Bulgaria – officially Republic of Bulgaria is located on the East Balkan peninsula in South-East Europe . The country has a population of about 8 000 000 and a territory of 42,823 sq/mi. It is bounded by the Black Sea on the east, by Romania on the north, by Serbia and Macedonia on the west by Greece on the south and by Turkey on the southeast. Sofia is the capital. Other important cities are Varna and Burgas,Plovdiv and Stara Zagora
Land and People
Central Bulgaria is traversed from east to west by ranges of the Balkan Mts. ( Stara Planina, or “Old Mountains” in Bulgarian). A fertile plateau runs north of the Balkans to the Danube River, which forms most of the northern border. In the southwest is the Rhodope range, which includes Bulgaria’s highest point, Musala Mt. (9,592 ft/2,923 m). The Thracian plain lies south of the Balkans and east of the Rhodope. The Danube, the Iskur, the Maritsa, and the Struma are the principal rivers.
The population consists chiefly of Bulgars. There is a substantial minority of Turks, and smaller groups of Gypsies and Macedonians, although Bulgaria, with its historic claim to Macedonia, refuses to recognize Macedonians as distinct from Bulgars. Bulgarian is the predominant language. Most of the population belongs to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; in 1953 the Bulgarian patriarchate, which had been disbanded in 1946, was reestablished. There is also a substantial Muslim minority. Institutions of higher education include the universities of Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo, and Varna.
Until 1989, Bulgaria had a Soviet-style economy in which nearly all agricultural and industrial enterprises were state-controlled. A stagnant economy, shortages of food, energy, and consumer goods, an enormous foreign debt, and an obsolete and inefficient industrial complex instigated attempts at market-oriented reform in the 1990s. Traditionally an agricultural country, Bulgaria has been considerably industrialized since World War II. The leading industries are machine building, metalworking, food processing, engineering, and the production of chemicals, textiles, and electronics. Bulgaria’s chief mineral resources include bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, brown coal (lignite), iron ore, and oil and natural gas. There are many mineral springs. Agriculture accounts for more than 20% of the gross national product and employs about the same percentage of the workforce. The principal crops are wheat, oilseeds, corn, barley, vegetables, and tobacco. Grapes and other fruit, as well as roses, are grown, and wine and brandy production is important. More than 80% of Bulgaria’s trade is with former Soviet-bloc countries.
Under the constitution of 1991 Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic with an elected president and 15 ministers. The nation has a unicameral national assembly made up of 240 popularly elected members. Administratively, Bulgaria is divided into nine provinces or oblasts.
Major Towns and Places
The Capital of Bulgaria, W central Bulgaria, on a high plain surrounded by the Balkan Mts. It is Bulgaria’s chief industrial, transportation, and commercial center. Among the chief manufactures are engineering and metal products, foodstuffs, textiles, rubber and leather goods, furniture, footwear, and chemicals. A Thracian settlement once occupied the site of Sofia. It was taken by the Romans in AD 29 and flourished, especially, under the Emperor Trajan, as Sardica. Destroyed by the Huns in 447, the city was rebuilt (6th cent.) by Byzantine emperor Justinian I and renamed Triaditsa by the Byzantines. It formed part of the first Bulgarian kingdom (809-1018), reverted to the Byzantines (1018-1186), and was included in the second Bulgarian kingdom (1186-1382). Known as Sredets under the Bulgars, it was renamed Sofia or Sophya in 1376. Sofia passed to the Ottomans in 1382 and became the residence of the Turkish governors of Rumelia . Taken by the Russians in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, it became (1879) the capital of newly independent Bulgaria. During World War II the Russians captured Sofia from the Germans (1944).
The city has a university (founded 1889) and numerous other educational and cultural facilities. It is the see of an Eastern Orthodox metropolitan and of a Roman Catholic bishop and also retains many old churches, mosques, and synagogues. Landmarks include the parliament building, the state opera house, the former royal palace, the Church of St. George (4th-5th cent.), the Church of St. Sofia (6th-7th cent.), the Banya Bashi mosque (1474), and the Alexander Nevski Cathedral.
Varna is a major port and an industrial center. Manufactures include ships and boats, chemicals, electrical equipment, and textiles. Varna is also an international summer resort. Founded in 580 BC as the Greek colony of Odessus, it passed to the Roman Empire in the 1st cent. AD The Bulgarians defeated Byzantine emperor Constantine IV at Varna in 679. The city passed to the second Bulgarian kingdom in 1201, was captured by the Turks in 1391, and became an active seaport under their rule. In 1444 the Turks under Murad II won a decisive victory over Crusader forces led by Ladislaus III of Poland and Hungary, who was killed. The battle of Varna was the last major attempt by Christian Europe to stem the Ottoman tide. Varna was (1854) the chief naval base of the British and French forces in the Crimean War. The city was liberated from Turkish rule in 1878 and ceded to newly independent Bulgaria. It now has a university (founded 1920), a polytechnic institute, a naval academy, a medical college, and an archaeological museum as well as the ruins of a 5th-century basilica and a 6th-century Byzantine fortress. From 1949 to 1956 the city was named Stalin.
The city of Bourgas has a population of 212,000 people according to recent data, and is the second largest city at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It is also the fourth largest city in the country, following Sofia, Plovdiv and connecting Varna. It is situated in the farthest western part of the Bourgas Bay and 390km east of Sofia. Due to the low level of the coast in the area, three lagoon-lakes (the Atanassovo, Bourgas, and Mandren lakes) lie in the area surrounding the city.
Bourgas is a successor of the small Roman town of Deultum (later named Develt), founded by Emperor Vespasian as a military colony for veterans. Besides Deultum, the present-day city expands over the area of three other ancient settlements, i.e. Kastiacion, Skafida and Rossokastron. In the Middle Ages a small fortress called Pirgos was erected in the place and was most probably used as a watchtower. It was only in 17tn century that a town named Ahelo-Bourgas grew in the present-day area of the city. This, renamed into Bourgas, had only about 3,000 inhabitants at the time of the Liberation. Soon it became the centre of the Southern Black Sea coast, and a city of well developed industry and trade. A number of oil and chemical works producing more than 30 products were gradually built. Salt and iron are also mined here and traded far beyond the borders of the country. In 1903 the railway station in Bourgas started functioning as well, giving an additional boost to the city’s expansion.
This holiday address, destined by nature, lies only 35 km away north of the city of Bourgas, featuring wide and warm sea with gently sloping sand bottom and approx. 1,700 hours of sunshine from May to October, plenty of ozone and ultraviolet rays, along with the fresh breeze.
This fine beach resort was awarded the prestigious Blue Flag International prize for proven ecological advantages.Sunny Beach has more than 100 hotels, 2 campsites, over 130 catering establishments: restaurants, taverns with folklore shows, bars with floor shows, night clubs, casino, discos and cafes, providing culinary pleasures and a good mood.
Every conceivable opportunity for sports: surfing, water skis and parachutes, hang-gliding and banana, sailing, yachts, paddle boats, cutters, scooters, rowboats, tennis courts, beach volleyball, playing grounds, mini-golf, skittle alley, bowling, riding ground, fitness halls, sports tournaments for amateurs and professionals.
A genuine children’s paradise – plenty of fun and games, children pools, slides, carting, Rolba water slide, inflatable trampoline, sport schools. In addition: special discounts, children’s menus, 24-hour kindergarten, etc.
Top resort on the Bulgarian beach resort. It is located on a small peninsula in the Black Sea wich is linked with the land only by a long and narrow isthmus. It has existed for more than 9,000 years. It emerged as a fortified Thracian settlement; afterwards it was a Greek polis, then a Roman colony. Has 2 parts – the Old Town and the New Town.
Nessebar is best known for the old town (about 9000 years) on the peninsula. No one can say for sure whether the isthmus is natural or man-made. The largest number and best known buildings date from 11th to 14th centuries almost all of them churchies in the so called “picturesque” style: walls intersected by pilasters and lunettes, with stone, brick and ceramic ornaments and arches along the cornice.
Christ Pantokrator church (10th – 11th c.) Some of the churches have stunningly beautiful facades and interiors and are among the best preserved ones in the Balkan Peninsula. The oldest one is the Sveti Ioan Krastitel (St.John the Baptist, 10th -11th century.
Today the old part of the town has regained its original romantic atmosphere: narrow cobblestone lanes, tiny squares, two-storeyed period houses with stone-built ground levels and wooden upper floors jutting above the streets and external staircases, gift shops, pubs, tavern and lovely flower gardens.
The town of Sozopol has population of about 7,000 people and is situated 31km south of Bourgas. The town lies on a small rocky peninsula in the farthest southern part of the Bourgas Bay. A one hundred-metre long strip of land connects it to the mainland. From 1925 on, the town has expanded in the direction of the Harmanite Area (the so-called ‘new town’).
The earliest settlements in the area belonged to the Thracian tribes of Nipsei and Skirimian. In the 7th century BC Greek colonisers settled there and called the town after their god of Apollo, Apolonia. To the honour of Apollo, the construction of a thirteen-metre high bronze statute of the god was carried out by a sculptor named Kalamis. Apolonia developed mainly as a trading centre for honey, wax, corn, wine, olive oil, olives, textiles, jewellery, and pottery. Apolonia was frequently in economic and political disputes, including occasional wars, with the Doric inhabitants of Messembria (present-day Nessebar). Apolonia was included in the territory of the Macedonian State at the time of Alexander the Great. It was frequently subject to, but warded off, invasions of Nomads. The town fell under Roman domination in the 1st century BC after it was severely ruined by the armies of Marcus Lucul. The latter sent the famous statute of Apollo to Rome as a symbol of his victory. Yet Romans quickly restored the ruins, built new temples. Already in the 6th century BC Apolonia minted coins of its own. The high level of cultural development of the town at that time is testified by items found in its necropolis – ceramics, vases made of Egyptian glass, silver and golden decorations. The upturn of the town was so great, that Sozopol managed to establish its own colony, Anhialo (present-day Pomorie).
Plovdiv is the second largest city of Bulgaria, a transportation hub, and the chief market for a fertile area. Plovdiv’s major industries are food processing, brewing, and the manufacture of textiles, metal products, and carpets. Originally built by the Thracians, the city was captured in 341 BC by Philip II of Macedon, who named it Philippopolis and established a military post there. Known under Roman rule as Trimontium, it was the capital of Thracia. It was razed by the Goths but recovered after Byzantine Emperor Constantine V settled the Armenian Paulicians there. Destroyed (early 13th cent.) by the Bulgarians, Plovdiv later became the center of the Bogomils . It was occupied by the Greeks in 1262 and was captured by the Turks c.1360. The city passed to Russia in 1877 and became the capital of Eastern Rumelia (1878-85); it was united with Bulgaria in 1885. Plovdiv is the seat of a Bulgarian Orthodox eparch and has several Orthodox churches and Turkish mosques, as well as a university and other higher educational institutions. The ancient town walls and gate still stand.