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Discover the Beauty of Bulgaria

Nov 18, 2007
Occupying the eastern area of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe, Bulgaria is bordered by Romania to the north; the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, the Black Sea to the east and Greece to the south.

Geography

Bulgaria spans an area of 111,000 sq. km. The topography is extremely varied with large plains and lowlands to mountains, valleys and deep, fascinating gorges.

The Balkan ranges, also called the Stara Planina, Bulgarian for mountains, traverse the country from west to east. To the north of the Balkans and forming a major part of the northern border is a fertile plateau that runs right through and joins the Danube River. The Rhodope range in the southwest includes Musala Mountain, the highest point in Bulgaria. To the east of Rhodope and the south of the Balkans lies the Thracian plain. The principal rivers include the Danube, the Struma, the Marista and the Iskur.

Population

86.6% of the population of 8,428, 006 follow the Eastern Orthodox religion while 13% are Muslims. Bulgarian is the main language spoken here; other languages include English, French, Russian and German.

Climate

On the whole Bulgaria has a continental climate with four clearly marked seasons. However, the climate in the southern regions of the country exhibits a largely Mediterranean influence. The average annual temperature is around 10.5 C. In January the temperature could dip down to 0C, whereas summer temperatures hover around 30C; rarely going above.

Monetary unit: Lev

Economy

Under the Soviet-style economy of Bulgaria, almost all industrial and agricultural enterprises were controlled by the state until 1989. However, the 1990's saw a market-oriented reform that was precipitated by a stagnant economy, massive foreign debt, an inefficient and obsolete industrial complex and shortages of energy and food as well as basic consumer goods.

Post World War II saw the industrialization of this traditionally agricultural country. Major industries include machine building, engineering, food processing, metalworking and production of electronics, chemicals and textile. Agriculture still accounts for over 20% of the gross national product with principal crops being wheat, barley, corn, vegetables, oil-seeds, fruit and tobacco.

People

The population of Bulgaria consists primarily of Bulgars, with a substantial minority of Turks. Though there are several smaller groups of Macedonians and Gypsies, in keeping with its historic claim to Macedonia, Bulgaria refuses to recognize the Macedonians as a distinct group from the Bulgars.

History

The first Bulgarian state, located along the north coast of the Black Sea was established in 635 AD. Bulgaria spent the first half of the 20th century marred by political and social unrest. Following the First and Second Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913, Bulgaria entered World War II, during which 30,000 Bulgarian troops were killed.

In the mid 1900's communism emerged as the dominant political force and Bulgaria became a satellite of the Soviet Union. Democratic changes came about sometime in 1989 and the very first multi-party elections were held. There was a period of economic and social turmoil during the time that Bulgaria was trying to emerge from the throes of communism, which ended in a severe financial and economic crisis towards the end of 1996.

On March 29th 2004, Bulgaria became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in 2005, its membership for the EU was approved, subject to the implementation of reforms. A coalition government was formed in June 2005, with Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev as the Prime Minister, after no party received a clear majority in the 2005 general elections. Bulgaria became a European Union member on 1st January 2007.
About the Author
Sandra Lightowler is the owner of Information Bulgaria the leading online information site for BulgariaSofia Bulgaria.
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