgarians were the main ethnic group. In the chief town Christians formed two thirds of the whole population. Among the Muslim population of this district can also be mentioned some colony of emigrant Circassians.
In the Berkovitsa district, non-Muslims were in great majority. Muslims possessed 1,092 while non-Muslims 6,974 of the total 8,066 houses within this district. According to the yearbook of 1874, the total number of Muslims was 9,724 while that of non-Muslims was 70,788. In the chief town they formed more than half of the population. Bulgarians were the main ethnic group of this district and both in town and in country formed the bulk of the population. Among the Muslim population there were also the Circassian emigrants.
In the Belogradchik district, non-Muslims formed the great majority of the
population. In this district, of the total 4,359 houses 638 were Muslims
3,721 belonged to non-Muslims. There, Bulgarians were the main ethnic group. In the chief town Muslims, however, constituted half of the population. Bulgarians formed almost the entire population of villages within this district.
Kula (Adliye) was the smallest and a less important district of the Vidin sub- province. It was located at the western end of the Danubean Province. Its population consisted of Turks, Bulgarians, and Circassians. In the 1874 yearbook, the total number of Muslims was 5,474 while that of non-Muslims was 39,546.
According to Aubaret, the total population in the Vidin sub-province was 390,000 and only 69,000 of this was Muslim. Thus, non-Muslims formed more than fivefold of the whole population. This ratio was almost comparable to the data that to be found in the yearbook of 1874. Accordingly there were 55,522 Muslims against 276,822 non-Muslims. In every district of this sub-province, Bulgarians formed the majority. The other dwellers, Jews and Gypsies were included within the non-Muslim population. As for the Circassian emigrants, they were not included within the Muslim population. The density of population was 33 persons per square kilometer.
— The sub-province of Sofia was geographically a part of the Adrianople and Plovdiv territories; however, it was dependent on the Danubean Province from which it was separated by the highest Balkan range. The Sofia sub-province was located at the west of Nish, to the east of that of Plovdiv. The Sofia sub-province was subdivided into eight districts which were: Sofia, Radomir, Kiustendil, Dupnitsa, Samokov, Blagoevgrad (Cuma), Zlatitsa, and Botevgrad (Orhaniye). Sofia was one of the most populous and richest districts of this sub-province. According to Aubaret, within this district, the main ethnic group was Bulgarians. They were highly populous than the Turks in the country. Turkish villages were small in number and had concentrated on the Nish-Constantinople road. However, in the chief town, Turks formed the majority. According to Aubaret, the population distribution in the 32,000 people populated Sofia was as follows: 13,000 Bulgarians; 16,500 Muslims and 2,500 Jews. Greeks and Armenians were the other important communities of Sofia though Aubaret did not give any figure related to them. According to the yearbook of 1874, in this district the total number of Muslims was recorded as 85,592 while that of non-Muslims was 18,526. These figures did not correspond with those of Aubaret claiming that Bulgarians were in majority.
In the district of Radomir, according to Aubaret non-Muslims were in great majority. Among them Bulgarians was the main ethnic group. In the chief town, the population was equally distributed between Muslims and non- Muslims. Within the district, there were also some colonies of Circassian emigrants to whom concessions of ground were granted by the government. Unlike Aubaret, in the yearbook of 1874, the total population of Muslims related to the district of Radomir was very high in comparison to that of non-Muslims. According to this record, there were only 3,040 non-Muslims against 33,064 Muslims.
In Kiustendil district, according to Aubaret, non-Muslims were in great majority as in the preceding district. Bulgarians were again the main ethnic group. However, Muslims formed approximately half of the population of the chief town as it was in Radomir. Unlike Aubaret, in the yearbook of 1874, Muslims of the Kiustendil district was more populous than non-Muslims. According to this record, there were 54,586 Muslims against only 8,192 non-Muslims.
In the Dupnitsa district, according to Aubaret, non-Muslims formed a great part of the population and, as in the former districts; Bulgarians were in great majority in the country. However, in the chief town the Muslim population was approximately equal to that of the Christian Bulgarians. As with the previous three districts the 1874 yearbook was stating the opposite of what Aubaret reported for Dupnitsa. According to this record, there were 22,384 Muslims against only 3,668 non-Muslims.
In the Samokov district, non-Muslims were in great majority. In the chief town, according to Viquesnel, Muslims possessed only 350 and Jews only 55 of the approximate 3,000 houses while the rest were inhabited by Bulgarians, Serbians and some Greeks. Aubaret stated that in this 11,000 souled city, the Muslim population was 2,500 or a little above it. Unlike the preceding districts, here, non-Muslims were in the great majority both in town and in country. The records given for Samokov Muslims by the French do not match with 1874 yearbook which displayed them as the majority. According to this record, there were 42,668 Muslims against only 5,402 non-Muslims.
In the Blagoevgrad (Cuma or Cuma-i Bala) district, Bulgarians were not in great majority as in the former districts. They were somewhat more populous than Muslims within the district. However, in the chief town, only 250 of the 730 houses were inhabited by Bulgarians; the rest belonging to Muslims. In the 1874 yearbook although there was not a great difference in the number of Muslims and non-Muslims, still the Muslims were the majority (5510 Muslims against 5,192 non-Muslims).
Zlatitsa was the smallest district in this sub-province. It was located at the south of the Balkan Mountains. In this district, according to Aubaret, non-Muslims were a bit more than the Muslim population. However, in the chief town, Muslims formed the great part of the population. In the 1874 yearbook unlike Aubaret, Muslims were in majority in the district of Zlatitsa. According to this record there were 8,980 Muslims against 5,782 non-Muslims.
The Botevgrad (Orhaniye) district was located at the north of the Balkan Mountains. Aubaret claimed that, its population was in mostly composed of Bulgarians. Unlike Aubaret, the 1874 yearbook stated that Muslims formed the majority of the district. According to this record, there were 39,412 Muslims against only 4,624 non-Muslims. Botevgrad was a small town, and was less populous and known in proportion to the town of Etropol within the same district. Though, the former was the chief town of the district. Bulgarians massed especially in the vicinity of Etropol.
According to Aubaret, the total population in the Sofia sub-province was 355,000 and only 50,000 of this was Muslim. In other words, there were six non- Muslims for every Muslim. The main ethnic group was Bulgarians. Greeks, Serbians and Armenians were among the other Christian communities of this sub-province. Gypsies and Circassians were the Muslim communities apart from Turks. Unlike Aubaret, in the yearbook of 1874 Muslims were in majority within this sub-province. According to this record, the total population of Muslims was 295,908 while that of non-Muslims was 69,472 the sum of which was 365,380. The population density was 22,3 persons per square kilometer. This low density in comparison with the Vidin and Turnovo sub-provinces was mostly due to its mountainous territory.
— The sub-province of Nish was at the western end of the Danubean Province. It was subdivided into six districts which were Nish, Pirot, Leskovac, Vranje, Prekoplje and Iznebol. Aubaret did not impart information about the population of these districts. According to Boué, who traveled through the region in 1837, Nish was a Bulgarian district and both in the town and in the country Bulgarians formed the great part of the population. Nevertheless, Robert claimed that Serbians formed half of the town population. In the Pirot and Leskovac districts, Bulgarians were the main ethnic group, especially in the villages disseminated on the valleys. In the district of Prekoplie, the main ethnic group was Muslim Albanians. According to Boué, Albanians were placed in the Nish sub-province by the Porte to counterbalance the Christian majority and to prevent periodic Bulgarian rebellions. In Vranje, Bulgarians and Muslim Albanians were equally distributed. Turks lived mainly in the chief towns and formed a small minority in the whole of this sub-province. Bulgarians, Serbians and Muslim Albanians were the main ethnic groups. According to Aubaret the total population in the Nish sub-province was about 355,000.
So was the distribution of population by nationalities and religions in the districts of the Danubean Province. There were also two other sub-provinces which were to be included in Bulgaria by 1885. These were the Sliven and Plovdiv sub-provinces. They were dependent on the Adrianople Province.
— The Sliven sub-province consisted of eight districts which were Sliven, Karnobat,
Yambol, Nova Zagora, Aytos, Mesuri, Pomorie, and Burgas. According to Poyet, who
traveled through the region in 1859, the total population of this sub- province
was about 188,000. Poyet gave detailed information only for the Sliven
district. In 39 villages of Sliven there were 2383 houses. These were
distributed according to families as follows: 1859 Greco-Bulgarian; 495 Muslim
Muslim Tatar and 7 Gypsy families. The town of Sliven comprised 3,660 houses and its population was about 18,300294. The distribution of population according to the number of families was as follows: 2,000 Muslim; 1,600 Bulgarian; 30 Armenian and 30 Jew families. Other French travelers gave a total figure from 12,000 to 20,000 for the Sliven town. As it was in many districts, the majority in the town was Muslims and in the country Bulgarians. According to several consular reports, the total population of the Sliven sub-province was estimated 168,322 as the lowest figure and 286,900 as the highest. All of these sources indicate that non-Muslims were in majority within this sub-province. The main ethnic group was Bulgarians. Greeks were more populous here in comparison with the Danubean Province. Turks were the second greatest ethnic group. Armenians, Jews, Tatars and Gypsies were the other communities of this sub-province.
— The Plovdiv sub-province was divided into eight districts which were: Plovdiv, Tatar Pazardjik, Haskovo, Stara Zagora, Kazanlik, Chirpan, Ahi Celebi (Smolyan) and Sultan Yeri (Momcilgrad). According to Dumont, who traveled through the region in 1869, the total population in this sub-province was more than 600,000. The statistical data on the distribution of the male population given by him was obtained from the Ottoman administration. It was as follows: 112,000 Muslims; 172,000 Orthodox; 571 Armenians; 10,464 Gypsies; 1415 Jews. The figures given in some consular reports for this sub-province were between 511,750 and 946,000. According to Dumont, Bulgarians were the main ethnic group forming four fifths of the population. The figure given by an English traveler supports Dumont’s suggestion. However, these figures might have been exaggerated in favor of Bulgarians. As for Greeks, they did not exceed the figure of 60,000 in the whole sub-province. They were rather amassed in Plovdiv, Tatar Pazardjik and Stanimaka (Asenovgrad). Turks were the second greatest ethnic group. They were more populous in the towns and especially in the Haskovo, Kazanlik, Sultan Yeri and Ahi Celebi districts. According to Dumont, in the country the Muslim population mostly was consisted of Bulgarians professing Islam, called Pomaks. Gypsies were another Muslim group. There were also 8,000 Catholic Bulgarians, 2,000 of who lived in the town while the rest resided in the seven villages of the district.
In the district of Plovdiv, Bulgarians formed the bulk of the population. The dwellers of the chief town were Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks with some Armenians and Jews. According to Viquesnel, the distribution of families in a total of 8,000 houses was as follows: 3,000 Turkish; 2,000 Greek; 1,400 Bulgarian; 700 to 800 Armenian; 200 to 300 Catholic; 500 Jew families. Travelers proposed very different figures for Plovdiv between 30,000 and 100,000.
Traveling through Stara Zagora and Kazanlik, Poyet could give detailed
information on these districts. He proposed a total figure of 43,890 for the
population of the Stara Zagora district. Along with this total number, the
distribution of the male population was as follows: 16,281 Bulgarians; 4,586
Muslims; 429 Jews and
649 Gypsies. As can be seen, Bulgarians were the main ethnic group. However, in the chief town, Muslims inhabited 1,632 of the approximately 2,650 houses while Bulgarians possessed only 833 of them. The other dwellers were Jews and Gypsies with 75 and 111 houses respectively. In the country, the Bulgarian element took once again the lead. In the 105 villages of the district, there were a total of 3318 houses 2,705 of which were Bulgarian and 613 of which were Muslim houses. Poyet proposed a total figure of 50,638 for the population of the Kazanlik district. In the chief town, the distribution of an estimated 7,390 males was as follows: 4,000 Muslims; 3,000 Bulgarians; 190 Jews; 1,000 Muslim Gypsies. As can be seen, Muslims took again the lead in the chief town. In the country, unlike the previous district, Muslims formed half of the population. The former possessed 3,105 and Bulgarians 3,269 of a total of 6361 houses314. Among the Muslim inhabitants of this district there were also two nomadic people: Gypsies and Turkomans.
The Sliven and Plovdiv sub-provinces geographically were in Thrace. Their territories comprised the whole Thrace plain and a great part of Rhodope Mountains and extended to the Black Sea. In this vast territory, according to the figures given by travelers, the Bulgarian element took the lead. However, they were not as dense as they were in the Danubean Province. Here, they lived together with Turks and Greeks establishing closer contact with each other. The towns such as Nevrokop (Goce Delcev), Melnik, Razlog and Petric, which were located at the southwest of the present-day Bulgaria, administratively were dependent on the Seres sub-province of the Salonika province. The Nevrokop town was mainly inhabited by Muslims. There were also some Greeks and Bulgarians. In the Nevrokop district, Muslims and Christians generally lived together in the villages. There were 5,168 Christian and 6,614 Muslim houses. The total population of its male inhabitants was approximately 23,000. The Muslim population of this district was almost entirely Pomaks, who did not speak another language except from Bulgarian. The Melnik town was rather inhabited by Greeks. In Razlog, Muslims and Bulgarians formed the majority.
Thus was the 19th century’s general distribution of Bulgaria’s population. Bulgaria reflected the diversity of religions and nationalities of the Ottoman Empire. Its proximity to Constantinople and the developments of the 19th century affected this diversity. The permanent migration movements also caused significant changes on Bulgaria’s population and shaped the demographic composition of the Bulgarian lands during the 19th century.
Addendum: We continue our investigation on the scanty materials that existed and concerned the demographic situation in Ottoman Bulgaria (assumingly, in the XIX century). Consider the complementary information from booklist in "Smirnov, K. Physical and Population Geography /"Zemleopisanie", translated by H. Pavlov/. Plovdiv: Izdatelstvo "Hristo G. Danov", 1879". The counterpart "Zemleopisanie" from K. Smirnov which appeared 15 years later doesn't present materially different information. This manual imitate perfectly the Turkish statistical annuals "Salname" containing information from the general censuses conducted at different times in the separate provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Information here is oversimplified, only crude numbers are used and no percentages or other workable indices are put into circulation.
Introductory analyses on the first three censuses in Principality Bulgaria (1881-1885, 1988, and 1893) were performed by M. Sarafov. We still can't organize our research efforts to give fuller evaluation on the endeavors of new Statistical Science in Bulgaria. It seemed that social work lagged significantly behind other spheres of Principality's administration and organization. The way it is, a mere feedback that Statistics provide for government and political decisions made her less attractive to other proponents of daily life which needed more immediate solutions. Furthermore good statistics (and demography analyses) appeared in some later postponed period — imminently, before and after the Balkan Wars when the Bulgarian state was in effect consolidated.
With respect to critical reviewers from abroad these statements shouldn't represent a misnomer since the Balkan region was backwards even from the beginning of XX century. The big monopolist countries in Western Europe plus the United States were already on their way to global war and redistribution of world colonial territories. Several big Empires crumbled after the First World War and it is not surprising that Bulgaria appeared as "economic tiger" following the crash of Austro-Hungary, Russia and Turkey. This was a prelude or prerequisite to enhanced statistical and informational development of the country in the 1920s and 1930s.
In our personal archive had been contained several well written textbooks and monographs on statistics/demography issues. To consolidate the knowledge contained in those volumes within the context of general research in post-modern Bulgaria is cumbersome and non-gratifying job. We look forward to perform better in the coming future. Up until then there is a list of minimally three books on Bulgarian demography that should be considered:
1). Georgi Danailov. Researches on Demography in Bulgaria. Sofia, 1931.
2). Zhecho Chankov. Principles of Population Studies in Bulgaria. Sofia, 1935.
3). Dimitar Mishaykov. Textbook of Demography. Sofia, 1941.
/to be continued/
Supplement: Bridge table on top 40 settlements in Principality Bulgaria, censuses 1881-1885 and 1888. If we apply the nomenclature from "Salname" annuals which aptly continued to be published in Turkey-in-Europe till end of XIX century, administrative structure "vilayet — sanjack — nahiyeh" became superseded quite flatly by the Russian corresponding terms. The continuity was also reflected in the method of enumeration which applied only crude numbers as statistics. By and large, we present this bridge table to illustrate the "nahiyeh" idiom which heretofore give perception for "urban agglomerations". The "caaza" is a smaller agglomeration meaning "village" or "parish" dwellings without defined center. Thus here the upper 5 towns in Liberated Bulgaria are Plovdiv, Sofia, Ruse, Varna, and Shumen.
Picture 1: Sample illustration on the text above.
(i). This is p. 72 from "Zemleopisanie", 3rd ed. (1894). Accordingly, the censor gave a total population number 3,310,713, male 1,680,626 and female 1,620,087. Further, a structure is given by ethnic composition and their change in five-years interval 1888-1893. Note that Turks are far ahead than other ethnic nationalities but significantly behind Bulgarians in number.
Copyright © 2011 by the author.