Bulgaria – Facts & Figures

Bulgaria does not have a large percentage of foreign-born residents - in fact, it's one of the lowest in the EU. Those expats who have found their way to Bulgaria, though, can enjoy choices to suit most lifestyles.

Some expats to Bulgaria prefer the cosmopolitan Sofia, while many foreigners take advantage of the beautiful countryside or beach-side resorts (although the latter is more popular with holiday home owners than foreign residents).

Bulgaria is not, it must be said, the easiest choice for an expat. Though it has stabilised politically since it joined the European Union, the country still suffers from high unemployment. This does mean, though, that the Bulgarian government is keen to encourage new business and job creators.

Another challenge for foreigners is the language: the Cyrillic alphabet can be daunting to those used to Roman letters, and yet it’s vital to integration to know at least a little Bulgarian.

The basics

The Country: Bulgaria (България)

The Nationality: (български)

The People: Bulgarian (българин)

Languages: Bulgarian (български език)

Time Zone: UTC+02:00

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв)

Currency Code: BGN

ISO International Country Code: BGR

Internet Domain: .bg

Telephone Dialling Code: +359

The geography

Capital City: Sofia (population: 1.211 million)

Area: 110,879 sq km (105 out of 252 countries in the world)  lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Coastline: 378 km

Terrain: Perhaps surprisingly for a modestly sized country, Bulgaria boasts a huge range of geographical variety. Depending on where you go, you’ll find plains, valleys, mountains or gentle coastline.

Climate: Depends, to an extent, where you are in the country: but all of Bulgaria has distinct seasons, with cold winters and warm summers. See our Climate Guide for Bulgaria for more information.

Fresh Water: Per capita consumption: 821.8 cubic metres per capita/yr (US: 1583, France: 512; Cyprus: 164; China: 410).

The people

Most of this is from the Bulgaria CIA World Factbook page – we’ve linked to other pages where relevant.

Population: 7,101,510 (July 2017 est. – 103 out of 252 countries in the world). lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject Bulgaria has a rapidly shrinking population – it’s down from nearly 9million in the late 80s. This is largely due to mass migration, as vast numbers of young Bulgarians move to Western Europe for economic reasons.

Bulgaria and Latvia are the only countries in the world that have a smaller population today than they did in 1950.

Population growth (2016): -0.61%.lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Median age: 42.7 lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Life expectancy at Birth: 74.7 lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Urban population: 74.24% of total population (IndexMundi)  lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Religion: 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.) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Ethnicity: Bulgarian 76.9%, Turkish 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Russian, Armenian, and Vlach), other (unknown) 10% (2011 est.) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

UN Human Development Index: 56 of 168 countries. This index attempts to measure a country’s achievements in education, healthcare, wealth generation and a number of other areas. In effect, it looks at the extent to which the people in a country enjoy a long and healthy life, a good education and a decent standard of living. It is a very useful indicator of what a country will be like as a place to live. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

UN Inequality Adjusted Human Development Index: 41 of 151 countries. This index is a list measuring the lost development potential arising from all types of inequality in a country. With perfect equality this index and the HDI would show the same result. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Population Below Poverty Line: 22% (2015 est.) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The medical system

Bulgaria’s universal healthcare system is still in the midst of a decades-long overhaul – the structure it maintained from its communist days was in dire need of updating. Since 1999, reforms have led to mandatory contributions from employers and employees and diminishing state support.

Individual regions have more control over their healthcare than they used to. This does mean that the quality of healthcare can vary massively depending on where in Bulgaria you’re seeking treatment.

Health Expenditure: 8.4% of GDP (CIA World Factbook) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Doctors: 4/1000 (CIA World Factbook) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Hospital Beds: 6.8/1000 (CIA World Factbook) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The government

Bulgaria is a democratic republic with multiple parties. The government is headed by a prime minister, but the country also has a president who is active in diplomatic decisions. Bulgaria is split into 28 provinces, each with a provincial governor.

All Bulgarian citizens over 18 years old can vote in elections.

The Peace Index

Bulgaria is ranked 26 out of 163 countries included in the 2018 edition of the Vision of Humanity “Peace Index”.  This is ahead of Spain and Poland but behind Romania and Slovakia. Iceland comes first. Syria comes last. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The methodology used to make this index may be open to some debate but it is a good snapshot of criminality, conflict, political attitudes and military expenditure.

The Global Terrorism Index

Bulgaria is ranked 94 out of the 163 countries in the 2017 edition of the “Global Terrorism Index”. A low rank/high number is good. Iraq is number 1 on the list.

This is another interesting snapshot, from the same people. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The legal eystem

Bulgaria is ranked a middling 55 out of 113 countries included in the 2017-18 edition of the World Justice Project’s “Rule of Law Index” (with 1 being the best). It places right at the bottom of the region, though, at 24/24. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Bulgaria also scores modestly on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Bulgaria is ranked 71 out of 180 countries included in the 2017 edition of the index. They scored similarly to South Africa and Vanuatu. New Zealand is top. Somalia and South Sudan are bottom. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The economy

Most of this is from the Bulgaria CIA World Factbook page – we’ve linked to other pages where relevant.

GDP (purchasing power parity (‘PPP’): US$55.95 billion (2017 est.) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

GDP per capita: $21,600 lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

GDP Growth 2017: 3.6%. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Inflation: 1.1% (2017) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Public debt: 28.6% of GDP (2017 est.) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Unemployment: General: 6.6%; Youth 10.4% (Trading Economicslightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Currency: Bulgarian lev

Business

Bulgaria ranks 50 out of 190 on the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Index” (2018). lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject It’s classed as an “easy” place to do business. (At the top, classed as ‘very easy’, are countries such as New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, the UK etc.)

As already mentioned, Bulgaria scores somewhere in the middle on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Bulgaria is ranked 71 out of 180 countries included in the 2017 edition of the index.

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