Bulgaria is a country located in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe. It is mountainous and has a long coastline on the Black Sea. It has rich coal, iron, and copper deposits as well as a variety of non-metalliferous minerals including rock salt, gypsum, and kaolin. It also has significant solar and wind power potential. Bulgaria has a highly skilled workforce and has been able to attract a number of multinational corporations.
Bulgarian is the official language of the country and is used in business, education, and government. It is a member of the Slavic languages family and, like the other members, uses the Latin alphabet. Minority groups speak Turkish, an Altaic language, Romany (language of the gypsies), and various other Indo-European languages.
The Church has long been a central part of Bulgarian culture, and it played a critical role in keeping the Bulgarian sense of identity intact throughout the centuries of Ottoman and Communist rule. After the fall of Communism, the Church experienced a revival and religious holidays are once again celebrated, church weddings are popular, and baptisms have become more common.
Families are the foundation of Bulgarian society, and many people live with their parents or grandparents into their adult years. Children are typically raised to defer to parental authority, and it is not uncommon for several generations of a family to live under one roof. Inheritance is a key aspect of the family, and it is not uncommon for property to be passed down to the youngest son.
Bulgaria is known for its savory and hearty foods. A staple of the cuisine is shkembe chorba, which is a hearty soup made of chicken broth with rice, tomatoes, and bell peppers. It is known for its “healing” properties and is often regarded as a cure for the common cold. Other typical dishes include banitsa, which is similar to baklava but has a sweeter taste and includes lokum layered between filo dough. It can be flavored with rose petals, walnuts, or honey, and is enjoyed for breakfast along with plain yogurt or ayran.
Another popular Bulgarian dish is luteti, which combines roasted red peppers with tomatoes and onion and sometimes includes eggplant. It can be eaten on artisan bread, in a wrap with sirene cheese, or even sliced onto a pizza for a knockoff of “Bulgarian pizza.”
For dessert, try the traditional knish, which is fried pastry wrapped around a filling such as cheese or minced meat. The knish is then covered with powdered sugar and served hot or cold. It is a tasty and unique end to a meal, and it is a great way to share a piece of Bulgarian culture with friends. Bulgarians also enjoy putting lucky charms into their pastry, such as coins or a small piece of dogwood with a bud, in order to bring good luck. The custom is especially popular on special occasions such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve. These charms are meant to bring wealth, health, and longevity in the year to come.