Bulgaria is situated on the Balkan
Peninsula, in south-eastern Europe. It is bounded by Romania on the
north, by the Black Sea on the east, by Turkey and Greece on the south,
and by the Republics of Macedonia and Yugoslavia on the west is an
extremely attractive center for
tourism with its
numerous resort areas and favorable climate. The 378 km long coastal
strip with wonderful beaches and sand offering more than 120 sunshine
pleasantly warm days. The Bulgarian mountains are perfect for
winter sports. Bulgarian resorts offering a
high quality service with reasonable prices.
Today, the coast is best known for
the modern beach resorts of Golden Sands, Albena and Sunny Beach, and
the historic settlements of Sozopol and Nessebar. The resorts annually
attract hundreds of thousands of visitors, mainly package tourists from
Western Europe and the former Soviet Union.
But the 380-kilometer-long coast offers much more than just resort
hotels and sandy beaches. The topography is surprisingly diverse. The
north is distinguished by pink limestone and sandstone cliffs, while
inland the flat Dobrudzha plain constitutes one of the country's major
agricultural areas. The middle coast is mountainous and densely
forested, as the eastern end of the Balkan range extrudes here. The
southern coast is similarly hilly and forested, the shoreline full of
shallow inlets, small bays and protected coves. Two large rivers, the
Kamchia and the Ropotamo, are designated nature reserves, their lush
jungle-like environs supporting a wealth of flora and fauna.
First-time visitors to Bulgaria are invariably struck by the country's
natural beauty and, especially, by the predominance of spectacular
mountains. In fact, Bulgaria boasts the tallest peak, 2,925-meter Mt.
Moussala, in Europe between the Alps and the Trans-Caucusus mountain
Bulgaria's half-dozen mountain groups range from the gently rounded
contours of the Rhodopes in the south to the jagged peaks of the Rila
and Pirin mountain ranges. The Pirin National Park, included on the list
of UNESCO-protected World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites, attracts
hikers, skiers, climbers and spelunkers, as well as the less physically
inclined who are drawn to the natural spas and mineral springs.
Population (July 2001 est.):
Growth rate (July 2001 est.): -1.14%.Area: 110,994 sq. km. (slightly
larger than Tennessee).
Major cities: Capital--Sofia (1.2 million).
Others--Plovdiv (350,000), Varna (300,000).
Ethnic groups (1998): Bulgarian 83%, Turkish 8.5%, Roma 2.6%, and
Religions (1998): Bulgarian Orthodox 83.5%, Muslim 13%, Roman Catholic
Language: Bulgarian (official).
Health: Life expectancy (2001 est.)--male--67.72 years; female--74.89
years. Infant mortality rate (2001 est.)--14.65 deaths/1,000 live
Founded in 681,Bulgaria is one of
the oldest European states. Bulgaria was converted to Christianity in
865, and established itself as a state.The First Bulgarian Kingdom
existed from 681 till 1018. In this period Bulgaria was converted to
Christianity (865), and in the 10th century Bulgarian Prince Simeon
received a royal sceptre from Constantinople. Bulgaria was recognized as
tzardom by the Pope and the Holy Roman Empire. The first translations of
the Holy Scriptures from Greek into Slavonic were made in the
Old-Bulgarian tongue. Old-Bulgarian became the language of church,
literature and administration in a number of Slavic and non-Slavic
countries. Having evolved, the Old-Bulgarian alphabet, known as the
Cyrillic script, is now used in Bulgaria, Serbia, Belarus, the Ukraine,
Russia, etc. Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe. In
1981its 1300th jubilee was celebrated.
At the start of the 11th century
Bulgaria ruled over vast lands stretching from the Black Sea to the
Adriatic and from the Carpathians to the Aegean. The few remaining works
of the times show that the Bulgarian style of painting originated during
the 9th-10th centuries and attained maturity, of which there are fine
examples, during the l2th-14th century. In 1018 Emperor Basil II
Bulgaroctonus conquered Bulgaria and made it a province of the Byzantine
Empire.The Ottoman invasion of the Balkan Peninsula and Bulgaria's
ultimate subjection to Ottoman rule in 1396, set hack her development by
centuries. The Ottoman Empire was lagging behind both culturally and
economically, hampering the manifestation of Bulgarian art and
architecture. The deep faith in the national spirit helped to retain the
language, religion and customs. In 1762 Paissii of Hilendar wrote his
famous Slav-Bulgarian History - the first nationwide call for an upsurge
of the enslaved Bulgarian people in whose land the movement of time and
history was slowed down. A nationwide movement for economic, social
cultural and national liberation was born.