The Republic of Bulgaria is situated in the North-Eastern part of Balkan Peninsula. It covers a territory of 110,993 square kilometers. The Republic of Bulgaria borders on Romania to the North,Greece to the South, Turkey to the South-East, Serbia and Montenegro the West and Macedonia to the South-West. The Black sea is the natural eastern border of Bulgaria and its coastline is 378 km long.
Situated on a relatively small area, Bulgarian relief is quite varied, altitudes ranging from 0 and 2,925 m above the sea level. The average altitude of the country is 470 m above the sea level. 30 percent of its territory is mountainous. The highest is mountain Rila with the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula –Mount Musala (2925 m).
Winter temperatures in the country vary between 0 and -7º C. Very rarely temperatures may drop down to - 20º C. In spring, the climate is continental. Summers are not humid, especially in Northern Bulgaria, along the Danube. Summer temperatures in Southern Bulgaria are close to those of the Mediterranean – about 28 – 30º C. Autumns in Bulgaria are mild and pleasant. Rainfalls are most frequent in May, October and November.
The country is one of the richest in the world in mineral water springs. Mineral waters rich in salts and iron spring from the bowels of the earth. Over 75 of the mineral waters are warm and hot, with temperature from 37º C to 100º C. The Danube is navigable river of Bulgaria, which connects it with Central and Western Europe. The interior of the country is strewn with rivers, the biggest of which are the Maritza, the Strouma, the Iskar, the Yantra, the Vit. They together with a number of dams and mountain lakes form the country’s impressive water resources. Some of the most remarkable landmarks to see are the Seven Rila Lakes. The big dams Dospat, Batak. Iskar, Arda are actively used for recreation, sports, tourism and fishing. The Black Sea Coast with its golden sands beaches, the authentic atmosphere of the towns and villages attract millions of tourists.
FLORA AND FAUNA
There are 3 national parks, 9 nature parks, 89 reserves, and 2234 land marks in Bulgaria. Two of them – Pirin National Park and Srebarna Nature Reserve (located near the Danube in Silistra town region) have been included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage. Sustainable development and tourism is deemed central for the preservation of dozens of endemic plants and species, natural phenomena, century-old trees and simply virgin places in our lands.
BORDER AND CUSTOM FORMALITIES:
Foreign citizens need a valid international passport and a visa to enter the country. Visas are issued by the Bulgarian Consular Cervices with the Bulgarian Embassies abroad. Bulgaria has signed visa-free agreements with a number of countries, mainly from Central and Western Europe. EU citizens, as well as citizens of Andorra, the Vatican, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, the USA,Canada, Australia, New Zeeland, Japan, may enter the country for a stay of up to 30 days only with a valid international passport.
CUSTOM REQUIREMENTS AND RESTRICTIONS
When crossing the state border of the Republic of Bulgaria, passengers may import and export non-commercial goods, in terms of quality, kind and value. These do not include consumption goods and personal belongings. Tobacco articles (for passengers over 16): cigarettes – 200 items or other tobacco products – 250 grams.
Alcohol (for passengers over 16): 2 litters of wine, 1 litter of alcoholic beverages. Other beverages: coffee – 500 grams; instant coffee – 200 grams; tea – 100 grams; instant tea – 40 grams; perfumes – 50 ml., toilet water – 250 ml. Passengers under 16 are not allowed to import the above commodities, unless they are medically prescribed. Passengers over 16 may import duty-free goods, other than those mentioned above at a total value of 100 USD or the equivalent of this sum in other currency. For passengers under 16, this sum is 50 USD or the equivalent of this sum in other currency. The personal belongings, needed by passengers for daily use during their stay are considered temporary imports, and are duty and charge free.
CONVERTIBLE CURRENCY AND CURRENCY REGULATION
The Balkan monetary unit is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). 1 Lev = 100 stotinki. Presently, coins in circulation are of nominal values, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 stotinki, and 1 lev. The banknotes are: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 leva.
The exchange rate of the Lev is pegged to the Euro, one Euro being exchanged for BGN 1.9 on average. Exchange of foreign currency takes place in all banks in Bulgaria or in the network of change bureaus in the towns and resorts. Banks and some exchange offices charge commission fees.
Insurance of foreign citizens is normally included in the tourist packages of the tour-operators. Foreign tourists may also enter Bulgaria with policies by foreign insurance companies.
Foreign citizens visiting Bulgaria as tourists or guests may be insured in Bulgaria. Those who are staying temporarily in the country use “Accident and medical costs” and “Hotel guests” insurance-bill, if they are staying in a hotel. Emergency medical care is rendered to all persons by the closest health-care institution. Foreigners pay to the health-care services, except for the citizens of the countries with which Bulgaria has bilateral agreement on rendering free medical services in emergencies. Foreigners pay for the medical services in an exchange of an invoice in Bulgarian Leva in cash at the cash desk of the medical establishment or else with the bank transfer from abroad.
ROAD TRAFFIC RULES
Driving in Bulgaria is on the right. Speed limits for cars and vehicles with up to eight seats are 50 km/h in settlements, 90 km/h on other roads, and 130 km/h on highways. Safety bells are obligatory. The limit of admissible blood alcohol content for drivers in the country is 0,5 promile (0,5 per 1000). There is a thick network of filling stations selling fuels of octane values 91, 95 H, 98, as well as Diesel.
IT IS GOOD TO KNOW!
The local time in Bulgaria is +2 hours from the West-European time (GMT) and +1 hour from the Central-European time (CET). Summer time is from late March through late October.
TERRITORIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. The country is divided into 28 districts and 258 municipalities. 6 plan regions have been defined in the country as well in conformity with EU requirements.
The official language is Bulgarian, and the official alphabet is Cyrillic. The Bulgarian language belongs of the group of the Slavonic languages. The languages most similar to it are Russian and Serbo-Croatian. English is the most common foreign language. French, German and Russian are also spoken.
Change money only in banks and change bureaus. Sometimes in front of the change bureau, you may be accosted by people offering a higher exchange rate than the official one. Avoid such gains on the cheap, if you don’t want to be the victim of a street swindle.
When parking your car, don’t forget to check whether all doors and boot are well locked. Leave no documents, bags or valuable objects exposed inside the car.
If you don’t need them for the day, leave any valuables like golden jewellery, laptop computers, camcorders and digital cameras on deposit in the hotel safes.
BASIC MEASUREMENT UNITS
For weight: gram – kilogram – ton; 1 ton = 1000 kg; 1 kg = 1000 g For length: centimeter – meter – kilometer; 1 km = 1000 m; 1 m = 100 cm Distance in Bulgaria is measured in kilometers. Speed is measured in km/h.
220 V, 50 Hz
Working hours of state institutions, offices and departments: 9.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. Banks and financial institutions are open from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Most stores are open from 9.00/10.00 a.m. to 7.00/8.00 p.m. Offices are closed on weekends, though some shops are open on Saturday and Sunday. Food and beverage stores are open from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00/9.00 p.m., though some are open 24 hours.
Bulgaria has a well developed telecommunications network. Each town and city has telephone lines but the quality of the service may vary. There are three mobile operators – M-Tel, Globul and Vivatel using the GSM standard and Mobicom using the analog standard. All the GSM operators offer a prepaid card system, which can be purchased from newspaper kiosks or mobile phone shops. There are numerous street phones for which you need phone-cards for long distance calls. Internet is becoming an increasingly popular mean of communication. All cities and towns, and some villages have internet clubs, where one can use the web for e-mail or long distance calls against a minimal charge.
112 – Emergency (to be introduced) 150 – Ambulance 160 – Fire Brigade 166 – Police 142 – Road Aid