Bulgaria is especially known for its magnificent beach resorts, such as the golden sands of Varna. Bulgaria has been part of both ancient Thrace and the Roman and Byzantine kingdoms. Today, the country is an affordable travel destination that offers a relaxing vacation for all ages.
Official language: Bulgaria
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a valid passport or chip ID card as a travel document to Bulgaria.
Time difference to Finland: +0
Summer time: +0
Agriculture and fishing
Bulgaria is a fertile country with large agricultural areas on the Danube plain in the north and the Thrace in the south-east. The most important crops are wheat, maize, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, grapes, vegetables, fruits and tobacco. Animal husbandry covers everything from beekeeping to buffalo. Well-known products are yogurt and sheep cheese.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Bulgaria. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
During communism, the small farmers who previously dominated agriculture were forced into large, state cooperatives. On the return to the market economy in the 1990s, disagreement arose as to how the land would be returned to the original owner families. Combined with the loss of previous export markets in the Eastern Bloc, neglect and poor economy, this meant a severe decline for agriculture. Many farms and farms were laid for the feet.
By the turn of the millennium, virtually all land had been returned to the old owners or their descendants. As a result, a large part of the land was split into too small lots to run profitable agriculture. Between 2003 and 2010, the number of farms decreased by 44 percent, while the average size of agriculture more than doubled. The number of employees was almost halved at the same time. For Bulgaria defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
There are also larger cooperatives operating on private land.
The uncertain ownership conditions have caused too little investment in agriculture. The sector’s share of exports has steadily declined since the crisis years. Important agricultural commodities are wine and vegetables.
Fishing mainly occurs in the Black Sea and in the Danube. There are cultivations of mussels and sturgeon, among other things, but fishing has no great economic significance. Nor does forestry, even though forests cover a third of the land area.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
3.6 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
46.3 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of BUL stands for the state of Bulgaria in geography.
New anti-corruption law is adopted
The Bulgarian Parliament adopts a bill aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption at the highest level of society. It only happens a few days before the country takes over the EU Presidency at the turn of the year 2017/2018. The Union has long called on Bulgaria to introduce such a law. Several politicians and senior civil servants’ declarations of income, property and possible conflicts of interest should be able to be examined by a special unit (see August 2017).
Special court against top-level corruption
A new court is created solely to deal with corruption cases at the highest level of society. There, corruption-accused ministers, deputy ministers and mayors will be investigated. The decision receives criticism, partly because there is a fear that there will be a risk that cases involving people at that level may be politicized. Critics also believe that the real problems with corruption, the lack of thorough police investigations, are not being addressed.
Friendship agreement with Macedonia
Prime Minister Borisov and his Macedonian colleague Zoran Zaev sign a friendship agreement which they hope will end decades of antagonism and pave the way for Macedonia’s entry into the EU and NATO. The agreement stipulates that countries should strengthen their economic relations, stop claiming each other’s territories and strengthen the rights of minorities. They acknowledge their common historical past, but Bulgaria has still not recognized the Macedonian as its own language but considers it a Bulgarian dialect.
Extreme nationalist guides advice on minority issues
Right-wing Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov is appointed chair of a commission to address issues of integration of minorities and migrants. The decision raises criticism, as Simeonov has made himself known for grossly racist statements about Roma and Bulgarians of Turkish origin. Simeonov is one of the leaders of the United Patriots Party Alliance.
New EU Commissioner
The government nominates EU parliamentarian Marija Gabriel as Bulgaria’s new EU commissioner, a post that has been vacant since Kristalina Georgieva resigned in October 2016 to become head of the World Bank. Gabriel, 37, represents the Gerb government party and has been in the European Parliament since 2009 for the EPP Conservative party group.
Government with four nationalists
Acting Prime Minister Bojko Borisov presents his government, which in addition to himself consists of four Deputy Prime Ministers and 18 Ministers. The National Alliance United Patriots will be responsible for the Defense, Economic, Environmental and Social Ministries and two of the three party leaders will also become Deputy Prime Ministers. The extremist party Attack that is part of the alliance receives no government mandate. The new Foreign Minister will be Ekaterina Zacharieva, who was previously Minister of Justice. She also becomes Deputy Prime Minister with special responsibility for reforming the judiciary.
Borisov forms government
As expected, former Prime Minister Bojko Borisov will be assigned the task of forming a new government. It will be a coalition between his own party Gerb and the ultranationalist Alliance United Patriots. Together, they have 122 of Parliament’s 240 members.
Victory for Gerb in the recent election
Conservative Gerb becomes by far the largest party in the new election. Gerb receives almost 33 percent of the vote and 95 of Parliament’s 240 seats. The newly formed nationalist Alliance United Patriots, which includes the extreme right-wing party Attack, will receive 27 seats. The populist party Volja (Determination) enters Parliament with 12 seats. As expected, the Socialist Party becomes the second largest with 80 seats.
Bordered against Turkey
24th of March
Bulgarian nationalists block the three largest border crossings to Turkey to prevent Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin, living in Turkey, from entering the country to take part in the impending parliamentary elections. About 200,000 Bulgarian citizens live in Turkey. The nationalists fear that most of them would vote for the new party Dost, which is considered to be close to the Turkish AKP government.
Diplomatic conflict with Turkey
Bulgaria calls home its ambassador from Ankara after the Turkish ambassador to Sofia has openly taken a stand for the newly formed party Dost ahead of the new election to the Bulgarian parliament. Dost is a breakout party from the DPS and mainly attracts voters from the Bulgarian-Turkish minority. The Interim Government says that Turkey should not be allowed to intervene in the Bulgarian elections.
Doubtful defense contracts are reviewed
The interim government says that more than half of the contracts for procurement for the defense that were signed in 2016 are not correct. Nine of them are examined in particular because there are suspicions of fraud. Every year, Bulgaria is classified as the EU’s most corrupt country. Prime Minister Gerdzhikov says that the government has found deficiencies in the procurement even at other ministries and government agencies.
American soldiers on site
Hundreds of American soldiers with armored vehicles and other heavy equipment are being installed at a military base in Novo Selo, eastern Bulgaria. They are part of NATO’s strengthened presence in the new Eastern European member states, prompted by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military involvement in eastern Ukraine.
The EU’s watchful eye remains
The European Commission decides to keep Bulgaria under surveillance also in 2017. The Commission clarifies 17 points where the country’s government and public institutions must strengthen anti-corruption efforts and increase public transparency in the work of the authorities. Among other things, a law against corruption that has been delayed in Parliament must be adopted, the activities of the Prosecutor General’s Office become more open and more high-level corruption suspects can be prosecuted and convicted.
Interim government appointed, newly elected in March
President Radev appoints former President Ognjan Gerdzhikov to lead a provisional government and announces new elections until March 26.
The new president takes office
Rumen Radev assumes the presidential post after leaving office a few days earlier.
New party against corruption
7 th of January
A new political party, named Ja Bulgaria, is formed with the ambition to fight corruption, increase economic growth and raise living standards. Former Minister of Justice Hristo Ivanov is elected chairman. The party intends to run in the parliamentary elections which are expected to be held in the spring.