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About Bulgaria

Bulgaria is one of the oldest European States with 20-century-old history and traditions. Modern Bulgaria is situated in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula - a busy crossroad of ancient cultures.

For centuries, the roads passing through the territory of the country have been connecting Europe with Asia and Africa. Four common European transport corridors, connecting West and North Europe with the eastern and southern part of the continent, cross their roads here.

Bulgaria is also known for its picturesque nature and rich cultural heritage. According to the statistics, the country ranks third in Europe only after Greece and Italy for the number of its valuable archeological monuments.

On this page, you will find general information about the country.

 

Territory - 110 993,6 sq.km.

Population - 7 973 673

Political system - Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic.

Capital - Sofia (1 173 811 inhabitants)

Major cities: Plovdiv, Varna and Bourgas

Official language - Bulgarian.

Alphabet - Cyrillic. Signs along international motorways, in airports and resorts are also spelled in Roman letters. English, German, French and Russian is spoken in the country's resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Religious Information

86.6% of the population are Orthodox Christians, 13% are Muslims. The Bulgarian Church is autonomous and headed by a Patriarch.

Official holidays

January 1st - New Years's Holiday;
March 3d - National Holiday (National Liberation from the Ottoman domination);
Easter, and the first Monday after Easter;
May 1st - Labour Day;
May 6th - Gergyovden, and the Bulgarian Military Army's Day;
May 24th - Cyril and Methodius Day;
September 6th - Unification Day;
September 22d - Independence Day;
November 1st  - National Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders;
December 24,25,26 - Christmas Days

Measures and scales: Metric system

Time zone: GMT +2

Voltage: For electric razors, etc. 220-240 AC is the local voltage, and a continental adapter is required.

Medical Service: Free first aid and consultation in emergencies

Currency Exchange.

In banks and 24-hour change bureaus. The exchange rate is announced every day.

Credit Cards.

Visa, MasterCard, JCB, Diners Club, American Express. They can be used for the payment of all standard services in hotels, restaurants, night clubs, shops, car rentals, plane tickets, etc.

 Transport.

In big cities: trams, trolley-buses, buses, taxi.

Inter-city transport: plane, train, buses, taxi.

 Rent-a-car: AVIS, Hertz, Intertel, Europcar, Budget and International Car Rental in Sofia, the country's big cities and resorts

 Accommodation.

Bulgaria boasts an extensive accommodation network ranging from luxury five-star to unpretentious two-star hotels, small hotels and private rooms, meeting all modern requirements. Reservations through tourist agencies or local accommodation offices.

Meals.

Throughout Bulgaria you will find catering establishments of different categories serving different foods: renowned luxury restaurants, taverns which serve national cuisine, restaurants serving foreign cuisine, fast food outlets, pizzerias, numerous cafés and pastry shops, entertainment spots, etc. Menus are usually printed in both Bulgarian and English. Restaurants stay open from 11a.m. to midnight, but may work round the clock.

 

Important Telephone Numbers

 

Bulgarian History.

The territory of the present-day Bulgaria has been inhabited since the New Stone Age and the New Copper Age and continues to reveal exceptional archeological findings.

Bulgaria is one of the oldest European States with 20-century-old history and traditions. Modern Bulgaria is situated in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula - a busy crossroad of ancient cultures.

For centuries, the roads passing through the territory of the country have been connecting Europe with Asia and Africa . Four common European transport corridors, connecting West and North Europe with the eastern and southern part of the continent, cross their roads here.

Most archaeological discoveries have been made near Kazanluk, Karlovo, Nova Zagora, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Sofia, Teteven, Troyan, Kurdjali and in the Rhodope Mountains.

The world-famous culture of the Tracians developed on the territory of today's Bulgaria during pre-historic and ancient times. The oldest gold treasure in the world - the Vulchitrun gold treasure (13-12 century BC), is of Thracian origin. The Thracian heritage influenced significantly the Bulgarian culture and is part of the foundations of the European civilization.

The first Thracian state unions emerged in the 11th century BC and flourished in the 7th-6th centuries BC. In the 1st century BC their lands were conquered by Rome, and after the 5-th century AD they were incorporated in the Byzantine Empire. The Thracians were later assimilated by the Slavs who settled in the Balkan Peninsula in the 6-th century AD. The most famous people born in ancient Trhace were Orpheus - the greatest singer of all time - and Spartacus - a gladiator and leader of the biggest slave uprising in Antiquity. According to the archeological and historical data, on the territory of the present-day Bulgaria the Thracians planted their vines and produced the honey-sweet black wine, described in Homer's Illiad.

In the 8th - 6th century B.C. the seafaring Greecs settled on the present day Bulgarian Black Sea cost and built fortified port cities such as Odessos (Varna), Mesambria (Nessebur), Apolonia (Sozopol).

Bulgaria is also known for its picturesque nature and rich cultural heritage. According to the statistics, the country ranks third in Europe only after Greece and Italy for the number of its valuable archeological monuments.

 

Bulgarian Nature.

Bulgaria is distinguished for its beautiful nature which has charmed everyone who has ever visited the country. Its territory is not that extensive at all, but being concentrated on such tiny space, natural landmarks are even more fascinating. The sublime mountains, age-old forests, lovely valleys, great plains, golden coastline and incredible sea-water make Bulgarian nature attractive. That is why Bulgaria takes pains to preserve its natural landmarks by turning vast areas of land into natural reserves and national parks. The country ranks second in the world as far as natural reserves are concerned and they number 17.

The climate in Bulgaria is moderate continental with four yearly seasons and average annual temperature of 10.5 Cº. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 0 degrees Cº. The average air temperature in the summer is 30 C. and the average water temperature - 25 Cº.

Basic characteristic features of the country's natural life are the great variety and wealth of animal and plant species and their considerable ecological and biogeographical diversity. The vegetable life of Bulgaria numbers about 12 000 species.

The most common and often met animals and birds are the typical of Europe: hinds, deer, wild-boars, bears, wolves, foxes, jackals, wood-grouses, vultures, sparrows, grass-snakes, etc.

Altogether in Bulgaria are to be found about 40 000 invertebrate species.

Protection of the natural world is one of the country's major concerns.

The protected territories are 49, the biospherical reserves - 17 (the greatest recorded number in Europe), the national parks - 7, the reserves - 82, the protected natural sites - 3055, the protected plants - 63 and the protected animals - 419.

The air and water resources of the country are some of the purest in Europe.

National parks.

National parks are vast areas of land, which include natural ecosystems with a great variety of plant and animal species. National parks in Bulgaria are three: National Park "Rila", National Park "Central Balkan", National Park "Pirin".

Natural parks ( http://www.bg-parks.net ).

Natural parks (NP) are territories, which include various natural ecosystems. There are 10 natural parks in Bulgaria: NP "Stranja", NP "Vrachanski Balkan", NP "Vitosha", NP "The Blue Stones", NP "Shoumensko Plateau", NP "Rousenski Lom", NP "Golden Sands", NP "Bulgarka", NP "The Oaks", NP "Persina".

Lakes and rivers.

The rivers in Bulgaria are not big and are not useful for shipping. They begin from the mountains. They are used for irrigation and for this was build hydrostatics and equipments for irrigation for the areas.

The rivers in Bulgaria are flowing into Black sea and Aegean Sea. These who are flowing into Black sea taking 63 thousand Sq. m. from Bulgarian area, those who are pouring into Aegean Sea - 47 thousand sq. m. The only navigable river is the Danube, which flows along the northern Bulgarian border. Kamchia river is the biggest river from those inside who are flowing into the Black sea. She is 244 km. Long. The high-water river is Maritsa. She is 472 km. long whose 322 km. are on Bulgaria area. The Iskar river is 368 km. long.

There are not many lakes in Bulgaria and there aren't large by their size. The lakes that are coming from glaciers (more then 150) are situated in Rila mountains. The most of the lakes are situated on the Black sea and Danube river costs. There are few firth-lakes in Bulgaria. The biggest is Bourgas lake, who is located in Bourgas town. Tourist interest takes Srebarna lake, who is located near to Silistra town.

There are good opportunities for adventure tourism: wild water rafting and canoeing, diving, delta- and para-gliding in the valleys of the Vatcha, Iskar, Chepelarska, Struma, and Mesta rivers.

Arda is a river in Bulgaria which begins in the Rhodope Mountains near the town of Smolyan, flowing 290 kilometre eastward past Kurdzhali and Ivaylovgrad then enters the Maritsa, just west of Edirne, Turkey.

The Maritsa river is 472 km long. It has its origin in the Rila Mountains in Western Bulgaria, flowing southeast between the Balkans and Rhodope Mountains, past Plovdiv, to Edirne, Turkey, where it turns south to enter the Aegean Sea near Enez. The Tundzha is its chief tributary. The Maritsa's lower course forms part of the Bulgarian-Greek border and the Greek-Turkish line.

Ropotamo river springs from a place near to the village of Bosna (some 50 kilometers to the west in the Strandzha Mountains). The mouth of the Ropotamo river is situated in the middle of the coast line stretching between the holiday city of Duni and the town of Primorsko, about 45km to the south of Bourgas.

The most distinguishing feature of the river is that it is salt. In its beginning it is freshwater, but after a few kilometers it becomes salt. The only place where there was fresh water was the "King well" near to the riverside of Ropotamo.

The river has a rich and unique variety of flora and fauna. The Ropotamo river is particularly famous for its tender water lilies. A boat trip down the river or a walk along its banks is an unforgettable experience. The tourists are delight from every tortoise, at every heron, sneak and bird. There are 3 species of tortoises in the river and some of those species grew to 35 sm.

The waters of the river are brown, the water looks dirty, but it is not, and this is because the red plankton reproduced here. In the region of the Ropotamo river the fishing and the hunting are forbidden.

Kamchia River - The merging of two small rivulets, springing from the eastern Balkan Range - Luda Kamchia and Golyama Kamchia, forms the Kamchia River. It empties some 9000 liters of water every second into the Black Sea. During the spring, that amount can be as much as 30, 000 liters per second. Running down through the Balkan Range Kamchia meanders through unique woodland called Longoza. The Ropotamo River, Dyavolska River and the Veleka River have similar geological structure - sandstone, clay loam formations covered with wild vegetation in the quiet and large firth. Once Kamchia was called Panisos and the Slavs called it Ticha. Its contemporary name is of Kouman origin. The Romans built a stronghold called Erite on its left bank. Nowadays the frequently flooded area is a reserve named after the Kamchia River. The reserve is under the protection of UNESCO. It is 40 km in length and 5 km in width in some of its parts. There are deer, sea hawks and eagles, wild boars, wild cats etc.

 

Bulgarian traditions, wines and cuisine.

 

Bulgarian Traditions (www.traditions-bg.com ).

As early as 7000 years B.C., 3000 years before the Egyptians, traders from the land, now known as Bulgaria, had crossed up and down the Mediterranean. This long and winding history gave a source of not only great national pride but also an inspiration for a new national spirit. Much has perished through all these millennia, but even more has remained - a rich spiritual world which will shower you with the colours, rhythms and melodious songs of living Bulgarian folklore, the unfading beauty of Bulgarian arts and crafts, the gaiety and vivacity of Bulgarian festivals and customs, the piquant taste of Bulgarian cuisine and the delicate fragrance of Bulgarian wines.

Every national calendar is a peculiar and rigidly created system for organizing and defining the time of a year. Usually, it is divided into phases depending on the natural and agricultural cycles. The traditional Bulgarian culture shares a similar partition. The dual seasonal division of the year, which has become a commonplace after the official adoption of the Christianity and the Christian calendar, is regulated by St. George's and The Dimitar's days. A traditional Bulgarian saying states that Saint Dimitar brings along the winter season, and Saint George - the summer. Thus, according to those two holidays the year is divided into two comparatively closed seasonal and agricultural cycles. This traditional concept of the calendar year was used until the middle of the 20th century and was of a significant importance for the agricultural activity of the Bulgarians.

Acquiring knowledge about the traditions of celebrating some past Bulgarian customs and rites will not only give you information but also will help you get a deeper perspective on Bulgarian life and people, it will let you submerge into Bulgarian spiritual mood.

 

Bulgarian Cuisine.

Cuisine of Bulgaria is a special subject. The country is one of the world leaders in number of long-livers. And the reason of such high life interval is first of all the healthy food. Abundance of fruit and vegetables, delicious national dishes for which local cooks are famous, turn stay here into a gastronomic pleasures holiday.

The Bulgarian cuisine is rich in delightful and exotic dishes: Bansko-style kapama (meat and vegetables stewed in an earthenware dish), Rhodope cheverme (lamb roasted on a spit over an open fire), Thracian katmi (a special type of pancake) and Dobroudjanska banitsa, Danube fish soup and Sozopol-style mussels. You can enjoy Shopska salad and chilled grape brandy, stuffed vine leaves or peppers, kavarma the Miller's Way, monastery-style hotchpotch, moussaka and kebab in cosy Bulgarian folk-style restaurants. The air is imbued with fragrance of savoury and oven-fresh bread rolls. Cups of steaming coffee are served with sweet jam, pancakes with honey and walnuts or baklava. And each meal comes to the end with a glass of a good wine. The delicate white wines Dimyat, Misket and Riesling are followed by full reds such as Merlot, Cabernet and Gamza.

 

Bulgarian Wines ( www.bulgarianwines.org/enindex.htm ).

Wine has been known in the land of Bulgaria since ancient times. Archaeology, folklore, and literature provide ample evidence that wine grapes have thrived in these lands ever since the late Stone Age. Grape growing and wine making were vital to the way of life of the Thracians, Romans, Greeks, Slavs and Bulgarians.

Today, grape growing and wine making play a crucial role in the country's economy. The wine industry accounts for a considerable part of the gross domestic product. In addition, the industry contributes to the steady development of rural regions and infertile areas, maintains the ecological balance and encourages the appropriate and efficient use of the country's resources. Moreover, the industry preserves the regional diversity and the cultural traditions. Finally, grape growing and wine making secure steady employment and boost the country's credible image.

Traditionally, five areas specializing on wine-making are marked out in Bulgaria. Thus, the south of Bulgaria is known for red wines, and the north-for white wines. Melnik is the smallest of Bulgaria regions specializing on viniculture. It is known for its unique microclimate.

Together with France, Spain, Italy and Greece, Bulgaria is one of the world's leaders of wine-making. The Bulgarian white and red wines such as Gumza, Dimyat, Pamid, Muscat, Misket, Mavrud and Melnik are well known to connoisseurs.