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Data about Bulgaria

Area: 110,993.6 sq km

Population: 7,973, 673 (2001)

Capital city: Sofia

Official language: Bulgarian

Alphabet: Cyrillic

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

 

Geographically and in terms of climate, Bulgaria features notable diversity with the landscape ranging from the Alpine snow-capped peaks in Rila, Pirin and the Balkan Mountains to the mild and sunny Black Sea coast; from the typically continental Danubian Plain (ancient Moesia) in the north to the strong Mediterranean climatic influence in the valleys of Macedonia and in the lowlands in the southernmost parts of Thrace.

Phytogeographically, Bulgaria straddles the Illyrian and Euxinian provinces of the Circumboreal region within the Boreal kingdom. According to the WWF and to the European Environment Agency's Digital Map of European Ecological Regions, the territory of Bulgaria subdivides into two main ecoregions: the Balkan mixed forests and Rhodope montane mixed forests. However, small parts of four other ecoregions also occur on Bulgarian territory

The Balkan Peninsula derives its name from the Balkan or Stara Planina mountain-range, which runs through the centre of Bulgaria and extends into eastern Serbia.

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Bulgaria comprises portions of the regions known in classical times as Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia. The mountainous southwest of the country has two alpine ranges — Rila and Pirin — and further east stand the lower but more extensive Rhodope Mountains. The Rila range includes the highest peak of the Balkan Peninsula, Musala, at 2,925 meters (9,596 ft); the long range of the Balkan mountains runs west-east through the middle of the country, north of the famous Rose Valley. Hilly country and plains lie in the southeast, along the Black Sea coast in the east, and along Bulgaria's main river, the Danube in the north.

 

Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cool and damp winters, very hot and dry summers, and Mediterranean influence along the Black Sea coast. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains influences climate throughout the country: northern Bulgaria gets slightly cooler and receives more rain than the southern regions. Precipitation in Bulgaria averages about 630 millimetres per year. Drier areas include Dobrudzha and the northern coastal strip, while the higher parts of the Rila and Stara Planina Mountains receive the highest levels of precipitation. In summer, temperatures in the south of Bulgaria often exceed 40 degrees Celsius, but remain cooler by the coast. A site near Plovdiv has recorded the highest known temperature: 46.7 degrees Celsius.

Prehistoric cultures in the Bulgarian lands include the Neolithic Hamangia culture and Vin?a culture (6th to 3rd millennia BC), the eneolithic Varna culture (5th millennium BC; see also Varna Necropolis), and the Bronze Age Ezero culture. The Karanovo chronology serves as a gauge for the prehistory of the wider Balkans region.

The Thracians, the earliest known identifiable people to inhabit the present-day territory of Bulgaria, have left traceable marks among all the Balkan region despite its tumultuous history of many conquests. The Panagyuriste treasure ranks as one of the most splendid achievements of the Thracian culture.

The Thracians lived divided into numerous separate tribes until King Teres united most of them around 500 BC in the Odrysian kingdom, which peaked under the kings Sitalces and Cotys I (383-359 BC). In 188 BC the Romans invaded Thrace, and warfare continued until 45 AD when Rome finally conquered the region. The conquerors quickly Romanised the population. By the time the Slavs arrived, the Thracians had already lost their indigenous identity and had dwindled in number following frequent invasions.

Bulgaria joined NATO on March 29, 2004 and signed the European Union Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005. It became a full member of the European Union on 1 January 2007. The country had joined the United Nations in 1955, and became a founding member of OSCE in 1995. As a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty, Bulgaria takes part in the administration of the territories situated south of 60° south latitude.

Georgi Parvanov, the President of Bulgaria since 22 January 2002, won re-election on 29 October 2006 and began his second term in office in January 2007. (Bulgarian voters directly elect their presidents for a five-year term with the right to one re-election.) The president serves as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He also chairs the Consultative Council for National Security. While unable to initiate legislation other than Constitutional amendments, the President can return a bill for further debate, although the parliament can override the President's veto by vote of a majority of all MPs.

Since 17 August 2005 Sergey Stanishev as Prime Minister has chaired the Council of Ministers, the principal body of the executive branch, which presently consists of 20 ministers. The Prime Minister — usually nominated by the largest parliamentary group — receives the mandate of the President to form a cabinet.

The current governmental coalition comprises the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (representing mainly the Turkish minority).

The Bulgarian unicameral parliament, the National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie (??????? ????????), consists of 240 deputies, each elected for four-year terms by popular vote. The votes go to parties or to coalition-lists of candidates for each of the 28 administrative divisions. A party or coalition must win a minimum of 4% of the vote in order to enter parliament. Parliament has the responsibility for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, selection and dismissal of the Prime Minister and other ministers, declaration of war, deployment of troops outside of Bulgaria, and ratification of international treaties and agreements.

The most recent elections took place in June 2005. The next scheduled elections should take place in summer 2009.

The Bulgarian judicial system consists of regional, district and appeal courts, as well as a Supreme Court of Cassation. In addition, Bulgaria has a Supreme Administrative Court and a system of military courts. A qualified majority of two-thirds of the membership of the Supreme Judicial Council elects the Presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and of the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as the Prosecutor General, from among its members; the President of the Republic then appoints those elected. The Supreme Judicial Council has charge of the self-administration and organization of the Judiciary.

The Constitutional Court supervises the review of the constitutionality of laws and statutes brought before it, as well as the compliance of these laws with international treaties that the Government has signed. Parliament elects the twelve members of the Constitutional Court by a two-thirds majority: the members serve for a nine-year term.

The territory of the Republic of Bulgaria subdivides into provinces and municipalities. In all, Bulgaria has 28 provinces, each headed by a provincial governor appointed by the government. In addition, the country includes 263 municipalities.

A country often described as lying at the crossroads linking the East and West, Bulgaria functioned as the hub of Slavic Europe during much of the Middle Ages, exerting considerable literary and cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world by means of the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools. Bulgaria also gave the world the Cyrillic alphabet, the second most-widely used alphabet in the world, which originated in these two schools in the tenth century AD.

 

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A number of ancient civilizations, most notably the Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs, and Bulgars, have left their mark on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. The country has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

Note also the Varna Necropolis, a 3500-3200BC burial-site, purportedly containing the oldest examples of worked gold in the world.

Bulgaria's contribution to humanity continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with individuals such as John Atanasoff — a United States citizen of Bulgarian descent, regarded as the father of the digital computer. A number of noted opera-singers (Nicolai Ghiaurov, Boris Christoff, Raina Kabaivanska, Ghena Dimitrova), Anna Veleva, the world-famous harpist Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean and successful artists (Christo Yavashev, Pascin, Vladimir Dimitrov) popularized the culture of Bulgaria abroad.

One of the best internationally-known artists, Valya Balkanska sang the song Izlel e Delyu Haydutin, part of the Voyager Golden Record selection of music included in the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir also known as Mystery of Bulgarian voices has also attained a considerable degree of fame.

A uniquecustom called nestinarstvo distinguishes the Strandja region. Customs include dancing into fire or over live embers.

 

 

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