Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria, is a parliamentary republic in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the east. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria ranks as Europe's 14th-large
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which played a crucial role in preserving Bulgarian culture during the Ottoman occupation, remained central to the sense of Bulgarian nationhood even under the postwar communist regimes. In spite of the official status of Orthodoxy, Bulgaria also had a tradition of tolerance toward other Christian religions. Tolerance of Islam, however, remained problematic under all forms of government because of that religion's historical identification with the occupation and subjugation of Bulgaria.
Bulgaria became a member of NATO on March 29, 2004. Bulgaria's military is currently undergoing an ambitious restructuring program which aims to bring the army up to NATO standards, modernize equipment, and bring about full integration of the civilian and armed components. In 2008, Bulgaria made the transition to an all-volunteer force. Through FY 2010, the U.S. Government has provided approximately $143 million in foreign military financing assistance to support training and procurement of military equipment.
A predominantly Slavic-speaking, Orthodox country, Bulgaria was the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, which was created there towards the end of the 9th century AD.
It was long influenced by Byzantine culture then was part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years before gaining its independence in the 19th century.
Bulgaria is relatively poor in both quantity and quality of natural resources. This situation has been an important factor in planning the national economy and foreign trade. The primary indigenous mineral resources are coal, copper, lead, zinc, and iron ore
In 1991 the average Bulgarian family included four people. Families of two to five people were common, whereas families of six or more were rare. In the larger families, moreover, the additional members usually included one or two of the couple's parents. In 1980 extended families spanning three or even four generations made up 17 percent of all households, indicating the persistence of the extended family tradition
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. The unicameral National Assembly, or Narodno Subranie, consists of 240 deputies who are elected for 4-year terms through a mixed electoral system: 209 members of parliament (MPs) elected according to the classic proportional representation system (voters vote for fixed, rank-ordered party lists for each of the 31 electoral districts, with a different list for each district), and 31 majority MPs elected individually under the majority representation system in each and every district (the winning candidate receives a plurality of the votes in the region). Parliament selects and dismisses government ministers, including the prime minister, exercises control over the government, and sanctions deployment of troops abroad.
The capital of the Republic of Bulgaria is the city of Sofia – one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded durng the 8th – 7th century B.C. by the Thracian tribe Serdi. The town is named Sofia after the name of the church “Sveta Sofia” in the 14th century. Nowadays Sofia is the main political, economic, cultural and transport centre, as well as the biggest town in the country with a population of 1 220 000.
According to statistics, it is the third most cultural country, only topped by greece and Italy, because of the number of its archaeological monuments.
Bulgaria’s economic freedom score is 64.7, making its economy the 61st freest in the 2012 Index. Its overall score is down slightly, reflecting deterioration in freedom from corruption, government spending, and business freedom. Bulgaria is ranked 27th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is above the world average but below the regional average.
Bulgaria joined the European Union in January 2007 but has not adopted the euro. The center-right GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) party was the clear winner in the July 2009 parliamentary elections but relies on the support of a right-wing nationalist group, Ataka, to pass legislation. In late 2010, France and Germany announced that they would block Bulgaria from joining the EU’s passport-free zone until it makes “irreversible progress” in fighting corruption.
As per the 2001 census, of Bulgaria's total population of 7,973,673, some 4.6% (358,815) identified themselves as Roma and 9.5% (757,499) declared to be of Turkish ethnic origin on a 2% representation basis. According to expert estimations, however, the number of Roma is in reality between 700,000 and 800,000.