BULGARIA

Date of establishment: March 3, 1878

Brief history:

681 – The First Bulgarian State was founded by the Bulgars under the leadership of Khan Asparuh.

864 – Khan Boris I accepts Christianity, and Bulgarian becomes the official language.

1185 – The Asen dynasty become rulers of the Second Bulgarian State.

1396 – Bulgaria is defeated by the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Nicopolis and becomes part of the Ottoman Empire.

1878 – Bulgaria gains independence from the Ottoman Empire after the Russo-Turkish War.

1885 – The Principality of Bulgaria and the autonomous region of Rumelia are united to create the modern state of Bulgaria

1908 – Bulgaria becomes a kingdom.

1912-1913 – Bulgaria participates in the Balkan Wars against the Ottoman Empire.

1915 – Bulgaria enters World War I on the side of the Central Powers.

1944 – The Communist Party takes power following the intervention of the Red Army.

1989 – The communist regime falls, and Bulgaria becomes a democracy.

2004 – Bulgaria becomes a member of NATO.

2007 – Bulgaria joins the European Union.

 

International abbreviation: BG

 

Currency: Bulgarian lev (BGN)

The currency is divided into 100 stotinki.

Coins in circulation are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 stotinki, and 1 and 2 lev, and banknotes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 lev. The banknotes feature prominent figures from Bulgarian history and culture, such as Cyril and Methodius, Ivan Vladislav, Vasil Levski, Hristo Botev, Pencho Slaveykov, Ivan Milev, and the Second Bulgarian Empire.

 

Internet domain: .bg

 

Dialing code: +359

 

Time zone: GMT+2

 

Geography:

The country is located on the Balkan Peninsula with a highly varied terrain. Bulgaria is situated along the Black Sea coast.

It is in Southeastern Europe and shares borders with Romania to the north, North Macedonia and Serbia to the west, Greece to the south, and Turkey to the southeast.

It is a mountainous country with an average altitude of 470 meters (1 542 feet).

Bulgaria has numerous rivers, with the most significant ones being the Danube (forming the northern border of the country), the Maritsa, Iskar, Struma, and Tundzha. The country is also home to many lakes, including Slivnitsa, Mladezhko, Burgas, and Pomorie.

 

Highest peak: Musala – 2 925 meters (9 596 feet) above sea level.

Located in the Rila Mountains, which are part of the Balkan Range, Musala is a popular tourist destination and attracts many hikers and mountaineers each year. In winter, it is a significant skiing center, while hiking is popular in the summer. The surroundings of the mountain offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. At the summit, there is a small chapel, and the view is magnificent, especially of the surrounding Rila Mountains and Rila National Park. Many tourists choose to visit Musala as part of a longer trek or as a standalone trip.

 

Climate:

Bulgaria has predominantly a moderate continental climate with Mediterranean influences in the south. The country’s weather is characterized by long, dry summers and mild winters with occasional snowfall. In mountainous areas, the climate is cooler with frequent snowfall, especially in winter.

Average summer temperatures range between 25 and 30°C (77 and 86°F), with high humidity along the Black Sea coast. Average winter temperatures are around 0°C (32°F) but can drop to -20°C (-4°F) in mountainous regions. Spring and autumn are usually mild with average temperatures around 15-20°C (59-68°F).

Along the Black Sea coast, winters are milder, and temperatures are generally slightly higher compared to other regions of Bulgaria.

In the Rila and Pirin Mountains, the climate is alpine and cool with high precipitation and periods of strong winds. This area is ideal for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, as well as summer hiking.

 

Fauna and Flora:

Bulgaria is home to approximately 13 000 plant species, some of which are endemic and found nowhere else in the world. The most widespread species include Norway spruce, oak, birch, European beech, Scots pine, Balkan pine, silver fir, linden, and maple.

The country is also home to many animals, including the European wolf, foxes, marten, wild boar, red and roe deer, goat, Eurasian lynx, European otter, and brown bear. The Rila Mountains are home to many significant bird species, such as the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, alpine chough, ring ouzel, rock thrush, water pipit, and wallcreeper. The Black Sea coast is inhabited by common sea turtles, whales, and dolphins.

 

Agriculture:

The country has extensive agricultural areas, including irrigated fields in the Maritsa River valley, where cotton, tobacco, rice, sunflowers, and vegetables are grown. In less fertile areas, such as mountainous regions, grains like wheat and barley are cultivated.

Fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, melons, apricots, apples, and grapes are also grown. Livestock breeding, especially in the Rila, Pirin, and Rhodope Mountains, is significant. Milk production, cheese, and meat are essential components of Bulgarian agriculture.

Bulgaria is a significant producer of various types of wine, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Vineyards are located in several parts of the country, including the Valley of the Roses and the Maritsa River Valley.

 

Natural resource extraction:

Bulgaria has significant natural resources, including coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, silver, and gold reserves. Mining of these resources used to be a significant industrial sector in Bulgaria’s past.

Currently, most mining in Bulgaria is limited. Coal (mainly lignite) is mined in the Pernik and Iron Mountains, but extraction is limited due to high costs and environmental concerns. Iron ore and copper are mined in the Srednogorie region, but even this is limited.

There are also reserves of non-metallic minerals such as bentonite, barite, fluorite, kaolin, magnesium sulfate, potassium sulfate, sodium sulfate, gypsum, and slate. These are mainly mined on a small scale and serve the needs of domestic industry.

 

Industry:

The most important industrial sectors in Bulgaria include the food industry, heavy industry, engineering, textiles, chemicals, and energy.

The food industry is highly developed in Bulgaria, primarily due to the extensive agricultural sector. The country produces a variety of foods, including dairy products, meat, fish, bakery products, and confectionery.

Heavy industry focuses on the production of steel, cement, and other construction materials. Bulgaria also manufactures automobiles, transportation vehicles, ships, and other machinery.

The textiles industry is another significant sector in Bulgaria, specializing in the production of clothing, footwear, and accessories. The country also has a significant production of carpets and textile materials.

The chemicals industry produces basic chemical substances, including nitrates, phosphates, and acids, which are used in various industrial processes. The energy sector focuses on electricity production from various sources, including fossil fuels and alternative sources such as hydro, wind, and solar power.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: tourism, banking, services, transportation, and the IT sector

 

Natural and historical attractions:

Resorts such as Golden Sands, Sunny Beach, Nesebar, and Albena are popular among tourists from all over the world. These resorts offer a wide range of hotels, apartments, bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Tourists can also enjoy various water sports such as diving, windsurfing, sailing, and fishing.

The country also has a rich history and culture, which attracts many tourists. There are many historical landmarks in the country, such as Roman amphitheaters, medieval castles, monasteries, and churches. Some of the most significant ones include the ancient city of Plovdiv, Nesebar, the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, and the capital city of Sofia.

Bulgaria also has a rich traditional cuisine, consisting of tasty and healthy food. Local specialties include goat cheese, banitsa (pastries with various fillings), Shopska salad, crispy roasted duck, and much more.

In winter, winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are popular in the Pirin, Rila, and Rhodope Mountains.

 

 

Form of government: Parliamentary Republic

Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic with a democratic system. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the people for a five-year term. The president has limited powers but is the highest representative of the state.

Legislative power is held by the unicameral Bulgarian parliament, the National Assembly. The National Assembly  has 240 members who are elected by the people for a four-year term.

Executive power in Bulgaria is entrusted to the government, which is appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly. The government is responsible for the administration of the country and the management of state affairs.

Judicial power in Bulgaria is independent and has three levels – the general courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court of Cassation. The courts are responsible for the administration of justice and decision-making in various cases, including criminal, civil, and labor disputes.

Bulgaria is also divided into 28 regions, each having its own representative bodies and self-governance, and these are further subdivided into municipalities.

 

Capital City: Sofia

It is in the west of the country and is surrounded by the Vitosha Mountains. The city has a rich history dating back to ancient times. Throughout history, Sofia has been influenced by various cultures, including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Russian. Currently, Sofia is the cultural, economic, and political center of Bulgaria.

Sofia is known for its historical landmarks such as the Sofia Cathedral, the Russian Church, the National Palace of Culture, and the National History Museum. The city also has many parks and gardens, such as Borisova Gradina and the gardens in the Vitosha Mountains, which provide residents and tourists with opportunities for relaxation and recreation.

Various cultural events and festivals take place in Sofia, including the Sofia International Film Festival, the Kukeri Cultural Heritage Festival, and the Sofia Music Weeks festival.

 

Area: 110 994 km2 (42 855 square miles)

 

Population: 6 450 000 (2022 estimate)

Bulgarians account for about 76% of the population,. The rest consists mainly of Turks, Roma, and other minorities.

Bulgaria is a country with low birth rates and high mortality, which means that the population is aging and declining. In an effort to reverse this trend, the Bulgarian government has implemented several measures such as tax breaks for families with children, support for maternity and parental leave, and the development of adoption programs.

Most of the population in Bulgaria lives in urban areas, while rural areas are significantly less populated.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 10

 

  1. The Madara Rider and the Archaeological Complex of Pliska (1979) – This site was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, which existed in the 7th and 8th centuries. The Madara Rider is a palace building with two floors and a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. The archaeological complex includes the remains of palaces, churches, and fortresses from the period of the First Bulgarian Empire.
  2. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007) – These areas are known for their exceptional beech forests that have been preserved in their natural state for centuries. In addition to Bulgaria, this site includes forests in 12 countries.
  3. The Ancient City of Nessebar (1983) – Nessebar is a picturesque city on the Black Sea coast, consisting of historic churches, palaces, and fortresses. It was founded in antiquity and gained prominence during the Byzantine Empire.
  4. Rila Monastery (1983) – This monastery was founded in the 10th century and is one of the most significant Orthodox monasteries in the Balkans. It is a place of spiritual life and worship but also unique architecture and art.
  5. Pirin National Park (1983) – The park is known for its high mountains, forested valleys, glacial lakes, and rich biodiversity.
  6. The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari (1985) – It is an ancient tomb dating back to the 3rd century BCE and is known for its remarkable architectural and artistic features.
  7. Boyan Church (1979) – This church was founded in the 10th century and is one of the most famous Bulgarian churches. It is a place of spiritual life but also unique architecture and art.
  8. The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak (1979) – This site is a unique burial site discovered in 1944. It is located near the town of Kazanlak and contains frescoes from the 4th century BCE depicting the lives of Thracian aristocrats and their rituals.
  9. The Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo (1979) – This complex of rock-hewn churches is located in the Rusenski Lom River valley and was built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The churches are carved into the rocks and decorated with frescoes that show the influence of Byzantine style.
  10. Srebarna Nature Reserve (1983) – This nature park is located on the banks of the Danube and is home to many endangered plant and animal species, including white pelicans, beavers, and wildcats. It is an important stopover for bird migration and a significant site for ecological research.

 

National Parks: 3

 

  1. Central Balkan National Park
  2. Pirin National Park
  3. Rila National Park