Introduction    Bulgaria Top of Page
The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
   Geography    Bulgaria Top of Page
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates:
43 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references:
total: 110,910 sq km
land: 110,550 sq km
water: 360 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries:
total: 1,808 km
border countries: Greece 494 km, Macedonia 148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia 318 km, Turkey 240 km
354 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers
mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Musala 2,925 m
Natural resources:
bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 29.94%
permanent crops: 1.9%
other: 68.16% (2005)
Irrigated land:
5,880 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
19.4 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 6.92 cu km/yr (3%/78%/19%)
per capita: 895 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazards:
earthquakes, landslides
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia
   People    Bulgaria Top of Page
7,204,687 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.8% (male 509,544/female 484,816)
15-64 years: 68.5% (male 2,426,060/female 2,508,772)
65 years and over: 17.7% (male 518,711/female 756,784) (2009 est.)
Median age:
total: 41.4 years
male: 39.2 years
female: 43.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.79% (2009 est.)
Birth rate:
9.58 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
14.3 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
-3.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 17.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.09 years
male: 69.48 years
female: 76.91 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.41 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
346 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
100 (2001 est.)
noun: Bulgarian(s)
adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups:
Bulgarian 83.9%, Turk 9.4%, Roma 4.7%, other 2% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) (2001 census)
Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, other Christian 1.2%, other 4% (2001 census)
Bulgarian 84.5%, Turkish 9.6%, Roma 4.1%, other and unspecified 1.8% (2001 census)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.2%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.7% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
4.5% of GDP (2005)
   Government    Bulgaria Top of Page
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria
local long form: Republika Balgariya
local short form: Balgariya
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
name: Sofia
geographic coordinates: 42 41 N, 23 19 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:
28 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Khaskovo, Kurdzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofiya, Sofiya-Grad, Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol
3 March 1878 (as an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire); 22 September 1908 (complete independence from the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday:
Liberation Day, 3 March (1878)
adopted 12 July 1991
Legal system:
civil and criminal law based on Roman law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Georgi PARVANOV (since 22 January 2002); Vice President Angel MARIN (since 22 January 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Sergei STANISHEV (since 16 August 2005); Deputy Prime Ministers Ivaylo KALFIN, Daniel VULCHEV, and Emel ETEM (since 16 August 2005) and Meglena PLUGCHIEVA (since 25 April 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 and 29 October 2006 (next to be held in 2011); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) elected by the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly
election results: Georgi PARVANOV reelected president; percent of vote - Georgi PARVANOV 77.3%, Volen SIDEROV 22.7%; Sergei STANISHEV elected prime minister, result of legislative vote - 168 to 67
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 25 June 2005 (next to be held mid-2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - CfB 31.1%, NDSV 19.9%, MRF 12.7%, ATAKA 8.2%, UDF 7.7%, DSB 6.5%, BPU 5.2%, other 8.7%; seats by party - CfB 83, NDSV 53, MRF 33, UDF 20, ATAKA 17, DSB 17, BPU 13, independents 4; note - seats by party as of February 2009 - CfB 81, NDSV 35, MRF 34, UDF 18, Bulgarian New Democracy 16, DSB 13, Movement Forward 11, ATAKA 11, independents 21
Judicial branch:
independent judiciary comprised of judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates who are appointed, promoted, demoted, and dismissed by a 25-member Supreme Judicial Council (consists of the chairmen of the two Supreme Courts, the Chief Prosecutor, and 22 members, half of which are elected by the National Assembly and the other half by the bodies of the judiciary for a 5-year term in office); three levels of case review; 182 courts of which two Supreme Courts act as the last instance on civil and criminal cases (the Supreme Court of Cassation) and appeals of government decisions (the Supreme Administrative Court)
Political parties and leaders:
ATAKA (Attack Coalition) (coalition of parties headed by the Attack National Union); Attack National Union [Volen SIDEROV]; Agrarian National Union or ANU [Stefan LICHEV]; Bulgarian New Democracy [Borislav RALCHEV]; Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Sergei STANISHEV]; Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria or GERB [Tsvetan TSVETANOV]; Coalition for Bulgaria or CfB (coalition of parties dominated by BSP) [Sergei STANISHEV]; Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria or DSB [Ivan KOSTOV]; Gergyovden [Petar STOYANOVICH]; Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization or IMRO [Krasimir KARAKACHANOV]; Liberal Initiative for Democratic European Development or LIDER [Khristo KOVACHKI]; Movement for Rights and Freedoms or MRF [Ahmed DOGAN]; Movement Forward (LIDER, IMRO, ANU, Gergyovden); National Movement for Stability and Progress or NDSV [Simeon SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA] (formerly National Movement Simeon II or NMS2); New Time [Emil KOSHLUKOV]; Union of Democratic Forces or UDF [Martin DIMITROV]; Union of Free Democrats or UFD [Stefan SOFIYANSKI]; United Agrarians [Anastasia MOZER]; United Democratic Forces or UtDF (a coalition of center-right parties dominated by UDF)
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB; Podkrepa Labor Confederation
other: numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Latchezar PETKOV
chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-0174
FAX: [1] (202) 234-7973
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nancy McELDOWNEY
embassy: 16 Kozyak Street, Sofia 1407
mailing address: American Embassy Sofia, US Department of State, 5740 Sofia Place, Washington, DC 20521-5740
telephone: [359] (2) 937-5100
FAX: [359] (2) 937-5320
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red
note: the national emblem, formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe, has been removed
   Economy    Bulgaria Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, has experienced strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996. Successive governments have demonstrated commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but have failed so far to rein in rising inflation and large current account deficits. Bulgaria has averaged more than 6% growth since 2004, attracting significant amounts of foreign direct investment, but corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain significant challenges.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$93.78 billion (2008 est.)
$88.48 billion (2007)
$83.31 billion (2006)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$49.43 billion (2008)
GDP - real growth rate:
6% (2008)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,900 (2008 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.6%
industry: 28.7%
services: 66.7% (2008 est.)
Labor force:
2.44 million (2008)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 7.5%
industry: 35.5%
services: 57% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate:
6.3% (2008)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25.5% (2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
30.7 (2007)
Investment (gross fixed):
38.3% of GDP (2008)
revenues: $20.43 billion
expenditures: $18.93 billion (2008)
Public debt:
16.7% of GDP (2008)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.8% (2008)
Central bank discount rate:
5.77% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
10% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$14.86 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of quasi money:
$34.17 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of domestic credit:
$33.3 billion (31 December 2008)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$21.79 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
vegetables, fruits, tobacco, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers, sugar beets; livestock
electricity, gas, water; food, beverages, tobacco; machinery and equipment, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, nuclear fuel
Industrial production growth rate:
3.9% (2008)
Electricity - production:
42.43 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - consumption:
28.8 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports:
7.992 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
3.243 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
3,520 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - consumption:
142,400 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - exports:
2,480 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - imports:
145,200 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - proved reserves:
15 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
3.5 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007)
Natural gas - imports:
3.229 billion cu m (2007)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
5.663 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance:
-$12.11 billion (2008)
$22.3 billion f.o.b. (2008)
Exports - commodities:
clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, fuels
Exports - partners:
Turkey 11.5%, Germany 10.3%, Italy 10.2%, Greece 9.1%, Belgium 6.2%, Romania 4.9% (2007)
$35.3 billion f.o.b. (2008)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment; metals and ores; chemicals and plastics; fuels, minerals, and raw materials
Imports - partners:
Russia 12.3%, Germany 12.3%, Italy 8.7%, Ukraine 7.2%, Turkey 6.9%, Greece 6.2%, Romania 4.5%, Austria 4.3% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$18.59 billion (31 December 2008)
Debt - external:
$54.01 billion (30 November 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$45.13 billion (2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$1.402 billion (2008)
Exchange rates:
leva (BGN) per US dollar - 1.3171 (2008 est.), 1.4366 (2007), 1.5576 (2006), 1.5741 (2005), 1.5751 (2004)
   Communications    Bulgaria Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
2.3 million (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
9.897 million (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: an extensive but antiquated telecommunications network inherited from the Soviet era; quality has improved; the Bulgaria Telecommunications Company's fixed-line monopoly terminated in 2005 when alternative fixed-line operators were given access to its network; a drop in fixed-line connections in recent years has been more than offset by a sharp increase in mobile-cellular telephone use fostered by multiple service providers; the number of cellular telephone subscriptions now exceeds the population
domestic: a fairly modern digital cable trunk line now connects switching centers in most of the regions; the others are connected by digital microwave radio relay
international: country code - 359; submarine cable provides connectivity to Ukraine and Russia; a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system provides connectivity to Italy, Albania, and Macedonia; satellite earth stations - 3 (1 Intersputnik in the Atlantic Ocean region, 2 Intelsat in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 31, FM 63, shortwave 2 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
39 (plus 1,242 repeaters) (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
513,470 (2008)
Internet users:
1.899 million (2007)
   Transportation    Bulgaria Top of Page
214 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 131
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 95 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 83
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 72 (2007)
4 (2007)
gas 2,926 km; oil 339 km; refined products 156 km (2008)
total: 4,294 km
standard gauge: 4,049 km 1.435-m gauge (2,710 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 245 km 0.760-m gauge (2006)
total: 40,231 km
paved: 39,587 km (includes 331 km of expressways)
unpaved: 644 km (2005)
470 km (2008)
Merchant marine:
total: 74
by type: bulk carrier 37, cargo 14, chemical tanker 5, container 6, liquefied gas 2, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 4, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 65 (Germany 63, Ireland 1, Russia 1)
registered in other countries: 31 (Comoros 2, Malta 5, Panama 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 15, Slovakia 6) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Burgas, Varna
   Military    Bulgaria Top of Page
Military branches:
Bulgarian Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Bulgarian Air Forces (Bulgarski Voennovazdyshni Sily, BVVS) (2009)
Military service age and obligation:
18-27 years of age for voluntary military service; as of May 2006, 67% of the Bulgarian Army comprised of professional soldiers; conscription ended as of 1 January 2008; Air and Air Defense Forces and Naval Forces became fully professional at the end of 2006 (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,701,979
females age 16-49: 1,691,092 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,351,312
females age 16-49: 1,381,017 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 38,263
female: 36,374 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures:
2.6% of GDP (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Bulgaria Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Illicit drugs:
major European transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine for the European market; limited producer of precursor chemicals; vulnerable to money laundering because of corruption, organized crime; some money laundering of drug-related proceeds through financial institutions (2008)

This page was last updated on 9 April 2009


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