Bulgaria has a strategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia.
Administrative divisions: 28 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Khaskovo, Kurdzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofiya, Sofiya-Grad, Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Vratsa and Yambol.
Terrain: mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast. Highest point: Musala 2,925 m.
Total area: 110,910 km². Coastline: 354 km.
Climate: Temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers.
Ports and harbors: Burgas, Lom, Nesebur, Ruse, Varna, Vidin.
Population: 7.1 million (2018 est.).
Religions: Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim 7.8%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Jewish) 1.7%, none 3.7%, unspecified 27.4% (2011 est.).
Ethnic groups: Bulgarian 76.9%, Turkish 8%, Romani 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Russian, Armenian, and Vlach), other (unknown) 10% (2011 est.). Note: Romani populations are usually underestimated in official statistics and may represent 9–11% of Bulgaria's population.
Language: Bulgarian (official) 76.8%, Turkish 8.2%, Romani 3.8%, other 0.7%, unspecified 10.5% (2011 est.).
Main source: CIA - The World Factbook.
The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. 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 in 1908.
Communist domination ended in 1990 and Bulgaria became a member of the European Union in 2007. The capital is Sofia.
Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. In the background, the neo-Byzantine St Alexander Nevski Cathedral, built between 1882 and 1912 .
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