Bulgaria is located in the south east of Europe, bordering the Black Sea between Romania and Turkey. The population is 7.5 million, of which 1.3 million live in the capital, Sofia. The population is expected to fall to 6.6 million by 2030, with the proportion of people over 65 expected to increase from 26% to 38% over the same period. Bulgarian is the official language, using the Cyrillic alphabet. It is spoken by 85% of the population, with Turks and Roma being sizeable minorities. 80% of the population are Orthodox, and 12% are Muslim. The Bulgarian Lev is the official currency, worth approximately €0.50. The standard VAT rate is 20%.  

 Bulgaria                               Capital: Sofia



7.5 million à 6.6 million (2030)

Proportion of people over 65 is 26% à 38% (2030)


Mostly Bulgarian


80% Orthodox

GDP / head (2010)

€ 4,800   (EU average: € 24,400)


Lev (€0.50)



GDP growth (volume)



1.4% in 2012 (f)

3.0% in 2013 (f)

Unemployment rate

(Feb 2012)

12.4%   (EU average: 10.2%)

Inflation rate

3.4%   (EU average: 3.1%)


Figures relate to 2011, except where indicated.                                      Source: Eurostat, Searce (2012)


Bulgaria has a GDP per capita of €4,800, compared to the EU average of €24,400 in 2010. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, the Bulgarian economy grew by 1.8% in 2011, and is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2012 (compared to the Eurozone average of 1.6%, and 0.2% respectively). The inflation rate was 2.0% in 2011, compared to 3% in the EU. The unemployment rate was 11%, compared to 9.8% in the EU as a whole in 2011.

Families still tend to be extended, with several generations often living under the same roof. There tends to be a hierarchical structure and corresponding rules of behaviour. Handshakes and close eye contact are important when meeting people in business for the first time. Relationship building is highly valued and prospective business partners want to get to know you first. Deadlines are less important here than in some other countries.