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Bulgarian mountain view
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Bulgarian historical monument - a bell


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy. Today, reforms and democratization keep Bulgaria on a path toward eventual integration into the EU. The country joined NATO in 2004.

      Map of Bulgaria   LOCATION:      
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea
43 00 N, 25 00 E
Total area: 110,910 sq km
Land: 110,550 sq km
Water: 360 sq km
      Black Sea & Veleka River   BORDER COUNTRIES:      
        Greece - 494 km
Macedonia - 148 km
Romania - 608 km
Serbia and Montenegro - 318 km
Turkey - 240 km
        354 km      
      Bulgaria - mountain view   CLIMATE:      
        temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers      
        mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast      
        Highest point: Musala Peak of Rila Mountain - 2,925 m      
      Old Bulgarian house   POPULATION:      
        7,385,367 people      
        ETHNIC GROUPS:      
        Bulgarian 83.9%, Turk 9.4%, Roma 4.7%, other 2% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian)      
      Bulgarian church - mural painting   RELIGIONS:      
        Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, other Christian 1.2%, other 4%      
        Bulgarian 84.5%, Turkish 9.6%, Roma 4.1%, other and unspecified 1.8%      
          Republic of Bulgaria - Parliamentary democracy      
      The National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria          
        MAJOR CITIES:      

Plovdiv - 156 km from Sofia, to the southeast
Varna - 470 km from Sofia, to the northeast, at the Black Sea
Burgas - 392 km from Sofia, to the southeast, at the Black Sea

      Bulgarian mountain village   ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS:      
        28 provinces: Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Haskovo, Kardzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofia, Sofia-Grad, Stara Zagora, Targovishte, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol      
        NATIONAL HOLIDAY:      

Liberation Day, 3 March
3 March 1878 (Northern Bulgaria becomes an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire);
22 September 1908 (Bulgaria attains complete independence from the Ottoman Empire)

Bulgarian national symbols

All sundays
1 January
- New Year's Celebrations
Usually last week (Thu - Sun) of April
- Easter Celebrations

1 May - Day of Labour & Working People
6 May - National Army's Day (St. George- the victor and its patron)
24 May - Day of Public Education, Culture & Slavic Literacy
1 June - Children's Day (non-participation)
6 September - Day of the Union of Eastern Rumelia with the Bulgarian Principality
22 September - Bulgaria Independence Day
1 November - Enlighteners' Day (non-participation)
25 - 26 December - Cristmas Celebrations


Bulgarian martenitza

Bulgarian spinning wheel


1 January - Cristmas carols (name-day of Vasil & Vasilka)
6 January - Epiphany (St. Jordan's Day)
7 January - Ivanov Day (name-day of Ivan & Ivanka)
2 February - Candlemas, the Presentation in the Temple
1 March - Baba Marta (i.e. 'the Month of March', when Bulgarians put on twined tasselled red and white thread, symbol of spring & health)
25 March - the Annunciation
St. Bazar's Day - Saturday before Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday - Sunday before Easter
11 May - St.St. Kiril & Metodii's Day (Slavic enlighteners)
1 June - Ascencion Day (name-day of Spas)
11 June - Pentecost
12 June - The Holy Spirit
29 June - St. apostoles Petar & Pavel (name-day of Petar)
20 July - St. Elija's Day (the uprising in 1903 against the Ottoman domination in Macedonia).
6 August - Transfiguration
15 August - the Assumption
8 September - Virgin Mary's Birth
19 October - St. Joan Rilski's Day (the patron of all Bulgarians)
26 October - St. Dimitri's Day (name-day of Dimitar & Dimitrina)
8 November - Archangel's Day
21 November - Presentation of the Blessed Virgin
6 December - St. Nicholas Day (traditional menu - fish meals)

      An old house - Kotel, Bulgaria   EXECUTIVE BRANCH:      
        Chief of state:
President Georgi Parvanov (since 22 January 2002)
Vice President Angel Marin (since 22 January 2002)
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev (since 16 August 2005);
Deputy Prime Ministers Ivaylo Kalfin, Daniel Valchev, and Emel Etem (since 16 August 2005)
Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly
      Bulgarian national flag   LEGISLATIVE BRANCH:      
        unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sobranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)      
        LEGAL SYSTEM:      
        Civil law and criminal law based on Roman law      
        FLAG DESCRIPTION:      
        three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red; note - the national emblem, formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe, has been removed      
      flowers   ECONOMY OVERVIEW:      
        Bulgaria, a former communist country striving to enter the European Union, has experienced macroeconomic stability and strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996 led to the fall of the then socialist government. As a result, the government became committed to economic reform and responsible fiscal planning. Minerals, including coal, copper, and zinc, play an important role in industry. In 1997, macroeconomic stability was reinforced by the imposition of a fixed exchange rate of the lev against the German D-mark and the negotiation of an IMF standby agreement. Low inflation and steady progress on structural reforms improved the business environment; Bulgaria has averaged 4% growth since 2000 and has begun to attract significant amounts of foreign direct investment.      
      Bulgarian goats   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS:      
        vegetables, fruits, tobacco, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers, sugar beets; livestock      
        electricity, gas, water; food, beverages, tobacco; machinery and equipment, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, nuclear fuel      
          CURRENCY & EXCHANGE RATES:      
      Bulgarian pears   lev (BGN)
leva per EUR - 1.95583
leva per US dollar - 1.5741
        TELEPHONE SYSTEM:      
        Domestic: more than two-thirds of the lines are residential; telephone service is available in most villages; a fairly modern digital cable trunk line now connects switching centers in most of the regions, the others are connected by digital microwave radio relay
International: country code - 359; direct dialing to 58 countries; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); 2 Intelsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions)
      The Kanina River Canyon   CELLULAR PHONE OPERATORS:      
        MTel, Globul, VivaTel      
        AM 31, FM 63, shortwave 2      
        39 (plus 1,242 repeaters)      
      Bulgarian seaport   INTERNET COUNTRY CODE      
        Sofia, Burgas, Varna      
        Varna, Burgas      
      Sunset at the Black Sea   MAJOR SEA RESORTS:      
      A tree in winter   MAJOR MOUNTAIN & SKIING RESORTS:      
      A mountain chalet   MAJOR BALNEO & SPA RESORTS:      
      An old Bulgarian stone house   MAJOR CULTURAL & HISTORICAL ATTRACTIONS:      
      Bulgarian national cuisine   BULGARIAN NATIONAL CUISINE:      
      A tavern with live Bulgarian folk music   BULGARIAN PEOPLE:      
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