Bulgaria is a land of beautiful beaches, mountain views, and delicious food. It is also home to a rich and diverse culture that has been preserved and passed down over centuries. Its many traditions are captured in the country’s poetry, music, dance, and costumes. It is no wonder that the country has won the UNESCO World Heritage site award for its unique folklore and traditions.
The Bulgarian people are very warm and welcoming. They are often quite curious about foreigners and are eager to share their culture with others. It is important to be aware of this, especially when doing business in Bulgaria. The language barrier can be an obstacle to successful communication, but it is possible with some preparation.
Bulgarians eat a lot of bread, particularly rye. It is eaten throughout the day and is a staple in the diet. Bread is dipped in various sauces and dips such as lutenitsa, which is roasted red pepper spread or dipping sauce. It is also a popular topping for grilled meats and fish. Another traditional favorite is the grilled cheese sandwich known as kebapche, which consists of minced pork and beef spiced with black pepper and cumin served on french fries with grated sirene.
Throughout the country there are regional variations in cuisine, depending on the ethnicity of the area. It is not uncommon for the locals to prepare foods that are not available anywhere else. These specialties are often quite good and it is worth trying them when you have the opportunity.
A multiparty parliamentary republic, Bulgaria is led by an elected president and a prime minister selected by the National Assembly from the largest parliamentary group. The government is complemented by a council of ministers and an independent judiciary. Bulgaria is a secular state, but religion is practiced freely.
Marriage and Family
Bulgarians generally marry by individual choice, although families sometimes exert influence on the choice of spouse. A minority of ethnic groups, including the Roma and Pomaks, traditionally engage in arranged marriages. Parents take a great interest in the education of their children and provide substantial care for them, even in postsocialist times when financial challenges can make it difficult to do so. Divorce is common but not stigmatized.
Successful business in a foreign country requires a thorough understanding of the local culture. The ability to communicate effectively, and the respect for a different way of doing things are critical. Meetings will likely be more formal than in the West, with the Bulgarian preferring to thoroughly explore issues before moving on. They are not deadline oriented and will often spend longer than anticipated at meetings. They are a relaxed and friendly people, but they are wary of those who use casual language or do not demonstrate appropriate behavior. Bulgarians do not like to be contradicted, so be prepared for them to raise a point of order if it appears that you have made a false statement.