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.


Location: South-eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates: 43 00 N, 25 00 E
Population:  7,037,935 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.9% (male 506,403/female 480,935)

15-64 years:  67.9% (male 2,367,680/female 2,446,799)

65 years and over: 18.2% (male 522,343/female 769,475) (2011 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
Telephones – main lines in use: 2.311 million (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 10.475 million (2011)
Airports: 202(2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 134

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 17

1,524 to 2,437 m: 15

under 914 m: 90 (2012)

Military branches: Bulgarian Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Bulgarian Air Forces (Bulgarski Voennovazdyshni Sily, BVVS) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18-27 years of age for voluntary military service; conscript service obligation – 9 months; as of May 2006, 67% of the Bulgarian Army comprised of professional soldiers; conscription ended as of 1 January 2008; Air and Air Defence Forces and Naval Forces became fully professional at the end of 2006 (2010)

Economy:Bulgaria, a former communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, has experienced strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996. Successive governments have demonstrated commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but have failed so far to rein in rising inflation and large current account deficits. Bulgaria has averaged more than 6% growth since 2004, attracting significant amounts of foreign direct investment, but corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain significant challenges.
Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Illicit drugs: major European transhipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine for the European market; limited producer of precursor chemicals; some money laundering of drug-related proceeds through financial institutions