Bulgaria is one of the oldest European countries, founded in 681 at the heart of the Balkans. Bulgarian history was not always smooth. During some periods, the country was dominated by different groups, becoming part of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Have you heard about them in your history classes? If not, be curious, search your books or ask your teacher. After a series of uprisings and with the help of Russia, independence was declared in 1879.
Bulgaria was a communist country until 1989 and faced a lot of difficulties during the transit to democracy and market economy. The early 1990s was a very unstable time, but, with the possibility of joining the European Union (EU), things quickly changed. Economic reforms were put in place to control the inflation and reduce unemployment. In 2007, it finally became a member of the EU. Investments boosted the economy, making Bulgaria a very different country from 10 years ago. However, there are still important challenges to overcome such as corruption.
Bulgaria is also known for its beautiful landscape: lowlands in the north, highlands in the south and wonderful beaches along the Black Sea coast. With so many options, what part of the country would you prefer?
Let’s find out more about Bulgaria!
The Bulgarian flag has three equal horizontal bands of white, green and red. The white represents freedom; the green is a reference to the forests and fields; and the red stands for the sacrifice of those who died fighting for Bulgarian independence.
Topic Details Full name: Republic of Bulgaria Full local name: Република България, Republika Balgariya Capital: Sofia Nationality: Bulgarian(s) Size: 110,994 sq km (42,855 sq miles) Population: 7.5 million Language: Bulgarian Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 77 years (women) Major religions: Christianity 83.8%, Islam 12.2% Urban population: 71% of total
Do you know about the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases? Bulgaria has been one of the leaders in implementing the targets. Part of this success comes from the collapse of the communism and the closure of many heavy industries.
On the other side, Bulgaria had to develop very quickly to achieve the standards required by the European Union. The emissions may have dropped, but there are other environmental problems to be solved: air and water pollution caused by industries, deforestation, soil contamination by the use of pesticides and chemicals, and decrease in biodiversity.
Waste recycling is very common in European countries, but not so much in Bulgaria. Investment and political will are still required. Bulgarian students can do their part by promoting separate waste collection in their school and community.
Bulgarian artists are well known for their particular way of singing that strengthens and amplifies the voice. Traditional Bulgarian music also has an uneven beat, which sounds quite unbalanced for those who are not used to it.
Each region has its own style but one thing in common: folklore music is the soundtrack of all celebrations, such as weddings, New Year’s Day and regional feasts. Bulgarian folklore is also famous worldwide.
A lot of different instruments are used. The most traditional are thegadulka, which looks like a violin; the gaida, similar to a bagpipe; thetarambuka, a finger drum; and the tupan, a drum with a large frame that musicians place over the shoulder.
Watch these videos and have a taste of Bulgarian music and dance!
Bulgarian cuisine is diverse: salad with each meal, a variety of cold and hot soups, dairy products and traditional pastries. Where to start? Well, you could try the delicious shopska salad made with tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, salt, oil and traditional Bulgarian feta cheese. Another famous food is the natural yoghurt, also used in cold soups and drinks.
Bulgarians are not a big fan of deep-frying, so most of their meals are baked, steamed or stewed and served with vegetables and salad. Pork and chicken are the most popular meat. Are you curious about some traditional dishes? Among the most famous are the kavarma, a stew of vegetables and small pieces of different meats, and thegyuvech, cooked with a variety of vegetables and sometimes with meat. How would you prefer your kavarma or gyuvech?
If you are not very hungry, you can try one of the traditional Bulgarian snacks. The most popular is the banitza, a pastry with cheese or spinach, eggs, yoghurt and oil.
Bulgaria is also an important exporter of wine.
The cost of living in Bulgaria is relatively low compared to other European countries. Once communism was over and the country had to boost the economy, guess what happened? People started moving to the main cities, leaving large parts of rural areas under-populated. But if you want to have a taste of traditional Bulgarian life, the countryside is still the best place to go.
In the big cities, there is a mix of old and contemporary styles, particularly visible in the architecture. And tourists are very welcome. A lot of fashionable resorts were built in the coastal area and in the mountains.
When talking to a Bulgarian, you will notice how patriotic they are. They can have some problems, but will leave you with a very good impression about their beautiful country.
The educational system consists of primary school (grades 1 – 4), secondary schools (grades 5-7) and high schools – general or professional (grades 8-12). University graduation consists of Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees. The school year starts in mid-September and lasts until mid-June.
Events and national holidays
It will not be easy for Bulgaria to reach the targets promised by the European Union. As other countries from Eastern Europe, Bulgaria still has to improve the economy and, sometimes, emissions cut can slow down the pace of development. This is the same reason for why developing countries who don’t want to commit to high targets.
EU Climate Package
Bulgaria must follow the EU legislation. In 2009, following months of negotiation, the bloc adopted a wide-ranging climate package, known as 20-20-20 targets. It includes three objectives to be achieved by 2020 across Europe:
20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with the amount of EU emissions in 1990.
20% of energy consumption must come from renewable sources. This target was redistributed among EU members and Bulgaria’s goal is 16%.
20% cut in energy consumption. Within this target, 10% of transport fuels must come from renewable, such as bio-fuels.
The EU also offered to increase the emissions cut to 30%, if other major polluters follow the effort – especially the United States. But Bulgaria, among the most energy-intensive economies in the EU, is against it.
Some industry representatives consider the targets ‘unrealistic’ for the country. On the other side, experts say that achieving the EU targets will help Bulgaria to boost its competitiveness and stimulate the creation of new technologies.
To know more about EU initiatives access http://ec.europa.eu/environment/
Another very interesting website with policy analyses is the EurActiv http://www.euractiv.com/en
Bulgaria has been one of the leaders in implementing the targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol. The country committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8%, based on 1990 levels, between 2008 and 2012, and has already achieved this goal. Part of the success comes from the collapse of the communism and the closure of many heavy industries.
For more information on Bulgaria’s policies, have a look at the Ministry of Environment and Water website - http://www2.moew.government.bg/index_e.html
Bulgarian Energy Strategy
In the summer of 2010 the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism held public hearings and discussions about the new Bulgarian Energy Strategy. The Strategy has not been adopted yet, but you can read a presentation from the Minister about the strategy here: http://www.mi.government.bg/eng/bids.html?id=319212
Plantig of "the trees of the future" in Strandzha mountains
A new method for planting trees is used in Strandzha
www.sinoptik.bg (15 August 2011)http://www.sinoptik.bg/?tid=40&oid=2551295
Hydroelectric power stations on Danube developed in partnership with Bulgaria
The Romanian and Bulgarian authorities in the energy field are interested in developing hydroelectric power stations on the river Danube in partnership, according to a release issued by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and the Business Environment (MECMA).
ActMedia (9 September 2010)
Plastic bags with ecotax
The Eco ministry introduces a new tax on plastic bags to reduce their usage. Read more on:
dir.bg (21 October 2011)http://dnes.dir.bg/news/torbichki-nilon-nona-karajova-9740777?nt=4
Global Weather Goes Crazy
Weatherman forecast an unprecedented boom of climate anomalies, warns the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Standart News (19 September 2010)
Ministry of the Environment and Water of Bulgaria awarded 'GREEN BUSINESS'
Whithin the Global Enviromental day - 6th of June, the MOEW awarded companies for their green initiatives. Bella Bulgaria won at the category Large business for its project "The Forest of Perelik" - rehabilitation of burnt woods in the Rhodopi Mountains.
Regal (07 June 2011)
Last Updated (Thursday, 06 January 2011 11:08)