Bulgaria is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-part system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Bulgaria has been traditionally a Christian state since the adoption of Christianity as state religion in 865, and therefore the dominant confession is Eastern Orthodoxy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Constitution of Bulgaria designates Orthodoxy as the "traditional" religion of the country, but guarantees the free exercise of religion. Bulgaria has not experienced any significant ethnic or religious confrontation. In fact, the capital Sofia is known for its so-called Triangle of Religious Tolerance: the St Nedelya Church, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue are located within metres of each other in the very centre of the city.
GeographyBulgaria is divided into 28 provinces. The provinces are further subdivided into 264 municipalities.
Bulgaria is a country situated in south-eastern Europe, bordering Romania, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea. The land area of Bulgaria is 110,550 square kilometres (42,680 sq mi).
The relief of Bulgaria is varied. In the relatively small territory of the country there are extensive lowlands, plains, hills, low and high mountains, many valleys and deep gorges. The main characteristic of Bulgaria's topography is alternating bands of high and low terrain that extend east to west across the country. From north to south, those bands (called geomorphological regions) are the Danubian Plain, Stara Planina, the Transitional region and the Rilo-Rhodope Massif.
The Danubian Plain extends from the western borders to the Black Sea. It encompasses the area between the Danube River, which forms most of the country's northern border, and Stara Planina to the south. It covers the Moesian plate. As a result of the rock weathering processes the relief is uneaven with flat rising grounds along the valleys and plateaus to the east. The plateau slopes gently from cliffs along the river, then it abuts into the low northern mountains of the Balkan range. The
highest point is Tarnov Dyal (502 m) in the Shumen Plateau. The valleys of Vit and Yantra divide the Danubian plain into three parts - western, central and eastern. The altitude rises from west to east. To the north the plain has steep shores along the Danube or forms fertile alluvial plains (Vidinska, Chernopolska, Belenska, Pobrezhie, Aidemirska).
The southern Danubian Plain rises gradually with the foothills of Stara planina (in Bulgarian: Стара Планина - "Old Mountain"), a range that is a geological continuation of the Carpathian Mountains. The namesake of the Balkan Peninsula stretches from the Timok Valley in Serbia curving southward towards the Sofia Basin and reaching east to the Black Sea. The Balkan Range is about 600 km long and 30 to 50 km wide and it informally splits Bulgaria into a Northern and Southern halves. Stara Planina is the highest in its central parts (with Botev Peak - 2,376 m); the altitude drops slowly to the east until it reaches the sea. For the most part the Balkan Range defines the most important watershed in Bulgaria with rivers drain north to the Danube (with the exception of Iskar to the west) or south to Martisa and the Aegean Sea. Some smaller rivers in the east drain directly into the Black Sea.
South of Stara Planina is Sredna Gora - a series of ridges about 160 km long and 1,600 m in altitude, stretching from the Sofia Basin to the east to the hills north of Nova Zagora to the west. Nested between both ranges is the Rose Valley, named after the traditionally used for perfume and liqueur local product of rose oil.
and Thracian Plain
The southern slopes of the Balkan Mountains and the Sredna Gora give way to the Thracian Plain and the Sofia Basin. Roughly triangular in shape, the Thracian Plain originates at a point east of the mountains near Sofia and broadens eastward to the Black Sea. It includes the Martisa valley and the lowlands that extend from the river to the Black Sea. Like the Danubian Plateau, much of the Thracian Plain is somewhat hilly and not a true plain. Most of its terrain is moderate enough to cultivate.
Relatively high mountains occupy the area between the Thracian Plain and Sofia Basin and the Greek border to the south. The western parts consist of three ranges: the Vitosha Mountain south of Sofia, the Rila Mountains further south, and the Pirin Mountains in the southwestern corner of the country. They are the most outstanding topographic feature of Bulgaria and of the entire Balkan Peninsula. The Rila range includes Mount Musala, whose 2,925-metre peak is the highest in any Balkan country. About a dozen other peaks in Rila are over 2,600 meters. The highest peaks are characterized by sparse bare rocks and remote lakes above the tree line. The lower peaks, however, are covered with alpine meadows that give the range an overall impression of green beauty. The Pirin range is characterized by rocky peaks and stony slopes. Its highest peak is Mount Vihren, at 2,915 meters the second-highest peak in Bulgaria. Further east are the extensive Rhodope Mountains.
The estimated total population of Bulgaria is about 7 million. Most of the Bulgarian population is concentrated near the capitol - Sofia, in cities and towns such as Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo.
Bulgaria’s official language is Bulgarian, bur foreign languages, such as English, French and German are also widely spoken, especially in educated circles.
The earliest human remains found in Bulgaria have been excavated in the Kozarnika cave, with an approximate age of 1,6 million BP. This cave probably keeps the earliest evidence of human symbolic behaviour ever found. Human remains found in Bacho Kiro cavethat are 44,000 years old consist of a pair of fragmented human jaws, but it is disputed whether these early humans were in fact Homo Sapiens or Neanderthals.
The earliest dwellings in Bulgaria - the Stara Zagora Neolithic dwellings - date from 6,000 BC and are amongst the oldest man-made structures yet discovered, second only to the Gobekli Tepe sanctuary in Asian Turkey. By the end of the neolithic, the Hamangia and Vinca culture developed on what is today Bulgaria, southern Romania and eastern Serbia. The earliest known town in Europe, Solnitsata, was located in present-day Bulgaria.
- Odrysian kingdom(460 BC – 46 AD)
- Old Great Bulgaria (632 – 681 AD)
- First Bulgarian Empire (681 – 1018)
- Byzantine rule (1018-1185)
- Second Bulgarian Empire (1185–1396)
- Bulgaria under Ottoman rule (1396-1878)
- Third Bulgarian State (1878 – present)
- Communist era (1946–1990)
- Transition era (since 1990)
A number of ancient civilizations, including the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Varangians and especially Buglars, have left their mark on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. Because of this Bulgarian nation has one of the richest folk heritage in the world. Thracian artifacts include numerous tombs and golden treasures, while ancient Bulgars have left traces of their heritage in music and early architecture. Thracian rituals such as the Zarezan, Kukeri and Martenitza are to this day kept alive in the modern Bulgarian culture.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Bulgaria has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- The early medieval large rock relief Madara Rider
- Two Thracian tombs (one in Sveshtari and one in Kazanlak)
- Three monuments of medieval Bulgarian culture (the Boyana Church, the Rila Monastery and the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo)
- Two examples of natural beauty: the Fisherman Momerioland the Sreburna Nature Reserve
- The ancient city of Nessebur — a unique combination of European cultural interaction, as well as, historically, one of the most important centres of seaborne trade in the Black Sea
Local archaeologists assume that the number of archaeological sites is the third-largest in Europe after Italy and Greece.
Owing to the relatively warm climate and diverse geography affording excellent growth-conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine offers great diversity.
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine also features diverse quality dairy products and a variety of wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakiya.
The Bulgarian lyutenitsa comprises a spicy mixture of mashed and cooked tomatoes, aubergines, garlic, hot peppers and vegetable oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and parsley. Variations of lyutenitsa exist in the national cuisines of most Balkan states. Bulgarian cuisine also features a variety of hot and cold soups, for example tarator. Many different Bulgarian pastries exist as well, such as banitsa, a traditional pastry prepared by layering a mixture of whisked eggs and pieces of sirene between filo pastry and then baking it in an oven.
Tripe soup takes as its basis the thick lining of the cleaned stomach of cattle, prepared with milk and seasoned with vinegar, garlic and hot peppers. Under Ottoman rule, the sultans allegedly preferred tripe soup made by Bulgarian cooks, whose mastery in preparing the dish remained unmatched in the Balkans.
Exports of Bulgarian wine go worldwide, and until 1990 the country exported the world's second-largest total of bottled wine. The rich soil, perfect climate and the millennia old tradition of wine-making, which dates back to the time of the Thracians, contributes to the wide variety of fine Bulgarian wines. As of 2007, Bulgaria produced 200,000 tonnes of wine annually, ranking 20th in the world.