Alternative History
Kingdom of Bulgaria
Царство България
Flag Coat of arms of Bulgaria
Motto"Съединението прави силата" (Bulgarian)
"Unity makes strength"
AnthemShumi Maritsa
Royal anthemAnthem of His Majesty the Tsar
CV Bulgaria 2000
Location of Bulgaria (green) in Europe (dark grey).
Official languages Bulgarian
Demonym Bulgarian
Government Unitary parliamentary monarchy
 -  Tsar Boris IV
 -  Regent Kyril
 -  Acting Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki
Legislature National Assembly
 -  Medieval states:  
 -  First Bulgarian Empire 681-1018 
 -  Second Bulgarian Empire 1185-1396 
 -  Modern state:  
 -  Principality of Bulgaria 13 July 1878 
 -  Independence from the Ottoman Empire 5 October 1908 
Currency Bulgarian lev (лв)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .bg
Calling code +359

Bulgaria (Bulgarian:България), officially the Kingdom of Bulgaria (Bulgarian:Царство България), is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Yugoslavia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east.

Organised prehistoric cultures began developing on Bulgarian lands during the Neolithic period. Its ancient history saw the presence of the Thracians and later the Greeks and Romans. The emergence of a unified Bulgarian state dates back to the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681 CE, which dominated most of the Balkans and functioned as a cultural hub for Slavs during the Middle Ages. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396, its territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) led to the formation of the Third Bulgarian State. The following years saw several conflicts with its neighbours, which prompted Bulgaria to align with Germany in both world wars. In 1946 it became a single-party fascist state as part of the German-led Warsaw Pact. In December 1989 the government allowed multi-party elections, which subsequently led to Bulgaria's transition into a democracy and a market-based economy.

Bulgaria's population of 7.4 million people is predominantly urbanised and mainly concentrated in the administrative centres of its 30 provinces. Most commercial and cultural activities are centred on the capital and largest city, Sofia. The strongest sectors of the economy are heavy industry, power engineering, and agriculture, all of which rely on local natural resources.

The country's current political structure dates to the adoption of a democratic constitution in 1991. Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary monarchy with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralisation. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; a founding state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); and has taken a seat at the UN Security Council three times.


Third Bulgarian state[]

The Defence of the Eagle's Nest, painting by Alexey Popov from 1893, depicting the Defence of Shipka Pass

The Russian and Bulgarian defence of Shipka Pass was crucial for the independence of Bulgaria.

The Treaty of San Stefano was signed on 3 March 1878 by Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and included a provision to set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality roughly on the territories of the Second Bulgarian Empire. It never went into effect, as the Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty out of fear that such a large country in the Balkans might threaten their interests. It was superseded by the subsequent Treaty of Berlin, signed on 13 July, provided for a much smaller state comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia, leaving large populations of Bulgarians outside the new country. This played a significant role in forming Bulgaria's militaristic approach to foreign affairs during the first half of the 20th century.

The Bulgarian principality won a war against Serbia and incorporated the semi-autonomous Ottoman territory of Eastern Rumelia in 1885, proclaiming itself an independent state on 5 October 1908. In the years following independence, Bulgaria increasingly militarised and was often referred to as "the Balkan Prussia".

Photograph of Bulgarian soldiers cutting enemy barbed wire during World War I

World War I: Bulgarian soldiers cutting barbed wire laid by the Entente Powers and preparing to advance.

Between 1912 and 1918, Bulgaria became involved in three consecutive conflicts—two Balkan Wars and World War I. After a disastrous defeat in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria found itself fighting on the wining side as a result of its alliance with the Central Powers in World War I. Despite fielding more than a quarter of its population in a 1,200,000-strong army and achieving several decisive victories at Doiran and Dobrich, the country held a stalemate until the wars end in 1918. The war resulted in significant territorial gains, and a total of 87,500 soldiers killed. More than 253,000 refugees emigrated to Bulgaria from 1912 to 1929 due to the effects of these wars, placing additional strain on the already ruined national economy.

The political unrest resulting from these events led to the establishment of a royal authoritarian dictatorship by Tsar Boris III (1918–1943). Bulgaria entered World War II in 1941 as a member of the Axis but declined to participate in Operation Barbarossa and saved its Jewish population from deportation to concentration camps. The sudden death of Boris III in the summer of 1943 pushed the country into political turmoil.


Simeon II ruled Bulgaria from 1943 until 1989.

After World War II Bulgaria became a part of the German sphere of influence under the leadership of Ivan Ivanov Bagryanov (1946–1949), who laid the foundations for a rapidly industrialising fascist state which was also highly repressive with thousands of dissidents executed. By the mid-1950s standards of living rose significantly, while political repressions were lessened. By the 1980s both national and per capita GDP quadrupled, but the economy remained prone to debt spikes, the most severe taking place in 1960, 1977 and 1980. The German-style corporatist economy saw some market-oriented policies emerging on an experimental level under Simeon II (1943–1989). His son Prince Kardam bolstered national pride by promoting Bulgarian heritage, culture and arts worldwide. In an attempt to erase the identity of the ethnic Turk minority, an assimilation campaign was launched in 1984. This resulted in the emigration of some 300,000 ethnic Turks to Turkey.

Under the influence of the collapsing regimes, on 10 November 1989 the Ratniks gave up its political monopoly, Simeon II abdicated, and Bulgaria embarked on a transition to a parliamentary democracy. The first free elections in June 1990 were won by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP, the freshly renamed Communist Party). A new constitution that provided for a relatively ceremonial monarchy and for a Prime Minister accountable to the legislature was adopted in July 1991. The new system initially failed to improve living standards or create economic growth—the average quality of life and economic performance remained lower than under Fascism well into the early 2000s. A 1997 reform package restored economic growth, but living standards continued to suffer. After 2001 economic, political and geopolitical conditions improved greatly, and Bulgaria achieved high Human Development status. It became a member of NATO in 2004 and of the European Union in 2007.