About Bulgaria

Bulgaria is one of the oldest European States with 20-century-old history and traditions. Modern Bulgaria is situated in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula – a busy crossroad of ancient cultures. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the east. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria is Europe’s 14th-largest country.

The territory of the present-day Bulgaria has been inhabited since the New Stone Age and the New Copper Age and continues to reveal exceptional archeological findings.

The world-famous culture of the Tracians developed on the territory of today’s Bulgaria during pre-historic and ancient times. The oldest gold treasure in the world – the Varna gold treasure is of Thracian origin. The Thracian heritage influenced significantly the Bulgarian culture and is part of the foundations of the European civilization.

The most famous people born in ancient Thrace were Orpheus – the greatest singer of all time – and Spartacus – a gladiator and leader of the biggest slave uprising in Antiquity. According to the archeological and historical data, on the territory of the present-day Bulgaria the Thracians planted their vines and produced the honey-sweet black wine, described in Homer’s Illiad.

The First Bulgarian Empire was founded in 681 AD. In the second half of the 9-th century the most impressive fact in the cultural history of Bulgaria and the other Slavic countries was the creation of a script and literature of the spoken Slav language. Two monk brothers of Bulgarian origin – Cyril (Constantine the Philosopher) and Methodius – created in Ohrid the first Slavic alphabet. For their contribution in spreading the Christianity, Cyril and Methodius were declared Saint Patrons of civilized Europe by the pope John Paul – II.

In 1018, after long wars, Bulgaria was conquered by the Byzantine Empire. From the very first years under Byzantine rule, the Bulgarians started fighting for their freedom. In 1186, the uprising led by two noble brothers – Assen and Peter, overthrew the domination of the Byzantine Empire. The Second Bulgarian Kingdom was founded, and Turnovo became the new capital. After 1186, Bulgaria was initially ruled by Assen, and after that by Peter.

The medieval Bulgarian Empire began to weaken and this resulted in the division of Bulgaria into two kingdoms: the kingdoms of Vidin and Turnovo. Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1396 and the Ottoman rule had duration of 500 years.

Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman rule were set by the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78  that led to the re-establishment of Bulgarian state with the Treaty of San Stefano of 3 March 1878. According to this treaty, the Ottoman Empire was deprived of a big part of its territory.

On 5 September 1944 the Soviet Army entered Bulgaria and on 9 September the Fatherland Front Government, headed by Kimon Georgiev, came into power. In 1946, after a referendum, Bulgaria was proclaimed a People’s Republic. According to the pre-arranged agreements between the Great Allied forces by the end of WW II, Bulgaria remained within the zone of strong Soviet dominance. The Bulgarian Communist Party came into power and ruled the country over 50 years.

The date 10 November 1989 marked the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria. A new Constitution was adopted (1991), the multy-party political system was restored, economic reform, privatisation and restitution of the land and real estate expropriated after 1947 started. In 1990 Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev became the first democratically elected President of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Bulgaria has completed its EU accession negotiations at the end of 2004 and signed the Accession Agreement on 25 April 2005.

The full membership in the EU starts on 1 January 2007.

Bulgarian Traditions

Acquiring knowledge about the traditions of celebrating some past Bulgarian customs and rites will not only give you information but also will help you get a deeper perspective on Bulgarian life and people, it will let you submerge into Bulgarian spiritual mood.
Bulgarian Cuisine
Cuisine of Bulgaria is a special subject. The country is one of the world leaders in number of long-livers. And the reason of such high life interval is first of all the healthy food. Abundance of fruit and vegetables, delicious national dishes for which local cooks are famous, turn stay here into a gastronomic pleasures holiday.

The Bulgarian cuisine is rich in delightful and exotic dishes: Bansko-style kapama (meat and vegetables stewed in an earthenware dish), Rhodope cheverme (lamb roasted on a spit over an open fire), Thracian katmi (a special type of pancake) and Dobroudjanska banitsa, Danube fish soup and Sozopol-style mussels. You can enjoy Shopska salad and chilled grape brandy, stuffed vine leaves or peppers, kavarma the Miller’s Way, monastery-style hotchpotch, moussaka and kebab in cosy Bulgarian folk-style restaurants.
Bulgarian Wines
Wine has been known in the land of Bulgaria since ancient times. Archaeology, folklore and literature provide ample evidence that wine grapes have thrived in these lands ever since the late Stone Age.

Today grape growing and wine making play a crucial role in the country’s economy. The delicate white wines Dimyat, Misket and Riesling are followed by full reds such as Merlot, Cabernet and Gamza. The Bulgarian white and red wines such as Gumza, Dimyat, Pamid, Muscat, Misket, Mavrud and Melnik are well known in the whole region.

National Holidays

1 January – New Year’s Day
3 March – National Holiday /Bulgaria’s Liberation from the Ottoman Empire/
1 May – Labor and International Worker’s Solidarity Day
6 May – Gergyovden (St. George’s Day), and the Bulgarian Army’s Day
24 May – Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavic Script Day
6 September – Unification Day
22 September – Independence Day
1 November – Day of the Bulgarian Enlighteners (Holiday for all educational institutions)
24 December – Christmas Eve
25, 26 December – Christmas Days
Easter Holidays– 4 days /Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and Monday/ according to the Orthodox calendar of the year

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