Slavs

World map of countries with:
  Majority Slavic ethnicities
  Minority Slavic populations (≥10%)

Slavs are modern Indo-European peoples who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe all the way north and eastwards to Northeast Europe, Northern Asia (Siberia), and Central Asia (especially Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan), as well as historically in Western Europe (particularly in East Germany) and Western Asia (including Anatolia). From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit the majority of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Today, there is a large Slavic diaspora throughout North America, particularly in the United States and Canada as a result of immigration.[1]

Slavs are the largest ethno-linguistic group in Europe.[2][3] Present-day Slavic people are classified into East Slavs (chiefly Belarusians, Russians, Rusyns, and Ukrainians), West Slavs (chiefly Czechs, Kashubs, Moravians, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks and Sorbs), and South Slavs (chiefly Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Gorani, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes).[4][5][6][7]

Slavs can be further grouped by religion. Orthodox Christianity is practiced by the majority of Slavs. The Orthodox Slavs include the Belarusians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Russians, Rusyns, Serbs, and Ukrainians and are defined by Orthodox customs and Cyrillic script, as well as their cultural connection to the Byzantine Empire (Montenegrins and Serbs also use Latin script on equal terms). Their second most common religion is Roman Catholicism. The Catholic Slavs include Croats, Czechs, Kashubs, Moravians, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks, Slovenes, and Sorbs and are defined by their Latinate influence and heritage and connection to Western Europe. There are also substantial Protestant and Lutheran minorities, especially among the West Slavs, such as the historical Bohemian (Czech) Hussites.

The second-largest religion among the Slavs after Christianity is Islam. Muslim Slavs include the Bosniaks, Pomaks (Bulgarian Muslims), Gorani, Torbeši (Macedonian Muslims), and other Muslims of the former Yugoslavia. Modern Slavic nations and ethnic groups are considerably diverse both genetically and culturally, and relations between them – even within the individual groups – range from ethnic solidarity to mutual hostility.[8]

Ethnonym

Boyan, a legendary story teller and oral historian

The oldest mention of the Slavic ethnonym is the 6th century AD Procopius, writing in Byzantine Greek, using various forms such as Sklaboi (Σκλάβοι), Sklabēnoi (Σκλαβηνοί), Sklauenoi (Σκλαυηνοί), Sthlabenoi (Σθλαβηνοί), or Sklabinoi (Σκλαβῖνοι),[9] while his contemporary Jordanes refers to the Sclaveni in Latin.[10] The oldest documents written in Old Church Slavonic, dating from the 9th century, attest the autonym as Slověne (Словѣне). These forms point back to a Slavic autonym which can be reconstructed in Proto-Slavic as *Slověninъ, plural Slověne.

The reconstructed autonym *Slověninъ is usually considered a derivation from slovo ("word"), originally denoting "people who speak (the same language)", i. e. people who understand each other, in contrast to the Slavic word denoting German people, namely *němьcь, meaning "silent, mute people" (from Slavic *němъ "mute, mumbling"). The word slovo ("word") and the related slava ("glory, fame") and slukh ("hearing") originate from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱlew- ("be spoken of, glory"), cognate with Ancient Greek κλέος (kléos "fame"), as in the name Pericles, Latin clueo ("be called"), and English loud.