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About Bulgaria

Geography
Area: 110,910 sq. km. (slightly larger than Tennessee). Major cities: Capital--Sofia 1.3 million. Others: Plovdiv--379,493, Varna--352,674. Terrain: Bulgaria is located in South Central Europe. The terrain is varied, containing large mountainous areas, fertile valleys, plains and a coastline along the Black Sea. Climate: Continental--mild summers and cold, snowy winters.

People

Population (July 2009 est.): 7,204,687. Population growth rate (2009 est.): -0.79%. Ethnic groups (2001): Bulgarian 83.94%, Turkish 9.42%, Roma 4.68%, and other 2% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar). Religions (2001): Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Roman Catholic 0.6%, Protestant 0.5%, others. Language: Bulgarian 84.5%, other 15.5%. Health: Life expectancy (2009 est.)--male: 69.48 years; female: 76.91 years. Infant mortality rate (2009 est.)--17.87 deaths/1,000 live births. Work force: 2.67 million (2008 est.). Agriculture--7.5%; industry--35.5%, services--57% (2007 est.).


Economy

Bulgaria's economy contracted dramatically after 1989 with the collapse of the COMECON system and the loss of the Soviet market, to which the Bulgarian economy had been closely tied. The standard of living fell by about 40%. In addition, UN sanctions against Yugoslavia and Iraq took a heavy toll on the Bulgarian economy. The first signs of recovery emerged when GDP grew in 1994 for the first time since 1988, by 1.4% and then by 2.5% in 1995. Inflation, which surged in 1994 to 122%, fell to 32.9% in 1995. During 1996, however, the economy collapsed due to shortsighted economic reforms and an unstable and de-capitalized banking system.

GEOGRAPHY AND PEOPLE

Bulgaria shares a border with Turkey and Greece to the south, Macedonia and Serbia to the west, Romania to the north, and the Black Sea to the east. The capital, Sofia, lies in the western region of the country. Ethnic groups include Bulgarian, Turkish, Roma, and others. The official language is Bulgarian.

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Ancient Thrace was partially located on the territory of modern Bulgaria, and Thracian culture provides a wealth of archeological sites within Bulgaria. In the second century A.D., the Bulgars came to Europe from their old homeland, the Kingdom of Balhara situated in the Mount Imeon area (present Hindu Kush in northern Afghanistan).

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. The unicameral National Assembly, or Narodno Subranie, consists of 240 deputies who are elected for 4-year terms through a mixed electoral system: 209 members of parliament (MPs) elected according to the classic proportional representation system (voters vote for fixed, rank-ordered party lists for each of the 31 electoral districts, with a different list for each district), and 31 majority MPs elected individually under the majority representation system in each and every district (the winning candidate receives a plurality of the votes in the region). Parliament selects and dismisses government ministers, including the prime minister, exercises control over the government, and sanctions deployment of troops abroad. It is responsible for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, declaration of war, and ratification of international treaties and agreements.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION

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