Bulgaria is a picturesque small country situated in Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey. It occupies the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Since ancient times, the country has served as a major crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, linking the East and West.
Bulgaria is a country of ancient civilisations, friendly people and a turbulent history. After World War II, it became a Communist country and was part of the Eastern Bloc. It was locked behind the iron curtain for almost four decades. The world knew little about this beautiful country and the struggles faced by its people. However, after the Communist domination ended in 1990, Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a free market economy.
Today, Bulgaria functions as a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic. The Bulgarian National Assembly (a single chamber parliament) consists of 240 members who are elected for a four-year period. The countrybecame a member of NATO in 2004 and the European Union (EU) in 2007 and will join Europe's passport-free Schengen group of 25 nations in March 2011. It is also a member of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
Bulgaria is a country of varied landscapes - large mountainous areas, fertile valleys, plains and a coastline along the Black Sea. Sofia is the capital city and it is the financial, commercial and cultural hub of Bulgaria. It is home to most of the major Bulgarian and international companies. The population of Bulgaria is approximately 7.6 million. Bulgarian is the official language and the national currency is Lev.
Bulgaria has experienced very rapid economic growth in recent years, especially after becoming a part of the EU. The Bulgarian economy is an industrialized, open free-market economy. It has a large, moderately advanced private sector and a number of strategic state-owned enterprises. Although it has relatively few reserves of fossil fuels, Bulgaria's well-developed energy sector and strategic geographical location make it a key European energy hub.Bulgaria's mining industry is also a significant contributor to its economic growth. Bulgaria's main exports are light industrial products, foods and wines, which are successfully competing on European markets. The tourism industry is also rapidly developing in Bulgaria because of the country's natural beauty and well-developed infrastructure.