Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria re-incarnates one of the oldest states in Europe, located in Southeastern Europe, bordering five other countries: Romania to the north (mostly along the Danube), Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea defines the extent of the country to the east.
Bulgaria comprises the classical regions of Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia. Old European culture in the region started to produce golden artifacts by the fifth millennium BCE.
The country preserves the traditions (in ethnic name, language, and alphabet) of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/681 – 1018), which at times covered most of the Balkans and spread its alphabet, literature and culture among the Slavic and other peoples of Eastern Europe. Centuries later, with the decline of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 – 1396/1422), the country came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. Diplomacy re-established Bulgaria as a constitutional monarchy in 1878, with the Treaty of San Stefano marking the birth of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. After World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state and part of the Eastern Bloc. In 1990, after the Revolutions of 1989, the Communist party gave up its monopoly on power and Bulgaria transitioned to democracy and free-market capitalism.
Currently Bulgaria functions as a parliamentary democracy under a unitary constitutional republic. A member of the European Union since 2007 it has a population of approximately 7.7 million, with Sofia as its capital and largest city.
Geographically and in terms of climate, Bulgaria features notable diversity with the landscape ranging from the Alpine snow-capped peaks in Rila, Pirin and the Balkan Mountains to the mild and sunny Black Sea coast; from the typically continental Danubian Plain (ancient Moesia) in the north to the strong Mediterranean climatic influence in the valleys of Macedonia and in the lowlands in the southernmost parts of Thrace.
Bulgaria comprises portions of the regions known in classical times as Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia. The mountainous southwest of the country has two alpine ranges — Rila and Pirin — and further east stand the lower but more extensive Rhodope Mountains. The Rila range includes the highest peak of the Balkan Peninsula, Musala, at 2,925 meters (9,596 ft); the long range of the Balkan mountains runs west-east through the middle of the country, north of the famous Rose Valley. Hilly country and plains lie in the southeast, along the Black Sea coast in the east, and along Bulgaria's main river, the Danube in the north. Other major rivers include the Struma and the Maritsa river in the south.
Rila and Pirin feature around 260 glacial lakes; the country also has several large lakes on the Black Sea coast and more than 2,200 dam lakes. Many mineral springs exist, located mainly in the south-western and central parts of the country along the faults between the mountains.
Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cool and damp winters, very hot and dry summers, and Mediterranean influence along the Black Sea coast. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains influences climate throughout the country: northern Bulgaria gets slightly cooler and receives more rain than the southern regions. Precipitation in Bulgaria averages about 630 millimeters per year. Drier areas include Dobrudzha and the northern coastal strip, while the higher parts of the mountains Rila and Stara Planina receive the highest levels of precipitation. In summer, temperatures in the south of Bulgaria often exceed 40 degrees Celsius, but remain cooler by the coast. A site near Plovdiv has recorded the highest known temperature: 46.7 degrees Celsius.
The country possesses relatively rich mineral-resources, including vast reserves of lignite and anthracite coal; non-ferrous ores such as copper, lead, zinc and gold. It has large deposits of manganese ore in the north-east. Smaller deposits exist of iron, silver, chromite, nickel and others. Bulgaria has abundant non-metalliferous minerals such as rock-salt, gypsum, kaolin, marble.
The Balkan Peninsula derives its name from the Balkan or Stara Planina mountain-range, which runs through the centre of Bulgaria and extends into eastern Serbia.
Flag of Bulgaria