BRIEF HISTORY OF BULGARIA


Bulgaria is a country in the Balkans in south-eastern Europe. Bulgaria borders five other countries: Romania to the north (along the River 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, and population of 7.5 million Bulgaria ranks as the 16th-largest country in Europe.

When someone speaks about the history of Bulgaria, usually he/she starts with the year 681 AD – the foundation year of the Bulgarian state. The First Bulgarian Kingdom rivaled the Byzantines for control of the Balkan region during the 9th and 10th centuries. At the height of its power The Bulgarian emprire spread between Budapest and the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River in modern Ukraine to the Adriatic Sea. In 864, Tsar Boris 1st Mikhail adopted Christianity as official state religion.In late 9th century the brothers Cyril (Constantine the Philosopher) and Methodius created and disseminated the Cyrillic alphabet. The cities of Ohrid and Pliska, and subsequently the new capital city Veliki Preslav, became centers of Bulgarian and Slavonic culture. The Slavonic alphabet spread to other Slavic countries. Today, it is used in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, and Macedonia.

In 1185, the Second Bulgarian Kingdom was formed and remained in power until the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the late 14th century, which ruled Bulgaria between the 15th and 19th century.

Following a Russian victory in a war with the Ottoman Empire, part of Bulgaria was declared as an autonomous principality in 1878. A year later, Bulgaria adopted a democratic constitution and became a fully independent nation in 1908.

Following controversial political decisions, Bulgaria enters both World War I and World War II, as a German ally, which was apparently a wrong decision. Apart of the tragic consequences of the war, Bulgarian government managed to protect its Jews population of about 50,000 from the Holocaust by refusing to deport them to concentration camps.

In the aftermath of World War II, Bulgaria was placed under Soviet control from 1947 until 1989. Consequently, the changes, which were introduced in the Soviet Union, encouraged reformist elements within the Bulgarian Communist Party. On November 10th 1989, after 35 years in power, the communist ruler of Bulgaria Todor Zhivkov was forced to resign.

In 1991, Bulgaria held its first democratic Parliamentary elections and adopted a new constitution. After a transition period, abided by inflation, economic and financial instability, Bulgaria succeeded to gain political stability, which as a result helped the country to join WTO 1996, NATO 2004, and the EU 2007.

The history of Bulgaria is truly inspirational. It teaches us the power of determination, persistence, and the definition of survival. Bulgaria has survived five centuries of Ottoman rule, defied the Nazis, and endured forty-five years behind the Iron Curtain. Today, after 1329 years of history, the economy of Bulgaria is an industrialized, modern open free market economy with a moderately advanced private sector and a number of strategic state-owned enterprises. The country is classified as an upper-middle-income country by the World Bank with a gross national income per capita of US$ 5,490 in 2008. The country is expected to join the Eurozone (using the Euro currency) in 2013.