- Official Name: Republic of Bulgaria
- Official Languages: Bulgarian // Official Script: Cyrllic
- Population: 6,916,548
- Currency: Lev (BGN), which in old Bulgarian meant ‘lion’, though current translation of lion is ‘luv’
- Bulgaria is a Balkan nation located in Southeast Europe, bordered by Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, and the Black Sea
- Capital: Sofia
- Government: Unitary parliamentary republic // member of the European Union, though has been rejected from the Schengen Area due to government corruption.
- While the first Bulgarian Empire was formed back in the 7th century, the current Bulgarian borders we recognize today were established after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Bulgaria became a one-party socialist state under the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc after WWII, and transitioned into a democracy after the ruling Communist Party gave up power following the revolutions of 1989.
- Bulgaria’s developing upper-middle-income market economy is part of the European Single Market, and is largely based on services, industry --- especially machine building and mining -- and agriculture.
- Folk music is by far the most extensive traditional art and has slowly developed throughout the ages as a fusion of Far Eastern, Oriental, medieval Eastern Orthodox and standard Western European tonalities and modes. Bulgarian folk music has a distinctive sound and uses a wide range of traditional instruments, such as gadulka, gaida, kaval and tupan. A distinguishing feature is extended rhythmical time, which has no equivalent in the rest of European music.
- Siphoning of public funds to the families and relatives of politicians from incumbent parties has resulted in fiscal and welfare losses to society. Bulgaria ranks 71st in the Corruption Perceptions Index and experiences the worst levels of corruption in the European Union, a phenomenon that remains a source of profound public discontent. Along with organized crime, corruption has resulted in a rejection of the country's Schengen Area application and withdrawal of foreign investment.
- 61.1% Christianity (59.5% Bulgarian Orthodoxy, 1.6% other Christian denominations), 9.3% Secular, 7.9% Islam, 21.5% no answer given
- Bulgaria’s population has been decreasing annually from a peak of around nine million in 1988, to approximately seven million today. The economic collapse of the early 1990s caused some 900k-1.2million people, mostly young adults, to leave the country by 2005.
- A third of all households consist of only one person and three quarters of families do not have children under the age of 16. The birth rates are among the lowest in the world while death rates are among the highest.
- Bulgarians are the main ethnic group in the country, accounting for 84.8% of the population, followed by Turkish (8.8%) and Roma (4.9%) minorities.
- Contemporary Bulgarian culture blends the formal culture that helped forge a national consciousness towards the end of Ottoman rule with millenia-old folk traditions.
- In Bulgaria, gestures for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are the opposite from those common in the rest of Europe: sideways shaking of the head communicates ‘Yes’, and downward movement or nod of the head indicates ‘No.’
- On the street or in other public places, strangers will usually avoid making eye contact. In public transportation, it is expected that younger people will give up a seat to an older woman or to a parent with a young child. Failure to do so invites public censure from other passengers.
- In ethnically-mixed areas, it is considered polite to greet a neighbor or acquaintance in that person's own language.
- Bulgarians generally pride themselves on their hospitality and neighborliness. An uninvited visitor will first be greeted with a handshake or verbal greeting at the outermost doorway or gateway, and will be invited further into the private domestic space depending on the nature of the visit. At mealtimes, a guest will be offered food and drink, and at other times a drink (often homemade rakiya); it is impolite not to accept this hospitality. The obligation to accept a host's offer extends to situations outside of the home, such as when invited for a meal or a drink in a restaurant or other establishment. When visiting someone's home, it is customary to bring flowers or sweets.
Economy & Doing Business:
- Bulgarians have a tendency to talk in a roundabout way when concerned about not saying anything that could be used against them later. If you are asking questions and not getting direct answers try asking the question in different ways
- Relationship building is important in Bulgaria. Try to spend time getting to know people before getting down to serious business. Initial meetings should be used as an introduction. The next meetings can then be used for more business focused discussions.
- Punctuality is valued and expected in business, however, Bulgarians are not deadline oriented. They prefer to ensure they have comprehensively covered a topic before bringing proceedings to a close. Be patient and don’t rush meetings, they often last much longer than anticipated. Successful ventures in Bulgaria won’t happen overnight.