Bulgaria Republica Balgarija
National Assembly of Bulgaria
The quick travel guide to Bulgaria and Sofia
Bulgaria is located in the Balkans region of south-eastern Europe. Bulgaria has borders with five other countries: Romania to the north (mostly along the River Danube), Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea coast forms the border of the country to the east. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres, Bulgaria ranks as the 16th-largest country in Europe. Mountains define the Bulgarian landscape, most notably the Stara Planina and Rodopi mountain ranges, as well as the Rila range, which includes the highest peak in the Balkan region, Mount Musala at 2925 metres. In contrast, the Danube plain in the north and the Upper Thracian Plain in the south represent Bulgaria's lowest and most fertile regions. The 378-kilometer Black Sea coastline forms the entire eastern boundary of the country. Bulgaria uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which was invented here in the 10th century, so you may need a good phrase book!
The capital of Bulgaria is Sofia, located in the west of country, it is also the largest city with 1.4m people. Sofia's roots date back to 7th c BC when the area was settled by Thracians. Other large cities are Plovdiv with 380,130 people and Varna on the Black Sea coast with 364,968. Bulgaria is made up of 28 provinces each named after the principal city in area.
In geographic terms 50% of country is used for crops and pasture, 35% forests and 15 is mountainous. In terms of climate, Bulgaria features notable diversity, with the landscape ranging from the Alpine snow-capped peaks in Rila, Pirin and the Balkan Mountains to the mild and sunny Black Sea coast; from the typically continental Danubian Plain in the north to the strong Mediterranean climatic influence in the valleys of Macedonia and in the lowlands in the southernmost parts of Thrace. Bulgaria overall has a temperate climate, with cold winters and hot summers.
The emergence of a unified Bulgarian national identity and state dates back to the 7th century AD. All Bulgarian political entities that subsequently emerged preserved the traditions (in ethnic name, language and alphabet) of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/681 – 1018), which at times covered most of the Balkans and eventually became a cultural hub for the Slavs in the Middle Ages. With the decline of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 – 1396/1422), Bulgarian territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 led to the establishment of a Third Bulgarian state as a principality in 1878, which gained its full sovereignty in 1908. In 1945, after World War II, it became a communist state and was a part of the Eastern Bloc until the political changes in Eastern Europe in 1989/1990, when the Communist Party allowed multi-party elections and Bulgaria undertook a transition to parliamentary democracy and free-market capitalism. Bulgaria joined EU in 2007 and NATO in 2004. The currency is the Lev (100 stotinki = 1 Lev). Bulgaria is not part of the Schengen Agreement of open borders within the EU, as at 2010 - but it probably will be in the near future.
The main economic activity is manufacturing and agriculture is in second place. Notable crops are anise, raspberries and tobacco. Tourism is rising rapidly after Bulgaria became open to visitors from the EU.
Main tourist destinations include the capital Sofia, coastal resorts like Albena, Sozopol, Nesebar, Golden Sands and Sunny Beach; and winter resorts such as Pamporovo, Chepelare, Borovetz and Bansko. The rural tourist destinations of Arbanasi and Bozhentsi offer well-preserved ethnographic traditions. Other popular attractions include the 10th century Rila Monastery and the 19th century Euxinograd château.
Location Map of Bulgaria
Interactive Map of Bulgaria
Guide to Europe
|Travel Guide to the European Union 2013|