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Bulgaria's natural landscape is full of surprises - it has endless, sandy beaches along the Black sea, wild mountain ranges and lush green hills, fertile plains, magnificent gorges, rivers, health spas and natural springs....It is famous for long balmy summers, dreamy scented rose fields, richly coloured orchards and sun-drenched vineyards...
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South-eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
110,910 sq. km
Greece 494 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia and Montenegro 318 km (all with Serbia), Turkey 240 km
The climate in Northern Bulgaria is moderate continental, while the climate in Southern Bulgaria is intermediate continental close to Mediterranean. The climate in the regions with altitude of 1900-2000 m above sea level is mountainous and along the Black Sea coast it is maritime. The climate of the seaside regions is milder in the winter and cooler in the summer than the climate of the interior of the country. The average annual temperature is 10,50°C, in winter about 0°C.
Lowest point: Black Sea 0 m,
highest point: Mousala 2,925 m
7,796,694 (July 2000 est.)
Bulgarian 85.3%, Turk 8.5%, Gypsy 2.6%, Macedonian 2.5%, Armenian 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, other 0.6%
Bulgarian Orthodox 85%, Muslim 13%, Jewish 0.8%, Roman Catholic 0.5%, Uniate Catholic 0.2%, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 0.5%
Bulgarian, secondary languages closely correspond to ethnic breakdown
Getting to Bulgaria:
Balkan Airways and a number of other Bulgarian and foreign airlines serve Bulgaria's four international airports from most capital cities in Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and North America.
The main Trans-European and Trans-continental trains run through Bulgaria. Sofia is directly connected with Paris, Vienna, Munich, Berlin.
You cross a number of countries. Up to Vienna there are no customs and visa formalities. It is more different crossing the countries of former
Yugoslavia; it is recommended to use the route
Vienna - Budapest - Belgrade - Sofia. The roads are first class, most of them highways. The distance
from Vienna to Sofia is about 1,500km. National drivers' licenses are valid in Bulgaria. Insurance has to be made in advance or paid at the border. Cars (self-drive
and chauffeur driven) may be rented at the border checkpoints and in all tourist offices throughout the country. Speed limit:
50 km/h in populated areas
90 km/h outside populated areas
120 km/h on highways.
There are sea and river connections via the Black sea and Danube. The majority are tourist cruises rather than regular boat links.
Passports and visas:
A visa is no longer required for visitors from the EU and EFTA member states. Other nationals are advised to check with the Bulgarian embassy in their country. Tourists on a package holiday or in an organised group booked through a recognised travel agent or tour operator do not require visa.
Standard custom regulations apply for personal effects needed during a holiday. It is prohibited to take out of the country works of art and other objects of historic, artistic and scientific value.
GMT + 2 hours, CET + 1 hour. Clocks in Bulgaria are advanced one hour between April and the end of September.
The Bulgarian national monetary unit is the LEV. Coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 stotinki and banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 leva are in use. The exchange of currency is unrestricted and there is no compulsory exchange. Upon departure from the country any unused Bulgarian currency may be changed back into the respective foreign currency.
Major international cards can be used in the larger hotels, car hire offices, some restaurants and some shops.
Offices - 09.00-17.30 Monday-Friday, Banks - 09.00-16.00 Monday-Friday, Shops - 10.00-20.00 Monday-Friday and half day Saturday.
220 Volts. An adapter and/or a transformer may be required.
1 January - New Years Day, 3 March - National Liberation Day, Easter (normally a week later than in Western Europe), 1 May - Labour Day, 24 may - National Day of Slavonic Culture and Script, 25 December - Christmas Day
Where to stay:
Bulgaria has a range of hotels from luxurious five star international hotels to the more modest but comfortable small new private hotels spread all around the country.
In addition there is a wide range of self-catering chalets and villas suited for holidays in the resorts and mountain areas as well as budget private Bed & Breakfast accommodation.
Festivals and Fairs
The Great Koprivshtitza Folklore Festival
The Great Koprivshtitza Folklore Festival is Bulgaria's largest gathering of traditional musicians and singers and is a cross between a pop festival and a medieval fair. It is a sight that knows no equal: thousands of musicians and singers making the hillside above the picturesque village of Koprivshtitza their home for a few days. Coupled with this you have the colourful stalls of the traders and the thousands of visitors who come for the festival.
This is Bulgarian music as it was always played, played by the ancestors of those who first played it. But perhaps it is what happens on the periphery that is the most authentic. Strolling players or soloists, simply playing for the sheer enjoyment. forming new bonds with other musicians or just letting their music ring out over the hillside.
The Bourgas International Folk Festival
The Bourgas International Folk Festival, held annually, attracts a host of Bulgarian and international artists and is held in the second half of August.
The Kazanluk Festival
The Kazanluk Festival of the Roses is held annually in early June, and has grown from a local to an international event. Not only are the roses, Kazanluk's main industry, in full flower. but the town itself blossoms while visitors enjoy the "Rose Picnic" and all the fun of a folklore festival, with its costumes, songs and dance. Should you still have the energy left, you can always visit the old factories where the rose oil is extracted.
St. Trifon's Day
In the agricultural calendar, St. Trifon's Day celebrates the pruning of the vines, and is held on February 14.
On the first Sunday before Lent, Kukerov Den celebrates the start of the agricultural year, and all over Bulgaria you can witness processions led by the dancing. leaping Kukeri dressed in colourful masks and costumes.
Baba Marta is celebrated on March 1 when peasant house-holds brush out the winter cobwebs with a traditional spring clean. and people offer each other tokens of good luck called martenitsas.
Like western countries. the Bulgarian calendar is dotted with important feast days and festivals. The festival of the Kukeri re-enacts ancient surovaki rites to ward off evil spirits and Kukeri fertility rites. Although only held once every five years, it brings together dancers from all over Bulgaria in a rainbow of colours and styles.
St. Lazarus Day
Lazaruvane is also celebrated in spring on St. Lazarus Day, and here village girls considered fit for marriage perform ritual songs and dances.
St. Konstantin and St. Elena Day
The coming of summer is traditionally celebrated on St. Konstantin and St. Elena Day on May 21, and in some of the remoter villages in the Stranzha hills fire dancing, dancing on heated coals, is still practised in celebration of summer's arrival. Ethnologists have suggested that this practice is directly descended from Dionysina rites of the ancient Thracian.