Bulgaria

Bulgaria
Sofia
Bulgarian
Lev (BGN)
+359

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Bulgaria, is a country in Southeast Europe. Bulgaria borders five other countries: Romania to the north (mostly along the Danube), Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea defines the extent of the country to the east.

With a territory of 110,994 square kilometers (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria ranks as the 15th-largest country in Europe. Several mountainous areas define the landscape, most notably Stara Planina (the Balkan mountains) and Rhodope mountain ranges, as well as the Rila range, which includes the highest peak in the entire Balkans. In contrast, the Danubian plain in the north and the Upper Thracian Plain in the south represent Bulgaria's lowest and most fertile regions. The 378-kilometer (235 mi) Black Sea coastline covers the entire eastern bound of the country.

The emergence of a unified Bulgarian ethnicity and state dates back to the 7th century AD. All Bulgarian political entities that subsequently emerged preserved the traditions (in ethnic name, language and alphabet) of the First Bulgarian Empire (6811018), which at times covered most of the Balkans and became a cultural hub for the Slavs in the Middle Ages. With the decline of the Second Bulgarian Empire (11851396), Bulgarian territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 18771878 led to the establishment of a Third Bulgarian state as a principality in 1878, which gained its full sovereignty in 1908. In 1945, after World War II, it became a communist state and was a part of the Eastern Bloc until the political changes in Eastern Europe in 1989/1990, when the Communist Party allowed multi-party elections. Bulgarian politics undertook a transition to democracy and elements of free-market capitalism were introduced.

The Bulgarian government functions as a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic. Its government is a member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and is a founding state of the OSCE and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Bulgaria has a high Human Development Index of 0.743, ranking 58th in the world in 2010.