Factfile Republic of Bulgaria
Area:42,855 square miles.
Terrain: Mainly mountainous (Musala 2925m).
Neighbours: Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania.
Population: 7.5 million; about half are urbanites.
Capital: Sofia (1 million).
Infant mortality: 18.5 per 1000 live births.
Life expectancy: Men 69 years; women 77 years.
Ethnic Groups: Slavic 86%, Turkic 9.4%, Roma 3.7%, others 0.9%.
Languages: Bulgarian and Turkish are official languages. Another 10 languages are spoken.
Economy: Bulgaria has considerable natural resources in minerals and nuclear and petrochemical fuels. Agriculture, iron and steel industries, and machine building are important to the economy.
Religions: Orthodox 78%, Muslim 11.5%, non-religious 8%; Protestant 1%; Catholic 1%; others 0.5%.
History: In 1908, Bulgaria became fully independent of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It fought on the losing side in both World Wars and came, in 1946, within the Soviet sphere of influence. Communist domination ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR and Bulgaria moved toward political democracy and a market economy. Democratisation and economic reforms enabled Bulgaria to join NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007, but inflation, unemployment, corruption and crime remain as challenges.