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BULGARIA

The territory of modern-day Bulgaria has been populated since prehistoric times. The rich culture of the ancient Thracians flourished there; ancient Greeks, Macedonians and Romans also left their traces, and later the territory became part of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium).
After allying with the Slavs, the Proto-Bulgarians established a state, officially recognized by Byzantium in 681 AD. Khan Asparukh became the leader of the country that took the name of Bulgaria. During the reign of Khan Krum (803-814 AD), Bulgaria bordered on the empire of Charlemagne, to the west, while Bulgarian soldiers reached the gates of Constantinople, in the southeast. In 864 Boris I established Christianity as the official religion of Bulgaria, making it one of the oldest Christian countries in Europe. In the 9th century AD the students of Saints Cyril and Methodius spread the Slavonic alphabet throughout the land. Ohrid, Pliska and Great Preslav became centres of Bulgarian and Slavic culture.
From Bulgaria, the Slavonic alphabet spread to other countries. Experiencing periods of both success and defeat, Bulgaria became One of the cultural and economic centres of southeastern Europe.
In 1396 Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
The beginning of the 18th century was also the beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival. The Bulgarian church, education and culture flourished. In 1878, as a result of the Russian-Turkish War, Bulgaria gained its independence.
Alexander Battenberg was chosen as the first Prince of Bulgaria.
In 1879 the Bulgarian parliament adopted the first Bulgarian constitution, which was one of the most democratic at the time. In 1908, Knjaz (Prince Regent) Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg Gotha proclaimed Bulgaria independent and became the first Tsar of the 3rd Bulgarian Kingdom.
After the Second World War, Bulgaria came under the political and economic influence of the Soviet Union. In 1946 Bulgaria was proclaimed a republic and became a totalitarian communist state. Democratic changes began in 1989. Multi-party elections were held. A new constitution was adopted. Bulgaria started on the way towards democracy and a market economy. In 1992 the country became a member of the Council of Europe, in 2004 - a member of NATO. The accession agreement for Bulgaria's membership of the European Union was signed on the 25th of April 2005 in Luxemburg and the country became a full member on the 1st of January 2007.
Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people cherish the unique combination of sounds, movement, words, and ritual in their folklore as a timeless treasure. Today there are many different cultural phenomena, which are derived from traditional folk culture.

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