Bulgaria - Overview

Republic of Bulgaria


Type of government: Parliamentary Republic

President: Georgi Parvanov

Prime-Minister: Boyko Borisov

Area: 42 822 square miles (110 910 square kilometers).

Geography: Bulgaria shares borders with Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Romania to the north, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. Two mountain ranges and two great valleys mark the topography of Bulgaria. The highest mount is Mount Musala (Rila mountain) – at 2 925 m it is the highest on the Balkan Peninsula.

Population (2006): 7 718 750 people (growth rate: –0.8%); density – 70 per square kilometer. Ethnicity: Bulgarian – 83.9%, Turk – 9.4%, Roma – 4.7%, other (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) – 2%. Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox - 82.6%, Islam - 12.2%, Roman Catholic - 1.7%, Jewish – 0.1%, other – 3.4%. Literacy rate – 99%. Language: Bulgarian. Monetary unit: Lev.

Capital and largest city: Sofia (1 270 450). Other big cities: Plovdiv (376 918), Varna (357,752), Burgas (259 985), Ruse (176,118).

Economic summary: GDP/PPP: $57.13 billion; $7 600 per capita. Real growth rate: 4.4%. Inflation: 5.6%. Unemployment: 13.5%.

History: The Thracians lived in what is now known as Bulgaria from the 10th millennium BC. They were incorporated into the Roman Empire by the first century AD. The Proto-Bulgarians who crossed the Danube from the north in 679 took control of the region and founded the Bulgarian state in 681 AD. In 865 Boris I adopted Orthodox Christianity. The Bulgarians twice conquered most of the Balkan Peninsula between 893 and 1280. But in 1396 they were invaded by the Ottoman Empire, which made Bulgaria a Turkish Province till 1878. Bulgaria regained its independence after the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878), but the European powers, fearing Russia’s and Bulgaria’s dominance on the Balkans, intervened at the Congress of Berlin (1878), limited Bulgaria’s territory and fashioned it into a small principality ruled by Alexander I of Battenberg.

Alexander was succeeded in 1887 by Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who declared a kingdom, independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1908.

During the last stage of World War II, a Communist coalition took control of the country, and after the war, in 1947; a Soviet-style People’s Republic was established.

Democratic changes started in 1989 and in 1991 the Union of Democratic Forces won the elections, forming Bulgaria’s first non-Communist government since 1946. Since then, slowly but steadily, Bulgaria’s economy has slowly transformed into a truly market one.

Bulgaria became member of NATO in 2004, and EU member on January 1st 2007.

Taxation: Personal income tax rates are progressive, ranging from 20% to 24%. The rate of tax on company profits was reduced from 15% in 2006 to 10% in January 2007. Value-added tax (VAT) is levied at a single rate of 20%, although tourism packages sold abroad have a rate of 7%.