I traveled to Bulgaria in August of 2008 on a Danube River Cruise. Bulgaria was one of the Soviet Bloc's poorest countries. Today it is still relatively poor but being helped considerably by its recent incorporation into the European Union. I spent time in four small cities near the Danube; Arbanasi, Veliko Tarnovo (The former capital), Rousse, and Svistov. The Bulgarian people are very friendly and I find myself wanting to visit the current capital, Sofia, sometime in the future.

The first Bulgarian Kingdom was founded by Khan Asparouh in 681. It was situated in what is now north-east Bulgaria, and was inhabited by Slavs from the Byzantium Empire, and Bulgarians who came from an ancient Bulgarian state situated on the Volga river. The creation of the Slavonic alphabet by brothers Cyril and Methodius in 863 and the establishment of Eastern OrthodoxChristianity as a state religion in 864 contributed to the development of the Bulgarian
nationality and created conditions for the flourishing of Bulgarian literature and culture.
From 1018 till 1185 Bulgaria remained in the Byzantium Empire. In 1185 the Second Bulgarian Kingdom was declared after the end of Byzantium rule and oppression. In 1393 after a long war
and fierce resistance the country fell under Turkish rule.
After an unsuccessful revolution in 1876, Bulgaria received freedom thanks to the Russian-Turkish Liberation War (1877-1878). The state was particianed into three parts after the Berlin Conference in 1878.
In 1989, the country performed an unprecedented peaceful transition from autocratic communist rule to a democratic system. A new Parliament was elected in June, 1990 after the first free elections in 50 years. This Parliament made a New Constitution said to be one of the most democratic constitutions in Europe and the first among the former socialist countries. The main tasks facing the New Parliament (elected in the second free elections, October 1991) are creating laws that will ensure a transition to a free market economy.

Bulgaria 2008

Veliko Tarnovo