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Bulgaria-Family Life and Modern Society

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Bulgaria Index

Throughout the era of postwar communist modernization, family life remained one of the most important values in Bulgarian society. In a 1977 sociological survey, 95 percent of women responded that "one can live a full life only if one has a family." From the beginning of the twentieth century until the 1970s, the marriage rate in Bulgaria was stable at close to 10 percent per year. The rate was slightly higher just after the two world wars. The rate fell beginning in 1980, however, reaching 7 percent in 1989. Slightly more couples married in the cities than in the villages, a natural development considering the ageing of the village population. Most women married between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, most men between twenty and twenty-five. Village men and less educated city men typically married before they were twenty. The first men to marry often were those who had completed their military service, did not plan further education, and could support themselves financially (see Recruitment and Service Obligations , ch. 5; Education , this ch.). Those who continued their education often delayed marriage until their late twenties. In choosing their spouses, the less educated and those from more traditional regions of Bulgaria sought qualities most highly valued in traditional society: love of hard work, modesty, and good character. Among the educated classes, values such as personal respect, commonality of interests, and education were more often predominant in the choice of a spouse.

Until 1944 divorce was quite rare in Bulgaria, and great stigma was attached to all individuals who had divorced. After 1944 the divorce rate rose steadily until 1983, when it reached 16.3 percent. Between 1983 and 1986, however, the rate fell to 11.2 percent. In the 1980s, the divorce rate in the cities was more than twice that in the villages, in part because the village population was older. The divorce rate was especially high for couples married five years or less; that group accounted for 44 percent of all divorces. In 1991 the rate was increasing, however, for those married longer than five years.

Concerned about Bulgaria's low birth rate, the government issued new restrictions on divorce in its 1985 Family Code. The fee to apply for a divorce was more than three months' average salary, and every application for a divorce required an investigation. The grounds most often listed in a divorce application were infidelity, habitual drunkenness, and incompatibility.

In 1991 the average Bulgarian family included four people. Families of two to five people were common, whereas families of six or more were rare. In the larger families, moreover, the additional members usually included one or two of the couple's parents. In 1980 extended families spanning three or even four generations made up 17 percent of all households, indicating the persistence of the extended family tradition. Although the tradition was more prevalent in the villages of western and southern Bulgaria than in the cities, many urban newlyweds lived with their parents because they could not afford or obtain separate apartments.

Socialist Bulgaria greatly emphasized the emancipation of women. The 1971 constitution expressly stated that "all citizens of the People's Republic of Bulgaria are equal before the law, and no privileges or limitations of rights based on national, religious, sex, race, or educational differences are permitted" and that "women and men in the People's Republic of Bulgaria have the same rights." Bulgaria's Family Code also affirmed equal rights for men and women.

In 1988 Bulgaria's work force included an almost equal number of men (50.1 percent) and women (49.9 percent). By 1984 nearly 70 percent of working women surveyed said that they could not imagine life without their professional work, even if they did not need the pay. Only 9 percent of the women preferred being housewives. However, most men surveyed in 1988 cited economics as the reason for their wives to work, asserting that the wives should give up their work if they were needed at home.

Household chores remained primarily the responsibility of women, including most working wives. In 1990 the average working woman spent eight and one-half hours at her job and over four and one-half hours doing housework: cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes, ironing, mending, and tending the children. In many households, such tasks were still considered "women's work," to which husbands contributed little.

In their social planning, Bulgarian legislators usually viewed their country's women mainly as mothers, not as workers. Besides the laws passed in an effort to increase the country's birth rate, legislators passed laws giving certain privileges to women in the workplace, often keeping their reproductive capability in mind. Women were prohibited by law from doing heavy work or work which would adversely affect their health or their capacities as mothers. The list of prohibited jobs changed constantly, and women sought such jobs because they generally offered better pay and benefits. Depending on the type of work, women could retire after fifteen or twenty years, or after reaching age forty-five, fifty, or fiftyfive . Women who had raised five or more children could retire after fifteen years of work, regardless of their age or type of work. Men were generally offered retirement after working twenty-five years or reaching age fifty, fifty-five, or sixty. Some jobs were restricted to women unless no women were available. Without exception these were low-skill, low-paying jobs such as archivist, elevator operator, ticket seller, coat checker, and bookkeeper. Other jobs, such as secretary, stenographer, librarian, cashier, and cleaning person were considered "appropriate for women." Men in the workplace often expressed resentment of women in positions of authority.

Data as of June 1992

BackgroundThe Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
LocationSoutheastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
Area(sq km)total: 110,879 sq km
land: 108,489 sq km
water: 2,390 sq km
Geographic coordinates43 00 N, 25 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 1,808 km
border countries: Greece 494 km, Macedonia 148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia 318 km, Turkey 240 km

Coastline(km)354 km

Climatetemperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Musala 2,925 m
Natural resourcesbauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber, arable land
Land use(%)arable land: 29.94%
permanent crops: 1.9%
other: 68.16% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)5,880 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)19.4 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 6.92 cu km/yr (3%/78%/19%)
per capita: 895 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazardsearthquakes; landslides
Environment - current issuesair pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notestrategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia
Population7,204,687 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 13.8% (male 509,544/female 484,816)
15-64 years: 68.5% (male 2,426,060/female 2,508,772)
65 years and over: 17.7% (male 518,711/female 756,784) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 41.4 years
male: 39.2 years
female: 43.6 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)-0.79% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)9.51 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)14.31 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-3.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 71% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: -0.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 17.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 73.09 years
male: 69.48 years
female: 76.91 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.41 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Bulgarian(s)
adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups(%)Bulgarian 83.9%, Turk 9.4%, Roma 4.7%, other 2% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) (2001 census)

Religions(%)Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, other Christian 1.2%, other 4% (2001 census)
Languages(%)Bulgarian 84.5%, Turkish 9.6%, Roma 4.1%, other and unspecified 1.8% (2001 census)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria
local long form: Republika Balgariya
local short form: Balgariya
Government typeparliamentary democracy
Capitalname: Sofia
geographic coordinates: 42 41 N, 23 19 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions28 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Khaskovo, Kurdzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofiya, Sofiya-Grad, Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol
Constitutionadopted 12 July 1991

Legal systemcivil and criminal law based on Roman law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Georgi PARVANOV (since 22 January 2002); Vice President Angel MARIN (since 22 January 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Boyko BORISSOV (since 27 July 2009); Deputy Prime Ministers Simeon DJANKOV and Tsvetan TSVETANOV (since 27 July 2009);
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 and 29 October 2006 (next to be held in 2011); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) elected by the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly
election results: Georgi PARVANOV reelected president; percent of vote - Georgi PARVANOV 77.3%, Volen SIDEROV 22.7%; Boyko BORISSOV elected prime minister, result of legislative vote - 162 to 77 with 1 abstension

Legislative branchunicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 5 July 2009 (next to be held mid-2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - GERB 39.7%, BSP 17.7%, MRF 14.4%, ATAKA 9.4%, Blue Coalition 6.8%, RZS 4.1%, other 7.9%; seats by party - GERB 116, BSP 40, MRF 38, ATAKA 21, Blue Coalition 15, RZS 10

Judicial branchindependent judiciary comprised of judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates who are appointed, promoted, demoted, and dismissed by a 25-member Supreme Judicial Council (consists of the chairmen of the two Supreme Courts, the Chief Prosecutor, and 22 members, half of whom are elected by the National Assembly and the other half by the bodies of the judiciary for a 5-year term in office); three levels of case review; 182 courts of which two Supreme Courts act as the last instance on civil and criminal cases (the Supreme Court of Cassation) and appeals of government decisions (the Supreme Administrative Court)

Political pressure groups and leadersConfederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB; Podkrepa Labor Confederation
other: numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas
International organization participationACCT, Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, G- 9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SECI, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU (associate affiliate), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red; the pan-Slavic white-blue-red colors were modified by substituting a green band (representing freedom) for the blue
note: the national emblem, formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe, has been removed

Economy - overviewBulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, has experienced strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996. Successive governments have demonstrated a commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but have failed so far to rein in rising inflation and large current account deficits. Bulgaria has averaged more than 6% growth since 2004, attracting significant amounts of foreign direct investment, but corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain significant challenges.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$93.98 billion (2008 est.)
$88.66 billion (2007 est.)
$83.48 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$49.9 billion (2008)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6% (2008 est.)
6.2% (2007 est.)
6.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$12,900 (2008 est.)
$12,100 (2007 est.)
$11,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 7.3%
industry: 30.5%
services: 62.2% (2008 est.)
Labor force2.67 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 7.5%
industry: 35.5%
services: 57% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)6.3% (2008 est.)
7.7% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)14.1% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25.5% (2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index30.7 (2007)
26.4 (2001)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)33.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $22.24 billion
expenditures: $20.74 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)12.3% (2008 est.)
9.8% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$14.29 billion (31 December 2008)
$15.58 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$19.67 billion (31 December 2008)
$17.03 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$32.04 billion (31 December 2008)
$25.18 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$8.858 billion (31 December 2008)
$21.79 billion (31 December 2007)
$10.32 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$742 million (2005-06 est.)

Public debt(% of GDP)14.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
41.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productsvegetables, fruits, tobacco, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers, sugar beets; livestock
Industrieselectricity, gas, water; food, beverages, tobacco; machinery and equipment, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, nuclear fuel

Industrial production growth rate(%)1.5% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$12.65 billion (2008 est.)
-$8.716 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$22.71 billion (2008 est.)
$18.58 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, fuels
Exports - partners(%)Greece 9.9%, Germany 9.2%, Turkey 8.9%, Italy 8.5%, Romania 7.2%, Belgium 5.9%, France 4.1% (2008)
Imports$35.64 billion (2008 est.)
$28.65 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment; metals and ores; chemicals and plastics; fuels, minerals, and raw materials
Imports - partners(%)Russia 14.6%, Germany 11.8%, Italy 7.9%, Ukraine 7.3%, Romania 5.6%, Turkey 5.5%, Greece 5.4%, Austria 4.1% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$17.93 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$17.54 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$51.46 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$42.62 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$42.91 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$33.91 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$1.292 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$559 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesleva (BGN) per US dollar - 1.3171 (2008 est.), 1.4366 (2007), 1.5576 (2006), 1.5741 (2005), 1.5751 (2004)

Currency (code)lev (BGN)

Telephones - main lines in use2.258 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular10.633 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: an extensive but antiquated telecommunications network inherited from the Soviet era; quality has improved; the Bulgaria Telecommunications Company's fixed-line monopoly terminated in 2005 when alternative fixed-line operators were given access to its network; a drop in fixed-line connections in recent years has been more than offset by a sharp increase in mobile-cellular telephone use fostered by multiple service providers; the number of cellular telephone subscriptions now greatly exceeds the population
domestic: a fairly modern digital cable trunk line now connects switching centers in most of the regions; the others are connected by digital microwave radio relay
international: country code - 359; submarine cable provides connectivity to Ukraine and Russia; a combination submarine cable and land fiber-optic system provides connectivity to Italy, Albania, and Macedonia; satellite earth stations - 3 (1 Intersputnik in the Atlantic Ocean region, 2 Intelsat in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions) (2008)
Internet country code.bg
Internet users2.647 million (2008)
Airports212 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 2,926 km; oil 339 km; refined products 156 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 40,231 km
paved: 39,587 km (includes 331 km of expressways)
unpaved: 644 km (2005)

Ports and terminalsBurgas, Varna
Military branchesBulgarian Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Bulgarian Air Forces (Bulgarski Voennovazdyshni Sily, BVVS) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-27 years of age for voluntary military service; as of May 2006, 67% of the Bulgarian Army comprised of professional soldiers; conscription ended January 2008; Air Forces and Naval Forces became fully professional at the end of 2006 (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,701,979
females age 16-49: 1,691,092 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,351,312
females age 16-49: 1,381,017 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 38,263
female: 36,374 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)2.6% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalnone

Electricity - production(kWh)40.25 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 47.8%
hydro: 8.1%
nuclear: 44.1%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)31.08 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)8.441 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)3.097 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)3,357 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)124,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)76,570 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)189,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)15 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)300 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)3.4 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)5.663 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS346 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths100 (2001 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.2%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.7% (2001 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)4.5% of GDP (2005)

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