Bulgaria

Coordinates: 42°45′N 25°30′E / 42.750°N 25.500°E

Republic of Bulgaria

Република България  (Bulgarian)
Republika Bǎlgariya
Motto: 
Anthem: 
Мила Родино  (Bulgarian)
Mila Rodino  (transliteration)
Dear Motherland
Location of Bulgaria (dark green) – in Europe (green & dark grey) – in the European Union (green)  –  [Legend]
Location of Bulgaria (dark green)

– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (green)  –  [Legend]

Capital
and largest city
Sofia
42°41′N 23°19′E / 42.683°N 23.317°E
Official languagesBulgarian
Official scriptCyrillic
Ethnic groups
(2011)
[note 1]
Demonym(s)Bulgarian
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary
republic
• President
Rumen Radev
Boyko Borisov
LegislatureNational Assembly
Establishment history
681–1018
1185–1396
3 March 1878[note 2]
• Declaration of Independence from the Ottoman Empire
5 October 1908[note 3]
Area
• Total
110,993.6[1] km2 (42,854.9 sq mi) (103rd)
• Water (%)
2.16[2]
Population
• 31 December 2017 estimate
Decrease 7,050,034[3] (103rd)
• Density
64/km2 (165.8/sq mi) (155th)
GDP (PPP)2019 estimate
• Total
$171 billion[4] (76th)
• Per capita
$24,577[4] (62nd)
GDP (nominal)2019 estimate
• Total
$66.242 billion[4] (81st)
• Per capita
$9,504[4] (75th)
Gini (2017)Negative increase 40.2[5]
medium
HDI (2017)Increase 0.813[6]
very high · 51st
CurrencyLev (BGN)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (EEST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+359
ISO 3166 codeBG
Internet TLD.bg
.бг

Bulgaria (/bʌlˈɡɛəriə, bʊl-/ (listen); Bulgarian: България, translit. Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Република България, tr. Republika Bǎlgariya, IPA: [rɛˈpublikɐ bɐɫˈɡarijɐ]), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The capital and largest city is Sofia; other major cities are Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria is Europe's 16th-largest country.

One of the earliest societies in the lands of modern-day Bulgaria was the Neolithic Karanovo culture, which dates back to 6,500 BC. In the 6th to 3rd century BC the region was a battleground for Thracians, Persians, Celts and ancient Macedonians; stability came when the Roman Empire conquered the region in AD 45. The Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire lost some of these territories to an invading Bulgar horde in the late 7th century. The Bulgars founded the First Bulgarian Empire in AD 681, which dominated most of the Balkans and significantly influenced Slavic cultures by developing the Cyrillic script. This state lasted until the early 11th century, when Byzantine emperor Basil II conquered and dismantled it. A successful Bulgarian revolt in 1185 established a Second Bulgarian Empire, which reached its apex under Ivan Asen II (1218–1241). After numerous exhausting wars and feudal strife, the Second Bulgarian Empire disintegrated in 1396 and its territories fell under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries.

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 resulted in the formation of the current Third Bulgarian State. Many ethnic Bulgarian populations were left outside its borders, which led to several conflicts with its neighbours and an alliance with Germany in both world wars. In 1946 Bulgaria became a one-party socialist state and part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. The ruling Communist Party gave up its monopoly on power after the revolutions of 1989 and allowed multi-party elections. Bulgaria then transitioned into a democracy and a market-based economy.

Since adopting a democratic constitution in 1991, the sovereign state has been a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralisation. The population of seven million lives mainly in Sofia and the capital cities of the 27 provinces, and the country has suffered significant demographic decline since the late 1980s.

Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; it is a founding state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and has taken a seat on the UN Security Council three times. Its market economy is part of the European Single Market and mostly relies on services, followed by industry—especially machine building and mining—and agriculture. Widespread corruption is a major socioeconomic issue; it ranked as the most corrupt country in the European Union for 2018.[7]

Etymology

The name Bulgaria is derived from the Bulgars, a tribe of Turkic origin that founded the country. Their name is not completely understood and difficult to trace back earlier than the 4th century AD,[8] but it is possibly derived from the Proto-Turkic word bulģha ("to mix", "shake", "stir") and its derivative bulgak ("revolt", "disorder").[9] The meaning may be further extended to "rebel", "incite" or "produce a state of disorder", i.e. the "disturbers".[10][11][12] Ethnic groups in Inner Asia with phonologically similar names were frequently described in similar terms: during the 4th century, the Buluoji, a component of the "Five Barbarian" groups in Ancient China, were portrayed as both a "mixed race" and "troublemakers".[13]

History

Prehistory and antiquity

Sofia - Odrysian Wreath from Golyamata Mogila
Odrysian golden wreath in the National History Museum

Neanderthal remains dating to around 150,000 years ago, or the Middle Paleolithic, are some of the earliest traces of human activity in the lands of modern Bulgaria.[14] The Karanovo culture arose circa 6,500 BC and was one of several Neolithic societies in the region that thrived on agriculture.[15] The Copper Age Varna culture (fifth millennium BC) is credited with inventing gold metallurgy.[16][17] The associated Varna Necropolis treasure contains the oldest golden jewellery in the world with an approximate age of over 6,000 years.[18][19] The treasure has been valuable for understanding social hierarchy and stratification in the earliest European societies.[20][21][22]

The Thracians, one of the three primary ancestral groups of modern Bulgarians, appeared on the Balkan Peninsula some time before the 12th century BC.[23][24][25] The Thracians excelled in metallurgy and gave the Greeks the Orphean and Dionysian cults, but remained tribal and stateless.[26] The Persian Achaemenid Empire conquered most of present-day Bulgaria in the 6th century BC and retained control over the region until 479 BC.[27][28] The invasion became a catalyst for Thracian unity, and the bulk of their tribes united under king Teres to form the Odrysian kingdom in the 470s BC.[26][28][29] It was weakened and vassalized by Philip II of Macedon in 341 BC,[30] attacked by Celts in the 3rd century,[31] and finally became a province of the Roman Empire in AD 45.[32]

By the end of the 1st century AD, Roman governance was established over the entire Balkan Peninsula and Christianity began spreading in the region around the 4th century.[26] The Gothic Bible—the first Germanic language book—was created by Gothic bishop Ulfilas in what is today northern Bulgaria around 381.[33] The region came under Byzantine control after the fall of Rome in 476. The Byzantines were engaged in prolonged warfare against Persia and could not defend their Balkan territories from barbarian incursions.[34] This enabled the Slavs to enter the Balkan Peninsula as marauders, primarily through an area between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains known as Moesia.[35] Gradually, the interior of the peninsula became a country of the South Slavs, who lived under a democracy.[36][37] The Slavs assimilated the partially Hellenized, Romanized, and Gothicized Thracians in the rural areas.[38][39][40][41]

First Bulgarian Empire

Krum1
Khan Krum feasts with his nobles after the battle of Pliska. His servant (far right) brings the wine-filled skull cup of Nicephorus I.

Not long after the Slavic incursion, Moesia was once again invaded, this time by the Bulgars under Khan Asparukh.[42] Their horde was a remnant of Old Great Bulgaria, an extinct tribal confederacy situated north of the Black Sea in what is now Ukraine. Asparukh attacked Byzantine territories in Moesia and conquered the Slavic tribes there in 680.[24] A peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire was signed in 681, marking the foundation of the First Bulgarian Empire. The minority Bulgars formed a close-knit ruling caste.[43]

Succeeding rulers strengthened the Bulgarian state throughout the 8th and 9th centuries. Krum introduced a written code of law[44] and checked a major Byzantine incursion at the Battle of Pliska, in which Byzantine emperor Nicephorus I was killed.[45] Boris I abolished paganism in favour of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in 864. The conversion was followed by a Byzantine recognition of the Bulgarian church[46] and the adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet, developed in the capital, Preslav.[47] The common language, religion and script strengthened central authority and gradually fused the Slavs and Bulgars into a unified people speaking a single Slavic language.[48][47] A golden age began during the 34-year rule of Simeon the Great, who oversaw the largest territorial expansion of the state.[49]

After Simeon's death, Bulgaria was weakened by wars with Magyars and Pechenegs and the spread of the Bogomil heresy.[48][50] Preslav was seized by the Byzantine army in 971 after consecutive Rus' and Byzantine invasions.[48] The empire briefly recovered from the attacks under Samuil,[51] but this ended when Byzantine emperor Basil II defeated the Bulgarian army at Klyuch in 1014. Samuil died shortly after the battle,[52] and by 1018 the Byzantines had conquered the First Bulgarian Empire.[53]

Second Bulgarian Empire

After the conquest of Bulgaria, Basil II prevented revolts by retaining the rule of local nobility and relieving their lands of the obligation to pay taxes in gold, allowing tax in kind instead.[54] The Bulgarian Patriarchate was reduced to an archbishopric, but retained its autocephalous status and its dioceses.[54][55] Byzantine domestic policies changed after Basil's death and a series of unsuccessful rebellions broke out, the largest being led by Peter Delyan. In 1185 Asen dynasty nobles Ivan Asen I and Peter IV organized a major uprising which resulted in the re-establishment of the Bulgarian state. Ivan Asen and Peter laid the foundations of the Second Bulgarian Empire with Tarnovo as the capital.[56]

20140621 Veliko Tarnovo 002
The walls of Tsarevets fortress in Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the second empire

Kaloyan, the third of the Asen monarchs, extended his dominion to Belgrade and Ohrid. He acknowledged the spiritual supremacy of the pope and received a royal crown from a papal legate.[57] The empire reached its zenith under Ivan Asen II (1218–1241), when its borders expanded as far as the coast of Albania, Serbia and Epirus, while commerce and culture flourished.[57][56] Ivan Asen's rule was also marked by a shift away from Rome in religious matters.[58]

The Asen dynasty became extinct in 1257. Internal conflicts and incessant Byzantine and Hungarian attacks followed, enabling the Mongols to establish suzerainty over the weakened Bulgarian state.[57][58] In 1277, swineherd Ivaylo led a great peasant revolt that chased the Mongols out of Bulgaria and briefly made him emperor.[59][56] He was overthrown in 1280 by the feudal landlords,[59] whose factional conflicts caused the Second Bulgarian Empire to disintegrate into small feudal dominions by the 14th century.[56] These fragmented rump states—two tsardoms at Vidin and Tarnovo and the Despotate of Dobrudzha—became easy prey for a new threat arriving from the Southeast: the Ottoman Turks.[57]

Ottoman rule

Bulgaria Ivan Alexander (1331-1371)
Fragmentation of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 14th century

The Ottomans were employed as mercenaries by the Byzantines in the 1340s but later became invaders in their own right.[60] Sultan Murad I took Adrianople from the Byzantines in 1362; Sofia fell in 1382, followed by Shumen in 1388.[60] The Ottomans completed their conquest of Bulgarian lands in 1393 when Tarnovo was sacked after a three-month siege and the Battle of Nicopolis which brought about the fall of the Vidin Tsardom in 1396. Sozopol was the last Bulgarian settlement to fall, in 1453.[61] The Bulgarian nobility was subsequently eliminated and the peasantry was enserfed to Ottoman masters,[60] while much of the educated clergy fled to other countries.[62]

Christians were considered an inferior class of people under the Ottoman system. Bulgarians were subjected to heavy taxes (including devshirme, or blood tax), their culture was suppressed,[62] and they experienced partial Islamisation.[63] Ottoman authorities established a religious administrative community called the Rum Millet, which governed all Orthodox Christians regardless of their ethnicity.[64] Most of the local population then gradually lost its distinct national consciousness, identifying only by its faith.[65][66] The clergy remaining in some isolated monasteries kept their ethnic identity alive, enabling its survival in remote rural areas,[67] and in the militant Catholic community in the northwest of the country.[68]

As Ottoman power began to wane, Habsburg Austria and Russia saw Bulgarian Christians as potential allies. The Austrians first backed an uprising in Tarnovo in 1598, then a second one in 1686, the Chiprovtsi Uprising in 1688 and finally Karposh's Rebellion in 1689.[69] The Russian Empire also asserted itself as a protector of Christians in Ottoman lands with the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in 1774.[69]

The defeat of Shipka Peak, Bulgarian War of Independence
The Russo-Bulgarian defence of Shipka Pass

The Western European Enlightenment in the 18th century influenced the initiation of a national awakening of Bulgaria.[60] It restored national consciousness and provided an ideological basis for the liberation struggle, resulting in the 1876 April Uprising. Up to 30,000 Bulgarians were killed as Ottoman authorities put down the rebellion. The massacres prompted the Great Powers to take action.[70] They convened the Constantinople Conference in 1876, but their decisions were rejected by the Ottomans. This allowed the Russian Empire to seek a military solution without risking confrontation with other Great Powers, as had happened in the Crimean War.[70] In 1877 Russia declared war on the Ottomans and defeated them with the help of Bulgarian rebels, particularly during the crucial Battle of Shipka Pass which secured Russian control over the main road to Constantinople.[71][72]

Third Bulgarian state

The Treaty of San Stefano was signed on 3 March 1878 by Russia and the Ottoman Empire. It was to set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality spanning Moesia, Macedonia and Thrace, roughly on the territories of the Second Bulgarian Empire,[73][74] and this day is now a public holiday called National Liberation Day.[75] The other Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty out of fear that such a large country in the Balkans might threaten their interests. It was superseded by the Treaty of Berlin, signed on 13 July, which provided for a much smaller state only comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia, leaving large populations of ethnic Bulgarians outside the new country.[73][76] This significantly contributed to Bulgaria's militaristic foreign affairs approach during the first half of the 20th century.[77]

The Bulgarian principality won a war against Serbia and incorporated the semi-autonomous Ottoman territory of Eastern Rumelia in 1885, proclaiming itself an independent state on 5 October 1908.[78] In the years following independence, Bulgaria increasingly militarized and was often referred to as "the Balkan Prussia".[79] It became involved in three consecutive conflicts between 1912 and 1918—two Balkan Wars and World War I. After a disastrous defeat in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria again found itself fighting on the losing side as a result of its alliance with the Central Powers in World War I. Despite fielding more than a quarter of its population in a 1,200,000-strong army[80][81] and achieving several decisive victories at Doiran and Monastir, the country capitulated in 1918. The war resulted in significant territorial losses and a total of 87,500 soldiers killed.[82] More than 253,000 refugees from the lost territories immigrated to Bulgaria from 1912 to 1929,[83] placing additional strain on the already ruined national economy.[84]

BASA-3K-7-342-28-Boris III of Bulgaria.jpeg
Tsar Boris III

The resulting political unrest led to the establishment of a royal authoritarian dictatorship by Tsar Boris III (1918–1943). Bulgaria entered World War II in 1941 as a member of the Axis but declined to participate in Operation Barbarossa and saved its Jewish population from deportation to concentration camps.[85] The sudden death of Boris III in mid-1943 pushed the country into political turmoil as the war turned against Germany, and the communist guerrilla movement gained momentum. The government of Bogdan Filov subsequently failed to achieve peace with the Allies. Bulgaria did not comply with Soviet demands to expel German forces from its territory, resulting in a declaration of war and an invasion by the USSR in September 1944.[86] The communist-dominated Fatherland Front took power, ended participation in the Axis and joined the Allied side until the war ended.[87] Bulgaria suffered little war damage and the Soviet Union demanded no reparations. But all wartime gains, with the notable exception of Southern Dobrudzha, were lost.[88]

The left-wing uprising of 9 September 1944 led to the abolition of the monarchy and the executions of some 1,000–3,000 dissidents, war criminals, and members of the former royal elite.[89][90][91] But it was not until 1946 that a one-party people's republic was instituted following a referendum.[92] It fell into the Soviet sphere of influence under the leadership of Georgi Dimitrov (1946–1949), who established a repressive, rapidly industrializing Stalinist state.[88] By the mid-1950s standards of living rose significantly and political repressions eased.[93][94] The Soviet-style planned economy saw some market-oriented policies emerging on an experimental level under Todor Zhivkov (1954–1989).[95] Compared to wartime levels, national GDP increased five-fold and per capita GDP quadrupled by the 1980s,[96] although severe debt spikes took place in 1960, 1977 and 1980.[97] Zhivkov's daughter Lyudmila bolstered national pride by promoting Bulgarian heritage, culture and arts worldwide.[98] Facing declining birth rates among the ethnic Bulgarian majority, in 1984 Zhivkov's government forced the minority ethnic Turks to adopt Slavic names in an attempt to erase their identity and assimilate them.[99] These policies resulted in the emigration of some 300,000 ethnic Turks to Turkey.[100][101]

The Communist Party was forced to give up its political monopoly on 10 November 1989 under the influence of the Revolutions of 1989. Zhivkov resigned and Bulgaria embarked on a transition to a parliamentary democracy.[102] The first free elections in June 1990 were won by the Communist Party, now rebranded as the Bulgarian Socialist Party.[103] A new constitution that provided for a relatively weak elected president and for a prime minister accountable to the legislature was adopted in July 1991.[104] The new system initially failed to improve living standards or create economic growth—the average quality of life and economic performance remained lower than under communism well into the early 2000s.[105] After 2001 economic, political and geopolitical conditions improved greatly,[106] and Bulgaria achieved high Human Development status in 2003.[107] It became a member of NATO in 2004[108] and participated in the War in Afghanistan. After several years of reforms it joined the European Union and single market in 2007 despite Brussels' concerns about government corruption.[109] Bulgaria hosted the 2018 Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.[110]

Geography

Bulgaria-geographic map-en
Koppen-Geiger Map BGR present
Above: A map of Bulgaria showing its main topographical features
Below: A Köppen-Geiger climate classification map.[111]

Bulgaria occupies a portion of the eastern Balkan peninsula, bordering five countries—Greece and Turkey to the south, Macedonia and Serbia to the west, and Romania to the north. The land borders have a total length of 1,808 kilometres (1,123 mi), and the coastline has a length of 354 kilometres (220 mi).[112] Its total area of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi) ranks it as the world's 105th-largest country.[1][113] Bulgaria's geographic coordinates are 43° N 25° E.[114] The most notable topographical features are the Danubian Plain, the Balkan Mountains, the Thracian Plain, and the Rhodope Mountains.[112] The southern edge of the Danubian Plain slopes upward into the foothills of the Balkans, while the Danube defines the border with Romania. The Thracian Plain is roughly triangular, beginning southeast of Sofia and broadening as it reaches the Black Sea coast.[112]

Pirin-mountains-Bansko
The Pirin range west of Bansko

The Balkan mountains run laterally through the middle of the country. The mountainous southwest has two distinct alpine ranges—Rila and Pirin, which border the lower but more extensive Rhodope Mountains to the east.[112] Musala, at 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), is the highest point in both Bulgaria and the Balkan peninsula, and the Black Sea coast is the country's lowest point.[114] Plains occupy about one third of the territory, while plateaux and hills occupy 41%.[115] Most rivers are short and with low water levels. The longest river located solely in Bulgarian territory, the Iskar, has a length of 368 kilometres (229 mi). Other major rivers include the Struma and the Maritsa in the south.[116][112]

Bulgaria has a changeable climate, which results from being positioned at the meeting point of the Mediterranean and continental air masses combined with the barrier effect of its mountains.[112] Northern Bulgaria averages 1 °C (1.8 °F) cooler, and registers 200 millimetres (7.9 in) more precipitation, than the regions south of the Balkan mountains. Temperature amplitudes vary significantly in different areas. The lowest recorded temperature is −38.3 °C (−36.9 °F), while the highest is 45.2 °C (113.4 °F).[117] Precipitation averages about 630 millimetres (24.8 in) per year, and varies from 500 millimetres (19.7 in) in Dobrudja to more than 2,500 millimetres (98.4 in) in the mountains. Continental air masses bring significant amounts of snowfall during winter.[118]

Biodiversity and environment

Lacerta viridis Зелен гущер
Lacerta viridis in Ropotamo, one of Bulgaria's 16 biosphere reserves

The interaction of climatic, hydrological, geological and topographical conditions has produced a relatively wide variety of plant and animal species.[119] Bulgaria's biodiversity, one of the richest in Europe,[120] is conserved in three national parks, 11 nature parks, 10 biosphere reserves and 565 protected areas.[121][122][123] Ninety-three of the 233 mammal species of Europe are found in Bulgaria, along with 49% of butterfly and 30% of vascular plant species.[124] Overall, 41,493 plant and animal species are present.[124] Larger mammals with sizable populations include deer (106,323 individuals), wild boars (88,948), jackals (47,293) and foxes (32,326). Partridges number some 328,000 individuals, making them the most widespread gamebird.[125] A third of all nesting birds in Bulgaria can be found in Rila National Park, which also hosts Arctic and alpine species at high altitudes.[126] Flora includes more than 3,800 vascular plant species of which 170 are endemic and 150 are considered endangered.[119] A checklist of larger fungi in Bulgaria by the Institute of Botany identifies more than 1,500 species.[127] More than 35% of the land area is covered by forests.[128]

In 1998, the Bulgarian government adopted the National Biological Diversity Conservation Strategy, a comprehensive programme seeking the preservation of local ecosystems, protection of endangered species and conservation of genetic resources.[129] Bulgaria has some of the largest Natura 2000 areas in Europe covering 33.8% of its territory.[130] It also achieved its Kyoto Protocol objective of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30% from 1990 to 2009.[131][132]

Bulgaria ranks 30th in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, but scores low on air quality.[133] Particulate levels are the highest in Europe,[134] especially in urban areas affected by automobile traffic and coal-based power stations.[135][136] One of these, the lignite-fired Maritsa Iztok-2 station, is causing the highest damage to health and the environment in the European Union.[137] Pesticide use in agriculture and antiquated industrial sewage systems produce extensive soil and water pollution.[138] Water quality began to improve in 1998 and has maintained a trend of moderate improvement. Over 75% of surface rivers meet European standards for good quality.[139]

Politics

National Assembly of Bulgaria
The National Assembly in Sofia

Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy where the prime minister is the head of government and the most powerful executive position.[106] The political system has three branches—legislative, executive and judicial, with universal suffrage for citizens at least 18 years old. The Constitution also provides possibilities of direct democracy, namely petitions and national referenda.[140] Elections are supervised by an independent Central Election Commission that includes members from all major political parties. Parties must register with the commission prior to participating in a national election.[141] Normally, the prime minister-elect is the leader of the party receiving the most votes in parliamentary elections, although this is not always the case.[106]

Unlike the prime minister, presidential domestic power is more limited. The directly elected president serves as head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and has the authority to return a bill for further debate, although the parliament can override the presidential veto by a simple majority vote.[106] Political parties gather in the National Assembly, a body of 240 deputies elected to four-year terms by direct popular vote. The National Assembly has the power to enact laws, approve the budget, schedule presidential elections, select and dismiss the prime minister and other ministers, declare war, deploy troops abroad, and ratify international treaties and agreements.[142]

Overall, Bulgaria displays a pattern of unstable governments.[143] Boyko Borisov is serving his third term as prime minister since 2009,[144] when his centre-right, pro-EU party GERB won the general election and ruled as a minority government with 117 seats in the National Assembly.[145] His first government resigned on 20 February 2013 after nationwide protests caused by high costs of utilities, low living standards, corruption[146] and the perceived failure of the democratic system. The protest wave was notable for self-immolations, spontaneous demonstrations and a strong sentiment against political parties.[147]

The subsequent snap elections in May resulted in a narrow win for GERB,[148] but the Bulgarian Socialist Party eventually formed a government led by Plamen Oresharski after Borisov failed to secure parliamentary support.[149][150] The Oresharski government resigned in July 2014 amid continuing large-scale protests.[151][152][153] A caretaker government took over[154] and called the October 2014 elections[155] which resulted in a third GERB victory, but a total of eight parties entered parliament.[156] Borisov formed a coalition[157] with several right-wing parties, but resigned again after the candidate backed by his party failed to win the 2016 Presidential election. The March 2017 snap election was again won by GERB, but with 95 seats in Parliament. They formed a coalition with the far-right United Patriots, who hold 27 seats.[144]

Freedom House has reported a continuing deterioration of democratic governance after 2009, citing reduced media independence, stalled reforms, abuse of authority at the highest level and increased dependence of local administrations on the central government.[158] Bulgaria is still listed as "Free", with a political system designated as a semi-consolidated democracy, albeit with deteriorating scores.[158] The Democracy Index defines it as a "Flawed democracy".[159]

Legal system

Bulgaria has a civil law legal system.[160] The judiciary is overseen by the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of Cassation are the highest courts of appeal and oversee the application of laws in subordinate courts.[141] The Supreme Judicial Council manages the system and appoints judges. The legal system is regarded by both domestic and international observers as one of Europe's most inefficient due to pervasive lack of transparency and corruption.[161][162][163][164][165] Law enforcement is carried out by organisations mainly subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior.[166] The General Directorate of National Police (GDNP) combats general crime and maintains public order.[167] GDNP fields 26,578 police officers in its local and national sections.[168] The bulk of criminal cases are transport-related, followed by theft and drug-related crime; homicide rates are low.[169] The Ministry of the Interior also heads the Border Police Service and the National Gendarmerie—a specialized branch for anti-terrorist activity, crisis management and riot control. Counterintelligence and national security are the responsibility of the State Agency for National Security.[170]

Administrative divisions

Bulgaria is a unitary state.[171] Since the 1880s, the number of territorial management units has varied from seven to 26.[172] Between 1987 and 1999 the administrative structure consisted of nine provinces (oblasti, singular oblast). A new administrative structure was adopted in parallel with the decentralization of the economic system.[173] It includes 27 provinces and a metropolitan capital province (Sofia-Grad). All areas take their names from their respective capital cities. The provinces are subdivided into 264 municipalities. Municipalities are run by mayors, who are elected to four-year terms, and by directly elected municipal councils. Bulgaria is a highly centralized state where the Council of Ministers directly appoints regional governors and all provinces and municipalities are heavily dependent on it for funding.[141]

Bulgaria Aministrative Provinces numbered

Foreign relations and security

Bulgaria became a member of the United Nations in 1955 and since 1966 has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council three times, most recently from 2002 to 2003.[174] It was also among the founding nations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1975. Euro-Atlantic integration has been a priority since the fall of communism, although the communist leadership also had aspirations of leaving the Warsaw Pact and joining the European Communities by 1987.[175][176] Bulgaria signed the European Union Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005,[177] and became a full member of the European Union on 1 January 2007.[109] In addition, it has a tripartite economic and diplomatic collaboration with Romania and Greece,[178] good ties with China[179] and Vietnam[180] and a historical relationship with Russia.[181][182][183][184]

Bulgaria deployed significant numbers of both civilian and military advisors in Soviet-allied countries like Nicaragua[185] and Libya during the Cold War.[186] The first deployment of foreign troops on Bulgarian soil since World War II occurred in 2001, when the country hosted six KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and 200 support personnel for the war effort in Afghanistan.[21] International military relations were further expanded with accession to NATO in March 2004[108] and the US-Bulgarian Defence Cooperation Agreement signed in April 2006. Bezmer and Graf Ignatievo air bases, the Novo Selo training range, and a logistics centre in Aytos subsequently became joint military training facilities cooperatively used by the United States and Bulgarian militaries.[187][188]

Domestic defence is the responsibility of the all-volunteer Bulgarian armed forces, composed of land forces, navy and an air force. The land forces consist of two mechanized brigades and eight independent regiments and battalions; the air force operates 106 aircraft and air defence systems in six air bases, and the navy operates various ships, helicopters and coastal defence weapons.[189] Active troops dwindled from 152,000 in 1988[190] to 31,300 in 2017, supplemented by 3,000 reservists and 16,000 paramilitary.[191] The inventory consists mostly of Soviet equipment like Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-25 jets,[192] S-300PT air defence systems[193] and SS-21 Scarab short-range ballistic missiles.[194]

Economy

Economic Growth in Bulgaria
Economic growth (green) and unemployment (blue) statistics since 2001

Bulgaria has an open, upper middle income range market economy where the private sector accounts for more than 70% of GDP.[195][196] From a largely agricultural country with a predominantly rural population in 1948, by the 1980s Bulgaria had transformed into an industrial economy with scientific and technological research at the top of its budgetary expenditure priorities.[197] The loss of COMECON markets in 1990 and the subsequent "shock therapy" of the planned system caused a steep decline in industrial and agricultural production, ultimately followed by an economic collapse in 1997.[198][199] The economy largely recovered during a period of rapid growth several years later,[198] but the average salary of 1,036 leva ($615) per month remains the lowest in the EU.[200] More than a fifth of the labour force are employed on a minimum wage of $1.16 per hour.[201]

A balanced budget was achieved in 2003 and the country began running a surplus the following year.[202] Expenditures amounted to $21.15 billion and revenues were $21.67 billion in 2017.[203] Most government spending on institutions is earmarked for security. The ministries of defence, the interior and justice are allocated the largest share of the annual government budget, whereas those responsible for the environment, tourism and energy receive the least amount of funding.[204] Taxes form the bulk of government revenue[204] at 30% of GDP.[205] Bulgaria has some of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the EU at a flat 10% rate.[206] The tax system is two-tier. Value added tax, excise duties, corporate and personal income tax are national, whereas real estate, inheritance, and vehicle taxes are levied by local authorities.[207] Strong economic performance in the early 2000s reduced government debt from 79.6% in 1998 to 14.1% in 2008.[202] It has since increased to 28.7% of GDP by 2016, but remains the third lowest in the EU.[208]

The Yugozapaden planning area is the most developed region with a per capita gross domestic product (PPP) of $26,580 in 2016.[209] It includes the capital city and the surrounding Sofia Province, which alone generate 42% of national gross domestic product despite hosting only 22% of the population.[210][3] PPP GDP per capita and the cost of living in 2017 stood at 49 and 48.4% of the EU average, respectively.[211][212] National PPP GDP was estimated at $143.1 billion in 2016, with a per capita value of $20,116.[213] Economic growth statistics take into account illegal transactions from the informal economy, which is the largest in the EU as a percentage of economic output.[214][215] The Bulgarian National Bank issues the national currency, lev, which is pegged to the euro at a rate of 1.95583 levа per euro.[216]

After several consecutive years of high growth, repercussions of the financial crisis of 2007–2008 resulted in a 3.6% contraction of GDP in 2009 and increased unemployment.[217][218] Industrial output declined 10%, mining by 31%, and ferrous and metal production marked a 60% drop.[219] Positive growth was restored in 2010 but intercompany debt exceeded $59 billion, meaning that 60% of all Bulgarian companies were mutually indebted.[220] By 2012, it had increased to $97 billion, or 227% of GDP.[221] The government implemented strict austerity measures with IMF and EU encouragement to some positive fiscal results, but the social consequences of these measures, such as increased income inequality and accelerated outward migration, have been "catastrophic" according to the International Trade Union Confederation.[222]

Siphoning of public funds to the families and relatives of politicians from incumbent parties has resulted in fiscal and welfare losses to society.[223][224] Bulgaria ranks 71st in the Corruption Perceptions Index[225] and experiences the worst levels of corruption in the European Union, a phenomenon that remains a source of profound public discontent.[226][227] Along with organized crime, corruption has resulted in a rejection of the country's Schengen Area application and withdrawal of foreign investment.[228][229][230] Government officials reportedly engage in embezzlement, influence trading, government procurement violations and bribery with impunity.[161] Government procurement in particular is a critical area in corruption risk. An estimated 10 billion leva ($5.99 billion) of state budget and European cohesion funds are spent on public tenders each year;[231] nearly 14 billion ($8.38 billion) were spent on public contracts in 2017 alone.[232] A large share of these contracts are awarded to a few politically connected[233] companies amid widespread irregularities, procedure violations and tailor-made award criteria.[234] Despite repeated criticism from the European Commission,[230] EU institutions refrain from taking measures against Bulgaria because it supports Brussels on a number of issues, unlike Poland or Hungary.[226]

Sectors

Bulgaria 2016 export treemap
Tree-map of Bulgarian exports in 2016

The labour force is 3.36 million people,[235] of whom 6.8% are employed in agriculture, 26.6% in industry and 66.6% in the services sector.[236] Extraction of metals and minerals, production of chemicals, machine building, steel, biotechnology, tobacco and food processing and petroleum refining are among the major industrial activities.[237][238][239] Mining alone employs 24,000 people and generates about 5% of the country's GDP; the number of employed in all mining-related industries is 120,000.[240][241] Bulgaria is Europe's fifth-largest coal producer.[241][242] Local deposits of coal, iron, copper and lead are vital for the manufacturing and energy sectors.[243]

Two-thirds of food and agricultural exports go to OECD countries.[244] Although cereal and vegetable output dropped by 40% between 1990 and 2008,[245] output has since increased, and the 2016–2017 season registered the biggest grain output in a decade.[246][247] Maize, barley, oats and rice are also grown. Quality Oriental tobacco is a significant industrial crop.[248] Bulgaria is also the largest producer globally of lavender and rose oil, both widely used in fragrances.[21][249][250][251] Of the services sector, tourism is a significant contributor to economic growth. Bulgaria has emerged as a travelling destination with its inexpensive resorts and beaches outside the reach of the tourist industry.[252] Most of the visitors are Romanian, German, Turkish, British and Russian.[253] Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, coastal resorts Golden Sands and Sunny Beach and winter resorts Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets are some of the locations most visited by tourists.[254]

Science and technology

Spending on research and development amounts to 0.78% of GDP,[255] and the bulk of public R&D funding goes to the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS).[256] Private businesses accounted for more than 73% of R&D expenditures and employed 42% of Bulgaria's 22,000 researchers in 2015.[257] The same year, Bulgaria ranked 39th out of 50 countries in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, the highest score being in education (24th) and the lowest in value-added manufacturing (48th).[258] Chronic government underinvestment in research since 1990 has forced many professionals in science and engineering to leave Bulgaria.[259]

BulgariaSat-1 Mission (35491530485)
The launch of BulgariaSat-1 by SpaceX in 2017

Despite the lack of funding, research in chemistry, materials science and physics remains strong.[256] Three per cent of economic output is generated by the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector where 40,000[260] to 51,000 software engineers are employed.[261] Bulgaria was known as a "Communist Silicon Valley" during the Soviet era due to its key role in COMECON computing technology production.[262] The country is a regional leader in high performance computing and operates Avitohol, the most powerful supercomputer in Southeast Europe.[263]

Bulgaria has made numerous contributions to space exploration.[264] These include two scientific satellites, more than 200 payloads and 300 experiments in Earth orbit, as well as two cosmonauts since 1971.[264] Bulgaria was the first country to grow wheat and vegetables in space with its Svet greenhouses on the Mir space station.[265][266] It was involved in the development of the Granat gamma-ray observatory[267] and the Vega program, particularly in modelling trajectories and guidance algorithms for both Vega probes.[268][269] Bulgarian instruments have been used in the exploration of Mars, including a spectrometer that took the first high quality spectroscopic images of Martian moon Phobos with the Phobos 2 probe.[264][267] Cosmic radiation en route to and around the planet has been mapped by Liulin-ML dosimeters on the ExoMars TGO.[270] Variants of these instruments have also been fitted to the Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe and the International Space Station.[271][272] Bulgaria's first geostationary communications satelliteBulgariaSat-1—was launched by SpaceX in June 2017.[273]

Bulgaria is actively involved in Antarctic research, carried out mostly from its scientific base St. Kliment Ohrdiski situated on Livingston Island in Western Antarctica.[274][275]

Infrastructure

Telephone services are widely available, and a central digital trunk line connects most regions.[276] Vivacom (BTC) serves more than 90% of fixed lines and is one of the three operators providing mobile services, along with A1 and Telenor.[277][278] Internet penetration stood at 61.9% of the population aged 16–74, in 2017.[279]

Bulgaria's strategic geographic location and well-developed energy sector make it a key European energy centre despite its lack of significant fossil fuel deposits.[280] Thermal power plants generate 48.9% of electricity, followed by nuclear power from the Kozloduy reactors (34.8%) and renewable sources (16.3%).[281] Equipment for a second nuclear power station at Belene has been acquired, but the fate of the project remains uncertain.[282] Installed capacity amounts to 12,668 MW, allowing Bulgaria to exceed domestic demand and export energy.[283]

The national road network has a total length of 19,512 kilometres (12,124 mi),[284] of which 19,235 kilometres (11,952 mi) are paved. Railroads are a major mode of freight transportation, although highways carry a progressively larger share of freight. Bulgaria has 6,238 kilometres (3,876 mi) of railway track[276] and currently a total of 81 kilometres (50 miles) of high-speed lines are in operation.[285][286] Rail links are available with Romania, Turkey, Greece, and Serbia, and express trains serve direct routes to Kiev, Minsk, Moscow and Saint Petersburg.[287] Sofia and Plovdiv are the country's air travel hubs, while Varna and Burgas are the principal maritime trade ports.[276]

Demographics

Bulgaria-demography
Population trend since 1960

The population of Bulgaria is 7,360,000 people according to the 2011 national census. The majority of the population, or 72.5%, reside in urban areas.[288] As of 2017, Sofia is the most populated urban centre with 1,330,000 people, followed by Plovdiv (345,000), Varna (344,000), Burgas (209,000) and Ruse (160,000).[3] Bulgarians are the main ethnic group and comprise 84.8% of the population. Turkish and Roma minorities comprise 8.8 and 4.9%, respectively; some 40 smaller minorities comprise 0.7%, and 0.8% do not self-identify with an ethnic group.[289][290] Former Statistics head Reneta Indzhova has disputed the 2011 census figures, suggesting the actual population is smaller than reported.[291][292] The Roma minority is usually underestimated in census data and may represent up to 11% of the population.[293] Population density is 65 per square kilometre, almost half the European Union average.[294]

Bulgaria is in a state of demographic crisis.[295][296] It has had negative population growth since the early 1990s, when the economic collapse caused a long-lasting emigration wave.[297] Some 937,000 to 1,200,000 people—mostly young adults—left the country by 2005.[297][298] The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated at 1.46 children born per woman in 2017.[299] The majority of children are born to unmarried women.[300] Furthermore, a third of all households consist of only one person and 75.5% of families do not have children under the age of 16.[296] The resulting birth rates are among the lowest in the world[301][302] while death rates are among the highest.[303]

High death rates result from a combination of an ageing population, a high number of people at risk of poverty and a weak healthcare system.[304] More than 80% of all deaths are due to cancer and cardiovascular conditions; nearly a fifth of those are avoidable.[305] Mortality rates can be sharply reduced to levels below the EU average through timely and adequate access to medical services, which the healthcare system does not provide fully.[306] Although healthcare in Bulgaria is nominally universal,[307] out-of-pocket expenses account for nearly half of all healthcare spending, which significantly limits access to medical care.[308] Other problems disrupting care provision are the emigration of doctors due to low wages, understaffed and under-equipped regional hospitals, supply shortages and frequent changes to the basic service package for those insured.[309][310] The 2018 Bloomberg Health Care Efficiency Index ranked Bulgaria last out of 56 countries.[311] Average life expectancy is 74.7 years compared with an EU average of 80.2 and a world average of 69.[312][313]

Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (37849719131)
The Rectorate of Sofia University

Public expenditures for education are far below the European Union average as well.[314] Educational standards were once high,[315] but have declined significantly since the early 2000s.[314] Bulgarian students were among the highest-scoring in the world in terms of reading in 2001, performing better than their Canadian and German counterparts; by 2006, scores in reading, math and science had dropped. Although average literacy stands at 98.4% with no significant difference between sexes,[316] functional illiteracy is significant. The PISA study of 2015 found 41.5% of pupils in the 9th grade to be functionally illiterate in reading, maths and science.[317] The Ministry of Education and Science partially funds public schools, colleges and universities, sets criteria for textbooks and oversees the publishing process. Education in primary and secondary public schools is free and compulsory.[315] The process spans through 12 grades, where grades one through eight are primary and nine through twelve are secondary level. Higher education consists of a 4-year bachelor degree and a 1-year master's degree.[318] Bulgaria's highest-ranked higher education institution is Sofia University.[319][320]

Bulgarian is the only language with official status and native for 85% of the population.[321] It belongs to the Slavic group of languages, but it has a number of grammatical peculiarities, shared with its closest relative Macedonian, that set it apart from other Slavic languages: these include a complex verbal morphology (which also codes for distinctions in evidentiality), the absence of noun cases and infinitives, and the use of a suffixed definite article.[322] Other major languages are Turkish and Romani, which according to the 2011 census were spoken natively by 9.1% and 4.2% respectively.

The country scores high in gender equality, ranking 18th in the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report.[323] Although women's suffrage was enabled relatively late, in 1937, women today have equal political rights, high workforce participation and legally mandated equal pay.[323] Bulgaria has the highest ratio of female ICT researchers in the EU,[324] as well as the second-highest ratio of females in the technology sector at 44.6% of the workforce. High levels of female participation are a legacy of the Socialist era.[325]

More than three-quarters of Bulgarians subscribe to Eastern Orthodoxy.[326] Sunni Muslims are the second-largest religious community and constitute 10% of Bulgaria's overall religious makeup, although a majority of them are not observant and find the use of Islamic veils in schools unacceptable.[327] Less than 3% of the population are affiliated with other religions and 11.8% are irreligious or do not self-identify with a religion.[326] The Bulgarian Orthodox Church gained autocephalous status in AD 927,[328][329] and has 12 dioceses and over 2,000 priests.[330] Bulgaria is a secular state with guaranteed religious freedom by constitution, but Orthodoxy is designated as a "traditional" religion.[331]

Culture

Kukeri E8
Kuker in Lesichovo

Contemporary Bulgarian culture blends the formal culture that helped forge a national consciousness towards the end of Ottoman rule with millennia-old folk traditions.[332] An essential element of Bulgarian folklore is fire, used to banish evil spirits and illnesses. Many of these are personified as witches, whereas other creatures like zmey and samodiva (veela) are either benevolent guardians or ambivalent tricksters.[333] Some rituals against evil spirits have survived and are still practised, most notably kukeri and survakari.[334] Martenitsa is also widely celebrated.[335] Nestinarstvo, a ritual fire-dance of Thracian origin, is included in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.[336][337]

Nine historical and natural objects are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pirin National Park, Sreburna Nature Reserve, the Madara Rider, the Thracian tombs in Sveshtari and Kazanlak, the Rila Monastery, the Boyana Church, the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo and the ancient city of Nesebar.[338] The Rila Monastery was established by Saint John of Rila, Bulgaria's patron saint, whose life has been the subject of numerous literary accounts since Medieval times.[339]

The establishment of the Preslav and Ohrid literary schools in the 10th century is associated with a golden period in Bulgarian literature during the Middle Ages.[339] The schools' emphasis on Christian scriptures made the Bulgarian Empire a centre of Slavic culture, bringing Slavs under the influence of Christianity and providing them with a written language.[340][341][342] Its alphabet, Cyrillic script, was developed by the Preslav Literary School.[343] The Tarnovo Literary School, on the other hand, is associated with a Silver age of literature defined by high-quality manuscripts on historical or mystical themes under the Asen and Shishman dynasties.[339] Many literary and artistic masterpieces were destroyed by the Ottoman conquerors, and artistic activities did not re-emerge until the National Revival in the 19th century.[332] The enormous body of work of Ivan Vazov (1850–1921) covered every genre and touched upon every facet of Bulgarian society, bridging pre-Liberation works with literature of the newly established state.[339] Notable later works are Bay Ganyo by Aleko Konstantinov, the Nietzschean poetry of Pencho Slaveykov, the Symbolist poetry of Peyo Yavorov and Dimcho Debelyanov, the Marxist-inspired works of Geo Milev and Nikola Vaptsarov, and the Socialist realism novels of Dimitar Dimov and Dimitar Talev.[339] Tzvetan Todorov is a notable contemporary author,[344] while Bulgarian-born Elias Canetti was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981.[345]

А religious visual arts heritage includes frescoes, murals and icons, many produced by the medieval Tarnovo Artistic School.[346] Like literature, it was not until the National Revival when Bulgarian visual arts began to reemerge. Zahari Zograf was a pioneer of the visual arts in the pre-Liberation era.[332] After the Liberation, Ivan Mrkvička, Anton Mitov, Vladimir Dimitrov, Tsanko Lavrenov and Zlatyu Boyadzhiev introduced newer styles and substance, depicting scenery from Bulgarian villages, old towns and historical subjects. Christo is the most famous Bulgarian artist of the 21st century, known for his outdoor installations.[332]

Folk music is by far the most extensive traditional art and has slowly developed throughout the ages as a fusion of Far Eastern, Oriental, medieval Eastern Orthodox and standard Western European tonalities and modes.[347] Bulgarian folk music has a distinctive sound and uses a wide range of traditional instruments, such as gadulka, gaida, kaval and tupan. A distinguishing feature is extended rhythmical time, which has no equivalent in the rest of European music.[21] The State Television Female Vocal Choir won a Grammy Award in 1990 for its performances of Bulgarian folk music.[348] Written musical composition can be traced back to the works of Yoan Kukuzel (c. 1280–1360),[349] but modern classical music began with Emanuil Manolov, who composed the first Bulgarian opera in 1890.[332] Pancho Vladigerov and Petko Staynov further enriched symphony, ballet and opera, which singers Ghena Dimitrova, Boris Christoff, Ljuba Welitsch and Nicolai Ghiaurov elevated to a world-class level.[332][350][351][352][353][354][355] Bulgarian performers have gained acclaim in other genres like electropop (Mira Aroyo), jazz (Milcho Leviev) and blends of jazz and folk (Ivo Papazov).[332]

The Bulgarian National Radio, bTV and daily newspapers Trud, Dnevnik and 24 Chasa are some of the largest national media outlets.[356] Bulgarian media were described as generally unbiased in their reporting in the early 2000s and print media had no legal restrictions.[357] Since then, freedom of the press has deteriorated to the point where Bulgaria scores 111th globally in the World Press Freedom Index, lower than all European Union members and membership candidate states. The government has diverted EU funds to sympathetic media outlets and bribed others to be less critical on problematic topics, while attacks against individual journalists have increased.[358][359] Collusion between politicians, oligarchs and the media is widespread.[358]

Bulgarian cuisine is similar to that of other Balkan countries and demonstrates strong Turkish and Greek influences.[360] Yogurt, lukanka, banitsa, shopska salad, lyutenitsa and kozunak are among the best-known local foods. Meat consumption is lower than the European average, given a cultural preference for a large variety of salads.[360] Bulgaria was the world's second-largest wine exporter until 1989, but has since lost that position.[361][362] The 2016 harvest yielded 128 million litres of wine, of which 62 million was exported mainly to Romania, Poland and Russia.[363] Mavrud, Rubin, Shiroka melnishka, Dimiat and Cherven Misket are the typical grapes used in Bulgarian wine.[364] Rakia is a traditional fruit brandy that was consumed in Bulgaria as early as the 14th century.[365]

Sports

Bulgaria appeared at the first modern Olympic games in 1896, when it was represented by gymnast Charles Champaud.[366] Since then, Bulgarian athletes have won 52 gold, 89 silver, and 83 bronze medals,[367] ranking 25th in the all-time medal table. Weight-lifting is a signature sport of Bulgaria. Coach Ivan Abadzhiev developed innovative training practices that have produced many Bulgarian world and Olympic champions in weight-lifting since the 1980s.[368] Bulgarian athletes have also excelled in wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, volleyball and tennis.[368] Stefka Kostadinova is the reigning world record holder in the women's high jump at 2.09 metres (6 feet 10 inches), achieved during the 1987 World Championships.[369] Grigor Dimitrov is the first Bulgarian tennis player in the Top 3 ATP Rankings.[370]

Football is the most popular sport in the country by a substantial margin. The national football team's best performance was a semi-final at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, when the squad was spearheaded by forward Hristo Stoichkov.[368] Stoichkov is the most successful Bulgarian player of all time; he was awarded the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball and was considered one of the best in the world while playing for FC Barcelona in the 1990s.[371][372] CSKA and Levski, both based in Sofia,[368] are the most successful clubs domestically and long-standing rivals.[373] Ludogorets is remarkable for having advanced from the local fourth division to the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League group stage in a mere nine years.[374] Placed 39th in 2018, it is Bulgaria's highest-ranked club in UEFA.[375]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ The official number of Romani citizens may be lower than the actual number. See Demographics.
  2. ^ 19 February in the Julian calendar used at the time.
  3. ^ 22 September in the Julian calendar used at the time.

References

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  2. ^ "Field listing: Area". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
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  4. ^ a b c d "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects (Bulgaria)". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
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  8. ^ Golden 1992, pp. 103–104.
  9. ^ Bowersock, Glen W. (1999). Late Antiquity: a Guide to the Postclassical World. Harvard University Press. p. 354. ISBN 978-0674511736.
  10. ^ Chen 2012, p. 97.
  11. ^ Petersen, Leif Inge Ree (2013). Siege Warfare and Military Organization in the Successor States (400–800 AD): Byzantium, the West and Islam. Brill. p. 369. ISBN 978-9004254466.
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Bibliography

External links

Balkan Wars

The Balkan Wars (Turkish: Balkan Savaşları, literally "the Balkan Wars" or Balkan Faciası, meaning "the Balkan Tragedy") consisted of two conflicts that took place in the Balkan Peninsula in 1912 and 1913. Four Balkan states defeated the Ottoman Empire in the first war. The main victor of the four, Bulgaria, fought and pushed back all four original combatants of the first war along with halting a surprise attack from Romania from the north in the second war. The Ottoman Empire lost the bulk of its territory in Europe. Austria-Hungary, although not a combatant, became relatively weaker as a much enlarged Serbia pushed for union of the South Slavic peoples. The war set the stage for the Balkan crisis of 1914 and thus served as a "prelude to the First World War".By the early 20th century, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia had achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire, but large elements of their ethnic populations remained under Ottoman rule. In 1912 these countries formed the Balkan League. The First Balkan War had three main causes:

The Ottoman Empire was unable to reform itself, govern satisfactorily, or deal with the rising ethnic nationalism of its diverse peoples.

The Great Powers quarreled amongst themselves and failed to ensure that the Ottomans would carry out the needed reforms. This led the Balkan states to impose their own solution.

Most importantly, the Balkan League had been formed, and its members were confident that it could defeat the Turks.The Ottoman Empire lost all its European territories to the west of the River Maritsa as a result of the two Balkan Wars, which thus delineated present-day Turkey's western border. A large influx of Turks started to flee into the Ottoman heartland from the lost lands. By 1914, the remaining core region of the Ottoman Empire had experienced a population increase of around 2.5 million because of the flood of immigration from the Balkans.

Citizens of Turkey regard the Balkan Wars as a major disaster (Balkan harbi faciası) in the nation's history. The unexpected fall and sudden relinquishing of Turkish-dominated European territories created a psycho-traumatic event amongst many Turks that is said to have triggered the ultimate collapse of the empire itself within five years. Nazım Pasha, Chief of Staff of the Ottoman Army, was held responsible for the failure and was assassinated on 23 January 1913 during the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état.The First Balkan War began when the League member states attacked the Ottoman Empire on 8 October 1912 and ended eight months later with the signing of the Treaty of London on 30 May 1913. The Second Balkan War began on 16 June 1913. Both Serbia and Greece, utilizing the argument that the war had been prolonged, repudiated important particulars of the pre-war treaty and retained occupation of all the conquered districts in their possession, which were to be divided according to specific predefined boundaries. Seeing the treaty as trampled, Bulgaria was dissatisfied over the division of the spoils in Macedonia (made in secret by its former allies, Serbia and Greece) and commenced military action against them. The more numerous combined Serbian and Greek armies repelled the Bulgarian offensive and counter-attacked into Bulgaria from the west and the south. Romania, having taken no part in the conflict, had intact armies to strike with, invaded Bulgaria from the north in violation of a peace treaty between the two states. The Ottoman Empire also attacked Bulgaria and advanced in Thrace regaining Adrianople. In the resulting Treaty of Bucharest, Bulgaria lost most of the territories it had gained in the First Balkan War in addition to being forced to cede the ex-Ottoman south-third of Dobroudja province to Romania.

Balkans

The Balkans, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range.

The concept of the Balkan peninsula was created by the German geographer August Zeune in 1808, who mistakenly considered the Balkan Mountains the dominant mountain system of Southeast Europe spanning from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea. The term of Balkan Peninsula was a synonym for European Turkey in the 19th century, the former provinces of the Ottoman Empire in Southeast Europe. It had a geopolitical rather than a geographical definition, further promoted during the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the early 20th century. The definition of the Balkan peninsula natural borders are not coinciding with the technical definition of a peninsula and hence modern geographers are rejecting the idea of a Balkan peninsula, while the scholars usually discuss the Balkans as a region. The term steadily got, especially since the 1990s, a stigmatized and pejorative meaning related to the process of Balkanization, and hence the rather used alternative term for the region is Southeast Europe.

Black Sea

The Black Sea is a body of water and marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Western Asia. It is supplied by a number of major rivers, such as the Danube, Dnieper, Southern Bug, Dniester, Don, and the Rioni. Many countries drain into the Black Sea, including Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km2 (168,500 sq mi) (not including the Sea of Azov), a maximum depth of 2,212 m (7,257 ft), and a volume of 547,000 km3 (131,000 cu mi). It is constrained by the Pontic Mountains to the south, Caucasus Mountains to the east, Crimean Mountains to the north, Strandzha to the southwest, Dobrogea Plateau to the northwest, and features a wide shelf to the northwest.

The longest east–west extent is about 1,175 km (730 mi).Important cities along the coast include Batumi, Burgas, Constanța, Giresun, Istanbul, Kerch, Novorossiysk, Odessa, Ordu, Poti, Rize, Samsun, Sevastopol, Sochi, Sukhumi, Trabzon, Varna, Yalta, and Zonguldak.

The Black Sea has a positive water balance; that is, a net outflow of water 300 km3 (72 cu mi) per year through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles into the Aegean Sea. There is a two-way hydrological exchange: the more saline and therefore denser, but warmer, Mediterranean water flows into the Black Sea under its less saline outflow. This creates a significant anoxic layer well below the surface waters. The Black Sea drains into the Mediterranean Sea, via the Aegean Sea and various straits, and is navigable to the Atlantic Ocean. The Bosphorus Strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the Strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean. These waters separate Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Western Asia. The Black Sea is also connected, to the North, to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.

The water level has varied significantly. Due to these variations in the water level in the basin, the surrounding shelf and associated aprons have sometimes been land. At certain critical water levels it is possible for connections with surrounding water bodies to become established. It is through the most active of these connective routes, the Turkish Straits, that the Black Sea joins the world ocean. When this hydrological link is not present, the Black Sea is an endorheic basin, operating independently of the global ocean system, like the Caspian Sea for example. Currently the Black Sea water level is relatively high, thus water is being exchanged with the Mediterranean. The Turkish Straits connect the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea, and comprise the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles.

Bulgaria national football team

The Bulgaria national football team (Bulgarian: Български национален отбор по футбол) is an association football team of Bulgaria. It is fielded by the Bulgarian Football Union, a member association of UEFA. The team's home stadium is the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia and Petar Hubchev is the current national manager. Their best achievements are – reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 1994, reaching the Summer Olympics final in 1968, quarter-finals at the UEFA Euro 1968, along with winning four Balkan Cup titles. Although defeating strong top ranked teams in many international friendlies throughout the years, the team's strength has slowly fallen. In result, Bulgaria has failed to qualify for any major tournament since 2004.

Central Powers

The Central Powers (German: Mittelmächte; Hungarian: Központi hatalmak; Turkish: İttifak Devletleri / Bağlaşma Devletleri; Bulgarian: Централни сили, translit. Tsentralni sili), consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria—hence also known as the Quadruple Alliance (German: Vierbund)—was one of the two main coalitions that fought World War I (1914–18).

It faced and was defeated by the Allied Powers that had formed around the Triple Entente. The Powers' origin was the alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1879. Despite having nominally joined the Triple Alliance before, Italy did not take part in World War I on the side of the Central Powers; the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria did not join until after World War I had begun, even though the Ottoman Empire had retained close relations with both Germany and Austria-Hungary since the beginning of the 20th century.

First Bulgarian Empire

The First Bulgarian Empire (Old Bulgarian: ц︢рьство бл︢гарское, ts'rstvo bl'garskoe) was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed in Southeastern Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. It was founded in 681 when Bulgar tribes led by Asparuh moved to the northeastern Balkans. There they secured Byzantine recognition of their right to settle south of the Danube by defeating – possibly with the help of local South Slavic tribes – the Byzantine army led by Constantine IV. At the height of its power, Bulgaria spread from the Danube Bend to the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River to the Adriatic Sea.

As the state solidified its position in the Balkans, it entered into a centuries-long interaction, sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile, with the Byzantine Empire. Bulgaria emerged as Byzantium's chief antagonist to its north, resulting in several wars. The two powers also enjoyed periods of peace and alliance, most notably during the Second Arab siege of Constantinople, where the Bulgarian army broke the siege and destroyed the Arab army, thus preventing an Arab invasion of Southeastern Europe. Byzantium had a strong cultural influence on Bulgaria, which also led to the eventual adoption of Christianity in 864. After the disintegration of the Avar Khaganate, the country expanded its territory northwest to the Pannonian Plain. Later the Bulgarians confronted the advance of the Pechenegs and Cumans, and achieved a decisive victory over the Magyars, forcing them to establish themselves permanently in Pannonia.

During the late 9th and early 10th centuries, Simeon I achieved a string of victories over the Byzantines. Thereafter, he was recognized with the title of Emperor, and proceeded to expand the state to its greatest extent. After the annihilation of the Byzantine army in the battle of Anchialus in 917, the Bulgarians laid siege to Constantinople in 923 and 924. The Byzantines, however, eventually recovered, and in 1014, under Basil II, inflicted a crushing defeat on the Bulgarians at the Battle of Kleidion. By 1018, the last Bulgarian strongholds had surrendered to the Byzantine Empire, and the First Bulgarian Empire had ceased to exist. It was succeeded by the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185.

After the adoption of Christianity, Bulgaria became the cultural center of Slavic Europe. Its leading cultural position was further consolidated with the invention of the Glagolitic and Early Cyrillic alphabets shortly after in the capital Preslav, and literature produced in Old Bulgarian soon began spreading north. Old Bulgarian became the lingua franca of much of Eastern Europe and it came to be known as Old Church Slavonic. In 927, the fully independent Bulgarian Patriarchate was officially recognized.

The ruling Bulgars and other non-Slavic tribes in the empire gradually mixed and adopted the prevailing Slavic language, thus gradually forming the Bulgarian nation from the 7th century to the 9th century. Since the late 9th century, the names Bulgarians and Bulgarian gained prevalence and became permanent designations for the local population, both in literature and in common parlance. The development of Old Church Slavonic literacy had the effect of preventing the assimilation of the South Slavs into neighbouring cultures, while stimulating the formation of a distinct Bulgarian identity.

Grading in education

Grading in education is the process of applying standardized measurements of varying levels of achievement in a course.

Grades can be assigned as letters (for example A through F), as a range (for example 1 to 6), as a percentage of a total number of questions answered correctly, or as a number out of a possible total (for example out of 20 or 100).In some countries, all grades from all current classes are averaged to create a grade point average (GPA) for the marking period. The GPA is calculated by taking the number of grade points a student earned in a given period of time of middle school through high school. GPAs are also calculated for undergraduate and graduate students in most universities. The GPA can be used by potential employers or educational institutions to assess and compare applicants. A cumulative grade point average (CGPA) is a calculation of the average of all of a student's total earned points divided by the possible number of points. This grading system calculates for all of his or her complete education career. Grade point averages can be unweighted (where all classes with the same number of credits have equal influence on the GPA) or weighted (where some classes are given more influence than others)..

History of Bulgaria

The history of Bulgaria can be traced from the first settlements on the lands of modern Bulgaria to its formation as a nation-state and includes the history of the Bulgarian people and their origin. The earliest evidence of hominid occupation discovered on what is today Bulgaria date from at least 1.4 million years ago. Around 5000 BC, a sophisticated civilization already existed and produced some of the first pottery and jewelry in the world. After 3000 BC, the Thracians appeared on the Balkan peninsula. In the late 6th century BC, most of what is nowadays Bulgaria came under the Persian Empire. In the 470s BC, the Thracians formed the powerful Odrysian Kingdom, probably after the Persian defeat in Greece, which subsequently declined and Thracian tribes fell under Macedonian, Celtic and Roman domination. This mixture of ancient peoples was assimilated by the Slavs, who permanently settled on the peninsula after 500 AD.

Meanwhile, in 632 the Bulgars formed an independent state north of the Black sea that became known as Great Bulgaria under the leadership of Kubrat. Pressure from the Khazars led to the disintegration of Great Bulgaria in the second half of the 7th century. One of the Kubrat's successors, Asparukh, migrated with some of the Bulgar tribes to the area around the Danube delta, and subsequently conquered Scythia Minor and Moesia Inferior from the Byzantine Empire, expanding his new kingdom further into the Balkan Peninsula. A peace treaty with Byzantium in 681 and the establishment of a permanent Bulgarian capital at Pliska south of the Danube mark the beginning of the First Bulgarian Empire. The new state brought together Thracian remnants and Slavs under Bulgar rule, and a slow process of mutual assimilation began. In the following centuries Bulgaria established itself as a powerful empire, dominating the Balkans through its aggressive military traditions, which led to development of distinct ethnic identity. Its ethnically and culturally diverse people united under a common religion, language and alphabet which formed and preserved the Bulgarian national consciousness despite foreign invasions and influences.

In the 11th century, the First Bulgarian Empire collapsed under Rus' and Byzantine attacks, and became part of the Byzantine Empire until 1185. Then, a major uprising led by two brothers - Asen and Peter of the Asen dynasty, restored the Bulgarian state to form the Second Bulgarian Empire. After reaching its apogee in the 1230s, Bulgaria started to decline due to a number of factors, most notably its geographic position which rendered it vulnerable to simultaneous attacks and invasions from many sides. A peasant rebellion, one of the few successful such in history, established the swineherd Ivaylo as a Tsar. His short reign was essential in recovering - at least partially - the integrity of the Bulgarian state. A relatively thriving period followed after 1300, but ended in 1371, when factional divisions caused Bulgaria to split into three small Tsardoms. By 1396, they were subjugated by the Ottoman Empire. The Turks eliminated the Bulgarian system of nobility and ruling clergy, and Bulgaria remained an integral Turkish territory for the next 500 years.

With the decline of the Ottoman Empire after 1700, signs of revival started to emerge. The Bulgarian nobility had vanished, leaving an egalitarian peasant society with a small but growing urban middle class. By the 19th century, the Bulgarian National Revival became a key component of the struggle for independence, which would culminate in the failed April uprising in 1876, which prompted the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 and the subsequent Liberation of Bulgaria. The initial Treaty of San Stefano was rejected by the Western Great Powers, and the following Treaty of Berlin limited Bulgaria's territories to Moesia and the region of Sofia. This left many ethnic Bulgarians out of the borders of the new state, which defined Bulgaria's militaristic approach to regional affairs and its allegiance to Germany in both World Wars.

After World War II, Bulgaria became a Communist state, dominated by Todor Zhivkov for a period of 35 years. Bulgaria's economic advancement during the era came to an end in the 1980s, and the collapse of the Communist system in Eastern Europe marked a turning point for the country's development. A series of crises in the 1990s left much of Bulgaria's industry and agriculture in shambles, although a period of relative stabilization began with the election of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as prime minister in 2001. Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007.

Kingdom of Bulgaria

The Kingdom of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Царство България, Tsarstvo Bǎlgariya), also referred to as the Tsardom of Bulgaria and the Third Bulgarian Tsardom, was a constitutional monarchy in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, which was established on 5 October (O.S. 22 September) 1908 when the Bulgarian state was raised from a principality to a kingdom. Ferdinand I was crowned a Tsar at the Declaration of Independence, mainly because of his military plans and for seeking options for unification of all lands in the Balkan region with an ethnic Bulgarian majority (lands that had been seized from Bulgaria and given to the Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of Berlin).

The state was almost constantly at war throughout its existence, lending to its nickname as "the Balkan Prussia". For several years Bulgaria mobilized an army of more than 1 million people from its population of about 5 million and in the 1910s it engaged in three wars – the First and Second Balkan Wars, and the First World War. Following the First World War, the Bulgarian army was disbanded and forbidden to exist by the Allied Powers, and all plans for national unification of the Bulgarian lands failed. Less than two decades later Bulgaria once again went to war for national unification as part of the Second World War, and once again found itself on the losing side, until it switched sides to the Allies in 1944. In 1946, the monarchy was abolished, its final Tsar was sent into exile and the Kingdom was replaced by the People's Republic of Bulgaria.

Military history of Bulgaria during World War II

The military history of Bulgaria during World War II encompasses an initial period of neutrality until 1 March 1941, a period of alliance with the Axis Powers until 9 September 1944 (on 8 September, the Red Army entered Bulgaria) and a period of alignment with the Allies in the final year of the war. Bulgaria functioned as an authoritarian state during most of World War II. Tsar Boris III (reigned 1918–1943) ruled with a prime minister and a parliament.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia (Macedonian: Северна Македонија, translit. Severna Makedonija; Albanian: Maqedonia e Veriut), officially the Republic of North Macedonia (Macedonian: Република Северна Македонија, translit. Republika Severna Makedonija; Albanian: Republika e Maqedonisë së Veriut), is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in September 1991 under the name Republic of Macedonia.

The country became a member of the United Nations in April 1993, but as a result of a dispute with Greece over the name, it was admitted under the provisional description the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (abbreviated as FYR Macedonia and FYROM), a term that was also used by some other international organisations. In June 2018, Macedonia and Greece resolved the conflict with an agreement that the country should rename itself Republic of North Macedonia. This renaming came into effect in February 2019, with a several-months-long transition for passports, licence plates, currency, customs, border signs, and government websites, among other things.A landlocked country, North Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the northern third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which also comprises the neighbouring parts of northern Greece and southwestern Bulgaria. The country's geography is defined primarily by mountains, valleys, and rivers. The capital and largest city, Skopje, is home to roughly a quarter of the nation's 2.06 million inhabitants. The majority of the residents are ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25%, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, Bosniaks, Aromanians, and Bulgarians.

The history of the region dates back to antiquity, beginning with the kingdom of Paeonia, probably a mixed Thraco-Illyrian polity. In the late sixth century BC, the area was incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire, then annexed by the kingdom of Macedonia in the fourth century BC. The Romans conquered the region in the second century BC and made it part of the much larger province of Macedonia. Τhe area remained part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, but was often raided and settled by Slavic tribes beginning in the sixth century of the Christian era. Following centuries of contention between the Bulgarian, Byzantine, and Serbian Empire, it was part of the Ottoman dominion from the mid-14th until the early 20th century, when following the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, the modern territory of North Macedonia came under Serbian rule. During the First World War (1915–1918) it was ruled by Bulgaria, but after the end of the war, it returned under Serbian rule as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Later, during the Second World War (1941–1944), it was ruled by Bulgaria again, and in 1945 it was established as a constituent communist republic into the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, which it remained until its peaceful secession in 1991.

North Macedonia is a parliamentary republic and member of the UN and of the Council of Europe. Since 2005, it has also been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership. One of the poorest countries in Europe, North Macedonia has made significant progress in developing an open, market-based economy.

People's Republic of Bulgaria

The People's Republic of Bulgaria (PRB; Bulgarian: Народна Република България (НРБ) Narodna Republika Bǎlgariya (NRB)) was the official name of Bulgaria, when it was a socialist republic.

The People's Republic of Bulgaria existed from 1946 to 1990 and it was ruled by the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP), which in turn ruled together with its coalition partner, the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union. Bulgaria was part of Comecon and a member of the Warsaw Pact and was closely allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Bulgarian resistance movement during World War II deposed the Kingdom of Bulgaria administration in the Bulgarian coup d'état of 1944 which ended the country's alliance with the Axis powers and led to the People's Republic in 1946.

The BCP modelled its policies after those of the Soviet Union, transforming the country over the course of a decade from an agrarian peasant society into an industrialized socialist society. In the mid 1950s and after the death of Stalin, conservative hardliners lost influence and a period of social liberalization and stability followed under Todor Zhivkov. Varying degrees of conservative or liberal influence followed. After a new energy and transportation infrastructure was constructed, by 1960 manufacturing became the dominant sector of the economy and Bulgaria became a major exporter of household goods and later on computer technologies, earning it the nickname of "Silicon Valley of the Eastern Bloc". The country's relatively high productivity levels and high scores on social development rankings made it a model for other socialist countries' administrative policies.

In 1989, after a few years of liberal influence, political reforms were initiated and Todor Zhivkov, who had served as head of the party since 1954, was removed from office in a BCP congress. In 1990, under the leadership of Georgi Parvanov the BCP changed its name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and adopted a centre-left political ideology in place of Marxism–Leninism. Following the BSP victory in the 1990 election, which was the first openly contested multi-party election since 1931, the name of the state was changed to the Republic of Bulgaria. Geographically, the People's Republic of Bulgaria had the same borders as present-day Bulgaria and it bordered the Black Sea to the east; Romania to the north; Yugoslavia (via Serbia and Macedonia) to the west and Greece and Turkey to the south.

Plovdiv

Plovdiv (Bulgarian: Пловдив, pronounced [ˈpɫovdif]) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, with a city population of 345,213 as of 2017 and 675,000 in the greater metropolitan area. It is an important economic, transport, cultural, and educational center. There is evidence of habitation in Plovdiv dating back to the 6th millennium BCE, when the first Neolithic settlements were established; it is said to be one of the oldest cities in Europe.During most of its recorded history, Plovdiv was known in the West by the name Philippopolis (Greek: Φιλιππούπολις; Turkish: Filibe; "Philip's Town") after Philip II of Macedon conquered the city in the 4th century BCE. The city was originally a Thracian settlement and subsequently was invaded by Persians, Greeks, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, Rus people, Crusaders, and Turks. On 4 January 1878, at the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), Plovdiv was liberated from Ottoman rule by the Russian Empire army. It remained within the borders of Bulgaria until July of the same year, when it became the capital of the autonomous Ottoman region of Eastern Rumelia. In 1885, Plovdiv and Eastern Rumelia joined Bulgaria.

Plovdiv is situated in a fertile region of south-central Bulgaria on the two banks of the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven syenite hills, some of which are 250 metres (820 feet) high. Because of these hills, Plovdiv is often referred to in Bulgaria as "The City of the Seven Hills".

Plovdiv is host to a huge variety of cultural events such as the International Fair Plovdiv, the international theatrical festival "A stage on a crossroad", the TV festival "The golden chest", and many more novel festivals, such as Night/Plovdiv in September, Kapana Fest, and Opera Open. There are many preserved ruins such as the ancient Plovdiv Roman theatre, a Roman odeon, a Roman aqueduct, the Plovdiv Roman Stadium, the archaeological complex Eirene, and others.

The oldest American educational institution outside the United States, the American College of Sofia, was founded in Plovdiv in 1860 and later moved to Sofia.

On 5 September 2014, Plovdiv was selected as the Bulgarian host of the European Capital of Culture 2019 alongside the Italian city of Matera. This happened with the help of the Municipal Foundation "Plovdiv 2019″, a non-government organization, which was established in 2011 by Plovdiv's City Council whose main objectives were to develop and to prepare Plovdiv's bid book for European Capital of Culture in 2019.

Provinces of Bulgaria

The provinces of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: области на България, translit. oblasti na Bǎlgarija) are the first level administrative subdivisions of the country.

Since 1999, Bulgaria has been divided into 28 provinces (Bulgarian: области – oblasti; singular: област – oblast; also translated as "regions") which correspond approximately to the 28 districts (in Bulgarian: окръг – okrags, plural: окръзи – okrǎzi), that existed before 1987.

The provinces are further subdivided into 265 municipalities (singular: община – obshtina, plural: общини – obshtini).

Sofia – the capital city of Bulgaria and the largest settlement in the country, is the administrative centre of both Sofia Province and Sofia City Province (Sofia-grad). The capital is included (together with 3 other cities plus 34 villages) in Sofia Capital Municipality (over 90% of whose population lives in Sofia), which is the sole municipality comprising Sofia City province.

Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 (Turkish: 93 Harbi, lit. 'War of ’93', named for the year 1293 in the Islamic calendar; Bulgarian: Руско-турска Освободителна война, translit. Rusko-turska Osvoboditelna vojna, "Russian-Turkish Liberation war") was a conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox coalition led by the Russian Empire and composed of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro. Fought in the Balkans and in the Caucasus, it originated in emerging 19th-century Balkan nationalism. Additional factors combined Russian goals of recovering territorial losses endured during the Crimean War, re-establishing itself in the Black Sea and supporting the political movement attempting to free Balkan nations from the Ottoman Empire.

The Russian-led coalition won the war. As a result, Russia succeeded in claiming several provinces in the Caucasus, namely Kars and Batum, and also annexed the Budjak region. The principalities of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro, each of whom had de facto sovereignty for some time, formally proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire. After almost five centuries of Ottoman domination (1396–1878), the Bulgarian state was re-established as the Principality of Bulgaria, covering the land between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains (except Northern Dobrudja which was given to Romania), as well as the region of Sofia, which became the new state's capital. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 also allowed Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to take over Cyprus.

The initial Treaty of San Stefano, signed on 3 March, is today celebrated as Liberation Day in Bulgaria, although it somewhat fell out of favour during years of Socialist rule.

Sofia

Sofia ( SOH-fee-ə, SOF-; Bulgarian: Со́фия, translit. Sofiya, IPA: [ˈsɔfijə] (listen)) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. The city is at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea.Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC. The recorded history of Sofia begins with the attestation of the conquest of Serdica by the Roman Republic in 29 BC from the Celtic tribe Serdi, raided by Huns in 343-347 AD and 447 AD, conquered by Visigoths in 376-382 AD, conquered by Avars and Slavs in 617 AD, and on 9th April, 809 Serdica was surrendered to Krum of Bulgaria. In 1018, the Byzantines ended Bulgarian rule, while in 1040 it was shortly restored. The town was conquered by the Pechenegs in 1048 and 1078, by the Magyars and Serbs in 1183, and by the Crusaders in 1095 and 1190. The rule of the Second Bulgarian Empire lasted from 1194 until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1382.. From 1520 to 1836, Sofia was the regional capital of Rumelia Eyalet, the Ottoman Empire's key province in Europe. Bulgarian rule was restored in 1878. During World War II Sofia was bombarded by the UK and US Air Forces and at the end of the war, it was seized by the Soviet Army.

Being Bulgaria's primate city, Sofia is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies. Sofia is one of the top 10 best places for start-up businesses in the world, especially in information technologies, according to Bulgarian National Television. Sofia was Europe's most affordable capital to visit in 2013.The population of Sofia declined down from 70,000 in the late 18th century, through 19,000 in 1870, to 11,649 in 1878 and began increasing. Sofia hosts some 1.23 million residents within a territory of 492 km2, a concentration of 17.5% of the country population within the 200th percentile of the country territory. The urban area of Sofia hosts some 1.54 million residents within 5723 km², which comprises Sofia City Province and parts of Sofia Province (Dragoman, Slivnitsa, Kostinbrod, Bozhurishte, Svoge, Elin Pelin, Gorna Malina, Ihtiman, Kostenets) and Pernik Province (Pernik, Radomir), representing 5.16% of the country territory. The metropolitan area of Sofia is based upon one hour of car travel time, stretches internationally and includes Dimitrovgrad in Serbia. Unlike most European metropolitan areas, it is not to be defined as a substantially functional metropolitan area, but is of the type with "limited variety of functions". The metropolitan region of Sofia is inhabited by a population of 1.68 million and is made up of the whole provinces Sofia City, Sofia and Pernik, comprising more than 10,000 km².

Thrace

Thrace (; Greek: Θράκη, Thráki; Bulgarian: Тракия, Trakiya; Turkish: Trakya) is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. It comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (East Thrace).

Tsar

Tsar ( or ; Old Church Slavonic: ц︢рь [usually written thus with a title] or цар, царь), also spelled czar, or tzar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch)—but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

"Tsar" and its variants were the official titles of the following states:

First Bulgarian Empire, in 919–1018

Second Bulgarian Empire, in 1185–1396

Serbian Empire, in 1346–1371

Tsardom of Russia, in 1547–1721 (replaced in 1721 by imperator, but still remaining in use, also officially in relation to several regions until 1917)

Tsardom of Bulgaria, in 1908–1946The first ruler to adopt the title tsar was Simeon I of Bulgaria. Simeon II, the last Tsar of Bulgaria, is the last person to have borne the title Tsar.

Varna

Varna (Bulgarian: Варна, Varna [ˈvarna]) is the third-largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Situated strategically in the Gulf of Varna, the city has been a major economic, social and cultural centre for almost three millennia. Varna, historically known as Odessos (Ancient Greek: Ὀδησσός), grew from a Thracian seaside settlement to a major seaport on the Black Sea.

Varna is an important centre for business, transportation, education, tourism, entertainment and healthcare. The city is referred to as the maritime capital of Bulgaria and headquarters the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. In 2008, Varna was designated seat of the Black Sea Euroregion by the Council of Europe. In 2014, Varna was awarded the title of European Youth Capital 2017.The oldest gold treasure in the world, belonging to the Varna culture, was discovered in the Varna Necropolis and dates to 4200–4600 BC.

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