Top 5 People Groups
Turk: 564, 000
Bulgarian Gypsy: 231,000
Balkan Romani: 95,000
The Republic of Bulgaria is located in southeastern Europe and adjoins Romania, Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, and Turkey. To the east, it is bordered by the Black Sea. The population of 7 million people is mostly urban, and commercial and cultural activities are concentrated in the capital city of Sofia.
The Thracians and later the Greeks and Romans occupied this area during ancient times. A unified Bulgarian state was established in the 7th century and functioned as a cultural hub for Slavic peoples during the Middle Ages. Its territories fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1396. The Ottomans ruled for the next five centuries until the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Bulgaria was a Socialist state from 1946 to 1989, after which the government transitioned to democracy and a market-based economy. Bulgaria officially joined the European Union in 2007.
Orthodoxy is recognized as the traditional religion of the country. There is a relative openness and freedom of religion today, although evangelicals face periodic opposition from local authorities. The number of evangelicals rose from 0.4 percent of the population in 1980 to nearly 2 percent today.
Poverty and discrimination remain a major problem for ethnic minorities. Both Turks and Gypsies have formed political parties to assert their rights. Christian Aid helps hard-working but very poor indigenous missionaries who evangelize these two groups by providing funds for housing, food, clothing, and medicine for their families.
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BULGARIA. Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in Eastern Europe and Gypsies are among the country’s poorest of the poor. Few Gypsies can overcome the stigma handed down from their ancestors, and are usually denied employment. A church ministry reaches out to this large segment of unreached people by providing meals twice a week for about 70 children. During this outreach, children listen to Bible stories, learn how to pray and receive loving care in the name of Christ. Gifts of $200 will ensure meals every month.