Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey. It has a total area of 110,910 sq km, 110,550 sq km of which is land; with water contracting 360 sq km. this makes Bulgaria slightly larger than Tennessee. Bulgaria is bordered by Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and last but not least Turkey. The climate is temperate with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers. Bulgaria is rich in bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber and arable land. Bulgaria's location is strategic because it is near the Turkish Straits; Bulgaria also controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia. Bulgaria has a population of 7,385,367 (2006) and a population growth rate of 0.86 per cent (2006), with 68.7 per cent between 15-64 years old.
The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inmates in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but 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 from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Bulgaria became a People's Republic in 1946. Bulgaria held its first multiplearty election in 1990 with the fall of communism. It has moved against democracy and a free market economy ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007. Bulgaria accepts compulsory ICJ jurisprudence.
Bulgaria entered the European Union on 1 January 2007. The government is committed to economic reform and responsible fiscal planning. Minerals, including coal, copper, and zinc, play an important role in industry. In 1997, macroeconomic stability was reinforced by the assumption of a fixed exchange rate of the lev against the German D-mark – the currency is now fixed against the Euro, and the negotiation of an IMF standby agreement. Low inflation and steady progress on structural reforms have improved the business environment; Bulgaria has averaged 5.1 per cent growth since 2000 and has begun to attract significant amounts of FDI.
Tourism has always been a big industry in the country, and is still booming: one of the 130 hotels in Slanchev Bryag, one of the most popular resorts in Eastern Europe. The government has pledged to maintain the fundamental economic policy objectives, ie retaining the Currency Board, practicing sound financial policies, accelerating privatization, and pursuing structural reforms. Economic growth continued in 2005 and 2006.
Agricultural output has been growing in recent years. Farming is more important than stock-breeding. The prevalence of mechanization is higher than most other Eastern European countries. There are more than 150,000 tractors, 10,000 combines, alongside aeroplanes and other equipment.
Industry is of great importance for the economy. Bulgaria is a major producer of electricity though it is not very rich in reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. A second plant, the Belene Nuclear Power Plant with a capacity of 2,000 MW is under construction. There is a $ 1.4 billion (£ 718 million) project for construction of an additional 670 MW for the 500 MW Maritza Iztok 1 TPP.
In production of steel and steel products per capita the country is first in the Balkans. Ferrous metallurgy is very important.
The property market has been boosted recently by foreigners seeking additional homes. These buyers come from right across Europe but the largest numbers are British, encouraged by comparatively cheap property and because the country is more accessible through low cost air travel. The future for this particular country is bright indeed.