Mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast
STRATEGIC LOCATION & TERRAIN (1:05)
Temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers
WEATHER & RECREATION (1:08)
Population: 6,924,716 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: Bulgarian (official) 76.8%, Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, unspecified 10.5% (2011 est.)
DECLINING POPULATION (:54)
Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim 7.8%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Jewish) 1.7%, none 3.7%, unspecified 27.4% (2011 est.)
Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, averaged more than 6% annual growth from 2004 to 2008, driven by significant amounts of bank lending, consumption, and foreign direct investment. Successive governments have demonstrated a commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but the global downturn sharply reduced domestic demand, exports, capital inflows, and industrial production.
FREE MARKET TRANSITION (:58)
ENERGY DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIA (1:00)
Over 75 percent of Bulgarians own their own homes. Traditionally, Bulgarians lived in single-story houses made of wood, mud bricks, or stone and plaster. Most of these have been replaced by two-story brick houses with a plaster finish. In the cities, most people live in apartments rather than houses. As protection against the cold winters in the North, some houses are built mostly underground. Only the roof shows above ground level.
DEMOCRACY & CORRUPTION (1:04)
US Military Presence/Support
Bulgaria provides American military forces access to and use of several of its military bases through the U.S. Bulgarian Defense Cooperation Agreement. The two countries are strong allies and conduct joint training exercises along with the country of Romania. American foreign aid helps to modernize Bulgarian military capabilities and strengthen the rule of law.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1:07)