What Should I Know About Bulgaria?

N. Madison

The Republic of Bulgaria is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It touches the borders of five other countries, including Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. It is not completely landlocked, however, as its eastern border is also touched by the Black Sea. Its civilized, recorded history extends back over close to 7,000 years. The Republic of Bulgaria succeeded the First Bulgarian Empire, a medieval territory.

Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe.
Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe.

Under the country's umbrella are Thrace, Moesia, and Macedonia, which are all considered classical regions, meaning their histories extend back to the classical period of Ancient Greece. At one point in time, Bulgaria was a powerful empire that held sway over a major part of the Balkans. However, after many centuries, it fell to the Ottoman Empire. It remained under Ottoman rule for five centuries before it regained status as a constitutional monarchy in the late 1870s. This was not to be its only change in status, however, as its post World War II status was that of a communist state, becoming the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.

Donkeys may be used for transportation in Bulgaria.
Donkeys may be used for transportation in Bulgaria.

The People’s Republic of Bulgaria did not last for long. In 1989, it followed the lead of many other Eastern European communist lands and began to fall apart. Communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, was ousted in late 1989. In 1990, the Communist Party gave up control of the state and free elections (the firsts since 1931) took place in June of the same year. In 1991, a new constitution was approved, allowing for both an elected president and a prime minister.

Today’s Bulgaria enjoys the status of a constitutional republic. It is a member of the European Union. It is also a member of NATO. Its government is considered a parliamentary democracy. It still has a president and a prime minister in charge of the country’s legislative body.

The country's official language is Bulgarian. Its land holdings span approximately 42,823 square miles (110,910 square kilometers). It is geographically diverse, boasting everything from snow-capped mountains to sunny coasts. Bulgaria is fairly rich in terms of mineral resources, such as lignite, copper, zinc, and gold. It is also home to large manganese-ore deposits and an abundance of marble.

Modern Bulgaria maintains some of its old ways while adding on modern technology. For example, many natives still grow and eat their own produce. Many make their own cheese and other dairy products as well. There are even many people who use donkeys for transportation instead of cars. However, the same people who seem to maintain old-fashioned ways also enjoy such modern-day conveniences as satellite television.

Visitors may find the spring months, from April until June, the best time to go. Spring offers the country’s most pleasant and mild weather. Travelers who choose to visit in the winter will find cold, damp weather and those who go in the summer will confront hot, dry weather. Still, many people enjoy visiting the country during the summer, its peak travel season. They often go during this time to partake of the country’s festivals, as well as outdoor pursuits, such as hiking.

Bulgaria's eastern border is along the west side of the Black Sea.
Bulgaria's eastern border is along the west side of the Black Sea.

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Discussion Comments


You might want to add that the region Macedonia in Bulgaria is definitely not to be confused with the region called Macedonia in Greece, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which sits between the two.

The classical region known as Macedonia was split between the three after the Second Balkan War of 1912, with Greece and FYROM receiving most of that region. Incidentally, despite the FYROM's separation from Bulgaria since that time, many Bulgarians do not recognize the Macedonian ethnicity or language as separate from Bulgarian. This is despite the international community as a whole, and Macedonians themselves asserting them as being now separate.

This just goes to show that if possible one should avoid talking politics while in the Balkans, you never know who you will offend.

This leads to a somewhat awkward history and folk culture, with both Bulgarians and Macedonians insisting various historical figures, folk songs etc. belong to their culture.

Also it's worth adding, since we're summarising the cultural history of this lovely country, that Bulgarians are a Slavic people whose religious inclinations can be summarised as majority Christian Orthodox (they have their own Bulgarian Orthodox Church) and minority Muslim. There are also other minorities.

And yes, there are donkeys in Bulgaria, same as everywhere else, but we should be careful to avoid portraying Eastern Europe as some twee backwater where modern technology doesn't reach. The last 20 years or so have seen a huge effect on Balkan nations in terms of Westernisation.


According to Lonely Planet and some travel agencies, some people do ride donkeys here. This doesn't mean everyone does so, that there are no cars, or that automobiles are not better forms of transportation.


No one uses donkeys for transportation - this is complete b.s. People in the mountains or in farming communities can have donkeys, but Minnesota has more donkeys per capita than Bulgaria. Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, etc. are considered the best for transportation.

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