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Whitaker's Almanack: Bulgaria

Information on Bulgaria

See also QFINANCE article

Republika Balgariya – Republic of Bulgaria

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 110,879 sq. km
  • Capital – Sofia; population, 1,191,890 (2009 est)
  • Major cities – Burgas, Plovdiv, Varna
  • Currency – Lev of 100 stotinki
  • Population – 7,037,935 falling at 0.79 per cent a year (2012 est); Bulgarian (83.9 per cent), Turkish (9.4 per cent), Roma (4.7 per cent) (2001)
  • Religion – Christian 85 per cent (Bulgarian Orthodox 84 per cent), Muslim 13 per cent (predominantly Sunni) (est)
  • Language – Bulgarian (official), Turkish, Romani
  • Population density – 69 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 71.7 per cent (2010 est)
  • Median age (years) – 41.9 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'Mila Rodino' ['Dear Motherland']
  • National day – 3 March (Liberation Day)
  • Death penalty – Abolished for all crimes (since 1998)
  • CPI score – 3.3 (2011)

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Climate and Terrain

The Balkan Mountains cross the country from west to east, averaging 2,000m in height and the Rhodope Mountains in the south-west climb to almost 3,000m. Elevation extremes range from 2,925m (Musala) to 0m (Black Sea). The lowland plains of the north and south-east are in the basins of the main rivers: the Danube in the north, which forms much of the border with Romania, and the Maritsa, which divides the Balkan and Rhodope ranges. The climate is temperate, with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers. Average temperatures in Sofia range from −1°C in January to 20°C in July.

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History and Politics

Under the 1991 constitution, the president is directly elected for a five-year term, renewable once. The head of government is the prime minister, who is appointed by the president, and is usually the leader of the largest party in the legislature. There is a unicameral National Assembly of 240 members who are directly elected for a four-year term.

In the 2009 legislative election, the new centre-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) won the most seats, but without an overall majority, and formed a minority government with support from small right-wing parties. Rosen Plevneliev of the GERB won the 2011 presidential election, picking up 40 per cent of the vote; he was inaugurated on 21 January 2012.


President, Rosen Plevneliev, elected 30 October 2011
Vice-President, Margarita Popova


Prime Minister, Boiko Borisov
Deputy Prime Ministers, Simeon Djankov (Finance), Tsvetan Tsvetanov (Interior)
Defence, Anyu Angelov
Foreign Affairs, Nikolay Mladenov


186–188 Queen’s Gate, London SW7 5HL
T 020-7584 9400 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Lyubomir Kyuchukov, apptd 2009


9 Moskovska Street, Sofia 1000
T (+359) (2) 933 9222 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Jonathan Allen, apptd 2011

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Aged 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service1,637,4701,621,532
Fit for military service1,320,9551,337,616

Military expenditure – US$722m (2011)

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Economy and Trade

The government adopted radical economic reforms in 1996 and the economy achieved stability and attracted significant foreign investment, although administrative corruption and organised crime remain potential deterrents. Despite steady economic growth in 2004–8 and responsible fiscal management, the economy contracted in the global economic downturn as industrial production and exports declined. Recovery has been slow.

Natural resources include copper, lead, zinc, other minerals, coal and timber. Fertile arable land produces vegetables, fruit, tobacco, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers and livestock. Agriculture employs 7.1 per cent of the workforce and accounts for 5.2 per cent of GDP. Industries include energy generation, food processing, beverages, tobacco, machinery and equipment, base metals, chemicals, mining and oil refining. Tourism is growing.

The main trading partners are EU countries, Russia and Turkey. Principal exports are clothing and footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, and fuels. The main imports are predominantly machinery and raw materials for the industrial sector.

GNI – US$46,025m; US$6,270 per capita (2010)
Annual average growth of GDP – 2.2 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 4 per cent (2011 est)
Population below poverty line – 21.8 per cent (2008 est)
Unemployment – 9.5 per cent (2010 est)
Total external debt – US$39,280m (2011)
Imports – US$25,361m (2010)
Exports – US$20,608m (2010)


Trade – US$4,753m deficit (2010)
Current Account – US$473m deficit (2010)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£238,895,611£320,718,423
Exports to UK£227,822,635£282,100,216

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Airports – The main airports are at Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas and Varna

Waterways – There are 470km of waterways, and inland ports include Vidin, Lom and Ruse on the river Danube; The main ports are Burgas and Varna on the Black Sea

Roadways – There are 40,231km of roads, including 418km of motorways

Railways – 4,151km

Telecommunications – 2.2 million fixed lines and 10.585 million mobile telephone subscriptions (2010); there were 3.395 million internet users in 2009

Internet code and IDD – bg; 359 (from UK), 44 (to UK)

Major broadcasters – Public service broadcasters Bulgarian National Radio and Bulgarian National Television share the market with a vigorous commercial sector that provides national and regional broadcasting

Press – There are seven major daily newspapers, including Dnevnik, Trud, and the business-orientated Pari

WPFI score – 19,00 (70)

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Education and Health

Education is free and compulsory from seven to 14 years.

Literacy rate – 98.3 per cent (2009 est)
Gross enrolment ratio (percentage of relevant age group) – primary 103 per cent; secondary 88 per cent; tertiary 53 per cent (2009 est)
Health expenditure (per capita) – US$475 (2009)
Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) – 6.5 (2004–9)
Life expectancy (years) – 73.59 (2011 est)
Mortality rate – 14.32 (2011 est)
Birth rate – 9.32 (2011 est)
Infant mortality rate – 16.68 (2011 est)

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