Soviet Union Table of Contents
Poles made up the largest of the West Slavic nationalities in the Soviet Union. Although their numbers have been declining, in 1989 over 1 million Poles remained. Most of them lived in the western republics--the Belorussian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Latvian republics. Bulgarians, belonging to the South Slavic group, numbered nearly 379,000 in 1989. A majority of the Bulgarians lived in the Ukrainian Republic, with a large number residing also in the Moldavian Republic. In the 1980s, small numbers of Czechs and Slovaks (members of the West Slavic group) and Croatians and Serbs (members of the South Slavic group) also lived in the Soviet Union.
Although each is a separate and distinct nationality, the three Baltic peoples share many characteristics and experiences. Residing in the northwestern corner of the Soviet Union, the Baltic peoples have been the most Western oriented of all the Soviet nationalities. They have had a strong and highly developed national consciousness, primarily because of the historic German and Polish influences and the religious heritage of western Europe. They were the only non-Russian nationalities to have experienced significant periods of political independence after World War I. It should be noted that the United States government has not recognized the incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union. Although in 1989 the approximately 5.6 million members of the three Baltic nationalities made up only a small fraction of the Soviet population, they have achieved a higher level of economic and industrial development and social modernization than any other peoples in the Soviet Union.
Data as of May 1989