The cry from Macedonia:
“…Population statistics for Macedonia are virtually meaningless. Turkish authorities rarely bothered with a census, and whe they did, the returns were based on the basis of a religious affiliation rather than language or nationality. A 1905 census of the three Macedonian vilayets produced the following figures concerning the non-Muslim peoples:
Greeks (Rum Millet) – 648,962
Bulgars (Bulgar Millet) – 557,734
Serbs (Serb Millet) – 167,601
Miscelaneous (Jews and others) – 77,386
These figures are meaningfull only for religious affiliation. Under the heading “Greeks” were included all those that attended Patriarchist schools and churches, regardless of whether their language was Greek, Slav, Albanian, or Vlach. Similarly, the “Bulgars” comprised all those that attended Bulgarian churches and schools, and the same held for the “Serbs”.
It is apparent that so far as national allegiance was concerned, these figures are of little use. In practce they obscured the issue because each party jugled the figures to support its case. The Greeks, for example, claimed all those listed uner “Rum Millet”, but this was strenously contested by other Balkan peoples, who argued that an Albanian, Slav or Vlach did not necessarily become Greek simply because he attended a particular school or church.
Only a few general conclusions can be drawn from the available evidence. Those inhabitants ofo Macedonia that lived close to teh Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian frontiers could be classified ads being mostly Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian respetivelly.
The remainder of the population, with the exception of few distinct minorities as Turks, Vlachs, Jews, and Albainians may be considered as being distinctly Macedonian. These Macedonians had a dialect and certain cultural characteristics which justify their being classified as a distinct South Slav group. ……..”
(L.S. Stavrianos, “History of the Balkans Since 1453”, New York University Press, 2000, pg. 517-518)