GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
110,994 sq km (42,855 sq miles).
7.3 million (official estimate 2007).
65.8 per sq km.
Sofia. Population: 1.4 million (official estimate 2006).
Member since 2007.
Democratic Republic since 1990.
Bulgarian is the official language and the Cyrillic alphabet is used - Bulgaria is the only EU nation to use it. English, German, French and Russian are spoken in major tourist resorts and hotels.
The majority of the population are Christian. There is also a significant Muslim minority (13%) and a small Jewish community.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are two-pin.
Normal courtesies should be observed and handshaking is the normal form of greeting. Dress should be conservative but casual.
Smoking: Bulgarian restaurants, cafes, nightclubs etc have zones for smokers and non-smokers. There is no smoking in public places.
Lev (BGN; symbol лв) = 100 stotinki. Notes are in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 stotinki.
Note: (a) The Lev is tied to the Euro at a fixed rate; €1 = лв1.955. (b) Notes dated 1997 and earlier are now out of circulation.
Visitors are advised to exchange money at banks, at large hotels and at independent currency exchange offices, where the rates are clearly displayed.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in large cities, in larger hotels and car hire offices, and in some restaurants and shops, mainly in Sofia. However, Bulgaria is still a country that operates mainly on cash.
ATMs are widespread, although it is best to check with the relevant bank/card provider prior to travel. Not all Bulgarian bank machines accept every overseas credit or debit card.
Accepted in major hotels and restaurants, although cash is far more common. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros.
Weather and Climate
Varies according to altitude. Summers are warmest with some rainfall, with the south feeling the influence of the Mediterranean. Winters are cold with snow. It rains frequently during spring and autumn.