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A map of BulgariaA map of Bulgaria In the north of Bulgaria, the River Danube forms a natural border with Romania. Just south of the river, the rolling Danubian Plain stretches out across the northern part of the country. Apart from the Maritsa valley in the south, the rest of Bulgaria is dominated by two mountain chains. The high, rounded Balkan Mountains stretch across the middle of the country in a long chain. Rising in the southwest are the Rhodopes, where some of the highest peaks on the Balkan Peninsula are found. Their slopes are covered by coniferous forests. Bulgaria has a continental climate; winters are cold, while summers are warm and mild.  

A map of BulgariaA map of Bulgaria
Signs in Sofia in the Cyrillic alphabetSigns in Sofia in the Cyrillic alphabet


Most of the population are descendants of the Bulgars, a Southern Slavic people who settled in the region in the 6th century. Their language, Bulgarian, is similar to Serbo-Croat and Russian. It uses an alphabet called the Cyrillic alphabet, invented in Bulgaria in the 9th century. Bulgaria is a mainly Orthodox Christian country. About one tenth of its population is Turkish and Muslim; in the south of the country there is also a small community of Bulgarian (Slavic) Muslims called Pomaks.

In Bulgaria, “name days” or “saint's days” are more important than birthdays. People named after a saint celebrate on their saint’s day.

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