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About Bulgaria

A picturesque small country named Bulgaria has been present on the map of Europe for more than 13 centuries, connecting the East and the West. Bulgaria remembers ancient civilizations and great people who wrote its remarkable history. Bulgaria – an attractive tourist destination, with its beautiful nature and hospitable people. Bright sun, azure sea, magnificent beaches, and a large variety of summer and winter resorts. Its small territory harbours and weaves together in an inimitable way natural sights and rich cultural and historical heritage. Nearly one-forth of its territory is taken up by forests. Endless beaches along the Black Sea shores, mountain peaks, hills and ravines, waterfalls and mineral springs – everyone can find the type of rest that they like the most. Thanks to its nature and its architectural and cultural landmarks, Bulgaria offers all kinds of tourism - balneo, SPA and wellness, ecological, cultural, mountain and ski tourism. This makes the country a very attractive destination for a great number of foreign tourists, whose number reaches up to 9,000,000 people per year.



Location:
Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe and occupies the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the east its shores are washed by the Black Sea, to the north it borders Romania, to the west Serbia and Macedonia, and to the south Greece and Turkey. The maximum length of the country from west to east is 520 km, and it stretches from north to south over 330 km.

Territory: 110.9 thousand square kilometres
Capital: Sofia
Population: 7,576,751 people (2010)
Time zone: GMT +2
Official language: Bulgarian
Religion: Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Electricity: 220 V, 50 Hz
Currency:
Bulgarian lev (BGN). The lev is pegged to the euro at a fixed rate of EUR 1 = BGN 1.95583
Currency exchange: The import and export of foreign currency in Bulgaria is unrestricted (but you need to declare it). There are no limits on the exchange of currency. You can do that in banks, currency exchange desks, hotels, airports.

Credit / debit cards and ATMs:
At the airports and in all large hotels, restaurants and supermarkets you can pay by credit cards such as Маstercard, Visа, Аmerican Ехргеss. Before you pay with your card, however, make sure that it is acceptable. Some banks and larger hotels accept euro cheques and traveller’s cheques. All in all, the credit card payment system is not fully developed across the country. The most common way of paying for goods and purchases is in cash. You can find ATMs almost everywhere. Bank working hours: Banks in Bulgaria are open for business every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (lunch break 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.). Banks are closed over the weekend and during public holidays.

Climate:
The country is located in a region where the moderate and Mediterranean climate zones meet. In the northern parts the climate is moderate continental, with 4 seasons; in the southern parts there is a Mediterranean climatic influence. The spring is cool and rainy. The first half of the autumn is warm, sunny and dry. The second half brings in colder weather, more clouds and showers; there are fogs and strong winds. In the winter the average temperature in Northern Bulgaria is about
1-2°C below zero, and in the southern parts, around 0°C. In the winter the average temperature is 20-22°C approximately. In the mountain regions reaching 1500 m in height above sea level there is a typically Alpine climate with relatively low temperatures, heavy rainfalls and continuous snow covers. The mean annual air temperature reaches 10.5°C.



Communication:
Telephone calls: Bulgaria’s telephone code is 00359. You can call another country or town from any street phone with a telephone card that you can buy from post offices, newspaper kiosks, small shops and hotels. The information about how many card units you have spent is displayed on the telephone. Calls from a post office will cost you much less than the ones you make from the hotel.
Mobile connection: There are several mobile network operators in the country. Calls within Bulgaria usually do not exceed 20 eurocents, and incoming calls are free. You can buy a SIM card from the offices of the respective network operators, and prepaid cards are sold both by the operators, and in post offices and some shops; text messages are charged up to 10 eurocents by all operators.
Internet connection: There are Internet cafes in all towns and resorts around the country.
You can get internet connection in your office or apartment in any of the following ways: connect ADSL to a fixed phone line; connect a special modem to your cable television, if that is at all possible, or have a special internet cable connected. There are companies in every Bulgarian town, which operate as internet suppliers, and you can always select the offer which best suits your needs. The price depends either on the traffic, or on the speed.
 
Healthcare services:
Healthcare services for foreign citizens in Bulgaria are paid. It is recommendable that you have medical insurance when you travel around the country, and in case you need medical help, just follow the instructions of your insurance company. There are state-funded and private clinics. Bulgarian healthcare specialists have very good qualifications. There are no special healthcare risks in Bulgaria, and you don’t need to undergo any specific vaccinations.

Cuisine:
The Bulgarian traditional cuisine contains a great variety of dishes and is popular in many European countries. It is based on a rich assortment of vegetables, various types of fresh meat, freshwater and sea fish. The most common types of meat among Bulgarians are pork, lamb, beef and chicken.
There are different ways to cook the meat, but the prevailing one, as it is with the vegetables too, is stewing. The meat and vegetables are often stewed, and various strong spices are added, such as onions, garlic, pepper, vinegar, parsley, etc. There are foods and drinks that are also popular in other countries but under different names. The anise vodka, which is known as <Rakia> in Turkey, and <Ouzo> in Greece, is called <Mastika> in Bulgaria. Depending on its size, a skewer known as <Shashlik> may be called either <shish> or <shishche>. If you are into culinary tourism, look for a restaurant named <Mehana/Механа>. This is a kind of a tavern, a traditional Bulgarian restaurant. In virtually all taverns of that kind you will be able to listen to some Bulgarian folk music and enjoy a traditional interior.

Nature:
Bulgaria is proud of its pristine nature and astonishing biodiversity. A large part of the territory of the country is occupied by mountains; there are numerous pictorial natural reserves and parks with caves and waterfalls, which preserve the unequalled and unforgettable ecosystem. There are many animal species in the country, especially the mountains, and in particular deer, roes, bears, wolves, badgers and jackals, which are no longer to be seen in other European regions. Also, there are more than 50 amphibian species, and over 1,100 types of insects. Of the more rare types of birds Bulgaria provides home to bearded eagles and pelicans. There are over 3,200 plant species. Furthermore, there are areas covered with natural vegetation around the estuaries of the rivers Kamchiya and Ropotamo, in the southern mountains, at the foot and throughout the Balkan Mountain, as well as on some islands and along the banks of the Danube River.



Landmarks:
Apart from the sandy beaches of the Bulgarian coast, which will provide you with unforgettable hours of pleasant rest, the Black Sea shores are sprinkled with towns full of ancient monuments of architectural value and interesting museums (Nesebar, Varna, Sozopol). The rich cultural and natural heritage of Bulgaria is highly treasured by UNESCO and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO’s list of the world’s natural and cultural heritage includes objects of enormous significance for mankind and their preservation and protection is an important priority. This list includes 9 Bulgarian objects: 7 cultural and 2 natural ones.

These are:
The Town of Nesebar (on the Black Sea coast)



The Rila Monastery (in Rila Mountain)



Pirin National Park (in Pirin Mountain)
The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
The Madara Rider (a stone relief cut in rock; it is located not far away from Madara)
The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari (to the north of Shumen)
The Srebarna Nature Reserve (a lake located to the west of Silistra)
The Church of Boyana ‘St. Panteleymon’ (located to the south of the central parts of Sofia)
Ivanovo Rock Monastery (not far away from Ruse)

Bulgaria’s beauty has many faces and many names! One of them is the absolutely unique Rose Valley. You must see it in May when millions of rosebushes bloom against the background of emerald slopes of the Balkan Mountain and the Sredna Gora.



Bulgaria’s ancestors are ancient civilizations like the Thracians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians, who left behind them in these lands exceptionally valuable artistic and architectural evidence of their developed culture. They are scattered throughout the whole country and make it one of the most attractive destinations for people who appreciate history and culture.

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