The Republic of Bulgaria is a republic in the southeast of Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the east, Greece and Turkey to the south, Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Romania to the north along the river Danube.
|-||align="center" colspan=2 style="border-bottom:3px solid gray;"||National motto: Съединението прави силата|
|Bulgarian: Union provides strength)||-||align=center colspan=2|
|-||Official language||Bulgarian language||Bulgarian|
|-||President of Bulgaria||President||Georgi Parvanov|
|-||Prime Minister of Bulgaria||Prime Minister||Simeon II of Bulgaria||Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha|
- % water
|List of countries by area||Ranked 102nd |
1 E11 m2
|110,910 km˛ |
- Total (2003)
|List of countries by population||Ranked 88th|
69.5/km² |- | Independence
- Recognised | From the Ottoman Empire
March 3, 1878
September 22, 1908
|-||Time zone||Coordinated Universal Time||UTC +2||-||National anthem||Mila Rodino|
(Bulgarian: Dear Motherland)
|-||Top-level domain||Internet TLD||.bg|
Main article: History of Bulgaria
The Bulgars were an ancient people with a disputed land of origin. Some say they are from the Volga region in today's Ukraine and Russia, while others claim that they originated from somewhere in central Asia around the Pamir. The Bulgars eventually emigrated to today's south-eastern Ukraine. In 632, Han Kubrat united the Bulgars and formed a confederation of tribes, known as Great Bulgaria, or Bulgaria Magna, with a capital at the ancient city of Fanagoria. When Great Bulgaria broke up after the death of Han Kubrat, his sons took their own tribes and travelled elsewhere. Han Asparuh and his followers migrated into the Balkans, where they merged with the local Slavic, Thracian inhabitants, and some already present Bulgars south of the Danube river in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. It was a significant world power for some centuries, rivaling Byzantine itself. The first Bulgarian state was crushed first by an assault by the Rus and then a determined Byzantine assault under Basil. It was re-establed in the 11th century where it continued to be a major thorn in the side of the Byzantines, the Crusader states in Greece and Hungary. By the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Empire.
Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878 as an autonomous principality and was proclaimed a fully independent kingdom in 1908. During 1912 and 1913 it became involved in the Balkan Wars, a series of conflicts with its neighbours, during which Bulgarian territory varied in size. During World War I and later World War II, Bulgaria found itself fighting on the losing side.
Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence after World War II and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria again held multiparty elections.
Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and is hoping to join the European Union in 2007.
Main article: Politics of Bulgaria
The president of Bulgaria is directly elected for a 5-year term with the right to one re-election. The president serves as the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The president is the head of the Consultative Council for National Security and while unable to initiate legislation, the President can return a bill for further debate, though parliament can overturn the president's veto with a simple majority vote.
The Bulgarian unicameral parliament, the National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie, consists of 240 deputies who are elected for 4-year-term stretches by popular vote. The votes are for party or coalition lists of candidates for each of the nine administrative divisions. A party or coalition must garner a minimum of 4% of the vote in order to enter parliament. Parliament is responsible for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, selection and dismissal of the prime minister and other ministers, declaration of war, deployment of troops outside of Bulgaria, and ratification of international treaties and agreements.
Main article: Regions of Bulgaria
Since 1999 Bulgaria consists of 28 regions (oblasti, singular - oblast), after having been subdivided into 9 provinces since 1987. All are named after the regional capital, with the national capital itself forming a separate region:
Regions of Bulgaria
- Sofia Region
- Stara Zagora
- Veliko Turnovo
Main article: Geography of Bulgaria
Map of Bulgaria
Bulgaria is comprised of the classical regions of Thrace, Moesia and Macedonia. The southwest of the country is mountainous, containing the highest point of the Balkan Peninsula, the Musala at 2,925 m, and the range of the Balkan mountains runs west-east through the middle of the country, north of the famous Rose Valley. Hill country and plains are found in the southeast, along the Black Sea coast in the east, and along Bulgaria's main river, the Danube in the north. Other major rivers include the Struma and the Maritsa river in the south.
The Bulgarian climate is temperate, with cold, damp winters and hot, dry Mediterranean summers.
The Balkan peninsula derives its name from the Balkan or Stara Planina mountain range which runs through the center of Bulgaria into eastern Serbia.
Main article: Economy of Bulgaria
Bulgaria's economy contracted dramatically after 1989 with the loss of the Soviet market, to which the Bulgarian economy had been closely tied. The standard of living fell by about 40%, but it regained pre-1990 levels in June 2004. In addition, UN sanctions against Yugoslavia and Iraq took a heavy toll on the Bulgarian economy. The first signs of recovery emerged in 1994 when the GDP grew and inflation fell. During 1996, however, the economy collapsed due to poor economic reforms and an unstable banking system. Since 1997 the country has been on the path to recovery, with GDP growing at a 4-5% rate, increasing FDI, macroeconomic stability and EU membership set for 2007.
The current government, elected in 2001, has pledged to maintain the fundamental economic policy objectives adopted by its predecessor in 1997, i.e., retaining the Currency Board, practicing sound financial policies, accelerating privatisation, and pursuing structural reforms. While economic forecasts for 2002 and 2003 predict continued growth in the Bulgarian economy, the government still faces high unemployment and low standards of living. Bulgaria has concluded accession talks with the European Union and is set to join the block in 2007.
Main article: Demographics of Bulgaria
According to the 2001 census, Bulgaria's population is mainly ethnic Bulgarian (83.9%), with two sizable minorities in the form of Turks (9.4%) and Roma (4.7%). The remaining 2% consist of several smaller minorities including Armenians, Russians, Romanians, Vlachs, Karakachans, and Jews. 84.8% of the Bulgarian population speak Bulgarian, a member of the Slavic languages, which is the only official language, but other languages are spoken, corresponding closely to ethnic breakdown.
Most Bulgarians (82.6%) are at least nominally a member of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the national Eastern Orthodox church. Other religious denominations include Islam (12.2%), Roman Catholicism (0.6%), various Protestant denominations (0.5%), with other denominations, atheists and undeclared numbering ca. 4.1%.
Main article: Culture of Bulgaria
Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.
Volga Bulgaria is also a historic state that existed in 10-14th centuries around the confluence of Volga and Kama.
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