The Western Territories

Territories ceded by Bulgaria to neighbouring countries after W.W.I /purple/. Territory ceded to Bulgaria by Turkey in 1915 and taken from Bulgaria after W.W.I /green/. Boundaries of modern Bulgaria /brown line/.



(Zapadnite pokrainini)

In 1919,  the diplomats of the victorious Allied powers forced Bulgaria, a defeated country in World War I, to sign in the Paris suburb of Neuilly a  treaty of peace including some extremely burdensome terms. Among other things, the country lost large portions of its territory (today in Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia), as well as its outlet to the Aegean. The lands ceded to Serbia under this treaty comprise 1545 square kilometres - several villages in the north and two larger areas in Central Western Bulgaria known as the Western Parts.

These two regions lie some 50-70 km to the west of Sofia and include several dozens of villages with the small towns of Tsaribrod (Dimitrovgrad of today) and Bosilegrad as centres of the respective localities. At the time when they were transferred to Serbia, these territories were inhabited by about 50 thousand ethnic Bulgarians (95 per cent of the population), as well as by small numbers of Wallachians, Gypsies, Turks and some other ethnic groups. Of Serb origin were some 1300 people, most of whom lived in a single village.

Immediately after the Treaty of Neuilly had been signed, about 10 thousand of the population of the Western Parts migrated to Bulgaria most often joining their relatives in the neighbouring towns and villages across the border, or moving to the capital city of Sofia. Some of the refugees settled in several villages of the north-east of  Bulgaria, where their descendants are distinguished today from the native people by their dialect and customs.

Nowadays, ethnic Bulgarians in the former Western Parts have decreased in number to only 28 thousand, that is almost by half, while the number of Serbs in Yugoslavia has tripled.  Autochthonous Bulgarian population is also found in the surroundings of the towns of Surdulica, Vranja, Pirot, and Nis.