Bulgarian flag
Taken by Flickr user anjči.

Bulgaria is a small country somewhere in Europe. Perhaps everybody knows that. When a foreigner thinks of Bulgaria, Stoichkov probably comes to mind (a famous football player who used to play for Barcelona). Then yogurt comes to mind (the live culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus that is needed for its production originates from Bulgaria).

But, there are some astonishing facts about Bulgaria that very few people know about. Here’s a list that will surprise you!

HISTORY:

  • Bulgaria is the oldest European country that hasn’t changed its name since it was first established.
  • Plovdiv is Europe’s oldest inhabited city.
  • Bulgaria (together with Denmark) was one of the only two countries that saved their Jews from the Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust.
  • The Bulgarian army has never (NEVER) lost a single flag in battle, even though it actively participated in European wars since the 19th century.
  • In 716 AD it was Bulgaria that saved Europe from islamization. In a key battle in 718 AD the Bulgarian cavalry overpowered the Arabs with a courageous victory that put an end to the Muslim Arabs’ penetration into Europe.
  • It was the Bulgarian Air Forces that formed the basis of modern combat aviation. They were the first to use a plane in combat, dropping bombs.
  • The oldest golden treasure in the world is found in Bulgaria (Varna Necropolis).
  • When it comes to archeological sites, Bulgaria comes third (after Rome and Greece).

CULTURE:

  • Bulgaria is among the very few countries in which nodding means NO (the other ones being Greece, Macedonia, and Albania)
  • “Name Days” are celebrated in Bulgaria – they are sometimes considered more important than birthdays.
  • The bagpipe is a traditional instrument that is played in Scotland, Ireland and Bulgaria.
  • A recording of the Bulgarian folk song “Izlel e Delio Haydutin” has been played in open space together with Bach’s and Mozart’s greatest works.
  • One of the most used writing systems in the world, the Cyrillic alphabet, used by about 250 million people, was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire.
  • You will find 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria (7 of which are cultural sites).

INVENTIONS/TECHNOLOGY:

  • Mark Zuckerberg has a Bulgarian origin!
  • Penicillin was invented by a Bulgarian – Stamen Grigorov (he is the one who also isolated the yogurt live culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus)
  • The prototype of the first computer in the world was created by person from a Bulgarian origin (John Vincent Atanasoff).
  • The first digital wristwatch was also invented by a NASA scientist from a Bulgarian origin – Peter Petroff.
  • The average broadband speed in Bulgaria is the second highest in the world (after South Korea).
  • Bulgaria takes the honorable 2nd place in the world in Mensa IQ test-scores and Bulgarian students rate second in the world in SAT scores.

NATURE:

  • The roses grown in Bulgaria are used for the production of 70-85% of the world’s rose oil.
  • Bulgaria has a notable place in the wine industry – it’s been in the wine business for over 1200 years.
  • With a relatively small area (111,000 square km), Bulgaria is third in Europe in biodiversity (with a number of rare and endemic species).
  • With hundreds of mineral springs, Bulgaria is among the richest European countries (when it comes to geothermal resources).
  • As per data from 2012, Bulgaria is second in the world in gold ore export.

As you see, Bulgaria may be small, but it has a lot to offer. We dare you to come and visit it and make your own list of the best memories you’ll take with you from Bulgaria!

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