Demography. – Demographically, Bulgaria turns out to be a healthy country. Its current birth rate (36.7 ‰), although slightly lower than the averages of the pre-war period (42.5 in the five-year period 1905-9) is higher than that of all European nations, except Russia, and so it is also for nuptiality (12.8 ‰). For the surplus of births (15.9 ‰) it is also exceeded by Poland, given the rather high average (20.8 ‰) of mortality, which however follows a slow decreasing movement (22.7 ‰ in the period 1901-4).
Within the current borders of the kingdom the population has grown in fifty years (1880-1930) from approximately two million to 5,900,000. According to the census figures, Bulgaria had 3,744,283 residents in 1900, 4,337,513 in 1910, 4,846,971 in 1920 and 5,478,741 in 1926. The density therefore increased from 29 residents per sq. Km. from 1880 to 53 in 1926 (around 57 in 1930).
From the point of view of religion, the Greek Orthodox constitute the huge majority (83.8%), but the core of Muslims is also notable (14.25%), who include, in addition to the Turks, the Gypsies and the Tatars. Catholics make up just 0, 70% and Protestants 0, 12% of the population; the Israelites 0.89%; all these figures reveal very slight variations in the various censuses.
Population Density and Major Cities. – According to top-mba-universities, human settlement is quite varied from region to region, regardless of the influence that height exerts on the distribution of inhabited areas. While in the area between 500 and 900 m. in height (the average height of Bulgaria is 425 m.) there is a density higher than that of the area between 200 and 500 m., the greatest number of the most important inhabited centers is below 500 m. high, except Sofia (550 m.), which owes its development to largely artificial causes. The lowest density figures are found in some of the mountainous districts of Rodope (Diovlen: 11.6 per sq km) and Strandža (Vasiliko: 11.1, Malko-Tărnovo: 11.4), the highest on the one hand in the western regions near the Danube (Vidin: 91,2), and in those of north-eastern Bulgaria between Rustciuk and Sciumla, from another in the industrial area of central Bulgaria (Gabrovo: 82.3) and along the Marizza. However, the high mountain basins of middle southwestern Bulgaria are also well populated: in this region it never falls below the kingdom average.
According to the censuses, the percentage of the urban population has grown from 19.8% to 20.6% from 1900 to today, but it should be borne in mind that the qualification of city is applied in Bulgaria to 93 centers recognized as such for historical or administrative reasons or by resolution of the parliament, regardless of their character and the numerical size of their population. There are some that do not touch the 1000 residents (Ahtopol, Melnik, Košu-Kavak), while cities that have even more than 10,000 residents are not considered. (Pernik, Kneža). In 1926 they exceeded 10,000 residents 29 cities, of which only two (Plovdiv and Varna) with more than 50,000 (apart from the capital which has 213,002).
Some of the Bulgarian cities remember for their structure and their characters the type that could be called southern European: there are houses grouped in an amphitheater on more or less steep slopes, with narrow and winding streets and tall houses (Tărnovo, Filippopoli, Svištov) ; others are real plain towns (Turkish), with low buildings, surrounded by gardens, with two or three main arteries and all the other narrow and curved streets (Kazanlǎk, Kjustendil, Rustciuk); still others, the most important, show the influence of modern activity, which tends to develop them according to a preordained geometric plan (Sofia, Varna, Burgaz); not a few represent rather large agricultural centers than real cities. Alongside urban agglomerations that show a decrease in population for the period 1887-1928 (Koprivčica, Kotel, Sopot, Drenovo, Karlovo), not many recorded an increase above the average for the period; among these Sofia (over 400%), Burgaz (300%), Popovo, Ferdinand and Bela-Slatina. Along the Danube are Vidin (the ancient Bononia, 18,611 residents), Lom (Alma, 14,471), Svištov (12,066) and Rustciuk (45,672): the latter is the largest river port in Bulgaria, and is also an industrial city. In northern Bulgaria there are numerous centers with more than 10,000 residents: Tărnovo (12,780) on Jantra, the ancient capital (1186-1393), Sciumla (25,314), Plevna (29,058), agricultural trade center, Gabrovo (10,536), the most important Bulgarian city for textile industries, etc. Beyond the Balkans: Slivno (29,280), known for the factories of woolen fabrics, Kazanlăk (11,785), Stara Zagora (29,015); in western Bulgaria: Kjustendil, which is ancient Ulpia Pantalia (15.875), Dupnica (15.070) and Samokov (10.326), all agricultural and commercial centers. The Rodope region has few notable centers: among these Stanimaka (16.336) and Haskovo (26.316). (See pl. XXIII-XXX).
Culture. – Bulgaria is rightly proud of the progress made in the field of education. When the Turks left the country (1878-85) everything had to be redone and the difficulties in this regard appeared very serious. In 1887 the proportion of illiterate people still rose to 88.5% (96.2 for women), but already in 1886 the state had 4,823 schools, 9978 teachers and 389,404 pupils. In 1914 there were 5177 schools, and in 1926 7566 with 26,020 employees and 723,042 pupils. In addition to lower and middle schools and a number of specialized institutes (a high school of commerce is in Varna, one of agriculture in Plevna), the state maintains a university in Sofia (founded in 1889), which has 285 teachers and 3065 members (1925-6). Proportion of illiterate people in the cens. 1920: 55.54% for the total kingdom (49, 1% for the Bulgarians; 96.29% for the Pomaki, 91.31% for the Turks; 41.02% for the Israelites): males figure with 44.24%, females with 66.82%.