Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Vlachs (also called Wlachs, Wallachs, Olahs) are the Romanized population in Central and Eastern Europe, including Romanians, Aromanians, Istro-Romanians and Megleno-Romanians, but since the creation of the Romanian state, this term was mostly used for the Vlachs living south of the Danube river.
Main article: Etymology of Vlach
The origin of the name is Germanic: the same origin led to the words "Welsh" and "Walloons" in other parts of Europe. Slavic peoples initially used the name Vlachs when referring to Romanic peoples in general. Later on, the meaning got narrower or just different. For example Italy in Polish is called Włochy. The term was originally an exonym, as the Vlachs used various words derived from romanus to refer to themselves (români, rumâni, rumâri, aromâni, arumâni etc).
Many Vlachs were shepherds and they always looked for better pastures. This explains the pockets of Vlachs that could be found all over the Balkans and as far north as Poland and as far west the Czech Republic, and Croatia. These regions inhabited by Vlachs were called "Wallachia" or "Vlashka" by the Slavs.
- Ungro-Wallachia , later Wallachia ("Ţara Românească") - between the Southern Carpathians and the Danube
- Moldo-Wallachia ("Moldavia") - between the Carpathians and the Dnister
- Upper Wallachia - in Epirus
- Great Wallachia ("Megale Vlachia") - in Thessaly
- Small Wallachia - in Etolia , Acarnania, Dorida , Locrida
- Old Wallachia ("Stara Vlaška") - in Bosnia
- White Wallachia - in Moesia
- Black Wallachia ("Morlachia") - in Dalmatia
- Sirmium Wallachia - on the Sava river
- Moravian Wallachia ("Valašskı") - in the Beskidy Mountains of the Czech Republic
and as a minority in:
- Ukraine - 500,000; in southern Bessarabia and northern Bukovina
- Serbia and Montenegro - 75,000 (30,000 in Vojvodina)
- Hungary - 70,000 (0.7% of the total population)
- Slovakia - 9,000
- Note: the Greek government does not recognise any ethnic divisions, so there are no exact statistics. See Demographics of Greece.
- Republic of Macedonia - 9,695 (0.5% of the total population)
- Albania - between 10,000 and 40,000
- Romania - about 50,000, mainly in Dobruja
Just like the language, the cultural links between the Northern Vlachs (Romanians) and Southern Vlachs (Aromanians) were broken by the 10th century, and since then, there were different cultural influences:
- Romanian culture was influenced by the Slavs and later by the Hungarians and Germans (mainly in Transylvania). The 19th century saw an important opening toward Western Europe and cultural ties with France.
- Aromanian culture developed initially as a pastoral , later to be greatly influenced by the Byzantine and Greek culture.
The religion of the Vlachs is predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but there are some regions where they are Catholics and Protestants (in Transylvania) and a few are even Muslims (former converts from Greece, living in Turkey since the 1923 exchange of populations).
(to be written)
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