||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (January 2008)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Greece||39,855 (1951 census) - estimated up to 200,000|
|Albania||8,266 (2011 census) estimated up to 200,000|
|Romania||26,500 (2006 est.)|
|Serbia||243 counted as "Cincars" and 35,330 as Vlachs (2011 census) - estimated up to 15,000|
|Bulgaria||891 persons counted as "rumuni" and 3,684 as Vlachs (2011 census)|
|Macedonia||9,695 (2001 census)|
|Aromanian and other languages in the areas in which they live|
|† Orthodox Christianity|
Aromanians, or Vlachs (Aromanian: Armânji, Rrâmânji, Makidonji), are a Latin people native throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern and central Greece, southern Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, south-western Bulgaria, and, as an emigrant community, in Serbia and Romania (Dobrudja). They are a native people in the regions of Epirus, Thessalia and Macedonia. An older term used for them is Macedo-Romanians. Especially in Greece, the term Vlachs (Vlahoi) is widespread; this term is sometimes used outside Greece to encompass all Latin-descended peoples of the Balkans, including the modern-day Romanians.
The Vlachs speak Aromanian, a Latin-derived language similar to Romanian, which has many slightly varying dialects of its own. The Aromanian language descends from the vulgar Latin spoken by native Balkan people subsequent to their Latinization by Rome. It is a mix of domestic and Latin language with additional influences from other surrounding languages of the Balkan peninsula, such as Bulgarian, Greek and Albanian.
Names and classificationEdit
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First of all it should be noted that the term (name) Aromanian or Vlach are both exonyms; the first one is a modern term, while the second one is a medieval term. The Aromanians call themselves Armân, Rrâmân or Makidon.
- The term Aromanian derives directly from the Latin Romanus, meaning Roman citizen. Aromanians, like all other peoples who were part of the Roman Empire, having signed the treaty of peace with Rome known as Pax Romana, won the right to be called Roman citizens and to benefit from the respective rights of the statute. The initial a- is a regular epenthetic vowel, occurring when certain consonant clusters are formed, and it is not, as folk etymology sometimes has it, related to the negative or privative a- of Greek (also occurring in Latin words of Greek origin).
- The term Vlach was used in the Medieval Balkans, as an exonym for all the Romanic (Latinised) people of the region, but nowadays is commonly used for the Aromanians and Meglenites (Romanians being named Vlachs only in Serbia and Bulgaria). The term Vlach has had its form changed into the following languages: Greek Vlahoi/βλαχοι, Macedonian/Bulgarian Vlasi, Albanian Vllehe, Turkish Ulahlar. It is noteworthy that the term Vlach also meant "bandit" or "rebel" in the Ottoman medieval historiography. Vlach was further a name used by the Ottomans to denote Christians in Bosnia.
Distinguished according to geographic area, Aromanians are grouped into several "branches" such as:
- Pindeans (Aromanian Pindeanji), concentrated in and around the Pindus Mountains of Northern and Central Greece.
- Gramustians (Aromanian Grãmushtianji), from Gramos Mountains, an isolated area in the western region of the Greek province of Macedonia near the borders with Albania.
- Muzachiars (Aromanian Muzăchirenji) from Muzachia situated in central Albania.
- Farsherots (Aromanian Fărshirotsi) concentrated in Epirus, from Frasheri, once Aromanian urban center situated in south-eastern Albania.
- Moscopolitans (Aromanian Moscopoleanji) from the city of Moscopole, once an important urban center of the Balkans, now a small municipality in southeastern Albania.
The first two groups call themselves Armânji,(in plural), while the other three groups (with a distinct dialect) call themselves Rrămănji (in plural). So in Albania, the most common form is rrămăn (in singular), in Greece both armăn and rrămăn, in Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria armăn, in Romania armăn and makidon.
They also, have several nicknames depending on the country where they are living.
- In Greece:
- Gramustians and Pindians are nicknamed Koutsovlachs (Greek Κουτσόβλαχοι). This term is sometimes, but not always, taken as derogatory, as the first element of this term is from the Greek koutso- (κουτσό-) meaning 'lame'. This name has been noticed also among the Slavic peoples, especially in the folk stories. Following a Turkish etimology where küçük means "little" they are the smaller Vlachs as opposed to the more numerous Vlachs (Daco-Romanians).
- Farsherots, from Frashër (Albania), Moscopolis and Muzachia are nicknamed "Frashariotes" or Arvanitovlachs (Greek Αρβανιτοβλαχοι), meaning "Albanian Vlachs" referring to their place of origin. Most of the Frashariotes are characterized also as "Greek-Vlach North-Epirotes" because frequently they settle in the Greek territory, because of historical conditions.
- In the South Slavic countries, such as Serbia, Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, the nicknames used to refer to the Aromanians are usually Vlasi(south-Slavic for vallachians; vlachs) & Tsintsar (also spelled tzintzar, cincar or similar), which is derived from the way the Aromanians pronounce the word meaning five, tsintsi.
It is hypothesized that the Vlachs originated from the Roman colonisation of the Balkans and are the descendants of Latinised native peoples and Roman legionaries who had settled in the Balkans. The fact that the Roman colonisation of Epirus and Macedonia began earlier and lasted longer than that of Dacia would suggest that the Aromanian Vlachs may have preceded the Romanians in Balkan history.
There are many theories regarding the origins of the Aromanians. In Greece, they are believed to be descended from a local Greek population that was Latinised immediately following the Roman conquest of Greece, or later, during the first centuries of the Byzantine Empire when Latin continued to be the official language. On the contrary, in other neighbouring countries they are considered to be the descendants of Thracian peoples who moved into the mountains of the southern Balkans after the Avar and Slavic invasions. Some Byzantine chroniclers have described them as descending from Thracian tribes; one of them being the Bessi.
In total, the main theories regarding the origins of Aromanians describe them as:
- descendants of the Romanized Thracians
- or Roman colonists and soldiers, who would receive agricultural lands as payments for their services,
- or Latin Greeks (Greco-Romans).
It is clear, however, that until the 7th, 8th or 9th centuries CE, Romanians and Aromanians spoke the same eastern variant of the Balkan Vulgar Latin, also known as Eastern Romance language. Linguists who support the Romanian theory declare that the Aromanian, Meglenian and Istro languages are dialects of Proto-Romanian. This term was not accepted by Greek linguists, because it only denoted a form of the Romanian language, and thus supports only the Romanian theory. This in fact puts the other two languages which developed from this form of Vulgar Latin - the Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian languages - in the same position as Aromanian. Modern linguists believe that the Istro-Romanians migrated to their present region of Istria about 1,000 (or 600) years ago from Transylvania.
In reality, in none of the three theories regarding the origin of Aromanians, can the term "Proto Romanian" be taken to encompass either the Aromanian nor the Meglenian language, because this term only applies to the language spoken by the ancestors of the modern Romanians (Dacians and Getae). However even here, the term "Proto Romanian" would be misleading, because Dacians and Getae represented only a part of the Thracian people in the Balkans, (Aromanians and Meglens being descendants of Epirots and Macedonians). So, the correct term to include all Latin languages spoken in Balkans at that time is the term, Balkan Vulgar Latin or Eastern Romance languages.
Aromanians have played a major role in the history of almost all modern Balkan states, especially Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, and of course Romania. Prominent Aromanians include Pitu Guli, also known as "Peter the Vlach", (revolutionary), Ioannis Kolettis (Prime minister of Greece), Georgios Averoff (Greek magnate), Evangelos Averoff (Defence Minister of Greece), Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, Andrei Şaguna, (Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan of Transylvania and Romanian patriot), the Ghica family (Wallachian and Moldavian voivodes and Romanian Prime Ministers), etc. (See List of prominent Aromanians).
During the Ottoman rule on the Balkans in accordance with the Sharia, all Orthodox Christians, were included in a specific ethno-religious community under Graeco-Byzantine domination called Rum millet. The belonging to this Orthodox community became more important to the common people, then their ethnic origins and it became basic form of social organization and source of identity. In this way most people began to identify themselves simply as Orthodox Christians. In the early 19th century some Orthodox intellectuals tried to reconceptualize the Rum millet, arguing for a new, ethnic “Romaic” national identity and new Byzantine Empire. Their visions of a future Greek state included all Balkan Orthodox Christians and spread among Vlachs, Slavs and Albanians, who started to view themselves increasingly as Greek. In this way, the Greek Revolution was supported by the Wallachian uprising of 1821, however this movement, soon acquired, therefore, an anti-Greek tendency.
With the rise of nationalism on the Balkans during the middle of the 19th century the Rum millet began to degrade with the continuous identification of the religious creed with ethnic nationality. The national awakening of each ethnic group inside it was complex and most of the groups interacted with each other. The Romanian orthodox church became independent with the adoption of the 1866 Romanian Constitution, and a law was passed in 1872, which declared the church to be autocephalous. So during the 1860s the Aromanian-populated areas in southern Balkans became a center of the Romanian national propaganda, dividing the Aromanians into two factions: one of Grecophiles and one of Rumanophiles. The recognition of Vlachs as a distinct millet in the Ottoman Empire in 1905, was an important event in this Balkan nationalistic competition.
Today many Aromanians identify themselves both as Vlachs, and with the Balkan nation-state, where they live. A small segment of the Vlachs also identify themselves as a fully distinct ethnicity.
The Roman Empire and its Latin language strongly influenced some of the ancient tribes of the Balkans. Factors in this process included the construction of the Via Egnatia (146-120 BC) and the founding of Roman colonies with military fortifications and garrisons. The Latinised peoples that originated from this region of the Roman Empire eventually retired into the vastness and security of the mountainous terrain and became specialized in nomadic pastoralism and animal husbandry.
In the Middle Ages, Aromanians created semi-autonomous states on the territory of modern Greece, such as Great Wallachia, Small Wallachia and Upper Wallachia. Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jew who travelled through south-eastern Europe and the Middle East between 1159 and 1173, alludes to the Vlachs in The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela. He claimed that they enjoyed some measure of independence on their Valachian mountain tops.
Aromanians played an important role in the independence wars of various Balkan countries: Bulgaria, Albania and Greece, against the Ottoman Empire. But also in 1905 the Aromanians were acknowledged as a separate nation (millet) of the Ottoman Empire, allowing them to have their own schools and liturgy in their own Aromanian language. This happened during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid the Second, when the Aromanians even got their own representatives in the Great Porte. The day of the signing of the so-called Aromanian Iradeo or Turkish Irade, 23 of May is celebrated as the National Day of the Aromanians from the whole world and is celebrated as a holiday for the Aromanian citizens in the Republic of Macedonia.
In 1941, after the Nazi occupation of Greece, some Aromanian nationalists created an autonomous Vlach state under Fascist Italian control: the Principality of Pindus and Voivodship of Macedonia.
After the fall of Communism in Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria in 1989, the Aromanian nation formed its own cultural and political societies in the Balkans and started its new national re-awakening.
- The National Day of the Macedon/Arman ("Aromanians", "Vlachs" and "Megleno") people is the 23rd of May. In the Republic of Macedonia this day is designated as a holiday for the Aromanian citizens in the country.
In Greece, Aromanians are not recognised as an ethnic but as a linguistic minority and, like the Arvanites, have been indistinguishable from other Greeks since the 19th century. Furthermore, the Vlachs have long been associated with the Greek national state, actively participated in the Greek Struggle for Independence, and have obtained very important positions in government. Generally, the use of the minority languages has been discouraged, although recently, there have been efforts to preserve the endangered languages (including Aromanian) of Greece.
In Greece, Aromanians have been very influential in politics, business and the army. Revolutionary Rigas Feraios, Prime Minister Ioannis Kolettis, billionaire and benefactor Evangelos Zappas, Field Marshal and later Prime Minister Alexandros Papagos, and conservative politician Evangelos Averoff were all Vlachs.
It is difficult to estimate the exact number of Aromanians, as no Greek census has recorded mother tongue statistics since 1951. Estimates on the number of Aromanians in Greece range between 40,000. and 200,000.
The majority of the Aromanian population lives in northern and central Greece; Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly. The main areas inhabited by these populations are the Pindus Mountains, around the mountains of Olympus and Vermion, and around the Prespa Lakes near the border with Albania and R. Macedonia. Some Aromanians can still be found in isolated rural settlements such as Samarina, Perivoli and Smixi. There are also Aromanians (Vlachs) in towns and cities such as Ioannina, Metsovo, Veria, Katerini, and Thessaloniki.
The Aromanian (Vlach) Cultural Society, which is associated with the fringe figure Sotiris Bletsas, is represented on the Member State Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser Spoken Languages in Greece. Bletsas and his small group have no popular support whatsoever in Greece, and have been a source of annoyance to the majority of Aromanians.
There is a large Aromanian community in Albania, which is also called Vlach Community (Albanian: vllah or çoban), specifically in the southern and central regions of the country. Various scholars placed the number of Albanian Vlachs at up to 200,000. There are currently timid attempts to establish education in their native language in the town of Divjaka. The Aromanians, under the name "Vlachs", are a recognized cultural minority in the Albanian law.
For the last years there seems to be a renewal of the former policies of supporting and sponsoring of Romanian schools for Vlachs of Albania. As a recent article in the Romanian media points out, the kindergarten, primary and secondary schools in the Albanian town of Divjaka where the local Albanian Vlach pupils are taught classes both in Aromanian and Romanian were granted substantial help directly from the Romanian government. The only Aromanian language church in Albania, the 'Schimbarea la fata' of Korçë (Curceau in Aromanian) was given 2 billion lei help from the Romanian government too. Many of the Albanian Aromanians (Arvanito Vlachs) have immigrated to Greece, since they are considered in Greece part of the Greek minority in Albania.
Notable Aromanians whose family background hailed from today's Albania include bishop Andrei Şaguna, and reverend Llambro Ballamaci, whereas notable Albanians with an Aromanian family background are actors Sandër Prosi, Margarita Xhepa, and Prokop Mima, as well as composer Nikolla Zoraqi. and singer Eli Fara.
In Republic of MacedoniaEdit
According to official government figures (census 2002), there are 9,695 Aromanians or Vlachs, as they are officially called in the Republic of Macedonia. According to the census of 1994 there were 8,467 Vlachs, 6,392 in 1981 and 8,669 in 1953. Aromanians are recognized as an ethnic minority, and are hence represented in Parliament and enjoy ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious rights and the right to education in their language.
They have also received financial support from the Romanian government, which made recognition of Republic of Macedonia's independence conditional on the extension of minority rights to the Aromanians. There are Aromanian cultural societies and associations such as the Union for Aromanian Culture from Republic of Macedonia, The Aromanian League of Republic of Macedonia, The International League of Aromanians, Comuna Armãneascã ("Frats Manachia", The Aromanian Community Manachia Brothers in Bitola), Partia-a Armãnjlor di tu Machedonia (The Party of the Aromanians from Republic of Macedonia) and Unia Democraticã-a Armãnjlor di tu Machedonia (The Democratic Union of the Aromanians from Republic of Macedonia).
There are Aromanian classes provided in primary schools and the state funds some Aromanian published works (magazines and books) as well as works that cover Aromanian culture, language and history. The latter is mostly done by the first Aromanian Scientific Society, "Constantin Belemace" in Skopje, which has organized symposiums on Aromanian history and has published papers from them. According to the last census, there were 9,596 Aromanians (0.48% of the total population). There are concentrations in Kruševo 1020 (20%), Štip 2074 (4.3%), Bitola 1270 (1.3%), Struga 656 (1%), Sveti Nikole 238 (1.4%), Kisela Voda 647 (1.1%) and Skopje 2557 (0.5%).
In Bulgaria most Aromanians were concentrated in the region south-west of Sofia, in the region called Pirin, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire until 1913. Due to this reason, a large part of these Aromanians moved to the Southern Dobruja, part of the Kingdom of Romania since the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913, and after its reinclusion in Bulgaria with the Treaty of Craiova of 1940, moved to Northern Dobruja. Another group moved to northern Greece. Nowadays, the largest group of Aromanians in Bulgaria is found in the southern mountainous area, around Peshtera. Most Aromanians in Bulgaria originate from Gramos, with some from Macedonia, Pindus and Moscopole.
According to the 1926 official census, there were: 69,080 Romanians, 5,324 Aromanians, 3,777 Cutzovlachs, and 1,551 Tsintsars.
According to the 2001 census, there are 1,088 Romanians and 10,566 Vlachs in Bulgaria. The last figure includes Romanian and Aromanian speakers.
Since the Middle Ages, due to the Turkish occupation and the destruction of their cities, such as Moscopole, Gramoştea, Linotopi and later on Krushevo, many Aromanians fled their native homelands in the Balkans to settle the Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, which had a similar language and a certain degree of autonomy from the Turks. These immigrant Aromanians were more or less assimilated into the Romanian population.
In 1925, 47 years after Dobruja was incorporated into Romania, King Ferdinand gave the Aromanians land and privilleges to settle in this region, which resulted in a significant migration of Aromanians into Romania. Today, the 25% of the population of the region are descendants of Aromanian immigrants (especially from Thessaly, Epirus, Greek Macedonia and Vardar Macedonia).
There are currently between 50,000 and 100,000 Aromanians in Romania, most of which are concentrated in Dobruja. According to the Union for Aromanian Language and Culture there are some 100,000 Aromanians in Romania. Some Aromanian associations even place the total number of people of Aromanian descent in Romania as high as 250,000. Due to their cultural closeness to ethnic Romanians, most of them do not consider themselves to be a distinct ethnic minority but rather a "cultural minority".
Recently, there has been a growing movement in Romania, both by Aromanians and by Romanian lawmakers, to recognize the Aromanians either as a separate cultural group or as a separate ethnic group, and extend to them the rights of other minorities in Romania, such as mother-tongue education and representatives in parliament.
Aromanians (Serbian: Cincari, transliteration- English: Tzintzars) have lived in Serbia since the early Ottoman Turkish conquest of the Balkans. It's estimated 15,000 Aromanians live in Serbia and Montenegro. The majority of Aromanians in Serbia do not speak Aromanian and they have dual identity i.e. Serbian and Aromanian. They live in Niš, Belgrade and some smaller communities of Southern Serbia. A small Aromanian settlement is situated in Knjaževac. An Aromanian association named "Lunjina" was founded in Belgrade in 1991. The 2011-census counted 243 Cincari.
Although they may be a part of the Romanian sub-group Vlachs; the Serbs differentiate the Tzintzars with the Vlachs - the Tzintzars mostly live in urban communities while the Vlachs are mostly country dwellers.
They can use their Aromanian forenames and surnames.
In Germany, at Freiburg, is situated one of the most important Aromanian organisations, the Union for Culture and Language of the Aromanians, and one of the largest libraries in Aromanian language.
In the United States, The Society Fărşărotul, is one of the oldest and most known associations of Aromanians, founded in 1903 by Nicolae Cican, an Aromanian native of Albania.
In France, the Aromanians are grouped in the Trâ Armânami cultural association.
References and footnotesEdit
-  Council of Europe Parliamentary Recommendation 1333(1997)
- According to INTEREG - quoted by Eurominority: Aromanians in Greece
- Albanian census 2011
- Arno Tanner. The forgotten minorities of Eastern Europe: the history and today of selected ethnic groups in five countries. East-West Books, 2004 ISBN 978-952-91-6808-8, p. 218: "In Albania, Vlachs are estimated to number as many as 200,000"
- "Aromânii vor statut minoritar", in Cotidianul, 9 December 2006
- 2011 Bulgaria Census
- Macedonian census 2002
- Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Dawn for a ‚Sleeping Beauty Nation‘. Aromanian Identity Politics and Conflicts in Post-Communist Albania, p. 148. In: KASER, Karl; KRESSING, Frank (2002), Albania – A country in transition. Aspects of changing identities in a south-east European country. Baden-Baden, pp. 147-163. Online: 
- According to Encyclopædia Britannica
- James Minahan (1 January 2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 175–. ISBN 978-0-313-32109-2. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- cf. Marko Cepenkov
- Winnifrith T.J. The Vlachs: The history of a Balkan people, St. Matin's Press, N. York, p. 35, footnote 11.: "P. Neiescu, "Recherches dialectales" ... Describing the position before the war, Tamas locates the Vlachs in four main areas, ... those near Frasher, shepherds living in nine villages ..."
- Katsanis N.A. & Dinas K.D. The Vlachs of Greece. Ch. 6. The names of the Vlachs. In Greek language:
"Στην Αλβανία υπάρχουν οι Φρασαριώτες Βλάχοι (από την περιοχή Φράσαρι) γνωστοί και ως Αρβανιτόβλαχοι, οι περισσότεροι από τους οποίους είναι Ελληνόβλαχοι βορειοηπειρώτες που κατά καιρούς, λόγω των ιστορικών συνθηκών, εγκαθίστανται στον ελληνικό χώρο."
N.A. Katsanis is Associate Professor of Philology at the University of Thessalonike. K.D. Dinas is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Univ. of West Macedonia, Greece.
- Curta, Florin and Stephenson, Paul. Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-521-81539-8
- Istro-Romanian Community Worldwide, a site created by Istro-Romanians
- Istro-Romanians of Croatia
- John Van Antwerp Fine (15 June 1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Elisabeth Kontogiorgi, Population exchange in Greek Macedonia the rural settlement of refugees 1922-1930, page 22
- Viktor Meier. Yugoslavia: a history of its demise. Routledge, 1999 ISBN 978-0-415-18596-7, p. 184: "The problem of the linguistic minorities in Greece is a complex one. ... They both consider themselves Greeks."
- John S. Koliopoulos, Plundered loyalties Axis occupation in Greek West Macedonia 1941-1949, pages 81-85
- Greek Monitor of Human and Minority Rights vol I. No 3 December 1995
- Artemis Leontis, Culture and customs of Greece, Greenwood Press, 2009, p. 13 
- Bruce Merry, Encyclopedia of modern Greek literature, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, p. 163 
- James F. Brown, The grooves of change: Eastern Europe at the turn of the millennium, Duke University Press, 2001, p. 261 
- According to Ethnologue.com.
- EBLUL - European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages - Member State Committees - Greece
- Ta Nea, 3/7/1995
- Aromanians in Albania
- Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers. The Albanian Aromanians´ Awakening: Identity Politics and Conflicts in Post-Communist Albania, p. 12-13.
- Collaku, Robert (July–August 2011). "Fratia (Vellazeria)". Calendaru 2011. Arumunet e Shqiperise. p. 2.
- The Vlachs of Macedonia, Tom J. Winnifrith.
- "Армъните в България ("The Aromanians in Bulgaria")" (in Bulgarian). Архитектурно-етнографски комплекс "Етър" - Габрово. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- MAE.ro - Ministerul Afacerilor Externe
- Romanian Global News - singura agentie de presa a romanilor de pretutindeni
- Parliamentary Assembly - Council of Europe
- Council of Makedon/Arman people
- The Serbian-Aromanian association "Lunjina" /Srpsko-cincarsko društvo "Lunjina"
- Listen to radio in Aromanian at the Romanian government supported Radio Romania International - the Aromanian section
- The society Farsarotul 
- The Folklore Association of Vlahs (Armani) in Veria 
- Vlach 
- Vlachoi 
- Aromanian language 
- Southern Balkan Vlach peoples - the Aromani 
- The Vlach Connection and Further Reflections on Roman History 
- Aromanian songs and poetry/Căntitsi shi poezii armâneshti 
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