Bulgaria – A Brief Introduction


Bulgaria is a Balkan country at the intersection of Central Asia and Europe. The country’s name is derived from the Bulgars, an ethnic group that was formed in the seventh century when branches of Central Asian Turkic tribes and local Romanized, Hellenized Thracian and Slavic inhabitants merged. They were a largely monotheistic people that worshipped their supreme god Tangra.

A rich natural data sgp resource, Bulgaria contains substantial reserves of lignite and anthracite coal; non-ferrous ores, such as copper, zinc and lead; and stone, gypsum and kaolin. The Bulgarian economy has been growing rapidly since the collapse of communism. Its thriving capitalist market economy has also attracted many foreign investors.

The president of Bulgaria is directly elected to a five-year term and may be reelected once. He or she serves as the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, schedules elections and referendums, represents the country abroad and concludes international treaties. The president has the power to return legislation to parliament for further debate — a kind of veto. The president also appoints the prime minister and cabinet members. The parliament, the National Assembly, is composed of 240 seats with a bicameral system and a plenum. The lower house, the Grand National Assembly, is more powerful than the upper chamber.

The main religion in Bulgaria is Orthodox Christianity, with its roots firmly planted in the region’s ancient history. Although the government does not regulate religious affairs, the church remains a powerful force with strong ties to nationalist groups. Bulgaria is also home to Muslim and Jewish communities.

Almost a year after Bulgaria’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, the country still celebrates several holidays related to pagan traditions. New Year’s Day is marked by holiday foods and customs designed to bring good health, wealth and luck in the coming year. Baba Marta, on 1 March, is a pre-Christian holiday that welcomes spring. It is a time when Bulgarians exchange martinitsas, good-luck charms made from white and red threads.

Bulgaria produces high-quality honey and bee products. The country’s acacia, eucalyptus, thyme and pine honey is especially prized for its unique flavors and healing properties.

During the winter, Bulgarians enjoy a hearty dish called banitsa, which is a rich, filling baked pie made with spinach or feta cheese and served with a bowl of plain yogurt, ayran or boza. It is often accompanied by a glass of homemade fruit compote or jam. On special occasions, Bulgarian cooks put lucky charms in their food like coins or a piece of dogwood branch with a bud to symbolize prosperity and longevity. The dish can also be topped with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. In the summer, Bulgarians eat fried sprats (tsatsa) as a midday snack. They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a lemon wedge and a sprinkle of salt. The sprats are served in restaurants and cafes, but they can be enjoyed at home as well.