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Thursday 30th March
Bulgaria Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Bulgaria is in South Eastern Europe and is bordered by Turkey, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and the Black Sea.

Sofia is the capital city. Important cities are Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Rousse, Stara Zagora, Pleven, Dobrich, Sliven and Shumen.

Bulgaria's terrain is mountainous. The River Danube flows along Bulgaria's border with Romania. Other rivers include the Iskur, Maritsa, Mesta and Strouma.

Bulgaria's climate is temperate with cold snowy winters and hot summers.

Environment
Bulgaria's landscape is varied. Over a third of the country consists of forests and woodlands. There are many rivers and lakes and thousands of caves can be found in the mountainous areas.

A number of regions are listed by Ramsar as Wetlands of International Importance. These include Vaya Lake, the largest lake in Bulgaria, and the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve. Some regions are UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserves.

The Srebarna Nature Reserve and Pirin National Park are World Heritage sites. Over one hundred species of birds breed in the Srebarna Nature Reserve. It is also a stopover point for migratory birds.

Architecture
Monuments in Bulgaria date back to the Thracian era: the Tomb of Sveshtari (third century BC) and the Tomb of Kazanlak (fourth century BC).

The Bulgarian town of Nessebar began as a Thracian settlement. Like the Thracian tombs, the town is on the World Heritage List. Evidence of Greek colonisation can be seen in the Acropolis and the Temple of Apollo. Other architecture of interest in Nessebar includes nineteenth century wooden houses.

Religious buildings on the World Heritage List are Rila Monastery, Boyana Church and the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo.

The village of Arbanassi, founded by Christians in the late fifteenth century, is now an architectural museum reserve.

There are a number of examples of Turkish architecture from the centuries of Ottoman occupation. Restoration has taken place on Ottoman architecture in Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Shumen and Yambol.

Population
Bulgaria's population was estimated at 7,262,675 in 2008.

Languages
Bulgarian is the official language.

Religion
The main religion in Bulgaria is Bulgarian Orthodox. Around twelve percent of the people are Muslim.

Food
Bulgaria's cuisine is influenced by the neighbouring Balkan countries of Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and northern Turkey.

Traditional food includes bread, pickled vegetables, salads, soups, stews, casseroles, stuffed vegetables, kebabs, spicy sausages and cheese dishes. Yoghurt is very popular and eaten most days. In fact, Bulgaria is said to be the home of yoghurt and Bulgarian yoghurt is thought to have curative properties.

Pork, lamb, beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes are served with staples such as rice and bulgar wheat. Vegetables include aubergines, beans, cabbage, carrots, corn, courgettes, cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and olives.

Favourite desserts are pancakes, baklava, baked apples and fresh fruit: apricots, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, melons, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, plums and quinces.

Traditional alcoholic drinks are rakiya (a fruit brandy, often plum), wine and boza (a type of beer made with grain, usually millet). Non-alcoholic drinks include coffee, tea, juices, buttermilk and mineral water.

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