Pomak in Bulgaria

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The name Pomak means, "people who have suffered." The Pomaks are a Slavic people who live in the Balkan region of southern Europe. Some consider them to be a subgroup of the Bulgarians since they speak a Bulgarian dialect, have Bulgarian physical features, and have cultural practices similar to the Bulgarians. They are distinguished, however, by their non-Bulgarian names and their devotion to Islam rather than to Orthodox Christianity.

The Pomaks probably converted to Islam between the 1300s and the 1600s when the Ottoman Empire ruled the Balkan states. There is still a disagreement whether they only became Muslim to avoid a huge Jizya tax Muslims impose on non-Islamic subjects. Later, the Pomaks sent soldiers to fight alongside the Turkish Ottomans.

Throughout history, they have been considered the outcasts of Bulgarian society. In 1948, the communists removed people they thought to be disloyal to their regime. By 1950, the Pomak people were the new target. Eventually, 30,000 people were moved across the border into northeast Greece and Macedonia, while others immigrated into Romania. The largest Pomak population is in Turkey. It is made up mostly of those who once migrated from Greece.


What Are Their Lives Like?

In Bulgaria, the Pomak economy is based on agriculture. Their major crops include rye, barley, corn, potatoes, and tobacco. Raising animals such as cows, goats and sheep is also very important. Pomak women are renowned for their excellent weaving abilities. Many Pomaks also earn their income as migrant workers. The Pomak diet primarily comprises bread, potatoes and beans. They also enjoy yogurt, various cheeses, lamb, and goat meat.

Pomak farmers live in villages that are surrounded by their fields and pastures. They constructed their houses out of stone, wood, and clay, with sloping slate roofs. Recently, however, some Pomaks have built homes out of brick or cinder block, with ceramic tile roofs.

Traditionally, Pomak families arranged marriages. They married in their mid to late teens. Before marriage, the bride prepared her own dowry, which included household items and clothing. Although Islamic law allows a man to have four wives, polygamy was never common among the Pomaks.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Pomaks in Bulgaria are virtually all Muslim, and their religion makes up an integral part of their ethnic identity. The relative isolation of the Pomaks from other Muslims has allowed the mixing of beliefs to continue unhindered for centuries. Most Pomaks do not perform traditional Islamic practices. Few of them fast during the month of Ramadan like most Muslims. Their language even lacks many religious words vital to the Islamic faith and traditions. Pomaks don’t even know about Muslim saints, while they celebrate feast days of various Christian saints. Weddings and other ceremonial occasions often combine Muslim and Christian traditions.

What Are Their Needs?

The Pomaks in Bulgaria have an identity crisis. They faced rejection by the Bulgarians (and their religion), and the Turks (and their language). They need to put their identity in Jesus Christ, the one who loves them unconditionally, and wants them to experience life to the full.

The Pomaks need people who will begin praying for them, tearing down the strongholds that are keeping them in spiritual bondage. Only then will their hearts be prepared to receive the Good News when workers arrive.

Prayer Points

Pray the hearts of the Pomak people in Bulgaria would be stirred to hunger after God.

Pray that family-based movement to Christ will soon transform Pomak society, blessing them spiritually and economically.

Pray for the Lord to move in the hearts of believers to give up their own rights and sacrifice their lives to see the Pomak people blessed by the work of Jesus Christ, the only Savior.

Pray for Pomak decision makers in Bulgaria to open their communities to Christ’s ambassadors.

Scripture Prayers for the Pomak in Bulgaria.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-02-19
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-03-06
People Name General Pomak
People Name in Country Pomak
Pronunciation PUM-ok
Population this Country 64,000
Population all Countries 480,000
Total Countries 5
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Bulgar
People ID 14436
ROP3 Code 108104
Map of Pomak in Bulgaria
Primary Language Bulgarian (64,000 speakers)
Language Code bul   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Pomak
Dialect Code 8445   Global Recordings Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Bulgarian (64,000 speakers)
Language Code bul   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Pomak
Dialect Code 8445   Global Recordings Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Bulgarian

Primary Language:  Bulgarian

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1823-1995)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1840-2000)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1864-2017)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings General Ministry Resources General / Other
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Bulgarian Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Love letter to you from scripture Father's Love Letter
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video The Prophets' Story Create International
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Subdivision: Sunni
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.30 %)
1.20 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
98.80 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
2.0 %
96.5 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
1.5 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source Jeffrey Haglund 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more