Bulgarian-speaking Muslims, commonly known as Pomaks, are most probably descendants of Bulgarian Christians who converted to Islam during the period of Ottoman rule, while retaining the Bulgarian language as well as certain Orthodox practices.
Where do Pomaks live?
Pomaks reside mainly in villages in the Rhodope Mountains in Thrace. Their dialects are usually classified as dialects of Bulgarian, although most Pomaks themselves self-identify as Turks, whose welfare is actively promoted by the Turkish government.
The origin of the Pomaks has been debated; but they are generally considered descendants of native Eastern Orthodox Bulgarian Slavs who converted to Islam during the Ottoman rule of the Balkans. Information through Ottoman registers supports this theory.
What kind of language do the Pomaks speak?
The Pomaks living in the region of Teteven in Northern Bulgaria speak the Balkan dialect, specifically the Transitional Balkan sub-dialect. The Rup dialects of the Bulgarian language spoken in Western Thrace are called in Greece Pomak language (Pomaktsou).
Where does the Pomak tribe live in Turkey?
A Pomak community is present in Turkey, mostly in Eastern Thrace and fewer in Anatolia, where they are called in Turkish Pomaklar, and their speech, Pomakça. The Pomak community in Turkey is unofficially estimated between 300,000 and 600,000.
When did the Pomaks turn to Islam in Turkey?
Ethnographic map of European Turkey from the late 19th century, showing the regions largely populated by Pomaks in brown. The mass turn to Islam in the Central Rhodope Mountains happened between the 16th and the 17th century.