country profile - BULGARIA
Background: The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
Area: total: 110,879 sq km
land: 108,489 sq km
water: 2,390 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 1,808 km
border countries: Greece 494 km, Macedonia 148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia 318 km, Turkey 240 km
Coastline: 354 km
Climate: temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber, arable land
Population: 7,186,893 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.53% (male 538,266/female 505,927)
15-24 years: 9.95% (male 373,340/female 341,507)
25-54 years: 43.35% (male 1,598,130/female 1,517,744)
55-64 years: 13.45% (male 451,841/female 514,696)
65 years and over: 18.72% (male 547,887/female 797,555) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 42.1 years
male: 40.2 years
female: 44.2 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.58% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 8.92 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 14.44 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -0.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Bulgarian(s)
adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups: Bulgarian 76.9%, Turkish 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Russian, Armenian, and Vlach), other (unknown) 10% (2011 est.)
Religions: Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim 7.8%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Jewish) 1.7%, none 3.7%, unspecified 27.4% (2011 est.)
Languages: Bulgarian (official) 76.8%, Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, unspecified 10.5% (2011 est.)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.7% (2015 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria
local long form: Republika Balgariya
local short form: Balgariya
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Sofia
geographic coordinates: 42 41 N, 23 19 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 28 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Khaskovo, Kurdzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofiya, Sofiya-Grad, Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol
Independence: 3 March 1878 (as an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire); 22 September 1908 (complete independence from the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday: Liberation Day, 3 March (1878)
Legal system: civil law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Rosen PLEVNELIEV (since 22 January 2012); Vice President Margarita POPOVA (since 22 January 2012)
head of government: Prime Minister Boyko BORISOV (since 7 November 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers Tomislav DONCHEV (since 7 November 2014), Rumyana BACHVAROVA (since 7 November 2014), Meglena KUNEVA (since 7 November 2014), Ivaylo KALFIN (since 7 November 2014); note - this is BORISOV's second term as prime minister, he first served between 27 July 2009 and 13 March 2013
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, elected by the National Assembly
elections/appointments: president and vice president elected on the same ballot by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 23 and 30 October 2011 (next to be held in 2016); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) elected by the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister, elected by the National Assembly
election results: Rosen PLEVNELIEV elected president in runoff election; percent of vote - Rosen PLEVNELIEV (independent) 52.6%, Ivailo KALFIN (BSP) 47.4%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie (240 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 5 October 2014 (next to be held in 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - GERB 32.7%, BSP 15.4%, DPS 14.8%, RB 8.9%, PF 7.3%, BBTs 5.7%, Ataka 4.5%, ABV 4.2%, other 6.5%; seats by party - GERB 84, BSP 39, DPS 38, RB 23, PF 19, BBTs 15, Ataka 11, ABV 11
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court of Cassation (consists of a chairman and approximately 72 judges organized into penal, civil, and commercial colleges); Supreme Administrative Court (organized in 2 colleges with various panels of 5 judges each); Constitutional Court (consists of 12 justices); note - Constitutional Court resides outside the Judiciary
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court of Cassation and Supreme Administrative judges elected by the Supreme Judicial Council or SJC (consists of 25 members with extensive legal experience) and appointed by the president; judge tenure NA; Constitutional Court justices elected by the National Assembly and appointed by the president and the SJC; justices appointed for 9-year terms with renewal of 4 justices every 3 years
subordinate courts: appeals courts; regional and district courts; administrative courts; courts martial
Political parties and leaders: Alternative for Bulgarian Revival or ABV [Georgi PARVANOV];
Attack (Ataka) [Volen Nikolov SIDEROV];
Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Mihail MIKOV];
Bulgaria of the Citizens or DBG [Meglena KUNEVA];
Bulgaria Without Censorship or BBTs [Nikolay BAREKOV];
Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria or GERB [Boyko BORISOV];
Coalition for Bulgaria or CfB [Sergei STANISHEV] (coalition of parties dominated by BSP);
Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria or DSB [Radan KANEV];
IMRO - Bulgarian National Movement or IMRO-BNM [Krasimir KARAKACHANOV];
Movement for Rights and Freedoms or DPS [Lyutvi MESTAN];
National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria or NFSB [Valeri SIMEONOV];
National Movement for Stability and Progress or NDSV [Hristina HRISTOVA] (formerly National Movement Simeon II or NMS2);
Order, Law, and Justice or RZS [Yane YANEV];
Patriotic Front or PF (alliance of IMRO-BNM and NFSB);
Union of Democratic Forces or SDS [Bozhidar LUKARSKI];
Reformist Bloc or RB (a five-party alliance including the DSB, DBG, and SDS)
Political pressure groups and leaders: Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB; Podkrepa Labor Confederation
other: numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas
International organization participation: Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CD, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EU, FAO, G- 9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red; the pan-Slavic white-blue-red colors were modified by substituting a green band (representing freedom) for the blue
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 1.8 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 25 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 9.9 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 137 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: inherited an extensive but antiquated telecommunications network from the Soviet era; quality has improved with a modern digital trunk line now connecting switching centers in most of the regions; remaining areas are connected by digital microwave radio relay
domestic: the Bulgaria Telecommunications Company's fixed-line monopoly terminated in 2005 in an effort to upgrade fixed-line services; mobile-cellular teledensity, fostered by multiple service providers, has reached 150 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 359; submarine cable provides connectivity to Ukraine and Russia; a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system provides connectivity to Italy, Albania, and Macedonia; satellite earth stations - 3 (1 Intersputnik in the Atlantic Ocean region, 2 Intelsat in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions) (2011)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 31, FM 63, shortwave 2 (2001)
Television broadcast stations: 39 (plus 1,242 repeaters) (2001)
Internet country code: .bg
Internet hosts: 706,648 (2009)
Internet users: total: 4.1 million
percent of population: 57.0% (2014 est.)
Airports: 68 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 57
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
under 914 m: 26 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 9 (2013)
Heliports: 1 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 2,887 km; oil 346 km; refined products 378 km (2013)
Railways: total: 5,114 km
standard gauge: 4,989 km 1.435-m gauge (2,880 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 125 km 0.760-m gauge (2014)
Roadways: total: 19,512 km
paved: 19,235 km (includes 458 km of expressways)
unpaved: 277 km
note: does not include Category IV local roads (2011)
Waterways: 470 km (2009)
Merchant marine: total: 22
by type: bulk carrier 9, cargo 8, liquefied gas 2, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 14 (Germany 12, Russia 2)
registered in other countries: 30 (Belize 1, Comoros 4, Georgia 1, Malta 8, Moldova 1, Panama 6, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 9) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Burgas, Varna (Black Sea)
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: none
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 8,501 (Syria) (2014)
stateless persons: 67 (2014)
Illicit drugs: major European transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine for the European market; limited producer of precursor chemicals; vulnerable to money laundering because of corruption, organized crime; some money laundering of drug-related proceeds through financial institutions (2008)
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook,