horizontally striped white-green-red national flag. Its width-to-length ratio is unspecified. In the 14th century the coat of arms of Tsar Ivan Shishman, the most powerful Bulgarian ruler, was a lion represented in gold on a red shield. This design was incorporated in some early Bulgarian revolutionary flags raised against the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Nevertheless, the national flag was derived from a different sourcethe ethnic association of Bulgarians with their Slavic brothers the Russians. The Russian horizontal tricolour of white-blue-red was modified in the Bulgarian flag by the substitution of green for blue. From the time of its official recognition (April 16, 1879) until the end of the monarchy following World War II, the national flag was simply the white-green-red tricolour, although the naval flag added a red canton with a yellow lion. When the communists came to power, their coat of arms, with its red star and other socialist symbols, was added in the upper hoist corner of the flag; four variations of that design existed between 1948 and 1990. After the downfall of the communist government, the old plain tricolour was reestablished on November 27, 1990. The white of the flag is said to stand for peace, love, and freedom, while green emphasizes the agricultural wealth of Bulgaria. Red is for the independence struggle and military courage. Whitney Smith History Evidence of human habitation in the Bulgarian lands dates from the Middle Paleolithic Period (100,000 to 40,000 BC). Agricultural communities appeared in the Neolithic Period, and in the Bronze Age the lands were inhabited by Thracian tribes. The Thracians were eventually expelled or absorbed by Greek, Persian, and Roman colonies, but traces of their culture remain in their monuments devoted to horse worship and in the mummer (Bulgarian: kuker) tradition that still survives in southwestern Bulgaria. In Roman times Bulgaria was divided between the provinces of Moesia (to the north of the Balkan Mountains) and Thrace (to the south of the Balkans) and was crossed by the main land route from the west to the Middle East. The ruins of Roman towns and settlements are numerous, and extensive sites have been excavated at Plovdiv in the southwest, Varna in the northeast, and other locations. The beginnings of modern Bulgaria Slavic invasions The story of the modern Bulgarian people begins with the Slavic invasions of the Balkan Peninsula in the 6th and 7th centuries AD, a time when Byzantium was absorbed in prolonged conflict with Persia and could not resist the incursions from the north. Ancient sources refer to two Slavic tribes north of the Danube at this time, the Slavenae and the Antae. Evidence suggests that the Slavenae, to the west, were the ancestors of the Serbs and Croats, while the Antae moved into the regions of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and northern Greece. The Slavic tribes tilled the soil or practiced a pastoral way of life and were organized in patriarchal communities. The economy The role of government Until the reform movement of the late 1980s, the Bulgarian economy was based solely on state ownership of all means of production. In the early 1990s Bulgaria began a process of transition toward a more market-oriented economy. The government initiated a program of privatized business ownership, in addition to freeing prices and restructuring credit, banking, and monetary institutions. These reforms enabled Bulgaria to receive financial assistance from Western countries, although they also produced unemployment and inflation. The main sources of revenue under the socialist system were the turnover tax and deductions made from the profits produced by public enterprises. The turnover tax, a form of value-added tax, was based on a fixed rate and went immediately into the budget after the sale of products by state enterprises. In this way the state budget received a regular and uniform source of revenue to finance the undertakings called for in the economic plan. The turnover tax was dependent on the size, variety, and sale of manufactured products; ultimately it was passed on to the consumer. The profit deduction tax from state enterprises, unlike the turnover tax, was not at a fixed rate. It came from each enterprise's net income after deduction of the turnover tax. The profit shown by an enterprise was the difference between income and maintenance expenses. The advent of privatization in the early 1990s has made the future of the old taxation system uncertain. The national budget continues to finance capital investments, enterprises under direct central management, and a number of social and cultural needs (e.g., higher educational institutions). It also covers defense and the departments of the central government. The state social insurance budget covers expenditure for matters such as employees' pensions, temporary incapacity to work, maternity leave, maintenance of rest homes, and family allowances. The national budget allots revenue for the development of heavy industry. It also provides funds for capital investment in industrial enterprises and provides them with turnover funds. Large credits are allocated to agricultural development and the supply of farm equipment. Budgetary credits also are used to finance long-term investment projects (e.g., power generation, forestry, ferrous metallurgy, and land improvement and water conservation projects). About a third of all investment comes from state budgetary credits, and two-thirds is covered by local enterprises' funds and bank credits. About one-fourth of the total budgetary expenditure goes to fund social services. The role of trade unions Bulgaria has some 17,000 local trade union organizations made up of 111,000 separate trade union subgroups. Only an insignificant portion of the country's work force does not belong to a trade union. Until it was reconstituted as the Confederation of Independent Bulgarian Trade Unions (S'uz na Nezavisemite B'lgarski Profs'uze) in late 1989, all trade unions belonged to the Central Council of Trade Unions (Tsentralen Suvet na Profesionalnite Suyuzi), founded in 1944 and allied with the Bulgarian Communist Party. Also in 1989, Podkrepa (Support), a leading independent trade union, along with both established and newly formed opposition parties, formed the Union of Democratic Forces (S'uz na Demokraticheskite Sili) in order to press for governmental reform. The land Relief Within a relatively small compass, the Bulgarian landscape exhibits striking topographic variety. Open expanses of lowland alternate with broken mountain country, cut by deep river gorges and harbouring upland basins such as that in which Sofia lies. Three basic structural and physiographic divisions run east-west. All but a short section of the northern frontier of Bulgaria is marked by the lower Danube, the abrupt and often steep banks on the Bulgarian side contrasting with the swamps and lagoons of the Romanian side. Extending southward from the Danube to the foothills of the Balkan Mountains is the fertile, hilly Danubian Plain. The average elevation of the region is 584 feet (178 metres), and it covers some 12,200 square miles. Several rivers cross the plain, flowing northward from the Balkans to join the Danube. The Balkan Mountains border the Danubian Plain on the south, their rounded summits having an average height of 2,368 feet and rising to 7,795 feet (2,376 metres) in Mount Botev, the highest peak. Parallel to this principal chain (its Bulgarian name, Stara Planina, means Old Mountains, old signifying its greater extent compared with the adjacent ranges) lies a transitional region of complex relief. Block faultingthe raising or lowering of great structural segments along regular lines of crustal weaknesshas produced there the Sredna Mountains (Sredna Gora), the Vitosha Mountains, the Lisa Mountains, a number of sheltered structural basins, and the Upper Thracian and Tundzha lowlands. Another mountain mass covers southern Bulgaria. This includes the Rhodope Mountains (Bulgarian: Rodopi; Greek: Rodhpis), which rise to 7,188 feet in Golyam Perelik Peak; the Rila Mountains, rising to Musala Peak, at 9,596 feet (2,925 metres) the highest in the country and indeed in the whole Balkan Peninsula; the Pirin Mountains, with Vikhren Peak reaching 9,560 feet; and a frontier range known as the Belasitsa Mountains. These majestic ranges discharge meltwater from montane snowfields throughout the summer, and their sharp outlines, pine-clad slopes, and, in the Rila and Pirin ranges, several hundred lakes of glacial origin combine to form some of the most beautiful of Bulgarian landscapes. Trending north-south at the eastern fringe of the other regions is the narrow Black Sea coastal region. The coast has few bays (exceptions being the fine harbours of Varna and Burgas) but does have extensive stretches of sandy beach that have led to the growth of a number of picturesque seaside resorts. Drainage Bulgaria has a complex drainage pattern characterized, with the notable exception of the Danube, by relatively short rivers. The major rivers are the Maritsa (Marica), the Iskur, the Struma, the Arda, the Tundzha, and the Yantra. Overall, more than half of the runoff drains to the Black Sea, and the rest drains to the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria's numerous lakes may be coastal (such as the large lakes around Varna and Burgas, both on the Black Sea), glacial (such as those in the southern mountains), structural, or karst in origin. The country has some 500 mineral springs, half of which are warm or hot (reaching 217 F at Sapareva Banya, in the west). Numerous dams have been constructed in the mountains. The people Ethnic, religious, and linguistic background Ethnically, the population is fairly homogeneous, Bulgarians making up about 85 percent of the total. The Slav tribes that settled in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula in the 6th and 7th centuries AD, thereby assimilating the local Thracian tribes, formed a basic ethnic group. The group known as the Bulgars, who formed the first Bulgarian state in 681, formed another component. With the gradual obliteration of fragmented Slav tribes, Bulgars and Slavs consolidated into a unified Slav people who thenceforward retained the name of Bulgarians. This national unity, present in embryonic form during the long Ottoman domination, flowered in the independence struggles of the 19th century. The Turks, Bulgaria's largest minority, live in some regions of the northeast and in the eastern Rhodope Mountains region. Gypsies (Roma) and Macedonians are two other sizable minorities (though the government does not consider Macedonians as such, regarding them as ethnically Bulgarian), and there are a few thousand Armenians, Russians, and Greeks (mostly in the towns) and Romanians and Tatars (mostly in the villages). The Bulgarian language belongs to the South Slavic group, along with Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, and Macedonian (the last, however, considered to be a dialect of Bulgarian by the government). A number of dialects remain in common speech. Following the reforms of 198990, the state continued to encourage atheism, but religious activity was increasingly tolerated. The majority of religious Bulgarians are adherents of the Bulgarian Orthodox church, which pressed the new leadership for greater autonomy and restoration of monastic lands. Minority religious groups include Muslims, Jews, Bulgarian Catholics, Protestants, and Gregorian Armenians. Demographic trends As a result of social and economic changes after World War II, notably the introduction of free medical care and the improvement of working conditions, Bulgaria's death rate dropped significantly, but it began to rise again in the 1970s as the proportion of older people in the population rose. The birth rate has dropped, as has the infant mortality rate. Emigration since World War II has mostly affected non-Bulgarians. About half a million Turks left the country, 155,000 having been expelled in 194951 and a further 300,000 or more having emigrated in 1989. Almost all Czechs and Slovaks returned to their homelands, as did large numbers of Russians and Armenians (to what was then the Soviet Union) and Jews (to Israel). About 35,000 others, mostly Bulgarians, returned from North America and from European countries. Internally, the movement of population has been from rural areas to larger towns and cities. From 1946 to 1988, for example, the population of Sofia trebled; the populations of Varna and Plovdiv increased more than sixfold; and Ruse's population increased more than fivefold. Bulgaria's geographic variety is reflected in the distribution of its population. The most densely populated areas are the Danubian Plain, the Upper Thracian Basin, the Burgas Plain, and the intermontane basins of southwestern Bulgaria. Areas of lowest density are the east and southeast of the country, the Strandzha and Dobruja regions, and the higher mountain areas. Urbanization continues to have an effect on the demographic structure; a large segment of the urban population is of a young workingand childbearingage, leading to natural growth of the towns. Because relatively more older adults remain in the villages, the birth rate there continues to be lower and the death rate higher. These effects thus amplify the shift of population from rural areas to urban centres.
BULGARIA, FLAG OF
Meaning of BULGARIA, FLAG OF in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012