Bulgaria: country overview23 May 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 12 February 2013
Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, averaged more than 6% growth from 2004 to 2008, driven by significant amounts of foreign direct investment.
Year of EU entry: 2007
Member of Schengen area:No
Political system: Republic
Capital city: Sofia
Total area: 111 910 km²
Population: 7.6 million
Listen to the official EU language: Bulgarian
Located in the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria offers a highly diverse landscape: the north is dominated by the vast lowlands of the Danube and the south by the highlands and elevated plains. In the east, the Black Sea coast attracts tourists all year round.
Founded in 681, Bulgaria is one of the oldest states in Europe. Its history is marked by its location near Europe’s frontier with Asia. Some 85% of the population are Orthodox Christians and 13% Muslims. Around 10% of the population are of Turkish origin while 3% are Roma. Similarly, its traditional dishes are a mixture of east and west. The most famous Bulgarian food must be yoghurt, with its reputed gift of longevity for those who consume it regularly.
The Bulgarian National Assembly (a single chamber parliament) consists of 240 members who are elected for a four-year period.
Bulgaria’s main exports are light industrial products, foods and wines, which are successfully competing on European markets.
Fans of folk music will be familiar with a number of Bulgarian musicians. A Bulgarian folk song was included on the Voyager Golden Record which was sent into outer space by NASA. Famous Bulgarians include philosopher Julia Kristeva, Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1981, and Christo Javachev (“Christo”), the creator of many unorthodox outdoor sculptures.
Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, averaged more than 6% annual growth from 2004 to 2008, driven by significant amounts of bank lending, consumption, and foreign direct investment. Successive governments have demonstrated a commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but the global downturn sharply reduced domestic demand, exports, capital inflows, and industrial production. GDP contracted by 5.5% in 2009, stagnated in 2010, despite a significant recovery in exports, grew 1.7% in 2011, and approximately 1% in 2012. Despite having a favorable investment regime, including low, flat corporate income taxes, significant challenges remain. Corruption in public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime continue to hamper the country's investment climate and economic prospects.
Source: European Commission, CIA - The World Factbook