Fast Facts

Population:
7,741,000
Capital:
Sofia; 1,076,000
Area:
110,994 square kilometers (42,855 square miles)
Language:
Bulgarian
Religion:
Bulgarian Orthodox, Muslim
Currency:
Lev
Life Expectancy:
72
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $6,500
Literacy Percent:
92
Flag: Bulgaria
Map: Bulgaria

Bulgaria, in southeastern Europe, is dominated by rugged mountains, except for the Danube lowland in the north that it shares with Romania. Rich farmland in the Danube Valley, 130 kilometers (80 miles) of sandy beaches on the Black Sea, and mountainous terrain characterize one of Eastern Europe's least densely populated nations. Most of the population is urban; about 83 percent are Orthodox Christians, and some 12 percent are Muslim—the Rhodope Mountains, along the border with Greece, are home to many Muslims, including an ethnic Turkish minority.

Bulgarians have a tradition of gratitude towards Russians, who in 1878 helped end 500 years of Ottoman Empire rule. After World War II, communists gained control, and agriculture led the economy until the 1950s, when Russians from the Soviet Union helped finance steel mills, chemical plants, and machine shops. In 1989 communist rule ended and democratic change began. Tourists flock to Black Sea resorts and to Rila National Park, Bulgaria's largest. Kazanluk, a town in central Bulgaria and heart of the famous Valley of the Roses, exports rose oil—a precious ingredient in world perfume production. As economic conditions improved, Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Electricity, gas and water; food, beverages, and tobacco
  • Agriculture: Vegetables, fruits, tobacco; livestock
  • Exports: Clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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