The Culture and History of Bulgaria

Historically, the people of Bulgaria have been known for their artistic talents. Many great opera-singers (Nicolai Ghiaurov, Boris Christoff) and painters (Kristo Vasev, Raina Kabaivanska, Vesselina Kasarova) hail from this country, as do musicians (Vesselina Dimitrova, Alexis Weissenberg). The country is also the origin of a unique and beloved drink: rakia, a fruit brandy made from distilling fermented grapes or other fruits. The resulting beverage can range in color from clear to yellow or brown, and can be flavored with herbs or left to mature in barrels. It can be served chilled as a summer refresher, or mulled and sweetened in winter as a warming drink.

The Bulgarian culture is very varied, with a wide range of ethnicities and traditions. The main religion is Christianity, but other faiths such as Islam and Judaism are practiced throughout the country. Most Bulgarians are bilingual, and are able to speak both their native language as well as English fluently. Many also know some French, thanks to the country’s long history as part of the Ottoman Empire. The country has a democratic government that was established in 1991 under the constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. The head of state is an elected president, and the chief of government is a prime minister appointed by the largest parliamentary faction. Bulgaria is a member of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Food in Bulgaria is usually quite simple, and based heavily on vegetables and meats. Popular dishes include sarmi, a dish of stuffed rolled vine or cabbage leaves filled with minced lamb and rice, and borek, a pastry that consists of layers of filo dough filled with pork, beef or fish, or a mixture of these. Mehana, a type of eating establishment, is a popular meeting place for family and friends, with food, folk music and dancing often featured.

A notable feature of the Bulgarian language is its grammatical structure. There are two aspects and five moods in the language, and over 40 different tenses. These combine in various ways to produce unique formations that can sometimes confuse foreign speakers. Bulgarian is also rich in loanwords, most derived from the English language.

While Bulgaria is not a particularly wealthy country, it has a high standard of living and good economic policies. The government has maintained low inflation and an unemployment rate below 10%, and is working to expand its economy with the development of high-technology industries and increased tourism. Moreover, the country has relatively stable social policies, and the constitution guarantees free elections and universal adult suffrage. The country has a multiparty system, and its government is composed of a Council of Ministers chosen by the National Assembly. It also has a powerful local police force, and is a member of NATO and the EEC. Bulgaria has a reputation for being a safe destination for travelers. Its crime rate is lower than the average for the region, and the country is one of the safest countries in Europe.