Located in the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria offers a highly diverse landscape: the north is dominated by the vast lowlands of the Danube and the south by the highlands and elevated plains. In the east, the Black Sea coast attracts tourists all year round.
Founded in 681, Bulgaria is one of the oldest states in Europe. Its history is marked by its location near Europe’s frontier with Asia. Some 85% of the population are Orthodox Christians and 13% Muslims. Around 10% of the population are of Turkish origin while 3% are Roma. Similarly, its traditional dishes are a mixture of east and west. The most famous Bulgarian food must be yoghurt, with its reputed gift of longevity for those who consume it regularly.
The Bulgarian National Assembly (a single chamber parliament) consists of 240 members who are elected for a four-year period.
Bulgaria’s main exports are light industrial products, foods and wines, which are successfully competing on European markets.
Fans of folk music will be familiar with a number of Bulgarian musicians. A Bulgarian folk song was included on the Voyager Golden Record which was sent into outer space by NASA. Famous Bulgarians include philosopher Julia Kristeva, Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1981, and Christo Javachev (“Christo”), the creator of many unorthodox outdoor sculptures.
Sofia is Bulgaria’s capital and largest city, with a population of around 1.4 million. It is situated in the western region of the country, at the foot of Mount Vitosha. Sofia is Buglaria’s educational, cultural, administrative and economic center. It is a very old city that has been inhabited for centuries, and many of the ancient and historic structures are close to the modern ones. A few rivers go throughout the city, such as the Vladaiska, Perlovska and Iskar Rivers. They have beendammed in a few spots. There is also an abundance of mineral and thermal springs around Sofia. There is a lot to do here, as it is a city of music and nightlife, as well as museums and other cultural institutions. Many different universities exist in this city as well.
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, and it has about 380,000 inhabitants. Its history dates back to 6,000 years ago, rooting from an old Neolithic settlement. This city is situated on the southern part of the Plovdiv Plain, and built on seven hills. It is within the two banks of the Maritsa River. Plovdiv is one of the most important educational, cultural and economic places of Bulgaria. It hosts some cultural and economic events throughout the year, and there are several museums, historical buildings and protected sites. Plovdiv is a diverse city that is only about half ethnically Bulgarian, and there are other sectors like Turks, Greeks, Jews, Roma and Armenians in its population.
Varna has a population of about 360,000. It is situated on Bulgarian Black Sea coast, in the north east of the country. Because of its geographic location, it is known as a marine and summer capital for Bulgaria, and many people go here on their time off to enjoy the beach. It is also an important seaport and business area, as well as the headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy. The port also makes Varna a very important economic center of Bulgaria, because it has a trade link with Russia, and is a huge hub for the greater Black Sea region. It is not as ancient as the other cities, but dates back to the mid-1600s. Most people are ethnic Bulgarians, but there are also some Turks in its permanent population. A handful of universities also are in Varna, and there are a number of museums, galleries and theaters.