Wikijunior Europe: Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a country in south eastern Europe. It shares borders with Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania. The capital city is Sofia. Other big cities are Plovdiv and Varna. Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1st, 2007. The currency of Bulgaria is the Lev.
In 1912 and 1913, Bulgaria became involved in the Balkan Wars, first entering into conflict alongside Greece, Serbia and Montenegro against the Ottoman Empire. The First Balkan War (1912-1913) proved a success for the Bulgarian army. The Second Balkan War (1913) put Bulgaria against Greece and Serbia, joined by Romania and Turkey. After its defeat in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria lost a large amount of the territory that they had conquered in the first war.
During World War I, Bulgaria found itself fighting on the losing side as a result of its alliance with the Central Powers. Bulgaria became allied with the Axis Powers, although no Bulgarian soldiers participated in the war against the USSR. During World War II Nazi Germany allowed Bulgaria to occupy parts of Greece and of Yugoslavia. Bulgaria became one of only three countries (along with Finland and Denmark) that saved its entire Jewish population (around 50,000 people) from the Nazi camps by refusing to comply with an August 31, 1943 resolution.
In September 1944, the Soviet army entered Bulgaria, enabling the Bulgarian Communists (the Bulgarian Workers Party) to seize power and establish a communist state. In 1944, Bulgaria's forces turned against the country's former ally, Germany. Communism ended in Bulgaria in 1989 and since then the country has been democratic and capitalist. Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007.
The area of Bulgaria is 110,994 km2 (42,855 sq mi). It borders five other countries: Romania to the north (mostly along the River Danube), Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea runs along most of the country to the east. It is a land of mountains, rivers, and rolling plains. More than two-thirds of the country is plains, plateaus, or hilly land. The highest mountain is Rila at 2925 metres.
The coastal climate is moderated by the Black Sea, but strong winds and violent local storms are common during the winter. Winters along the Danube River are bitterly cold. Most of Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cool and damp winters, very hot and dry summers. Average precipitation in Bulgaria is about 630 millimeters per year. Bulgaria is likely to experience earthquakes and landslides. Bulgaria is currently facing some environmental issues including water pollution, air pollution, and forest pollution in the form of acid rain.
The population of Bulgaria is just over 7.3 million. The official language is Bulgarian. More than 90 percent of the population speak it. Turkish is the largest minority language. Education is free and required for children from the ages of 7 through 14. Most of Bulgaria’s people belong to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Other religions that are practiced include Islam and Judaism.
Football has become by far the most popular sport in Bulgaria. Many Bulgarian fans closely follow the top Bulgarian league, the Bulgarian "A" Professional Football Group; as well as the leagues of other European countries.
Bulgaria, a country with a historical and cultural heritage, and attractive natural landscapes, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe. The country has historical cities and towns, summer beaches, and mountain ski resorts. In the northern-hemisphere winter, Samokov, Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo become well-attended ski-resorts. Summer resorts exist on the Black Sea at Sozopol, Nessebur, Golden Sands, Sunny Beach, Sveti Vlas, Albena, Saints Constantine and Helena and many others. Spa resorts such as Bankya, Hisarya, Sandanski, Velingrad, Varshets and many others attract visitors throughout the year.
Bulgaria has started to become an attractive tourist destination because of the quality of the resorts and prices below those found in Western Europe. Beach-resorts attract tourists from Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The ski-resorts have become a favorite destination for British and Irish tourists.
There are 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria which include the Madara Rider and the Ancient City of Nessebar.
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