Bulgaria is located on the Balkan Peninsula and is bounded to the north by the River Danube and Romania, to the east by the Black Sea, to the south by Turkey and Greece and to the west by Serbia and Macedonia. The Balkan Mountains cross the country reaching to the edge of the Black Sea and its golden beaches. The fertile land is heavily cultivated, widely forested, dotted with numerous lakes and watered by many rivers
Official Name: Republic of Bulgaria
Area: Total 110,910 sq.km.
Highest Point: Mussala Peak 2,925 m
Lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
Exchange rate: EUR 1= 1,96 BGN
Average number of days of sunshine per year: 150
Blue flag beaches: 10
International Airports: Sofia (SOF), Bourgas (BOJ), Varna (VAR), Plovdiv (PDV)
International Ports: Bourgas, Varna
International Dialing code: +359
Internet top-level domain (TLD): .bg
Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, other Christian 1.2%, other 4% (2001 census)
Time zone: EET (UTC +2), EEST (UTC +3)
Government: Parliamentary Republic
President: Georgi Parvanov
Population: 7 642 882 (2008 estimate)
Population density: 69.3/km² (185/sq. mile)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Total est. $92.559 billion (2008) Per capita $ 12,640
Human Development Index (HDI): 0.824 (high) (2003)
Offices: Monday - Friday (09:00 - 18:00)
Banks: Monday - Friday (09:00 - 18:00)
Shops: Monday - Saturday (09:00 - 20:00)
GETTING TO BULGARIA
The major airports are: Sofia (SOF), Varna (VAR), Bourgas (BOJ)
Many international airlines operate regular flights to Bulgaria all year round. From the UK, British Airways, Air Bulgaria, Austrian Airways, WizzAir, Sky Europe, Alitalia and Lufthansa fly direct to Sofia. During the summer months, a number of major tour operators including Thomson, Airtours and First Choice offer charter holiday flights to Bulgaria and now that Bulgaria is a member of the EU, more and more air travel options are opening up. A number of European carriers fly direct to Varna and Bourgas on the Black Sea, XL Airways have recently launched a new route from Ireland to Bourgas and Ryanair have announced plans to fly into Plovdiv. The flight time to Bulgaria is about 3 hours from the UK.
Healthcare in Bulgaria has to be paid for, although Bulgarians receive free emergency treatment. The standart of care is acceptable, although facilities in many hospitals are basic when compared to those in Western Europe. For longer stays it is advisable to arrange comprehensive private health insurance. Most medicines are available at the pharmacist and are very cheap compared to those in the UK.
Bulgaria is a year-round destination, enjoying four distinct seasons: a blooming spring, a typically Mediterranean summer, a long and pleasant autumn and a mild winter with lots of opportunity for skiing. Although Bulgaria lies in the furthest southeast corner of Europe the climate is never extreme in summer. There are more than 1,700 hours of sunshine, rainfall is low and the beaches are clean with ten EU blue flags. The Black Sea resorts have some of the largest beaches in Europe and offer sunbathing from May until October, while in winter heavy falls of snow are virtually guaranteed in the mountain ski resorts, which are amongst the best and most popular in Europe. Bulgaria’s mountains and lakes offer clean air, endless outdoor pursuits and some fantastic landscapes.
EU citizens do not require a visa in order to visit Bulgaria for a period of up to 90 days. During your stay, you can apply for a Long Stay Certificate for up to 5 years. This can usually be arranged within 24 hours provided that you are either employed or self-employed, following a recognised educational programme, or that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family.
LOCAL TRANSPORT, DRIVING
Visitors to Bulgaria may drive using their national licence as long as it complies with international standards. It is advisable, however, to carry an international license. Road signs follow international conventions and usually include translation in either English or German, at least on most major roads. Under Bulgarian law seat belts must be worn by all passengers and mobile phones can only be used with hands-free sets. Unless marked otherwise, speed limits are 50 km/h (30mph) inside all villages, towns and cities, 90 km/h (55mph) outside built-up areas and 120 km/h (75mph) on motorways. Car hire services are widely available.
Buses link most major towns and villages and local government-run services are cheap and frequent. The longer distance services are operated by private companies and are comfortable, efficient and reasonably priced - a three hour journey from Sofia to the old bulgarian capital - Veliko Turnovo is 6 EUR, to Varna - 12 EUR.
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