Bulgaria is located on the eastern Balkan
Peninsula with the Black Sea to the east, the Danube to
the north and Greece to the south. After decades of
being a satellite country to the Soviet Union, Bulgaria
is now a member of both NATO and the EU. However, the
country is fighting hard against both poverty and
corruption and is regularly criticized by the EU for
Brief profiles of Bulgaria, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Bulgaria is located on the eastern Balkan
Peninsula and has a coast towards the Black Sea to the
east. To the north is the Danube border with Romania
with the exception of the stretch between the city of
Silistra, where the river faces the north, and the Black
Sea. On the surface, the country is about a quarter as
large as Sweden.
At the far north is the Danube plain, which covers
almost a third of the country's area. It consists of a
fertile plateau landscape, which is intersected by
several short tributaries to the Danube. South of the
plateau, the Balkan Mountains or Stara Planina run in an
arc through the country from the northwest to the Black
Sea coast to the east. This narrow mountain range has
peaks over 2,000 meters above sea level.
To the south of the Balkan mountains are several
lower mountains, which are commonly called the
Antibalkan. On the high plateau between these mountain
ranges to the west lies the capital Sofia. The smaller
but higher mountain areas of Rila, Pirin and Rodopi are
in the southwest. Musala in the Rila mountains is the
highest mountain in the Balkan Peninsula. To the
south-east is the fertile Thrace plain, which is
irrigated by the river Maritsa and its tundra Tundzja.
Maritsa forms a border with Greece, and then forms a
border between Greece and Turkey before it flows into
the Aegean Sea.
About a third of the country is covered by forest.
Most of Bulgaria has inland climates with hot summers
and for these latitudes unusually cold winters. In the
south and on the coast of the Black Sea, the climate is
more of a Mediterranean type with mild winters. The
rainfall is fairly evenly distributed over the year. In
the north and in the mountains, snow often falls in
110,994 km2 (2018)
Swedish +1 hour
Adjacent country (s)
Romania, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Greece, Turkey
Capital with number of inhabitants
Sofia 1 290 590 (Census 2011)
Other major cities
Plovdiv 338,000, Varna 335,000, Burgas 200,000, Ruse
150,000 (Census 2011)
Musala (2 925 m asl)
Danube, Iskar, Maritsa, Tundzja
Borisov back in power
Former Prime Minister Bojko Borisov forms a government consisting of his own
party Gerb, the Conservative Reformist bloc and the center-left alternative to
the Bulgarian renewal (ABV). He can also count on Parliament's support from the
Nationalist Patriotic Front. It potentially provides the government with the
support of 137 of Parliament's 240 members. Borisov gets twelve ministers from
Gerb, seven from the Reformist bloc and one from ABV. Former EU Commissioner
Meglena Kuneva from the Reformist bloc becomes Deputy Prime Minister and will be
responsible for EU issues.
Serious bank crash
The country's fourth largest bank, CCB, is deprived of its license and
declared bankrupt. The bank's customers have not been able to access their
accounts for several months (see June 2014). The bank's largest
shareholders are suspected of having transferred about EUR 100 million from the
bank to its private account, after which he left the country. He was arrested by
the Serbian police in September.
Parliamentary elections without a clear result
The election gives no clear information on how the country can be governed.
Conservative Gerb gets the biggest with just under 33 percent of the vote and
its leader, former Prime Minister Bojko Borisov, is expected to be commissioned
to try to form a government. But Gerb needs support from at least two other
parties to get a majority. The Socialist Party and the Turk-dominated DPS each
get about 15 percent. The relatively newly formed Reformist bloc receives just
under 9 percent and is expected to be included in the government together with
Gerb. A total of eight parties will enter Parliament, more than ever before.
However, turnout is the lowest since Bulgaria gained democracy in 1989, about 50
New temporary government
Since Parliament approved the resignation of Prime Minister Oresjarski in
late July, President Plevneliev has appointed Professor of Law Georgi Bliznashki
to lead an interim government until the October 5 election. Bliznashki was
previously a member of the Socialist Party but was excluded in 2013 after
participating in demonstrations against the then Socialist-led government. He
was a member of the European Parliament in 2004-2007.
New socialist leader
The Socialist Party elects Mihail Mikov as new chairman after Sergei
Stanisev, who resigned after the party's poor results in the EU elections in
May. Mikov has most recently been the Speaker of Parliament.
The government is leaving
Prime Minister Oresjarski announces that he will resign after losing almost
all the support in Parliament. The government and the opposition agree to
appoint an expedition minister and announce new elections this fall.
Rumors are shaking the banks
The central bank says that the country appears to be subject to an organized
destabilization attempt, after rumors spread through the internet and directly
to mobile phones that several of the country's largest banks risk bankruptcy. In
Sofia, people queue up to withdraw their savings and the country's fourth
largest bank CCB is forced to ask the central bank for protection. Six people
are arrested for false rumors and the president appeals to the people for calm.
The European Commission grants Bulgaria temporary aid of EUR 1.7 billion to
banks affected by large withdrawals. At the same time, the Commission says that
the Bulgarian banks generally have good capital adequacy and high liquidity.
The government survives a new distrust vote but new elections await
The government under Plamen Oresjarski survives a vote of no confidence in
Parliament, but the likelihood is expected to increase in the election this
fall. The Socialist Party, whose support Oresjarski is heavily dependent on,
calls on the Prime Minister to resign. The socialists and the Turkish party DPS
set a condition for continued support that Oresjarski announces new elections.
The government loses support after EU elections
The ruling Socialist Party BSP gets just under 19 percent of the vote when
elections are held to the European Parliament. The coalition partner, the
Bulgarian Turks DPS, receives just over 17 percent and withdraws its support for
the government after the election. Gerb becomes the largest party with just over
30 percent of the vote.
Chief of staff and judge are suspected of misusing EU money
The Prime Minister's Chief of Staff is charged with contributing to
embezzlement of EU money. She is suspected of being involved in a case that was
revealed in April when two senior judges were charged with misusing EU money.
Radical imam sentenced to prison
An imam is sentenced to one year in prison for propagating a radical form of
Islam. He is to serve four years because he was previously conditional on
membership in an illegal organization, spreading anti-democratic propaganda and
incitement to religious hatred. The case has aroused strong feelings both within
the Muslim minority and among Bulgarian right-wing nationalists who are using
the issue ahead of the EU elections in May.
Ex-president among the excluded from the Socialist Party
The Socialist Party BSP excludes former party leader and ex-president Georgi
Parvanov since he formed a party faction that will compile his own list in the
EU elections in May. Nine other party members are excluded at the same time.
Jump to the new populist party
Three members of parliament go to the party BBT, which was formed in January
and thus gets a foot in national politics without having run for election.
Many arrested after attack on mosque
More than 120 people have been arrested by police as hundreds of people
shouting nationalist and racist slogans tried to storm a mosque in the city of
Plovdiv. The storming attempt is made in connection with an attempt to get a
court to tear down an earlier decision that an old mosque in a neighboring city,
which was taken over by the state in the early 1900s, should be returned to the
Bulgarian Grand Duchy.
The government passes a third distrust vote
For the third time, the opposition fails to topple the government in a vote
of no confidence. The former Gerb party demands the vote on the grounds that the
government has failed to curb the strong refugee stream and has done nothing to
the increased crime that Gerb blames on the refugees. T wo distrust polls were
also held in October 2013.
A new populist party is formed
TV personality Nikolaj Barekov forms the party Bulgaria without
censorship (Bulgarija bez tsenzura, BBT), who says he wants to work for
"capitalism with a human face". Barekov demands that all politicians who have
broken the law be imprisoned and promise an examination of all politicians'
economic progress over the past 20 years.
Tough EU criticism of Bulgaria
The EU Commission strongly criticizes Bulgaria for continued legal
insecurity, lack of judicial reform and lack of action against corruption and
organized crime. The criticism is described as the harshest since Bulgaria
joined the EU in 2007. The Commission notes that none of the three governments
that have ruled the country since the last report in 2012 has been able to reach
political agreement on the necessary reforms.