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About Bulgaria

Located in South Eastern Europe, Bulgaria occupies the Eastern Balkan Peninsular, bordered by the Black Sea to the East, Romania to the North, Macedonia to the West and Greece to the South. In many ways, Bulgaria is one of the success stories of the Balkans; a politically stable democracy on the threshold of EU membership, it also harbours one of the fastest growing tourist industries in Europe. Yet despite this soaring popularity, Bulgaria remains a little known destination with a great deal to discover. Much of the country is like an open-air museum of Balkan culture, with beautifully decorated churches, fine mosques, wonderfully preserved rustic villages and a great deal of enduring folklore.

Relief

Bulgaria has an extremely varied landscape with large plains and lowlands, low and high mountains, valleys and lovely gorges. Its territory includes part of the lower Danube plain, part of the Thracian lowland and to the South, the mountain structures of the Macedonian-Thracian Massif. The mountains occupy half the country’s territory. They are easily accessible and the presence of towns and villages in them that have preserved the authentic Bulgarian spirit and hospitality, gives a change for receiving and accommodating tourists at village houses.

Mineral Springs

Bulgaria has some 500 deposits of mineral waters with over 1600 sources. These are localised chiefly at the mountain foothills. The Spa Resorts of national significance are Bankya, Velingrad and Sandanski. The main mineral baths are found at Stara Zagora, Narechen, Sliven, as well as Kystendil, Varshets, Pavel Banya, Hissarya and Kostenets.

Climate

The climate of Bulgaria is regarded as a major attraction, with four distinct seasons and generally temperate conditions. Summers are hot and dry, but comfortable, due to low humidity, whilst winter is cold but not bitter. The Black Sea coast boosts around 1700 hours of sunshine between May and October with temperatures averaging 80' C. In contrast, ideal snow conditions in the mountains make for fantastic skinning in the winter months between December and April.

Bulgarian Culture

Bulgaria's reputation as the cradle of ‘Slav’ culture can be attributed to its rich history – from the treasure of the Varna Chalcolichic Necropolis (4600-4200 b.c), described by experts as the worlds oldest gold and Europe’s most ancient civilization, to the legends of Spartacus and of Orpheus, born in the Rhodopl mountains.

An ancient art for which Bulgaria has become renowned is that of religious icon painting – many outstanding pieces are on view in churches today, others form museum displays. Other traditional applied arts are still practiced, among them fine embroidery and weaving richly coloured rugs.

A number of ancient festivals have survived the centuries and still take place, among them the ‘pirun sings’ and’ Rochen Sings’ festivals, attracting an impressive 150,000 visitors.

Currency & Language

The official currency of Bulgaria is the Lev, which is divided into 100 Stotinki. The Lev exchange is now fixed against the Euro as part of the EU membership process. Upon entry to the EU, the Euro will be adopted with the complete phasing out of the Lev. Items such as property and cars have been priced in the more recognised Euro due to the fixed exchange rate.

The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian which is spoken by all the population. Bulgarian is a Southern Slavic language, written with the Cyrillic alphabet (invented by two Bulgarian Monks.) Much Turkish vocabulary has infiltrated the language, evidence of the lengthy Ottoman occupation. In addition to Bulgarian, the younger generation all learn English in school. With EU membership, it is a requirement that all public signage is displayed in Roman alphabet as well as local Cyrillic, therefore visiting Bulgaria will pose no problems with navigation.

Dining

Because of its geographical position and long history, Bulgarian cuisine is a mixture between the best parts of the Slavonic, Greek and Turkish Cuisines. National specialities include: Shopska Salad (sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and parsley, topped with grated sheep's cheese) and Tarator (a cold soup of chopped cucumber, walnuts and yogurt). While sheep cheese baked with eggs is another favourite. Other typical items on the menu include Kebapcheta (minced meat rolled into sausage shapes and grilled) Karvarma (individual casseroles of pork or veal, onions and mushrooms). Yogurt too is fantastic in Bulgaria, its country of origin. Bulgarian cuisine has grown out of a wealth of culinary traditions both local and foreign, combined in a way which is uniquely Bulgarian, offering cuisine with its own characteristic originality and exceptional variety.

Sights & Activities

Ancient culture, endless beaches and an emerald sea, high mountains with marvellous gorges and caves, clear lakes and rivers full of fish, wide valleys, healing springs, hospitable people, diverse flora and fauna……… Explore this land.

Valley of Roses

The Valley of Roses is in the very heart of the country and is shielded by the high slopes of majestic mountain ranges – the Balkan and Sredna Gara. To visit Bulgaria and not go the Valley of Roses is to go to Egypt and not see the Pyramids.

National Parks

Bulgaria has 3 National Parks – Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan. They have a total area of 193,040 hectares and comprise more than a third of all the protected areas in Bulgaria.

Spa Resorts

The curative properties of the Bulgarian mineral waters were known and used from Antiquity. Ancient Mineral complexes were built near the mineral springs. The Spa resorts have the advantage of being located in very favourable climatic regions, affording the exceptional possibility of combining spatherapy and climatic treatment.

Outdoor Activities

Bulgaria has 4 different mountain ranges, the Stora, Rhodope, Planina and the Rilla. Three resorts in particular, Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo have received significant investment from the EU and now boast international quality resorts.

In the summer, the mountains continue to attract large numbers of visitors. Activities include caving (4,620 of them), pack climbing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, horse riding and bird watching. For those who enjoy water activities, Bulgaria will not disappoint with rafting, canoeing, sailing, surfing, fishing and diving all readily available.

Cultural Attractions

There are many cultural sites dotted throughout Bulgaria. Some of the most important archaeological sites in Europe are located within Bulgarian borders and new discoveries are still being made. Combined with the rich religious heritage of the region, there is no shortage of sites to visit.

Bulgaria has retained a great number of traditional folk and religious celebrations. Almost every week there is a celebration, taking place …. From orthodox Easter to the Valley of the Roses Celebrations, you will find there is much to discover.

GENERAL FACTS AND STATS

Territory: 110,993.6 Km
Population: 7,973,671
Capital: Sofia
Official Language: Bulgarian
Religion: Orthodox
Political System: Parliamentary Republic
Head of State: Georgi Purvanov
Prime Minister: Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha
National Currency: Lev
Measures and Scales: Metric System
Time Zone: GMT +2

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