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Flag of Bulgaria
Map of Bulgaria
Introduction Bulgaria
The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878, but having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, it fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. Today, reforms and democratization keep Bulgaria on a path toward eventual integration into NATO and the EU - with which it began accession negotiations in 2000.
Geography Bulgaria
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates:
43 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references:
total: 110,910 sq km
water: 360 sq km
land: 110,550 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries:
total: 1,808 km
border countries: Greece 494 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia and Montenegro 318 km, Turkey 240 km
354 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers
mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Musala 2,925 m
Natural resources:
bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 39%
permanent crops: 1.8%
other: 59.2% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
8,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
earthquakes, landslides
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
strategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia
People Bulgaria
7,621,337 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.6% (male 572,961; female 543,004)
15-64 years: 68.5% (male 2,569,199; female 2,648,461)
65 years and over: 16.9% (male 540,109; female 747,603) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
-1.11% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
8.05 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
14.42 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-4.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
14.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.5 years
female: 75.22 years (2002 est.)
male: 67.98 years
Total fertility rate:
1.13 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
346 (2000)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (1999 est.)
noun: Bulgarian(s)
adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups:
Bulgarian 83.6%, Turk 9.5%, Roma 4.6%, other 2.3% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) (1998)
Bulgarian Orthodox 83.8%, Muslim 12.1%, Roman Catholic 1.7%, Jewish 0.1%, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 2.3% (1998)
Bulgarian, secondary languages closely correspond to ethnic breakdown
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1999)
Government Bulgaria
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions:
28 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Khaskovo, Kurdzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofiya, Sofiya-Grad, Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol
3 March 1878 (from Ottoman Empire)
National holiday:
Liberation Day, 3 March (1878)
adopted 12 July 1991
Legal system:
civil law and criminal law based on Roman law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Georgi PURVANOV (since 22 January 2002); Vice President Angel MARIN (since 22 January 2002)
head of government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) Simeon SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA (since 24 July 2001); Deputy Prime Ministers Nikolay VASILEV (since 24 July 2001), Kostadin PASKALEV (since 24 July 2001), and Lidiya SHULEVA (since 24 July 2001)
cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the National Assembly
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 11 November and 18 November 2001 (next to be held NA 2006); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) nominated by the president; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister
election results: Georgi PURVANOV elected president; percent of vote - Georgi PURVANOV 54.13%, Petar STOYANOV 45.87%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sobranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 17 June 2001 (next to be held NA June 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party - NMS2 42.74%, UtdDF 18.18%, CFB 17.15%, MRF 7.45%; seats by party - NMS2 120, UtdDF 51, CFB 48, MRF 21; note - seating as of March 2003 - NMS2 110, UtdDF 50, CFB 48, MRF 20, independents 12
Judicial branch:
Supreme Administrative Court; Supreme Court of Cassation; Constitutional Court (12 justices appointed or elected for nine-year terms); Supreme Judicial Council (consists of the chairmen of the two Supreme Courts, the Chief Prosecutor, and 22 other members; responsible for appointing the justices, prosecutors, and investigating magistrates in the justice system; members of the Supreme Judicial Council elected for five-year terms, 11 elected by the National Assembly and 11 by bodies of the judiciary)
Political parties and leaders:
Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Sergei STANISHEV]; Coalition for Bulgaria or CfB (coalition of parties dominated by BSP) [Sergei STANISHEV]; Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization or VMRO [Krasimir KARAKACHANOV]; Movement for Rights and Freedoms or MRF [Ahmed DOGAN]; National Movement for Simeon II or NMS2 [Simeon SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA]; People's Union or PU (includes Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and Democratic Party) [Anastasiya MOZER]; St. George's Day [Lyuben DILOV, Jr.]; Union of Democratic Forces or UDF [Ekaterina NADEZHDA]; Union of Free Democrats or UFD [Stefan SOFIYANSKI]; United Democratic Forces or UtdDF (a coalition between the UDF and PU, dominated by the former)
Political pressure groups and leaders:
agrarian movement; Bulgarian Democratic Center; Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB; Democratic Alliance for the Republic or DAR; New Union for Democracy or NUD; Podkrepa Labor Confederation; numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas
International organization participation:
ACCT, Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, G- 9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UPU, WCL, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador-designate Elena POPTODOROVA
consulate(s): New York
FAX: [1] (202) 234-7973
telephone: [1] (202) 387-7969
chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James William PARDEW
embassy: 1 Suborna Street, Sofia 1000
mailing address: American Embassy Sofia, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-5740
telephone: [359] (2) 937-5100
FAX: [359] (2) 981-89-77
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red; the national emblem formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe has been removed - it contained a rampant lion within a wreath of wheat ears below a red five-pointed star and above a ribbon bearing the dates 681 (first Bulgarian state established) and 1944 (liberation from Nazi control)
Economy Bulgaria
Economy - overview:
Bulgaria, a former communist country striving to enter the European Union, has experienced macroeconomic stability and positive growth rates since a major economic downturn in 1996 led to the fall of the then socialist government. A $300 million stand-by agreement negotiated with the IMF at the end of 2001 will help the government maintain economic stability as it seeks to overcome high rates of poverty and unemployment and, at the same time, cut the budget deficit and contain inflation.
purchasing power parity - $50.6 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.4% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $6,600 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 14%
industry: 29%
services: 58% (2001)
Population below poverty line:
35% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 5%
highest 10%: 23% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
26 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.9% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
3.83 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 26%, industry 31%, services 43% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate:
18% (2002 est.)
revenues: $5.57 billion
expenditures: $5.68 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
electricity, gas and water; food, beverages and tobacco; machinery and equipment, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, nuclear fuel
Industrial production growth rate:
2% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
38.84 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 48%
hydro: 8%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 44%
Electricity - consumption:
34.42 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
3.2 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
1.5 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
vegetables, fruits, tobacco, livestock, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers, sugar beets
$5.3 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, fuels
Exports - partners:
Italy 14%, Turkey 10%, Germany 9%, Greece 8%, Serbia and Montenegro 8% (2001)
$6.9 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, minerals, and raw materials; machinery and equipment; metals and ores; chemicals and plastics; food, textiles
Imports - partners:
Russia 19.9%, Germany 15.3%, Italy 9.6%, France 6.0% (2001)
Debt - external:
$10.3 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$300 million (2000 est.)
lev (BGL)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
leva per US dollar - 2.2147 (January 2002), 2.1847 (2001), 2.1233 (2000), 1.8364 (1999), 1,760.36 (1998), 1,681.88 (1997)
note: on 5 July 1999, the lev was redenominated; the post-5 July 1999 lev is equal to 1,000 of the pre-5 July 1999 lev
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Bulgaria
Telephones - main lines in use:
3,186,731 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.054 million (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: extensive but antiquated
domestic: more than two-thirds of the lines are residential; telephone service is available in most villages; a fairly modern digital cable trunk line now connects switching centers in most of the regions, the others are connected by digital microwave radio relay
international: direct dialing to 58 countries; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); 2 Intelsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 31, FM 63, shortwave 2 (2001)
4.51 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
39 (plus 1,242 repeaters) (2001)
3.31 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
200 (2001)
Internet users:
585,000 (2001)
Transportation Bulgaria
total: 4,294 km
standard gauge: 4,049 km 1.435-m gauge (2,710 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 245 km 0.760-m gauge (2002)
total: 37,288 km
paved: 33,786 km (including 324 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,502 km (2001)
470 km (1987)
petroleum products 525 km; natural gas 1,500 km (1999)
Ports and harbors:
Burgas, Lom, Nesebur, Ruse, Varna, Vidin
Merchant marine:
total: 77 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 881,758 GRT/1,312,833 DWT
ships by type: bulk 43, cargo 15, chemical tanker 4, container 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 4, railcar carrier 2, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 3, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 1 (2002 est.)
215 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 128
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 92 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 87
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 75 (2002)
1 (2002)
Military Bulgaria
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (subordinate to Ministry of Defense), Internal Forces (subordinate to Ministry of Interior), Civil Defense Forces (subordinate to the president)
Military manpower - military age:
19 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,873,052 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,566,816 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 56,104 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$356 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.7% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Bulgaria
Disputes - international:
because of a shift in the Danube course since the last correction of the boundary in 1920, a joint Bulgarian-Romanian team will recommend sovereignty changes to several islands and redefine the boundary
Illicit drugs:
major European transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine for the European market; limited producer of precursor chemicals; some money laundering of drug-related proceeds through financial institutions

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003