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origins of the name Bulgaria are unknown. The name likely comes from the historic
Bulgar people, who were primarily ethnic Turks, and with whom many modern day Bulgarians
have some ethnic relations to varying degrees. This word has questionable roots,
but some of the more popular theories are that a Bulgar was a person of mixed race
among historic Turks, it refers to a person who works with hides or leather, or
that the name comes from the word bulga, which was an animal found in Central
The Bulgarians are often overlooked and forgotten in Europe, but most visitors to
this out of the way country will never forget their experience. Bulgaria is home
to a unique landscape, which led to the growth of the Bulgarian culture and way
of life. While many outside introductions have arrived to change this life, Bulgaria
has often defined themselves in contrast to neighbors and hence have magnified their
culture and lifestyle.
The Bulgarian people are an odd mix of ethnicities, but over time these people intermarried
and formed a new ethnicity and culture, which is closely related to the Southern
Slavs. This Slavic influence formed many aspects of the culture today, beginning
with the language, which is a Slavic language. Later, when Christianity was introduced
to the people, it was quickly adopted as it was in many parts of the Balkan Peninsula,
giving the Bulgarians further similarities to their neighbors.
Despite the similarities, the Bulgarians also have a variety of differences, which
arose with the help of the mountainous landscape. The mountains have isolated many
small groups of people, while also dividing the people between the west-east running
mountains. This has led to distinct Bulgarian foods, clothing, and customs, but
also has created numerous sub-cultures in Bulgaria itself. This division also allowed
the Bulgarians to grow independently from other ethnic Slavs in the region.
Despite differences, political, social, and economic changes in Bulgaria have been
similar to those of neighboring countries as well as the Soviet Union. Being a communist
country for much of the 1900s, Bulgaria urbanized, industrialized, and forged strong
bonds with other Eastern European countries. This changed the culture and lifestyle
to a great degree, but today Bulgaria is again trying to find its own way, shifting
from its former allies to the west as the country joined the European Union in 2007.
Today the Bulgarians continue to maintain their historic culture and lifestyle to
a great degree, but changes are constantly underway, from technological advancements
changing the economy to finding their path forward in Western Europe. Yet, life
in Bulgaria remains tied to the mountains, their religion, and their communities.
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Map of Bulgaria: