Bulgarians have a long and rich history of culture. They are well known for their festivals, customs and traditions as well as for being a dynamic and active people. They are also famous for their spirituality and their Thracian and Hellenistic origins. Unique finds such as the Pliska Rosette and dozens of golden artifacts from tombs across the country prove that they were a highly developed civilization with a profound material and spiritual culture.
In the modern Bulgarian society, traditional values have been largely preserved and incorporated in the cultural identity. The peasant, the merchant, the craftsman and entrepreneur and the teacher are all icons that represent the true Bulgarian spirit, which combines qualities such as hard work, honesty, and resourcefulness with the ability to learn from history and to change with time.
Food is an important part of the Bulgarian way of life. The cuisine is varied and includes both local and international dishes. It is usually very healthy.
Meat is a staple of the Bulgarian diet. It is grilled, fried, or cooked in soups and stews. The popular dish supa topcheta (literally “balls soup”), for example, contains small pork meatballs that are cooked together with fresh vegetables to create a hearty and visually pleasing meal.
Another very popular meat dish is the Bulgarian shish kebab, which is similar to a Turkish kebab. It is grilled or fried and comes with a wide variety of sides, from fries to the aforementioned supa topcheta. Bulgarians are also known for their dairy products. The country has its own version of feta cheese, called sirene. It is made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or a mixture of the three, and it is typically brined.
A Bulgarian microbiologist discovered the rod-shaped bacteria that cause milk to ferment, which led to the creation of yoghurt. This discovery, combined with the fact that the yogurt is very tasty, earned him the nickname “the father of Bulgarian yoghurt.”
Mavrud is the name of a highly valued grape variety that is grown in Bulgaria. It is used to produce both single-varietal wines and blends. It has firm tannins, good acidity, and a deep ruby color. Its fruity aromas are reminiscent of ripe mulberries, blackberries, or prunes.
The main religion in Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodoxy, which has roots in ancient Thracian beliefs. The Bulgarians have a rich oral tradition and a large number of folk songs. One of them, the popular Valya Balkanska song Izlel ye Delyo Haydutin (“Autumn Leaves”), was included in the Golden Record that was placed aboard the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.
Bulgaria is a multiparty parliamentary republic with universal adult suffrage. Its chief of state is an elected president, and the head of government is a prime minister selected by the largest parliamentary group. The National Assembly is the legislative branch of government, and mayors and councilors are elected. The capital city is Sofia. The country is a member of the European Union and NATO.