Welcome to Bulgaria


Bulgaria is situated in South-Eastern Europe and occupies an area of 111 thousands sq.km in the North-Eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The overall length of its borders is 2245 km. Bulgaria borders to the north on Rumania (the frontier line runs along the Danube river and continues on land to the north-east), to the south - on Greece and Turkey, to the west - on Serbia and Macedonia and to the east - on the Black Sea. The average altitude is 470 m. Black Sea coast line 354 km.

Geographic coordinates: 43.00 N, 25.00 E.

Local time
Winter time: GMT + 1 hour (October through March). Summer time: GMT + 2 hours (April through September).

Population
about 7.3 million or 1.5% of the EU population. The average density of the population is 65,7 people per a square kilometer. The number of the town population (73%) prevails over the number of the rural population. Median age 43 years. Ethnic groups: Bulgarian 77%, Turk 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian), other (unknown) ca. 10%.

Languages
The official language is Bulgarian (76.8%) and uses only the Cyrillic alphabet. Road and direction signs in populated areas, resorts, railway stations, airports and along the main motorways are also spelled in Roman letters. Other languages: Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, other (unknown) 10.5%. English, German, French, Russian are spoken in the country.

Relief
The relief of Bulgaria is extremely varied. Vast plains and valleys, precipitous ravines and gorges, deep glens nestling among hills, lowlands and high mountains alternate together on its comparatively small territory. The average altitude above sea level is 470 m. The Rila Mountains are the highest in Bulgaria as well as in the whole Balkan Peninsula with Mt. Moussala - 2925 m.
34% of the seaside consists of beaches and dunes. Along the seaside there are 18 lakes and many bays, the largest of which are the bays of Varna and Bourgas.

Climate
The Bulgaria climate is perfect for your holiday. 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. Always lit by the sun Bulgaria has 2200-2500 hours of sunlight per year. Average temperature (April - September) is +23 °C. The average yearly temperature is +14.7 °C. The UV Index in July and August is 8-9.

Capital city

Sofia, population over 1.5 million.

Other big cities
Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Rousse, Pleven, Veliko Turnovo.

Government
The current political structure dates to the adoption of a democratic constitution in 1991. Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralisation. It's a member of the European Union, NATO and the Council of Europe.

Religion
Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim (Sunni) 7.4%, Muslim (Shia) 0.4%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Judaism) 1.7%, other (unknown) 27.4%, none 3.7% (2011 census)

Culture
It will be omnipresent in your days with unique finds in the museums, including the world's oldest gold; with beautiful collections of works from self-taught old masters to modern painters in the art galleries; with classical concerts and folklore song-and-dance festivals.

Tourism
Bulgaria offers excellent conditions for tourism. The Black Sea Coast has become world known for its wonderful geographical and climatic conditions: a warm sea, with almost imperceptible tides, well-wooded shores and vast beaches covered with fine sand. Modern resorts offer excellent conditions for rest and recreations, such as Slunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach), Zlatni Pyassatsi (Golden Sands), Drouzba, Rousalka, Albena, Duni, Elenite, St. Constantine and Elena, motels, camping sites and summer camps.
Each of the Bulgarian mountains has a charm of its own - their snow-capped peaks sparkling in the sun, covered with thick pine or deciduous forests interspersed with fragrant alpine meadows. There are numerous cosy chalets and pleasant holiday houses, snuggling in the mountains folds. The mountain and ski resorts of Borovets, Bansko, Pamporovo, Malyovitsa, Velingrad, Yundola and many others are equally attractive in summer and in winter.
Bulgaria is also famous through its mineral springs (more than 500) and many of them are used for balnetherapy. Health resorts (Spa) were built in Kyustendil, Vurshets, Sandanski, Pavel Banya, Hisar, Bankya and in many other places of Bulgaria.
There are 2000 explored and unexplored caves in Bulgaria. In one of them, the Magoura Cave, the unique rock drawings made by people from the pre-historical time can be seen. The Belogradchik rocks, the natural pyramids at Melnik, the Pobiti Kamuni (Stone Forests) near Varna, the Er Kyupria (Devil s Bridges) in the Rhodopes are some of the most curious sights of Bulgaria.

Passport and visa
EU citizens and some other European citizens don't need a visa.

Customs formalities
The import of personal effects needed during the time of travel or stay-consumer goods not exceeding the amounts stated in the customs declaration, is permitted. It is prohibited to take out works of art, coins and other objects of proven historic, scientific or artistic value. International banning and restrictive regulations also applied.

Currency
The Bulgarian national monetary unit is the LEV (BGN).
1 EUR = approx. 1.95 LEV
1 LEV = approx. 0.21 EUR
Coins 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 stotinki (coins, 100 stotinki = 1 LEV) and banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50,100, 200 lev. The exchange of currency is unrestricted and there is no compulsory exchange.

Medical services
Medical and dental treatment is at a high level.

Useful phone numbers
Emergency - 112; Police - 166; Ambulance - 150; Police - 160, Fire - 166, Road assistance - 146, Taxi service - 973 2121

Driving
A1 Trakiya Motorway, which links capital city Sofia with the Black Sea city of Bourgas via Plovdiv. A3 Struma motorway from Pernik to Kulata (Greece). Vignettes are required for use on all roads, and  for all vehicles. Drivers without a valid vignette are fined with 60 EUR. Price of vignettes: 7 days 5 EUR, 30 days 13 EUR, 12 months 34 EUR.

Credit cards
The following credit cards are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops in Bulgaria: Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, American Express, Carte Blanche, Balkanamericard, Euro card, etc. They can be used for payment of all standard services: hotel accommodation, restaurants, nightspots, shopping, car rentals, air tickets, etc.

Electricity
230 V, frequency 50 Hz. The electrical sockets type F.

Official holidays
January 1 - New Year; March 3 – Liberation Day ; Easter; May 1 - Labour day; May 24 - the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and Slav Script; December 25 - Christmas.

Cuisine
Bulgarian cuisine is one of the tastiest in Europe. Food is still cooked with fresh, naturally grown ingredients. It combines the wonderfully rich Ottoman influence with a peasant cooking style that uses flavour-packed vegetables and herbs. Yum! Start with a salad of fresh tomatoes and home-made sheep cheese. Follow up with a slow-baked stew in a clay pot and you are in heaven. Bulgaria excels in sirene (a white salty cheese) and yoghurt.

More information:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgaria