|Republic of Bulgaria
Republika Bulgariya 
|Motto: Съединението прави силата (Bulgarian)
"Saedinenieto pravi silata" (transliteration)
"Unity makes strength"1
|Anthem: Мила Родино (Bulgarian)
Mila Rodino (transliteration)
(and largest city)
|-||Prime Minister||Sergei Stanishev|
|-||Last previously independent state²||
|-||Independence from Ottoman Empire||
|-||Unification with Rumelia||1885|
|EU accession||January 1, 2007|
|-||Total|| 110,910 km2 (104th)
42,823 sq mi
|GDP (nominal)||2007 estimate|
|-||Total||$26.719 billion (75th)|
|-||Per capita||$4,800 (80th)|
|Gini (2003)||29.2 (low)|
|HDI (2004)||0.816 (high) (54th)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|-||Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|1||"Bulgaria’s National Flag". Bulgarian Government. 03 October 2005. http://www.government.bg/cgi-bin/e-cms/vis/vis.pl?s=001&p=0159&n=000006&g=. Retrieved 2007-01-01.|
|4||Bulgarians, in common with citizens of other European Union member-states, also use the .eu domain.|
|5||Cell phone system GSM and NMT 450i|
|6||Domestic power supply 220 V/50 Hz, Schuko (CEE 7/4) sockets|
Bulgaria (Bulgarian: България, Bălgariya, pronounced IPA: [bɤlˈgarijə]), officially the Republic of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Република България, Republika Bălgariya, pronounced IPA: [rɛˈpubliˌkə bɤlˈgarijə]), a state in Southeastern Europe, borders five other countries; Romania to the north (mostly along the Danube), Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. It is bordered by the Black Sea to the east.
Bulgaria comprises the classical regions of Thrace, Moesia, and Macedonia and has a civilized history spanning more than 6600 years. It is the sovereign successor of a powerful European medieval empire, the First Bulgarian Empire, which at times covered most of the Balkans and spread its culture and literature among the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe. Centuries later, during the decline of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the country fell under five centuries of Ottoman rule. Bulgaria was re-established as a constitutional monarchy in 1878, also known as the birth of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. After World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state and part of the Eastern Bloc.
Today, Bulgaria functions as a democratic, unitary, constitutional republic, a member of the European Union and of NATO. It has a population of approximately 7.7 million, with Sofia as its capital and largest city.
Geographically and in terms of climate, Bulgaria features notable diversity, with the landscape ranging from the Alpine snow-capped peaks in Rila, Pirin and the Balkan Mountains to the mild and sunny weather of the Black Sea coast, from the typically continental Danubian Plain (ancient Moesia) in the north to the strong Mediterranean climatic influence in the valleys of Macedonia and the lowlands in the southernmost parts of Thrace.
Bulgaria comprises portions of the regions known in Classical Greece as Thrace, Moesia, and Macedonia. The mountainous southwest of the country has two alpine ranges — Rila and Pirin — and further east stand the lower but more extensive Rhodope Mountains. Rila mountain includes the highest peak of the Balkan Peninsula, peak Musala at 2,925 meters (9,596 ft); the long range of the Balkan mountains runs west-east through the middle of the country, north of the famous Rose Valley. Hilly country and plains lie in the southeast, along the Black Sea coast in the east, and along Bulgaria's main river, the Danube in the north. Other major rivers include the Struma and the Maritsa river in the south. There are around 260 glacial lakes situated in Rila and Pirin, several large lakes on the Black Sea coast and more than 2,200 dam lakes. Mineral springs are in great abundance located mainly in the south-western and central parts of the country along the faults between the mountains.Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cool and damp winters, very hot and dry summers, and Mediterranean influence along the Black Sea coast. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains influences climate throughout the country: northern Bulgaria gets slightly cooler and receives more rain than the southern regions. Average precipitation in Bulgaria is about 630 millimetres per year. The driest areas are Dobrudzha and the northern coastal strip, while the higher parts of the mountains Rila and Stara Planina receive the highest levels of precipitation. In summer, temperatures in the south of Bulgaria often exceed 40 degrees Celsius, but remain cooler by the coast. The highest recorded temperature is 46.7c near Plovdiv.
The country possesses relatively rich mineral resources, including vast reserves of lignite and anthracite coal; non-ferrous ores such as copper, lead, zinc and gold. It has large deposits of manganese ore in the north-east. Smaller deposits exist of iron, silver, chromite, nickel and others. Bulgaria has abundant non-metalliferous minerals such as rock-salt, gypsum, kaolin, marble.
Bulgaria's larger cities include:
- Sofia (1,380,406 inhabitants)
- Plovdiv (376,918)
- Varna (346 944)
- Burgas (209,985)
- Rousse (176,118)
- Stara Zagora (163,193)
- Pleven (121,700)
- Dobrich (115,861)
- Sliven (106,434)
- Shumen (103,016)
Prehistoric cultures of Bulgaria include the neolithic Hamangia culture and Vinča culture (6th to 3rd millennia BC), the eneolithic Varna culture (5th millennium BC, see also Varna Necropolis), and the Bronze Age Ezero culture. The Karanovo chronology serves as a gauge for the prehistory of the wider Balkans region.
- See this link for the Panagyurishte Treasure, which ranks among the most splendid achievements of the Thracian culture.
The Thracians, the earliest known people to inhabit the present-day territory of Bulgaria, have left traceable marks among all the Balkan region despite its tumultuous history of many conquests. The Thracians lived divided into numerous separate tribes until King Teres united most of them around 500 BC in the Odrysian kingdom, which peaked under the kings Sitalkes and Cotys I (383-359 BC). In 188 BC, the Romans invaded Thrace, and the wars with them continued to 45. Thrace was never conquered: The Romans reached a ceasefire with the Thracians which allowed them to keep all their privileges and religious freedoms in exchange of accepting the Roman administration.
"The Great Bulgaria in Roman times had been called Moesia and had a mixed population of Thracians, Greeks and Dacians, most of whom spoke either Greek or a sub-Latin language known as Romance." This region "had been overrun by the Slavs in the mid 7th century.
Old Great Bulgaria Edit
In 632 the Bulgars, led by Khan Kubrat, formed an independent state called Great Bulgaria, bounded by the Danube delta to the west, the Black Sea to the south, the Caucasus to the southeast, and the Volga River to the east. Byzantium recognized the new state by treaty in 635.
Pressure from the Khazars led to the loss of the eastern part of Great Bulgaria in the second half of the seventh century. Some of the Bulgars from that territory later migrated to the northeast to form a new state called Volga Bulgaria (around the confluence of the Volga and Kama Rivers), which lasted until the thirteenth century.
In the 8th century Hungarians have entered the Carpathian Basin through Transylvania, ruled by Bulgarian leaders at the time. Bulgaria's borders were pushed lower to the southern Carpahian Mountains.
First Bulgarian Empire Edit
Kubrat’s successor, Khan Asparuh, migrated with some of the Bulgarian tribes to the lower courses of the rivers Danube, Dniester and Dniepr (known as Ongal), and conquered Moesia and Scythia Minor (Dobrudzha) from the Byzantine Empire, expanding Great Bulgaria further into the Balkan Peninsula. Historians consider the peace-treaty with Byzantium in 681 and the establishment of the new Bulgar capital of Pliska south of the Danube as marking the beginning of the First Bulgarian Empire. At the same time one of Asparuh's brothers, Kuber, settled with another Bulgar group in present-day Macedonia.
In 718 the Bulgarians raised the Arab siege of Constantinople, killing some 40,000 to 60,000 Arab soldiers. Contemporaries referred to the Bulgarian Khan Tervel as "The Saviour of Europe". For centuries afterward Bulgarians and their allies saw themselves as the angel warriors of Europe.
The influence and territorial expansion of Bulgaria increased further during the rule of Khan Krum,  who in 811 won a decisive victory against the Byzantine army led by Nicephorus I in the Battle of Pliska. 
In 864 Bulgaria accepted the Orthodox faith.  The country became a major European power in the ninth and the tenth centuries, while fighting with the Byzantine Empire for the control of the Balkans. This happened under the rule of Boris I. During his reign, the Cyrillic alphabet originated in Preslav and Ohrid, adapted from the Glagolitic alphabet invented by the monks Saints Cyril and Methodius.
The Cyrillic alphabet became the basis for further cultural development. Centuries later, this alphabet, along with the Old Bulgarian language, fostered the intellectual written language (lingua franca) for Eastern Europe, known as Church Slavonic. The greatest territorial extension was reached under Simeon I, the first Bulgarian Tsar,son of Boris I, covering most of the Balkans. However, his greatest achievement was that at that time Bulgaria developed rich, unique Christian Slavonic culture, which became an example for the other Slavonic peoples in Eastern Europe and ensured the continued existence of the Bulgarian nation regardless of the centrifugal forces that threatened to tear it into pieces throughout its long, rich and war-ridden history.
Following a decline in the mid-tenth century (worn out by wars with Croatia, by frequent Serbian rebellions sponsored by Byzantine gold, and by disastrous Magyar and Pecheneg invasions), Bulgaria collapsed in the face of an assault of the Rus' in 969-971. The Byzantines then began campaigns to conquer Bulgaria. In 971, they seized the capital Preslav and captured Emperor Boris II. Resistance continued under Tsar Samuil in the western Bulgarian lands for nearly half a century. The country managed to recover and defeated the Byzantines in several major battle taking the control of the most of the Balkans and in 991 invaded the Serbian state. However, the state was completely destroyed by the Byzantines led by Basil II (Basil the Bulgar-Slayer) in 1018 after their victory at Kleidion.
Byzantine Bulgaria Edit
In the first decade after the establishment of Byzantine rule, no evidence remains of any major attempt at resistance or any uprising of the Bulgarian population or nobility. Given the existence of such irreconcilable opponents to Byzantium as Krakra, Nikulitsa, Dragash and others, such apparent passivity seems difficult to explain. Some historians  explain this fact by concessions that Basil II granted the Bulgarian nobility in order to gain their obedience. In the first place, Basil II guaranteed the indivisibility of Bulgaria in its former geographic borders and did not abolish officially the local rule of the Bulgarian nobility that now became part of Byzantine aristocracy as archons or strategs. Second, special charters (royal decrees) of Basil II recognised the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid and set up its boundaries, dioceses, property and other privileges.
The people of Bulgaria challenged Byzantine rule several times in the 11th and then again later in the early 12th century. The biggest uprising occurred under the leadership of Peter II Delyan, (proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria in Belgrade in 1040). In the mid to late 11th century, the Normans, fresh from their recent conquests in southern Italy and Sicily landed in the Balkans and began advancing against the Byzantine Empire. It took the Byzantines until 1185 before the Normans were driven out but until then they posed a constant threat to Byzantine Bulgaria. In 1091 another invasion came in the form of the Pechenegs. However, these too were crushed at Levounion and again in c. 1120 by the Byzantine Empire. After that, the Hungarians made an attempt to increase their influence beyond the Danube river; John Comnenus' campaigns along the Danube eventually drove back the Hungarians as well by c.1140. It would be another 45 years before Bulgaria would attain independence. Until that time, Bulgarian nobles ruled the province in the name of the Byzantine Empire until a rebellion by the last vassal lord led to the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
Second Bulgarian Empire Edit
From 1185 the Second Bulgarian Empire once again established Bulgaria as an important power in Europe for two more centuries. With its capital based in Veliko Turnovo and under the Asen dynasty, this empire fought for dominance in the region against the Byzantine Empire, the Crusader states and Hungary, reaching its zenith under Ivan Asen II (1218–1241). Аs a result of the Tatar invasions (beginning in the later 13th century), of internal conflicts and of the constant attacks from the Byzantines and the Hungarians, the power of the country declined until the end of the 13th century. From 1300 under Emperor Theodore Svetoslav Bulgaria regained its strength, but by the end of the fourteenth century the country had disintegrated into several feudal principalities and was eventually conquered by the Ottoman Empire. A Polish-Hungarian crusade under the rule of Władysław III of Poland to free the Balkans was crushed in 1444 in the battle of Varna.
Ottoman rule Edit
The five centuries of Ottoman rule featured great violence and oppression. The Ottomans decimated the Bulgarian population, which lost most of its cultural relics. Large towns and the areas where Ottoman power predominated remained severely depopulated until the nineteenth century.
The Kingdom of Bulgaria Edit
Following the Russo-Turkish War (when Russian soldiers together with a Romanian expeditionary force and volunteer Bulgarian troops defeated the Ottoman armies), the Treaty of San Stefano of 3 March 1878, set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality. The Western Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty: they feared that a large Slavic country in the Balkans would serve Russian interests. This led to the Treaty of Berlin (1878) which provided for an autonomous Bulgarian principality comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia. The first Bulgarian prince was Alexander von Battenberg. Most of Thrace was included in the autonomous region of Eastern Rumelia, whereas the rest of Thrace and all of Macedonia was returned under the sovereignty of the Ottomans. After the Serbo-Bulgarian War and unification with Eastern Rumelia in 1885, the principality was proclaimed a fully independent kingdom on October 5 (September 22 O.S.), 1908, during the reign of Ferdinand I of Bulgaria.
Ferdinand, a prince from the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, became the Bulgarian Prince after Alexander von Battenberg abdicated in 1886 following a coup d'état staged by pro-Russian army-officers. (Although the counter-coup d'état coordinated by Stefan Stambolov succeeded, Prince Alexander decided not to remain the Bulgarian ruler without the approval of Alexander III of Russia.) The struggle for liberation of the Bulgarians in the Adrianople, Vilayet and Macedonia continued throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries culminating with the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising organised by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization in 1903.
The Balkan Wars and World War I Edit
In 1912 and 1913 Bulgaria became involved in the Balkan Wars, first entering into conflict alongside Greece, Serbia and Montenegro against the Ottoman Empire. The First Balkan War (1912-1913) proved a success for the Bulgarian army, but a conflict for the division of Macedonia arose amongst the victorious the allies. The Second Balkan War (1913) pitted Bulgaria against Greece and Serbia, joined by Romania and Turkey. After its defeat in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria lost considerable territory conquered in the first war, as well as Southern Dobruja and parts of the region of Macedonia
During World War I, Bulgaria found itself fighting on the losing side as a result of its alliance with the Central Powers. The defeat led to new territorial losses (the Western Outlands to Serbia, Western Thrace to Greece and the re-conquered Southern Dobruja to Romania). The Balkan Wars and World War I led to the influx of over 250,000 Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia, Eastern and Western Thrace and Southern Dobruja. These numbers increased in the 1930s following Serbian state-sponsored aggression against its native Bulgarian population.
The interwar years Edit
In September 1918 Tsar Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his son Boris III in order to head off revolutionary tendencies. Under the Treaty of Neuilly (November 1919), Bulgaria ceded its Aegean coastline to Greece, recognized the existence of Yugoslavia, ceded nearly all of its Macedonian territory to that new state, and had to give Dobruja back to the Romanians. The country had to reduce its army to 20,000 men, and to pay reparations exceeding $400 million. Bulgarians generally refer to the results of the treaty as the "Second National Catastrophe".
Elections in March 1920 gave the Agrarians a large majority, and Aleksandar Stamboliyski formed Bulgaria's first peasant government. He faced huge social problems, but succeeded in carrying out many social reforms, although opposition from the middle and upper classes, the landlords and the officers of the army remained powerful. In March 1923 Stamboliyski signed an agreement with Yugoslavia recognising the new border and agreeing to suppress VMRO, which favoured a war to regain Macedonia for Bulgaria. This triggered a nationalist reaction, and on 9 June there was a coup after which Stamboliykski was assassinated. A right wing government under Aleksandar Tsankov took power, backed by the army and the VMRO, who waged a White terror against the Agrarians and the Communists. In 1926 the Tsar persuaded Tsankov to resign, a more moderate government under Andrey Lyapchev took office and an amnesty was proclaimed, although the Communists remained banned. Popular alliance including the re-organised Agrarians won elections in 1931 under the name Popular Bloc.
In May 1934 another coup took place, removing the Popular Bloc from power and establishing an authoritarian military régime headed by Kimon Georgiev. A year later the Tsar managed to remove the military régime from power, restoring a form of parliamentary rule without the re-establishment of the political parties and under his strict control. The Tsar's regime proclaimed neutrality but gradually Bulgaria gravitated into alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
World War II Edit
After regaining control over Southern Dobruja in 1940, Bulgaria became allied with the Axis Powers, although no Bulgarian soldiers participated in the war against the USSR. During World War II Nazi Germany allowed Bulgaria to occupy parts of Greece and of Yugoslavia, including territories long coveted by the Bulgarians. Bulgaria became one of three countries (with Finland and Denmark) that saved its entire Jewish population (around 50,000) from the Nazi camps by refusing to comply with a 31 August 1943 resolution. But the Bulgarian authorities sent Jews in territories newly acquired from Greece and Yugoslavia to death-camps at Germany's request. In September 1944 the Soviet army entered Bulgaria, which enabled the Bulgarian Communists to later seize power and establish a Communist state. In 1944, Bulgaria's forces were turned against its former German ally (a 450,000 strong army in 1944, reduced to 130,000 in 1945). More than 20,000 Bulgarian soldiers and officers were killed in the war.
People's Republic of BulgariaEdit
After World War II Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence. It became a People's Republic in 1946 and one of the USSR's staunchest allies. In the late 1970s it began normalizing relations with Greece, and in the 1990s with Turkey. The People's Republic ended in 1989 as many Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, as well as the Soviet Union itself, began to collapse. Opposition forces removed the Bulgarian Communist leader Todor Zhivkov from power on 10 November 1989.
The Republic of Bulgaria Edit
In February 1990 the Communist Party voluntarily gave up its monopoly on power, and in June 1990 the first free elections since 1931 took place, won by the moderate wing of the Communist Party, renamed the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). In July 1991 the country adopted a new constitution which provided for a relatively weak elected President and for a Prime Minister accountable to the legislature.
The anti-Communist Union of Democratic Forces took office, and between 1992 and 1994 carried through the privatization of land and industry, but faced massive unemployment and economic difficulties. The reaction against economic reform allowed BSP to take office again in 1995, but by 1996 the BSP government had also encountered difficulties, and in the presidential elections of that year the UDF's Petar Stoyanov was elected. In 1997 the BSP government collapsed and the UDF came to power. Unemployment, however, remained high and the electorate became increasingly dissatisfied with both parties.
On June 17, 2001 Simeon II, the son of Tsar Boris III and the former Head of state (as Tsar of Bulgaria from 1943 to 1946), won a narrow victory in the democratic elections held. The king's party — National Movement Simeon II ("NMSII") — won 120 out of 240 seats in Parliament and overturned the two pre-existing political parties. Simeon's popularity declined during his four-year rule as Prime Minister, and the BSP won the elections in 2005, but could not form a single-party government and had to seek a coalition.
Since 1989 Bulgaria has held multi-party elections and privatized its economy, but economic difficulties and a tide of corruption have led over 800,000 Bulgarians, most of them qualified professionals, to emigrate. Economic conditions nevertheless continue to improve.
Bulgaria joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and signed the Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005. It became a full member of the European Union on 1 January 2007. The country had joined the United Nations in 1955, and became a founding member of OSCE in 1995. As a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty, Bulgaria takes part in the governing of the territories situated south of 60° south latitude.
Georgi Parvanov, the President of Bulgaria since 22 January 2002, won re-election on 29 October 2006 and began his second term in office in January 2007. (Bulgarian voters directly elect their presidents for a five-year term with the right to one re-election.) The president serves as the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. He is also the head of the Consultative Council for National Security and, while unable to initiate legislation other than Constitutional amendments, the President can return a bill for further debate, although the parliament can override the President's veto by vote of a majority of all MPs.
Since 17 August 2005 Sergey Stanishev as Prime Minister has chaired the Council of Ministers, the principal body of the executive branch, which presently consists of 20 ministers. The Prime Minister — usually nominated by the largest parliamentary group — receives the mandate of the President to form a cabinet.
The current governmental coalition comprises the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (representing mainly the Turkish minority).
The Bulgarian unicameral parliament, the National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie (Народно събрание), consists of 240 deputies, each elected for four-year terms by popular vote. The votes go to parties or to coalition lists of candidates for each of the 28 administrative divisions. A party or coalition must win a minimum of 4% of the vote in order to enter parliament. Parliament is responsible for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, selection and dismissal of the Prime Minister and other ministers, declaration of war, deployment of troops outside of Bulgaria, and ratification of international treaties and agreements.
The Bulgarian judicial system consists of regional, district and appeal courts, as well as a Supreme Court of Cassation. In addition, Bulgaria has a Supreme Administrative Court and a system of military courts. The Presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and of the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as the Prosecutor General, are elected by a qualified majority of two-thirds from all the members of the Supreme Judicial Council and are appointed by the President of the Republic. The Supreme Judicial Council is in charge of the self-administration and organization of the Judiciary.
The Constitutional Court supervises the review of the constitutionality of laws and statutes brought before it, as well as the compliance of these laws with international treaties that the Government has signed. Parliament elects the twelve members of the Constitutional Court by a two-thirds majority: the members serve for a nine-year term.
The territory of the Republic of Bulgaria subdivides into provinces and municipalities. In all, Bulgaria has 28 provinces, each headed by a provincial governor appointed by the government. In addition, the country includes 263 municipalities.
The Military of Bulgaria consists of three services: the Bulgarian land forces, the Bulgarian Navy and the Bulgarian Air Force. The armed forces have as their patron saint Sveti Georgi (St. George), and his feast day, 6 May, is also celebrated nationally as Valour and Army Day. Despite active participation in all major European wars since the end of the nineteenth century, Bulgarian forces have never lost a flag. Bulgaria first became a major military power in Europe under Khan Krum and Tsar Simeon I, in a series of wars with the Byzantine Empire for control of the Balkan Peninsula, in the late ninth century. By the use of approximately 12,000 heavy cavalry in tactics representing those of feudal knights, Simeon I's forces were able to reach as far as the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, in AD 896 . A formal peace treaty lasted until 912 when both sides were engaged in a war which ended with several major defeats of the Byzantines including one of the bloodiest battles in the Middle Ages at Anchialus in AD 917 . Bulgaria again became a significant military power under the rule of the Asen dynasty, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. During the rule of Tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207), Bulgaria became the first European country to defeat the Crusader knights. Since gaining total independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, Bulgaria has been a small European country, frequently included in plans and wars of the Great Powers. In 1913, Bulgarian forces introduced aviation bombardment, in the siege of Odrin. Following a series of reductions beginning in 1989, the active troops of Bulgaria's army number as many as 68,450, today. Reserve forces include 303,000 soldiers and officers. "PLAN 2004," an effort to modernize Bulgaria's armed forces, aims to better meet the military needs of NATO and the European Union.
Bulgarian military personnel have participated in international missions in Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Starting in 2008, Bulgaria will completely abolish compulsory military service. Bulgaria's naval and air forces became fully professional in 2006, with the land forces scheduled to follow suit in 2008. Bulgaria's special forces have conducted missions with the SAS, Delta Force, KSK, and the Spetsnaz of Russia.
In April 2006 Bulgaria and the United States of America signed a defense-cooperation agreement providing for the development of the Bulgarian air bases at Bezmer (near Yambol) and Graf Ignatievo (near Plovdiv), the Novo Selo training range (near Sliven), and a logistics centre in Aytos as joint US-Bulgarian military facilities. Bulgaria's navy comprises mainly Soviet-era ships, and two submarines. With only 354 km of coastline, assault by sea is not considered a major risk for Bulgaria. In the course of recent modernization efforts, one new frigate was purchased from Belgium, and the navy is finalizing a deal with French company DCN for the acquisition of four Gowind corvettes. Bulgaria's air forces also use a large amount of Soviet equipment. Plans to acquire transport and attack helicopters are underway, in addition to a major overhaul on old Soviet weapon systems. Military spending accounts for nearly 2.6% of Bulgaria's GDP.
Provinces and municipalities Edit
Between 1987 and 1999, Bulgaria consisted of nine provinces (oblasti, singular oblast); since 1999, it has consisted of twenty-eight. All take their names from their respective capital cities:
The provinces subdivide into 287 municipalities.
A member of the European Union since 2007, Bulgaria has a rapidly growing, technologically developed economy. The country boasts the second-highest standard-of-living in Southeastern Europe in terms of GDP per capita. Inflation is well under control; unemployment stands lower than the average for the European Union and is steadily declining. Due to this positive economic profile, Bulgaria is expected to join the Eurozone in 2011, after having spent 3 years in ERM II, the entry for which is currently scheduled for early 2008. In comparison, the majority of EU member states, which are currently struggling with the Eurozone criteria, are expected to join the single currency union later than 2011.
Bulgaria's economy contracted dramatically after 1989 with the dissolution of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), with which the Bulgarian economy had integrated closely. The standard of living fell by about 40%, but it regained pre-1990 levels in June 2004. United Nations sanctions against Yugoslavia and Iraq took a heavy toll on the Bulgarian economy. The first signs of recovery emerged in 1994 when the GDP grew and inflation fell. During the government of Zhan Videnov's cabinet in 1996, the economy collapsed due to lack of international economic support and an unstable banking system. Since 1997, the country has been on the path to recovery, with GDP growing at a 4% – 5% rate, increasing FDI, macroeconomic stability and European Union membership.
The former NMSII government elected in 2001 pledged to maintain the fundamental economic policy-objectives adopted by its predecessor in 1997, specifically: retaining the Currency Board, practising sound financial policies, accelerating privatisation, and pursuing structural reforms. Economic forecasts for 2005 and 2006 predicted continued growth in the economy. Economists predicted annual year-on-year GDP growth for 2005 and 2006 of 5.3% and 6.0% respectively. Industrial output for 2005 was forecast to rise by 11.9% from the previous year, and for 2006 by 15.2%. Unemployment for 2005 was projected at 11.5%, 9% for 2006 and 7.25% for 2007. As of 2006 the GDP structure is: agriculture 8.0%; industry 26,1%; services 65.9%.
Agricultural output has decreased overall since 1989 but production has grown in recent years. Arable farming predominates over stock-breeding. The prevalence of mechanisation is higher than most other Eastern European countries but there is lack of modern equipment. Alongside aeroplanes and other equipment, there are over 150,000 tractors and 10,000 combine harvesters.
Industry plays a key role in the Bulgarian economy. Although Bulgaria lacks large reserves of oil and gas, it produces much electricity, serving as the most important exporter in the region due to the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant with a total capacity of 2000 MW. Construction has started on a second plant, the Belene Nuclear Power Plant with a capacity of 2,000 MW. There is a $1,400,000,000 project for construction of an additional 670 MW for the 500 MW Maritza Iztok 1 Thermal Power Plant (see Energy in Bulgaria).
Ferrous metallurgy has major importance. The production of steel and pig iron concentrates in Kremikovtsi and Pernik. There is also a third metallurgical base in Debelt. In production of steel and steel products per capita the country is first in the Balkans.
The largest refineries for lead and zinc operate in Plovdiv (the biggest refinery between Italy and the Ural mountains), Kardzhali and Novi Iskar; for copper in Pirdop and Eliseina; for aluminium in Shumen. In production of many metals per capita, Bulgaria ranks first in South Eastern Europe and among the first in Europe and in the world.
About 14% of the total industrial production relates to machine-building and 24% of the people work in this field. Its importance decreased since 1989 but has started growing again.
Electronics and electric equipment-production have developed to a high degree. The largest centres include Sofia, Plovdiv and surrounding area, Botevgrad, Stara Zagora, Varna, Pravets and many others. These plants produce household appliances, computers, CDs, telephones, medical and scientific equipment.
Many factories producing transportation equipment do not work at full capacity. Plants produce trains (Burgas, Dryanovo), trams (Sofia), trolleys (Dupnitsa), buses (Botevgrad), trucks (Shumen), motorcars (automotive assembly plant in Lovech). Ruse serves as the main centre for agricultural machinery. Shipbuilding is concentrated in Varna, Burgas and Ruse. Arms production is mainly developed in central Bulgaria (Kazanlak, Sopot, Karlovo).
Foreigners seeking additional homes have recently boosted the Bulgarian property-market. Buyers come from right across Europe, but mostly from the United Kingdom, encouraged by relatively cheap property and finding the country more accessible through cheap air travel.
Science, technology and telecommunications Edit
Bulgaria offers excellent conditions for high-tech and telecommunication industries and services with its strategic location, highly-qualified workforce, macroeconomic stability, growing domestic market and well-educated specialists due to country's traditionally strong educational system, with one of the highest rankings of youth mathematicians and informaticians in the world. For these reasons some multinational companies chose to build their regional offices and headquarters in Bulgaria — even before Bulgaria joined the EU. To date, the most notable is Hewlett-Packard, which built its Global Service Centre for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in Sofia.
Telecommunications has arguably grown faster than any other industry in the country. Three GSM mobile operators — Globul, Mobiltel and Vivatel — provide almost 100% coverage. They have hundreds of service centres throughout the country, constantly growing in number and quality. More than 6,245,000 Bulgarians own mobile cellular phones. Mobikom is the only NMT 450 mobile phone operator. Internet is available in each town and lately in most villages with a fast connectivity and VoIP; DSL connection in bigger cities is offered by BTK. There are around 185,000 Internet hosts.
The country has some precedents for its current science industry. The inventor of the earliest known electronic computer, John Atanasoff, had Bulgarian ancestry. Bulgaria supplied many scientific and research instruments for the Soviet space-programmes, was the first European country to develop serial computer production, and has experience in pharmaceutical research and development. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is the leading scientific institution in the country with most of the researchers working for its numerous branches.
Bulgaria hosts two major astronomical observatories: the Rozhen Observatory, the biggest in South Eastern Europe, and the Belogradchik Observatory with three telescopes; as well as several "public astronomical observatories" with planetariums, focused on educationnal and outreach activities.
Bulgaria occupies a unique and strategically important geographic location. Since ancient times, the country has served as a major crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa. Five of the ten Trans-European corridors run through its territory. The total length of the roads is 102,016 km of which 93,855 km are paved and 416 km are motorways. Several motorways are planned, under construction or partially built: Trakiya motorway, Hemus motorway, Cherno More motorway, Struma motorway, Maritza motorway and Lyulin motorway. Other motorways are planned but their final track is yet to be decided. They include a link between the capital Sofia and Vidin, a link between the Struma and Trakiya motorways south of Rila Mountain, a link between Rousse and Veliko Tarnovo, and the Sofia ringroad. Many roads have been recently reconstructed. The length of railways is 6,500 km of which more than 60% are electrified. There is a €360,000,000 project for the modernization and electrification of the Plovdiv-Kapitan Andreevo railway.
Air transportation has developed relatively comprehensively. Bulgaria has six official international airports at Sofia, Burgas, Varna, Plovdiv, Rousse and Gorna Oryahovitsa. Massive investment plans exist for the first three. There are important domestic airports in Vidin, Pleven, Silistra, Targovishte, Stara Zagora, Kardzhali, Haskovo and Sliven. After the fall of communism in 1989, most of them are not used as the importance of domestic flights declined. There are many military airports and agricultural airfields. 128 of the 213 airports in Bulgaria are paved. The ports of Varna and Burgas are by far the most important and have the largest turnover. Other than Burgas, Sozopol, Nesebar and Pomorie are big fishing ports. The largest ports on the Danube River are Rousse and Lom which serves the capital. There is well organised public transport in the cities and in many smaller towns. There are buses, trolleys (in about 20 cities) and trams (in Sofia). The Sofia Metro in the capital is to have three lines with total length of about 48 km and 52 stations, but only a section is currently completed.
According to the 2001 census, Bulgaria's population consists mainly of ethnic Bulgarian (83.9%), with two sizable minorities, Turks (9.4%) and Roma (4.7%). Of the remaining 2.0%, 0.9% comprises some 40 smaller minorities, most prominently in numbers the Russians, Armenians, Vlachs, Jews, Crimean Tatars, Slavic Macedonians and Karakachans. 1.1% of the population did not declare their ethnicity in the latest census in 2001.
84.8% of the population speak Bulgarian as their mother-tongue. Bulgarian, a member of the Slavic language group, remains the only official language, but speakers of other languages (such as Turkish and Romany) correspond closely to ethnic proportions.
Most Bulgarians (82.6%) belong, at least nominally, to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the national Eastern Orthodox church. Other religious denominations include Islam (12.2%), various Protestant denominations (0.8%), Roman Catholicism (0.5%), with other denominations, atheists and undeclared amounting approximately to 4.1%.
In the recent years Bulgaria has had one of the slowest population growth-rates in the world. Negative population growth has occurred since the early 1990s, due to economic collapse and high emigration. In 1988 the population comprised 8,859,000 people, and in 2001 7,950,000. Now Bulgaria suffers a heavy demographic crisis . Bulgaria has a fertility-rate of 1.4 children per woman as of 2007, with a predicted rate of 1.7 by the end of 2050. The fertility-rate will needed to reach 2.2 to restore natural growth in population.
A country often described as lying at the crossroads linking the East and West, Bulgaria functioned as the centre of Slavic Europe during much of the Middle Ages, exerting considerable literary and cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world by means of the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools. Bulgaria also gave the world the Cyrillic alphabet, the second most-widely used alphabet in the world, which originated in these two schools in the tenth century AD.
Bulgaria has a reputation for rich folklore, distinctive traditional music, rituals and tales; but the country's contribution to humanity also continued in the nineteenth and twentieth century, when individuals such as John Atanasoff - born in USA with Bulgarian origin, regarded as the father of the digital computer, a number of noted opera singers (Nicolai Ghiaurov, Boris Christoff, Raina Kabaivanska, Ghena Dimitrova), Anna Veleva, and successful artists (Christo Javacheff, Pascin, Vladimir Dimitrov) popularized the culture of Bulgaria abroad.
A number of ancient civilizations, most notably the Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Bulgars, have left their mark on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. The country has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- two Thracian tombs (one in Sveshtari and one in Kazanlak)
- three monuments of medieval Bulgarian culture (the Boyana Church, the Rila Monastery and the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo)
- two examples of natural beauty: the Pirin National Park and the Srebarna Nature Reserve
- the ancient city of Nesebar, a unique combination of European cultural interaction, as well as, historically, one of the most important centres of naval trade in the Black Sea
- the Varna Necropolis, a 3500-3200 BC burial site, purportedly containing the oldest examples of worked gold in the world
In the northern-hemisphere winter, Samokov, Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo become well-attended ski-resorts. Summer resorts exist on the Black Sea at Sozopol, Nessebur, Golden Sands, Sunny Beach, Sveti Vlas, Albena, Saints Constantine and Helena and many others. Spa resorts such as Bankya, Hisarya, Sandanski, Velingrad, Varshets and many others are popular all over the year. Bulgaria is becoming an attractive destination because of the quality of the resorts and prices below those found in Western Europe.
Bulgaria has enjoyed a substantial growth in income from international tourism over the past decade. Beach resorts attract tourists from Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The ski resorts are a favourite destination for British and Irish tourists.
Bulgaria now attracts close to 5 million visitors yearly. Tourism in Bulgaria makes a major contribution towards Bulgaria's annual economic growth of 6%-6.5%.
Football has become by far the most popular sport in the country. Many Bulgarian fans closely follow the top Bulgarian league, the Bulgarian "A" Professional Football Group; as well as the leagues of other European countries, such as those of Spain, England, Italy and Germany. The Bulgaria national football team achieved its greatest success with a fourth-place finish at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States. Hristo Stoichkov has arguably become the best-known Bulgarian footballer. He is widely regarded as one of the finest football players in the world , at the peak of his career between 1992 and 1995, while playing for FC Barcelona winning the Ballon d'Or in 1994. Additionally, he was named in the FIFA 100 ranking. Georgi Asparuhov-Gundi (1943-1971), was himself extremely popular at home and abroad having had offers from clubs in Italy and Portugal. He died tragically in a car accident at the peak of his career. He was awarded Bulgarian football player №1 for the twentieth century. PFC CSKA Sofia (champion of Bulgaria 30 times) and PFC Levski Sofia (25 times champion of Bulgaria and 26 times holder of the National Cup as of 2007) are the most successful Bulgarian football clubs. Other popular clubs include PFC Lokomotiv Sofia, PFC Litex Lovech, PFC Cherno More Varna, PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv and PFC Botev Plovdiv (the oldest club in Bulgaria,est. 1912). PFC Levski Sofia is the first Bulgarian team to have participated in the modern UEFA Champions League (after 1989) having achieved this by qualifying for the 2006/2007 competition.
Aside from football, Bulgaria boasts great achievements in a great variety of other sports. Maria Gigova and Maria Petrova have each held a record of three world-titles in rhythmic gymnastics. Other famous gymnasts include Simona Peycheva, Neshka Robeva (a highly successful coach as well) and Yordan Yovtchev. Bulgarians also dominate in weightlifting, with around 1,000 gold medals in different competitions, and in wrestling; Stefan Botev, Nickolai Peshalov, Demir Demirev and Yoto Yotov figure among the most distinguished weightlifters and Serafim Barzakov, Armen Nazarian, Plamen Slavov, Kiril Sirakov and Sergey Moreyko rank as world-class wrestlers. Bulgarians also take great pride in the country's achievements in athletics. Stefka Kostadinova, who still holds the women's high jump world record, jumped 209 centimetres at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics in Rome to clinch the coveted title. Presently, Bulgaria is proud of its sprinters, namely Ivet Lalova and Tezdzhan Naimova. Volleyball recently marked a big resurgence. The Bulgarian national volleyball team is one of the strongest teams in Europe, currently ranked fifth in the FIVB ranklist. At the 2006 Volleyball World Championship, they won the bronze medal. Chess is also very popular. One of the top chess-masters in the world, Veselin Topalov, is Bulgarian. At the end of 2005, both men's and women's world chess champions were Bulgarian as well as the junior world champion. Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski have won the ISU world figure skating championships twice in a row (2006 and 2007) for ice dance.
Most citizens of Bulgaria have associations — at least nominally — with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Founded in 870 AD under the Patriarchate of Constantinople (from which it obtained its first primate, its clergy and theological texts), the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has had autocephalous status since 927. The Orthodox Church re-established the Bulgarian Patriarchate in Sofia in the 1950s after the promulgation of the Bulgarian Exarchate in 1870. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the independent national church of Bulgaria like the other national branches of Eastern Orthodoxy and is considered an inseparable element of Bulgarian national consciousness. The church became subordinate within the Patriarchate of Constantinople, twice during the periods of Byzantine (1018 – 1185) and Ottoman (1396 – 1878) domination but has been revived every time as a symbol of Bulgarian statehood without breaking away from the Orthodox dogma. In 2001, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church had 6,552,000 members in Bulgaria (82.6% of the population). However, many people raised during the 45 years of communist rule are not religious, even though they may formally be members of the church.
Despite the dominant position of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Bulgarian cultural life, a number of Bulgarian citizens belong to other religious denominations, most notably Islam, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
Islam came to Bulgaria at the end of the fourteenth century after the conquest of the country by the Ottomans. It gradually gained ground throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries through the introduction of Turkish colonists and the conversion of native Bulgarians. At the time of Liberation (1878) no less than 40% of the population professed Islam, but by the end of the Liberation, ethnic cleansing had led to a major decrease in Muslim populations.
In the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, missionaries from Rome converted Bulgarian Paulicians in the districts of Plovdiv and Svishtov to Roman Catholicism. Today, their descendants form the bulk of Bulgarian Catholics whose number stands at 44,000 in 2001.
Missionaries from the United States introduced Protestantism into Bulgarian territory in 1857. Missionary work continued throughout the second half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. In 2001, there were some 42,000 Protestants in Bulgaria.
According to the most recent Eurostat "Eurobarometer" poll, in 2005, only 40% of Bulgarian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 40% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", 13% that "they do not believe there is a God, spirit, nor life force", and 6% did not answer.
See also Edit
- ^ a b This article uses the official Bulgarian transliteration system to romanize Bulgarian [[Romanization of Bulgarian|]].
- ^ http://www.mfa.government.bg/history_of_Bulgaria/83.html
- ^ http://www.journey.bg/bulgaria/bulgaria.php?guide=1519
- ^ http://www.links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0009-840X(193102)1%3A45%3A1%3C41%3ADADBUD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H
- ^ http://www.legmed.ro/files/revista/2004-4/02-Cardos-%20MtDNA.pdf
- ^ http://www.bulgarianestates.org.uk/real-estate-History-of-Bulgaria-27.html
- ^ Dimitrov, Bulgaria: illustrated history.
- ^ Theophanes, ibid., p. 397
- ^ Scriptor incertus, ibid., p. 337-339
- ^ Theophanes, ibid. , р. 492
- ^ Georgius Monachus Continuatus, loc. cit., Logomete
- ^ Vita S. démentis
- ^ Barford, P. M. (2001). The Early Slavs. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press
- ^ Fine, The Early Medieval Balkans, pp. 144-148.
- ^ Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 462—3,480
- ^ Cedrenus: II, p. 383
- ^ Leo Diaconus, pp. 158-9
- ^ Шишић, p. 331
- ^ Skylitzes, p. 457
- ^ Zlatarski, vol. II, pp. 1-41
- ^ http://pravoslavie.domainbg.com/20/documenti/islam_politika.html
- ^ Bulgaria Illustrated History, Bojidar Dimitrov, PhD., Author, BORIANA Publishing House 2002, ISBN 9545000449
- ^ http://www.motoroads.com/why_bul_history.html
- ^ http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/bulgaria/bulgaria_military.html
- ^ http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/19/business/EU-FIN-ECO-Bulgaria-Growth.php
- ^ http://www.alstom.cz/boilers/en/enovinky.html#3
- ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/working_lunch/6172095.stm
- ^ http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/bulgaria/bulgaria_communications.html
- ^ http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/bulgaria/bulgaria_communications.html Statistics of Bulgarian communications
- ^ National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria, retrieved July 31, 2006
- ^ http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=308
- ^ http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2287183,00.html
- ^ McCarthy, J. (1996). Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922. Princeton, N.J: Darwin Press, 88–91. ISBN 0878500944.
- ^ "Social values, science and technology" (pdf). [[European Commission|]]. June 2005. http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
Further reading Edit
- Crampton, R. J. A Concise History of Bulgaria. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 9780521616379
- Detrez, Raymond. Historical Dictionary of Bulgaria Second Edition. 2006. lxiv + 638 pp. Maps, bibliography, appendix, chronology. ISBN 978-0-8108-4901-3.
- Lampe, John R., and Marvin R. Jackson. Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations. 1982. online edition
- Lampe, John R. The Bulgarian Economy in the Twentieth Century. 1986.
Pre 1939 Edit
- Hall, Richard C. Bulgaria's Road to the First World War. Columbia University Press, 1996.
- MacDermott, Mercia. A History of Bulgaria, 1393-1885 (1962) online edition
- Perry, Duncan M. Stefan Stambolov and the Emergence of Modern Bulgaria, 1870-1895 (1993) online edition
- Runciman, Steven. A History of the First Bulgarian Empire (1930) online edition
- Zlatarski, Vasil N. (1934). "Prof. Dr." (in Bulgarian). Medieval History of the Bulgarian State. Royal Printing House, Sofia. http://www.kroraina.com/knigi/vz2/index.html. Retrieved 2007-08-05. (Васил Н. Златарски, История на българската държава през средните векове, Част II, II изд., Наука и изкуство, София 1970.)
World War II Edit
- Bar-Zohar, Michael. Beyond Hitler's Grasp: The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria's Jews
- Groueff, Stephane. Crown of Thorns: The Reign of King Boris III of Bulgaria, 1918–1943
- Todorov, Tzvetan The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust
Communist era Edit
- Todorov, Tzvetan. Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria
- Dimitrova, Alexenia. The Iron Fist - Inside the Bulgarian secret archives
- Bell, John D., ed. Bulgaria in Transition: Politics, Economics, Society, and Culture after Communism (1998) online edition
- Paul Greenway, Lonely Planet World Guide: Bulgaria
- Pettifer, James. Blue Guide: Bulgaria
- Timothy Rice, Music of Bulgaria
- Jonathan Bousfield. The Rough Guide To Bulgaria
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English-language Bulgarian media Edit
- Bulgarian News Agency
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- Treasures of the National Library of Bulgaria displayed via The European Library
- [http://warehousesofneglect.civiblog.org/blog Human-rights research, analysis and photographs of Bulgaria's institutions for children and young adults with mental disabilities
- [http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/bulgarias-children.shtml Documentary by Kate Blewett, depicting the horror of life at Mogilino, a social-care home for children in Bulgaria (TrueVision, 2007)