Europe’s little wine-growing powerhouse
Bulgaria is a Fast-Growing Travel Destination
Bulgaria is a country with thousands of years of history and a cultural heritage that embraces ancient civilizations. Visitors will find much to interest them in the country’s history, culture, ethnography, religion, architecture and the arts. Unique archaeological sites abound throughout the country – ancient settlement mounds from the Neolithic age, Thracian sanctuaries and tombs, remains of Roman cities, Byzantine and Medieval fortresses, architectural reserves, ethnographic complexes, churches and monasteries, Tekkes (mosques), among many others.
Bulgaria is located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by the Black Sea on the east, Turkey and Greece on the south, Macedonia and Serbia on the west, and Romania on the north.
Although a small country today, Bulgaria was once the dominant power in the Balkans. In the Middle Ages it competed with the Byzantine Empire and greatly influenced the cultural life of the region, until conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the late 14th century. The modern nation of Bulgaria was established in 1878. From 1947 until 1989 it was under dictatorial Communist rule.
Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and became a full EU member in 2007. Geography—note: strategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia.
Land and Resources
Bulgaria is divided into four major geographic regions. The most northerly is the plateau of the Danube, which rises from the shore of the Danube River to the foothills of the east. Its climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The Balkan Mountains (or “Old Mountains” to the Bulgarians) are the second region. They are highest in the western part of the country and gradually diminish as they extend across the country to the Black Sea. These mountains serve to block the cold winds blowing from the plains of Russia, and the region to the south, the valley drained by the Maritsa River, enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. Finally, south of the Maritsa River valley are the Rhodope Mountains, highest in the Balkan Peninsula, which form the border between Bulgaria and Greece.
Danube River Plains and Thracian Valley are important agricultural regions. The former produces wheat, corn, sugar, beets, and sunflowers. Thracian Valley grows tobacco and contains the famous Valley of Roses, devoted to the production of attar of roses, a vital ingredient in the making of perfume.
The most important natural resources that Bulgaria possesses are the fertility of its land, which is the basis of the country’s agricultural economy, and the beauty of its landscape, which has allowed an important tourist industry to develop, particularly along the Black Sea coast and in the mountains.
About half of Bulgaria’s land area is suitable for agriculture. The country’s chief crops are wheat, corn, other grains, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, roses, fruits and vegetables, and tobacco. Bulgarian fruits and vegetables are exported to many countries in Europe, and much of what is called “Turkish” tobacco actually comes from southern Bulgaria. Bulgarian wines have become popular in many countries in the world.