Eastern Orthodox Slavs

Orthodox Slavs
Orthodox Slavs.png
     Orthodox Slavic countries
Total population
215,789,388 (2015)
Regions with significant populations
Eastern and Southeastern Europe
East Slavic
South Slavic
Eastern Orthodox Church
Related ethnic groups
Other Slavs

The Orthodox Slavs form a religious grouping of the Slavic peoples, including ethnic groups and nations that predominantly (or have historically) adhere to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith and whose Churches follow the Byzantine Rite liturgy. Orthodoxy spread to Eastern Europe in the Early Middle Ages through Byzantine influence, and has been retained in several countries until today.

Orthodox Slavic nations today include the Belarusians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Russians, Serbs and Ukrainians.[1] They inhabit three separate contiguous areas in Eastern Europe (see map), namely a big one including most of the Russian Federation plus Ukraine and Bielorussia, a small one in the west, the Kaliningrad oblast which is an exclave of the Russian Federation, and a medium-sized one in the south including Bulgaria and several (but not all) countries of former Yugoslavia. They stretch from the northeast in the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains in the southeast and southwest; from the north in the Russian Federation to the southwest in North Macedonia near the Greek border. There are also major Orthodox Slavic population hubs and communities in North Asia (predominantly Siberia), the Americas (predominantly North America), and significant diaspora groups throughout the rest of the world.

All Orthodox Christian Churches with Slavic-language liturgy, with the exception of the Bulgarian Church, use the Julian calendar ("Old Style") exclusively, and all use it to calculate the date Easter is celebrated.


Slavic states with Eastern Orthodox majority or plurality[2]:

State Adherents
 Serbia 84.59% (2011 census)
 Ukraine 78% (2016 research)
 Russia 71% (2016 research)
 Montenegro 70.07% (2011 census)
 North Macedonia 64.78% (2002 census)
 Bulgaria 59.4% (2011 census)
 Belarus 48.3% (2011 census)

Other Slavic-majority states with notable Orthodox minorities include Bosnia and Herzegovina (30.75%, 2013 census) and Croatia (4.44%, 2011 census[3]). Small numbers are found in West Slavic countries such as Slovakia (0.9%, 2011[4]), Poland (0.7%, 2011), and the Czech Republic. There are notable Orthodox Slavic communities among non-Slavic majority states.

Autocephalous churches[edit]

Church Year autocephaly granted Number of followers
Bulgarian Orthodox Church 870 8–10 million
Serbian Orthodox Church 1219 8–12 million
Russian Orthodox Church 1589 150 million
Polish Orthodox Church 1924 600,000
Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church 1998 100,000
Orthodox Church of Ukraine 2019 20 million[5]

Historically, Bulgaria became the earliest and most important centre of the Slavic Orthodoxy, when its early christianization in 864 allowed it to develop into the cultural and literary center of Slavic Europe, as well as one of the largest states in Europe, during the period considered as the Golden Age of medieval Bulgarian culture. The autocephaly of the Bulgarian national church was recognized in 870, the first among the Slavs. Major event is the development of the Cyrillic script at the Preslav Literary School, declared official in 893, as also was declared the liturgy in Old Church Slavonic, also called Old Bulgarian.[6][7][8] In 918/919 the Bulgarian Patriarchate became the first Slavic autocephalous Patriarchate, fifth in the Eastern Orthodox Church after the Four Ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. This status was officially recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 927.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Byzantine Religion and Influence". Historydoctor.net. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  2. ^ NW, 1615 L. St; Suite 800Washington; Inquiries, DC 20036USA202-419-4300 | Main202-857-8562 | Fax202-419-4372 | Media. "Split between Ukrainian, Russian churches shows political importance of Orthodox Christianity". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  3. ^ "Population by Religion, by Towns/Municipalities, 2011 Census". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. December 2012.
  4. ^ "Table 14 Population by religion" (PDF). Statistical Office of the SR. 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  5. ^ http://socis.kiev.ua/ua/2019-01/
  6. ^ Dvornik, Francis (1956). The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization. Boston: American Academy of Arts and Sciences. p. 179. The Psalter and the Book of Prophets were adapted or "modernized" with special regard to their use in Bulgarian churches, and it was in this school that glagolitic writing was replaced by the so-called Cyrillic writing, which was more akin to the Greek uncial, simplified matters considerably and is still used by the Orthodox Slavs.
  7. ^ Florin Curta (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge Medieval Textbooks. Cambridge University Press. pp. 221–222. ISBN 978-0-521-81539-0. Cyrillic preslav.
  8. ^ J. M. Hussey, Andrew Louth (2010). "The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire". Oxford History of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-19-161488-0.