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Bulgaria

Geographical position. Bulgaria is situated in Southeast Europe and occupies the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the north it borders on Romania, to the west on the Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to the east on the Black Sea, to the south on Greece and to the southeast on Turkey’s European part. Bulgaria’s area is 110,910 sq. km. / 42,822 square miles.

Capital city: Sofia (1.3 million people)

Major cities: Plovdiv (380,130 people), Varna (364,968), Burgas (229,250)

Population: 7,563,710 people

Population density: 68.5 per sq km

GDP (2009 estimate): USD 90.51 billion

GDP per capita (2009 estimate): USD 12,600

Primary economic activities. The World Bank classifies the Bulgarian economy as an upper middle income economy. Bulgaria’s economy relies on industry, although the service sector has started to contribute to the GDP growth as well. Bulgaria’s major products include refined petroleum fuels, iron, copper, gold, electronics, bismuth, coal, vehicle components, weapons and construction materials. The country′s dominant industries are Mining and Energy.

Mining and minerals. Mining remains one of the most important sources of export earnings. Bulgaria ranks as the 19th largest coal producer in the world, 9th largest bismuth producer, 19th largest copper producer, and the 26th largest zinc producer. Ferrous metallurgy has major importance. Much of the production of steel and pig iron takes place in Kremikovtsi and Pernik, with a third metallurgical base in Debelt. In production of steel and steel products per capita the country heads the Balkans.

Energy sector. Bulgaria relies on imported oil and natural gas (most of which comes from Russia), together with domestic generation of electricity from coal-powered plants and the Kozloduy nuclear plant. Bulgaria is constructing a second nuclear power plant in Belene, expected to be completed around 2012. The country is actively working on the development of its hydrological sources – around 63 small and micro Hydro Power Plants were located on the National Energy Company’s (NEK) property, most of which have been privatized. The European Union has set a directive requiring its members to produce at least 20% of their electricity by environmentally clean and renewable sources. Certain areas of Bulgaria have favorable wind conditions and investment in wind power generators are showing good returns.

Electronic Engineering. In recent years electronics and electric equipment production has regained higher levels. The largest centres include Sofia, Plovdiv and the surrounding area, Botevgrad, Stara Zagora, Varna, Pravets and many other cities. Household appliances, computers, CDs, telephones, medical and scientific equipment are being produced.

IT & Software. The development of the IT & Software industry is part of the key priorities of the government. It has stable growth of around 30% per year. Bulgaria ranks 3rd in world for certified IT professionals per capita and 8th in the world in terms of absolute numbers.

Food industry. The main industries with a great importance for the country are food-processing, wine and tobacco industries as well as the plant growing and the stockbreeding. Bulgaria produces and exports the best tasting and nitrates-free agricultural products - vegetables, fruits, tobacco and dairies, as well as its famous wines. Bulgaria is renowned producer and exporter of wine to more than 70 countries in the world. On the territory of Bulgaria there are 12 wineries producing a variety of excellent wines.

Agriculture. Bulgaria ranks as one of the top world producers of agricultural commodities such as anise (6th in the world), sunflower seed (11th), raspberries (13th), tobacco (15th), chili peppers (18th) and flax fibre (19th). Arable farming predominates over stock breeding.

Natural resources. Bulgaria is a mountainous country with a dense network of about 540 rivers. Major rivers include the Danube River, as it forms the northern border with Romania, and the Maritsa and Iskur. Bulgaria has large deposits of manganese ore in the north-east and of uranium in the south-west, as well as vast coal reserves and copper, lead, zinc and gold ore. Smaller deposits exist of iron, silver, chromite, nickel, bismuth and others. Bulgaria has abundant non-metalliferous minerals such as rock-salt, gypsum, kaolin and marble.

The foreign trade turnover. Bulgaria’s top 15 trade partners include Greece, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Romania, Belgium, France, Serbia, Russia, Macedonia, Spain, Great Britain, Austria, Poland and USA.

Transport network. A network of international motorways crosses the country, making vital connections to the countries of Western Europe, Russia, Minor Asia, the Adriatic, the Aegean and the Black Sea. Bulgaria also has 6,500 km (4,000 mi) of railway track, and plans to complete the only high-speed railway in the region by 2017. Bulgaria has six official international airports — at Sofia, Burgas, Varna, Plovdiv, Rousse and Gorna Oryahovitsa, as well as many other military and agricultural airfields. The most important shipping ports Varna and Burgas have the largest turnover. Burgas, Sozopol, Nesebar and Pomorie support large fishing fleets. Large ports on the Danube River include Rousse and Lom (which serves the capital).

Tourism. Tourism is one of the key sectors in Bulgaria due to the excellent geographical location, remarkably rich nature, diverse relief and moderate continental climate. The Black Sea Coast offers attractive seaside resorts Albena, Sozopol, Nesebar, Golden Sands and Sunny Beach. Rila, Pirin, Vitosha, the Rodopes, and the Balkan Mountains offer good possibilities for ski and mountain tourism.

Bulgaria has more than 600 hot, warm and cold mineral springs of varied physical and chemical contents, mineralization, curative gases, biologically active trace elements, temperature and curative properties that create excellent conditions for development of balneology tourism.

Bulgaria has over 30,000 historical monuments from different historical epochs, 36 culture reserves, 330 museums and galleries that form an impressive base for the development of cultural tourism. A network of three national and nine nature parks, a number of reserves and natural places represent a significant potential for the development of ecological tourism. The hunting tourism in Bulgaria relies on a large variety of game: red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, wild goat, bear, boar, grouse, hare, partridge, pheasant and many others. Bulgaria ranks second in the world in terms of the quality of shot trophies.

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