Information about Bulgaria

Bulgaria is situated in the South-Eastern part of the European continent and the Balkan Peninsula. Bulgaria borders Greece and Turkey to the South, Macedonia and Serbia - to the West. The Danube River to the North is our natural border with Romania and the Black Sea is situated to the East. Bulgaria is in the center of a region, which is undergoing dynamic transition. A network of international motorways crosses the country, making vital connections to the countries of Western Europe, Russia, Minor Asia, the Adriatic, the Aegean and the Black Sea.

Area: 110,910 sq. km. / 42,822 square miles
Population: 7 679 290 (3 720 932 - males / 3 958 358 - females)
Native language: Bulgarian
Foreign languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Russian
Religion: 83% Eastern Orthodox
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Currency: BGN pegged to EUR at 1.95583:1
Affiliations: EU, NATO

Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic and conforms with the Constitution of the Republic passed by the Grand National Assembly in July 1991. The National Assembly is a one-chamber parliament. It consists of 240 Members of Parliament who are directly elected every four years. The head of the state is the President, who embodies the unity of the nation and represents the Republic of Bulgaria in its international relations.


History of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is one of the oldest European states, which, despite plenteous hardships, has managed to defend its place in time and the history of the European community.
The territory historically occupied by Bulgaria, which is part of the Balkan Peninsula, has been inhabited since the earliest times of the Aenolithic-Chalcolithic Age. The oldest gold treasure on the planet dates back to that period.

Later, in the sixth - seventh century BC, the Thracians settled in the area, turning the Balkan lands into the hub of an ancient civilization. The numerous Thracian tombs with gold treasures found inside them throughout Bulgaria provide ample historical evidence of that civilization.
In the early Middle Ages (7th century) the Bulgarian people emerged from the mingling of Slavs and proto-Bulgarians. The proto-Bulgarians entered into union with the Slavs to form the Bulgarian state recognized by Byzantium in 681.

In the middle of the 9th century Bulgaria had significantly expanded its territory, yet it remained internally disjunct. There was a Bulgarian state, but no Bulgarian people, as the Slavs and the proto-Bulgarians each kept their distinct faith, way of life, and culture. This induced Knyaz Boris (852 – 889) to unify his subjects by converting both groups to a shared creed - Christianity. The next important event during his rule was the creation and circulation of the alphabet and literature written in the spoken Slavic language, which turned into a cornerstone of Bulgarian culture.
The two brothers Cyril and Methodius created the Slavic alphabet so as to be able to record the vernacular of Slavs living in Byzantine Thessaloniki. Their work was quite extraordinary - creating a writing system and enabling the conduct of divine service in a new language, affiliating a numerous people with Christianity and mankind's cultural heritage.

A new civilization emerged during the reign of Tsar Simeon the Great - that of the Slavs. The period became known as the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture, a culture whose foundation was set with the people's earlier conversion to Christianity. Bulgaria's fate was not particularly fortunate. As early as 11th century its cultural, polititcal and social power waned and the state went under Byzantine domination.
In the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, Bulgaria lived through a second hayday, pushing its borders as far as the Black, White and the Adriatic seas. Some key historical monuments preserved until the present time date back to that period: the Boyana church frescos, the Forty martyrs Church in Veliko Tarnovo, the Zemen monastery, the miniatures in the London Gospel, etc..

Conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1396 Bulgaria remained under Ottoman rule in the course of five centuries. It was only in the 18th century that Bulgarians took steps to restore their independence.

Since 864 Orthodox Christianity has been the official religion of Bulgarian people. It was the Orthodox faith professed in the hundreds of monasteries and churches that helped Bulgarians preserve their integrity. Hundreds of monasteries still remain nowadays as evidence of those times. Among the largest of them are the Rila monastery, the Bachkovo monastery, the Troyan monastery, etc..