Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Overview
Bulgaria officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

ary democracy within a unitary
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

 constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 in Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe is a relatively recent political designation for the states of the Balkans. Writers such as Maria Todorova and Vesna Goldsworthy have suggested the use of the term Southeastern Europe to replace the word Balkans for the region, to minimize potential...

. The country borders Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 to the north, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 and Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 to the west, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the south, as well as the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 to the east. With a territory of 110994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), it ranks as the 15th-largest country in Europe.

Prehistoric cultures began living on Bulgarian lands starting in the Neolithic period.
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Timeline

681   Bulgaria is founded as a Khanate on the south bank of the Danube after defeating the Byzantine armies of Emperor Constantine IV south of the Danube delta.

893   Simeon I of Bulgaria is crowned Emperor of the first Bulgarian empire

1230   Bulgarian tsar Ivan Asen II defeats Theodore of Epirus in the Battle of Klokotnitsa.

1873   Bulgarian revolutionary leader Vasil Levski is executed by hanging in Sofia by the Ottoman authorities.

1876   The April Uprising breaks out in Bulgaria.

1876   Hristo Botev, a national revolutionary of Bulgaria, is killed in Stara Planina

1878   Bulgaria regains its independence from Ottoman Empire according to the Treaty of San Stefano; shortly after Congress of Berlin stripped its status to an autonomous state of the Ottoman Empire.

1885   Eastern Rumelia declares its union with Bulgaria. The Unification of Bulgaria is accomplished.

1908   The independence of Bulgaria is proclaimed.

1912   Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia declare war on the Ottoman Empire, joining Montenegro in the First Balkan War.

 
Encyclopedia
Bulgaria officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

ary democracy within a unitary
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

 constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 in Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe is a relatively recent political designation for the states of the Balkans. Writers such as Maria Todorova and Vesna Goldsworthy have suggested the use of the term Southeastern Europe to replace the word Balkans for the region, to minimize potential...

. The country borders Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 to the north, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 and Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 to the west, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the south, as well as the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 to the east. With a territory of 110994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), it ranks as the 15th-largest country in Europe.

Prehistoric cultures began living on Bulgarian lands starting in the Neolithic period. Its ancient history has been marked by the presence of the Thracians
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

, and later by the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. The emergence of a unified Bulgarian ethnicity and state date back to the 7th century AD and the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

, which covered most Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, becoming a cultural hub for Slavic peoples
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state which existed between 1185 and 1396 . A successor of the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th-early 15th century...

 in 1396, its territories came under Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule for nearly five hundred years. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 resulted in the Third Bulgarian State, recognized in 1908. Shortly afterwards, Bulgaria had a series of major conflicts with its neighbours and allied with Germany for both World Wars. After World War II it became a people's republic and was a part of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 until 1989
Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

, when the Communist Party
Bulgarian Communist Party
The Bulgarian Communist Party was the communist and Marxist-Leninist ruling party of the People's Republic of Bulgaria from 1946 until 1990 when the country ceased to be a communist state...

 allowed multi-party elections. At this time Bulgaria transitioned to democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and free market capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 was introduced. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, NATO, the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, a founding state of the OSCE, and has taken a seat in the UN Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 three times.

Bulgaria's population of 7.36 million people is predominantly urban and is concentrated mainly in the administrative centers of its 28 provinces
Provinces of Bulgaria
Since 1999, Bulgaria has been divided into 28 provinces which correspond approximately to the 28 districts that existed before 1987. In 1987, during the Communist regime of Todor Zhivkov, the districts were consolidated into nine larger provinces , which survived until 1999.Each province is named...

. With 1.2 million people Sofia is the largest city, where most economic and political activities are concentrated. The economy relies on local natural resources with the strongest sectors being heavy industry and agriculture. Bulgaria is home to some of the most ancient cultural artifacts in the world and is a historical crossroad of various civilizations.

Prehistory and antiquity


Prehistoric cultures in the Bulgarian lands include the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 Hamangia culture
Hamangia culture
The Hamangia culture is a Late Neolithic archaeological culture of Dobruja between the Danube and the Black Sea and Muntenia and in the south. It is named after the site of Baia-Hamangia, discovered in 1952 along Lake Golovita....

 and Vinča culture
Vinca culture
The Vinča culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in Southeastern Europe, dated to the period 5500–4500 BCE. Named for its type site, Vinča-Belo Brdo, a large tell settlement discovered by Serbian archaeologist Miloje Vasić in 1908, it represents the material remains of a prehistoric society...

, the eneolithic Varna culture
Varna culture
The Varna culture belongs to the late Eneolithic of northern Bulgaria. It is conventionally dated between 4400-4100 BC cal, that is, contemporary with Karanovo in the South...

 (5th millennium BC), and the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 Ezero culture
Ezero culture
The Ezero culture, 3300—2700 BC, was a Bronze Age archaeological culture occupying most of present-day Bulgaria. It takes its name from the Tell-settlement of Ezero....

. The Varna Necropolis
Varna Necropolis
The Varna Necropolis is a burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna , Bulgaria, internationally considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory...

 serves as a tool for understanding the social hierarchy of the earliest European societies.

The Thracians
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

, one of the three primary ancestral groups of modern Bulgarians, lived separated in various tribes until king Teres united most of them in the Odrysian kingdom
Odrysian kingdom
The Odrysian kingdom was a union of Thracian tribes that endured between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC. It consisted largely of present-day Bulgaria, spreading to parts of Northern Dobruja, parts of Northern Greece and modern-day European Turkey...

 around 500 BC. They were eventually subjugated by Alexander the Great in the 4th century and later by the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in 46 AD. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the easternmost South Slavs
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

 gradually settled on the territory of modern Bulgaria during the 6th century and assimilated the Hellenized or Romanized Thracians. Eventually the élite of the Central Asian Bulgar
Bulgar
Bulgar may refer to:*Bulgars, an early medieval people of Eastern Europe / Central Asia**their Bulgar language*Bolghar, a capital city of the Volga Bulgaria*Bolgar , a town in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia...

s incorporated all of them into a new state which formed upon khan Asparukh
Asparukh of Bulgaria
Asparuh was ruler of a Bulgar tribe in the second half of the 7th century and is credited with the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 680/681...

's arrival on the Balkans.

First Bulgarian Empire


Asparukh, son of Old Great Bulgaria
Old Great Bulgaria
Old Great Bulgaria or Great Bulgaria was а term used by Byzantine historians to refer to Onoguria during the reign of the Bulgar ruler Kubrat in the 7th century north of the Caucasus mountains in the steppe between the Dniester and Lower...

's khan Kubrat
Kubrat
Kubrat or Kurt was a Bulgar ruler credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in 632. He is said to have achieved this by conquering the Avars and uniting all the Bulgar tribes under one rule....

, migrated with several Bulgar tribes to the lower courses of the rivers Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, Dniester
Dniester
The Dniester is a river in Eastern Europe. It runs through Ukraine and Moldova and separates most of Moldova's territory from the breakaway de facto state of Transnistria.-Names:...

 and Dniepr. After 670, he crossed the Danube with a horde of up to 50,000 people and conquered Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

 and Scythia Minor
Scythia Minor
Scythia Minor, "Lesser Scythia" was in ancient times the region surrounded by the Danube at the north and west and the Black Sea at the east, corresponding to today's Dobruja, with a part in Romania and a part in Bulgaria....

 (Dobrudzha) from the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, expanding his new kingdom further into the Balkan Peninsula. The local south Slavic language was gradually adopted by the advancing Bulgars, who nevertheless preserved a dominant position over the Slavic majority. A peace treaty with Byzantium in 681 and the establishment of a permanent capital at Pliska
Pliska
Pliska is the name of both the first capital of Danubian Bulgaria and a small town which was renamed after the historical Pliska after its site was determined and excavations began....

 south of the Danube mark the beginning of the First Bulgarian Empire.

Succeeding khans strengthened the Bulgarian state throughout the 8th and 9th centuries—Tervel
Tervel of Bulgaria
Khan Tervel also called Tarvel, or Terval, or Terbelis in some Byzantine sources, was the Emperor of the Bulgarians at the beginning of the 8th century. In 705 he received the title Caesar which was a precedent in history. He was probably a Christian like his grandfather Khan Kubrat...

 established Bulgaria as a major military power by defeating a 26,000-strong Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 army during the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople; Krum
Krum of Bulgaria
Krum the Horrible was Khan of Bulgaria, from after 796, but before 803, to 814 AD. During his reign the Bulgarian territory doubled in size, spreading from the middle Danube to the Dnieper and from Odrin to the Tatra Mountains. His able and energetic rule brought law and order to Bulgaria and...

 doubled the country's territory, killed Byzantine emperor Nicephorus I in the Battle of Pliska
Battle of Pliska
The Battle of Pliska or Battle of Vărbitsa Pass was a series of battles between troops, gathered from all parts of the Byzantine Empire, led by the Emperor Nicephorus I Genik, and Bulgaria, governed by Khan Krum...

, and introduced the first written code of law; Boris I
Boris I of Bulgaria
Boris I, also known as Boris-Mihail and Bogoris was the Knyaz of First Bulgarian Empire in 852–889. At the time of his baptism in 864, Boris was named Michael after his godfather, Emperor Michael III...

 abolished Tengriism
Tengriism
Tengriism is a Central Asian religion that incorporates elements of shamanism, animism, totemism and ancestor worship. Despite still being active in some minorities, it was, in old times, the major belief of Turkic peoples , Bulgars, Hungarians and Mongols...

 in favor of Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 in 864, and introduced the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

. Simeon the Great
Simeon I of Bulgaria
Simeon I the Great ruled over Bulgaria from 893 to 927, during the First Bulgarian Empire. Simeon's successful campaigns against the Byzantines, Magyars and Serbs led Bulgaria to its greatest territorial expansion ever, making it the most powerful state in contemporary Eastern Europe...

's 34-year rule began in 893 and saw the largest territorial expansion of Bulgaria in its history, along with a golden age of Bulgarian culture and a military supremacy over the Byzantine Empire, demonstrated in the Battle of Achelous.

After Simeon's death, Bulgaria was weakened by wars with Croatians, Magyars, Pechenegs and Serbs and the spread of the Bogomil heresy
Bogomilism
Bogomilism was a Gnostic religiopolitical sect founded in the First Bulgarian Empire by the priest Bogomil during the reign of Tsar Petar I in the 10th century...

. Two consecutive Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 and Byzantine invasions resulted in the seizure of the capital Preslav
Preslav
Preslav was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 972 and one of the most important cities of medieval Southeastern Europe. The ruins of the city are situated in modern northeastern Bulgaria, some 20 kilometres southwest of the regional capital of Shumen, and are currently a...

 by the Byzantine army in 971. Under Samuil, Bulgaria somewhat recovered from these attacks and managed to conquer Serbia and Duklja
Duklja
Doclea or Duklja was a medieval state with hereditary lands roughly encompassing the territories of present-day southeastern Montenegro, from Kotor on the west to the river Bojana on the east and to the sources of Zeta and Morača rivers on the north....

, but this rise ended when Byzantine emperor Basil II
Basil II
Basil II , known in his time as Basil the Porphyrogenitus and Basil the Young to distinguish him from his ancestor Basil I the Macedonian, was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025.The first part of his long reign was dominated...

 defeated its armies at Klyuch
Battle of Kleidion
The Battle of Kleidion took place on July 29, 1014 between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire...

 in 1014. Samuil died shortly after the battle, and by 1018 the Byzantines conquered the remaimed parts of the First Bulgarian Empire, putting it to an end.

Second Bulgarian Empire



After conquering Bulgaria, Basil II retained the rule of the local nobility by incorporating them into Byzantine aristocracy as archon
Archon
Archon is a Greek word that means "ruler" or "lord", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem ἀρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch, hierarchy, and anarchy.- Ancient Greece :In ancient Greece the...

s or strategoi
Strategos
Strategos, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean "general". In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor...

, and recognized the autocephaly
Autocephaly
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

 of the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid
Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid
The Archbishopric of Ochrid was an autonomous Orthodox Church under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1019 and 1767...

, thus preventing discontent and revolts. After his death Byzantine domestic policies changed and a series of unsuccessful rebellions broke out, the largest
Bulgarian uprising against the Byzantine Empire (1040-1041)
The Uprising of Peter Delyan , which took place in 1040-1041, was a major Bulgarian rebellion against the Byzantine Empire. It was the largest and best-organised attempt to restore the former Bulgarian Empire until the rebellion of Ivan Asen I and Petar IV in 1185.-Prerequisites for the...

 being led by Peter II Delyan. It was not until 1185 when Asen dynasty
Asen dynasty
The Asen dynasty ruled a medieval Bulgarian state, called in modern historiography the Second Bulgarian Empire, between 1187 and 1280.The Asen dynasty and the Second Bulgarian Empire rose as the leaders of a rebellion against the Byzantine Empire at the turn of the year 1185/1186 caused by the...

 nobles Ivan Asen I and Peter IV
Peter IV of Bulgaria
Peter IV ruled as emperor of Bulgaria 1185–1197. Together with his brother Asen he managed to restore the Bulgarian Empire after nearly 170 years of Byzantine domination.-Name:...

 organized a major uprising and succeeded in re-establishing the Bulgarian state, laying the foundations of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

The Asen dynasty set up the new capital capital in Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists...

. Kaloyan, the third of the Asen monarchs, extended his dominions to Belgrade, Nish
NISH
NISH is United States non-profit agency that supports other agencies which provide employment opportunities for people who are blind or disabled.-Background:...

 and Skopje
Skopje
Skopje is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Macedonia with about a third of the total population. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic centre...

; he acknowledged the spiritual supremacy of the Pope, and received a royal crown from a papal legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

. Cultural and economic growth persisted under Ivan Asen II (1218–1241), who extended Bulgaria's control over Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Epirus
Despotate of Epirus
The Despotate or Principality of Epirus was one of the Byzantine Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire that emerged in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. It claimed to be the legitimate successor of the Byzantine Empire, along with the Empire of Nicaea, and the Empire of Trebizond...

, Macedonia and Thrace. In his time the empire attained a prosperity unknown by that moment—commerce, the arts and literature flourished. Tarnovo became a major economic and religious center—a "Third Rome
Third Rome
The term Third Rome describes the idea that some European city, state, or country is the successor to the legacy of the Roman Empire and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire ....

", unlike the already declining Constantinople.

The country's military and economic might declined after the end of the Asen dynasty in 1257, facing internal conflicts, constant Byzantine and Hungarian attacks and Mongol domination
Mongol invasion of Europe
The resumption of the Mongol invasion of Europe, during which the Mongols attacked medieval Rus' principalities and the powers of Poland and Hungary, was marked by the Mongol invasion of Rus starting in 21 December 1237...

. By the end of the 14th century, factional divisions between the feudal landlords and the spread of Bogomilism had caused the Second Bulgarian Empire to split into three small tsardoms—Vidin, Tarnovo and Karvuna—and several semi-independent principalities that fought among themselves, and also with Byzantines, Hungarians, Serbs, Venetians and Genoese. In the late 14th century the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

, who had already started their invasion of the Balkans, conquered most Bulgarian towns and fortresses south of the Balkan Mountains and began their northwards conquest.

Ottoman rule and national awakening


In 1393, the Ottomans captured Tarnovo after a three-month siege. In 1396, the Vidin Tsardom fell after the defeat of a Christian crusade at the Battle of Nicopolis
Battle of Nicopolis
The Battle of Nicopolis took place on 25 September 1396 and resulted in the rout of an allied army of Hungarian, Wallachian, French, Burgundian, German and assorted troops at the hands of an Ottoman force, raising of the siege of the Danubian fortress of Nicopolis and leading to the end of the...

. With this, the Ottomans finally subjugated all Bulgarian lands south of the Danube. North of the Danube, where a significant number of Bulgarian nobility and common folk remained, the population was under the jurisdiction of various autonomous, predominately Wallachian-led Christian principalities, where the Bulgarian alphabet continued to be used and many cities, like the Wallachian capital of Targovishte
Târgoviste
Târgoviște is a city in the Dâmbovița county of Romania. It is situated on the right bank of the Ialomiţa River. , it had an estimated population of 89,000. One village, Priseaca, is administered by the city.-Name:...

, kept their Bulgarian names. The nobility in these principalities continued to be known by their Bulgarian titles of bolyars and regularly helped the southern population to migrate north. The southern nobility however, was eliminated and the peasantry was enserfed
Serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

 to Ottoman masters. The population lost its national consciousness under the oppression, intolerance and misgovernment of the invaders. Bulgarian culture was suppressed and the educated clergy fled to other countries, while Bulgarians were considered an inferior class
Rayah
A rayah or reaya was a member of the tax-paying lower class of Ottoman society, in contrast to the askeri and kul...

 of people and were subjected to heavy imposts.
Throughout the nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule, the Bulgarian people responded to their oppression by strengthening the haydut tradition, and attempted to re-establish their state by organizing several revolts, most notably the First
First Tarnovo Uprising
The First Tarnovo Uprising was a Bulgarian uprising against the Ottoman rule based in the former Bulgarian capital, Tarnovo, that broke out in 1598 and was severely crushed by the Ottoman authorities....

 and Second Tarnovo Uprising
Second Tarnovo Uprising
The Second Tarnovo Uprising was a Bulgarian uprising against Ottoman rule based in the former Bulgarian capital, Tarnovo, that broke out in 1686 and was severely crushed by the Ottoman authorities....

s (1598 / 1686) and Karposh's Rebellion
Karposh's Rebellion
Karposh’s Rebellion or Karposh’s Uprising is a name used for a Christian anti-Ottoman uprising in the Central Balkans that took place in 1689.-Prelude:...

 (1689). The National awakening of Bulgaria
National awakening of Bulgaria
Bulgarian nationalism emerged in the early 19th century under the influence of western ideas such as liberalism and nationalism, which trickled into the country after the French revolution, mostly via Greece, although there were stirrings in the 18th century. Russia, as fellow Orthodox Slavs, could...

 became one of the key factors in the struggle for liberation, resulting in the 1876 April uprising
April Uprising
The April Uprising was an insurrection organised by the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire from April to May 1876, which indirectly resulted in the re-establishment of Bulgaria as an autonomous nation in 1878...

—the largest and best-organized Bulgarian rebellion. About 15,000 to 30,000 Bulgarians were killed as the Ottoman authorities put down the uprising. The massacres prompted the Great Powers to take action. They convened the Constantinople Conference
Constantinople Conference
The 1876–1877 Constantinople Conference of the Great Powers was held in Constantinople from 23 December 1876 until 20 January 1877...

 in 1876, but their decisions were rejected by the Ottoman authorities. This allowed the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 to seek a solution by force without risking military confrontation with other Great Powers, as had happened in the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

. In 1877 Russia declared war on the Ottoman empire, and with the help of Bulgarian volunteers
Opalchentsi
Opalchentsi were Bulgarian voluntary army units, who took part in the Serbo-Turkish War of 1876 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The people in these units were called opalchenets-pobornik meaning "volunteer combatant"....

 defeated the Ottoman forces. The Treaty of San Stefano
Treaty of San Stefano
The Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano was a treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed at the end of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78...

, which set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality on the territories of the Second Bulgarian Empire, was signed on 3 March 1878.

The other Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty out of fear that such a large country in the Balkans might threaten their interests. The subsequent Treaty of Berlin
Treaty of Berlin, 1878
The Treaty of Berlin was the final act of the Congress of Berlin , by which the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Abdul Hamid II revised the Treaty of San Stefano signed on March 3 of the same year...

 provided for a much smaller autonomous state comprising Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

 and the region of Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

, leaving large populations of Bulgarians outside the new country. This defined Bulgaria's militaristic approach to foreign affairs and its participation in four wars during the first half of the 20th century. The Bulgarian principality won a war against Serbia
Serbo-Bulgarian War
The Serbo-Bulgarian War was a war between Serbia and Bulgaria that erupted on 14 November 1885 and lasted until 28 November the same year. Final peace was signed on 19 February 1886 in Bucharest...

 and incorporated the semi-autonomous Ottoman territory of Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia or Eastern Roumelia was an administratively autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire and Principality of Bulgaria from 1878 to 1908. It was under full Bulgarian control from 1885 on, when it willingly united with the tributary Principality of Bulgaria after a bloodless revolution...

 in 1885, and proclaimed itself an independent state on 22 September 1908.

Third Bulgarian State


In the years following the achievement of independence Bulgaria was becoming increasingly militarized and was often referred to as "the Balkan Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

". Between 1912 and 1918, Bulgaria became involved in a string of three consecutive conflicts—the Balkan Wars
Balkan Wars
The Balkan Wars were two conflicts that took place in the Balkans in south-eastern Europe in 1912 and 1913.By the early 20th century, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, the countries of the Balkan League, had achieved their independence from the Ottoman Empire, but large parts of their ethnic...

 and World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. After a disastrous defeat in the Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War
The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 29 June 1913. Bulgaria had a prewar agreement about the division of region of Macedonia...

, Bulgaria again found itself fighting on the losing side as a result of its alliance with the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 in World War I. Despite fielding more than a quarter of its population in a 1,200,000-strong army and achieving several decisive victories at Doiran
Battle of Doiran (1917)
During the Second conference of the Military Counsel of the Entente in Chanties, it was decided to continue with the attempts at a breakthrough. The task for the Entente forces on the Macedonian Front was to inflict major defeats on the Bulgarian army and effect a wide breakthrough in the Balkans...

 and Monastir, the country capitulated in 1918. The war resulted in significant territorial losses, a total of 412,000 casualties, and a wave of more than 253,000 refugees who put an additional strain on the already ruined national economy.

The political unrest resulting from these losses led to the establishment of a royal authoritarian dictatorship
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 by Tsar Boris III
Boris III of Bulgaria
Boris III the Unifier, Tsar of Bulgaria , originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver , son of Ferdinand I, came to the throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father, following the defeat of the Kingdom of Bulgaria during World War I...

 (1918–1943). Bulgaria entered World War II in 1941 as a member of the Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 but declined to participate in Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 and saved its Jewish population from deportation to concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

. In the summer of 1943 Boris III died suddenly, an event which pushed the country into political turmoil as the war turned against Nazi Germany and the Communist guerilla movement gained momentum. Following strikes and unrest, in September 1944 the Communist-dominated Fatherland Front
Fatherland Front (Bulgaria)
The Fatherland Front was originally a Bulgarian political resistance movement during World War II. The Zveno movement, the communist Bulgarian Workers Party, a wing of the Agrarian Union and the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers Party, were all part of the FF...

 took power, ending the alliance with Nazi Germany and joining the Allied side until the end of the war in 1945.

The Communist uprising
Bulgarian coup d'état of 1944
The Bulgarian coup d'état of 1944, also known as the 9 September coup d'état and called in pre-1989 Bulgaria the National Uprising of 9 September or the Socialist Revolution of 9 September was a change in the Kingdom of Bulgaria's administration and government carried out on the eve of 9 September...

 of 9 September 1944 led to the abolition of monarchic rule, but it was not until 1946 that a people's republic
People's Republic
People's Republic is a title that has often been used by Marxist-Leninist governments to describe their state. The motivation for using this term lies in the claim that Marxist-Leninists govern in accordance with the interests of the vast majority of the people, and, as such, a Marxist-Leninist...

 was established. It became a part of the Soviet sphere of influence under the leadership of Georgi Dimitrov
Georgi Dimitrov
Georgi Dimitrov Mikhaylov , also known as Georgi Mikhaylovich Dimitrov , was a Bulgarian Communist politician...

 (1946–1949). Bulgaria installed a Soviet-style planned economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

 with some market-oriented policies emerging on an experimental level under Todor Zhivkov
Todor Zhivkov
Todor Khristov Zhivkov was a communist politician and leader of the People's Republic of Bulgaria from March 4, 1954 until November 10, 1989....

 (1954–1989). By the mid-1950s standards of living rose significantly. Lyudmila Zhivkova
Lyudmila Zhivkova
Lyudmila Todorova Zhivkova was the daughter of Bulgarian Communist leader Todor Zhivkov, who reached the rank of senior Bulgarian Communist Party functionary and Politburo member. Her life remains uniquely controversial and colourful in the history of Communist Bulgaria and that of the Soviet...

, daughter of Zhivkov, promoted Bulgaria's national heritage, culture and arts worldwide. On the other hand, an assimilation campaign of the late 1980s directed against ethnic Turks
Turks in Bulgaria
The Turks in Bulgaria number 588,318 people and constitute 8.8% of those who declared their ethnic group and 8.0% of the total population according to the 2011 Bulgarian census. 605,802 persons or 9.1% of the population pointed Turkish language as their mother tongue. They are also the largest...

 resulted in the emigration of some 300,000 of them to Turkey. On 10 November 1989, the Bulgarian Communist Party gave up its political monopoly, Zhivkov resigned, and Bulgaria embarked on a transition from a single-party republic
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 to a parliamentary democracy.
The first free elections took place in June 1990 and were won by the moderate wing of the Communist Party (the Bulgarian Socialist Party
Bulgarian Socialist Party
The Bulgarian Socialist Party is social-democratic political party in Bulgaria and successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party. The BSP is a member of the Party of European Socialists and Socialist International, and is currently led by Sergei Stanishev....

—BSP). A new constitution
Constitution of Bulgaria
The Constitution of Bulgaria is the supreme and basic law of the Republic of Bulgaria. The current constitution was adopted on 12 July 1991 by the 7th Grand National Assembly of Bulgaria, and defines the country as a unitary parliamentary republic...

 that provided for a relatively weak elected President and for a Prime Minister accountable to the legislature was adopted in July 1991. The new system eventually failed to improve living standards or create economic growth—the average quality of life and economic performance actually remained lower than in the times of Communism well into the early 2000s. A reform package introduced in 1997 restored positive economic growth, but living standards continued to suffer. After 2001 economic, political and geopolitical conditions improved greatly, and Bulgaria achieved High Human Development status. It became a member of NATO in 2004 and of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 in 2007.

Geography


Bulgaria's geographic coordinates are 43° N
43rd parallel north
The 43rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 43 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 25° E
25th meridian east
The meridian 25° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. Its total area is 110,994 square kilometers, which ranks it as the 105th-largest country in the world. A total of 1,808 kilometers of land borders are shared with five countries—Greece (494 km), Macedonia (148 km), Romania (608 km), Serbia (318 km) and Turkey (240 km). The coastline has a length of 354 kilometers.

Bulgaria has several notable topographical features: the Danubian Plain
Danubian Plain (Bulgaria)
The Danubian Plain constitutes the northern part of Bulgaria, situated north of the Balkan Mountains and south of the Danube. Its western border is the Timok River and to the east it borders the Black Sea. The plain has an area of . It is about long and wide.The relief of the Danubian Plain is...

, which runs along both sides of the border with Romania; the Balkan Mountains
Balkan Mountains
The Balkan mountain range is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on the border between Bulgaria and eastern Serbia eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea...

; the Thracian Plain; and the Rhodope Mountains
Rhodope Mountains
The Rhodopes are a mountain range in Southeastern Europe, with over 83% of its area in southern Bulgaria and the remainder in Greece. Its highest peak, Golyam Perelik , is the seventh highest Bulgarian mountain...

. The southern edge of the Danubian Plain slopes upward into the foothills of the Balkans, which are highest in the western part of the country. The Thracian Plain is roughly triangular, beginning near Sofia in the west and broadening as it reaches the Black Sea coast.
About 30 percent of the land is made up of plains, while plateaus and hills account for 41 percent. The mountainous southwest of the country has two alpine ranges—Rila
Rila
Rila is a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria and the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkans, with its highest peak being Musala at 2,925 m...

 and Pirin
Pirin
The Pirin Mountains are a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria, with Vihren the highest peak, situated at . The range extends about 40 km northwest-southeast, and about 25 km wide. Most of the range is protected in the Pirin National Park...

, and further east stand the lower but more extensive Rhodope Mountains. The Balkan mountain chain
Balkan Mountains
The Balkan mountain range is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on the border between Bulgaria and eastern Serbia eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea...

 runs west-east through the middle of the country, north of the Rose Valley
Rose Valley, Bulgaria
The Rose Valley is a region in Bulgaria located just south of the Balkan Mountains and the eastern part of the lower Sredna Gora chain to the south...

. Hilly countryside and plains lie to the southeast, along the Black Sea
Bulgarian Black Sea Coast
The Bulgarian Black Sea Coast covers the entire eastern bound of Bulgaria stretching from the Romanian Black Sea resorts in the north to European Turkey in the south, along 378 km of coastline. White and golden sandy beaches occupy approximately 130 km of the 378 km long coast...

 coast, and along Bulgaria's main river, the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, to the north. Bulgaria's highest point is Musala
Musala
Musala is the highest peak in Bulgaria and the entire Balkan Peninsula, standing at 2,925 m . The summit of the Rila mountain in southwestern Bulgaria, Musala is the highest peak between the Alps and the Caucasus and the highest in Eastern Europe bar the Caucasus.Between 1949–1962 the peak was...

 at 2925 metres (9,596 ft) and its lowest point is the sea level at 0 meters.

The climate is temperate, with cold winters and hot summers. Considering its relatively small size, Bulgaria has substantial climatic variation because it is located at the meeting point of Mediterranean and continental air masses and because its mountains partition climatic zones. Precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 averages about 630 millimetres (24.8 in) per year. In the lowlands rainfall varies between 500 and 800 mm (19.7 and 31.5 ), and in the mountain areas between 1000 and 2500 mm (39.4 and 98.4 ). Drier areas include Dobrudja and the northern coastal strip, while the higher parts of the Rila
Rila
Rila is a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria and the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkans, with its highest peak being Musala at 2,925 m...

, Pirin
Pirin
The Pirin Mountains are a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria, with Vihren the highest peak, situated at . The range extends about 40 km northwest-southeast, and about 25 km wide. Most of the range is protected in the Pirin National Park...

, Rhodope Mountains
Rhodope Mountains
The Rhodopes are a mountain range in Southeastern Europe, with over 83% of its area in southern Bulgaria and the remainder in Greece. Its highest peak, Golyam Perelik , is the seventh highest Bulgarian mountain...

, Stara Planina, Osogovska Mountain and Vitosha
Vitosha
Vitosha is a mountain massif, on the outskirts of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Vitosha is one of the tourists symbols of Sofia and the closest site for hiking, alpinism and skiing. Convenient bus lines and rope ways render the mountain easily accessible. Vitosha has the outlines of an enormous...

 receive the highest levels of precipitation.

The country has a dense network of about 540 rivers, most of them—with the notable exception of the Danube—short and with low water levels.
Most rivers flow through mountainous areas. The longest river located solely in Bulgarian territory, the Iskar, has a length of 368 kilometres (229 mi). Other major rivers include the Struma
Struma River
The Struma or Strymónas is a river in Bulgaria and Greece. Its ancient name was Strymōn . Its catchment area is 10,800 km²...

 and the Maritsa
Maritsa
The Maritsa or Evros , ) is, with a length of 480 km, the longest river that runs solely in the interior of the Balkans. It has its origin in the Rila Mountains in Western Bulgaria, flowing southeast between the Balkan and Rhodope Mountains, past Plovdiv and Parvomay to Edirne, Turkey...

 in the south.

Environment and wildlife


Bulgaria has signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

 and has completed the protocol's objectives by achieving a 30 percent reduction of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 emissions from 1990 to 2009. However, pollution from outdated factories and metallurgy works, as well as severe deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

, continue to be major problems. Urban areas are particularly affected mostly due to energy production from coal-based powerplants and automobile traffic, while pesticide usage in the agriculture and antiquated industrial sewage systems have resulted in extensive soil and water pollution with chemicals and detergents. Bulgaria remains the only EU member which does not recycle municipal waste, although an electronic waste recycling
Computer recycling
Computer recycling or electronic recycling is the recycling or reuse of computers or other electronics. It includes both finding another use for materials , and having systems dismantled in a manner that allows for the safe extraction of the constituent materials for reuse in other...

 plant was put in operation in June 2010. The situation has improved in recent years, and several government-funded programs have been initiated in order to reduce pollution levels.

Three national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

s, 11 nature parks and 17 biosphere reserve
Biosphere reserve
The Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO was established in 1971 to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.-Development:...

s exist on Bulgaria's territory. Nearly 35 percent of its land area consists of forests, where some of the oldest trees in the world, such as Baikushev's Pine
Baikushev's Pine
The Baikushev's Pine is a coniferous tree from the species Bosnian Pine situated in Pirin, southwestern Bulgaria. It is named after its discoverer, forest ranger Kostadin Baikushev, and is located near the Banderitsa refuge...

 and the Granit oak, have grown. The flora of Bulgaria encompasses more than 3,800 species of which 170 are endemic and 150 are considered endangered. The fauna is represented prominently by the brown bear
Brown Bear
The brown bear is a large bear distributed across much of northern Eurasia and North America. It can weigh from and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear, rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.There are several recognized...

 and the jackal
Jackal
Although the word jackal has been historically used to refer to many small- to medium-sized species of the wolf genus of mammals, Canis, today it most properly and commonly refers to three species: the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal of sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal of...

, while the Eurasian lynx
Eurasian Lynx
The Eurasian lynx is a medium-sized cat native to European and Siberian forests, South Asia and East Asia. It is also known as the European lynx, common lynx, the northern lynx, and the Siberian or Russian lynx...

 and the Eastern imperial eagle
Eastern Imperial Eagle
The Eastern Imperial Eagle is a large species of bird of prey that breeds from southeastern Europe to central Asia. Most populations are migratory and winter in northeastern Africa, and southern and eastern Asia. The Spanish Imperial Eagle, found in Spain and Portugal, was formerly lumped with...

 have small, but growing populations.

Politics


Bulgaria functions as a parliamentary democracy in which the prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 occupies the most powerful executive position. The political system has three separate branches of power—legislative, executive and judicial, with universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 for citizens 18 years of age and older. Elections are supervised by an independent Central Election Commission that includes members from all major political parties. Parties must register with the commission prior to participating in a national election. Normally, the prime minister-elect is the leader of the party receiving the most votes in parliamentary elections.

The National Assembly (Народно събрание) consists of 240 deputies, each elected for four-year terms by direct popular vote. The National Assembly has the power to enact laws, approve the budget, schedule presidential elections, select and dismiss the Prime Minister and other ministers, declare war, deploy troops abroad, and ratify international treaties and agreements. The president serves as the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. While unable to initiate legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 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 simple majority of all MPs. Boyko Borisov
Boyko Borisov
Boyko Metodiev Borisov is a Bulgarian politician who has been Prime Minister of Bulgaria since July 2009. Previously he was Mayor of Sofia from 8 November 2005 until his election as Prime Minister....

, leader of the centre-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria
Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria
Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria , abbreviated GERB , is a Bulgarian centre-right political party established on March 13 2006. It has been Bulgaria's ruling party since 2009....

 (Grazhdani za Evropeysko Razvitie na Bulgaria, GERB), became prime minister on 27 July 2009, and Georgi Parvanov was re-elected as a president in 2005. In 2011 Rosen Plevneliev
Rosen Plevneliev
Rosen Plevneliev is a Bulgarian politician. He was Minister of Regional Development and Public Works from 2009 to 2011 as part of the cabinet of Boyko Borisov...

 from GERB was elected to succeed Parvanov, receiving 52.5% of the votes on the second round against 47.5% for his Socialist Party opponent Ivaylo Kalfin
Ivaylo Kalfin
Ivaylo Georgiev Kalfin is a Bulgarian politician. A three-term deputy, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and Deputy Prime Minister from 2005 to 2009...

.

The legal system recognizes the Acts of Parliament as a main source of law, and is a typical representative of the Romano-Germanic law family. The judiciary is a separate branch and is overseen by the Ministry of Justice, while the highest courts of appeal—the Supreme Administrative Court and Supreme Court of Cassation—rule on the application of laws in lower courts. The Supreme Judicial Council manages the system and appoints judges. Bulgaria's judiciary remains one of Europe's most corrupt and inefficient.

Law enforcement organizations are mainly subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. The National Police Service
National Police Service (Bulgaria)
The National Police Service is an independent agency of the Ministry of the Interior responsible for general law enforcement in Bulgaria.- Ranks and shoulder insignia of the Bulgarian police officers :...

 is fights general crime and supports the operations of other law enforcement agencies, such as the National Investigative Service and the Central Office for Combating Organized Crime. The Police Service has criminal and financial sections and national and local offices, and fields 27,000 police officers. The Ministry of Interior also heads the Border Police Service and the National Gendarmerie—a specialized branch for anti-terrorist activity, crisis management and riot control. The State Agency for National Security, a specialized body for counterintelligence, was established in 2008 with the aim to eliminate threats to national security.

Administrative divisions


Bulgaria is a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

. Between 1987 and 1999 the administrative structure consisted of nine provinces (oblasti, singular oblast
Oblast
Oblast is a type of administrative division in Slavic countries, including some countries of the former Soviet Union. The word "oblast" is a loanword in English, but it is nevertheless often translated as "area", "zone", "province", or "region"...

). In 1999, in parallel with the decentralization of the economic system, a new administrative structure was adopted. It includes 27 provinces and a metropolitan capital province (Sofia-Grad). All areas take their names from their respective capital cities. The provinces subdivide into 264 municipalities
Municipalities of Bulgaria
The 28 provinces of Bulgaria are divided into 264 municipalities .-Blagoevgrad Province:# Bansko Municipality # Belitsa Municipality # Blagoevgrad Municipality...

.

Regional governors are named by the national Council of Ministers, providing for a highly centralized
Centralization
Centralisation, or centralization , is the process by which the activities of an organisation, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, become concentrated within a particular location and/or group....

 state. Municipalities are run by mayors, who are elected to four-year terms, and by municipal councils, which are directly elected legislative bodies. Subnational jurisdictions are heavily dependent on the central government for funding.

style="margin:auto;" cellpadding="10">
  1. Blagoevgrad
    Blagoevgrad Province
    Blagoevgrad Province , also known as Pirin Macedonia , is a province of southwestern Bulgaria. It borders four other Bulgarian provinces to the north and east, Greece to the south, and the Republic of Macedonia to the west. The province has 14 municipalities with 12 towns...

  2. Burgas
    Burgas Province
    -Municipalities:The Burgas province contains 13 municipalities . The following table shows the names of each municipality in English and Cyrillic, the main town or village , and the population of each as of 2009.-Demography:The Burgas province had a population of 423,608 -Municipalities:The Burgas...

  3. Dobrich
    Dobrich Province
    Dobrich Province is a province in northeastern Bulgaria, part of Southern Dobruja geographical region. It is divided into 8 municipalities with a total population, as of December 2009, of 199,705 inhabitants.-Municipalities:...

  4. Gabrovo
    Gabrovo Province
    Gabrovo Province , former name Gabrovo okrug) is a small province lying at the geographical centre of Bulgaria. It is named after its main town - Gabrovo. In 2009 the total population of the area is 130,001.-Municipalities:...

  5. Haskovo
    Haskovo Province
    Haskovo Province is a province in southern Bulgaria, neighbouring Greece and Turkey to the southeast, comprising parts of the Thracian valley along the river Maritsa. It is named after its administrative and industrial centre - the city of Haskovo...

  6. Kardzhali
    Kardzhali Province
    Kardzhali Province is a province of southern Bulgaria, neighbouring Greece with the Greek prefectures of Xanthi, Rhodope and Evros to the south and east. Kardzhali Province area is 3209.1 km². Its main city is Kardzhali.-History:...

  7. Kyustendil
    Kyustendil Province
    -Religion:Religious adherence in the province according to 2001 census:-Language:Mother tongues in the province according to 2001 census:* 153,242 Bulgarian * 7,929 Roma  * 1363 others and unspecified -Ethnic groups:...

  8. Lovech
    Lovech Province
    Lovech Province is one of the 28 provinces of Bulgaria, lying at the northern centre of the country. It is named after its main city - Lovech. As of December 2009, the population of the area is 151,153.-Municipalities:...

  9. Montana
    Montana Province
    Montana Province is a province in northwestern Bulgaria, bordering Serbia in the southwest and Romania in the north. It spreads its area between the Danube river and Balkan mountain. As of February 2011, the province has a population of 148,098 inhabitants, on territory of 3,635.5 km²...

  10. Pazardzhik
    Pazardzhik Province
    Pazardzhik Province is a province in Southern Bulgaria, named after its administrative and industrial centre - the town of Pazardzhik. It embraces a territory of 4,456.9 km² that is divided into 11 municipalities with a total population of 290,614 inhabitants, as of December 2009.-History:The...

  11. Pernik
    Pernik Province
    -Religion:Religious adherence in the province according to 2001 census:-Ethnic groups:Ethnic groups in the province according to 2001 census:145 642 Bulgarians ,3 035 Roma  and 1155 others and unspecified .-Economy:...

  12. Pleven
    Pleven Province
    Pleven Province is a province located in central northern Bulgaria, bordering the Danube river, Romania and the Bulgarian provinces of Vratsa, Veliko Tarnovo and Lovech. It is divided into 11 subdivisions, called municipalities, that embrace a territory of 4,333.54 km² with a population, as...

  13. Plovdiv
    Plovdiv Province
    Plovdiv Province is a province in central southern Bulgaria. It comprises 18 municipalities on a territory of 5,972.9 km² with a total population, as of December 2009, of 701,684 inhabitants...

  14. Razgrad
    Razgrad Province
    Razgrad Province , former name Razgrad okrug) is a province in Northeastern Bulgaria, geographically part of the Ludogorie region. It is named after its administrative and industrial centre - the town of Razgrad...


  1. Rousse
    Ruse Province
    Ruse Province is a province in northern Bulgaria, named after its main city - Ruse, neighbouring Romania via the Danube. It is divided into 8 municipalities with a total population, as of December 2009, of 249,144 inhabitants....


  2. Shumen
    Shumen Province
    -Religion:Religious adherence in the province according to 2001 census:-Transportation:Shumen lies on the main route between Varna and Sofia and is served by numerous trains and buses serving the city. The city is also very well connected with Istanbul which serves the large Turkish community in...


  3. Silistra
    Silistra Province
    Silistra Province is a province of Bulgaria, named after its main city - Silistra. It is divided into 7 municipalities with a total population, as of December 2009, of 127,659 inhabitants....


  4. Sliven
    Sliven Province
    Sliven Province is a province in southeastern Bulgaria, named after its administrative and industrial centre - the city of Sliven. It embraces a territory of 3,544.1 km² that is divided into 4 municipalities, with a total population, as of December 2009, of 204,887...


  5. Smolyan
    Smolyan Province
    -Religion:The Smolyan province along with the Kardzhali Province is a province where the predominant religion is not Orthodox Christianity but Islam. However, unlike Kardzhali where the majority of the population is Turkish, the Muslim population of the Smolyan province is made up almost entirely...


  6. Sofia Province
    Sofia Province
    Sofia Province is a province of Bulgaria. The province does not include Sofia in its territories, but Sofia however remains its administrative center...


  7. Stara Zagora
    Stara Zagora Province
    Stara Zagora is a province of south central Bulgaria. It is named after its administrative and industrial centre—the city of Stara Zagora—the sixth-biggest town in the country...


  8. Targovishte
    Targovishte Province
    Targovishte Province is a province in northeastern Bulgaria, named after its main city - Targovishte. As of December 2009, it has a population of 129,675 inhabitants.-Municipalities:...


  9. Varna
  10. Veliko Tarnovo
    Veliko Tarnovo Province
    Veliko Tarnovo is a province in the middle of the northern part of Bulgaria. Its capital city, Veliko Tarnovo, is of historical significance as it is known as the capital of Medieval Bulgaria...


  11. Vidin
    Vidin Province
    Vidin Province is the northwesternmost province of Bulgaria. It borders Serbia to the west and Romania to the northeast. Its administrative centre is the city of Vidin on the Danube river. The area is divided into 11 municipalities...


  12. Vratsa
    Vratsa Province
    Vratsa Province , former name Vratsa okrug) is a Bulgarian province located in the northwestern part of the country, between Danube river in the north and Stara Planina mountain in the south. It is named after its main town - Vratsa...


  13. Yambol
    Yambol Province
    Yambol is a province in southeastern Bulgaria, neighbouring Turkey to the south. It is named after its main city Yambol, while other towns include Straldzha, Bolyarovo and Elhovo...




  14. Foreign relations and military


    Bulgaria became a member of the United Nations
    United Nations
    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

     in 1955 and since 1966 has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council
    United Nations Security Council
    The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

     three times, most recently from 2002 to 2003. Bulgaria was also among the founding nations of the OSCE
    Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
    The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections...

     in 1975. It joined NATO on 29 March 2004, signed the European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

     Treaty of Accession
    Treaty of Accession 2005
    The Treaty of Accession 2005 is an agreement between the member states of European Union and Bulgaria and Romania. It entered into force on 1 January 2007. The Treaty arranged accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU and amended earlier Treaties of the European Union...

     on 25 April 2005, and became a full member of the European Union on 1 January 2007. Euro-Atlantic integration has been a priority for the country since the Fall of Communism, although even the Communist leadership had aspirations of leaving the Warsaw Pact and joining the European Communities
    European Communities
    The European Communities were three international organisations that were governed by the same set of institutions...

     as early as 1987. Bulgaria's relationship with its neighbors since 1990 has generally been good. The country has played an important role in promoting regional security.
    Bulgaria remained free of foreign deployments on its territory until 2001, when it hosted six KC-135 Stratotanker
    KC-135 Stratotanker
    The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is an aerial refueling military aircraft. It and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. The KC-135 was the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratotanker...

     aircraft and 200 support personnel for the war effort in Afghanistan, which was the first stationing of foreign forces on its territory since World War II. In April 2006 Bulgaria and the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     signed a defense cooperation agreement providing for the usage of the Bezmer
    Bezmer Air Base
    Bezmer Air Base is situated in the eastern part of the Upper Thracian Lowland, in Yambol Oblast , 10 km west of the city of Yambol and 30 km southeast of the city of Sliven, between the villages of Bezmer and Bolyarsko, and near the Sofia-Burgas railway...

     and Graf Ignatievo
    Graf Ignatievo Air Base
    Graf Ignatievo Air Base , is located in the village of Graf Ignatievo, about north of the Bulgaria's second largest city of Plovdiv. It is the sole remaining fighter base of that state and houses two squadrons of jet aircrafts.-Early years:...

     air bases, the Novo Selo
    Novo Selo Range
    The Novo Selo Training Range is a major Bulgarian military training facility established in 1962, presently used by other NATO nations as well. The range has a surface area of 144 km2 The Novo Selo Training Range is a major Bulgarian military training facility established in 1962, presently...

     training range, and a logistics centre in Aytos as joint military facilities. The facilities serve to enhance Bulgaria's military capabilities by means of cooperative training. Foreign Policy magazine lists Bezmer Air Base as one of the six most important overseas facilities used by the USAF
    United States Air Force
    The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

    .

    The military of Bulgaria
    Military of Bulgaria
    The Military of Bulgaria, officially the Bulgarian Army represents the Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria. The Commander-in-Chief is the President of Bulgaria . The Ministry of Defence is in charge of political leadership while military command remains in the hands of the General Staff,...

    , an all-volunteer
    Volunteer military
    A volunteer military or all-volunteer military is one which derives its manpower from volunteers rather than conscription or mandatory service. A country may offer attractive pay and benefits through military recruitment to attract volunteers...

     body, consists of three services—land forces
    Bulgarian land forces
    The Bulgarian Land Forces are one of the service branches of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. Their existence is to be traced back to the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681. In more recent history the Land Forces have played an active role in the Bulgarian participation in the Balkan...

    , navy
    Bulgarian Navy
    The Bulgarian Navy is the navy of Republic of Bulgaria and forms part of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. It has been largely overlooked in the reforms that Bulgaria had to go through in order to comply with NATO standards, mostly because of the great expense involved and the fact that naval assaults...

     and air force
    Bulgarian Air Force
    The Bulgarian Air Force is a branch of the Military of Bulgaria, the other two being the Bulgarian Navy and Bulgarian land forces. Its mission is to guard and protect the sovereignty of Bulgarian airspace, to provide aerial support and to assist the Land Forces in case of war. The Bulgarian Air...

    . The country maintains a total of 913 troops deployed abroad as part of various UN and NATO missions. Historically, Bulgaria deployed significant numbers of military and civilian advisors in Socialist-oriented countries, such as Nicaragua
    Nicaragua
    Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

     and Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

     (more than 9,000 personnel).

    Following a series of reductions beginning in 1990, the number of active troops has contracted from 152,000 in 1988 to about 32,000 today, supplemented by a reserve force of 303,000 soldiers and officers and 34,000 paramilitary
    Paramilitary
    A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

     servicement. The inventory consists of equipment mostly of Soviet origin, such as MiG-29 fighters, SA-10 Grumble SAMs and SS-21 Scarab short-range ballistic missiles. Military spending in 2009 cost $1.19 billion.

    Economy


    Bulgaria has an industrialized free market economy in the upper middle income range, with a large private sector accounting for more than 80 percent of GDP. From a largely agricultural country with 80 percent of its population in rural areas in 1948, by the 1980s Bulgaria transformed into an industrial economy with scientific and technological research as its top priorities. The loss of COMECON
    Comecon
    The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , 1949–1991, was an economic organisation under hegemony of Soviet Union comprising the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world...

     markets in 1990 and the subsequent "shock therapy
    Shock therapy (economics)
    In economics, shock therapy refers to the sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and immediate trade liberalization within a country, usually also including large scale privatization of previously public owned assets....

    " of the planned system caused a sharp drop in industrial and agricultural production, and ultimately an economic collapse in 1997. After 2001, Bulgaria experienced rapid economic growth, even though its income level remains one of the lowest within the EU with an average monthly wage of 689 leva (354 euro). Bulgarian PPS GDP per capita stood at 44 percent of the EU average in 2010 according to Eurostat
    Eurostat
    Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

     data, while the cost of living was 51 percent of the EU average. The currency is the lev
    Bulgarian lev
    The lev is the currency of Bulgaria. It is divided in 100 stotinki . In archaic Bulgarian the word "lev" meant "lion".It is speculated that Bulgaria, as a member of the European Union will adopt the Euro in 2015 .- First lev, 1881–1952 :...

    , which is pegged to the euro
    Euro
    The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

     at a rate of 1.95583 levа for 1 euro.

    Amidst the late-2000s financial crisis
    Late-2000s financial crisis
    The late-2000s financial crisis is considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s...

    , unemployment rates increased to 10.1 percent in 2010, while GDP growth contracted from 6.2 (2008) to −5.5 percent(2009). The crisis had a negative impact mostly on industry, with a 10 percent decline in the national industrial production index, a 31 percent drop in mining, and a 60 percent drop in "ferrous and metal production". Positive growth was restored to 0.2 percent in 2010.

    Corruption in the public administration and a weak judiciary have hampered Bulgaria's economic development. However, it ranks 28th in the Economic Freedom of the World index, has the lowest personal and corporate income tax rates in the European Union, and the second-lowest public debt of all member states at 16.2 percent of GDP in 2010. In 2010, GDP (PPP) was estimated at $97.1 billion, with a per capita value of $12,934. Yugozapaden
    Yugozapaden
    Yugozapaden is a planning region in Bulgaria. The capital, also the national capital, is Sofia. It includes: Blagoevgrad Province, Sofia city, Sofia Province, Pernik Province and Kyustendil Province....

     is the most developed region of the country with a per capita PPS GDP of $25,130. The services sector accounts for 64.6 percent of GDP, followed by industry with 30.1 percent and agriculture with 5.3 percent. The total labor force amounts to 2.5 million people.

    Even though relatively poor in terms of natural resources, local deposits of iron
    Iron
    Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

    , copper
    Copper
    Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

    , lead
    Lead
    Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

     and coal
    Coal
    Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

     are vital for Bulgaria's manufacturing sector. Major industries include the extraction of metals and minerals, production of chemicals
    Chemical industry
    The chemical industry comprises the companies that produce industrial chemicals. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials into more than 70,000 different products.-Products:...

    , machinery, petroleum refinement, steel
    Steel
    Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

     and vehicle
    Vehicle
    A vehicle is a device that is designed or used to transport people or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats, and aircraft....

     components production. Primary industrial exports are clothing, iron and steel, machinery and refined fuels. The mining sector and its related industries employ a total of 120,000 people and generate about 5 percent of the country's GDP with $3.51 billion worth of exports. The country is the 4th-largest gold producer and the 6th-largest coal producer in Europe. In 2008 the electronics
    Electronics
    Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

     industry marked more than $260 million in exports, primarily of components, computers and consumer electronics. Another major area of Bulgaria's industry is military equipment, the exports of which amounted to $358 million in 2010, including the manufacture of 50 percent of all radar systems for Northrop Grumman
    Northrop Grumman
    Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...

    's UK branch.

    In contrast with the industrial sector, agriculture has marked a decline since the beginning of the 2000s, with production in 2008 amounting to only 66 percent of that between 1999 and 2001 and an overall drop in cereal and vegetable yields with nearly 40 percent since 1990. Bulgaria nevertheless remains a net agricultural and food exporter and two-thirds of its exports are to OECD countries. The country is the largest global producer of perfumery essential oils such as lavender
    Lavender oil
    Lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by distillation from the flower spikes of certain species of lavender. Two forms are distinguished, lavender flower oil, a colorless oil, insoluble in water, having a density of 0.885 g/mL; and lavender spike oil, a distillate from the herb Lavandula...

     and rose oil
    Rose oil
    Rose oil, meaning either rose otto or rose absolute, is the essential oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose...

    . A five-year modernization and development program was launched by the government in 2007, aimed at strengthening the agructultural sector by investing a total of 3.2 billion euro.

    In recent years Bulgaria has emerged as an attractive tourist destination as it has some of the least expensive resorts in Europe and holds some of the last deserted beaches on the continent. Lonely Planet
    Lonely Planet
    Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011...

     ranked Bulgaria among its top 10 travel destinations for 2011. More than 40 percent of all 9,000,000 annual visitors are Greeks, Romanians and Germans. Main destinations include the capital Sofia
    Sofia
    Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

    , the medieval capital Veliko Tarnovo
    Veliko Tarnovo
    Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists...

    , coastal resorts Golden Sands
    Golden Sands
    Golden Sands is a major seaside resort town on the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, adjacent to a national park of the same name in the municipality of Varna....

     and Sunny Beach
    Sunny Beach
    Sunny Beach is a major seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, located approximately 35 km north of Burgas in Nessebar municipality, Burgas Province. It is the biggest and most popular holiday resort in Bulgaria, and is home to over 800 hotels with more than 300 000 beds. There are...

     and winter resorts Bansko
    Bansko
    Bansko is a town and a popular ski resort in southwestern Bulgaria, located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains at an elevation of 925 m above sea level....

    , Pamporovo
    Pamporovo
    Pamporovo is a popular ski resort in Smolyan Province, southern Bulgaria, one of the best-known in Southeastern Europe. It is set amongst magnificent pine forests and is primarily visited during the winter for skiing and snowboarding. It is also a popular tourist place in summer. The hub of...

     and Borovets
    Borovets
    Borovets , known as Chamkoria until the middle of the 20th century, is a popular Bulgarian mountain resort situated in Sofia Province, on the northern slopes of Rila, at an altitude of 1350 m...

    .

    Science and technology


    In 2010 Bulgaria spent 0.25 percent of its GDP on scientific research, which represents one of the lowest scientific budgets in Europe.
    Chronic underinvestment in the sector since 1990 forced many scientific professionals to leave the country. As a result, Bulgaria's economy scores low in terms of innovation, competitiveness and high-value added exports.

    The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
    Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
    The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is the National Academy of Bulgaria, established in 1869. The Academy is autonomous and has a Society of Academicians, Correspondent Members and Foreign Members...

     (BAS) is the leading scientific institution in the country and employs most of Bulgaria's researchers in its numerous branches. The principal areas of research and development are energy, nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

    , archaeology
    Archaeology
    Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

     and medicine. With major-general
    Major General
    Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

     Georgi Ivanov
    Georgi Ivanov
    Major general Georgi Ivanov Kakalov is a retired Bulgarian military officer and the first Bulgarian cosmonaut. He was a member of the National Assembly of Bulgaria in 1990.-Early life and military career:...

     flying on Soyuz 33
    Soyuz 33
    -Backup crew:-Mission parameters:*Mass: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 51.63°*Period: 88.99 minutes-Mission highlights:...

     in 1979, Bulgaria became the 6th country in the world to have an astronaut in space. It has deployed its own experiments on various missions, such as RADOM-7
    RADOM-7
    RADOM is a Bulgarian Liulin-type spectrometry-dosimetry instrument, designed to precisely measure cosmic radiation around the Moon. It is installed on the Indian satellite Chandrayaan-1. Another three instruments were deployed on the International Space Station...

     dosimeters on the International Space Station
    International Space Station
    The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

     and Chandrayaan-1 and space greenhouse
    Greenhouse
    A greenhouse is a building in which plants are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to very large buildings...

    s (a Bulgarian invention) on the Mir space station. In 2011 the government announced plans to reboot the space program by producing a new microsatellite and joining the European Space Agency
    European Space Agency
    The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

    .

    Due to its large-scale computing technology exports to COMECON
    Comecon
    The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , 1949–1991, was an economic organisation under hegemony of Soviet Union comprising the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world...

     states, in the 1980s Bulgaria became known as the Silicon Valley
    Silicon Valley
    Silicon Valley is a term which refers to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations...

     of the Eastern Bloc
    Eastern bloc
    The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

    . The country ranked 8th in the world in 2002 by total number of ICT
    Information and communication technologies
    Information and communications technology or information and communication technology, usually abbreviated as ICT, is often used as an extended synonym for information technology , but is usually a more general term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of...

     specialists, outperforming countries with far larger populations, and it operates the only supercomputer in the Balkan region, an IBM Blue Gene
    Blue Gene
    Blue Gene is a computer architecture project to produce several supercomputers, designed to reach operating speeds in the PFLOPS range, and currently reaching sustained speeds of nearly 500 TFLOPS . It is a cooperative project among IBM Blue Gene is a computer architecture project to produce...

    /P, which entered service in September 2008.

    Infrastructure


    Although it has relatively few reserves of fossil fuels, Bulgaria's well-developed energy sector and strategic geographical location make it a key European energy hub. Nearly 34 percent of the electricity is produced by the nuclear power station at Kozloduy
    Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant
    The Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria situated north of Sofia and east of Kozloduy, a town on the Danube river, near the border with Romania. It is the country's only nuclear power plant and the largest in the region...

     and public opinion is strongly in support of nuclear energy development. have seen a rapid increase in electricity production from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, making Bulgaria one of the fastest-growing wind energy producers in the world. The country aims at producing 16 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

    Bulgaria's national road network has a total length of 40231 kilometres (24,998.4 mi), of which 39587 kilometres (24,598.3 mi) are paved, but nearly half of them fall into the lowest international rating for paved roads. Railroads are a major mode of freight transportation, although highways carry a progressively larger share of freight. Bulgaria has 6238 kilometres (3,876.1 mi) of railway track and plans to construct a high-speed line
    High-speed rail
    High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include for upgraded track and or faster for new track, whilst in the United States, the U.S...

     by 2017, at a cost of €3 bln. Sofia and Plovdiv are major air travel hubs, while Varna and Burgas are the principal maritime trade ports.

    Bulgaria's extensive telecommunications network is generally antiquated and requires substantial modernization. Telephone
    Telephone
    The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

     service is available in most villages, and a central digital trunk line connects most regions. Currently there are three active mobile phone operators—Mtel
    Mtel
    Mtel may refer to:*Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure*Mobiltel, a leading Bulgarian mobile telecom.*M:tel Crna Gora , a telecommunications company in Montenegro*Mtel , the mobile telephony arm of NITEL, Nigeria's principal telecom....

    , GLOBUL
    GloBul
    GLOBUL is the second-largest Bulgarian GSM/UMTS operator. The company was founded in 2001 and is 100% owned by Greek telecommunications corporation Cosmote, which is active in four Balkan countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania...

     and Vivacom. The number of Internet users has increased rapidly since 2000—from 430,000 their number grew to 1,545,100 in 2004, and 3.4 million (48 percent penetration rate) in 2010. Bulgaria has the fastest average Broadband Internet speed in the world after South Korea and Romania.

    Demographics


    According to the 2011 census, the population of Bulgaria is 7,364,570 people, down from a peak of 9 million inhabitants in 1989. Bulgaria has had negative population growth since the early 1990s, when the collapse of the economy caused some 800,000 people—mostly young adults—to emigrate by 2004. The population continues to decrease with 30,000 people per year and the growth rate is the lowest of any sovereign country in the world.

    Comprising 84.8 percent of the population, Bulgarians
    Bulgarians
    The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

     are the main ethnic group, followed by the Turkish
    Turks in Bulgaria
    The Turks in Bulgaria number 588,318 people and constitute 8.8% of those who declared their ethnic group and 8.0% of the total population according to the 2011 Bulgarian census. 605,802 persons or 9.1% of the population pointed Turkish language as their mother tongue. They are also the largest...

     and Roma
    Roma in Bulgaria
    The Roma in Bulgaria are the country's second largest minority and third largest ethnic group . According to the 2001 census, there were 370,908 Roma in Bulgaria, equivalent to 4.7% of the country's total population, making Bulgaria the European country with the highest percentage of Roma.Experts'...

     minorities (8.8 and 4.9 percent, respectively). Of the remaining 1.5 percent, 0.7 comprise some 40 smaller minorities, while 0.8 percent of the population have not declared their ethnicity. Bulgarian
    Bulgarian language
    Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

     is the only official language, spoken by about 5,659,000 people (85 percent) as a mother tongue. Bulgarian is the most ancient Slavic language
    Slavic languages
    The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

    , with certain grammatical peculiarities distinguishing it from the other languages in this group.

    Most of the population (76 percent) self-identify as Orthodox Christian. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church gained autocephalous
    Autocephaly
    Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

     status in 927 AD, making it the earliest Slavic Orthodox
    Slavic Orthodox
    Slavic Orthodox Church or Slavonic Orthodox Church is an umbrella term for East Orthodox churches that use Church Slavonic in liturgy, the latter being of Byzantine Rite...

     Church. Other religious denominations include Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

     (10 percent), Roman Catholicism (0.8 percent) and Protestantism
    Protestantism
    Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

     (1.1 percent); 12.1 percent of the population practice other beliefs or did not state their religion.
    Bulgaria regards itself officially as a secular state
    Secular state
    A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential...

    . The Constitution guarantees religious freedom, but appoints Orthodoxy as a "traditional" religion.

    Government estimates from 2003 put the literacy rate at 98.6 percent; approximately the same for both sexes. Bulgaria has traditionally
    Education in Bulgaria
    Education in Bulgaria is overseen by the Ministry of Education and Science. Full-time education is mandatory for all children aged between 7 and 16. 6-year old children can be enrolled at school at their parents' discretion. Education at state-owned schools is free of charge, except for the higher...

     had high educational standards. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Science funds all public educational establishments, sets criteria for textbooks and oversees the publishing process. The State provides education in its schools free of charge, except for higher education establishments. The educational process spans through 12 grades, where grades one to eight are the primary level and nine to twelve are the secondary level. Secondary level establishments can be technical, vocational, general or profile-oriented, while higher education consists of a 4-year bachelor
    Bachelor
    A bachelor is a man above the age of majority who has never been married . Unlike his female counterpart, the spinster, a bachelor may have had children...

     degree and a 1-year master
    Master
    Master or Masters are terms denoting some kind of rank or status, and may refer to:-Ranks and titles:* Master craftsman in the Medieval guilds* Master , a title...

    's degree.

    Life expectancy is 73.6 years, below the European union average. The primary causes of death are similar to those in other industrialized countries, mainly cardiovascular disease
    Cardiovascular disease
    Heart disease or cardiovascular disease are the class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels . While the term technically refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system , it is usually used to refer to those related to atherosclerosis...

    s, neoplasms and respiratory diseases. Bulgaria has a universal
    Health in Bulgaria
    Bulgaria began overall reform of its antiquated health system, inherited from the communist era, only in 1999. In the 1990s, private medical practices expanded somewhat, but most Bulgarians relied on communist-era public clinics while paying high prices for special care. During that period,...

     healthcare system financed by taxes and health insurance contributions. The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) pays a gradually increasing portion of the costs of primary healthcare
    Primary health care
    Primary health care, often abbreviated as “PHC”, has been defined as "essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost...

    . Between 2002 and 2004, healthcare expenditures in the national budget increased to 4.3 percent, with the NHIF accounting for more than 60 percent of annual expenditures. The healthcare budget amounted to 4.2 percent of GDP in 2010, or about 1.3 billion euro. Bulgaria has 181 doctors per 100,000 people, above the EU average.

    Most Bulgarians (72.5 percent) reside in urban areas. Bulgaria has the highest home ownership rate in the world; about 97 percent of the population own a private home. There is also a very high rate of household appliances ownership, such as television sets (97.9 percent of all households), refrigerators (93.3 percent) and telephones (90.6 percent), and relatively high rates for computer
    Computer
    A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

    s (42.9 percent) and automobiles (41.9 percent). The average rates in all categories are substantially higher in Sofia, by far the largest settlement in the country and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of more than 1,200,000 people.

    Culture


    Traditional Bulgarian culture contains mainly Thracian, Slavic
    Slavic peoples
    The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

     and Bulgar
    Bulgars
    The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

     heritage, along with Greek
    Ancient Greece
    Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

    , Roman
    Ancient Rome
    Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

    , Ottoman
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

    , Persian and Celtic influences. Traces of Gothic
    Goths
    The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

     culture also exist on Bulgaria's territory, as testified by the Wulfila Bible
    Gothic Bible
    The Gothic Bible or Wulfila Bible is the Christian Bible as translated by Wulfila into the Gothic language spoken by the Eastern Germanic, or Gothic Tribes.- Codices :...

    —the first book written in a Germanic language
    Germanic languages
    The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

    , created in Nicopolis ad Istrum
    Nicopolis ad Istrum
    Nicopolis ad Istrum was a Roman and Early Byzantine town founded by Emperor Trajan around 101–106, at the junction of the Iatrus and the Rositsa rivers, in memory of his victory over the Dacians. Its ruins are located at the village of Nikyup, 20 km north of Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria...

     in northern Bulgaria during the 4th century.

    Bulgaria has the third-largest total number of uncovered archaeological sites in Europe after Italy and Greece. In 1972 the oldest
    Varna Necropolis
    The Varna Necropolis is a burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna , Bulgaria, internationally considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory...

     gold
    Gold
    Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

    en treasure in the world was discovered in a necropolis near Varna
    Varna
    Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

    , consisting of coins, weapons and jewelry that date back to 4,600 BC. The Varna necropolis also reveals evidence of the first European civilization. Nine historical and natural objects have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Madara Rider
    Madara Rider
    The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara....

    , the Thracian tombs in Sveshtari
    Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari
    The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is situated 2.5 km southwest of the village of Sveshtari, Razgrad Province, which is located 42 km northeast of Razgrad, in the northeast of Bulgaria....

     and Kazanlak
    Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
    The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a vaulted brickwork "beehive" tomb near the town of Kazanlak in central Bulgaria.The tomb is part of a large Thracian necropolis. It comprises a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual...

    , the Boyana Church
    Boyana Church
    The Boyana Church is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church situated on the outskirts of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, in the Boyana quarter...

    , the Rila Monastery
    Rila Monastery
    The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of above sea level...

    , the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo
    Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo
    The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo are a group of monolithic churches, chapels and monasteries hewn out of solid rock and completely different from other monastery complexes in Bulgaria, located near the village of Ivanovo, 20 km south of Rousse, on the high rocky banks of the Rusenski Lom, 32 m...

    , Pirin National Park
    Pirin National Park
    Pirin National Park is a World Heritage national park that encompasses the larger part of the Pirin Mountains in the southwest of Bulgaria. It has an area of about and lies at an altitude from ....

    , Sreburna Nature Reserve
    Srebarna Nature Reserve
    The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a nature reserve in northeastern Bulgaria , near the village of the same name, 18 km west of Silistra and 2 km south of the Danube...

     and the ancient city of Nesebar
    Nesebar
    Nesebar is an ancient town and one of the major seaside resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located in Burgas Province. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Nesebar Municipality...

    . Nestinarstvo
    Nestinarstvo
    Nestinarstvo is a ritual originally performed in several Bulgarian- and Greek-speaking villages in the Strandzha Mountains close to the Black Sea coast in the very southeast of Bulgaria. It involves a barefooted dance on smouldering embers performed by nestinari...

    , a ritual fire-dance of Thracian origin, is in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
    Both the First and the Second Bulgarian empires functioned as the center of Slavic culture during much of the Middle Ages, exerting considerable cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox world by means of the Preslav
    Preslav Literary School
    The Preslav Literary School was the first literary school in the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It was established by Boris I in 885 or 886 in Bulgaria's capital, Pliska...

    , Ohrid
    Ohrid Literary School
    The Ohrid Literary School was one of the two major medieval Bulgarian cultural centres, along with the Preslav Literary School . The school was established in Ohrid in 886 by Saint Clement of Ohrid on orders of Boris I of Bulgaria simultaneously or shortly after the establishment of the Preslav...

     and Tarnovo
    Tarnovo Literary School
    The Tarnovo Literary School of the late 14th and 15th century was a major medieval Bulgarian cultural academy with important contribution to the Medieval Bulgarian literature established in the capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo...

     literary schools. The Cyrillic alphabet
    Cyrillic alphabet
    The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

    , used as a writing system to many languages in Eastern Europe and Asia, originated in the Preslav Literary School around the 9th century AD. However, Bulgaria's advancement in the arts ended with the Ottoman conquest when many masterpieces were destroyed, and artistic activities did not re-emerge until the National Revival
    Bulgarian National Revival
    The Bulgarian National Revival , sometimes called the Bulgarian Renaissance, was a period of socio-economic development and national integration among Bulgarian people under Ottoman rule...

     in the 19th century. After the Liberation war, Bulgarian literature quickly adopted European literary currents such as Romanticism
    Romanticism
    Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

     and Symbolism
    Symbolism (arts)
    Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

    . Notable authors include Ivan Vazov
    Ivan Vazov
    Ivan Minchov Vazov was a Bulgarian poet, novelist and playwright, often referred to as "the Patriarch of Bulgarian literature". He was born in Sopot, a town in the Rose Valley of Bulgaria ....

    , Pencho Slaveykov
    Pencho Slaveykov
    Pencho Petkov Slaveykov was a noted Bulgarian poet and one of the participants in the Misal circle. He was the youngest son of the writer Petko Slaveykov....

    , Peyo Yavorov, Yordan Radichkov
    Yordan Radichkov
    Yordan Radichkov was a famous Bulgarian writer and playwright. Some literary critics state that he is the most significant figure in Bulgarian literature in the last third of the 20th century...

     and Tzvetan Todorov
    Tzvetan Todorov
    Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He has lived in France since 1963 with his wife Nancy Huston and their two children, writing books and essays about literary theory, thought history and culture theory....

    . In 1981 Bulgarian-born writer Elias Canetti
    Elias Canetti
    Elias Canetti was a Bulgarian-born modernist novelist, playwright, memoirist, and non-fiction writer. He wrote in German and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power".-Life:...

     was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
    Nobel Prize in Literature
    Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

    .

    Bulgarian folk music has slowly developed throughout the ages as a fusion of Eastern and Western influences. It contains Far East
    Far East
    The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

    ern, Oriental, medieval Eastern Orthodox and standard Western European tonalities and modes. Folk music has a distinctive sound and uses a wide range of traditional instruments, such as gudulka
    Gadulka
    The gadulka is a traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument. Alternate spellings are "gudulka" and "g'dulka". Its name comes from a root meaning "to make noise, hum or buzz"...

    , gaida
    Gaida
    The gaida is a musical instrument, aerophone, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag.The gaida, and its variations, is a traditional musical instrument for entire Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East....

     (bagpipe), kaval
    Kaval
    The kaval is a chromatic end-blown flute traditionally played throughout Azerbaijan, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, southern Serbia , northern Greece , Romania , and Armenia...

     and tupan
    Davul
    The davul or tupan is a large double-headed drum that is played with sticks. It has many names depending on the country and region.-Names:Some names of davuls include:*tupan *davul...

    . One of its most distinguishing features is the extended rhythmical time, which has no equivalent in the rest of European music. The State Television Female Vocal Choir is the most famous performing folk ensemble, and received a Grammy Award
    Grammy Award
    A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

     in 1990. Bulgarian musical composition can be traced back to the early Middle Ages
    Middle Ages
    The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

     and the works of Yoan Kukuzel (c. 1280–1360). Classical music, opera and ballet are represented by composers Emanuil Manolov
    Emanuil Manolov
    Emanuil Manolov was a Bulgarian composer.Born at Gabrovo, Manolov is thought to be one of the founders of the Bulgarian professional musical culture. He composed the first Bulgarian opera "Siromahkinia" based on the work of Ivan Vazov with the same title, consisting of two parts...

    , Pancho Vladigerov
    Pancho Vladigerov
    Pancho Haralanov Vladigerov was a Bulgarian composer, pedagogue, and pianist....

     and Georgi Atanasov
    Georgi Atanasov (composer)
    Georgi Atanasov , was a Bulgarian composer.A native of Plovdiv, Atanasov began formal musical studies in Bucharest at the age of 14. From 1901 until 1903 he studied composition at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro with Pietro Mascagni. Upon receiving his diploma with the title of "maestro", he...

     and singers Ghena Dimitrova
    Ghena Dimitrova
    Ghena Dimitrova was a Bulgarian operatic soprano. Her voice was known for its power and extension used in operatic roles such as Turandot in a career spanning four decades.-Early career:...

     and Boris Hristov
    Boris Christoff
    Boris Christoff was a Bulgarian opera singer...

    .

    Bulgaria's religious visual arts heritage includes fresco
    Fresco
    Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

    es, mural
    Mural
    A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A particularly distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.-History:Murals of...

    s and icon
    Icon
    An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

    s, many of them produced by the medieval Tarnovo Artistic School
    Painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School
    The painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School was the mainstream of the Bulgarian fine arts between 13th and 14th centuries named after the capital and the main cultural center of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Tarnovo...

    . Vladimir Dimitrov, Nikolay Diulgheroff
    Nikolay Diulgheroff
    Nikolay Diulgheroff was a Bulgarian artist, designer and architect who was active in Italy as a prominent representative of interwar Italian Futurism .-Biography:...

     and Christo are some of the most famous modern Bulgarian artists.

    Bulgarian cuisine
    Bulgarian cuisine
    Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic, it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines...

     is similar to those of other Balkan countries and demonstrates a strong Greek and Turkish influence. Yogurt, lukanka
    Lukanka
    Lukanka is a Bulgarian spicy salami unique to Bulgarian cuisine. It is similar to sujuk, but often stronger flavored. Lukanka is semi-dried, has a flattened cylindrical shape, and brownish-red interior in a skin that is normally covered with a white fungus...

    , banitsa, shopska salad
    Shopska salad
    Shopska salad is a traditional Bulgarian cold salad popular throughout the Balkans and Central Europe.It is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, raw or roasted peppers , sirene Shopska salad (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian: Шопска салата; Croatian: Šopska salata; Romanian: Salata bulgărească;...

    , lyutenitsa and kozunak are among the best-known Bulgarian foods. Oriental dishes such as moussaka
    Moussaka
    Moussaka is an eggplant based dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. The best known variation outside the region is the Greek one.-Names and etymology:...

    , gyuvech, and baklava
    Baklava
    Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

     are also present. There is a notable variety of salads, and meat consumption is lower than the average for Europe. Rakiya is a traditional Bulgarian fruit brandy which has been consumed as early as the 14th century. Bulgarian wine
    Bulgarian wine
    Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria, dating back to the times of the Thracians. Wine is, together with beer and grape rakia, among the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.-Viticultural regions:...

     is known for its Traminer, Muskat and Mavrud
    Mavrud
    Mavrud is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines, indigenous to the region of Thrace in Bulgaria.The grape has been described as a characterful, low-yielding, small-berried and late-ripening grape capable of producing tannic, spicy wine with a potential for...

     sorts, of which up to 200,000 tonnes are produced annually.

    Bulgaria performs well in sports such as wrestling
    Wrestling
    Wrestling is a form of grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position...

    , weight-lifting, boxing
    Boxing
    Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

    , gymnastics
    Gymnastics
    Gymnastics is a sport involving performance of exercises requiring physical strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. Internationally, all of the gymnastic sports are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique with each country having its own national governing body...

     and tennis
    Tennis
    Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

    . The country fields one of the leading men's volleyball
    Volleyball
    Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules.The complete rules are extensive...

     teams, ranked 6th in the world according to the 2011 FIVB rankings. Football is by far the most popular sport in the country. Some famous players are Manchester United
    Manchester United F.C.
    Manchester United Football Club is an English professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League. Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910.The 1958...

     forward Dimitar Berbatov
    Dimitar Berbatov
    Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov is a Bulgarian footballer who plays as a forward for Manchester United. He captained the Bulgarian national team from 2006 to 2010, and is its all-time leading goalscorer and has also won the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year a record seven times, surpassing the number of...

     and Hristo Stoichkov
    Hristo Stoichkov
    Hristo Stoichkov Stoichkov , sometimes Stoitchkov; born 8 February 1966 in Plovdiv) is a retired Bulgarian footballer. He is regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation and the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. Nicknamed The Dagger , The Dog , The Modern Left...

    , twice winner of the European Golden Shoe and the most successful Bulgarian player of all time. Prominent domestic football clubs include PFC CSKA Sofia
    PFC CSKA Sofia
    PFC CSKA Sofia , commonly known as CSKA or CSKA Sofia is a professional football club based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The club was officially founded on May 5, 1948. CSKA's abbreviation stands for Central Sports Club of the Army...


    and PFC Levski Sofia
    PFC Levski Sofia
    "Levski Sofia" redirects here. For the sports club, see Levski Sofia .PFC Levski Sofia, otherwise simply known as Levski or Levski Sofia, is a professional football club based in Sofia, Bulgaria...

    . Bulgaria's best performance at World Cup finals came in 1994, where the national team consecutively eliminated Greece, Germany and Argentina and finished 4th. Bulgaria participates in most Olympic competitions since its first appearance at the 1896 games
    1896 Summer Olympics
    The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era...

    , when it was represented by Charles Champaud
    Charles Champaud
    Charles Champaud , Bulgarianized Charles Shampov , was a Swiss gymnast. He competed at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens.Champaud competed in the parallel bars, vault, and pommel horse events...

    . The country has won a total of 218 medals: 52 gold, 86 silver, and 80 bronze, which puts it at 24th place in the all-time ranking.

    See also




    Further reading

    • Chary, Frederick B. The History of Bulgaria (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) (2011) excerpt and text search
    • Detrez, Raymond. Historical Dictionary of Bulgaria (2nd ed. 2006). lxiv + 638 pp. Maps, bibliography, appendix, chronology. ISBN 978-0-8108-4901-3.
    • Crampton, R. J. A Concise History of Bulgaria (2005) Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press ISBN 9780521616379
    • Bell, John D., ed. (1998). Bulgaria in Transition: Politics, Economics, Society, and Culture after Communism. Westview. ISBN 978-0813390109
    • Chary, Frederick B., The Bulgarian Jews and the Final Solution 1940–1944. University of Pittsburg Press (1972). ISBN 0-8229-3251-2
    • Hall, Richard C. Bulgaria's Road to the First World War (1996) New York: Columbia University Press ISBN 088033357X
    • Lampe, John R. The Bulgarian Economy in the Twentieth Century (1986) London: Croom Helm ISBN 0709916442
    • Miller-Yianni, Simple Treasures in Bulgaria (2008) UK; Lulu Inc. ISBN 978-0-9559-8490-7
    • Miller-Yianni, Bulgarian History: A Concise Account (2010) UK; Lulu Inc. ISBN 978-1-4457-1633-6
    • Perry, Duncan M. Stefan Stambolov and the Emergence of Modern Bulgaria, 1870–1895 (1993) Durham: Duke University Press ISBN 0822313138
    • Todorov, Tzvetan
      Tzvetan Todorov
      Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He has lived in France since 1963 with his wife Nancy Huston and their two children, writing books and essays about literary theory, thought history and culture theory....

       The fragility of goodness: why Bulgaria’s Jews survived the Holocaust: a collection of texts with commentary (2001) Princeton: Princeton University Press ISBN 0691088322
    • Dimana Trankova, Anthony Georgieff, "Guide to Jewish Bulgaria," Vagabond Media Sofia, 2011, http://www.vagabond.bg/jewishbulgaria

    Government


    General information

    • Bulgaria information from the United States Department of State
      United States Department of State
      The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

    • Portals to the World from the United States Library of Congress
      Library of Congress
      The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

    • Bulgaria at UCB Libraries GovPubs

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