Bulgaria is a country in Southeast Europe with mountainous terrain, an abundance of natural mineral springs, and the Black Sea coast. Its thriving tourism industry is attracted by high-quality resorts and prices below those in Western Europe.
Among the top tourist destinations in Bulgaria are the ski resorts of Samokov, Borovets, Bansko, and Pamporovo. On the Black Sea, popular summer resorts include Sozopol, Nessebur, Golden Sands, Sveti Vlas, Albena, and Sunny Beach. Bulgaria also has a number of spa resorts, including Bankya, Hisarya, and Sandanski.
Bulgarian is an Eastern South Slavic language, one of the three languages that comprise the group known as the Slavic languages. It is the native language of Bulgarians, who are direct descendants of the Thracians, and it is the official language of the Republic of Bulgaria. It is an alphabetic language, with 30 letters, and a relatively simple pronunciation. Its origin is debated, with many believing that it originated in Central Asia, home of the Turkic peoples, and that the name “Bulgar” derives from a Turkic word meaning mixed or of multiple clans.
The largest city in Bulgaria is Sofia, which has a population of 2,200,000. Other large cities are Plovdiv, Velingrad, and Varna. Bulgaria’s borders five countries: Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Turkey to the south, and Greece to the east. The country has a rich historical legacy of ancient Roman and Byzantine culture, as well as Slavic and Ottoman influences.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, the country was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Following the 1876 uprising against Ottoman rule, Bulgaria became a constitutional monarchy in 1907 and joined NATO and the European Union in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
The country has a highly diversified economy, with manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and services making up most of the GDP. Bulgaria’s primary exports are petroleum and natural gas, machine tools, electronics, and transport equipment. The country has a very low unemployment rate and a strong social security system that provides a wide range of benefits to its citizens.
Bulgaria’s ethnic groups include the Bulgarians, the Roma (Gypsies), and Serbs. The majority of the population is Christian. The country has a significant Muslim minority, composed of both Circassians and Turkish-speaking communities such as the Vlachs and Karakachans. The non-Christian minorities of Albanians, Bulgarian Jews, and Muslim Tatars have largely been assimilated into the larger Bulgarian society. During the Communist era, these groups were forced to identify as Bulgarians. As of 2014, Bulgaria’s credit rating is ‘BBB-‘ with a stable outlook, and the economy has been growing steadily since 2009. The GDP per capita is $23,900. The literacy rate is 81%. The official currency is the leva. The country’s currency reform in 2001 has strengthened the country’s international competitiveness. The Bulgarian government has a pro-business climate, and the country’s banking system is regulated by the European Central Bank. The national debt is very low. A small portion of the population works in agriculture, and most work in the service industries.