Since the end of the Bulgarian empire in 1393, the country has been through some turbulent times. Under Ottoman rule, Bulgaria suffered great cultural and religious oppression. Yet when they finally became an independent state in the late 19th century, they went through three numbing wars. After 1918, the country came under the dictatorship of Tsar Boris III. People remember him fondly for refusing to deport any of the Jews to concentration camps, but his death paved the way for the Communists to take over in 1944. The country finally became a democracy in 1989 and joined the EU in 2007. Today Bulgaria ranks highly with the UN in terms of human rights.
(Република България, Republika Balgariya, Republic of Bulgaria)
- Location : Eastern Europe
- Capital: Sofia
- Language: Bulgarian
- Population: 7,576,751
- Total Area: 110,993 km2
- Currency: Lev
Bulgarians have spent a lot of their recent time liberating themselves from outside forces and the most famous people lived in the first and second Bulgarian empires. Saint Cyril and Saint Methodus, though not Bulgarian, developed the Cyrillic alphabet while banished from their Greek homeland. The most famous modern Bulgarian is perhaps the Nobel Prize winning author Elias Canetti. His two books Auto de Fe and Crowd and Power have a huge influence on modern day literature and thought.
Bulgaria has become the second largest exporter of bottled wines in the world and potentially could become the most popular. The wine is more affordable than in countries like France, yet still maintains a high quality. The country has perfect conditions for wine growing. There are five wine regions spread throughout the country, but one will find 30% of the vineyards in the black sea region. Here they make mostly white wines including Dim Yat and Riesling. Bulgaria is a country well worth visiting for any wine connoisseur.
Considering the cultures that influenced modern day Bulgaria it should be no surprise that Bulgarian food tastes so good. Their cuisine is representative of the entire Balkan region. They are said to consume more yogurt than anywhere in Europe and dishes such as Mousakka and Sarmi (stuffed vine leaves) though confused with Greek cuisine originated in Bulgaria. The dishes considered by Bulgarians to be traditional Bulgarian, however, include the popular Kavarma and Kyufteta. Bulgarians traditionally like to start a meal with a shot of Rakia.
For such a small country, Bulgaria has had huge success in a variety of sports. In the Olympic Games, they have won over 50 gold medals, more than any other Balkan country. Bulgaria’s most popular sport is soccer and lead by the Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov, they reached the semi-final of the 1994 World Cup. Wrestling is the sport many people associate with Bulgaria. They have won 16 Olympic gold wrestling medals and Kaloyan Stefanov Mahlyanov has become the first European to win the Japanese sumo title of Oseki. He is so well known in Japan and other Asian countries that the Bulgarians call him their second biggest export after yogurt.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2011 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany) for story editing.