Information for the Republic of Bulgaria

Country Profile

Bulgaria: General information

Population:

7 504 868 (3629 809 male / female 3 875 059)

Workforce:

4.6 million

Urban population:

73%

Capital:

Sofia

Time zone:

Summer (DST):

EET (UTC+2)

EEST (UTC+3)

Area:

110 910 square kilometers / 42 822 square kilometers

Land area:

108 489 square kilometers

Water area:

2 390 square kilometers

Climate:

Moderate Continental and Mediterranean

Languages:

Bulgarian - official language

85.2%

Turkish

9.1%

Other languages

English, German, French, Spanish, Russian

Religions:

Orthodox Christianity

76%

Islam

10%

Other

9.3%

Currency:

Bulgarian lev (BGN), pegged to the euro at 1.95583

Corporate tax:

10%

Taxes on personal income:

10%

VAT:

20%

Form of government

Parliamentary Republic

Bulgarian Parliament:

National Assembly with 240 members

Executive:

Council of Ministers
(head: Prime Minister)

Joined EU 2007

Membership in 2004

Membership in 1996

Parliament

Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic and the basic power in the country is the legislative one. The Parliament (The National Assembly) exercises the legislative power, as well as the right to parliamentary control.

The mandate of the National Assembly is a 4 - year one.

The National Assembly consists of 240 MPs. They are elected directly by the voters for a 4 year term, on the basis of the proportional system. So that the parties and the pre-election coalitions enter the National Assembly, they must collect above 4% of the total number of votes at the elections. The MPs of the National Assembly represent not only their election regions, but the whole nation as well. The MPs work in compliance with the Constitution and the legislation, following their conscience and convictions. The National Assembly elects temporary and permanent commissions, where MPs participate. It adopts laws, decisions, declarations and statements. Every member of the National Assembly or the Council of Ministers has the right to introduce a draft of a law. The draft law on the state budget is developed and introduced by the Council of Ministers.

 

Government

The Government (The Council of Ministers) is the main body of the executive power, headed by the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers rules and conducts the internal and foreign policy of the state, secures the public order and the national security, exercises control over the public administration and the military forces.

The Prime Minister to be is nominated by the largest parliamentary group, after which the President hands in the mandate to him for forming the government. The proposed Council of Ministers is voted by the National Assembly, which controls directly the activity of the government.

 

President

The President is the Head of State and is elected with direct elections once in every five years, for not more that two mandates.

The Vice President is elected at the same time, with the same voting paper, and under the same conditions and procedure, as of the President.

The President is the supreme commander of the military forces of the Republic of Bulgaria. He assigns and discharges the supreme command staff of the military forces and promotes the supreme officers into higher ranks on proposals by the Council of Ministers. The President is the Chairperson of the Consultative Council for national security.

 

Local Government Executive Authorities

The status and powers of the local executive authorities depend on the territory structure of the country.

The municipality is the main administrative territorial unit for the local government. The policy of every municipality is determined by the Municipality Council and includes the economic development, the environmental policy, the educational, the cultural, etc. activities. The Municipality Council approves the annual budgets and development plans of the corresponding municipality.

Every municipality is ruled by a Mayor. The Mayor is in charge of the whole executive activity of the municipality, of keeping the public order, and organizes the distribution of the municipality budget.

 

The region is the bigger administrative territorial unit. Through it the governmental local policy is conducted in a decentralized and more effective way. A regional governor, assigned by the Council of Ministers, rules each region.

 

Judiciary Bodies

The judicial power in Bulgaria is independent. It is built up on the basis of a procedure of three instances.

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), and the Supreme Cassation Court (SCC) exercise control over the implementation of the law by the courts of lower instances, and take decisions on the legality of the executive power’s acts.

The Constitutional Court determines if the laws and the international agreements are in compliance with the Constitution.

A Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has been established, which organizes the activity of the judiciary.

The acting Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria was adopted in July 1991. It was built on the basic principles of the contemporary constitutionalism.

The Constitution provides a multi- party parliamentary system and free elections, in which all the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria take part with the right to vote. After the elections, the largest parliamentary group constructs the government. So that the government is approved (The Council of Ministers), as well as for adoption of regular legal acts, general parliament majority is required. Amendments in the Constitution are to be adopted through three quarters of parliament majority.Bulgaria’s territory has been inhabited since earliest historic times – the Stone Age and the Copper Stone Age. Archaeological evidence from that time has been found near Karlovo, in the area of Nova Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Sofia, Teteven, Troyan and the Rhodope Mountain. The oldest gold treasure in the world discovered near Varna also dates from that period.

In the Bronze Age the Thracians, mentioned for the first time by Homer, settled here. They were farmers and stock-breeders and have left evidence of a rich culture (like the Vulchetrun treasure). The first Thracian state organizations emerged in 11th – 6th century B.C., and their heyday was in 7th -6th century B.C. In 1st century B.C. their lands were conquered by the Roman Empire, and after 5th century they were included within Byzantium. The Thracians were gradually assimilated by the Slavs who settled on the Balkan peninsula in 6th century A.D.

In the second half of 7th century A.D. the proto-Bulgarians – people of Turkic origin, settled on the territory of today’s North-East Bulgaria. In an alliance with the Slavs they founded the Bulgarian state, which was recognized by Byzantium in 681. Khan Asparuh, the leader of the proto-Bulgarians, headed the state, and Pliska was declared to the capital of the state.

Under the rule of khan Tervel (700-718) Bulgaria expanded its territory and became a great political power. At the time of khan Krum (803-814) Bulgaria bordered the empire of Charles the Great to the west, and to the east the Bulgarian army reached the walls of Byzantium’s capital Constantinople.

In 864 during the reign of knyaz Boris I Mihail (852-889) the Bulgarians converted to Christianity which became official religion. That smoothed out the ethnic differences between proto-Bulgarians and Slavs and commenced the establishing of a united Bulgarian nationality.

In the end of 9th century the brothers Cyril (Constantine the Philosopher) and Methodius devised and disseminated the Slavonic alphabet. Their disciples Kliment and Naum came to Bulgaria, where they were warmly welcomed and found good conditions for work. They engaged in valuable educational and literary activities. From Bulgaria the Slavonic alphabet spread also to other Slavonic countries like Serbia and Russia. Ohrid and Pliska, and later also the new capital of Veliki Preslav became centres of Bulgarian culture and of Slavonic culture in general.

The rule of Tsar Simeon (893-927) is considered to be the peak of “the Golden age of Bulgarian culture”, and the country bordered the Black Sea, The White Sea and the Aegean Sea.

In 1018 after continued wars Bulgaria was subjugated by Byzantium. The Bulgarians started fighting for their freedom as early as the first years under Byzantine domination. In 1186 the uprising lead by the boyar brothers Asen and Peter threw off the power of Byzantium. The Second Bulgarian Kingdom was founded with capital Tarnovo. After 1186 the country was first ruled by Asen, and then by Peter.

Bulgaria’s former power was restored during the reign of their youngest brother Kaloyan (1197-1207), and during the time of Tsar Ivan Asen II (1218-1241) the Second Bulgarian Kingdom reached its greatest prosperity – it established its political hegemony in south-eastern Europe, expanded its territory to the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea, economy and culture developed. Bulgaria reached another zenith, and that lasted until the end of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1186-1396).

Dissensions among some of the boyars lead to dividing the country into two kingdoms – the Vidin kingdom and the Tarnovo kingdom. That weakened the state and in 1396 it was conquered by the Turkish Empire. For nearly five centuries Bulgaria was under Turkish domination. The first years are characterised by sporadic and unorganised attempts to win freedom. Later rebels called haiduks appeared, and that enabled a better organised national liberation movement to start.

The formation of the Bulgarian nation and Bulgarian enlightenment started in the beginning of 18th century. An impulse for that was the work of the monk Paisiy Hilendarski “Slav-Bulgarian History”, written in 1762. The ideas of national liberation lead to the establishing of an independent national church and the development of education and culture. The beginning of organised revolutionary movement for liberation from Turkish domination is connected with the activities of Georgi Sava Rakovski (1821-1867) – a writer and a publicist, founder and ideologist of the national liberation movement.

The main figures of the liberation movement are Vasil Levski, Lyuben Karavelov, Hristo Botev as well as many other Bulgarians.

The April uprising burst out in 1876, and it was the first large-scale organised attempt to liberate the country from the Ottoman domination. The uprising was cruelly crushed and drowned in blood, but it drew the European countries’ attention to the Bulgarian national issues. In 1878 as a result of the Russian-Turkish liberation war (1877-1878) the Bulgarian state was restored but national unification was not achieved. The former Bulgarian territory was divided into three: Principality Bulgaria was proclaimed headed by prince (knyaz) Alexander of Battenberg; the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia was headed by a Christian Governor appointed by the sultan, and Thrace and Macedonia remained under the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire.

The end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century are characterized by remarkable achievements in all fine arts. This is the time when the following Bulgarian poets and writers created their works: Ivan Vazov, Aleko Konstantinov, Dimcho Debelyanov, Pencho Slaveykov (the only Bulgarian nominated for a Nobel prize laureate), and Peyo Yavorov. The artists An. Mitov, Ivan Angelov, Ivan Murkvichka, Yaroslav Veshin, B. Shats created some of the most remarkable works of that period. The foundations of professional Bulgarian musical culture were laid in the end of 19th century. The first Bulgarian composers are E. Manolov, D. Hristov, G. Atanasov – Maestro.

The decision of partitioning Bulgaria taken at the Congress of Berlin (1878) was never accepted by the people. The Kresna-Razlog uprising (1878-1879) broke out as a result of the decisions in 1878, and in 1885 brought to the unification of Principality Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. The Ilinden-Preobrazhenie prising also burst out (1903).

Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Bulgarian prince since 1887, proclaimed Bulgarian independence from Turkey and in 1908 became the tsar of the Bulgarian people. Bulgaria took part in the Balkan War (19109) and together with Serbia and Greece fought for the freedom of Thrace and Macedonia. Bulgaria won that war, but in the Second Balkan (Inter-Ally)War (1913) that followed it was defeated by Romania, Turkey and its former allies, which detached from Bulgaria territories inhabited by Bulgarians.

Bulgaria’s participation in World War I on the side of the Central Powers ended in a national catastrophe. In 1918 Tsar Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his son Boris III. The 1919 Peace Treaty of Neuilly imposed severe terms on Bulgaria – it was deprived of an outlet to the Aegean, western Thrace became part of Greece, south Dobrudzha was joined to Romania, and the regions round Strumitsa, Bosilegrad, Tsaribrod and villages in the region of Kula were given to the Serbian-Croation-Slovenian kingdom. (South Dobrudzha was reinstated to Bulgaria in 1940 by a treaty between Bulgaria and Romania).

In the early 40-ies Bulgaria pursued policy in the interest of Germany and the Axis Powers. Later the involvement of Bulgarian cavalry platoons at the Eastern Front was terminated. Tsar Boris III stood by public pressures and did not allow deportation of about 50,000 Bulgarian Jews.

In August 1943 Tsar Boris III died and the regency of the young Tsar Simeon II was declared to be the country’s government. The Soviet Army entered Bulgaria on 5 September 1944, and on 9 September a government of the Fatherland Front was established headed by Kimion Georgiev. In 1946 Bulgaria was proclaimed a people’s republic. The mother-queen, Tsar Simeon II and princess Maria Louise left the country through Turkey for Egypt. The Bulgarian communist party came to power. The political parties not participating in the Fatherland Front were banned, the economic enterprises and banks were nationalized, the arable land was forcibly organized in cooperatives. Georgi Dimitrov, Vasil Kolarov, Vulko Chervenkov, Anton Yugov and Todor Jivkov were consecutively heads of government.

The democratic changes in Bulgaria started on 10 November 1989. A new Constitution was adopted, the political parties were restored, the property that had been taken away in 1947 was reinstated, privatisation and restoring land to its previous owners started. In 1990 Jelio Jelev became President of Bulgaria, and he was the first one democratically elected at that post.

EU and NATO membership became main priorities in Bulgaria’s foreign policy. On 10 December 1999 as a result of the country’s considerable progress in meeting membership criteria Bulgaria was invited to start accession negotiations.

The negotiations were launched on 15 February 2000 in Brussels. On 1 December 2000 the Justice and Home Affairs Council of EU took the decision to unconditionally take Bulgaria out of the negative visa list.

Republic of Bulgaria joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 29 March 2004 together with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. That fully corresponds to the national interests and goals of Bulgaria, which considers NATO enlargement process to be above all things an efficient means to deal with the complex challenges to global security.

At the EU Summit on 12-13 December 2004 the leaders of the 25 member states decided that Bulgaria joins EU on 1 January 2007. The European leaders agreed to sign the Treaty of Accession with Sofia and Bucharest in April 2005.

On 1 January 2007, having achieved the membership criteria, Bulgaria became a full member of the European Union.

 

Bulgaria spends 4.2 per cent of its GDP on the education sector.

Schooling is compulsory for children aged between 7 and 6. There is pre-school education, primary, secondary, and higher education in Bulgaria.

School instruction is supported by the Ministry of Education and Science.

One hundred per cent of Bulgarian schools have computer rooms.

The educational system is being modernized with the help of various European programmes and Structural Funds related to the development of education.

National programmes for mainstreaming of children belonging to the minority groups in the country, as well as of children with disabilities, are elaborated.

In recent years, young Bulgarian mathematicians have been placed among the best in International Mathematics and Informatics Olympiads

Bulgarian mathematicians have won 221 medals at international Olympiads: 48 gold, 88 silver, and 85 bronze.
Bulgarians have also brought home 63 medals from International Olympiads in Informatics: 14 gold, 26 silver, and 23 bronze.

Bulgaria will host the International Olympiad in Informatics in 2009.

There are 51 accredited universities in the country, specializing in various fields and recognized abroad.
The St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, the University of National and World Economy, the American University in Bulgaria, the Institute for Foreign Students and a number of other higher schools tutor young Bulgarians for a fine career.

Fifteen per cent of citizens in Bulgaria have higher education.

Under the Higher Education Act, university education is provided at three levels of tuition, leading to a bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degree

 

Bulgarian society has always been associated with sports. According to historical data, competitions were held in the Bulgarian lands back in antiquity. Bulgarians were strong horsemen, athletes and wrestlers.

A number of Bulgarian athletes have won fame for their country during the years. A large part of them set standards in sports, such as the schools of weightlifting, weightlifting, rhythmic gymnastics and gymnastics. Despite the lack of long-standing traditions in some modern sports, Bulgarian competitors excel there, too, such as short track speed skating, aerobic, figure skating. A sample of the best:

Bulgaria's first European champion, Dan Koloff, a 20th century legend. He left for America at age 17, where he began his wrestling career first in fights organized among workers, and later on became the King of the Ketch. Throughout his sports career, he defeated opponents in countries on all five continents, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China. Dan Koloff lost just three of his 1,500 bouts. During all his life, Dan Koloff kept his Bulgarian citizenship and competed as a Bulgarian wrestler.

Neshka Robeva is a noted Bulgarian rhythmic gymnastics competitor and, later, on coach and choreographer. Robeva is the world's only coach who trained several world champions at a series of world championships, using unconventional and new elements in her girls' routines, that propelled them to the top of the victory stand. Robeva invented a new type of gymnastics: not a sport, and not even an art, but a philosophy and a world view. For nearly 25 years of coaching, her charges won 294 models, seven all-around world titles, ten European titles and two silver Olympic medals.

Dimitar Penev is a well-known Bulgarian footballer and coach, who led the national team to a glorious fourth place in the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the US. He has been named Coach of the 20th Century in Bulgaria.

Hristo Stoichkov is a Bulgarian footballer and coach, one of the best known Bulgarians worldwide, a forward. Winner of the prestigious Golden Ball Award in 1994.

Stefka Kostadinova: the Bulgarian Track-and-Field Athletics Queen. She has on her record seven gold medals from indoor and outdoor world and European championships. Olympic champion, Atlanta, 1996. Set the world record in the high jump, 209 cm, in 1997, which remains unbroken to this very day. Currently President of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee.

Evgenia Radanova: a short track speed skaters, who has won seven European champion's title and three Olympic medals: a silver and a bronze in Salt Late City, 2002, and a silver in Turin, 2006. World record holder in the 500 m event.

Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski: world figure skating champions.

Tereza Marinova: European, world and Olympic champion (Sydney 2000) in the triple jump.

Yordan Yovchev is among Bulgaria's most successful gymnasts. Winner of four Olympic medals, twice double champion in the floor exercises and in the rings at the 2001 and 2003 world championships, won two silver medals at the World Championship in Debrecen, 2002, and silver and bronze medals at the Athens Olympics, 2004.

Ekaterina Dafovska: the most successful Bulgarian biathlete. Takes credit for one Olympic and one European title, as well as two bronze medals at world championships.

Vesselin Topalov: Bulgarian chess player, who became the World Chess Champion in 2005. The strongest chess player in this country, who has defeated all famous grand masters in the world and has won a number of international tournaments.

Peter Stoichev: Bulgarian swimmer, seven-times winner of the Marathon Swimming World Cup. On 27 August 2007 set a world record for a cross-Channel swim. Became the first human to cover the distance in less than seven hours.

Armen Nazarian: Armenian-born Bulgarian wrestler, who won a freestyle wrestling gold medal for Bulgaria at the 200 Sydney Olympics.

Tanya Bogomilova won Bulgaria's first Olympic gold in the 100 m breaststroke in the Seoul 1988 Olympics.

Maria Grozdeva: a shooting competitor, winner of numerous European and world titles, and Olympic champion in the women's sport pistol. Holder of an Olympic and European record in the air pistol.

This is a small selection of Bulgarian athletes in whom our country takes pride. They all continue to work for the development and popularization of Bulgarian sports.

 

Economic structure

Bulgaria has a strategic location in the center of Southeastern Europe and the main roads of Europe to the Middle East and Asia pass through

  • Bulgaria is strategically located and provides access to the following markets:
    • South-East Europe – a 122 million inhabitant, high growth market
    • EU – Bulgaria offers the lowest cost , zero tariff access to a 500 million inhabitant market
    • CIS, Middle East and North Africa
  • Bulgaria offers a combination of political and macroeconomic stability and incentives for doing business:
    • Stable parliamentary democracy; EU, NATO and WTO member
    • Bulgaria’s currency is fixed to the Euro under a currency board arrangement
    • Lowest tax rate and one of the lowest labor costs in the EU coupled with special incentives for investors
    • EU funding – more than €8 bn in EU funds over the next years

2013 Economic Snapshot

GDP (€ in bn)

Exports (€ in bn)

Net FDI (% of GDP)

39,9

43,4

3

GDP growth (%)

Unemployment (%)

Inflation rate (%)

0,9

11,8

0,4

Government deficit (% of GDP)

Government debt (% of GDP)

Current account balance (% of GDP)

-1,5

18,9

1,9

Long-term credit ratings:

Moody’s: Baa2 stable

S&P: BBB stable

Fitch: BBB- stable

Source: Bulgarian National Bank, Eurostat

 

Source: Bulgarian National Bank

 

Average government debt and budget deficit/surplus (2008-2013):

 

Average government debt(2008-2013)

Average budget deficit/surplus (2008-2013)

 

Source: Bulgarian National Bank

 

Source: Bulgarian National Bank

 

Taxation in Bulgaria:

 

Source: Bulgarian National Bank

 

Source: National statistical institute in Bulgaria