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Bulgaria Information - Page 2
History
Bulgaria has been inhabited since the Stone Age. In the Bronze Age people known as Thracians lived in the region. The Thracian civilization eventually became part of the Roman Empire.

By the middle of the fourth century waves of barbarian tribes were moving into Europe gravely damaging the Roman Empire. People known as Bulgars eventually settled in Bulgaria.

Over the centuries the Bulgarians built up a powerful empire controlling much of the Balkans. However, from the early eleventh century, and lasting up until the latter part of the twelfth century, Bulgaria came under Byzantine rule. (The Byzantine Empire was founded when the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred to Constantinople in 324).

Towards the end of the twelfth century the Bulgarian State was restored by Ivan Asen.

As time went on discord between Bulgarian nobles led to division of the country. In its weakened state Bulgaria succumbed to an offensive by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks ruled Bulgaria from the middle of the fourteenth century for five centuries.

In 1876 an uprising against the Turks led to the massacre of many Bulgarians. The massacre focused European attention on the Ottoman occupation of Bulgaria. Turkey was finally defeated in the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878). Alexander of Battenburg, a German prince, became Prince of Bulgaria and was succeeded by Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1887) who was King of Bulgaria from 1908 to 1918.

The Russo-Turkish War resulted in loss of Bulgarian territory to Turkey. In 1912 Bulgaria and other Balkan states attacked Turkey winning land from the Turks. A quarrel ensued between the Balkan states over the division of land leading to the Second Balkan War in 1913.

During the First and Second World Wars Bulgaria allied itself with Germany. After the Second World War (1939-45) Bulgaria became a People's Republic coming under the USSR's sphere of influence.

In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Soviet Russia. Gorbachev introduced extensive political and economic reforms (Perestroika) and promoted greater openness (Glasnost) between nations.

The end of 1989 saw political changes in Bulgaria and the communist government came to an end in 1990.

Economy
Since the political changes at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, Bulgaria has implemented economic reforms. Bulgaria was not ready for the wave of EU memberships in 2004 but joined the EU in January 2007.

Bulgaria's agricultural sector accounts for the smallest percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agricultural products include fruit, vegetables, wheat, barley, sugar beet and sunflowers. Roses, which provide attar of roses used in perfume, are also grown. Cattle, sheep and pigs are reared.

Industry earns around a third of Bulgaria's GDP. Main industries are refined petroleum, nuclear fuel, electricity, gas, metals, machinery and equipment, chemical products, food and beverages (including red and white wine).

The service sector provides the largest percentage of the country's GDP. Tourism is a major source of employment with millions of visitors a year. The Black Sea resorts and the mountains are both popular destinations for tourists. Spa tourism is also an important part of Bulgaria's tourist industry. (2008)

Arts
Early examples of art are inscribed on the World Heritage List. These are the Madara Rider, a cliff carving of a knight fighting a lion, and the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, decorated with murals representing Thracian burial rituals and culture.

Religious art can be seen in Bulgaria's churches, such as the frescoes and medieval paintings in Boyana Church, Sofia.

The Bulgarian artist Christo and his associate Jeanne Claude are famous for "wrapping" the German Reichstag building in 1995.

Ivan Vazov (1850-1921) is perhaps Bulgaria's most famous writer. Vazov, a poet, novelist and playwright is most well known for his novel "Under the Yoke", set in the 1876 Uprising against the Turks.

Sport
Popular team sports in Bulgaria are football, basketball and volleyball.

Bulgarians are well known for gymnastics, athletics, tennis and weight-lifting. Other sports include swimming, rowing and skiing.

Holidays
New Year, Christmas and Easter are holidays. Other days celebrated are National Day (3 March), International Labour Day (1 May), Day of the Slavonic Script and Bulgarian Culture (24 May), Unification Day (6 September) and Independence Day (22 September).

News
News from Bulgaria can be found in Newslink.

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