Political and economic data
Territory - 110,994 sq km
Population - 7.85 million
GDP, 2003 - $ 19.9 billion
Political system: parliamentary republic
Stable political environment & low country risk
NATO member since May 2004; EU entry expected in 2007
Consistent record of macroeconomic stability
2003 real GDP growth of 4.3%
2003 year-end inflation of 2.3%
Strategic geographic position as a bridge between Europe and Asia
Highly educated and skilled work force
2nd in international IQ tests (MENSA International)
significant percentage of English speakers
Europe's most competitive wage levels
monthly average gross salary of ˆ 149
Free movement of capital
No restrictions on after-tax repatriation of profits
Free trade opportunities within a market of over 550 million consumers
EU, EFTA and CEFTA countries, Macedonia, Turkey, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Israel
Lower operational costs for water supply and construction works compared to other CEE countries
Major investment incentives
51 treaties for avoidance of double taxation. Ireland and
the UK both have agreements in place
Corporate tax rate - 15% with 0% in areas of high unemployment
VAT exemption for imports for investment projects over ˆ 5 million
Annual depreciation rate of 30% for machinery & equipment & 50% for software and hardware
Substantial asset discount prior to the EU membership compared to the rest of Europe
Opportunity to buy land through a company registered in Bulgaria with up to 100% foreign ownership
Institutional support for priority investment projects
Adoption of International Accounting Standards
55 agreements on mutual protection and promotion of foreign investment
Sofia : is the capital city of Bulgaria which was apparently founded 7000 years ago and is hence one of the oldest cities in Europe but is also one of the youngest capitals of Europe. It has had many names over the years such as Serdica and Sredets however it is only since 1879 after the unification of north and south Bulgaria that it became the Bulgarian capital and has remained that way since. It has the motto which means "Growing but never ageing". The city is located in the southern part of the Sofia valley in the foothills of the Vitosha and Lyulin mountains. It is a beautiful city with no shortage of parks and it is sheltered to the south by the Vitosha national park which is much frequented by the cities inhabitants. The wide tree lined boulevards are remnants of the communist fifties while the turn of the century buildings are as beautiful as they are impressive. Another of Sofias' attractions is the church of Boyanna where there are murals dating from the fourteenth century which is one of seven UNESCO protected sites in Bulgaria. Other interesting sites are the Alexander Nevski Cathedral the Turkish baths and the University of Sofia whose beautiful architecture have made these buildings symbols of the city
Plovdiv : is the second largest city of Bulgaria and is built on the Maritsa river. It is a town with a rich history and has always played a key role in the fortunes of Bulgaria due to its location as a crossroads of east and west. It has had even more changes of name than Sofia in early times it was called Philippopolis while under Turkish rule it was called Filibe. It was the capital of Thrace during roman times and even to this day the roman built amphitheatre is in use and is the main attraction in the picturesque old town. The towns trading tradition continues to this day with the Plovdiv International fair which was originally held in 1892 and is held in the exhibition grounds which are the largest and the best of there kind in Bulgaria. The history of Plovdiv can be best felt in the island of tranquility which is the old town where the cobble stoned streets rise steeply giving great views of the modern town which surrounds it.
Varna : Which lies on approximately the same latitude as Biarritz in France is the capital of the Bulgarian seaside. In the summer it is vibrant with people coming from all over Bulgaria and Europe. It has a stretch of beautiful sandy beaches bordered by great restaurants and bars. It is well serviced by an airport that is growing busier all the time. The town centre displays some beautiful architecture and the tree lined streets and boulevards give the town a lovely ambience. For many foreigners Varna is simply the gateway to the nearby northern resorts of Golden Sands , Albena , Kavarna and Balchik.
Burgas : Located 200km south of Varna it is only (4)km from the Turkish border. It has a well developed port which brings fresh fish to the wealth of restaurants located in the town centre. There is the famous sea garden which runs parallel to sandy beaches and the centre of the town. In the summer the beaches and restaurants are full of holidaymakers. Close by Burgas there are many attractions the lake of Pomorie to the north while there are mineral baths in Aitos to the north west. A little further south there are the resorts of Nessebar , Sunny Beach and St Vlas which are becoming more popular with Europeans every year due to their perfect sandy beaches and fantastic nightlife.
Pirin : This mountain range is in southern Bulgaria. Most of the range is within the Pirin national park the peaks range from 1000 thousand to nearly 3000 meters. Within the confines of the national park there are many natural attractions such as the seven lakes and many different varieties of rare plant and animal life. Nowadays this mountain range famous because of Bansko which is now one of the most frequented ski resorts in the Balkans. The old town of Bansko is characteristic for its period houses some of whom belonged to historical Bulgarian figures such as Neoflit Rilski a monk and a leader of the Bulgarian national revival which preceded the eventual liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish rule in 1878. Original fortified and artistically decorated houses have been preserved from the 18th and 19th century they are built almost entirely of stone, with small barred windows, tall walls, heavy metal-plated gates and interconnected by narrow and winding cobble-stone streets. Remarkable as architectural monuments and examples of fine art are the Velyanova, Benina, Sirleshtova, Todeva, Molerova, Dragostinova, Sharkova houses. The Sveta Troitsa church and also the bell tower with the big clock are all well preserved examples of architecture from this time and are the reason why the old town is a Unesco heritage site. The surrounding slopes are frequented every year by an ever growing number of tourists from all over Europe who stay in the many luxurious developments in the foothills of the ski runs. Since 2002 there has been a remarkable amount of development which has seen the prices increase year after year as the infrastructure and facilities improve accordingly.
Rila : range of mountains is home to Rila national park which is located only 100 km to the south of Sofia. Further south in an idyllic location on the Rila Mountain itself at 1,147meters above sea level is Rila monastery which is said to have been founded by the hermit St John of Rila. It has been included in UNESCO's list of world heritage since 1983. Also in the Rila range of mountains is Borovets which is the oldest winter resort in Bulgaria. Located in the eastern part of the mountain. It is only 72 km from Sofia and has successfully developed into a modern ski centre and a favourite place of high class tourists ever since the early part of last century. With 45 km of ski runs already in place and the recent completion of an ambitious plan for the further expansion and upgrade of the resort, called Superborovets, which, if successful, suggests that the ski centre is still far from its apogee.
Rhodope : The beautiful Rhodopi mountains lie in southern central Bulgaria, stretching from the Thracian plain to beyond the Greek border. With spectacular gorges, alpine meadows, underground caves and rich archaeological sites, it's a land steeped in myth and antiquity. For this is the place where Orpheus and the Orphic cult originated. In this mountain range is Velingrad a town named after a female partisan leader killed during the uprisings of the 40's. The town is in fact a merger of three towns and is now famous for its 80 mineral water springs which are used said to help in the treatment of various illnesses. A prospering tourist industry has benefited from the springs and there are many great hotels with wonderful facilities based around the mineral water springs. Pamporovo is the second largest ski resort in Bulgaria. It is located some 1650m above sea level in the relatively high western part of the Rhodopi. The closest town is Smolyan (16km), while the distance to Sofia is no less than 240km. The first tourist hostel here was built in 1933, laying the ground of a future ski centre. The area abounds with natural slopes where numerous ski runs of different categories function. The resort offers a total length of 17.5km of alpine ski runs. The resort is pleasant to visit out of season as well, due to its picturesque surrounding areas and peculiar rock formations such as the famous Orpheus Rocks. Hikes to the Rhodopi's peaks (Snezhanka - 1925m, Murgavets - 1858m, Orleto, etc) are also quite popular among summer tourists.