Greece, also known as the Hellenic Republic has a population of approximately 10.9 million people. It is divided into nine regions namely Macedonia, Central Greece, Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, Aegean Islands, Thrace, Cretan Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Greek is the main ethnic group consisting of 98% of the population. However, there exist minority ethnic groups which comprise of the Turks, Albanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Armenians, and Jews among others.
Minority Ethnic Groups In Greece
The Albanians are divided into two major groups, the Cham Albanians and the Arvanites Albanians following different migration waves. These two groups are said to have migrated to Greece during the late middle Ages. In the 20th century, another wave of economic Albanians migrated to Greece and settled in Western Thrace. The Chams speak Tosk Albanian, and the Arvanites speak Arvanitika while the Western Thrace Albanians speak Northern Tosk. The main religion practiced is orthodox Christianity but many Cham Albanians converted to Islam, as an influence of the Ottoman Empire. The Albanians in Greece are estimated to be about 445,000.
The Romani are also known as the Gypsies and are said to have originated from India. They are nomadic in nature and are thus scattered all over the country instead of having a common geographical settlement. Religion divides them into two groups, the Greek Roma who are Orthodox Christians and the Roma Muslims who are Islam and have adopted Turkish identities. The Romani population in Greece is about 205,000people.
Aromanians also called Vlachs and they speak Aromanian language which was derived from Latin with additional influences from surrounding languages. The Aromanians are divided into sub-groups depending on their geographical area. They have adopted the Greek culture and were active participants in the Greek independence struggle. Currently, the populations of Aromanians in Greece are about 200,000.
Macedonian Slavs are mostly found in the Macedonia region and speak Slavic also called Macedonian. Some claim to be indigenous while others believe they have roots in the Macedonian nation. Macedonians are Orthodox Christians by religion. They hold the Koleda festival around Christmas where they gather in the square, light a bonfire, sing, and dance. Presently, the Macedonian population in Greece is approximately 150,000.
The Arvanites speak Arvanitika language and they are believed to have migrated to Greece in the late middle ages. Despite being Albanians by origin, they consider themselves Greeks and have fully assimilated into the Greek culture. Arvanites were keen to eradicate the Islam religion thet was introduced by the Ottoman Empire and fought alongside the Greeks against the Ottomans. Arvanites are mostly found in Attica and Peloponnese. Women were held in high position and had more say in public issues and bore arms. Arvanite men wore kilts or baggy breeches while their women wore heavily embroidered chemise shirts, silk gowns, and thick woolen coats. Currently, the Arvanites population is estimated at 95,000.
Turks are mostly found in Western Thrace and are Muslim by religion. The Greek government refers to the Turks as the Islam minority and does not recognize a separate Turkish minority. Languages widely spoken are Turkish and Greek. There are about 90, 000 people of Turkish ethnic group in present-day Greece.
Pomaks refers to Slavic Muslims living in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The Pomaks speak Pomak language but are also fluent in Greek and Turkish. They are said to be descendants of native Bulgarians. The Pomaks hold most of their weddings during winter, the traditional wedding season. The bride is painted white, and the ceremony takes two days involving the whole village. The Pomaks today living in Greece are approximately 35000 people.
Greece, the cradle of western civilization
Greece is considered the cradle of western civilization having given birth to political science, Western literature, philosophy, most scientific principles, and even the Olympic Games. The main religion in practice is Orthodox Christianity followed by Islam at 1.3% and other religions at 0.7%. Greece is a home to diverse ethnic groups, different cultures, and great tourist attractions.