Bulgaria is located in southeast Europe and borders Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey. The capital as well as the largest city in Bulgaria, Sofia, is home to over 1.2 million inhabitants. Despite the increasing life expectancy at birth, Bulgaria’s population is slowly declining. It is estimated that the total population of Bulgaria has decreased by half a million inhabitants over the past decade. Bulgaria is ranked high among the nations with the highest population decline. In addition, it is estimated that the total population in Bulgaria will decline further to approximately 5.8 million in 2050. This population decline is partly due to people emigrating to greener economic pastures.
After the Second World War and prior to becoming a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe, Bulgaria was a satellite of the Soviet Union. Becoming a member of the European Union was not easy for Bulgaria; before joining in 2007, Bulgaria was tormented by corruption and organized crime. Today, corruption is still the main cause of nation-wide protests. In early 2013, the perception that the government had close ties to foreign-owned privatized monopolies led to an increase in the fuel costs and sparked violent protests.
Bulgaria’s economy has been unstable and weak for the past decade. In 2013, the unemployment rate in Bulgaria was nearly 13 percent. It is now now recovering slowly and is estimated to decline slightly in the coming years. The economic sector responsible for the highest share of total employment in Bulgaria is the services sector, while the share of the agricultural sector, once one of the country's main economic pillars, is slowly declining. Bulgaria’s trade deficit has decreased significantly as a result of EU accession in 2007. Since there are now fewer barriers to trade, most of Bulgaria's main export partners are now EU member states.
There are other silver linings to Bulgarian economy. Despite the high unemployment rate, it is estimated that gross domestic product per capita in Bulgaria has been on the rise for the past ten years. Still, the inflation rate, estimated to recover from a three-year deflation in 2017, is anything but stable.
All in all, Bulgaria is an emerging market with a cautiously promising future.
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