BULGARIAN Facts & Figures
Size: 42,823 square miles
Weather / Climate:
Considering its small area, Bulgaria has an unusually variable and complex climate. The country lies between the strongly contrasting continental and Mediterranean climatic zones. Bulgarian mountains and valleys act as barriers or channels for air masses, causing sharp contrasts in weather over relatively short distances. The continental zone is predominant, because continental air masses flow easily into the unobstructed Danubian Plain. The continental influence, stronger during the winter, produces abundant snowfalls; the Mediterranean influence increases during the second half of summer and produces hot and dry weather. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains is felt throughout the country: on the average, northern Bulgaria is about one degree cooler and receives about 192 millimetres (7.6 in) more rain than lowlands of southern Bulgaria. Because the Black Sea is too small to be a primary influence over much of the country's weather, it only affects the immediate area along its coastline.
The Balkan Mountains are the northern boundary of the area in which continental air masses circulate freely. The Rhodope Mountains mark the northern limits of domination by Mediterranean weather systems. The area between, which includes the Northern Thracian Plain, is influenced by a combination of the two systems, with the continental predominating. This combination produces a plains climate resembling that of the Corn Belt in the United States, with long summers and high humidity. The climate in this region is generally more severe than that of other parts of Europe in the same latitude. Because it is a transitional area, average temperatures and precipitation are erratic and may vary widely from year to year.
The north-western Danubian Plain in May
Average precipitation in Bulgaria is about 630 millimetres (24.8 in) per year. Dobrudja in the northeast, the Black Sea coastal area, and small part of the Northern Thracian Plain usually receive less than 500 millimetres. The remainder of the Northern Thracian Plain and the Danubian Plateau get less than the country average; the Northern Thracian Plain is often subject to summer droughts. Higher elevations, which receive the most rainfall in the country, may average over 2,540 millimetres (100 in) per year.
A view of Aldomirovtsi marsh, with approaching stormclouds surrounding the nearby mountains
The many valley basins scattered through the uplands have temperature inversions resulting in stagnant air. Sofia is located in such a basin, but its elevation (about 530 metres / 1,739 feet) tends to moderate summer temperature and relieve oppressive high humidity. Sofia is also sheltered from the northern European winds by the mountains that surround its troughlike basin. Temperatures in Sofia average −3 °C (26.6 °F) in January and about 28 °C (82.4 °F) in August. The city's rainfall is near the country average, and the overall climate is pleasant.
In summer, temperatures in the southest Bulgaria often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) but remain cooler by the coast. The town of Sadovo, near Plovdiv, has recorded the highest known temperature: 45.2 °C (113.4 °F). The recorded absolute minimum temperature of −39.3 °C (−38.7 °F) occurred west of Sofia, near the town of Trun. The usual temperature around the Stara Planina region averages 10 °C (50 °F) to 15 °C (59 °F).
The highest mountains – over 900 or 1,000 metres (2,953 or 3,281 ft) above sea-level – have an alpine climate. The lowest parts of the Struma and Maritza river valleys are subjected to subtropical (Mediterranean) influence, as are the Eastern Rhodope or Low Rhodope mountains. The extreme south-west part of Bulgaria (near the towns of Sandanski and Petrich) has one of the warmest climates in the country.
The coastal climate is moderated by the Black Sea, but strong winds and violent local storms are frequent during the winter. Winters along the Danube River are bitterly cold, while sheltered low valleys opening to the south along the Greek and Turkish borders may be as mild as areas along the Mediterranean or Aegean coasts.
Taken from wikipedia
The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian. According to the 2001 census, 85.5% of the country's population speak Bulgarian natively. The most significant minority languages are Turkish, spoken by 9.6% of the population, and Romani, which is spoken by 3.1%.
Bulgarian is the country's only official language. It's spoken by the vast majority of the Bulgarian population and used at all levels of society. It is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group. Its closest relative is the (Slavic) Macedonian language and these two languages are mutually intelligible.
The data of the 2011 census gives a figure of 7,364,570 inhabitants, down from a peak population of 9 million inhabitants in 1989.
Bulgaria is in a state of demographic crisis, and has had negative population growth since the early 1990s, with the country's economic difficulties leading to low fertility rates and high levels of emigration. Despite some progress, the population is still decreasing by 30,000 people per year and the growth rate is the lowest of any sovereign nation in the world.
According to the 2001 census, the population of 7,932,984 people consists mainly of 6,655,210 ethnic Bulgarians (83.9%), followed by the Turkish (9.4%) and Roma minority (4.7%). Of the remaining 2%, 0.9% comprises some 40 smaller minorities, while 1.1% of the population have not declared their ethnicity. Some 6,700,000 people (~85%) speak Bulgarian as their mother tongue, which belongs to the group of South Slavic languages and is the only official language.
According to the 2001 census most of the population (82.6%) self-identify as Orthodox Christian. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church gained autocephalous status in 927 AD and is the earliest Slavic Orthodox Church. Other religious denominations include Islam (12.2%), Roman Catholicism (0.6%) and Protestantism (0.5%); with other religions (0.2%), and with "not stated" totalling approximately 4%. Bulgaria regards itself officially as a secular state. The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion, but appoints Orthodoxy as "a traditional" religion.
Bulgarian cuisine (Bulgarian:bulgarska kuhnya) is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic, it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines. Owing to the relatively warm climate and diverse geography affording excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine is diverse.
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of Bulgarian wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator.
There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.
Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is not very typical, but grilling - especially different kinds of meats - is very common. Pork meat is the most common meat in the Bulgarian cuisine. Oriental dishes do exist in Bulgarian cuisine with most common being moussaka, gyuvetch, and baklava. A very popular ingredient in Bulgarian cuisine is the Bulgarian white brine cheese called "sirene". It is the main ingredient in many salads, as well as in a variety of pastries. Fish and chicken are widely eaten and while beef is less common as most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is a natural byproduct of this process and it is found in many popular recipes. Bulgaria is a net exporter of lamb and its own consumption of the meat is prevalent during its production time in spring.
Traditionally Bulgarians have consumed a notable quantity of yoghurt per head and is noted historically for the production of high quality yoghurt, including using a unique variety of micro-organism called Lactobacillus bulgaricus in the manufacturing process. It has even been claimed that yoghurt originates from Bulgaria. Though this cannot be substantiated, Bulgaria has been part of a region that has cultivated and consumed yoghurt from as far back as 3000 BC.
Certain entries, salads, soups and dishes go well with alcoholic beverages and the alcohol of choice for some is Bulgarian wine.
There are several holidays that are characterized by specific meals. On Christmas Eve, it is a tradition to have vegetarian stuffed peppers and vegetarian stuffed grape leaves. On New Year's Eve, there are dishes made with cabbage. On Nikulden (Nicholay's Day; December 6), people usually cook fish, while on Gergyovden (George’s Day; May 6), it is a tradition to eat roast lamb
Taken from wikipedia
Places to go in BULGARIA
Doing business in BULGARIA
Bulgaria has an industrialised market economy in the upper middle income range, where the private sector accounts for more than 80 per cent of GDP. From a largely agricultural country with a predominantly rural population in 1948, by the 1980s Bulgaria had transformed into an industrial economy with scientific and technological research as its top priorities in terms of budget expenditures. The loss of COMECON markets in 1990 and the subsequent "shock therapy" of the planned system caused a sharp drop in industrial and agricultural production, ultimately followed by an economic collapse in 1997. After 2000, Bulgaria experienced rapid economic growth, even though its income level remained one of the lowest within the EU with a gross average monthly wage of 768 leva (393 euro) in September 2012. Twenty-two per cent of the labour force are employed on a minimum wage, amounting to 1 euro per hour. Wages, however, account for only half of the total household income, owing to the substantial informal economy which amounts to almost 32% of GDP. Bulgarian PPS GDP per capita stood at 45 per cent of the EU average in 2011 according to Eurostat data, while the cost of living was 51 per cent of the average. The currency is the lev, which is pegged to the euro at a rate of 1.95583 lev? for one euro. Bulgaria is not part of the eurozone and the financial crisis has pushed the accession date beyond 2015 according to some economic analysts.
Unemployment rate stood at 12.6 per cent in October 2012 and GDP growth contracted from 6.2 (2008) to −5.5 per cent (2009) amid the late-2000s financial crisis. The crisis had a negative impact mostly on industry, causing a 10 per cent decline in the national industrial production index, a 31 per cent drop in mining, and a 60 per cent drop in "ferrous and metal production". Positive growth was restored in 2010, reaching 0.2 per cent. However, by the end of 2011, investments were diminishing and consumption was dropping steadily due to rising unemployment. The same year intercompany debt exceeded 83 billion euro (227% of GDP), and about 60% of all Bulgarian companies were indebted, excluding subcontractors, suppliers and producers. It is, along with very low wages, a significant obstacle to sustained economic growth. Despite positive fiscal policies and a flexible labour market, IMF and EU-encouraged austerity measures during the crisis have resulted in "catastrophic" social consequences according to the International Trade Union Confederation.
Corruption remains a serious problem. Bulgaria ranks 86th in the Corruption Perceptions Index and its results are gradually worsening. Economic activities are fostered by the lowest personal and corporate income tax rates in the European Union (a flat 10%), and the second-lowest public debt of all member states at 16.3 per cent of GDP in 2011. In 2011, GDP (PPP) was estimated at $101 billion, with a per capita value of $13,789. Sofia and the surrounding Yugozapaden planning area are the most developed region of the country with a per capita PPS GDP of $24,647 in 2009. The service sector accounts for 64.6 per cent of GDP, followed by industry with 30.1 per cent and agriculture with 5.3 per cent. The labour force is about 2.5 million people. Bulgaria is a net receiver of funds from the EU. The absolute amount of received funds was 589 million euro in 2009.
Local iron, copper, coal and lead deposits are vital for the domestic manufacturing sector. Major industries include extraction of metals and minerals, production of chemicals, machinery and vehicle components, petroleum refinement and steel. The mining sector and its related industries employ a total of 120,000 people and generate about five per cent of the country's GDP. The country is Europe's fourth-largest gold producer and sixth-largest coal producer. Almost all top export items of Bulgaria are industrial commodities such as oil products ($2.24 billion), copper products ($1.59 billion), medicaments ($493 million) and military equipment ($358 million).
In contrast with the industrial sector, agriculture has declined for the past decade. Production in 2008 amounted to only 66 per cent of that between 1999 and 2001, while cereal and vegetable yields dropped by nearly 40 per cent after 1990. Bulgaria, however, remains a net agricultural and food exporter, and two-thirds of its exports are to OECD countries. The country is the largest global producer of perfumery essential oils such as lavender and rose oil. A five-year modernisation and development programme was launched by the government in 2007, aimed at strengthening the agricultural sector with a total investment of 3.2 billion euro.
In recent years, Bulgaria has emerged as an attractive tourist destination with some of Europe's least expensive resorts and the last remaining beaches outside the reach of the tourist industry. Lonely Planet ranked Bulgaria among its top 10 travel destinations for 2011. More than 40 per cent of its 9,000,000 annual visitors were Greeks, Romanians and Germans. Main destinations include the capital Sofia, the medieval capital Veliko Tarnovo, coastal resorts Golden Sands and Sunny Beach and winter resorts Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets.
Taken from wikipedia