National Geographic : 1980 Jul
Bulgaria SLAVIC PRIDEfills Sofia as the capital city honors Cyril and Methodius, ninth-century pio neers of the Cyrillic alphabet-a bond between Bulgariansand Rus siafts. Portrait at left vaunts GeorgiDimitrov, best-known Bul garianCommunist. Bulgariahas a tra dition of gratitude to Russian liber ators, who in 1878 helped end the five-century rule of the Ottoman Turks. An obsession to regain Thrace and especially Macedonia-Bulgarian territory during the country's 13th-century zenith (right)-plunged the na tion into the Firstand Second Bal kan Wars of 1912 and 1913, as well as into the two World Wars as a German ally. After Soviet troops poured into the country in 1944, Bulgarian Communists gained controlof the government. GOVERNMENT: Socialist republic. AREA: 42,823 sq mi (11,340 sq km). POPULATION: 8,900,000. RELIGION: Bulgarian Orthodox, some Muslims. LANGUAGES: Bulgarian, some Turkish. ECONOMY: Tobacco, grapes and wine, attar of roses, chemicals, machinery, tourism. MAJOR CITIES: Sofia, capital (pop. 1,000,000), Plovdiv (310,000), Varna (270,000).