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History
Bulgaria is one of the most ancient European countries with its 13 centuries of history. Contemporary Bulgarian territories have been inhabited since the Paleolithic epoch. Here, in the Montana region, script patterns dated about 6800 years ago have been discovered. Also, in the Varna region the oldest golden treasure in Europe was discovered in 1972 (dating 60 centuries ago). During the Great Migration of People, dozens of tribes crossed today’s Bulgarian territories and left their footsteps. Many of them later migrated to the West and participated in forming the contemporary European nations. Out of all these migrations the most important was the invasion of the Slavs. In the beginning of the VIIth century they colonized almost the whole Balkan Peninsula. In the last quarter of the same century Proto-Bulgarians invaded the region of the Danube delta. They were a nation of Turk origin with long-lasting state traditions in the lands of Volga and Kama rivers. Entering in a union with Slavonic and Thracian tribes, Proto-Bulgarians established a new state, named after them – Bulgaria, which in the year of 681 concluded a peace contract with Byzantium.
The First Bulgarian Kingdom existed since the year 681 through the year 1018. During this period Bulgaria accepted Christianity (in the year 865) and in the Xth century, under King Simon’s ruling, it was recognized as kingdom by the pope and the Holy Roma Empire. One of the first translations of Holy Bible from Greek into Slavonic languages was the translation into Proto-Bulgarian language. The same language became official for the church, literature and administration in many Slavonic and non-Slavonic countries of that time. After long process of evolution the Proto-Bulgarian alphabet, called also “Cyrillic” is now a days used in Bulgaria, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, etc. In 1018 the emperor Vasilii II Bulgarokiller conquered Bulgaria and turned it into province of the Byzantine Empire.
The Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396) arose after successful rebellion governed by the Bulgarian aristocracy. The reign of the Assenevtzi dynasty began. They built Bulgarian capital in the city of Turnovo and during their reign Bulgaria turned to be the most powerful country in Europe. Unfortunately, the history determined this country to play important role in the invasion of the Ottoman Muslims in Europe. At the cost of its independence, Bulgaria hindered the expansion of the Sultans into Europe.
Bulgaria had been province of the Ottoman Empire for five centuries. While its conquering, Bulgarian aristocracy was destroyed, Bulgarian administration was obliterated and Sultans who for a long time didn’t make difference between Balkan nations, deprived Bulgarian church of its independency and patriarchal rank and put it under government of the Greek patriarchy. During this period the ordinary Bulgarian peasants, craftsmen, tradesmen and priesthood endured severe trials which instilled in them awareness of responsibility for their identity, heritage, faith, spirituality, culture, history. Bulgarians maintained and built their monasteries, they restored their towns and cities, developed crafts and trade, organized outstanding for that time educational system under Community support, created unique folklore. They distinguished spiritual and political leaders of European magnitude, created new-Bulgarian literary language, fought and won back their church independence (1870), organized the April rebellion in 1876 which had a worldwide echo and was the main reason for the liberating war between Turkey and Russia (1877-1878).
The Third Bulgarian Kingdom was established by the San Stefano’s Peace Contract, signed on March 3rd, 1878. This contract restored Bulgaria in its ethnical borders determined by special international commission. However, several months later the same contract was revised by the Great Forces of the time, which created a bundle of ethical problems on the Balkans qualifying the peninsula as Europe’s “Powder-keg” and which was the reason for the recent wars in Bosnia&Hertzegovina and Croatia.

After restoration of the national government system in 1878,Bulgaria was a constitutional monarchy with democratic political system and fast developing economy. Bulgarian participation in World War II boiled down to administrating Macedonia. Bulgaria was the only German’s ally, which did not allow genocide of its citizens-Jews and its people are proud of that. After the World War II, resulting from the agreement between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, Bulgaria fell within the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. Post-war development of the country was at the expense of the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Bulgarian economy was militarized and connected only with the Soviet Union market. There were no non-governmental organizations. Individual initiative was suppressed. Several times the communist party turned to mass repressive actions and destroyed political opposition.

Since November 10th, 1989 and after significant political changes Bulgaria took again the road of democratic development.Unfortunately, the democratic transition caused collapse of the economy and the country is currently attempting its restoration. Bulgaria was accepted as a full member of NATO in April 2004. It is also a candidate for membership in the European Union and its accession is anticipated to take place on January 1, 2007.

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