The Bulgarian language is related to Serbian, Russian and other Eastern European languages, but contains many international words. Bulgarians use the Cyrillic alphabet which can make the task of getting around the country somewhat difficult if you aren't familiar with this alphabet as most signs are written in it. However, getting acquainted with the alphabet isn't very difficult and may save you a lot of trouble, especially as many common words are homophones of English or French words.
Also, as Bulgarian education emphasizes foreign language studies, especially English language, it wouldn't be a problem to talk and find information in English in bigger cities. It's best to turn to the young population for a direction or an advice.
See the Bulgarian phrasebook for a pronunciation guide, while this external page (http://www.abvg.net/Cyril...) has a different take and examples of the confusing but rarely used cursive forms.
A branch of the Slavs merged with the Proto-Bulgarians, a Central Asian tribe, in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state in the Balkans.
In succeeding centuries, Bulgarian and the Byzantine Empires dominated South-East Europe, but by the end of the 14th century the region was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878 largely due to the intervention of Russia, who clipped the wings of the declining Ottoman Empire in Bulgaria and elsewhere, and installed a minor German prince as a ruler of the newly independent country. The country's iconic heroes were all freedom fighters to a man: whether Rakovsky Ð Ð°ÐºÐ¾Ð²ÑÐºÐ¸, who mixed revolution and literature, Vassil Levski ÐÐ°ÑÐ¸Ð» ÐÐµÐ²ÑÐºÐ¸ - the Apostle of Freedom, or Hristo Botev Ð¥ÑÐ¸ÑÑÐ¾ ÐÐ¾ÑÐµÐ², poet and fighter.
After a series of bloody and brutal Balkan wars, Bulgaria had the further misfortune to be occupied by the losing side in both World Wars, and fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination was brought to a swift, but for many people illusory end in 1989; though Bulgaria went on to hold its first multi-party election since World War II, essentially socialist policies were pursued until hyperinflation and economic meltdown drove the old guard out of power in 1997. Today, reforms and democratization have brought Bulgaria into the NATO fold, with EU accession celebrated in 2007.
During Communist times, the Black Sea was a favorite destination for travellers behind the Iron Curtain. Now, increasing numbers of western Europeans travel throughout the country and many have bought vacation houses near the Black Sea or in picturesque villages. During the 2008 global financial crisis, Bulgaria was badly affected by the downturn, where the country entered a recession of 5%, and unemployment lingering near the double digits.
Even though it is among one of the 50 richest countries in the world, Bulgaria remains as the poorest member of the European Union. The Issues facing the country are a weak judicary system, a moderate level of corruption in the local government, a poor road infrastructure, and a somewhat high unemployment rate. The unemployment has continually lingered near the double digits, an issue the country faces. Another serious problem is the sight of over-development in the country.