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Bulgaria has existed for more than 13 centuries. The Bulgarian people are one of the most ancient. The Bulgarian state was founded on the present day territory of Europe in 681 and ever since that time the name of the country has always been the same.

Thracians were the first settlers in the Bulgarian lands, and their civilisation is evidenced by numerous archaeological finds, tombs, gold and silver treasures. Evidence of the presence of life in prehistoric times exists in the best preserved Neolithic dwellings discovered world-wide – namely those near the town of Stara Zagora, in the Bacho Kiro cave near the town of Dryanovo, and in the Magurata cave, close to the town of Belogradchik.

What follows are some of the most significant dates and events in the history of Bulgaria:

AD 452. - The first written reference of the name “Bulgarians” is found in an anonymous Roman chronograph
AD 681 - 1018 - First Bulgarian kingdom
AD 864 - 866 - Bulgaria adopted Christianity
AD 885 - Cyril and Methodius created the Slavonic script
1018- 1185 - Bulgaria fell within the limits of the Byzantine Empire and Rule
1185 - Restoration of the Bulgarian state
1396 - 1878 - Bulgaria was under the Turkish Yoke
1878 - 1944 - Bulgaria was a constitutional monarchy
1944 - 1989 - Bulgaria was a people’s republic, governed by the communist party
1989 - Since the 10th of November1989, Bulgaria has been a parliamentary republic.

The history of Bulgaria is divided into four major periods:
First Bulgarian kingdom (AD 681 – 1018);
Second Bulgarian kingdom (AD 1185 – 1396);
Third Bulgarian kingdom (AD1878 – 1945) and Modern Bulgaria.

St Cyril & Methodius

First Bulgarian Kingdom AD 681:
The Bulgarian state was established one of the first ever European states. The first Bulgarian capital was Pliska. Its tzars (khans) Asparoukh, Krum the Dreadful (AD 803 – 814) and Omurtag (AD 852 – 831), turned it into a mighty power in south-eastern Europe.

AD 855 The Saints Cyril and Methodius, brothers, created the Slavonic alphabet.

AD 865 Prince St. Boris (AD 852 – 907) did away with paganism, and introduced Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the official religion in Bulgaria. In AD 865 he moved the capital from Pliska to Veliki Preslav (Great Preslav). The Byzantine Empire recognised him as tzar of the Bulgarians.

AD 893 – 927 Under the reign of Tzar Simeon (the Great), son of Tzar Boris I, the Bulgarian kingdom became the largest in the territory and the most powerful in Europe. The “golden age” of Bulgarian culture set in.

AD 1018 Emperor Basil II conquered Bulgaria and turned it into a province of the Byzantine empire.

Second Bulgarian Kingdom 1185-1396:
The era of the Second Bulgarian kingdom, which came into being after a successful uprising by the Bulgarian aristocracy. The reign of the Assen dynasty began. They proclaimed the town of Turnovo as capital. John-Assen II (1218 – 1241) was the best known and most powerful ruler of the period of the Second Bulgarian kingdom.

1396 – Bulgaria fell entirely under Ottoman domination.For five centuries Bulgaria was a province of the Ottoman Empire. During the conquest the aristocracy was destroyed, the Bulgarian administration was done away with, the Bulgarian Church was deprived of autocephaly and partriarchical rank, and was placed under the patriarchy of Constantinople.

1652 – The beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival. Monk Paissii of the Hilendar monastery (on Mount Athos) wrote the book Slav-Bulgarian History.

1870 – Start of the organised national liberation movement.

1876 – The April uprising of the enslaved Bulgarian people broke out. It was put down in a sea of blood, but caused a notable international response of indignation at Turkish tyranny.

1877-1878 – The war of Russian-Turkish Liberation, in which Bulgaria gave many lives for the sake of freedom.

King Ferdinand I
Third Bulgarian Kingdom:
The Third Bulgarian state began with the San Stefano peace agreement, signed on 3 March 1878. On the basis of that agreement Bulgaria regained the territories of the three historic and ethnic Bulgarian regions, namely Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. Bulgaria became the largest Balkan country.

13 July 1878 – The treaty of Berlin was signed, on the basis of which newly liberated Bulgaria was divided into the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, and a large portion of Bulgarian lands was sequestered, to remain under Ottoman domination.

16 April 1879 – The Turnovo Constitution was passed solemnly by the First Grand National Assembly.

26 June 1879 – Alexander Battenberg became prince of Bulgaria, and Sofia the capital of the new Bulgarian state.

6 September 1885 – Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia (the real liberation of Bulgaria).

22 September 1908 – King Ferdinand I proclaimed Bulgaria’s full independence from Turkish rule.

Modern Bulgaria:
After the restoration of national statehood in 1878 Bulgaria was a constitutional monarchy with a democratic government and a rapidly developing economy. The process of successful growth was curtailed as a result of the adventurism of king Ferdinand I, which led to the catastrophes of 1913, when the country had to wage simultaneous wars against Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, and Romania, and of 1918, during the war against the Entente countries.

1923 and 1934 – Democratically elected governments were toppled by coups d’état that brought authoritarian regimes to power.

1941 – Bulgaria entered World War II on the side of the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis. Bulgaria was the only ally of Hitler's Germany which did not allow the killing of its Jewish citizens. It was thanks to King Boris III and the Bulgarian government that no hostilities were waged on its territory.

1944 – After Word War II, as a result of the Yalta agreement between the Great Powers, Bulgaria fell under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.

1953-1989 – Years of the communist rule of Todor Zhivkov who headed both the party and the state.

10 November 1989 – Under the pressure of domestic and international circumstances Todor Zhivkov was forced to resign. Bulgaria once again embarked on the road to democratic development.

7 December 1989 – The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) was formed as a unification of 13 opposition organisations.

10-17 June 1990 – First free parliamentary elections.

12 July 1991 – A new democratic Constitution was passed.

13 October 1991 – First free local authority elections.

January 1992 – First free presidential elections. Zhelyu Zhelev was elected as head of state.

3 November 1996 – Petar Stoyanov, proposed by the UDF, was elected with a landslide majority as President of the Republic of Bulgaria.

19 April 1997 – The Parliamentary elections were won by the Democratic Forces United (DFU). A government was formed, headed by Ivan Kostov as Prime Minister. Bulgaria started on the road to genuine democratic reforms.

Parliament is currently headed by Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg who is the only monarch in the world that has been chosen by his people to take on a post that was not given to him by right of succession. Having become King at the age of 6 he was then exiled at the age of nine only to return to Bulgaria some 55 years later to be

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