Facts about Bulgaria

Map_of_ BulgariaMap_ of_Bulgaria-in_the_world

Capital: Sofia (population: 1,122,302) – Situated in the Western part of the country, at the foot of the Vitosha mountain, the plain is 550 m above sea level.

Population: 7.97 million

Ethnic groups:  Bulgarian 76.9%, Turk 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian), other (unknown) 10% (2011 census)

Languages:  Bulgarian (official) 76.8%, Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, other (unknown) 10.5% (2011 census)

Alphabet: Cyrillic

Official religion: Orthodox Christians

Religions:  Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim (Sunni) 7.4%, Muslim (Shia) 0.4%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Judaism) 1.7%, other (unknown) 27.4%, none 3.7% (2011 census)

Currency: BGN – pronounced “lev” (лв), plural “leva” – BGN is pegged to the Euro at the rate of BGN 1 per EUR 0.51129.

Bulgaria GDP: $53.545 billion (2011)

bulgaria_flagFlag: A tricolour consisting of three equal-sized horizontal bands of (from top to bottom) white, green, and red. The flag was first adopted after the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), where Bulgaria gained independence. The national flag at times was charged with the state emblem, especially during the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. The current flag was re-established with the 1991 Constitution of Bulgaria and was confirmed in a 1998 law.

Time zone: GMT+2, EET (UTC+2)

Telephone code: +359 (2 for Sofia)

Drives on the: right

Politics and economy

Government: Unitary parliamentary republic

Prime minister: Plamen Oresharski (Bulgarian Socialist Party)

President: Rosen Plevneliev (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria – GERB party).

– Nato, since 29 March 2004
– EU, since 1 January 2007
– Not a member in Shengen (probably 1 January 2014)

Bulgaria is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. The political system has 3 branches—legislative, executive and judicial. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Elections are supervised by an independent Central Election Commission that includes members from all major political parties. The Bulgarian National Assembly (a single chamber parliament) consists of 240 members who are elected for a four-year period.

Bulgaria’s main exports are light industrial products, foods and wines, which are successfully competing on European markets. A series of major European transport corridors pass through Bulgaria. These corridors include the international highways that connect Western and Central Europe the Near East and the Middle East.


Total area: 111 910 km²

Total length of Bulgaria’s borders: 2,245 km.
Rivers: 686 km
The Black Sea: 378 km
Land: 1,181 km

Land boundaries: 1,808 km
– Romania 608 km – To the north
– Greece 494 km – To the south
– Serbia 318 km – To the west
– Turkey 240 km – To the south
– Macedonia 148 km – To the west

Highest peak: Musala – 2,925 m (9,596 ft)

Low: The Black Sea

Located in the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria offers a highly diverse landscape: the north is dominated by the vast lowlands of the Danube and the south by the highlands and elevated plains. In the east, the Black Sea coast attracts tourists all year round. Bulgaria is located in South east Europe, in the north east part of the Balkan Peninsula and borders to the south with Turkey and Greece, to the north with Romania, to the west with Macedonia (FYROM) & Serbia and to the east with the Black Sea. This location places Bulgaria on the crossroad between Europe and Asia. Bulgaria is also a transport crossroad, allowing access to Western Europe, the Near East and the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.


Average temperature: 
-1, – 2 Celsius in the winter
20 – 22 Celsius in the winter

Bulgaria is at the border line between the temperate and Mediterranean climatic areas. The climate is temperate continental in its northern part, while the Mediterranean climatic influence is strongly felt in its southern part. Bulgaria falls within the southern part of the temperate climate zone with subtropical influence. The country lies on the transition line between two climate zones influences the climate, soils, vegetation and animal species. All of them are characterized by great diversity. Bulgaria’s geographic position also determines the relatively wide angle of sunlight that falls on the country, making the country predominantly sunny which creates excellent preconditions for the development of tourism.

History and culture

Medieval states: 
– First Bulgarian Empire 681
– Second Bulgarian Empire 1185
Modern state: 
– Principality of Bulgaria 3 March 1878 (National Day)
– Independence declared 22 September 1908

Founded in 681, Bulgaria is one of the oldest states in Europe. Its history is marked by its location near Europe’s frontier with Asia. Its traditional dishes are a mixture of east and west. The most famous Bulgarian food must be yoghurt, with its reputed gift of longevity for those who consume it regularly. Fans of folk music will be familiar with a number of Bulgarian musicians. A Bulgarian folk song was included on the Voyager Golden Record which was sent into outer space by NASA. Famous Bulgarians include philosopher Julia Kristeva, Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1981, and Christo Javachev (Christo), the creator of many unorthodox outdoor sculptures.

National Holidays

There are 12 official national holidays in Bulgaria and of course other celebrations.

The celebration of name days has been a tradition in Catholic and Orthodox countries since the Middle Ages. The name days originate in the list of holidays celebrated in commemoration of saints and martyrs of the church.  The church promoted celebration of name days (or rather saints’ feast days) over birthdays, as the latter was seen as a pagan tradition. One Bulgarian also explained that not everyone know when you have a birthday but everybody knows your name and which day to celebrate it.

Name days (имени дни) in Bulgaria are almost always associated with Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox celebrations. Some names can be celebrated on more than one day. Another example of a name day connected with Christianity is Tsvetnitsa (Цветница, Palm Sunday). On this day people with names derived from flowers, trees, herbs, etc., celebrate. 

Name days in Bulgaria are important and widely celebrated. Children and adults celebrate their name days by bringing sweets and chocolates to school and work. By an ancient Bulgarian tradition, everybody is welcome on name days; there is no need to invite guests. Presents are given. Common well-wishes include “May you hear your name from grandchildren and great-grandchildren!” (Да чуеш името си на внуци и правнуци!), “May you hear your name only in good things!” (Да ти се чува името само за добро!), “May your name be healthy and well!” (Да ти е живо и здраво името!) and “Congratulations in your name day” (Честит имен ден).

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day (Нова Година) – Friends and families visit one another and children may also go singing from house to house, in exchange for treats. Everything is closed. If you’re in Sofia, head to Batenburg Square, where annual performances are held in honour of this holiday.
  • January 7 – St. Ivan´s Day (Ivanovden) – Other names that are also celebrated: Yoan, Yoana
  • February 1 or 14 – St. Trifon’s Day (Trifon Zarezan) – Celebration of wine, either on February 1 or 14 (corresponds to west´s Valentine’s Day). Eating and drinking follow ritual pruning of vines, and the most successful grape grower is crowned king. The name: Lozan, is also celebrated this day.
  • March 1 – Baba Marta (Баба Марта) or Grandmother March, is marked by the giving of red and white martenitsa. Other names that are also celebrated: Marta, Martina, Evdokia
  • March 3 – Liberation of Bulgaria Day (Ден на Освобождението на България от турско робство) – Liberation from Ottoman rule. Celebrates the establishment of the Bulgarian state in 1878. This holiday is marked with public ceremonies. There are celebrations with the prime minister and the president in front of Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the Unknown Soldier monument.
  • March 8 – Women’s Day (Ден на жената)
  • March 25 – St. Blagovest´s Day  – Other names that are also celebrated: Blagovesta, Blagoy, Blaga, Bonka, Boncho, Marian, Mariana, Mariyan, Mariyana
  • Moveable – Orthodox Good Friday (Разпети петък)
    Moveable – Orthodox Easter (Великден)
    Moveable – Orthodox Easter Monday (Великден)

Orthodox Easter Sunday and Easter Monday Easter is an important holiday in Bulgaria. Traditional foods are prepared and eaten, and eggs are dyed. Cracking eggs together is a common tradition that is said to predict coming wealth and success.

  • May 1 – Labor Day (Ден на труда) – Bulgaria’s Labor Day has been celebrated since the middle of the 20th century and is marked as a day of rest. But only some people have a day off from work while most of the people continue their daily activities as usual.
  • May 6 – St. George’s Day (Гергьовден) – Day of Bulgarian Army. In Sofia celebrated by conducting a huge military parade starting at 10 am. Also the day that marks the ending of winter according to traditional folklore. Other names that are celebrating this day: Galin, Galina, Galya, Ganka, Gancho, Genko, Genoveva, Georgi, Gergana, Gergin, Gergina, Ginka, Gyuro, Zhorzh
  • May 7 – Radio and Television Day (Ден на радиото и телевизията)
  • May 21 – St. Constantin´s Day – Other names that are also celebrated: Dinko, Elena, Eli, Elin, Elka, Ilona, Koycho, Konstantin, Kosta, Kostadin, Kostadinka, Kostadinko, Kuncho, Lenko, Stamen, Stanimir, Stanimira, Stanka, Stoil, Stoyan, Stoyanka, Trayko
  • May 24 – Day of Slavonic Education and Culture (Ден на азбуката, културата и просветата) – This day is also known as the Day of Slavonic Alphabet and Culture and the Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius. This day celebrates the Cyrillic alphabet and its developers, Cyril and Methodius. In the 9th century, these two Greek monks created this alphabet, a form of which is still in use today in Bulgaria. In Sofia there is a big celebration in front of the Bulgarian National Library for the Cyril and Methodius day (a.k.a the day of the Bulgarian alphabet). 
  • August 15 – Golyama Bogoroditza – Other names that are also celebrated: Mara, Marian, Mariana, Maria, Mariya, Mariyan, Mariyana, Masha, Mika, Mira, Preslav, Preslava
  • September 6 – Unification Day (Ден на съединението) – This day celebrates the unification of Bulgaria with the province of Eastern Rumelia in the 19th century. The unification almost doubled Bulgaria’s size. The day is marked with public ceremonies. In Sofia there are celebrations with the prime minister and the president in front of Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the Unknown Soldier monument.
  • September 22 – Independence Day (Ден на независимостта) – Bulgaria celebrates its independence from the Ottoman Empire, gained in 1908. The day is marked with public ceremonies. In Sofia there are celebrations with the prime minister and the president in front of Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the Unknown Soldier monument.
  • October 26 – Dimitar’s day (Dimitrovden) – Marks the being the beginning of winter according to traditional folklore. Other names that are celebrated this day: Dimitrina, Dimitar, Dima, Dimo, Dragan, Mitro, Mitra
  • November 1 – Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders (Ден на народните будители) – Despite the fact that the this day is a big Bulgarian holiday you won’t even notice this day unless you are student, teacher or professor.
  • December 4 – St. Barbara’s Day or St. Varva´s Day – This day, which celebrates the protection of children against illness. The annual celebration is marked mainly by the cooking and baking of certain foods. Children eat a traditional bean soup, while women of towns and villages make honey-sweetened unleavened bread to share with neighbours and passers-by.
  • December 6 – Nikulden – This Saint is considered to be protecting fishermen and people working in banks. Therefore restaurants serves and people eat fish this day. Other names that are also celebrated: Nicola, Nickolay, Niki, Nikolina, Nina, Kolyo, Nenka, Niko.
  • December 8 – Student´s Day Students get together and party. The local traffic in Sofia decided to have traffic all night because of this (2013). Normally the traffic stops before midnight. 
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve (Бъдни вечер)
  • December 25 – Christmas Day (Коледа)
  • December 26 – Second Day of Christmas (Коледа)
  • December 27 – St. Stefan´s day – Other names that are celebrated this day are: Ventsi, Ventsislav, Ventsislava, Zapryan, Sonya, Stamen, Stana, Stanislav, Stanislava, Stanimir, Stanimira, Stanka, Stanko, Stancho, Stefan, Stefana, Stefania, Stefka, Stoil, Stoimen, Stoichko, Stoiko, Stoyan, Stoyan, Stoyanka, Tanya, Tsanka, Tsanko, Tsona, Tsonka, Tsonko, Tsonyo.
  • December 31 – New Year’s Eve – Celebrated with a variety of traditions. Ladouvane has traditionally been practiced by young women seeking marriage – it includes dancing and the ritual boiling of herbs. Sourvakari, in Bulgarian tradition, are young men who travel through their village, singing songs (similar to the practice of Christmas caroling). New Year’s Eve is also marked with food, dancing, and traditions that have been passed down through Bulgarian families.


Mila Rodino – The Bulgarian National Anthem


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A little about me and the blog…

I'm studying archival science (include records management). My studies bring me to Bulgaria for six months.

I have been to Bulgaria on vacation but I don't know the language, Cyrillic alphabet or anybody. So I´ll be encountering many new situations and hopefully gain some insights from them. Some of it may end up on my blog. But even blogging is new to me sooo we´ll see...

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