110 994 sq. km
in the southeast of the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria borders
Romania to the North, the Black Sea to the East, Turkey
and Greece to the South and Serbia and Macedonia to the
West. The river Danube forms the country’s northern frontier
and offers quick access to Central Europe. With an area
of 110 910 sq. km (42 823 sq. miles), Bulgaria is the fifteenth
largest country in Europe. Situated on the crossroads between
Europe and Asia, the country should benefit from increased
transport flows as the national infrastructure is developed.
Lakes and Rivers, Flora and Fauna
are eight mountains in Bulgaria, which rise more than 2000
m above sea level. The highest point (Moussala, 2925,40
m) can be found in the Rila mountains. Like the Pirin mountains,
this is characterized by sharp rocky peaks. The Rhodope
mountains on the other hand are known for their long gradual
slopes and, in places, narrow, deep cut valleys and ravines.
The largest mountain range in Bulgaria is the Stara Planina
or Balkan range. This runs right across Bulgaria from East
to West dividing the country into two regions
does not have very large rivers. However it does have a
relatively large number of rather unevenly distributed small
rivers, which rise in the mountains and generally flow either
to the Black or Aegean Seas. In all there are 526 rivers
more than 2,3 km long, and the longest, the Iskar, is 368
km. Other big rivers are Maritza, Tundzha and Struma.
are not many natural lakes in Bulgaria, although there are
no fewer than 260 high-mountain alpine glacial lakes. These
can mostly be found in the Rila and Pirin mountains at altitudes
of 1900 to 2400 meters. The lakes and swamps along the Danube
have been drained with the exception of Sreburna lake, which
has the status of an UNESCO reserve due to its unique flora
and fauna. However numerous dams have been built.
is one of the countries richest in thermal spas in Europe,
ranking third after the Czech Republic and Spain in number
of mineral springs. These vary in mineral content and temperature
and are thus used as remedies for a wide variety of ailments.
Of particular balnologycal importance are the thermal spas
at Bankya, Velingrad, Kyustendil, Sapareva Banya, Momin
Prohod and Hissarya.
rich bio variety is home to over 12 350 plant species and
over 15 000 animal species, including many rare species.
Three national parks and 89 reserves and other protected
areas help preserve this variety. Bulgaria has the largest
number of biosphere reserves in the world.
continental climate with hot summers and cold winters made
the country a popular beach resort while offering good skiing
in the winter. A Mediterranean climate of dry summers and
mild winters prevails in the valleys of the Southwestern
Rhodopi Mountains. The influence of the Black sea is limited
to a narrow strip (200 - 300 km) in Eastern Bulgaria. The
higher mountainous regions have relatively low temperatures,
heavy rainfall and continuous year-round snow. The average
annual temperature of the air in Bulgaria is 10,5° C.
(Summer 20° -22° C.) Temperatures tend to vary between
the late thirties at the top end of the range to as low
as minus 20° C in winter.
average annual rainfall range is between 450 - 1300 mm,
the larger quantity falling over Western Bulgaria and the
high mountains. The snow cover lasts 10 days (along the
Black sea coast) and more than 200 days in the high mountains.
Snow cover stays for long periods, creating favorable conditions
for ski-sport activities.
has a developed domestic and international communications
network. The country is served by three international airports
and two commercial Black Sea ports. Sofia Airport is the
largest and handles most international traffic, while Varna
and Burgas airports service domestic and international charter
flights. The two Black Sea ports need reconstruction. Port
facilities are generally adequate for bulk commodities,
but luck special handling facilities. Two major East-West
highways afford easy access to all regions and form part
of a European transport corridor providing the most direct
overland routes from Western Europe to Turkey and the Middle
East. Bulgaria is signatory to the multilateral agreement
for development of a Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.
Rail infrastructure requires substantial investment, particularly
in signaling equipment, aerial wires and communications.
Bulgaria has over 37 000 km of roads.
Situation and Institutions
is a Parliamentary Republic and the Legislature is the basic
power within the country. The Constitution provides for
a multiparty, parliamentary system and free elections on
the basis of universal suffrage. The National Assembly is
vested with the legislative power and exercises parliamentary
control. Its mandate is for a term of four years.
President serves as Head of State, and is directly elected
once every five years for a maximum of two terms. The President
is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of
the Republic of Bulgaria as well. The President appoints
the Prime-Minister designate to form a government; schedules
the elections for a National Assembly and for the bodies
of local self-government and sets the date for national
referendums, pursuant to a resolution of the National Assembly;
promulgates the adopted laws with a decree countersigned
by the Prime Minister or the minister concerned.
Council of Ministers is the principal body of the Executive
Branch. Chaired by the Prime Minister, it heads and implements
the domestic and the foreign policy of the state, ensures
the public order and the national security, exercises overall
guidance over the state administration and the Armed Forces.
municipality is the basic administrative territorial unit
at the level of which self-government is exercised. The
Municipal Councils, one of the local bodies of the executive
branch, determine the policy of the municipality with regards
to its development, the preservation of the environment,
the health, social, educational, cultural activity, etc.
The chief executive in the municipality is the Mayor. He
manages the entire executive activity of the municipality,
and is responsible for the public order maintenance, organizes
the implementation of the municipality budget. The region
is an administrative territorial unit where the state authority
is decentralized for the purpose of pursuing an effective
regional policy. The government of the region is performed
by a regional governor, appointed by the Council of Ministers.
has an independent judiciary and based on Three-Instances-procedure.
The Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of
Cassation oversee the application of all laws by lower courts
and judges the legality of government actions. A separate
Constitutional Court rules on the constitutionality of laws
and treaties. Judicial reforms are being implemented to
bring Bulgaria’s judiciary to European Union standards.
The Supreme Judicial Council was established to organize
the activities of the judiciary.
efforts have brought political stability to Bulgaria. Grounds
are laid for public backing of reform and further integration
into European structures. The political process of strengthening
democracy and establishing its institutions is largely completed.
The essential landmarks of a modern democratic society are
in place, as are guarantees of the irreversibility of the
institutions interact properly, which eases the process
of legislation. National governance, and synergy between
the authorities in conducting concerted policy, is secure.
play an exceptionally important role in Bulgarian public,
political and business life. Bulgarian policy towards NGOs
is in line with international legal standards. The right
to free association is completely guaranteed.
economic, social and cultural rights are guaranteed to international
criteria. Minorities’ rights are protected. All Bulgarians
regardless of ethnicity have the right to stand for local
or national elective office and participate in decision
foreign policy aims at full integration into European structures,
Balkan peace and cooperation, and friendship and cooperation
with all of Bulgaria’s partners. Bulgarian political dialogue
is most intensive with the European Union. As a candidate
for EC accession, Bulgaria aligns its foreign policy positions
accordingly. Since late 1994 Bulgaria has invariably joined
or backed each EC joint declaration, initiative, and resolution
before international bodies such as the UNO and OSCE; and
each joint position or action, including EC negative measures
imposing sanctions against third countries.
integral part of Bulgaria’s proactive regional policy is
her participation in tripartite dialogues between herself
and Greece and Romania, and herself and Turkey and Romania.
population has declined by 2% since 1994 to 7.93 million.
A falling birth rate and net emigration of almost 1/1000
population have contributed to the decline. The country
has a relatively homogeneous ethnic structure, with ethnic
Bulgarians constituting 86% of the population.
is the official language, using the Cyrillic alphabet. Some
ethnic Turks speak Turkish as their mother tongue, but generally
have Bulgarian as a second language. Russian, previously
a required subject in school, is also widely spoken. English
is now the most widely studied second language, followed
by German and French.
85% of the population claim affinity to the Bulgarian Orthodox
Church, while Muslims make up a further 13% of the population.
The Communist regime discouraged religion, however religious
freedom has now been reestablished and religious holidays
are openly celebrated.
literacy rate in Bulgaria is very high - 99% for men and
97% for women - and the country still boasts a strong education
system. Particular strengths include computer programming
territory of Bulgaria has been inhabited since the earliest
times of history - the Stone Age and the Copper Age. The
thracians were the first to settle in this region. In the
second half of the 7th century the proto-Bulgars, a people
of Turk origin, settled on the territory of present northeastern
Bulgaria. Forming a union with the Slavs they founded the
Bulgarian state which in 681 was acknowledged by the Byzantine
the rule of Khan Tervel (700 -718) Bulgaria gained new territories
and great political power. Under Khan Kroum (803-814) Bulgaria
bordered the Empire of Karl the Great to the west and its
troops reached as far east as the fortress walls of Constantinople,
the Byzantine capital. In 864, during the rule of king Boris
I Mikhail (852 - 889) the Bulgarians adopted Christianity
as their official religion. That brought to an end the ethnic
differences between proto-Bulgars and Slavs and initiated
the formation of an integral Bulgarian nationality.
late 9th century the two brothers Cyril (Constantin the
Philosopher) and Methodius wrote and popularized the Cyrillic
(Slavonic) Alphabet. Later the Cyrillic Alphabet was spread
from Bulgaria to other Slavonic countries such as Serbia
and Russia. The towns of Ohrid and Pliska, and later Veliki
Preslav, the new capital, became centers of Bulgarian and
Slavonic culture. During the rule of Czar Simeon (893 -
927) Bulgarian culture enjoyed its Golden Age, while the
borders of the country reached the Black, Aegean and the
1018, after a long period of numerous wars, Bulgaria was
conquered by Byzantine. An uprising in 1186, lead by the
noble brothers Asen and Peter, overthrew the Byzantine rule.
The Second Bulgarian kingdom came into being, and Tirnovo
became the new capital. Bulgaria regained its former might
under the reign of their youngest brother Kaloian (1197
- 1207), while during the reign of Czar Ivan Asen II (1218
- 1241) the Second Bulgarian kingdom reached its apogee:
political hegemony was established over south eastern Europe,
the territory was expanded to reach the Black, the Aegean
and the Adriatic seas, economy and culture developed. After
years of cultural standstill Bulgaria reached a new peak
that lasted to the end of the Second Bulgarian kingdom (1186
- 1396). Literary and art schools in Tirnovo developed the
traditions of Bulgarian culture. In 1235 the head of the
Bulgarian church obtained the title Patriarch.
among part of the nobility brought about the division of
the country in two kingdoms - Vidin kingdom and Tirnovo
kingdom. The weakened state was thus an easy prey to invaders
and in 1396 it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. For
nearly 5 centuries Bulgaria was under Ottoman rule. In 1878
broke the April uprising, which was the first considerable
and organized attempt to overthrow Ottoman rule. The uprising
was cruelly crushed and drowned in bloodshed, but managed
to attract the attention of the big European countries to
Bulgarian national issues.
unification was not achieved after the Russian-Turkish war
(1877 -1878). Former Bulgarian territories were split into
three - the newly proclaimed Principality of Bulgaria ruled
by kniaz Alexander Batenberg; Eastern Rumelia - governed
by a Christian governor appointed by the Sultan, and Thrace
and Macedonia which remained under Ottoman rule.
protest to that unjust decision of the Berlin Congress (1878)
the Kresna and Razlog uprising broke, which led to the unification
of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia in 1885.
The Ilinden and Preobrajenie uprising broke in 1903 and
in 1908 Ferdinand Sax Coburg-Gotha, who had been Bulgarian
Kniaz since 1887, declared the independence from Turkey
and became king of the Bulgarian people. Bulgaria participated
in the Balkan war of 1912 fighting together with Serbia
and Greece to liberate Thrace and Macedonia. Bulgaria won
that war but in the war that followed in 1913 was defeated
by Romania and Turkey and its former allies who took away
from it territories inhabited by Bulgarians.
the early forties Bulgaria’s policy was in favour of Germany
and its supporters. Later the participation of Bulgarian
cavalry platoons at the Eastern front was terminated. Czar
Boris III. Supported the public pressure and did not allow
the deportation of 50 000 Bulgarian Jews.
September 5th 1944 the Soviet Army entered Bulgaria and
on September 9th the Government of the Fatherland Front,
headed by Kimon Georgiev, was established. In 1946 Bulgaria
was proclaimed a Republic. The Bulgarian Communist Party
came to power. The political parties that did not join the
Fatherland Front were banned, enterprises and banks were
nationalized, the arable land was forcefully included in
10th, 1989 marks the beginning of democratic changes in
Bulgaria. A new Constitution was adopted in 1991, the political
parties were restored, property seized in 1947 is being
reinstated, privatization and arable land reinstatement
the election victory of the National Movement Simeon II
in the summer of 2001, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha became Prime
Georgi Parvanov has been President of the country since