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Key Facts

Southeastern Europe.
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).
Population Density
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.
Social Conventions
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.
Currency Exchange
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.
Traveller's Cheques
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.
Banking Hours
Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00.
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.
Travel Tips

1. Never take a taxi that seems just to be hanging around, offering its services when there is a taxi queue available.

2. Try to keep your wallet and valuables safely secured in a handbag or in one of your hand luggage.

3. ATM machines are available at all international airports in Bulgaria, the rates are like the local banks and offer a great way to obtain small amount of local currency just in case.

4. Keep a small amount of this local currency, easily accessible in a pocket or something, and away from the majority of your well earned money.

5. Try not to go on "wonderful trips" or to a "super shopping centre" rides with people who approach you in the street. This could lead anywhere, and will probably cost you a lot more than by taking a normal taxi.

6. If you have any food allergies, learn the names of those foods in the languages used in the countries you’ll be visiting. This way you’ll be better equipped to stay on the lookout for them.