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State

Capital

Bulgaria

Sofia

Balgariya

Currency unit

Leva

Connections

Balkans

Borders

Central Europe

Macedonia

NATO

Ottomans

Orthodox

Radioactive

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

A Slavic state with much in common with Russia and the Ukraine. The people follow the same Eastern Orthodox religion.

The people, Bulgars, entered the territory of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century. They were one of the tribes of Slavs who gradually diverged linguistically from the common Slavonic speaking peoples who probably lived in the area of the Ukraine. Originally the name Bulgar referred to non-Slav peoples, probably Turkic, who ruled over the Slavs for a period - like the Normans in England. They became allies of the Byzantine Empire after being converted to Orthodox Christianity in 865. When the Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks so did the Bulgars, in 1396. They remained part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878 when they gained autonomy as part of the process of break up of the Ottoman Empire. (William Gladstone, the British Prime Minister led a campaign against the Turkish atrocities.)

The Bulgarians became independent in 1908. Bulgaria has occupied different territories since autonomy. At one time it controlled Macedonia (former Yugoslavia) and a sea coast on the Aegean (now Greek) as well as parts of Romania. There were wars with Serbia in 1885 and 1903 over the Macedonian area. In 1911 and 1913 there were two general Balkan Wars, leading to the first world war in 1914 which was sparked off by events in Bosnia. Bulgaria supported Austria and Germany, hoping to regain the Macedonians.

In the second world war the Bulgarian government supported the Nazis, partly in the hope of regaining lost territories.

Since it became independent of Turkey Bulgaria has worked closely with Russia, irrespective of ideology. Before Communism its king called himself Tsar. Since 1945 Bulgaria had a Communist government. In 1990 the ruling party changed its name and adopted post-communist policies.

The Communist government had a reputation for assassinating its opponents, and was believed to have attempted to assassinate the recent Pope John Paul the second, perhaps as a contract for the KGB. Bulgarian dissidents are believed to have been killed in the west, including Georgi Markov, a BBC broadcaster. Like the Romanian communists its leader tended to put members of his own family into positions of power and was thus tending to evolve into a dynastic tyranny.

The state has much in common with the former colonial countries. The economy is derelict, the tradition of politics is weak. It seems likely that it will continue to be under the influence of some other power, perhaps the post-Communist Russia or Germany.

There is a Turkish minority. Under the Communist regime many Turkish-speaking Bulgarians were harassed by making them adopt Slavic names and being forbidden to speak Turkish or practice Islam. Many fled to Turkey as refugees. Some have now returned, but anti-Turkish feeling is still present in the majority Slav community.

In the western part of the country, and over the border in Yugoslavia is the Macedonian community. Many linguists would argue that Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croat are varieties of a single language. But, as is the way of Balkan nationalism, Serbs regard the Macedonians as Serbian, Bulgarians think of them as Bulgarian (what do they think of themselves?). Future disputes following the break up of Yugoslavia are possible. Could Bulgaria become involved in the Balkan Wars? So far, it has escaped and the danger has probably passed, especially now that it has joined the European Union on 1 January 2007.

Languages

  • Bulgarian
  • Macedonian
  • Turkish

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

A former communist state. In 1990 there were elections and the former Communist party, renamed Bulgarian Socialist Party, was elected though with a large opposition.

New elections were held in October 1991 and the Socialists lost their majority in parliament.

Historically, Bulgaria, although not a direct neighbor of Russia, has usually closely followed Russian examples. Thus while Russia had not fully repudiated Communism, neither did Bulgaria. After the failed coup in the Soviet Union, Bulgaria has followed in ousting the Communists fully. The language is close to Russian.

Presidential elections in November 1996 confirmed an anti-communist president and also elected an anti-communist assembly.

Elections in June 2001 resulted in the victory of a party formed by the ex-King Simeon, which was one seat short of a majority. The party had been formed only two months before. He became Prime Minister.

In the next elections, in 2005, the king's party lost seats to the Socialists (former Communists).

 History

 Politics

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 Climate

Economics

The Bulgarian economy was modeled exactly on the Soviet Union. When the COMECON system broke down, and the Soviet Union wanted to be paid in dollars, the Bulgarian economy collapsed, as it had very few products which could be exported for dollars (mainly agricultural products such as wine which could not easily be sold in the European Union with its own surpluses).

The future of this economy is very uncertain unless Germany and the Community can give it large amounts of aid. This became more likely (but not very) after the Communists lost their majority in parliament (October 1991).

By 1996 Bulgaria was still reliant on Russia for energy and other supplies. It will receive European Union funds for reconstruction and development.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Dangerous nuclear power station
of Soviet design at Kosloduy with no shielding in case of reactor trouble supplies 42% of Bulgaria's electricity. An explosion would contaminate all the neighboring countries, as well as Bulgaria itself, already affected by the Chernobyl explosion. The reactor has been shown to be in a poor condition with lack of maintenance, untrained staff and repaired with ad hoc materials. This reactor could seriously contaminate Greece, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia with probable contamination of Italy and further areas, depending on the wind direction at the time of explosion. Many experts are urgently advising it to be closed down at once. However, Bulgaria is resisting as so much of its electricity supply depends on the reactor.

Solutions?
What they need is emergency gas turbine installations and assistance to save power, with international connections to supply power from its neighbors. But Greece would be unwilling to help and may have no surplus power. To the west the Yugoslav War prevented any assistance. Turkey is also hostile, due to the persecution of the Turkish minority.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Notorious source of secret police assassinations during Communist period (contracts for the KGB). Now allegedly improving.

Turkish minority has been treated badly.

Climate effects

Last revised 9/12/09


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