Bulgaria is a beautiful small country in Eastern Europe. It's surrounded by Romania to the north (divided by the Danube River), Serbia and Montenegro to the north-west, Macedonia to the south-west, Greece to the south, Turkey to the south-east and the Black Sea to the east. The Old Mountain, aka the Balkan, runs through the middle of the country, from the capital, Sofia
, to the coast. Hence the name of the peninsula, the Balkans. The official language in Bulgaria is Bulgarian. The official religion is Orthodox Christianity led by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. About 12 % of Bulgarians are Islamic. Bulgaria is a Democratic Parliamentary Republic and its official symbols are the Flag, the National Anthem, the State Emblem and the National Guard. The population of Bulgaria numbers about 8 million people. Bulgaria joined the European Union January 2007.
The wedding will be held in Lovech
Nature in Bulgaria
The climate in Bulgaria is sub-tropical, mild-continental. It has four seasons with great ski opportunities (e.g. Bansko
) in the winter and a hot, dry summer. The country has 3 National Parks, 55 Reserves, and 9 Nature Parks with an overall area of 50,000 square kilometers. In Bulgaria live species, such as the Edelweiss, Red Ant, Alpine Triton, Greater Spotted Eagle and White Seal, which are extinct or endangered everywhere else in Europe. The highest point in Bulgaria is Musala Ridge (2925 m.) in the Rila mountain range; it is also the highest peak in the Balkans.
The history of Bulgaria is long, diverse and heroic. Because of its geographic location, Bulgaria was the first place in Europe that was densely populated in 12th century BC. There is archaeological evidence that the early Neolith civilisation was the earliest on this land as most of the Bulgarian rivers are auriferous and technologies were created for metal casting. The Thracians, the earliest known identifiable people to inhabit the present-day territory of Bulgaria, have left traceable marks among the entire Balkan region despite its tumultuous history of many conquests. The Panagyuriste Treasure ranks as one of the most splendid achievements of the Thracian culture. Through the ages Bulgaria had many forms: The First Bulgarian Empire
, Byzantine Bulgaria
, and The Second Bulgarian Empire
, before it fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The yoke lasted 500 years and changed the country entirely. After the Ottoman conquest all major centres of Bulgarian culture were destroyed, most of the written works were lost. Bulgarian culture entered a long period of slumber, during which it was isolated from many of the processes that occurred throughout the rest of Europe.
Following the rise of Bulgarian nationalism and cultural revival in the 18th and 19th century, an autonomous Bulgarian Church was established in 1870, the Bulgarian Exarchate, which was the result of a decade-long struggle with the Ottoman and Greek authorities and paved the way to the Bulgarian independence. Armed resistance to the Ottoman rule escalated in the third quarter of the 19th century and reached its climax with the massive April Uprising
of 1876 that covered much of the ethnically Bulgarian territories of the empire and was suppressed by Ottoman troops, taking the lives of many. The uprising was one reason for the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 that ended with the establishment of an independent Bulgarian state, albeit far smaller than what Bulgarians had hoped and what was projected by the preliminary Treaty of San Stefano.
After the liberation, Bulgaria became a Kingdom, ruled by Alexander of Battenberg. In the Balkan Wars Bulgaria lost Macedonia to Serbia and Greece and Dobrudja to Romania. In the World War I, Bulgaria, in alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans, won military victories against Serbia and Romania, occupying much of Macedonia advancing into Greek Macedonia, and taking Dobruja back from the Romanians. However, the war soon became unpopular with the majority of Bulgarian people, who suffered great economic hardship and also
disliked fighting their fellow Orthodox Christians in alliance with the Muslim Ottomans. The Agrarian Party leader, Alexander Stamboliyski, was imprisoned for his opposition to the war.     The Russian Revolution of 1917 had a profound effect upon Bulgaria, spreading antiwar and anti-monarchist sentiment among the troops and in the cities. Mutinies broke out in the army, Stamboliyski was released and a republic was proclaimed. During the World War II, Bulgaria was at first neutral, but later was forced to join the Axis powers in 1941, when German troops who were preparing to invade Greece from Romania reached the Bulgarian borders and demanded permission to pass through Bulgarian territory. Threatened by direct military confrontation, Tsar Boris III had no choice but to join the fascist bloc. The History of Communist Bulgaria encompasses the period of Bulgarian history between 1944 and 1989. During this time, the country was known as the People's Republic of Bulgaria and was under the administration of the Bulgarian Communist Party. The People's Republic ended in 1989 as many Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, as well as the Soviet Union itself, began to collapse. In February 1990 the Communist Party voluntarily gave up its absolute hold on power and, in June 1990, the first free elections since 1931 were held, thus paving Bulgaria's way to multiparty democracy.
The date 10 November 1989 marked the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria. A new Constitution was adopted (1991). Bulgaria chose the way of democratic development and market economy. Since 1989, Bulgaria has held multi-party elections and privatized its economy, but economic difficulties and a tide of corruption have led over 800,000 Bulgarians, most of them qualified professionals, to emigrate in a "brain drain". Since a reform package introduced in 1997, the economy has returned to growth. Bulgaria became a member of NATO in 2004 and of the European Union in 2007. Bulgaria has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years. The country still ranks as the poorest member state of the EU, but standards of living have started to rise. More information
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.
Music and Dance
Traditional Bulgarian Folk Music is a part of the Balkan tradition, which stretches across South-eastern Europe, and has its own distinctive cosmic sound. The Trachians had knowledge of cosmic music, brought by Orpheus, who was born in the Bulgarian Mountain Rhodope. Furthermore, they were aware of the mathematical theory of sounds. This has all resulted in the wide variety of folklore sounds and music and the distinctive voices in Bulgaria today. Traditional Bulgarian music has had more international success than its neighbours due to the breakout international success of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, a woman's choir that has topped world music charts across Europe and even further abroad. Bulgarian vocals are said to be "open-throated", though this is somewhat of a misnomer. Singers actually focus their voices in a way that gives the sound a distinctive "edge", and makes the voice carry over long distances.
Raina Kabaivanska, Opera Singer. At present, Kabaivanska is a professor at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, in Siena, Italy. She has a Master Class for performers of Puccini's works, as well as master classes in Spain, Italy and France. She is also a jury member for many prestigious competitions all over the world. Kabaivanska delivered an emotional performance of the "Ave Maria" from the opera Otello by Giuseppe Verdi to open the funeral mass for Luciano Pavarotti in Modena, Italy on 8 September 2007.
Veselin Topalov, Chess Grandmaster. Topalov became the FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. He was awarded the 2005 Chess Oscar. In October 2006, Topalov had the second highest Elo rating of all time (2813).
Hristo Stoichkov, a football legend, and Dimitar Berbatov, the most successful Bulgarian player now. Apart from his football talent, Stoichkov was notable for his on-pitch temper. He was honoured as European Footballer of the Year in 1994. He was named by Pele as one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards Ceremony in 2004. Stoichkov helped Barcelona to the most successful era of the club, winning the Primera Division four years in a row between 1991 and 1994 and the UEFA Champions League. During his stay in Barcelona, he had become an idol for the club's fans, and was Barca's most popular player at the time, having earned a place in the supporters' hearts much like Johan Neeskens and Diego Maradona in the past.
A run of nine goals in 11 games in 2000 to 2001 was enough to persuade Bayer Leverkusen to sign Berbatov in January 2001. In 2006 Berbatov finally joined the Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of 16 million Euros, making him the most expensive Bulgarian player in history. Berbatov scored his first competitive Tottenham goal 2 minutes into his home debut in the Premiership game against Sheffield United at White Hart Lane. He is currently captain of the Bulgarian national football team.
Christo Javashev (and Jeanne-Claude), are a married couple who create environmental installation art. Their works include the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris, the 24-mile-long curtain called Running Fence in Marin and Sonoma counties in California, and most recently The Gates in New York City's Central Park. Although their work is visually impressive and often controversial as a result of its scale, the artists have repeatedly denied that their projects contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic. The purpose of their art, they contend, is simply to make the world a "more beautiful place" or to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.