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Accueil > Bulgarie > Données socio-religieuses > Appartenance et démographie religieuses > La démographie religieuse en Bulgarie

La démographie religieuse en Bulgarie

The first census in Bulgaria took place in 1887. Until 1946, the religious affiliation of Bulgarian citizens was registered on the basis of their birth or marriage certificates. During the communist regime, the questions about religious affiliation were dropped from the census questionaries. They appeared again in the censuses of 1992 and 2001. In this regard, the National Statistical Institute issued special instructions. They defined the religious affiliation of Bulgarian citizens as “a historically determined belonging of the individual or of his parents and grandparents to a community sharing specific religious views”. The answers to this question were mandatory and the option “irreligious” was not possible in the questionary.

In 2011, the rules were changed. People were free to answer or not to the questionary sections about their religious affiliation, ethnicity and mother tongue. As a result, 21.8 per cent of the Bulgarian citizens did not fill up the section of their religious affiliation. Therefore, the last column in the table below reveals significant deviations in the size of religious communities when compared with the data from previous censuses. The proportion of each religious community is estimated as a relation between the total number of the population (7,364,570) and the number of people who have declared themselves adherents of a particular religious tradition. These percentages are marked with *.

Religious demography of Bulgaria (1887-2011)

In percentages :

Years 1887 1900 1920 1946 1992 2001 2011*
Population Religion 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Eastern Orthodoxy 76.9 80.7 83.8 84.9 85.7 82.6 59.4*
Islam 21.4 17.2 14.3 13.3 13.1 12.2 7,0*
Catholicism 0.6 0.8 0.7 - 0.6 0.6 0,7*
Protestantism 0.04 0.1 0.1 - 0.3 0.5 0.9*
Judaism 0.8 0.9 0.9 0.6
Armenian 0.2 0.4 0.2 - 0.1 0.1
Other 1.1 0.2 0.1
Non-religious* 5.7*
Skipped section on religion* 21.8*

In absolute figures :

Years 1887 1900 1920 1946 1992 2001 2011*
Population Religion 3,154,375 3,744,283 4,846,971 7,029,349 8,487,317 7,928,901 7,364,570
Eastern Orthodoxy 2,424,371 3,019,999 4,062,097 5,967,992 7,274,592 6,552,751 4,374,135*
Islam 676,215 643,300 690,734 938,418 1,110,295 966,978 577,139*
Catholicism 18,505 28,569 34,072 - 53,074 43,811 48,945*
Protestantism 1,358 4,524 5,617 - 21,878 42,308 64,476*
Judaism 24,352 33,663 43,232 43,335 2,580 653 706
Armenian 5,839 13,809 10,848 - 9,672 6,500 1,715
Other 1,461 326 371 79,604 15,226 7,784 9,023
Non-religious* 272,264*
Skipped section on religion* 1,606,435*

The 2011 Census also introduced an innovation in the counting of the Muslim community. While in the 2001 census, all Muslims in Bulgaria were represented as one community, the one of 2011 presented the adherents of Islam in three separate categories : “Sunni Muslims”, “Shia Muslims” and “Other Muslims”. In 2001, only part of the Muslims mentioned whether they were Sunni or Shii. In the table below these numbers are marked with **. It is noteworthy that this approach was not applied to the Christian denominations, i.e. they were not defined as “Eastern Orthodox Christians”, “Catholic Christians” and “Protestant Christians.”

Ethnic communities in Bulgaria (2011)

Ethnic group Total number Mother Tongue
Bulgarian Turkish Romani
Total* 6,611,513 5,631,759 604,246 280,979
Bulgarian 5,604,300 5,571,045 15,955 7,528
Turkish 585,024 18,975 564,858 549
Roma 320,761 24,033 21,440 272,710
Armenian 6,360 1,047
Jewish 1,130 897
Walachian 3,598 169
Karakachan 2,511 465
Russian 9,868 183 8
Greek 1,356 98
Macedonian 1,609 411
Romanian 866 37
Ukrainian 1,763 33
Other 19,260 7,390 383 19
No ethnic self-identification 53,107 6,976 1,592 166

** The number shows the number of people having fulfilled the section on ethnicity and mother tongue.

Sources :

An analysis of religious belief and national belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (May 2017) is available on the Pew Research Center website (full report available as a pdf document).

7 janvier 2014