The northern part of Bulgaria, the land of the lower Danube, has been an important agricultural area since about 6000 BC. The oldest agricultural culture is known mainly through the excavations in Karanovo, where a larger village community can be followed from 5500 BC. down to the early Bronze Age.
There is also early evidence of advanced metallurgy in Bulgaria – gold and copper mining took place as early as the 4000s, perhaps completely unrelated to similar developments in Southwest Asia. The exceptionally gold and copper-rich tomb field at Varna provides remarkable insights into the copper age religion and strong social differentiation in the Balkans.
During the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age, influences from Mycenaean Greece, the Hallstatt culture in Central Europe and the equestrian peoples north of the Caucasus are mixed. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Bulgaria.
At the beginning of the 500s BC the area was mainly inhabited by thrakers. At this time, Scythian tribes began to invade from the northeast, and Greek colonies were established on the Black Sea coast: Apollonia (Sozopol), Mesambria (Nesebăr), Odessos (Varna). Through Dareios I’s Scythian Campaign 513/512, parts of Bulgaria came under Persian supremacy until 478. Now, for the first time, a larger Thrace of the Riksland emerged, the Empire of the Empire, which reached its greatest extent under King Sitalkes (death 424): from the Aegean Sea to the Danube, from the Black Sea to Strymon (Bulgarian Stuma). The Odyssey princes, who were in close political and cultural contact with Athens, minted coins after Greek role models. Archaeologically, the kingdom of aristocracy is also reflected in the large silver treasure from Rogoz. Approximately 330, Seuthes III built a new capital, Seuthopolis (near Kazanlăk), with Greek-influenced architecture and hippodamic city plan.
In the 300s, the Empire of the Kingdom weakened in battle against the expanding Macedonia. Filip II built Philippopolis (Filipopol) as a stronghold into Bulgaria today. During the battles between the Diocese, Lysimachos made Thrace a great kingdom, which however collapsed after his death in 281 BC. In the future, the area was divided into the smaller principality, invaded by Celts 279-216 BC, but invaded in the last century BC the Romans strong resistance. Northern Bulgaria was subjugated 29 BC and was transformed into the province of Moesia, while the southern part became client kingdom about 15 BC. and province (Thracia) first 46 AD Despite repeated barbarian invasions since the mid-200s, the East Roman emperors managed to maintain the Danube border in the fall of Sirmium in 581, after which Avar and Slavic-speaking people began to penetrate across the Balkan Peninsula. In 680, Bulgarian tribes under the khan Asparuch crossed the Danube and founded the first Bulgarian empire.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Bulgaria on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Bulgaria.
Byzantine emperor Constantine IV was forced to recognize a Bulgarian state in 681, which included both beaches of the lower Danube. The slaves in the area had to pay taxes to the Bulgarians.
While Bulgaria expanded in the early 800s to extend from the Black Sea in the east to the River Tisza in the west, from the Danube Delta in the north and to the River Maritsa in the south, the Bulgarian people were assimilated. Their Turkish language disappeared; the leader, the khan, called himself knez, the slavish word for prince. In 865, the leader of Boris I forced the leader to baptize with him in the Orthodox Church, to which the Slavic people already belonged. The state was expanded in the 800s to Lake Ohrid and the Adriatic Sea. Ohrid became the residence of the Bulgarian Church Patriarch. The kingdom reached its greatest extent under Bori’s son Simeon I (893–927).
Despite the transition to Christianity, the political and economic struggle between the Bulgarians and the Byzantine Empire continued. In 972, Emperor Johannes Tzimiskee conquered the eastern part of the Bulgarian Empire. In the west, for a short time, a local family managed to establish a kingdom that stretched from Greece and Macedonia to Serbia and northern Bulgaria. The kingdom fell apart since Emperor Basileus II, the “Bulgarian slayer”, had defeated the Bulgarian prince Samuel 1014. Thus, Bulgaria was incorporated with the Byzantine kingdom. New Bulgarian insurgency attempts were rejected, including with the help of the Norwegian king Harald Hårdråd, who was in the service of the Byzantine emperor Mikael IV(1034-1041). It was not until 1185 that the Bulgarian Empire was restored, with Veliko Tărnovo as its capital. The greatest extent (with Albania, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace) reached the kingdom under Ivan Asen II (1218–41). The Turks, originally summoned because of a power struggle in the Byzantine Empire, penetrated through Bulgaria in the following years, where Sofia fell in 1382. The whole country came into the hands of the Turks in 1396.
The Turquoise Night 1396–1877
After the looting during the war, the Christian peasant population had to pay personal taxes to the state and tithes to Turkish landowners or to Bulgarian nobles who converted to Islam. The majority of the population remained Christian. By colonizing Turks, the Muslim element increased. With the exception of the compulsion to send certain boys to Constantinople for education to the Janis, the Christians escaped from war service. Some villages could obtain tax exemption by doing war service. The land was divided into counties, the vilayet, and these in turn in the district, sancak. The Turks ruled their Bulgarian territories through the Orthodox Church. Since all Christians were counted as one nation, the Bulgarian interests came to be represented by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Greek priesthood. The national struggle was therefore waged on two fronts, partly against the Turks and partly against the dominance of the Greeks within the Orthodox Church. Greek came to be the language of the higher classes. The schooling was conducted in Greek and was led by Greek parish priests. Teaching in Bulgarian occurred in secret but only in church matters.
During the centuries following the conquest of the Turks, various insurgency attempts followed. Between the uprisings, the shark cloths, robbers and freedom fighters, waged a continuous guerrilla war against the Turks. From the end of the 17th century, Russia sought to act as a protective power for Christians in the Balkans. These pretensions came to coincide with Pan-Slavism in the 19th century. At the same time, a national Bulgarian movement for cultural, religious and political freedom emerged. Books were printed and published in Bulgarian abroad starting in 1806. In 1824, the first Bulgarian ABC book, belly, and in 1835 there was already a high school in Gabrovo. From here, the teachers were recruited to the schools that were eventually founded with financial support from Bulgarian merchants abroad. By laws on religious freedom (1839) and equality for Christians (1856) and intervention by the great powers, the Bulgarians, despite the patriarch’s opposition, were able to achieve religious freedom and found their own church, which in 1870 was recognized by the Sultan as autonomous (the exarchate).
In 1876, another Bulgarian uprising was defeated by the Turks. Sympathies for the Bulgarian struggle enabled Serbia and Montenegro to declare Turkey war, forcing a conference in Constantinople on the future of European Turkey. Three autonomous principalities were to be established: Bosnia and Herzegovina with Sarajevo, Macedonia with Sofia, and Northern and Southern Bulgaria with Veliko Tărnovo as capital cities. When Turkey sought its own solution by introducing a new constitution and holding elections to Parliament in 1877, Russia attacked Turkey and advanced to the suburbs of Constantinople. At the peace in Yeşilköy (San Stefano), the Turks were forced to recognize a Greater Bulgaria. However, the other major powers could not approve the peace treaty, fearing that the new state, together with Russia, could pose a threat to Turkey. Instead, in 1878, the Berlin Congress agreed to divide the proposed state into five parts: Northern Bulgaria became an autonomous principality under formal Turkish supremacy and with Sofia as its capital; Filipopol became the capital of an autonomous province, Östrumelien, which included southern Bulgaria; most of Dobrudzja went to Romania; Serbia got the area around the upper course of the Morava river, and Turkey was allowed to retain almost all of Macedonia and the area around Adrianople.
In the newly formed principality, Russian officials and generals (until 1885 at the post of war minister) could play out conservative and liberal groups against each other. The latter came to dominate the Constituent Assembly of Veliko Tărnovo, which implemented a constitution with single-chamber system, universal suffrage from 21 years, freedom of the press and assembly. With the help of war minister, Finnish Johan Casimir Ehrnrooth, the newly elected prince, Alexander of Battenberg, was able to push the liberals back. A new chamber was elected with limited voting rights. Ehrnrooth became prime minister of a government of Russian generals and conservatives. After a schism with the Conservatives and with Russia on Bulgaria’s foreign policy, the Tărnovo Constitution was re-established in 1883. The Russian generals were allowed to leave the country, and finally, the left wing of the liberals could start modern legislation on general education, municipal administration and a national bank.
In East Stromelia, a revolt against the Turks was organized in 1885 to unite this province with Bulgaria. In 1886, the status of autonomous province of Östrumelia was formally restored, but Prince Alexander became its Governor-General. The gradual deviation from Russia’s political goals of economic dominance and stability in the area led to the overthrow of the Russian-friendly officers. He was then forced, despite a liberal backlash, to abdicate.
After several candidates rejected or rejected elections because of the position of the great powers, in 1887 the National Assembly appointed Prince Ferdinand of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha a new prince. There was an economic upswing in the country, and the legislation was modernized. Under the head of the government Stefan Nikolov Stambolov, the railway network was developed, and Sofia’s university was established in 1888. His foreign-policy and pro-eastern attitude was contrary to Ferdinand’s more Russian-friendly attitude. That led to Stambolov’s departure in 1894, and the following year he was assassinated by his political opponents. After the revolt of young Turks in 1908, Bulgaria was proclaimed an independent kingdom with Ferdinand as tsar. Since the end of the 19th century, Bulgaria had been competing with Serbia and Greece for influence in Macedonia.
After the Balkan war, Bulgaria was allowed to retain only western Thrace because of the disagreement with the other Balkan states. At the same time, Bulgaria was forced to relinquish South Dobrudzja. During World War I, Bulgaria entered the war in 1915 on the side of the central powers, hoping to regain what was lost in the Balkan war. Due to the entente’s blockade and domestic political opposition to the war, Bulgaria was forced to capitulate in 1918. In the peace in Neuilly in 1919, Bulgaria was allowed to leave Western Thrace to Greece. At the same time, some border adjustments were made in Yugoslavia’s favor. Bulgaria would also disarm and pay war damages.
In the 1920 elections, the farmer’s party under Aleksandăr Stambolijski won. Through land reform he won support among peasants and homeless people. The payment of war damages and the reception of refugees from the lost areas created a labile political and economic situation, which led to an army coup, supported by nationalists and refugee organizations. Stambolijski was killed, and a communist counter-coup, led by Georgi Dimitrov, was defeated. Farmers and communists were forced into exile in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, from where they continued their struggle against the new regime during growing disagreement. In 1926, the agrarians were allowed to act politically again. With financial assistance from abroad, they sought to solve, among other things refugees. Finally, King Boris took a military coup over power and the parties dissolved.
In the 1930s, relations with neighboring states were improved through non-aggression agreements with the Balkan Tent (Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Turkey) in 1938. Since the Germans forced Romania to return Dobrudzia to Bulgaria in 1940, Bulgaria in 1941 under King Boris IIIand the German-friendly Prime Minister Bogdan Filov’s position for the Axis powers. In the wake of the Germans, who attacked Greece and Yugoslavia from, among other things, Bulgaria, occupied Bulgarian troops in northern and eastern Greece as well as southern Yugoslavia. In 1943, King Boris quickly passed away after an upset conversation with Hitler. Various transitional governments sought to avoid open civil war with the resistance movement, which in 1942 formed the Front of the Netherlands. In 1944 the Bulgarians began to disarm the German troops. Soviet troops moved into the country, while the front of the country took over the state apparatus.
People’s Republic of 1946
With the Russian troops, the communist leaders returned, among other things. Dimitrov. A persecution against political opponents was launched; they were blamed either for counter-revolutionary activities or, after the break with Yugoslavia in 1948, for titoism. A new constitution with collectivization and nationalization as a basis was introduced in 1947. An intended federation with Yugoslavia did not come into being; after Yugoslavia’s failure with the Comintern in 1948, relations deteriorated.
As Bulgaria supported the Communist guerrilla during the Greek Civil War of 1946-49, relations with Greece improved only slowly during the 1950s. A strong industrialization began under Todor Zhivkov, who became party secretary in 1954.
Following an initial progressive minority policy against Macedonians and Turks, the former were removed from the population statistics in 1966. A Bulgarianization of the Turks, which made up a tenth of the Bulgarian population, began in 1951; in the Bulgarian view, these Turks were actually considered to be Muslim Bulgarians, who were forced to convert to Islam but who would now regain Bulgarian names. When the campaign was at its peak in 1953, 300,000 Turks emigrated to Turkey. Teaching in Turkish was banned in 1974, while 1,300 mosques were closed.
Prior to the 1985 census, the persecution increased, despite protests from Turkey, who called on its ambassador and took financial countermeasures. The leaders of the minority were exiled, and in 1989 tens of thousands of Turks saw themselves forced to leave the country until Turkey closed the border in August. After the party congress in 1986, a general political tightening took place. The reorientation, preustrojstvo, which was first sent out and which in 1987 expressed itself in an open discussion about environmental degradation, was stopped. Reformers right into the Politburo were allowed to leave their posts.
The Communist Party’s fall and free elections
Following the changes in other Eastern European countries in the autumn of 1989, Zhivkov was deposed. At the Communist Party’s 14th Congress, the Central Committee and the Politburo were replaced by a Bureau. The Communist Party’s leading role and the party organ in the workplaces were abolished, and the party changed its name to the Socialist Party (BSP). A decision was made on the introduction of market economy. Free elections were promised, which were held in June 1990. The Socialist Party then received an absolute majority. The opposition, with the Democratic Forces Union (UDF) as the largest party, was invited to join a coalition government, which was rejected. A new, democratic constitution was adopted in 1991.
During the 1990s, the political situation was unstable and governments had difficulty sitting for the entire term of office. The economic crisis worsened, despite foreign aid and attempts to reform the system through privatization. Purges were made against the people of the old regime. Among other things, Zhivkov was sentenced in 1992 to a seven-year prison sentence for misuse of state funds. The Socialist Party was hardly defeated in the 1991 elections and was succeeded by a mutually dissenting opposition alliance.
In 1994, the Socialists regained power, but after the 1997 elections, a center-right coalition, the United Democratic Forces (ODS), with the UDF as the leading party, returned to office. By then, the economy was in acute crisis. Many Bulgarians lived in pure misery, the social unrest was great and the protests against the governing were extensive.
The new government, with UDF leader Ivan Kostov as prime minister, admittedly managed to get the economy on its feet but at the price of increased unemployment, and when the old king Simeon II appeared before the 2001 parliamentary elections, with promises of increased welfare, voted 43% of the Bulgarian voters on his newly formed party NDSV (National movement Simeon II).
Simeon, forced into exile as a nine-year-old in 1946, had long lived as a businessman in Spain and was seen by many as standing above the usual, often corrupt, policies of Bulgaria. He now brought together young Western educated people in his coalition government and succeeded in both improving the economy and reducing unemployment. But the corruption and widespread crime that has been, and continues to be, a scourge since the early 1990s, he did not come to terms with and the economic progress did not benefit everyone. As expectations of Simeon were so high, the disappointment grew all the more, and after the 2005 election his now half-matched party had to settle for a new coalition government under BSP leader Sergei Stanisev. The 2005 parliamentary elections also saw great success for the new nationalist and EU-critical party Ataka (‘Attack’), who made themselves known for their vile outrage against minorities such as Turks and Romans. The party received 8% of the vote and, despite internal divisions, has remained in parliament ever since.
Entry into the EU and beyond
One of Simeon’s greatest successes was that he brought Bulgaria into NATO in 2004. He also completed negotiations with the EU on membership. Bulgaria did not, however, join in the great enlargement of the EU in 2004 when ten countries, most of them from eastern Europe, became members, but had to wait until 2007, when, together with neighboring Romania, it was accepted as an EU member. The reason for the delay was criticism from the EU against, above all, the widespread corruption and crime which was considered a threat to legal security. This is a criticism that has continued even after Bulgaria became an EU member, and since the country according to the EU did not take the problems seriously, substantial contributions were withdrawn.
In the summer 2009 election, the relatively newly formed center-right party won GERB (Citizens for European Development in Bulgaria), led by Sofia’s popular mayor Bojko Borisov. The party’s election promises were primarily about addressing organized crime and corruption. Borisov formed a minority government after GERB received almost 40% of the vote in the election. GERB’s position was strengthened when its candidate, Rosen Pleneliev, won the presidential election in late fall 2011 and the party had great success in the local elections held at the same time.
Earlier governments had also promised hard grip on corruption and organized crime, but neither these nor the GERB government have been particularly successful and many believe that there is simply no real will to do anything because politics and crime are so allied with one another in Bulgaria. Admittedly, a number of authorities and organizations have been established, including: with the task of controlling how EU funds are used. Some high-ranking politicians have also been forced to resign because of irregularities, but few have been able to be tried in court and critics say that there are major flaws in the way police and courts work. Several acts of violence against journalists who have reported on irregularities have taken place, including a serious journalist was murdered in 2010, and there are many signs that freedom of the press has decreased since the 2009 elections.
The serious situation has meant that Bulgaria (as well as Romania) has until now been denied membership in the Schengen cooperation, which means open borders within the EU. The EU Commission, which oversees the legal situation in the two countries, came in the summer of 2012 with a very critical report describing how groups in organized crime have acquired such a strong position that they can affect both the economy and politics in Bulgaria, but also that the Bulgarian The mafia is now operating in large parts of the EU with such things as credit card fraud and human trafficking. After 2012, the EU has also closely monitored Bulgaria and criticized the country.
Neither the GERB government nor previous governments in the 2000s have been able to fulfill their promises of improved living conditions for ordinary Bulgarians (however, many politicians have shot themselves). Bulgaria is considered the poorest member country in the EU and many people live in misery. In addition, the situation has been exacerbated by the Euro crisis of 2012 as well as by the GERB government’s austerity policy to reduce the budget deficit (which has also succeeded).
When electricity prices rose sharply in early 2013, during the coldest winter in a long time, this became the drop for many (since its privatization in 2005, electricity supply has been controlled by three companies, which split the market between them and were able to set what prices they wanted; the plans to build a new nuclear power plant in Belene to get cheaper electricity and even be able to export electric power have, after many trips, at least temporarily been put in the bag. Widespread public dissatisfaction with the conditions in the country led to extensive street protests and the popular protests prompted Prime Minister Borisov to submit his government’s resignation application and announce new elections prematurely until May 12 (regular elections would have been held in June). A (GERB-controlled) interim government under diplomat Marin Rajkov took over until a new government could take office.
But the election led to new problems. The election campaign was marred by scandals and accusations of electoral fraud; The demonstrations continued and in desperation, seven people caught fire on themselves. Distrust of the politicians – all politicians – made voter turnout record low, just over 51 percent. Of the only four parties that took over the 4% ballot in the election (about 25 percent of voters had cast their vote on parties that failed the ballot), none was big enough to be able to form government on their own. Despite the crisis, GERB was the largest by just under 31 percent but had lost almost a quarter of its voters; the largest opposition party, the socialist party BSP, went ahead strongly to almost 27 percent, but, like GERB, would depend on the two smaller parties, the “Turkish” DPS (11 percent) and the right-wing nationalist Ataka (7 percent) in order to get a majority government together. However, the four parties were so different among themselves, and disagreed, that any government formation risked being weak and short-lived.
After all attempts to put together a new government failed, at the end of May 2013, a minority government of technocrats was formed under the politically independent Plamen Oresjarski (born 1960) who was previously Minister of Finance. The government, which was supported by BSP and DPS, became possible after Ataka agreed not to vote against it.
Just over a year later, after several resignations and mistrust of the government, however, Oreshski resigned, and new elections were announced until October 2014. GERB again became the largest party (almost 33 percent), with Borisov able to form government, this time with the conservative Reformist bloc (just under 9 percent).) and the Social Democratic Alternative for Bulgarian Renewal, ABV (just over 4 percent). In addition, he could count on the support of two smaller nationalist parties in parliament. In addition, GERB advanced strongly in the local elections a year later and was able to take power in all major cities.
Politics during this period was characterized by the many people who fled Syria on the occasion of the ongoing civil war and who made their way into the EU through Bulgaria. Although most refugees did not intend to stay in Bulgaria, the presence of the refugees led to immigrant and Muslim hostile groups becoming increasingly noisy. At the border with Turkey, fences were built to prevent refugees from entering and members of various nationalist parties, such as the army, helped to block access roads.
Despite GERB’s relatively strong position, Borisov chose to step down since opposition candidate Rumen Radev won big over the government’s candidate in the November 2016 presidential election. Borisov explained that he could not cooperate with Radev, whom he considered an old communist. However, after another election in March 2017, Borisov returned to power, now at the head of a government led by GERB and with the participation of the Nationalist Alliance United Patriots. This meant that, for the first time, a nationalist and anti-immigrant party such as Ataka, the largest party in the United Patriots, joined a Bulgarian government. A few years earlier this would have been impossible; now it was seen by many as a result of the populist and nationalist wave that swept across Europe in the mid-2010s in the wake of the severe refugee crisis. One result has been a canning ban in Bulgaria. In the new government, which took office in May 2017, nationalists had to take care of the Ministry of Defense, the economy and the environment.