Honey Republic
About us About Bulgaria Origin & Certification Quality & Innovation Flavours Dietary Supplements Contact Us Visit Us Where To Buy Recipies

Bulgaria

Geographic Location

Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. Its territory is located between 44°13' and 41°14' north latitude, 22°22' and 28°37' east longitude. It is a European, Balkan, Black Sea and Danube country. This geographic location places it on the crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Bulgaria is situated closer to the Equator than the pole. It falls within the southern part of the temperate climate zone with subtropical influence. Its location on the transition line between two climate zones influences the climate, soils, vegetation and animal species. All of them are characterized by great diversity. The country's geographic position also determines the relatively wide angle of sunlight that falls on the country, making the country predominantly sunny. The official time in Bulgaria is Eastern European Time, which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Time. The Black and the Aegean Sea also influence the country's climate. The influence of the Mediterranean is extensive for the climate in the southern parts of the country, while the Black Sea influences the climate over an area extending some 40 km inland, supporting diverse flora and fauna. The Danube River is important for the country, both with regard to water resources and for species diversity. Bulgaria's favorable geographic location creates excellent preconditions for the development of tourism.

Bulgaria is also a transport crossroad, affording access to Western Europe, the Near East and the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. A series of major European transport corridors pass through Bulgaria. These corridors include the international highways that connect Western and Central Europe the Near East and the Middle East (through Beograd to Sofia and Svilengrad), including connections to Baghdad and Basra on the Persian Bay; from the Baltic Sea to the Aegean Sea (from Moscow to Kiev, Bucharest, Ruse, and Stara Zagora to Thessaloniki) and to the Adriatic Sea (from Sofia through Skopje to Drach). Another important transport route is the road from Constanta to Varna, Burgas, Tsarevo, Malko Tarnovo and Istanbul. Bulgaria is also connected to the Trans-European networks that lead from Berlin to Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Thessaloniki, and Istanbul and from Durres to Tirana, Skopje, and Sofia to the Black Sea ports of Varna and Burgas. These transport corridors are also serviced by rail. Bulgaria's Black Sea ports connect with all other countries that border the Black Sea countries, offering particularly excellent opportunities for the development of transport through the large bays that front Burgas and Varna. Along the Danube River the country connects with the transport corridor that leads to the Rhine and the network of waterways that crisscross Western Europe.

The total length of Bulgaria's borders is 2,245 km. Of these borders, 1,181 km are on land, 686 km are on rivers, and 378 km are on the sea. Bulgaria borders to the north with Romania, to the east with the Black Sea, to the south with Turkey and Greece, and to the west with Macedonia1 and Serbia. The distances between Sofia and the capitals of the neighboring Balkan states are: Skopje - 239 km, Beograd – 374 km, Bucharest – 395 km, Athens – 837 km, Ankara – 1,012 km. The following checkpoints (BCCP) operate on Bulgaria's borders – along the Bulgaria-Serbia border – BCCP Bregovo, BCCP Vrashka Chuka, BCCP Kalotina, BCCP Strezimirovtsi, BCCP Oltomantsi; along the Bulgaria-Macedonia border – BCCP Gyueshevo, BCCP Stanke Lisichkovo, BCCP Zlatarevo; along the Bulgaria-Turkey border – BCCP Malko Tarnovo, BCCP Lesovo, BCCP Kapitan Andreevo; along the Bulgaria-Greek border – BCCP Kulata, BCCP Ilinden, BCCP Kapitan Petko Voyvoda, BCCP Ivaylovgrad, BCCP Zlatograd; along the Bulgaria-Romania border – BCCP Vidin (by ferry), BCCP Oryahovo (by ferry), BCCP Ruse – the Danube bridge, BCCP Silistra, BCCP Kardam, BCCP Durankulak; on the river ports – BCCP Vidin, BCCP Lom, BCCP Somovit - Nikopol, BCCP Svishtov, BCCP Ruse, BCCP Tutrakan, BCCP Silistra; at the sea ports – BCCP Balchik, BCCP Varna, BCCP Burgas, BCCP Tsarevo, and at the airports – BCCP Sofia Airport, BCCP Plovdiv Airport, BCCP Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport, BCCP Varna Airport, and BCCP Burgas Airport.


Nature

The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations. About 70% of the country's territory is hilly land and 30% is mountainous. The average elevation of the country's territory is 467 m, generally decreasing from south to north and from west to east. In the central part of the country lies the Balkan Mountain Range, where the highest peak is Botev (2,376 m). From south to north, its western area is crossed by the Iskar River, which forms a picturesque gorge more than 70 km long. The northern arm of the Balkan Mountains is mainly karst. The highest peak in this range is Vasilyov (1,490 m). To the south of the Balkan Mountains are the western Balkan valleys and the Srednogorie (central mountainous region). The largest valley in the southern arm of the Balkans is the Sofia valley, the location of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The mountains in the Srednogorie are the Zavalsko-Planska Range, the Ihtimansko Srednogorie, the Sashtinska Sredna Gora, and the Sarnena Gora. Between the northern arm of the Balkans and the Danube River lies the Danube valley, with an area of roughly 31,000 square meters. Its eastern part consists of plateaus – the Dobrudzha plateau, the Plovadia plateau, the Lilyak plateau, and the Shumen plateau, among others. To the north lie the Trans-Danube lowlands, which occupy the terraces of the Danube river. To the south of the capital Sofia rises the mountain Vitosha, whose highest peak is Cherni Vrah (2,290 m). Its foothills extend to the middle part of western Bulgaria, where low-lying and medium-elevation mountains alternate, such as Ruy, Milevska, Zemenska, Konyavska, Verila, and others. West of the Struma River valley and south of Kraishteto is the Osogovo-Belasishka mountain range, which includes the peaks of Osogovska (Mount Ruen, 2,251 m), Vlahinska, Maleshevska, Ograzhden and Belasitsa (Mount Radomir, 2,029 m). The highest Bulgarian mountains are in the Rila and Pirin ranges, situated to the east of the Struma River valley. The average elevation of these mountains is 1,258 m, and 60% of their area is higher than 1,000 m. In Rila there are 31 peaks with an altitude of over 2,600 m. The highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula, Musala (2,925 m), is located there. There are two peaks of over 2,600 m elevation in the Pirin range. One is Mount Vihren (2,914 m) – the second highest peak in Bulgaria and the third highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula. Beautiful alpine glacial lakes have formed in the circuses of these peaks. The Rhodope Mountains are located to the east of the Mesta River valley and Rila. There are 11 peaks with an elevation of over 2,000 m there, the highest of which is Golyam Perelik (2,191 m). The many natural landmarks – caves, waterfalls, and alpine lakes – attract scores of tourists every year.


History

The territory of Bulgaria has been inhabited since antiquity, as the country's many ancient settlements and burial mounds attest. Present-day Bulgaria was a cradle of some of the earliest civilizations in Europe – the oldest gold ornament ever discovered, unearthed in the Chalcholite necropolis near Varna, is evidence of that. From the age of Ancient Thrace we have inherited valuable cultural monuments, including tombs (such as the Kazanlak tomb, the Aleksandrovska tomb, and the Sveshtarska tomb); treasures (the Panagyursko, Rogozensko, and Valchitransko teasures, among others); and sanctuaries and temples (at Perperikon, Starosel, Kozi Gramadi, Begliktash, and elsewhere). The cultural interaction between the Thracians and the Hellenistic civilization were particularly dynamic. Many cities and towns heavily influenced by Greek culture were established between 6th-2nd century BC in Thrace, Misia and along the shores of the Black Sea. In the middle of the 1st century AD, all Bulgarian lands became a part of the Roman Empire. Many architectural and archaeological monuments have been preserved from this period, such as the Ancient Theater and the Roman Stadium in Plovdiv, and remains of the Roman cities Ulpia Escus, Nove, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Nikopolis ad Nestum, Augusta Trayana, and Abritus. After the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the present Bulgarian lands came under the control of the East Roman Empire, later called Byzantium by historians. In the second half of the 7th century, the proto-Bulgarians settled in what is now Northeast Bulgaria. They united with the Slavs to form the Bulgarian state, recognized by Byzantium in 681. The head of the state was the leader of proto-Bulgarians Han Asparuh, and the city of Pliska was declared the state's capital. During the reign Han Krum (803-814), to the west Bulgaria bordered on the empire of Karl the Great, and to the east the Bulgarian armies reached the gates of the Byzantium capital, Constantinople. In 864, during the reign of Prince Boris I (852-889), Bulgarians adopted Christianity as its official religion, which makes Bulgaria one of the oldest Christian states in Europe.


State Structure and Economy

According to its Constitution, Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic, a unified state with local self-government. The official language in the republic is Bulgarian, and the religion of most Bulgarians is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The national state emblem of the Republic of Bulgaria is an upright golden lion on a dark red, shield-shaped background. The national emblem of Republic of Bulgaria is depicted on its state seal. The flag of the Republic of Bulgaria consists of three colors: white, green and red, laid horizontally from top to bottom. The country's national anthem is the song Mila Rodino (Dear Motherland). Bulgaria's capital is Sofia. All citizens are equal before the law. No limitations on rights or privileges are allowed because of race, citizenship, ethnicity, sex, national origin, religion, education, beliefs, political affiliations, personal or social position, or property status. The state authority is divided into the legislative, executive and legal branches. The political life of Bulgaria is based on the principle of political pluralism. The basis of the Bulgarian economy is free economic initiative. The state creates conditions for the free development of science, education, and the arts and provides support for them. The state also makes provisions to preserve the country's historical and cultural heritage. According to the Constitution, the basic institutions of the state include the National Assembly (Parliament); the President; the Council of Ministers; legal bodies such as the courts, the prosecutor's office, and the office of investigation; the Constitutional Court; the Higher Court Council; and other organs of local self-government. The National Assembly is vested with legislative authority and exercises parliamentary supervision. The President is the head of the state, embodying the unity of the nation and representing the Republic of Bulgaria internationally. The Council of Ministers is in charge of and enacts the external and internal policies of the country, in conformity with the Constitution and the laws of the land. The legal authorities defend the rights and the legal interests of citizens, of juridical persons, and of the state. Since the country's liberation in 1878, Bulgaria has been governed by governments led by 50 Prime Ministers. The territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is divided into municipalities and counties. At the moment, there are 264 municipalities (LAU 1), 28 administrative areas (NUTS 3) and 6 planning regions (NUTS 2).


Lifestyle and Culture

Lifestyles and cultures in what is now Bulgaria have developed over thousands of years. The country is located at the crossroad between Europe and Asia, and the lands of Bulgaria have been populated since antiquity. The Slavs and proto-Bulgarians were greatly influenced by the cultures of the Thracians, Illyrians and Greeks, and all peoples who resided on these lands – Thracians, Romans, Slavs, and Bulgarians – have contributed to the world's cultural heritage. It is no accident that the earliest European civilization grew up here. Some of the most famous treasures in the world were discovered at the Varna necropolis, including the worlds oldest golden ornaments; There are Thracian tombs and sanctuaries in Kazanlak, Sveshtari, Starosel, Aleksandrovo, Perperikon, and Tatul. A large number of other golden artifacts have been found, in the Panagyurishte, Valchitran, Rogozen, and elsewhere. The remains of the Thracian, Hellenistic and Roman culture are many and varied. In the dozens of Thracians tombs that have been discovered, there are unique remains attesting to the high material and spiritual culture of antiquity. Entire city complexes had been found – Augusta Trayana, Trimontium, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Pautalia, Akre, Mesemvria, Apolonia, Serdika and many others. The traditions, festivals, customs, and rituals preserved by Bulgarians through the ages are evidence of the country's profound spirituality and its dynamic lifestyle and culture. Bulgarian customs are rooted in antiquity and are closely tied to the country's history and particular expression of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Dancing on live coals is an ancient Bulgarian ritual still practiced in a few villages in the Balkan Mountains. The ritual in its authentic form is performed on the name day of Saints Konstantin and Helena – 21 May or (3 June according to the old calendar. Fire dancers prepare for their dance by spending hours locked in a chapel, venerating the icons of these two saints while listening to the beating of drums and the music of gaidas (Bulgarian bagpipes), which is a special melody associated with fire dancing, after which they often fall into trance. In the evening they perform their special dance on live coals. During their dance they always hold aloft in both hands an icon of Saint Konstantin and Saint Helena. Amazingly, they never get hurt or burn their feet. "Mummers" is another local tradition that also found in other societies in the world. The Mummer games are special customs and rituals conducted most often on New Year's Eve and at Shrovetide. They are only performed by men, who wear special masks and costumes that have been made for the occasion by each of the participants. The mummers' ritual dances are said to chase away bad spirits and demons at the beginning of every year, so as to greet the new year cleansed and charged with positive energy.


Traditional Cuisine

Bulgarian cuisine is exceptionally diverse and delicious, consisting of various salads, breadstuffs, stews, and other local dishes. Many of the dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation over the centuries. The most products for which Bulgaria is internationally known are yogurt and white brine (feta) cheese. These are almost always present on Bulgarian tables in one form or another. One of the most famous and most popular breakfast items in the country is banitsa. It is a made of dough with various fillings, such as cheese, spinach, rice, and meat. Other popular breakfasts dishes include pancakes, buhtas (fritters), mekitsas (fried dough pieces), and fried bread slices. All of these are particularly delicious when served with jam, marmalade, honey or Bulgarian yogurt. People in rural areas grow vegetables that are exceptionally tasty, which is why salads occupy a central place in our culinary tradition. The most popular Bulgarian salad is the Shopska Salad, but there are also other salads worth trying – Shepherd's Salad, Harvest Salad, Snezhanka, Monk's Salad, Dobrudzha Salad, Roasted Peppers Salad, and many others. One of the most popular appetizers is Tarator (cold Cucumber Soup). It is prepared with yogurt, cucumbers, dill, crushed walnuts and spices. Soups and broths are also popular in the countryside – particularly delicious bean soups are served in the region of the village Smilyan, in the Rhodope Mountain. Excellent fish soups are served in the regions of the Black Sea and the Danube River. Some of the most popular Bulgarian dishes are grilled – meat balls, kebapches, grilled meat pieces, grilled sausages, and others. Various stews and dishes in clay pots are also a regular part of the Bulgaria cuisine (hotchpotch and casseroles). These include Chomlek, Kavarma, and Kapama (in the Bansko region). Another favorite Bulgarian dish is prepared with stuffed cabbage or vine leaves – the leaves used may be either small or broad. The dish, which is prepared by wrapping the filling in the leaves, is very popular in the Thracian region. One of the trademarks of the Bulgarian cuisine is Cheverme – an entire lamb roasted on a spit. This dish is typical for the Rhodope region, but it is also served throughout the country. Potatoes are a main ingredient in many Bulgarian recipes. The most popular potato dishes include Ogreten (au gratin), Patatnik (in the Rhodope region), potato stew, and fried potatoes.


More information about Bulgaria from BulgariaTravel.org