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.
For centuries, the roads passing through the territory of the country have been connecting Europe with Asia and Africa. Four common European transport corridors, connecting West and North Europe with the eastern and southern part of the continent, cross their roads here.
Bulgaria is also known for its picturesque nature and rich cultural heritage. According to the statistics, the country ranks third in Europe only after Greece and Italy for the number of its valuable archeological monuments.
On this page, you will find general information about the country: history, state structure, economy and the national symbols.
Area: 110,993.6 sq km
Population: 7,973, 673 (2001)
Capital city: Sofia
Religion: There is freedom of religious confessions. Traditional religion in the Republic of Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox Christianity
National holiday: March 3, the day of the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman domination (1878)
Monetary unit: the Bulgarian Lev
Administrative division: 28 regions, named after their respective regional centres.
State system: a parliamentary republic with a one-chamber parliament (National Assembly), consisting of 240 national representatives, elected for a four-year term of service. The head of state of the republic is the President, elected for a five-year term of service. The Council of Ministers is the main body of executive power.
Relief: most diverse. Average height above sea level ? 470 m. Some 31.5% of the country?s territory is plain (up to 200 m above sea level), 41% are lowlands and hilly regions (from 200 to 600 m above sea level), and 27.5% are mountains (from 600 to more than 1,600 m above sea level).
Climate: moderate continental with Black Sea influence in the east and Mediterranean ? in the south.
Waters: rivers (main rivers are Danube, Maritsa, Mesta, Strouma, Iskar, Yantra); warm and cold mineral springs (more than 600); lakes ? coastal (some with curative mineral mud) and of glacial origin (in the Rila and Pirin mountains).
Plant and animal world: extremely diverse. An Act on the Protected Territories is operating in Bulgaria, aimed at the preservation of the country?s flora and fauna. It has specified the following categories in the country: a national and nature park, a reserve and a tended reserve, a natural sight, a protected locality.
Economy: Bulgaria has been an associated member of the European Union (EU) since 1992. In 1997 an agreement was signed with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for economic stabilization and for the carrying through of economic reforms in the country. A currency board was introduced. The national monetary unit has been referred to the EURO. A structural reform is underway aimed at an economic growth, a functioning market economy and at paving the way for foreign investments in the country.
Transport: railway, automobile, air and water.
International automobile sign: BG
International telephone code: +359
Additional usefull information
Capital: Sofia (1.2 mil. Inhabitants)
Official language: Bulgarian, alphabet – Cyrillic
Religion: Orthodox (85%), Muslim (8%), others (7%)
Time zone: GMT (London) + 2 hours, East-European time (Germany) + 1 hour
Climate: Continental to Mediterranean in the South parts of the country. Average temperatures during January vary from -2 to 2 degrees centigrade in the valleys to – 10 degrees centigrade in the mountains. Average temperatures for June vary from 19-25 degrees centigrade in the valleys to 10 degrees centigrade in the high mountains. Rainfalls are 450-600 mm in the valleys to 1300 mm in the mountains.
Electricity: 220 V, 50 Hz
Entrance in the country: Most of the foreign citizens entering Bulgaria don’t need visa but they must carry their valid international passport. The list of the countries which citizens need visa, when entering Bulgaria, can be found at www.mfe.government.bg
Custom’s formalities and limitations:
Upon crossing the state border of the Republic of Bulgaria passengers may import and export duty free commodities that in type, quantities, and value are not of a commercial nature and personal belongings. Common custom declarations and restrictions are applied for import and export of currency, food, alcohol and goods. There is a special custom regime for antiquarian objects, historic and cultural treasures, medicines, narcotics, weapons, ammunitions.
Money exchange: The Bulgarian Lev is pegged to the Euro. 1 EUR = 1.955 BGN.
You may exchange money in banks and in any of the numerous exchange offices. Some of those offices are opened during the holidays. Euro-checks may be cashed on a lot of banks.
Approximate Exchange Rates for 1 BGN:
1 USD 1.35 LEVA
1 EURO 1.95 LEVA
1 CHF 1.34 LEVA
1 GBP 2.30 LEVA
Credit cards: Most of the hotels work with VISA, Master Card or American Express.
Transportation: Roads - 37.3 thousand km.; railways - 6.5 thousand km. (65 % electrical). Sea ports – Varan and Burgas. Danube ports – Russe, Lom , Vidin, Silistra etc. International airports – Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas and Varna.
Taxi-cabs: In towns and resorts there are taxi-cabs situated in the respective taxi ranks. People can take a taxi by calling a taxi company or in the street.
Urban transport: In towns there is urban transport: buses and mini-buses. In Sofia there are trams, trolley buses and underground. Tickets are usually bought before getting on the vehicle.
Car rental : You can rent a car from international rent-a-car companies such as AVIS, Hertz, Budget , Eurocar, etc. Many of the hotels in Bulgaria offer this service through a licensed Bulgarian rent a car companies.
Post offices and telecommunication: Working time of post offices is from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Postage stamps and postcards may be bought from the desks in the post office or from pavilions selling newspapers. There are a lot of internet-cafes from which you may talk cheap or send e-mails (most of them work 24 hours).
Local and international telephone services are covered through automatic street telephones operating with tokens and calling cards. Tokens for local calls (0.20 leva) and calling cards are available for purchase from any post office or places where newspapers are sold.
Dialling code for Bulgaria from abroad +359
Emergency telephone number: 112
Traffic police – car accidents +359 2/ 982 72 823, 866 50 60
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