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.
They are descendants of the Roman colonists or of the Romanized Dacian, Thracian and Illyrian local population (see Origin of Romanians for more about the dispute about the origin).
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, the Czech Republic, and Croatia. These regions inhabited by Vlachs were called "Wallachia" or "Vlashka" by the Slavs.
Romanians (also known as Daco-Romanians, speaking Romanian language) are living in:
and as a minority in:
Aromanians (speaking Macedoromanian language) are living as a minority in:
- Note: the Greek government does not recognise any ethnic divisions, so there are no exact statistics. See Demographics of Greece.
Megleno-Romanians (speaking Megleno-Romanian language) are living in northern Greece.
Istro-Romanians (speaking Istro-Romanian language) are living in Croatia, with a population of 1,200.
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).
- List of Romanians - Vlachs of Romanian ethnicity
- List of Vlachs - Vlachs of Aromanian ethnicity
- History of Romania - Vlachs from north of Danube
- History of Vlachs - Vlachs from south of Danube
- State statistical office, Republic of Macedonia (http://www.stat.gov.mk/)