Western Thrace

Western Thrace or West Thrace (Greek: [Δυτική] Θράκη, [Dytikí] Thráki [ˈθraci] / Turkish: Batı Trakya; Bulgarian: Западна Тракия, Zapadna Trakiya or Беломорска Тракия, Belomorska Trakiya) is a geographic and historical region of Greece, between the Nestos and Evros rivers in the northeast of the country; East Thrace, which lies east of the river Evros, forms the European part of Turkey, and the area to the north, in Bulgaria, is known as Northern Thrace.

Inhabited since paleolithic times, it has been under the political, cultural and linguistic influence of the Greek world since the classical era;[2][3] Greeks from the Aegean islands extensively colonized the region (especially the coastal part) and built prosperous cities such as Abdera (home of Democritus, the 5th-century B.C. philosopher who developed an atomic particle theory, and of Protagoras, a leading sophist) and Sale (near present-day Alexandroupoli).[2] Under the Byzantine Empire, Western Thrace benefited from its position close to the imperial heartland and became a center of medieval Greek commerce and culture; later, under the Ottoman Empire, a number of Muslims settled there, marking the birth of the Muslim minority of Greece.

Topographically, Thrace alternates between mountain-enclosed basins of varying size and deeply cut river valleys. It is divided into the three regional units (former prefectures): Xanthi, Rhodope and Evros, which together with the Macedonian regional units of Drama, Kavala and Thasos form the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace.

The Fourth Army Corps of the Hellenic Army has its headquarters in Xanthi; in recent years, the region has attracted international media attention after becoming a key entering point for illegal immigrants trying to enter European Union territory; Greek security forces, working together with Frontex, are also extensively deployed in the Greco-Turkish land border.


Thrace (blue) within Greece
Thrace (blue) within Greece
Replaced as administrative region by Eastern Macedonia and Thrace1987
Regional units
 • Total8,578 km2 (3,312 sq mi)
 • Total371,208
(2011 census)[1]
 • Density43/km2 (110/sq mi)
Largest City


Greek flag (black cross)
Flag of revolutionaries of Western Thrace and Samothrace during the Greek War of Independence

The approximate area of Western Thrace is 8,578 km² with a population of 371,208 according to the 2011 census.[1] It's estimated that two-thirds (2/3) of the population are Orthodox Christian Greeks, while the remainder (120,000) are Muslims who are an officially recognised minority of Greece. Of these, about half are of Turkish origin, while another third are Pomaks who mainly inhabit the mountainous parts of the region. The Romani of Thrace are also mainly Muslim, unlike their ethnic kin in other parts of the country who generally profess the Orthodox faith of the Greek majority.

Thrace is bordered by Bulgaria to the north, Turkey to the east, the Aegean Sea (Greece) to the south and the Greek region of Macedonia to the west. Alexandroupoli is the largest city, with a municipal population of 72,959 according to the 2011 census.[1] Below is a table of the five largest Thracian cities:[1]

City Greek Town population
Municipality population
Alexandroupoli Αλεξανδρούπολη 58,125 72,959
Komotini Κομοτηνή 54,272 66,919
Xanthi Ξάνθη 56,151 65,133
Orestiada Ορεστιάδα 20,211 37,695
Didymoteicho Διδυμότειχο 9,367 19,493


Ruins of the ancient city of Abdera
20100913 Ancient Theater Marwneia Rhodope Greece panoramic 2
The ancient theatre of Maroneia
Plotinupolis mosaics Dydimoteicho Evros Greece 3
Roman mosaics in Plotinopolis, modern Didymoteicho

After the Roman conquest, Western Thrace further belonged to the Roman province of Thrace founded in 46 AD. At the beginning of the 2nd AD century Roman emperor Trajan founded here, as a part of the provincial policy, two cities of Greek type (i.e. city-states), Traianoupolis and Plotinopolis. From this region passed the famous via Egnatia, which ensured the communication between East and West, while its ramifications were connecting the Aegean world with Thracian hinterland (i.e. upper and middle valley of Evros river). From the coast also passed the sea route Troad–Macedonia, which the Apostle Paul had used in his journeys in Greece. During the great crisis of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD, Western Thrace suffered from the frequent incursions of the barbarians until the reign of Diocletian, when it managed to prosper again thanks to its administrative reforms.[4]

The region had been under the rule of the Byzantine Empire from the time of the division of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western empires in the early fourth century AD. The Ottoman Empire conquered most of the region in the 14th century and ruled it till the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913. During Ottoman rule, Thrace had a mixed population of Turks and Bulgarians, with a strong Greek element in the cities and the Aegean Sea littoral. A smaller number of Pomaks, Jews, Armenians and Romani also lived in the region. At 1821, several parts of Western Thrace, such as Lavara, Maroneia, and Samothraki rebelled and participated in the Greek War of Independence.

Stamp Thrace Greek occ 1920 2l ovpt
Greek administration stamp in Western Thrace, 1920

During the First Balkan War, the Balkan League (Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro) fought against the Ottoman Empire and annexed most of its European territory, including Thrace. Western Thrace was occupied by Bulgarian troops who defeated the Ottoman army. On November 15, 1912 on the right bank of the river Maritza Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps captured the Turkish corps of Yaver Paha, which defends the Eastern Rhodopes and Western Thrace from invading Bulgarians.

Το Αρχοντικό Κουγιουμτζόγλου, στα σοκάκια της παλιάς πόλης της Ξάνθης - panoramio
View of the old town of Xanthi

The victors quickly fell into dispute on how to divide the newly conquered lands, resulting in the Second Balkan War. In August 1913 Bulgaria was defeated, but gained Western Thrace under the terms of the Treaty of Bucharest.

In the following years, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire), with which Bulgaria had sided, lost World War I and as a result Western Thrace was withdrawn from Bulgaria under the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Neuilly.[5] Western Thrace was under temporary management of the Entente led by French General Charles Antoine Charpy. In the second half of April 1920 in San Remo conference of the prime ministers of the main allies of the Entente powers (except the US) Western Thrace was given to Greece.

Throughout the Balkan Wars and World War I, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey each forced respective minority populations in the Thrace region out of areas they controlled. A large population of Greeks in Eastern Thrace, and Black Sea coastal and southern Bulgaria, was expelled south and west into Greek-controlled Thrace. Concurrently, a large population of Bulgarians was forced from the region into Bulgaria by Greek and Turkish actions. Turkish populations in the area were also targeted by Bulgarian and Greek forces and pushed eastward. As part of the Treaty of Neuilly, and subsequent agreements, the status of the expelled populations was legitimized. This was followed by a further population exchange which radically changed the demographics of the region toward increased ethnic homogenization within the territories each respective country ultimately was awarded.

This was followed by the large-scale Greek-Turkish population exchanges of 1923 (Treaty of Lausanne), which finalized the reversal of Western and Eastern Thrace region's pre-Balkan War demography. The treaty granted the status of a minority to the Muslims in Western Thrace, in exchange for a similar status for the ethnic Greek minority in Istanbul and the Aegean islands of Imbros and Tenedos.

After the German invasion (April 1941), the area was occupied by Bulgarian troops, as part of the triple Axis occupation of Greece, during World War II. During this period (1941-1944) the demographic distribution was further changed, with the arrest of the region's approximately 4,500 Jews by the Bulgarian police and their deportation to death camps administered by Germany. None of them survived.[6]


Old silk factory in Soufli

The economy of Thrace in recent years has become less dependent on agriculture. A number of Greek-owned high-tech industries belonging to the telecommunications industry have settled in the area. The Via Egnatia motorway which passes through Thrace, has contributed to the further development of the region. Tourism is slowly becoming more and more important as the Aegean coast has a number of beaches, and there is also the potential for winter tourism activities in the Rhodopi mountains, the natural border with Bulgaria, which are covered by dense forest.


The Muslim minority of Thrace are Greek citizens of diverse ethnic origins and is recognised as religious minority in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne which Greece has signed with Turkey, and along with the Greek Constitution, enshrines the fundamental rights of the Turks and other ethnic groups of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and the obligations towards them. The Greek government is not referring to the Muslim minority by a specific ethnic background, as it includes Turks, Pomaks and Roma Muslims.

The minority was exempted from the 1922-1923 Exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey and was granted special rights within the framework of the Treaty of Lausanne, such as religious freedom and education in the Turkish language.

The estimated numbers of the minority's constituent ethnic groups are according to a document of the Greek Consulate in Berlin, the following:

  • total number of Muslim minority is approximately 120,000
  • Turkish: ~50%[7]
  • Pomaks: ~35%
  • Roma origin: ~15%

Turkey, a signatory state of the Lausanne Treaty, initially claimed the whole of the Muslim minority to be strictly an ethnic Turkish minority even though it consists of multiple ethnic groups. However, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during his historic December 7, 2017 visit to Greece as President of Turkey, acknowledged for the first time the multi-ethnic nature of the Muslim minority.[8][9][10][11]

Historical demographics

Alexandroupolis Port (April 2017)
The port of Alexandroupoli
View of Samothraki
Samothrace island

The last censuses which asked about ethnicity were held in the transitional period before the region became part of Greece. A number of estimates and censuses during the 1912-1920 period gave the following results about the ethnic distribution of the area that would become known as Western Thrace:[12]

General Distribution of Population in Western Thrace (1912-1920)
Census/Estimate Muslims Pomaks Bulgarians Greeks Others Total
1912 estimate 120,000 - 40,000 60,000 4,000 224,000
1919 Bulgarian 79,539 17,369 87,941 28,647 10,922 224,418
1919 Bulgarian 77,726 20,309 81,457 32,553 8,435 220,480
1920 French 74,730 11,848 54,092 56,114 7,906 204,690
1920 Greek 93,273 - 25,677 74,416 6,038 201,404

The Pomak population depending on the source was sometimes counted together with the Turks (Muslims) following the Ottoman system of classifying people according to religion, while in other occasions was specified separately. According to the Bulgarian view, they are considered "Bulgarian Muslims" and an integral part of the Bulgarian nation.[12]

By the Bulgarian census in 1919, held on the request of the Entente,[13] of the population of Western Thrace[14] was 219 723 of whom: Turks 35.4% (77 726 Muslims), Bulgarians 46.3% (101 766 - 81 457 Christians and 20 309 Muslims), Greeks 14.8% (32 553 Christians), Jews 1.4% (3066) Armenians 1.5% (2369), others 0,9% (1243). The area ceded to the Entente also included Karaagach and its environs, which became part of Turkey after the Treaty of Lausanne.

1919 Bulgarian Census of Western Thrace [13]
Districts Total Turks Bulgarian Christians Bulgarian Muslims (Pomaks) Greeks Jews Armenians Others
Karaagach 25,669 - 12,874 - 11,133 284 835 443
Dimotika 25,081 581 6,070 - 16,856 1,152 298 47
Soflu 16,748 339 12,280 - 4,097 9 21 50
Dedeagach 18,380 625 17,036 - 18 164 465 72
Gumurdjina 92,235 55,754 21,879 10,802 364 1,200 650 1,579
Xanthi 41,619 20,350 10,575 9,500 85 250 100 -
Total 219,723 77,726 (35.4%) 81,457 (37.1%) 20,309 (9.2%) 32,553 (14.8%) 3,066 (1.4%) 2,369 (1.5%) 2,243 (0.6%)

Western Thrace was ceded to the Entente in December 1919, after which many Bulgarians left the region, while many Greeks moved in. The Government of the Entente (led by French general Sharpe) held its own census in 1920,[15] according to which Western Thrace had a population of 204,700, of whom: Turks 36.5% (74,720 Muslims), Bulgarians 32.2% (65,927 = 54,079 Christians and 11,848 Muslims), Greeks 27.4% (56,114 Christians), Jews 1.5% (2985) Armenians 0.9% (1880), others 3066. At the time this census was conducted, a part of the Greek population of Ksanthi, who left massively the Ksanthi district after the Balkan wars (1913), returned.[12]

Census in 1920 conducted by the Entente Powers in Western Thrace.[12]
Districts Total Turks Bulgarians Pomaks (Bulgarian Muslims) Greeks Jews Armenians Others
Karaagach 27,193 5 10,200 - 15,045 370 450 1,123
Dimotika 26,313 1,247 4,956 - 18,856 878 157 192
Soflu 21,250 2,770 10,995 - 7,435 - - 50
Dedeagach 16,317 640 11,543 - 3,355 165 512 102
Gumurdjina 64,961 39,601 14,794 2,341 4,773 1,292 651 1,559
Xanthi 48,666 30,538 1,591 9,507 6,650 280 200 -
Total 204,700 74,720 (36.5%) 54,079 (26.4%) 11,848 (5,8%) 56,114 (27.4%) 2,985 (1.5%) 1,880 (0.9%) 3,066 (1.5%)

According to the Turkish researches[16] the population of Western Thrace in 1923 was 191,699, of whom 129,120 (67%) were Turks/Muslims (also includes the Pomaks) and 33,910 (18%) were Greeks; the remaining 28,669 (15%) were mostly (Christian) Bulgarians, along with small numbers of Jews and Armenians (before the population exchange).

General Distribution of Population in Western Thrace in 1923, prior to the Greek-Turkish population exchange, according to Turkish claims (based on of 1913)[17]
Districts Total Turks Greeks Bulgarians Jews Armenians
Soufli 31,768 14,736 11,542 5,490 - -
Alexandroupolis 27,473 11,744 4,800 10,227 253 449
Komotini 80,165 59,967 8,834 9,997 1,007 360
Xanthi 52, 255 42,671 8,728 522 220 114
Total 191,699 129,120 (67,4%) 33,910 (17,7%) 26,266 (13,7%) 1,480 (0,8%) 923 (0,5%)
General Distribution of Population in Western Thrace in 1923, according to Greek delegation in Laussane[18]
Districts Total Greeks Turks Bulgarians Jews Armenians
Didymoteicho 34,621 31,408 3,213 - - -
Soufli 32,299 25,758 5,454 1,117 - -
Orestiada 39,386 33,764 6,072 - - -
Alexandroupolis 38,553 26,856 2,705 9,102 - -
Komotini 104,108 45,516 50,081 6,609 1,112 1,183
Xanthi 64,744 36,859 27,882 - - -
Total 314,235 199,704 (63,6%) 95,407 (30,4%) 16,828 (5,4%) 1,112 (0,4%) 1,183 (0,4%)

The population of the region, according to the official census of 1928 and 1951 conducted by the local authorities, per mother tongue, was as follows:[19]

Population in Western Thrace per mother tongue, 1928 (official census)
Prefectures Total Greek Turkish Slavic Aromanian Albanian Pomak Jewish Other
Evros 122,730 102,688 16,626 520 5 9 2 1,010 1,870
Xanthi 89,266 44,343 27,562 294 37 175 14,257 694 1,904
Rodopi 91,175 36,216 49,521 245 26 21 2,481 1,178 1,487
Total 303,171 183,247 (60,4%) 93,709 (30,9%) 1,059 (0,3%) 68 (<0,1%) 205 (<0,1%) 16,740 (5,5%) 2,882 (1%) 5,261 (1,7%)
Population in Western Thrace per mother tongue, 1951 (official census)
Prefectures Total Greek Turkish Slavic Aromanian Albanian Pomak Jewish Other
Evros 141,340 126,229 10,061 0 18 4,121 112 18 781
Xanthi 89,891 46,147 26,010 8 5 354 16,926 2 439
Rodopi 105,723 45,505 57,785 0 2 5 1,628 8 790
Total 336,954 217,881 (64,7%) 93,856 (27,9%) 8 (<0,1%) 25 (<0,1%) 4,480 (1,3%) 18,666 (5,5%) 28 (<0,1%) 2,010 (1,7%)


Nestos river
Nestos river outside the city of Xanthi
  • Abdera, an ancient Greek coastal town in the regional unit of Xanthi is the birthplace of the Greek philosophers Democritus, considered by some the father of the atomic theory, and Protagoras, who is credited with having invented the role of the professional sophist or teacher of "virtue".
  • Thrace and in particular the Rhodope mountains, its northern mountainous part, is home to one of the two surviving brown bear (species Ursus arctos) populations in Greece (the other is in the Pindus mountains, in central Greece).
  • The Greek-Turkish border is a major entering point of illegal immigrants from Asia (Kurds, Afghans, Pakistanis) trying to enter Europe.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Announcement of the results of the 2011 Population Census for the Resident Population" (PDF). Piraeus: Hellenic Statistical Authority. 28 December 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Thrace - region, Europe". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. ^ Σαμσάρης, Δημήτριος Κ (14 January 1980). "Ο εξελληνισμός της Θράκης κατά την Ελληνική και Ρωμαϊκή αρχαιότητα" – via olympias.lib.uoi.gr.
  4. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Historical Geography of Western Thrace during the Roman Antiquity (in Greek), Thessaloniki 2005
  5. ^ "World War I Document Archive". wwi.lib.byu.edu.
  6. ^ (eds.), Bruno De Wever ... (2006). Local government in occupied Europe : (1939 - 1945). Gent: Academia Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-90-382-0892-3.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Οι Πομάκοι στη Θράκη". www.patrides.com.
  8. ^ "No Turkish President Had Gone to Greece in 65 Years. So Why Now?". New York times. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Turkish president recognises Pomak element in Thrace, calls them 'compatriots'". News.In.gr. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Eight answers to the questions about Erdogan's visit (Original title in Greek: Οκτώ απαντήσεις στις ερωτήσεις για την επίσκεψη Ερντογάν)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  11. ^ "About good neighborly relations, Erdogan stressed from Thrace (Original title in Greek: Για καλή γειτονία Ελλάδας - Τουρκίας έκανε λόγο ο Ερντογάν από τη Θράκη)". The Editors' Newspaper. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d Vemund Aarbakke (2000). The muslim minority of Greek Thrace. Phd thesis / University of Bergen.
  13. ^ a b "St. Trifonov, Antantata v Trakija - 3". www.promacedonia.org.
  14. ^ Иван Алтънов, Междусъюзнишка Тракия, София 1921г. pg 35
  15. ^ L’Echo de Bulgarie, N 1963, 4 mai 1920.
  16. ^ Whitman 1990, 1
  17. ^ Öksüz 2004, 255.
  18. ^ Huseyinoglu, Ali (2012). "The Development of Minority Education at the South-easternmost Corner of the EU: The Case of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace, Greece" (PDF). University of Sussex. p. 123. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  19. ^ Kotzamanis, Byron. "Θράκη: εκατονταετία πληθυσμιακών ανακατατάξεων" (PDF). University of Thessaly. Retrieved 30 April 2013.


External links

Media related to Western Thrace at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 41°06′00″N 25°25′00″E / 41.1000°N 25.4167°E

30th Mechanized Infantry Brigade (Greece)

The 30th Mechanized Infantry Brigade ("Tomoritsa") is a unit of the Hellenic Army based in Lagos, Western Thrace.

7th Mechanized Infantry Brigade (Greece)

The 7th Mechanized Infantry Brigade "Sarantaporos" (Greek: 7η Μηχανοκίνητη Ταξιαρχία Πεζικού «Σαρανταπορος», 7η M/K ΤΑΞ) is a mechanized infantry brigade of the Hellenic Army, headquartered in Lykofos, Western Thrace and subordinated to the 12th Mechanized Infantry Division.

Albanian-speakers of Western Thrace

Albanian-speakers form a linguistic minority in Greek Macedonia and Western Thrace along the border with Turkey. They speak the Northern Tosk subbranch of Tosk Albanian and are descendants of the Albanian population of Eastern Thrace who migrated during the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s. They are known in Greece as Arvanites, a name applied to all groups of Albanian origin in Greece, but which primarily refers to the southern dialectological group of Arbëreshë. The Albanian-speakers of Western Thrace and Macedonia use the common Albanian self-appellation, Shqiptar.


Alexandroupoli (Greek: Αλεξανδρούπολη, pronounced [aleksanˈðrupoli]) or Alexandroupolis is a city in Greece and the capital of the Evros regional unit in East Macedonia and Thrace. It is an important port and commercial center of northeastern Greece.

Alexandroupoli is one of the newest cities in Greece, as it was only a fishing village until the late 19th century. However, the modern city is located at the site of ancient Sale (Greek: Σάλη), a Greek city of the classical era founded by colonists from the island of Samothrace, mentioned by Herodotus.Alexandroupoli benefits from its position at the centre of land and sea routes connecting Greece with Turkey. Landmarks in Alexandroupoli include the city's lighthouse in the port, the archaeological sites of the Mesimvria Zone and Maroneia stretching out to the small port of Agios Charalambos, the city's waterfront (the centre of commercial activity), and the nearby Evros Delta.

Democritus University of Thrace

The Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH; Greek: Δημοκρίτειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θράκης), established in July 1973, is based in Komotini, Greece and has campuses in the Thracian cities of Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli and Orestiada.

The University today comprises eight Schools — School of Humanities, Engineering School, Law School, School of Agricultural Sciences, School of Education Sciences, School of Economic and Social Sciences, School of Health Sciences and Physical Education and Sport Sciences and eighteen Departments. As of 2017, there is a student population of 18000 registered undergraduates and 3500 registered postgraduates, a research and teaching personnel of over 600 as well as approximately 300 administrative staff. As a university it is state-owned and fully self-administered. It is thus supervised and subsidized by the Greek State and the Minister for National Education and Religious Affairs. The University plays an important role in strengthening the national and cultural identity of the region of Thrace, and contributes to the high level of education in Greece.

Eastern Macedonia and Thrace

Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (Greek: Ανατολική Μακεδονία και Θράκη, Anatolikí Makedonía kai Thráki) is one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It consists of the northeastern parts of the country, comprising the eastern part of the region of Greek Macedonia along with the region of Western Thrace, and the islands of Thasos and Samothrace.

Evros (regional unit)

Evros (Greek: Περιφερειακή ενότητα Έβρου) is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace. Its name is derived from the river Evros, which appears to have been a Thracian hydronym. Evros is the northernmost regional unit. It borders Turkey to the east, across the river Evros, and it borders Bulgaria to the north and the northwest. Its capital is Alexandroupoli. Together with the regional units Rhodope and Xanthi, it forms the geographical region of Western Thrace.

Eyalet of Adrianople

The Eyalet of Adrianople or Edirne or Çirmen (Ottoman Turkish: ایالت ادرنه; Eyālet-i Edirne‎) was constituted from parts of the eyalets of Silistra and Rumelia in 1826.

It was one of the first Ottoman provinces to become a vilayet after an administrative reform in 1865, and by 1867 it had been reformed into the Vilayet of Adrianople.

Islam in Greece

Islam in Greece is represented by two distinct communities; Muslims that have lived in Greece since the times of the Ottoman Empire (primarily in East Macedonia and Thrace) and Muslim immigrants that began arriving in the last quarter of the 20th century, mainly in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Minorities in Greece

Minorities in Greece are small in size compared to Balkan regional standards, and the country is largely ethnically homogeneous. This is mainly due to the population exchanges between Greece and neighboring Turkey (Convention of Lausanne) and Bulgaria (Treaty of Neuilly), which removed most Muslims (with the exception of the Muslims of Western Thrace) and those Christian Slavs who did not identify as Greeks from Greek territory. The treaty also provided for the resettlement of ethnic Greeks from those countries, later to be followed by refugees. The 2011 census reported a population of 10,816,286 people.The main officially recognized "minority" (μειονότητα, meionótita) is the Muslim minority (μουσουλμανική μειονότητα, mousoulmanikí meionótita) in Thrace, Northern Greece, which numbered 120,000 according to the 2001 census and mainly consists of Western Thrace Turks, Pomaks (both mainly inhabiting Western Thrace), and also Romani, found particularly in central and Northern Greece. Other recognized minority groups are the Armenians numbering approximately 35,000, and the Jews (Sephardim and Romaniotes) numbering approximately 5,500.

Music of Thrace

Music of Thrace is the music of Thrace, a region in Southeastern Europe spread over southern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and European Turkey (Eastern Thrace).

The music of Thrace contains a written history that extends back to the antiquity, when Orpheus became a legendary musician and lived close to Olympus. Though the Thracian people were eventually assimilated by surrounding Balkan groups, elements of Thracian folk music continue.

Traditional Thracian dances are usually swift in tempo and are mostly circle dances in which the men dance at the front of the line. The gaida, a kind of bagpipe, is the most characteristic instrument, but clarinets and toumbelekis are also used. The Thracian gaida, also called the avlos, is different from the Macedonian or other Bulgarian bagpipes. It is more high in pitch then the Macedonian gaida but less so than the Bulgarian gaida (or Dura). The Thracian gaida is also still widely used throughout Thrace in northeastern Greece.

Muslim minority of Greece

The Muslim minority of Greece is the only explicitly recognized minority in Greece. It numbered 97,605 (0.91% of the population) according to the 1991 census, and unofficial estimates ranged up to 140,000 people or 1.24% of the total population, according to the United States Department of State.Like other parts of the southern Balkans that experienced centuries of Ottoman rule the Muslim minority of mainly Western Thrace in Northern Greece consists of several ethnic groups, some being Turkish and some Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks, with smaller numbers descended from Ottoman-era Greek converts to Islam and Muslim Romas. The precise identity of these groups is in contention with Turkey insisting that most Muslims in Western Thrace are ethnically Turkish, and Greece claiming many are Pomak and others of local origin who converted to Islam and adopted the Turkish language and identity in the Ottoman period. These arguments have territorial overtones, since the self-identity of the Muslims in Western Thrace could conceivably support territorial claims to the region by Turkey.The Muslims of Western Thrace were exempt from the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey when 1.5 million Anatolian Greeks or Pontic Greeks and Caucasus Greeks were required to leave Turkey, and the 356,000 Muslims outside of Thrace were required to leave Greece, including the Muslim Greek Vallahades of western Greek Macedonia. Consequently, most of the Muslim minority in Greece resides in the Greek region of Thrace, where they make up 28.88% of the population. Muslims form the largest group in the Rhodope regional unit (54.77%) and sizable percentages in the Xanthi (42.19%) and Evros regional units (6.65%).Nearly 3,500 Turks remain on the island of Rhodes and 2,000 on the island of Kos, as the islands were part of the Italian Dodecanese when the population exchange between Turkey and Greece happened (and so were not included in it). The Majority of them are descended from Ottoman era Greek converts to Islam with some having roots in Crete when the Cretan Muslim population were forced to leave the Island.In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece violated the European Convention on Human Rights by applying Sharia law on the Muslim minority. The court ruled unanimously that the mandatory application of Sharia law in Greece violated Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Court also added that "Greece is the only country in Europe which had applied Sharia law to a section of its citizens against their wishes". Lawyers said that this was a big step since, from now on, the minority's issues would be judged according to the Greek law, which give same rights to men and women, and not sharia.

Provisional Government of Western Thrace

The Provisional Government of Western Thrace (Ottoman Turkish: غربی تراقیا حكومت موقته‌سی - Garbi Trakya Hükûmet-i Muvakkatesi, Greek: Προσωρινή Κυβέρνηση Δυτικής Θράκης, Prosorini Kyvernisi Dytikis Thrakis, Turkish: Batı Trakya Geçici Hükûmeti), later renamed to Independent Government of Western Thrace (Ottoman Turkish: غربی تراقیا حكومت مستقله‌سی - Garbi Trakya Hükûmet-i Müstakilesi, Greek: Αυτόνομη Κυβέρνηση Δυτικής Θράκης, Aftonomi Kyvernisi Dytikis Thrakis), was a small, short-lived unrecognized republic established in Western Thrace from August 31 to October 25, 1913. It encompassed the area surrounded by the rivers Maritsa (Evros) in the east, Mesta (Nestos) in the west, the Rhodope Mountains in the north and the Aegean Sea in the south. Its total territory was c. 8.600 km².The whole of Western Thrace was captured by Bulgaria during the First Balkan war and awarded to the country by the Treaty of London. During the Second Balkan War the Greek Army captured most of the area between Skecha and the Maritsa river south of Soflu without encountering resistance by the weak Bulgarian army which retreated to the southern slopes of the Rhodope mountains (several kilometers to the north of Skecha and Gyumyurdzhina) while the Ottoman forces occupied the regions of Soflu, Dimotika and Ortakyoy. After the Second Balkan War the treaty of Bucharest was signed which returned the area to Bulgaria and the Greek army withdrew from Western Thrace. Thereupon local Muslims and Greeks petitioned, with the encouragement of the Greek authorities refused to recognize the Bulgarian control of the area and petitioned the Ottoman army to occupy Western Thrace. On their invitation, the region was then occupied by small Ottoman forces, largely irregulars. While the area had been returned to Bulgaria by the Bucharest treaty, the Bulgarian army wished to conflict with the Ottomans and retreated to a line coinciding with the pre-Balkan war border up to Aydomush and from there along a ridge of the Rhodope mountains running west of Daridere and east of Madan up to the Bulgarian-Greek border.After the retreat of both the Bulgarian and Greek armies, an autonomous state was declared with Ottoman support, in order to avoid Bulgarian rule after the Treaty of Bucharest, in which the Ottomans had not taken part. Under British pressure, the Bulgaria and the Ottomans signed the Treaty of Constantinople, which satisfied the Turkish claims to recognition of Eastern Thrace and recognized Western Thrace as part of Bulgaria. The Ottomans withdrew their forces and by 25 October, and the area was returned by Bulgaria. The southern part of the former Provisional government was occupied in 1918 by French forces. This area was finally annexed by Greece in 1920 and has been part of that country ever since, except for the Bulgarian occupation between 1941–1944. The northern part of the former Provisional Government remained part of Bulgaria after 1919.

The capital of Provisional Government of Western Thrace capital was Gümülcine, now Komotini, in Greece.

Sanjak of Dedeağaç

The Sanjak of Dedeağaç (Ottoman Turkish: Liva-i Dedeağaç, Greek: Υποδιοίκησις Δεδέαγατς), originally in 1878–1884 the Sanjak of Dimetoka (Liva-i Dimetoka, Υποδιοίκησις Διδυμοτείχου), was a second-level province (sanjak) of the Ottoman Empire in Thrace, forming part of the Adrianople Vilayet. Its capital was Dedeağaç, modern Alexandroupoli in Greece.

Sanjak of Gümülcine

The Sanjak of Gümülcine (Ottoman Turkish: Sancak-i Gümülcine, Greek: Υποδιοίκησις Γκιουμουλτζίνας, Bulgarian: Гюмюрджински санджак) was a second-level province (sanjak) of the Ottoman Empire in Thrace, forming part of the Adrianople Vilayet. Its capital was Gümülcine, modern Komotini in Greece.

Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine

The Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine required Bulgaria to cede various territories, after Bulgaria had been one of the Central Powers defeated in World War I. The treaty was signed on 27 November 1919 at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.The treaty required Bulgaria:

to cede Western Thrace to the Entente (which awarded it to Greece at the San Remo conference) thereby cutting off Bulgaria's direct outlet to the Aegean Sea.

to sign a convention on population exchange with Greece.

to cede a further area of 2,563 km2 (990 sq mi) on its western border with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia).

to return Dobruja, which according to the Treaty of Bucharest was partially ceded to Bulgaria and partially to the Central Powers (who later, on 25 September 1918, transferred this joint condominium to Bulgaria), to Romania, thus restoring the border set by the Treaty of Bucharest (1913).

to reduce its army to 20,000 men.

to pay reparations of £10 million.

to recognize the existence of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.The signing ceremony was held in Neuilly's town hall (hôtel de ville).In Bulgaria, the results of the treaty are popularly known as the Second National Catastrophe. Bulgaria subsequently regained South Dobruja as a result of the Treaty of Craiova. During World War II, together with Nazi Germany, it temporarily reoccupied most of the other territories ceded under the treaty.

Turkish diaspora

The Turkish diaspora (Turkish: Türk diasporası or Türk gurbetçiler) is the estimated population of the Turks all around the world who have migrated out from Turkey and former Turkish (Ottoman) territory. This includes citizens of Turkey living abroad (including ethnic Turks and other ethnic minorities), as well asethnic Turks who have emigrated from other post-Ottoman states, particularly Turkish communities from the Balkans (such as Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania etc.), the island of Cyprus, the region of Meskhetia in Georgia, and the Arab world (such as Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria).

Due to the large numbers of Mainland Turks, and Turkish minorities from other post-Ottoman states who have emigrated from their traditional homelands, there are no official statistics which represent a true indication of the total ethnic Turkish population in the host countries. For example, although official data shows that there are 52,893 Turkish citizens in the United Kingdom, the Home Affairs Committee states that there are now 500,000 British Turks made up of 300,000 Turkish Cypriots, 150,000 Turkish nationals (i.e. people from Turkey), and smaller groups of Bulgarian Turks and Romanian Turks. Nonetheless, it is known that Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and France all have larger Turkish diaspora communities than the UK.

Turks in Europe

The Turks in Europe (sometimes called Euro-Turks; Turkish: Avrupa'da yaşayan Türkler or Avrupa Türkleri) refers to ethnic Turks living in Europe. Most Turks in Europe live in European Turkey, but there is also a sizeable Turkish diaspora in countries such as Germany. This diaspora includes two groups: guest workers who migrated to western Europe in recent decades, and historic Turkish minorities in southeastern Europe who trace their origin back to the Ottoman era.

Turks have had a long history in Europe dating back to the Ottoman era when they began to conquer and migrate to Eastern Europe during the Ottoman conquests (see the Ottoman territories in Europe) which, other than Turkey, created significant Turkish communities in Bulgaria (Bulgarian Turks), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian Turks), Cyprus (Turkish Cypriots), Georgia (Meskhetian Turks), Greece (Cretan Turks, Dodecanese Turks, and Western Thrace Turks), Kosovo (Kosovan Turks), Serbia (Turks in Serbia), North Macedonia (Turks in North Macedonia), and Romania (Romanian Turks).

Modern immigration of Turks to Western Europe began with Turkish Cypriots migrating to the United Kingdom in the early 1920s when the British Empire annexed Cyprus in 1914 and the residents of Cyprus became subjects of the Crown. However, Turkish Cypriot migration increased significantly in the 1940s and 1950s due to the Cyprus conflict. Conversely, in 1944, Turks who were forcefully deported from Meskheti in Georgia during the Second World War, known as the Meskhetian Turks, settled in Eastern Europe (especially in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine). By the early 1960s, migration to Western and Northern Europe increased significantly from Turkey when Turkish "guest workers" arrived under a "Labour Export Agreement" with Germany in 1961, followed by a similar agreement with the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria in 1964; France in 1965; and Sweden in 1967. More recently, Bulgarian Turks, Romanian Turks, and Western Thrace Turks have also migrated to Western Europe.

Turks of Western Thrace

Turks of Western Thrace (Turkish: Batı Trakya Türkleri, Greek: Τούρκοι της Δυτικής Θράκης) are ethnic Turks who live in Western Thrace, in the province of East Macedonia and Thrace in Northern Greece.

According to the Greek census of 1991, there were approximately 50,000 Turks in Western Thrace, out of the approximately 98,000 strong Muslim minority of Greece. Other sources estimate the size of the Turkish community between 90,000 and 120,000. The Turks of Western Thrace are not to be confused with Pomaks nor with Muslim Roma people of the same region, counting 35% and 15% of the Muslim minority respectively.Due to the multiethnic character of the Muslim minority of Greece, which includes Turks, Pomaks and Roma Muslims, the Government of Greece does not refer to it by a specific ethnic background, nor does recognize any of these ethnicities, including the Turks, as separate ethnic minority in Western Thrace, instead referring to the whole Muslim minority on religious grounds, as the "Muslim Minority of Western Thrace" or "Greek Muslims". This is in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne to which Greece, along with Turkey, is a signature member. The Lausanne Treaty, along with the Greek Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, enshrines the fundamental rights of the Turks and other ethnic groups of East Macedonia and Thrace and the obligations towards them.

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