Bulgaria: Country and Foreign Investment
Bulgaria is strategically located in south-east Europe in the region known as The Balkans. It shares national borders with five countries and the Black Sea lies on its eastern border. It has an area of 111,000 sq km and an estimated population of 7.03m. Its capital city, Sofia, is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has good connections to other parts of Europe.
The majority of the population follow the Bulgarian Orthodox religion and the native language is Bulgarian, spoken by 84% of the people.
The National Assembly of Bulgaria comprises 240 elected Deputies. The supreme decision-making body in Bulgarian politics is the Parliament. The present Prime Minister is Boyko Borissov (since 2009) and the President is Rosen Plevneliev (since January 2012). The President is elected for a term of five years.
Bulgaria has suffered from high inflation, mismanagement of the economy and corruption since the fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989. However, economic reforms were introduced in the late 1990s and the economic picture has since improved.
Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 and although inflation is lower than it was, it remains a problem, currently running at an average of 4.2%. The currency is the Lev (BGN), which is pegged to the Euro. There are no immediate plans to adopt the Euro as the currency of Bulgaria.
The transport infrastructure of the country is less advanced than in other emerging countries in the region. Sofia has important rail links to other countries, notably Greece and Turkey, which were modernised recently. Road standards are relatively poor and a project funded by the World Bank is aimed at upgrading the roads and making them safer to use.
As with many countries, the take-up of mobile technology has been prolific – there are over 10m mobile phones. Internet usage is lower than in many other countries as the cost of computers and Internet access is beyond the reach of most Bulgarian citizens.
Zero corporation tax rates are available to manufacturing companies willing to locate in areas of high unemployment, while state grants and tax credits are also available in certain circumstances.