From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Bulgaria (Balgariya, pronounced, officially the Republic of Bulgaria , Republika Balgariya, pronounced re-incarnates one of the oldest states in Europe, located in Southeastern Europe, bordering five other countries: Romania to the north (mostly along the Danube), Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea defines the extent of the country to the east.
The country preserves the traditions (in ethnic name, language, and alphabet) of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/681 - 1018), which at times covered most of the Balkans and spread its alphabet, literature and culture among the Slavic and other peoples of Eastern Europe. Centuries later, with the decline of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 - 1396/1422), the country came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. Diplomacy re-established Bulgaria as a constitutional monarchy in 1878, with the Treaty of San Stefano marking the birth of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. After World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state and part of the Eastern Bloc.
Currently, Bulgaria functions as a parliamentary democracy under a unitary constitutional republic. A member of the European Union since 2007 and NATO since 2004, it has a population of approximately 7.7 million, with Sofia as its capital and largest city.