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History of Bulgaria

This is the history of Bulgaria.

In the ancient Bulgarian chronology, there were periods of 3, 10, 12, 17, 19, 21, 30, 47, 50, 53, 300, 600, 4332, etc. ancient Bulgarian years which were used both as denominators and intervals of time. The longest one was of 6328 ancient Bulgarian years. It is mentioned in the fragmentary inscription of Khan Omurtag and refers to the year 823 AD. The text consists of 14 lines, probably the concluding part of a contract between Danube Bulgaria and Byzantium. The inscription is carved with beautiful letters on a marble stone most probably from the capital town of Pliska. Here is what it says: “[…of the ruler] the name is [Khan Omurtag Juvigi]. The year of the appearance of the true god was 6328. They made a sacrifice and they swore in the written in the books [mutual contracts]…” This historic source may be accepted as a proof of the early beginning of the chronology of Bulgarians. According to the counts the new year, 2003 AD, is the year 7508 of the ancient Bulgarian chronology. Thus, the Bulgarians are among the peoples with the most ancient system of measuring time – a fact, which indicates their early civilising force.

Long a crossroads of civilizations (archaeological finds date back to 4600 B.C.), Danube Bulgaria[?](Bulgaria of present) was first recognized as an independent state in AD 681 and is among the countries in Europe, which survived and kept their original name from the longest time ago. Bulgarian Orthodox Christianity, which became a hallmark of national identity, was established in the 9th century. Bulgaria was ruled by the Byzantine Empire from 1018 to 1185 and the Ottoman Empire from 1396 to 1878. In 1879, Bulgaria adopted a democratic constitution and invited a German nobleman, Alexander of Battenberg, to be prince.

In the early part of the 20th century, in an effort to gain Macedonian and other territories, Bulgaria engaged in two Balkan wars and became allied with Germany during World War I. It suffered disastrous losses as a result. The interwar period was dominated by economic and political instability and by terrorism as political factions, including monarchists and communists, struggled for influence. In World War II, Bulgaria ultimately allied again with Germany but protected its Jewish population of some 50,000 from the Holocaust. When Tsar Boris III died in 1943, political uncertainty heightened. The Fatherland Front, an umbrella coalition led by the Communist Party, was established. This coalition backed neutrality and withdrawal from occupied territories. Bulgaria tried to avoid open conflict with the Soviet Union during the war, but the U.S.S.R. invaded in 1944 and placed the Fatherland Front in control of government.

After Bulgaria's surrender to the Allies, the Communist Party purged opposition figures in the Fatherland Front, exiled young Tsar Simeon II[?], and rigged elections to consolidate power. In 1946, a referendum was passed overwhelmingly, ending the monarchy and declaring Bulgaria a people's republic. In a questionable election the next year, the Fatherland Front won 70% of the vote and Communist Party leader Georgi Dimitrov[?] became Prime Minister. In 1947, the Allied military left Bulgaria, and the government declared the country a communist state. Forty-two years of heavy-handed totalitarian rule followed. All democratic opposition was crushed, agriculture and industry were nationalized, and Bulgaria became the closest of the Soviet Union's allies. Unlike other countries of the Warsaw Pact, however, Bulgaria did not have Soviet troops stationed on its territory.

Dimitrov died in 1949. Todor Zhivkov[?] became Communist Party Chief in 1956 and Prime Minister in 1962. Zhivkov held power until November 10, 1989, when he was deposed by members of his own party, soon renamed the Bulgarian Socialist Party[?] (BSP).

Bulgaria has been a parliamentary democracy since 1990. Four parliamentary and two presidential elections have been held since the fall of the communist dictatorship, each followed by peaceful and orderly change. However, the ex-communist has held power for long spells since the end of the dictatorship, and because of this, reformation of society has been slow. More details under Government.

See also: Bulgarian monarch - Bulgaria/Government - history of Europe - history of present-day nations and states

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