World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

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Bulgaria Travelling Guide
Bulgaria Travelling Guide

General background: The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878, but having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, it fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. Today, reforms and democratization keep Bulgaria on a path toward eventual integration into NATO and the EU - with which it began accession negotiations in 2000.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than Tennessee

Climate: Temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers

Terrain: Mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast

Population: 7,621,337 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Bulgarian 83.6%, Turk 9.5%, Roma 4.6%, other 2.3% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) (1998)

Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 83.8%, Muslim 12.1%, Roman Catholic 1.7%, Jewish 0.8%, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 1.6% (1998)

Language: Bulgarian, secondary languages closely correspond to ethnic breakdown.

Government type: Parliamentary democracy

Capital: Sofia

Legal system: Civil law and criminal law based on Roman law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: Bulgaria, a former communist country striving to enter the European Union, has experienced macroeconomic stability and positive growth rates since a major economic downturn in 1996 led to the fall of the then socialist government. The current government, elected in 2001, has pledged to maintain the fundamental economic policy objectives of its predecessor, i.e., retaining the Currency Board, practicing sound financial policies, accelerating privatisation, and pursuing structural reforms. A $300 million stand-by agreement negotiated with the IMF at the end of 2001 will help the government maintain economic stability as it seeks to overcome high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Communication/Telephone system: Extensive but antiquated, more than two-thirds of the lines are residential; telephone service is available in most villages; a fairly modern digital cable trunk line now connects switching centres in most of the regions, the others are connected by digital microwave radio relay. Direct dialling to 58 countries; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); 2 Intelsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions).

Places of interest: Enjoy Bulgaria's dramatic mountains, haven-like monasteries, churches, mosques, Roman and Byzantine ruins, and the excellent coffee you'll be offered wherever you go.

Travel Tips: What high inflation means for visitors with stronger currencies (that's most of you), is that the ski and beach resorts are ridiculously cheap.