Geography and People of Bulgaria
The local time in Bulgaria is + 2 hours from the West- European time (GMT) and + 1 hour from the Central-European time (CET – Paris, Rome). Summer time is from late March through late October.
The Republic of Bulgaria is situated in the North-Eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It covers a territory of 110, 993 square kilometers. The Republic of Bulgaria borders on Romania to the North, Greece to the South, Turkey to the South-East, Serbia and Montenegro to the West and Macedonia to the South-West. The Black Sea is the natural eastern border of Bulgaria and its coastline is 378 km long.
Situated on a relatively small area, Bulgaria’s relief is quite varied, altitudes ranging from 0 and 2,925 m above sea level. The average altitude of the country is 470 meters above sea level. 30 percent of its territory is mountainous. The highest mountain is Rila with the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula – Mount Musala (2925 m).
Mount Musala, Bulgaria
The unique arrangement of the rocks in Pobiti Kamani (fossil forest) locality near Varna will take your breath away; in the Rhodopes Mountains, you will be overwhelmed by the picturesque rocks of the Buynovsko and Trigradsko Gorges formed by mountain rivers for millions of years, or by the sight of Cape Emine at the Black Sea, where water and stone have sculptured the coastline.
Even more exalted you will feel at the sight of the Belogradchik Rocks - a chain of fortification rocks and rock pieces, or amidst the mosaic of sand pyramids and old houses in Melnik. If you want to go back to nature, you can climb up the rock rivers (moraines) of Vitosha or climb down into the underground realm of the Uhlovitsa and the Yagodinska Caves.
When you are at the top of the Balkan Mountain peaks, you will hear the legends about the folk hero Krali Marko, and in Krastova gora (the Forest of the Cross) you will source cosmic energy.
The country is one of the richest in the world in mineral water springs. Mineral waters rich in salts and iron spring from the bowels of the earth. Over 75 percent of the mineral waters are warm to hot, with temperature from 37° to 100° .
The Danube is the navigable river of Bulgaria, which connects it with Central and Western Europe. The interior of the country is strewn with rivers, the biggest of which are the Maritsa, the Strouma, the Yantra, the Iskar, the Vit. They together with a number of dams and mountain lakes form the country’s impressive water resources.
One of the most remarkable landmarks to see are the Seven Rila Lakes. The big dams Dospat, Batak, Iskar, Arda are actively used for recreation, sports, tourism and fishing. The Black Sea Coast with its golden sand, big beaches, the authentic atmosphere of the towns and villages attract millions of tourists.
Rila Lakes in Bulgaria
Territorial and Administrative Division
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. The country is divided into 28 districts and 258 municipalities. 6 plan regions have been defined in the country as well in conformity with EU requirements.
Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria: 1,2 million inhabitants (census 2002)
The official language is Bulgarian, and the official alphabet is Cyrillic. The Bulgarian language belongs to the group of the Slavonic languages. The languages most similar to it are Russian and Serbo-Croatian. English is the most common foreign language. Almost all young people in the cities speak English. French, German and Russian are also spoken.
Religion and Ethnic Groups
East Orthodox Christians (82,7%), Muslims (12,1%), Catholics (0,6%), Protestants (0,5%), others (4,1%)