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.
air pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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
chief of state: President Georgi PARVANOV (since 22 January 2002); Vice President Angel MARIN (since 22 January 2002) head of government: Prime Minister Sergei STANISHEV (since 16 August 2005); Deputy Prime Ministers Ivaylo KALFIN, Daniel VULCHEV, and Emel ETEM (since 16 August 2005) cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 and 29 October 2006 (next to be held in 2011); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) nominated by the president and elected by the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly election results: Georgi PARVANOV reelected president; percent of vote - Georgi PARVANOV 77.3%, Volen SIDEROV 22.7%; Sergei STANISHEV elected prime minister, result of legislative vote - 168 to 67
unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sobranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 25 June 2005 (next to be held in June 2009) election results: percent of vote by party - CfB 31.1%, NMS2 19.9%, MRF 12.7%, ATAKA 8.2%, UDF 7.7%, DSB 6.5%, BPU 5.2%, other 8.7%; seats by party - CfB 83, NMS2 53, MRF 33, UDF 20, ATAKA 17, DSB 17, BPU 13, independents 4; note - seats by party as of January 2008 - CfB 82, NMS2 36, MRF 34, UDF 16, DSB 16, Bulgarian New Democracy 16, BPU 13, ATAKA 11, independents 16
Supreme Administrative Court; Supreme Court of Cassation; Constitutional Court (12 justices appointed or elected for nine-year terms); Supreme Judicial Council (consists of the chairmen of the two Supreme Courts, the Chief Prosecutor, and 22 other members; responsible for appointing the justices, prosecutors, and investigating magistrates in the justice system; members of the Supreme Judicial Council elected for five-year terms, 11 elected by the National Assembly and 11 by bodies of the judiciary)
ATAKA (Attack Coalition) (coalition of parties headed by the Attack National Union); Attack National Union [Volen SIDEROV]; Bulgarian Agrarian National Union-People's Union or BANU [Anastasia MOZER]; Bulgarian New Democracy [Borislav RALCHEV]; Bulgarian People's Union or BPU (coalition of UFD, IMRO, and BANU); Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Sergei STANISHEV]; Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria or GERB [Boyko BORISOV]; Coalition for Bulgaria or CfB (coalition of parties dominated by BSP) [Sergei STANISHEV]; Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria or DSB [Ivan KOSTOV]; Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization or IMRO [Krasimir KARAKACHANOV]; Movement for Rights and Freedoms or MRF [Ahmed DOGAN]; National Movement for Stability and Progress or NDSV [Simeon SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA]; New Time [Emil KOSHLUKOV]; Union of Democratic Forces or UDF [Petar STOYANOV]; Union of Free Democrats or UFD [Stefan SOFIYANSKI]; United Democratic Forces or UtDF (a coalition of center-right parties dominated by UDF)
chief of mission: Ambassador Elena B. POPTODOROVA chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone:  (202) 387-0174 FAX:  (202) 234-7973 consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
chief of mission: Ambassador John Ross BEYRLE embassy: 16 Kozyak Street, Sofia 1407 mailing address: American Embassy Sofia, US Department of State, 5740 Sofia Place, Washington, DC 20521-5740 telephone:  (2) 937-5100 FAX:  (2) 937-5320
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.
general assessment: an extensive but antiquated telecommunications network inherited from the Soviet era; quality has improved; the Bulgaria Telecommunications Company's fixed-line monopoly terminated in 2005 when alternative fixed-line operators were given access to its network; a drop in fixed-line connections in recent years has been offset by a sharp increase in mobile-cellular telephone use fostered by multiple service providers domestic: a fairly modern digital cable trunk line now connects switching centers in most of the regions; the others are connected by digital microwave radio relay 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 - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); 2 Intelsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions) (2007)
total: 71 ships (1000 GRT or over) 833,153 GRT/1,194,660 DWT by type: bulk carrier 37, cargo 14, chemical tanker 4, container 6, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 4 foreign-owned: 3 (Germany 1, Ireland 1, Russia 1) registered in other countries: 39 (Comoros 1, Malta 15, Mongolia 2, Panama 1, Slovakia 7, St Vincent and The Grenadines 13) (2007)
18-27 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 9 months; as of May 2006, 67% of the Bulgarian Army comprised of professional soldiers; conscription into the Army to end as of 1 January 2008; Air and Air Defense Forces and Naval Forces became fully professional at the end of 2006; Bulgarian Armed Forces encountered difficulties meeting conscript quotas in April 2007 (2007)
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; some money laundering of drug-related proceeds through financial institutions