Bulgaria is situated in Southeast Europe and occupies an area of 111 000 sq. km in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula . The average altitude is 470 m.
Our country is small yet wondrous, located on the European continent Bulgaria is still waiting to be discovered. Its Black Sea and winter ski resorts have already become popular to travelers from around the world. However Bulgaria 's most precious treasures – its beautiful nature, rich cultural and historical heritage, and uniquely preserved folklore and traditions in small hidden villages, are still unknown to many visitors.
Bulgaria offers a little bit for all. Famous for it's unique and gorgeous landscapes it will give you the opportunity to spend a vacation of a lifetime. No matter what you are looking for you will find it here: from the wild mountain ranges and slopes to the endless sandy beaches along the Black Sea coast. Really, it is incredible that such a small territory has so much to offer, no wonder they call it Switzerland of the Balkans.
Bulgaria occupies a relatively small area - 111 000 sq. km, but is nevertheless distinguished by generous and varied nature - a sea with a 380 km. long coastal strip and golden beaches, 16 mountains with their own characteristic features, shelters valleys and high plateaus, over 550 curative mineral springs, dozen of unique natural phenomena and 2000 thrilling caves, a healthy climate and diverse flora and fauna.
Total: 110,910 sq km, Water: 360 sq km, Land: 110,550 sq km
The Population of Bulgaria amounts to about 8 million people. Over 1.6 million people live in the capital - Sofia . The main cities are Plovdiv , Varna , Bourgas, Rousse, Shoumen, Smolyan, Haskovo, Gabrovo, Pleven .
Capital city - SOFIA
Founded seven thousand years ago, Sofia is the second oldest city in Europe . It has been given several names in the course of history and the remnants of the old cities can still be seen today.
Old Sofia is literally buried beneath a modern facade. The Sheraton Hotel, for instance, sits atop ruins of a city council hall built by Sofia 's Thracian founders in the seventh century B.C. And an ancient Roman residence, elaborate murals and all, lies under the Hotel Rila. The cityscape reflects various rulers over the centuries, notably the Turks. Sofia's most prominent landmark is the domed Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, honoring Russian casualties during Bulgaria's 1877 - 88 War of Liberation that ended 500 years of Ottoman rule. Luxurious mineral springs attracted ancient visitors to Sofia , and still draw modern tourists. Relief is also to be found on Mountain Vitosha -- a granite peak eight km south of the city -- offering skiing in the winter and splendid views of the city all year around .
Bulgaria comprises the classical regions of Thrace , Moesia , and Macedonia and has a civilized history spanning more than 6600 years. It is the sovereign successor of a powerful European medieval empire , the First Bulgarian Empire, which at times covered most of the Balkans and spread its culture and literature among the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe . Centuries later, during the decline of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the country fell under five centuries of Ottoman rule.
Bulgaria was re-established as a constitutional monarchy in 1878, also known as the birth of the Third Bulgarian Empire. After World War II , Bulgaria became a communist state and part of the Eastern Bloc .
Today, Bulgaria functions as a democratic , unitary , constitutional republic , a member of the European Union and of NATO .
Predominantly for the country is Eastern Orthodox. 15% Muslim religion, 10% Catholicons, 10 % Jewels. The Bulgarian Church is autonomous and headed by a Patriarch
Winter time: GMT + 2 hours( October through March). Summer time: GMT + 3 hours (April through September).
January 1 - New Year
March 3 - National day of the Liberation from Ottoman Domination
Easter - Two days (Sunday and Monday)
May 6 - St. George's Day
May 24 - the Day of Bulgarian Culture and Slav Script
September 6 - National Day of Bulgaria's Reunion
September 22 - Independence Day
November 1 - Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders
December 24-26 - Christmas Eve and Christmas
December 31 - New Year's Eve
From the phone unit in your room you may contact the number you wish by direct dialling. You can also make an international call from a public telephone using a phone-card: the yellow ( Bulfon cards ) and the blue ( Mobika cards ). For a foreign call you need at least 100 units.
Most important phone numbers:
0123 - Operator for international calls
1286, 983 308 - Road Assistance
75 361 - Institute for Treatment of Foreign Citizens
798 035 - Sofia Airport - International Flights
722 414 - Sofia Airport - Domestic Flights
121 - Operator long-distance domestic calls
140 - Sending of telegrams
144 - Telephone information service
146 - Emergency Road Service
150 - Emergency Medical Aid
166 - Police/Road patrols
175 - Weather forecast
180 - Exact time ("speaking" clock)
Banks are usually open Monday to Friday, from 09:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. It is best to have your passport with you for you may need it when exchanging currency or cashing cheques. There are also ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines ).
You can use the main international credit cards at the big hotels, the car hire offices, fuel stations, some restaurants and shopping centers, Malls and Department Stores.
Restaurants are open from 07:30 a.m. to 11-12 p.m. , and some of them may be open as long as there are guests. Tips: you are not charged for the service in most of the bars and restaurants, therefore it is accepted to leave a tip of 5-10%. In some restaurants, the service charge is specified in the menu and included in your bill.
The most popular Bulgarian salad - shopska salata (chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers sprinkled with Bulgarian white cheese), kyopulo salad (roasted aubergines, peppers, loads of garlic and parsley), tarator (cold yoghurt and cucumber soup); dishes: kavarma (meat and vegetable stew usually served in individual pots ), kebapcheta (spicy mince meat, sausage shaped and grilled), chushki biurek (fried peppers stuffed with egg and cheese ), sirene po shopski (white cheese, egg, tomatoes, peppers, baked in a pot ), etc.
Bulgaria offers excellent, world-famous red and white wines, as well as grape and plum brandy (rakia in Bulgarian). - You will find the prices surprisingly low. Bulgarians tend to serve food warm, rather than piping hot.
The famous trends of Bulgarian beer are Zagorka, Kamenitza and Astika.
Bulgarian language and alphabet
Bulgarian is a slavonic language. The alphabet is known as Cyrillic after its founders - Sts. Cyril and Methodius. A total of 30 letters.
Climate in Bulgaria
The climate in Northern Bulgaria is moderate continental, while the climate in Southern Bulgaria is intermediate continental tending to Mediterranean . The climate in the regions with an altitude of 1900-2000 m above sea level is mountainous and along the Black Sea coast it is maritime. The climate of the seaside regions is milder in the winter and cooler in the summer than the climate of the interior of the country. The average annual temperature is 10,50C, in winter about 00C (the lowest temperature - 38,30C - was measured in 1947). Average summer temperatures rarely exceed 30°C Marked by four distinct seasons.
Custom's Formalities and Limitations
A "Passenger" is any individual passing the state borderline of the Republic of Bulgaria. Upon crossing the state borderline of the Republic of Bulgaria passengers may import and export commodities that in type, quantities, and value are not of a commercial nature. These do not include objects the passenger carry for personal use and consumption objects. Passengers have the right to import at no custom duty or import fees the objects necessary to the foreign individuals for their stay in the country, which in their type and quantity correspond to both purpose and the duration of their stay, as well as consumption objects:
- Tobacco products (passengers over 16 years of age) - cigarettes - 200 items, or other tobacco products - 250 gr.;
- Alcoholic beverages (passengers over 16 years of age) - wine - 2 litres, and alcoholic liquors - 1 litre;
- Other drinks: coffee - 500 gr., or coffee extract - 200 gr., tea - 100 gr.., or tea extract - 40 gr.;
- Perfumes - 50 ml. and toilet water - 0, 250 ml.
Passengers who are under full 16 years of age are not entitled to duty-free import of the commodities listed above, except for medications.
Passenger older than 16 can import duty-free commodities acquired abroad other than the listed above at a total value up to US$ 100 or the equivalent in other currency units. For passengers under 16 the duty-free import rate for commodities acquired abroad is US$ 50 or their equivalent in other currency units.
Personal use objects, new and used, which a passenger may normally need during one's trip, taking into account all circumstances of the travel, are placed under the regime of temporary import with a full exemption of all customs dues. Re-exporting personal belongings cannot take place later than the moment when the natural person who has imported them is leaving the customs territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Currency and Currency Regulations
The currency unit in the Republic of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (plural form - leva /levs/) or BGN.
1 lev = 100 stotinki
Pegged exchange rate: EUR 1 = BGN 1.955 83
Foreigners may export and import Bulgarian banknotes and coins in circulation to the amount of up to BGN 10,000. Sums exceeding this amount may be imported and exported only with a permit by the BNB (Bulgarian National Bank), valid for a period of up to 90 days of its issuance date.
Upon entering and exiting the customs territory of the Republic of Bulgaria foreigners obligatorily fill in a declaration after a sample for the following currency value they carry:
- Bulgarian banknotes and coins in circulation in amounts over BGN 10,000;
- Bulgarian coins in circulation of numismatic value;
- Foreign currency equal to more than US$ 1,000;
- Shares issued by foreign entities in foreign currency, obligation notes, treasury-bonds, investment and depository certificates, cheques, bills of exchange, order bills, credit letters and other similar valuable papers;
- Precious metals and precious stones and products of these other than the usual amounts for personal and family use - in type, weight, and value;
- Coins, containing gold, silver and platinum - in type, weight, and value;
- Other (hard) currency values.
The export is prohibited of articles, coins of gold, silver, and platinum of historic, archaeological, artistic, and numismatic value included, except for the cases when there is a permit issued by the Minister of culture.
Foreigners leaving the customs territory of the Republic of Bulgaria may export precious metals in the form of ingots, articles made of them and precious stones, as well as coins containing precious metals within the amounts imported and declared, as well as articles purchased within the country, whose equivalence does not exceed the amount of the foreign convertible currency imported and declared by them.