Many of the Bulgarian statistical publications, especially the census materials, have data based on region or city, but these numbers are not necessarily straightforward, because territory constituting a particular region has changed over the years, due to territorial losses and gains after wars, renaming, administrative restructuring, and population growth. There are several handy publications that provide the administrative-territorial divisions of Bulgaria from the oblast/okrug level down to the selo/grad level (terms are defined below). These publications are described below in the section entitled "Publications on Place Names." With all of these titles, a researcher can look up a locality and find out under which administrative division it falls. To assist in identifying changing administrative levels, the oblast/okrug (plural oblasti/okruzi) levels and their okolii (singular okoliia) or obshtini (singular obshtina) for various eras are given immediately below, but due to space constraints, not every historical time period, and not every village, town, and city in Bulgaria can be included in this guide. The books in this section on administrative-territorial divisions should be consulted for specific locales in specific eras.
At times in Bulgaria's history, the largest administrative division was an oblast. At other times the okrug was the largest division. It seems that when both are used together, oblasti are larger than okruzi. The word oblast can be translated in various ways, but "province" or "region" are common. Okruzi seem to be smaller units than oblasti, but often okruzi are the largest units given in the census publications. The word is frequently translated as "districts," "provinces," or "regions." Okolii are units between okruzi and obshtini, and are used in the older censuses; they can also be translated as "districts."Obshtini are even smaller units than okruzi and okolii, and the term is often translated as "communities" or "municipalities." Sometimes the statistical publications also provide data based on gradove or "cities/towns" and sela or "villages." Because of the difficulty with precise translation, the Bulgarian words are used in this guide. All of the divisions provided below (only the two largest used in each year) are taken from the census publications for the dates given, with the exception of 1942. Some of the 1885 divisions are not given, because the Library of Congress lacks the volumes to verify the locales. The administrative divisions are presented in chronological order, beginning with the oldest, from 1881.
This data is not extracted from a census, but rather from the 1942 volume of Statisticheski godishnik [Statistical Yearbook]. It is included here because, for a few years during World War II (1941-1944), Bulgaria occupied territory in Macedonia and parts of Serbia and Greece. Both Serbia and Macedonia were part of Yugoslavia at the time. During this era, statistics on various places not currently in Bulgaria can be found in some Bulgarian statistical publications.
For the latest information on administrative-territorial divisions in Bulgaria and historical explanations, see the pages on the website of the Natsionalen statisticheski institut devoted to the register of populated places External.
For name changes of Bulgarian cities and other locales, check a gazetteer or dictionary of place names. Some of the more common changes are listed below.
Click on any title described below to view full bibliographic information for that item in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to full electronic versions are provided when available.
The five titles listed directly below are all dictionaries of administrative territories. They are not annotated separately, because they all provide the same sort of information -- the divisions of Bulgaria by oblast, then obshtina, then selo/grad levels. One can work from either direction, looking up a town and finding out to which oblast and obshtina it belongs, or looking up an oblast to find out what obshtini and sela/gradove fall under it.