A land of long and varied history, Bulgaria has seen 13 centuries of battles, glory, advancement and severe hardship. Founded by Khan Asparouh, this country, with its historic past, its literature and arts, has always been a part of European and global civilization. There is an air of colourful magic about Bulgaria's past and present, the ways and customs of its people, their traditions and culture, interspersed with things extraordinary and dreamlike. This lends the nation a distinctive and unique charm and makes it so different from the rest of the world, visibly and invisibly bridging it through space and time with other lands and peoples. We will try to show as much as we can of that special quality, the spirit and the magic which make up the DREAMLAND OF BULGARIA – a country of 7.97 million people (2005 estimate) living on an area of 110,993 square kilometres at the heart of the Balkan Peninsula; an ancient crossroads between Europe and Asia; a place where four seasons grace the plains and mountains of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia; a land cultivated since the dawn of civilization and considered a farmer's paradise; a country of unique folklore, with over a hundred thousand folk songs on record; a distinctive musical tradition influenced by the magic of Orpheus; a dance tradition fuelled by Dionysian rhythms and fire-dancing; a culture known for its costumes and adornments of unique design and magical attraction; the land of the Thracians, of fragrant roses, yoghurt, majestic mountains and a fascinating sea shore, home to wonderful, hospitable people who have a clear vision of their European future.
What is now Bulgaria was inhabited as early as the middle of the Palaeolithic Period. Then came the Thracians of the Bronze Age, who left behind an amazing wealth of archaeological monuments, tombs, shrines and unique gold treasures.
Between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, the Thracians were conquered by Rome and their land was turned into a Roman province. In 395, the area of today's Bulgaria became part of the Byzantine Empire. As the early confederation of Greater Bulgaria disintegrated, some of its people, led by Khan Asparouh, crossed the Danube River in 663 to establish the Bulgarian state in 681. Under King Boris I, the Bulgarians adopted Christianity in 864 and their country was thus incorporated into Christian Europe. It was also in the 9th century that Bulgaria welcomed a group of disciples of the brothers Cyril and Methodius, who devised the Slav-Bulgarian alphabet. The country fell under Ottoman rule in 1396 after strong resistance, and was not liberated until March 3, 1878, when the Treaty of San Stefano put an end to almost five centuries of Ottoman domination.
On November 10, 1989, after 45 years of Communist rule, Bulgaria embarked on the road to democracy, steering its social and economic development towards the goal of joining the European Union.
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. Its supreme standing body is the National Assembly (Parliament). The President of the Republic is the Head of State.
Bulgaria's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was officially proclaimed on April 2, 2004.
The Republic of Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union since January 1, 2007.