Rumelia or Roumelia (both: rōmēˈlēə) [key], region of S Bulgaria, between the Balkan and Rhodope mts. Historically, Rumelia denoted the Balkan possessions (particularly Thrace and Macedonia, and excluding Bosnia) of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman province of Rumelia comprised much of present-day Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, European Turkey, N Greece, and part of Albania. Sofia was the seat of the governors of Rumelia until 1878. In that year the Treaty of San Stefano, ending a war between Russia and Turkey, created a huge Bulgarian state; but the European powers, fearing that Bulgaria would become a Russian dependency, agreed (see Berlin, Congress of) to make N Bulgaria an autonomous principality owing nominal allegiance to the Turkish sultan and to create an autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia. This province, with its capital at Plovdiv, comprised, roughly, the part of present Bulgaria situated S of the Balkan Mts. It remained under Turkish sovereignty but enjoyed considerable autonomy and was ruled by a governor appointed by the Ottoman Empire with the approval of the European powers. Resentment at the partition of Bulgaria sparked a revolution at Plovdiv in 1885, and Prince Alexander of Bulgaria annexed Eastern Rumelia, thus incurring the wrath of Russia and Serbia. The Serbians, who also claimed the area, declared war on Bulgaria but were forced to make peace (1886) on the basis of the status quo, while the sultan agreed to name Alexander governor of Eastern Rumelia. This arrangement amounted to a tacit Turkish surrender of the province, which henceforth remained part of Bulgaria, although it was nominally under Ottoman rule until Bulgaria became officially independent in 1908.
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