Local taxes are charged by the municipalities. According to the latest developments in the applicable law, the Municipal Council determines the amount of the taxes within the range established by the law. Till the end of 2007, the rates and amounts of local taxes were provided for by the law. The main local taxes are:
Real Estate Tax
Taxable properties are built up land and non-built construction plots. No tax shall be levied on agricultural land tracts and forests, with the exception of developed land in respect of the actually developed surface area and the adjoining ground.
Taxable persons are the owners or holders of limited real rights over the taxable property.
The Municipal Council determines the amount of the tax within a range of 0.1 to 4.5 per mille of the assessed value of the property. A reduction of 50% of the tax is allowed, if the property is a main residence.
Transfer tax shall be levied on any properties acquired by donation, as well as on real estates, limited real rights thereto, and motor vehicles. The tax shall be paid by the transferee of the property or by the transferor in case the transferee is abroad.
The tax rate is determined by the Municipal Council within 0,1 and 3 per cent of the assessed value of the transferred property.
Donation and disposal without consideration of any property are subject to tax at the following rates:
- from 0.4 to 0.8 per cent: applicable to donations between siblings and the children of siblings;
- from 3,3 to 6,6 per cent: applicable to donations between any persons.
Exemption from transfer taxes is provided for privatization of assets, for in-kind contribution of assets to the share capital of a company as well as in some other cases provided in law.
Vehicle tax is payable by the owners of road means of transport, ships and airplanes registered in Bulgaria. The rate of the tax depends on the type and the characteristics of the respective mean of transport, e.g. the vehicle tax for cars is determined by the engine power.
In addition to the above taxes, the municipalities collect also some service charges for performance or maintenance of public services such as: waste collection charge, tourist charge, charges for various administrative services.
Income Taxation of Individuals
Taxable persons are resident and non-resident natural persons, who earn income from sources in Bulgaria and resident and non-resident persons, who are obligated to withhold and remit taxes.
“Resident natural person,” whatever the nationality, is any person:
- who has a permanent address in Bulgaria, or
- who is present within the territory of Bulgaria for a period exceeding 183 days in any twelve-month period, or
- who is sent abroad by the Bulgarian State, by bodies and/or organizations thereof, by Bulgarian enterprises, and the members of the family of any such person, or
- whose centre of vital interests is situated in Bulgaria.
Any person, who has a permanent address in Bulgaria but whose centre of vital interests is not situated in the country, is not a resident natural person. Where a Double Tax Treaty applies, the residency status could be impacted by the provisions of the Treaty.
Resident natural persons are liable to taxes in respect of any income acquired thereby from sources inside and outside the Republic of Bulgaria while non-resident natural persons are liable to taxes in respect of any income acquired thereby from sources inside the Republic of Bulgaria.
Bulgarian law contains detailed rules on when an activity or investment is sufficiently related to Bulgaria to give rise to Bulgarian taxation.
The annual taxable income is defined as an aggregate of the total income received by the individual during the calendar year with the exception of the income which is non-taxable by virtue of a law and the income specifically excluded from the annual income which is taxed separately under specific rules.
The taxable income and the taxable amount shall be determined for each source of income separately under specific procedures, provided in the law. The aggregate annual taxable amount is the sum total of the annual taxable amounts determined for each type of income, depending on the sources, net of the tax relieves provided for by law.
The sum total of the annual taxable amounts is debited with:
- personal voluntary social insurance contributions made during the year to an aggregate amount not exceeding 10 per cent of the sum total of the annual taxable amounts, as well as with any personal voluntary health insurance contributions and premiums/payments paid during the year under contracts of life assurance to an aggregate amount not exceeding 10 per cent of the sum total of the annual taxable amounts;
- donations made during the year up to certain limits and under certain conditions etc
A significant amendment in income taxation of individuals is that the progressive tax rate which depended on the amount of the annual taxable income and was within the range of 20 % to 24 % is replaced with a flat rate of 10 % regardless of the amount of taxable income. Thus, in general the amount of tax on the aggregate annual taxable amount is determined by multiplying the aggregate annual taxable amount by a tax rate of 10 per cent.
Certain items of income of residents or non-residents are not included in the taxable annual income and are subject to special rules of taxation with respect to the rates and the basis for tax. Some tax rates, applicable thereto, are decreased since 1 January 2008. Thus, dividends are subject to tax of 5 % instead of 7 %; income from supplementary voluntary social insurance, from voluntary health insurance and life assurances 7 % and income acquired by the person upon the sale or exchange of movable property under certain conditions is levied with tax of 10 % instead of 15 %
Taxability does not apply to:
- income acquired during the tax year from the sale or exchange of:
(a) one residential immovable property if acquired more than 3 years before the sale;
(b) up to two immovable properties, as well as any number of agricultural and forest properties, provided that more than five years have elapsed between the date of acquisition and the date of sale or exchange;
- income accruing from the sale or exchange of movable property, with the exception of:
(a) means of transport by road, air and water, provided that the period from the date of acquisition to the date of sale or exchange is less than one year;
(b) works of art, collectors’ items and antiques;
(c) shares, interests, compensation instruments, investment vouchers and other financial assets, as well as the income accruing from trade in foreign exchange;
(d) movable property delivered to persons who have the right to carry out collection, transport, recovery or disposal of waste in accordance with the Waste Management Act;
- interest paid on accounts and deposits with any domestic commercial bank, branch of a foreign bank and with domestic mutual aid funds, established in the EU Member State;
- interest paid and discounts made on Bulgarian government, municipal and corporate bonds etc.
Wage Withholding Taxes
Salaries and other payments due for employment are included in the annual taxable income and are subject to personal income tax. The employer is required to withhold provisional tax from the wages of the employees on a monthly basis. The law provides specific rules for determining the taxable amount for tax on income from labor relationships. The wage withholding tax is charged with the flat tax rate of
10 %.When during the respective year the employee received only employment income, he/she is not liable to file a tax return. Where the wage withholding tax exceeds the annual tax liability (for reasons of being employed for part of the year, etc.), the refund is determined and provided through the employer.
Taxation of non-resident persons’ income.
Certain items of income are not included in the annual taxable income but are taxed separately with a final tax. This treatment applies to the following items of income:
(a) compensations for lost profit and damages of such nature;
(b) scholarships for study in Bulgaria and abroad;
(c) interest payments, including interest within payments under a lease contract etc.
The provisions determining the income which is not subject to tax do not apply to the items herein. However, no final tax shall be levied on such items exempted from taxation under the mentioned provisions and charged/paid in favor of non-resident natural persons established for tax purposes in a Member State of the European Union, as well as in another Member State of the European Economic Area.
The tax rate is 10%.
- Income of resident and non-resident natural persons.
Unlike the tax legislation prior to January 1st 2007 the income deriving from dividends and from shares in liquidation surplus of resident and non-resident natural persons is not taxed with withholding tax which had to be withheld by the legal entity, distributing the dividend/share of liquidation surplus. Pursuant to the present Income taxes on natural persons act the income from dividends and from shares in any liquidation surplus in favor of resident or non-resident natural person, where accruing thereto from a source inside Bulgaria and resident natural person, where accruing thereto from a source outside Bulgaria attract a final tax.
The tax rate is 5%.
Under certain conditions a final tax shall be levied on the gross amount of the taxable income from supplementary voluntary social insurance, from voluntary health insurance and life assurances. The tax rate is 7%.
- A final tax shall be levied on the gross amount of the income acquired by the person upon the sale or exchange of movable property.
The tax rate is 10%.
Tax Returns and Payment of Taxes
Natural person should file an annual tax return. The obligation to submit an annual tax return does not apply to persons who have received solely:
- income from employment relationships,
- non-taxable income;
- income on which a final tax is leviable;
- income accruing to non-resident persons, on which a final tax has been levied.
The return should be filed before the 30th day of April of the year next succeeding the year of acquisition of the income.
The tax should be remitted on or before the 30th day of April of the year next succeeding the year of acquisition of the income. Certain items of income are also subject to provisional tax payable through the year on monthly or quarterly basis
According to its Constitution, Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic, a unified state with local self-government. The official language in the republic is Bulgarian, and the religion of most Bulgarians is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
Bulgaria has a strategic location in the center of Southeastern Europe and the main roads of Europe to the Middle East and Asia pass through.
Bulgaria is strategically located and provides access to the following markets:
- South-East Europe – a 122 million inhabitant, high growth market
- EU – Bulgaria offers the lowest cost , zero tariff access to a 500 million inhabitant market
- CIS, Middle East and North Africa
Bulgaria offers a combination of political and macroeconomic stability and incentives for doing business:
- Stable parliamentary democracy; EU, NATO and WTO member
- Bulgaria’s currency is fixed to the Euro under a currency board arrangement
- Lowest tax rate and one of the lowest labor costs in the EU coupled with special incentives for investors
- EU funding – more than €8 bn in EU funds over the next years
The economy of Bulgaria is an open market economy with a developed private sector and a limited number of state enterprises.
Bulgaria’s strategic geographic location serves as a bridge between the EU and the rapidly growing markets of Russia, Turkey, the Middle East and CIS countries, placing the country in the centre of transit between these regions. Furthermore, five pan-European corridors pass through Bulgaria’s territory, including corridor № VII (the Danube river, connecting Bulgarian ports with the North Sea entirely by water) and TRACECA (TRAnsport Corridor Europe – Caucasus – Asia, connecting the country to Central Asia).
The agenda of the government to emphasize on the modernization of infrastructure in the coming years is set to reduce significantly the required time for transportation of cargo, placing the country in a pole position for attracting new investors interested in expanding their businesses in these geographies.
Bulgaria has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1 December 1996. Since 1 January 2007, Bulgaria has also been a member of the EU. The Bulgarian economy is characterized by economic, political and financial stability. The country has a strategic geographic location, liberal access to markets consisting of more than 560 million consumers, and the lowest corporate tax in EU – 10%. Investments in municipalities with high levels of unemployment enjoy tax-free status. There are also increased amortization norms (of 50%) for investments in new machinery, manufacturing equipment and other apparatus, computers, peripheral computing devices, and software. Bulgaria offers tax credits in accordance with special provisions for VAT assessment for the import of material related to investment projects amounting to more than 10 million BGN. There are also provisions for a 5% tax upon dividends and a 10% “flat rate” tax on the incomes of physical persons. Bulgaria enjoys the lowest operating costs in the EU. The level of national indebtedness and the state deficit for 2011 is also among the lowest in the EU. Bulgaria is one of three countries in the EU that has not changed tax rates as a result of the financial crisis. As of 1 January 2011, the country has the lowest tax burden for households and businesses in all of the entire European Union. Its farsighted fiscal policy and stable business environment make Bulgaria one of the most stable countries in the EU.
Lifestyles and cultures in what is now Bulgaria have developed over thousands of years. The country is located at the crossroad between Europe and Asia, and the lands of Bulgaria have been populated since antiquity. The Slavs and proto-Bulgarians were greatly influenced by the cultures of the Thracians, Illyrians and Greeks, and all peoples who resided on these lands – Thracians, Romans, Slavs, and Bulgarians – have contributed to the world’s cultural heritage. It is no accident that the earliest European civilization grew up here. Some of the most famous treasures in the world were discovered at the Varna necropolis, including the worlds oldest golden ornaments; There are Thracian tombs and sanctuaries in Kazanlak, Sveshtari, Starosel, Aleksandrovo, Perperikon, and Tatul. A large number of other golden artifacts have been found, in the Panagyurishte, Valchitran, Rogozen, and elsewhere. The remains of the Thracian, Hellenistic and Roman culture are many and varied. In the dozens of Thracians tombs that have been discovered, there are unique remains attesting to the high material and spiritual culture of antiquity. Entire city complexes had been found – Augusta Trayana, Trimontium, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Pautalia, Akre, Mesemvria, Apolonia, Serdika and many others. The traditions, festivals, customs, and rituals preserved by Bulgarians through the ages are evidence of the country’s profound spirituality and its dynamic lifestyle and culture.
Bulgarian customs are rooted in antiquity and are closely tied to the country’s history and particular expression of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Dancing on live coals is an ancient Bulgarian ritual still practiced in a few villages in the Balkan Mountains. The ritual in its authentic form is performed on the name day of Saints Konstantin and Helena – 21 May or (3 June according to the old calendar. Fire dancers prepare for their dance by spending hours locked in a chapel, venerating the icons of these two saints while listening to the beating of drums and the music of gaidas (Bulgarian bagpipes), which is a special melody associated with fire dancing, after which they often fall into trance. In the evening they perform their special dance on live coals. During their dance they always hold aloft in both hands an icon of Saint Konstantin and Saint Helena. Amazingly, they never get hurt or burn their feet.
“Mummers” is another local tradition that also found in other societies in the world. The Mummer games are special customs and rituals conducted most often on New Year’s Eve and at Shrovetide. They are only performed by men, who wear special masks and costumes that have been made for the occasion by each of the participants. The mummers’ ritual dances are said to chase away bad spirits and demons at the beginning of every year, so as to greet the new year cleansed and charged with positive energy.
“Laduvane” is another interesting ritual thatis performed on the New Year’s Eve, George’s Day, Midsummer’s Eve and St. Lazar’s Day. At this ritual young women predict their future in marriage and the men they will marry. They address Lada, the goddess of love and family life, to ask her about their future husbands.
“Lazaruvane” is a ritual related to coming of spring. It is conducted on St. Lazar’s Day, eight days before Easter. The date of the celebration varies, but it is always on the Saturday before the celebration of Palm Sunday. On this day willow branches are picked and used to decorate the doors of houses on the following day. Then the young maidens in the villages pick flowers to shape as garlands on Palm Sunday. On Saturday maidens gather in the home of one of their number and dress in festive clothes decorated with flowers and sprigs. Then they walk through the village from house to house, offering blessings for good health and rich harvests. They are invited in and given small gifts. Probably the most important symbol of Bulgaria is the ritual of making and giving martenitsas for health and happiness at the beginning of March. For Bulgarians this is a symbol of the year’s renewal, again intended to promote health and successful harvests.
Especially well-respected in Bulgaria are traditions related to the circle of life – birth, christening, wedding, and funeral. Saints’ name days are also highly respected in the country, the most famous ones being St. John’s day, St. George’s Day, and St. Dimitar’s Day.
The holidays that are most honored by Bulgarians are undoubtedly Christmas and Easter – when the generations all celebrate together, united by the feeling of belonging to the harmonious Bulgarian family. Also especially highly honored are the first Sunday before Lent, the second Sunday before Lent, Mother’s Day, All Soul’s Day, and Lent.
While traveling around the country, tourists will become acquainted with various rituals and customs, many of which are typical only for specific regions in Bulgaria.
The Rose is the symbol of Bulgaria. Rose picking, one of the oldest and traditional customs of Bulgarians, has become primarily a tourist attraction. Carpets from the time of the Bulgarian Revival are now highly valued works of art. The major centers of carpet weaving are Kotel, Chiprovtsi and Samokov. Along with traditional handicrafts, Bulgaria’s people have also preserved a wide range of traditional popular customs and songs.
There are a number of architectural reserves in the country that preserve the unique Bulgarian architecture from the age of the Revival (18th – 19th centuries) – Koprivshtitsa, Tryavna, Bozhentsi, Zheravna, Bansko, and Melnik, among others. In some of the ethnographic complexes, such as Etara, Zlatograd, and Old Dobrich, tourists can appreciate first-hand Bulgarian customs and handicrafts, since residents continue to make articles according to old techniques passed down from generation to generation.
During the Bulgarian Revival, the monasteries served as centers of artistic and educational activity. There are still many working monasteries in the country – Rila Monastery, Bachkovo Monastery, Troyan Monastery, Zemen Monastery, Glozhene Monastery, Kilifarevo Monastery, Shipchenski Monastery, and others. Our country is also famous for its well-established national traditions of icon painting and wood carving. The best known icons and carvings are from Samokov, Tryavna and Bansko.
The Bulgarian national costume is an intrinsic part of Bulgarian lifestyle and culture. Over the ages, folk costume designs have been influenced by Thracian, Slavonic and ancient Bulgarian motives. The basic article of clothing is a white shirt with long sleeves, worn under vests and coats of various shapes, materials and decorations. There are four types of national female costumes: the single apron, the double apron, the tunic, and the sayana, and there are two types of national male costumes: white-shirt and black-shirt. Each ethnographic area (Dobrich, Pirin, Rhodope, Northern, Thracian and Sofia) has its own typical workday, holiday and wedding costumes.
An important part Bulgarian culture is folk music and national dances, such as the horo. Instruments typically used to perform Bulgarian national music are the fiddle, the mandolin, the kaval (flute), the gaida (bagpipe), the pipe, the dvoyanka (double pipe), the drum and the taranbuka, another percussion instrument. Bulgarian folksongs are handed down orally from one generation to the next. The ensembles “Cosmic Voices”, “The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices” and the folklore ensemble “Pirin” are internationally famous. Bulgarian traditional dances are exceptionally vivid forms of artistic expression. Most often they are performed by a group of people touching palms in a closed or open circle, semicircle, serpentine pattern, or in a straight line. Participants perform similar movements in unison, along with gestures and steps to a specific melody (the horo). Depending on the rhythm and the steps, there are a number of horo types: the standard horo, the rachenitsa, the paydushko horo and the improvised horo.
Bulgaria’s museums preserve valuable collections of domestic, cultural and military articles; statues, burial steles and monuments; masks, mosaics, and small statuettes of ancient gods; and many other precious exhibits.
Bulgarians have developed their culture and enriched it over the millennia, and they preserve it and continue to develop it to the present day. In more recent times, Bulgarians have also had reason to take pride in their literature, arts, music, and architecture. A proof of ongoing involvement is Bulgaria’s rich cultural calendar of national and international festivals for young and old alike, as well as other gatherings, cultural events, and expositions.
The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations. About 70% of the country’s territory is hilly land and 30% is mountainous. The average elevation of the country’s territory is 467 m, generally decreasing from south to north and from west to east.
In the central part of the country lies the Balkan Mountain Range, where the highest peak is Botev (2,376 m). From south to north, its western area is crossed by the Iskar River, which forms a picturesque gorge more than 70 km long. The northern arm of the Balkan Mountains is mainly karst. The highest peak in this range is Vasilyov (1,490 m).
To the south of the Balkan Mountains are the western Balkan valleys and the Srednogorie (central mountainous region). The largest valley in the southern arm of the Balkans is the Sofia valley, the location of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The mountains in the Srednogorie are the Zavalsko-Planska Range, the Ihtimansko Srednogorie, the Sashtinska Sredna Gora, and the Sarnena Gora.
Between the northern arm of the Balkans and the Danube River lies the Danube valley, with an area of roughly 31,000 square meters. Its eastern part consists of plateaus – the Dobrudzha plateau, the Plovadia plateau, the Lilyak plateau, and the Shumen plateau, among others. To the north lie the Trans-Danube lowlands, which occupy the terraces of the Danube river.
To the south of the capital Sofia rises the mountain Vitosha, whose highest peak is Cherni Vrah (2,290 m). Its foothills extend to the middle part of western Bulgaria, where low-lying and medium-elevation mountains alternate, such as Ruy, Milevska, Zemenska, Konyavska, Verila, and others. West of the Struma River valley and south of Kraishteto is the Osogovo-Belasishka mountain range, which includes the peaks of Osogovska (Mount Ruen, 2,251 m), Vlahinska, Maleshevska, Ograzhden and Belasitsa (Mount Radomir, 2,029 m).
The highest Bulgarian mountains are in the Rila and Pirin ranges, situated to the east of the Struma River valley. The average elevation of these mountains is 1,258 m, and 60% of their area is higher than 1,000 m. In Rila there are 31 peaks with an altitude of over 2,600 m. The highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula, Musala (2,925 m), is located there.
There are two peaks of over 2,600 m elevation in the Pirin range. One is Mount Vihren (2,914 m) – the second highest peak in Bulgaria and the third highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula. Beautiful alpine glacial lakes have formed in the circuses of these peaks.
The Rhodope Mountains are located to the east of the Mesta River valley and Rila. There are 11 peaks with an elevation of over 2,000 m there, the highest of which is Golyam Perelik (2,191 m). The many natural landmarks – caves, waterfalls, and alpine lakes – attract scores of tourists every year.
Between the Srednogorie, Rila, Rhodope and Black Sea are the Gornotrakiyska Lowlands, the Haskovo Foothills, the middle Tundzha river valley, the Burgas Lowlands and the Strandzha and Sakar mountain ranges. The eastern parts of the country border on the Black Sea, where beaches covering hundreds of kilometers attract Bulgarian and foreign tourists.
Bulgaria has a wide variety of minerals. According to the national records detailing the reserves and resources of Bulgaria’s mineral deposits, 163 types of minerals have been found in the country, 7 types of which are fuel and energy resources, 14 types are ore, 75 types are non-ferrous, and 67 types are viable as rock covering and construction material.
Bulgaria is located in the temperate continental latitudes, and its climate is favorable for the development of various types of tourism. The average annual amount of sunshine for the territory amounts to about 2,500 hours. The climate of Bulgaria is influenced by atmospheric associated with the Icelandic minimum, the Azores maximum, and the Eastern European maximum. Arctic and tropical air currents pass through the country in significantly rare cases. The average annual temperature in the country is between 10° and 14°С, with a predominant temperature between 11° and 12°С. This figure is greatly dependent on altitude. In the mountains, at higher elevations thermal conditions are influenced by the thinner atmosphere, so that over 2,300 meters above sea level the average annual temperature is below zero (Mount Musala – 2.9°С). In the lowlands and foothills Northern Bulgaria the lowest average monthly temperature is in January (-1.4° and -2.0° С), and in Southern Bulgaria (excluding the plains) the average January temperature is between 0° and 1-2°С. In the mountainous regions (1,000 – 1,200 m) and the plains, the average January temperatures are between –2° and –4°С. In the higher elevations, the lowest temperatures are recorded in February; the average monthly February temperatures are between -8° and -10°С. During this month Musala ha an average temperature of -11.6°С. Along the Black Sea coast, the average monthly temperatures in January and February are above zero. Along the country’s northern coastline, they are 0.8° – 2°С, and along the southern coastline they are 2.4 – 3.2°С. The highest average monthly temperatures are typically for the months of July and August. They range from 21 – 24°С. The regions outside the mountains to the north of the Balkans have an annual July temperature of about 22°С, and in the lowlands and foothills to the south temperatures range between 23° – 24°С. In the mountain regions (1,000 – 2,000 m) temperatures vary from 12° – 16°С, and over 2,300 meters, from – 5 – 8°С.
Rainfall is unevenly distributed throughout the country. There is a considerable deviation in average annual rainfall – from 500-550 mm in the Danube valley and the Gornotrakiyska lowland to 1,000-1,400 mm in the alpine regions. The annual snow cover in Bulgaria is unstable, and shows significant deviations both with regard to elevation and geographical location. In the lower parts of the country, the snow cover lasts from December to March, while along the Black Sea coast and in the territory south of the Balkan Mountains it remains for only a month, from January to February. Snow occasionally falls during other times of the year (in November or April, for example). But in these regions there is almost no permanent snow cover. Due to the frequent warming of air temperature to more than 0° С, the snow melts a number of times during the winter. Continuous and thick snow cover forms in the mountainous alpine regions. At an altitude of 1,000-1,500 meters, the snow lasts for 4-5 months, and over 2,000 meters – from 7 to 9 months.
The country climate can be divided into five distinct zones – temperate-continental, continental-Mediterranean, transitional, the Black Sea zone and a mountain zone. The favorable preconditions for winter tourism in our mountains include the substantial snow cover and the lower temperatures, allowing the snow to last longer. The development of recreational activity along the Black Sea coast is favored by the few rainy days during the active tourist season, abundant sunshine, moderate temperatures, the relatively high temperature of the sea water, and the lack of blustery winds. What’s more, the bracing mountain air and the coastal air saturated with iodine vapors are both beneficial. Our country is also rich in mineral water. Depending on the thermal level, the mineral springs are divided into cool springs (hypothermal with temperature of up to 20°С); warm springs (up to 20-37°С); and hot springs (hyperthermal with temperature of over 37°С). The cool springs are distributed throughout the country, in such locations as Narechen (Asenovgrad region), Shipkovo (Troyan region), Ovcha Kupel (Sofia), Smochan (Lovech region), Voneshta Voda (Gabrovo region), Merichleri (Simeonovgrad region), and other locationss. Thermal waters constitute the majority of mineral waters in Bulgaria. The spring with the highest temperature is the mineral spring in Sapareva Banya, the only geyser fountain in Bulgaria and in all of continental Europe (103ºС). The most famous thermal springs in the Balkan Mountain are in Varshets, Barziya, Montana, Lakatnik, Opletnya; in the Sofia region there are Bankya, Gorna Banya, Knyazhevo, Ovcha Kupel, Sofia, Pancharevo, and others; in the Srednogorie are Strelcha (40°С), Hisarya (49.5°С), Bankya (51.1°С), Pavel Banya (54.6°С), Starozagorski Bani (45.8°С); along the valley of the Struma River – Blagoevgrad, Simitli, Sandanski, Levunovo and Marikostinovo; along the valley of the Mesta River – Banya (56°С), Dobrinishte (43°С) and in the village of Eleshnitsa (56°С). In Bulgaria the most widespread kind of mineral water are the nitrogen-rich thermal waters, found at such places as Sapareva Banya, Simitli, Narechen, and Momin Prohod. Carbonated acidic waters are those flowing from the springs in Mihaylovo, Slivenski Mineralni Bani, and Stefan Karadzhovo; waters of high hydrogen-sulfide content are found in the Sofia valley. Half of the thermal waters show relatively high radioactivity, surpassing 15 emans/l – such as the Klisura spring (200 emans/l), the Strelcha spring (250 emans/l), and others. Particularly high radioactivity has been registered in the springs of Momina Banya (560 emans/l) and at one of the springs in Narechenski Bani (1,300 emans/l).
The small territorial range of Bulgaria and its close proximity to the Danube River and the Black Sea, together with the location of the Balkan Mountains and its proximity to the Aegean Sea are preconditions for short river arteries and small river systems. The Iskar River is the longest river in Bulgaria (368 km), which empties into the Danube River and has its headwaters in the Rila Mountains. Other large rivers that empty into the Danube river are the Lom, the Ogosta, the Vit, the Osam, and the Yantra. The rivers directly flowing into the Black Sea collect their waters from the easternmost parts of the Danube valley, the northern arm of the Balkans, the Balkan Mountains and Strandzha. These are the Batovska, the Devnya, the Provadiyska, the Kamchia, the Dvoynitsa, the Fakiyska, the Izvorska, the the Ropotamo, the Dyavolska, the Karaagach, the Veleka and the Rezovska Rivers. The largest Bulgarian river within the Aegean drainage basin is the Maritsa (321 km long, with an area of 21,084 square km). Other large rivers are the Arda, the Tundzha, the Mesta, and the Struma.
Bulgaria’s natural lakes (coastal, glacial, karst, landslide, by-river and tectonic) are concentrated along the Black Sea coast and the Danube, and in the alpine regions of the Rila and Pirin ranges. With reference to their location and hydrographic charecteristics, the coastal lakes are divided into three groups: the Dobrudzha lakes (Durankulak Lake, Ezerets Lake, Shabla Lake, Shabla Tuzla, Nanevo Tuzla and Balchik Tuzla); the Varna lakes (the Varna and Beloslav Lakes); and the Burgas lakes (Burgas Lake, Atanasovsko Lake, Mandrensko Lake and Pomorie Lake, Alepu, Arkutino and Stomoplo). The glacial lakes have formed as a result of the glacial activity during the Quaternary period in the Rila and Pirin ranges. There are roughly 260 such lakes. They occupy the bottoms of the circuses, circus terraces, and trough valleys, and they are located at an altitude of 2,000-2,600 meters. The highest is the Gorno Polezhansko Lake in the Pirin (2,710 meters above sea level), and the lowest is Lokvata Lake (1,858 meters above sea level). The longest is Gorno Ribno Lake in the Rila range (801 m). More than half of the lakes have areas of less than 10 hectares, while the largest is the Smradlivo Lake in the Rila range, at 212 hectares; the largest lake in the Pirins is Popovsko Lake, measuring some 112 hectares). Most of these lakes have a maximum depth of 2-5 m, while the deepest the Lake Okoto in the Rila range, at 37 m. The most famous lakes in the Rila Mountains are the Seven Rila Lakes, the Marichini Lakes, the Urdini Lakes, the Ribni Lakes, etc.; and the most famous ones in Pirin include the Vasilashki lakes, the Popovi lakes, the Vlahinski lakes, and the Banderishki lakes. The most important tectonic lakes are the Skalensko Lake (in the Stidovski section of the Eastern Balkan Mountains), the Kupensko lake (in the central region of the Balkan Mountains), Panichishte (in the Northern part of Rila Mountains) and Rabishko Lake, which has been dammed. The only relatively important lake among the coastal lakes and wetlands is Srebarna (a UNESCO natural heritage site). Typical landslide lakes are to be found along the Black Sea coast north of Varna and near the Aladzha Monastery. The Smolyan lakes are located in a vast landslip area north of the city, and consist of three larger and a few smaller lakes.
Medicinal mud deposits are located near the Shabla Tuzla, the Tuzlata, Varna Lake, Pomorie, Atanasovsko Lake, and the Mandra dam. There are turf deposits near the Batak dam in the Rhodopes, in the village of Baykalovo in the Konyavska Mountains), in the town of Straldzha, in the central region of the Tundzha River valley), near Varna Lake, and in the village of Sadovo, in the Gornotrakiyska lowlands). There are deposits of curative mud in the springs of Marikostinovo village in the Sandanski-Petrich valley; in the city of Banya in the Karlovo valley; in the canals at Ovcha Kupel in Sofia; in the cities of Velingrad and Asenovgrad; at Slivenski Bani, Starozagorski Bani, and Haskovski Bani; in the cities of Sapareva Banya, Blagoevgrad, Hisarya, Pavel Banya, Pomorie, and Primorsko; and at the resort complexes Albena and Sunny Beach; in the city of Burgas; and elsewhere.
The country’s favorable climate and natural attractions provide the basis for the development of its 142 resorts, of which 26 are marine resorts, 56 mountain resorts, and 58 are balneological resorts, not counting the numerous balneological and spa centers.
The soil diversity in the country is great. There are black soils, gray forest soils, maroon forest soils, vertisols, yellow soils, brown forest soils, mountain meadow soils, alluvial meadow soils, swamp soils, salty soils and humus carbonate soils. The territory of Bulgaria is divided into three regions with regard to is soils – northern Bulgaria, southern Bulgaria, and the mountainous zones.
Bulgaria is the second most biologically diverse nation in Europe. There are more than 12,360 plant species, 3,700 of which are higher species. Of these, 763 are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria, which lists rare or endangered species. About 750 plant types have been registered as medicinal, and 70% of these are economically valuable. The country exports about 15,000 tons of herbs each year. The forested areas amount to about four million hectares, which is 36.85% of the territory of the country. Of the deciduous broad-leaved forests, the most widespread are oak and beech. The oak forests are in areas up to an elevation of 1,000 meters, and the beech forests are mainly in the country’s central mountain ranges. Dense forests have developed at the lower reaches of the rivers Batova, Kamchiya, Ropotamo and Veleka. Natural coniferous forests are found in areas up to 2,200 meters above sea level, and are the most widely spread in the Rhodope Mountains. They mainly consist of spruce, fir and white pine. Black fir grows in the Slavyanka and Pirin Mountains, and white fir grows in the Central Balkans, the West Rhodope, the Middle Pirin, Rila, and Vitosha.
There are 27,000 species of invertebrate fauna in Bulgaria, and more than 750 species of vertebrates. Of these, 397 are birds, 207 are fresh-water and Black Sea fish, 94 are mammals, and 52 are amphibians and reptiles. Seven zoological regions are recognized throughout the country, four of which are in the Mediterranean climatic zone. Bulgaria is home to European, Euro-Siberian and Mediterranean flora and fauna, and the Mediterranean climate has strongly influenced the development of many species. The cave fauna in Bulgaria consists of more than 100 species. The Black Sea fish populations attract both sport and industrial fishing.
Three national parks have been established in the country: Pirin National Park (a UNESCO natural heritage site), Rila National Park, and the Central Balkans National Park. There are also 11 nature reserves – Belasitsa, Balgarka, Vratsa Balkan, Golden Sands, Persina, Rila Monastery, Rusenski Lom, Sinite Kamani, Strandzha and the Shumen Plateau.
Bulgarian cuisine is exceptionally diverse and delicious, consisting of various salads, breadstuffs, stews, and other local dishes. Many of the dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.
The most products for which Bulgaria is internationally known are yogurt and white brine (feta) cheese. These are almost always present on Bulgarian tables in one form or another.
One of the most famous and most popular breakfast items in the country is banitsa. It is a made of dough with various fillings, such as cheese, spinach, rice, and meat.
Other popular breakfasts dishes include pancakes, buhtas (fritters), mekitsas (fried dough pieces), and fried bread slices. All of these are particularly delicious when served with jam, marmalade, honey or Bulgarian yogurt.
People in rural areas grow vegetables that are exceptionally tasty, which is why salads occupy a central place in our culinary tradition. The most popular Bulgarian salad is the Shopska Salad, but there are also other salads worth trying – Shepherd’s Salad, Harvest Salad, Snezhanka, Monk’s Salad, Dobrudzha Salad, Roasted Peppers Salad, and many others.
One of the most popular appetizers is Tarator (cold Cucumber Soup). It is prepared with yogurt, cucumbers, dill, crushed walnuts and spices.
Soups and broths are also popular in the countryside – particularly delicious bean soups are served in the region of the village Smilyan, in the Rhodope Mountain. Excellent fish soups are served in the regions of the Black Sea and the Danube River.
Some of the most popular Bulgarian dishes are grilled – meat balls, kebapches, grilled meat pieces, grilled sausages, and others. Various stews and dishes in clay pots are also a regular part of the Bulgaria cuisine (hotchpotch and casseroles). These include Chomlek, Kavarma, and Kapama (in the Bansko region).
Another favorite Bulgarian dish is prepared with stuffed cabbage or vine leaves – the leaves used may be either small or broad. The dish, which is prepared by wrapping the filling in the leaves, is very popular in the Thracian region.
One of the trademarks of the Bulgarian cuisine is Cheverme – an entire lamb roasted on a spit. This dish is typical for the Rhodope region, but it is also served throughout the country.
Potatoes are a main ingredient in many Bulgarian recipes. The most popular potato dishes include Ogreten (au gratin), Patatnik (in the Rhodope region), potato stew, and fried potatoes.
Bulgaria’s cuisine also consists of various cold cuts and other meat delicacies. Flat sausage is the most famous of thewse. It is prepared all over the country, but it has the longest tradition in the city of Gorna Oryahovitsa. Another popular delicacy is the Banski Starets (the “Bansko Old Man”). As the name suggests, it is served in Bansko. In Elena and the region known as the Elena Balkans, a specialty is the Elena Pork Leg, prepared with salted pork.
Such delicacies are usually accompanied with a Bulgarian wine, since Bulgaria is justly famous for its wines. Thanks to the country’s unique climate and soils, a variety of grapes thrive here – Gamza (North Bulgaria), the Wide Melnik Vine (in the region of Melnik and Sandanski), Dimyat (in the regions of Varna, Shumen and Stara Zagora), Mavrud (Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Asenovgrad), Red Misket (Straldzha and Sungurlare), Ruby (Plovdiv and Septemvri) and Pamid (Pazardzhik, Pamidovo and Plovdiv).
Another very popular Bulgarian spirit is Rakia. It is made of grapes or other fruits – plums (in the region of the town of Troyan, Teteven), apricots (in the region of Tutrakan, Silistra, Dobrich), figs, pears, and others. A rose rakia is distilled in the Valley of Roses (in the region of Karlovo and Kazanlak), since this is the home of Bulgaria’s oil-yielding roses.
This brief introduction only touches on the diverse Bulgarian dishes and drinks. To fully know the culinary magic of the country, it is necessary to visit all of the regions where the traditional recipes are proudly maintained and culinary delights are constantly on offer.
Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. Its territory is located between 44°13’ and 41°14’ north latitude, 22°22’ and 28°37’ east longitude. It is a European, Balkan, Black Sea and Danube country. This geographic location places it on the crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa.
The total length of Bulgaria’s borders is 2,245 km. Of these borders, 1,181 km are on land, 686 km are on rivers, and 378 km are on the sea. Bulgaria borders to the north with Romania, to the east with the Black Sea, to the south with Turkey and Greece, and to the west with Macedonia and Serbia. The distances between Sofia and the capitals of the neighboring Balkan states are: Skopje – 239 km, Belgrade – 374 km, Bucharest – 395 km, Athens – 837 km, Ankara – 1,012 km.
|Population:||7 504 868 (3629 809 male / female 3 875 059)|
|Area:||110 910 square kilometers / 42 822 square kilometers|
|Land area:||108 489 square kilometers|
|Water area:||2 390 square kilometers|
|Climate:||Moderate Continental and Mediterranean|
|Bulgarian – official language||85.2%|
|Other languages||English, German, French, Spanish, Russian|
|Currency:||Bulgarian lev (BGN), pegged to the euro at 1.95583|
|Taxes on personal income:||10%|
|Form of government||Parliamentary Republic|
|Bulgarian Parliament:||National Assembly with 240 members|
|Executive:||Council of Ministers
(head: Prime Minister)
Cost of living
Indeed, one of the best advantages to live in Bulgaria is the low cost of living in comparison to other EU countries.
Below are approximate monthly living costs in Bulgaria.
Food: 200 – 300 EUR
Internet: 15 EUR
Transport: 40 EUR
Extras: –175 EUR
You can find some of the basic daily costs from the table below:
|Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant||5.00 €|
|Combo Meal||3.30 €|
|Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle)||0.70 €|
|Water (0.33 liter bottle)||0.50 €|
|Milk (1 liter)||0.90 €|
|Bread (500g)||0.45 €|
|Rice (white), (1kg)||1.30 €|
|Eggs (12)||1.30 €|
|Local Cheese (1kg)||4.00 €|
|Chicken Breasts (1kg)||4.50 €|
|Beef Round (1kg)||7.00 €|
|Apples (1kg)||1.00 €|
|Banana (1kg)||1.20 €|
|Oranges (1kg)||1.10 €|
|Tomato (1kg)||1.20 €|
|Potato (1kg)||0.55 €|
|Water (1.5 liter bottle)||0.80 €|
|Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||3.30 €|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)||0.60 €|
|Pack of Cigarettes||2.50 €|
|One-way Ticket (Local Transport)||0.50 €|
|Monthly Pass||25.00 €|
|Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)||0.50 €|
|Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)||0.40 €|
|Gasoline (1 liter)||1.13 €|
|Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, etc)||75.00 €|
|Internet &TV||15.00 €|
|Sports And Leisure||Average|
|Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult||20.00 €|
|Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)||9.70 €|
|Cinema – 1 Seat||5.00 €|