The history of Bulgaria stretches back to prehistoric times, though its modern people have descended from the Thracian, Slav, and Bulgar ethnic groups. The Thracians were various Indo-European tribes who arrived in the Balkan Peninsula in around 1000 BC. As the Roman Empire became the major power on the continent, the region that includes modern-day Bulgaria became part of the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire. The Slavs arrived in the region from Ukraine around the 6th century and settled, becoming a powerful population.
In the 7th century, the Turkic Bulgar people arrived, forming the First Bulgarian Empire around 681. The empire grew in strength and size over the next centuries, and held off Arab attempts to conquer the region. The Byzantine forces succeeded in conquering the Bulgarian capital in 971, with its Emperor Basil II defeating the Bulgarian army in 1014. His death led to Bulgarian revolts, and Bulgaria was soon reestablished. This second Bulgarian Empire saw conflict with the Byzantine Empire, Hungarian Empire, and the Mongols. Internal conflict led to the split of the country among three tsars, which weakened Bulgarian power. The Ottomans were able to conquer Bulgaria in the 14th century. With help from the Russian Empire, the Bulgarians were able to remove the Ottomans in 1877, initiating the third Bulgarian Empire in 1878. The independent state of Bulgaria almost included Macedonia and part of Greece, but the Great Powers of Europe would not allow Bulgaria to become so large and powerful.
Bulgaria continued under the rule of tsars, with Boris III, until his death during World War II in 1943. Bulgaria was invaded by the USSR in 1944, and it was ruled by Soviet leaders. The Communist party eventually collapsed in Bulgaria and the country transitioned into a democracy in 1990.
Bulgaria shares borders with Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey, with coastline along the Black Sea.
- Sofia (capital)
- Veliko Tarnovo
Bulgaria is part of the Balkan peninsula in Eastern Europe. The terrain of Bulgaria includes Danubian and Thracian Plains, which make up about one-third of the land area, and the Balkan and Rhodope Mountain ranges. The Balkan Mountains traverse the middle of Bulgaria, while the Rhodope Mountains are along the east, and the highest point in the country is Musala, which stands 2,925 meters (9,596 feet) above sea level.
Bulgaria's longest river is the Iskar, but other important rivers are the Struma and Maritsa Rivers. Along its southeastern edge, Bulgaria has coastline along the Black Sea.
Points of Interest
Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, is a beautiful Eastern European city featuring many architectural and historical sites. One of the oldest cities on the continent, Sofia is home to ruins including the Amphitheatre of Serdica, and the Sofia Public Mineral Baths. Sofia also has several beautiful churches, most notably Saint Sophia, which was built in the 6th century and has been an important cultural site in the country's history. Additionally, Sofia has many museums, monuments, and public buildings.
Other important towns in Bulgaria include Plovdiv and Rousse, which have many architectural sites of importance, including the latter's Sexiginta Prista Roman Castle and several other Roman sites. Veliko Tarnovo is important to Bulgaria's history during the medieval era, as it was the Empire's capital.
For outdoor attractions, the coastal cities of Sunny Beach and Varna offer beach resorts and nightlife along the Black Sea. The Nature Park Bulgarka, Rila National Park, and the Bulgarian mountains are great destinations for more rugged adventures. More Travel Information...
Bulgaria has several international airports, including one in its capital Sofia, Varna, Bourgas, and Plovdiv. Train is another way to get into and around Bulgaria, with an extensive system that offers service to cities like Bucharest and Belgrade. Long-distance bus is available and fairly inexpensive, while arriving by car is another possibility. Buses are also a good option for domestic travel between the cities of Bulgaria, and trains are available between Sofia and Varna or Sofia and Bourgas. Taxis are sometimes available, but not always licensed, which can cause some issues with foreign visitors.
Last Updated : February 22, 2020