Prime Realty Investment - Investment company in Bulgaria

About Bulgaria


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Essential Country Information

Area

110,994 sq km (42,855 sq miles).

Population

7.8 million (official estimate 2005).

Population Density

70.7 per sq km (2005).

Capital

Sofia. Population: 1.2 million (2005).

Geography

Bulgaria is situated in Eastern Europe and bordered to the north by the River Danube and Romania, to the east by the Black Sea, to the south by Turkey and Greece and to the west by Serbia & Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Balkan Mountains cross the country reaching to the edge of the Black Sea and its golden beaches. The land is heavily cultivated, covered with forests and crossed by rivers. Although Bulgaria lies in the very southeast corner of Europe, the climate is never extreme in summer, even on the red-earthed plains of Southern Thrace. The Black Sea resorts have some of the largest beaches in Europe and offer sunbathing from May until October, while in winter heavy falls of snow are virtually guaranteed in the mountain skiing resorts.

Government

Democratic Republic since 1990. Head of State: President Georgi Purvanov. Head of Government: Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev since 2005. Recent history: Legislative power is held by the 240-seat National Assembly, whose members are directly elected for maximum four-year terms by proportional representation. The Assembly elects a Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers assists the President of the Republic, who as head of state wields supreme executive power and is directly elected for a five-year term. Presidential elections are due in 2006. The Socialist Party, led by Sergei Stanishev, won the latest election in summer 2005, but did not win enough seats to form a government on its own. The liberal Movement for Simeon II (NMS), which led the former coalition, came second and the mostly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) third. Mr Stanishev has said that EU membership is his government's top priority. He has also promised to intensify the campaign against corruption and organised crime.

Language

Bulgarian is the official language and the Cyrillic alphabet is used. Turkish and Macedonian are amongst the minority languages. English, German, French and Russian are spoken in major tourist resorts and hotels.

Religion

The majority of the population are Christian, the main denomination being Bulgarian Orthodox Church with a membership of 83 per cent of the population. Eastern Orthodox Chrisitianity is considered to be the traditional religion in Bulgaria. There is also a significant Muslim minority (13 per cent) and a small Jewish community.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are two-pin.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS

Normal courtesies should be observed and handshaking is the normal form of greeting. Dress should be conservative but casual. If invited to the home, a small souvenir from ones homeland is an acceptable gift. Do not give money. Remember that a nod of the head means No and a shake means Yes. Smoking: Since 1 January 2005, Bulgarian restaurants, cafes, nightclubs etc have zones for smokers and non-smokers. There is no smoking in public places.

Business

GDP: US$23.74 billion (2004). Main exports: Food stuffs, tobacco, wine, attar (oil) of roses, metals, chemicals, petrochemicals, electronics and machinery. Main imports: Foodstuffs, fuel products, chemicals, machinery and textiles. Main trade partners: Russian Federation, Germany, Italy and Greece.

Economy

In general, Bulgaria has suffered the usual problems experienced by centrally planned economies adjusting to market conditions. Successive governments have followed the path taken by other former Communist governments, under which most of industry and agriculture was privatised, trade liberalised and reforms of the fiscal and banking systems instituted. However, some key privatisations (tobacco, telecoms, banking) have already - or are - experiencing difficulties, possibly threatening the stability of the government. The value of the Bulgarian Lev was fixed to the Deutschmark by the currency control board created in 1997; it is now linked to the Euro. The economy grew at a healthy 4.3 per cent in 2004; inflation has been brought down to single figures. In 1990, Bulgaria joined the IMF, which has had a major influence on the countrys economic policy, along with the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Bulgaria has applied to become a full member of the EU and expects to join in 2007.

Business Etiquette

Suits and prior appointments are necessary. Interpreters can be organised through tourist agencies. If arranged in advance through foreign trading organisations, services are free. It is common for the visiting business person to offer hospitality to the contact in Bulgaria. Office hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1730.

Commercial Information

Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry42 Parchevich Street, 1058 Sofia, Bulgaria Tel: (2) 987 2631.Website: www.bcci.bgBritish-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce in the UKPO Box 123, Bromley, BR1 4ZX, UKTel: (020) 8464 5007.North American-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce in the USA851 Irwin Street, Suite 200, San Rafael, CA, 94901, USATel: (415) 454 8001.Website: www.nabcc.org

Climate

Climate

Varies according to altitude. Summers are warmest with some rainfall, with the south feeling the influence of the Mediterranean. Winters are cold with snow. It rains frequently during spring and autumn.

Required clothing

Mediumweights most of the year; warmer outdoor wear necessary in winter.

Contact Addresses

Location

Southeastern Europe.

Time

GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

National Tourist Information Centre

1 Sveta Nedelia Square, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria Tel: (2) 987 9778. Website: www.bulgariatravel.org

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the UK

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the UK186-188 Queens Gate, London SW7 5HL, UK Tel: (0870) 060 2350 or 2351 or (09065) 508 950 (visa section; recorded information; calls cost £1 per minute) or (020) 7589 3763 (visa section; individual enquiries; from Mon-Fri 1300-1500 only). Website: www.bulgarianembassy.org.ukOpening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800 (general enquiries) or 0930-1150 (visa applications; closed Wednesday and weekends).

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the USA

1621 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA Tel: (202) 387 0174 or 387 7969 (consular office). Website: www.bulgaria-embassy.org

Bulgarian Consulate General in the USA

121 East 62 Street, New York, NY 10021, USA.Tel: (212) 935 4646.Website: www.consulbulgaria-ny.org Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1230.

Duty Free

The following goods may be taken into Bulgaria by all persons irrespective of age without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1l of spirits and 2l of wine; 50g of perfume and 100g eau de toilette; reasonable amount of gifts.

Prohibited items

Any foodstuffs for personal consumption originating from cloven-footed animals, due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease in the UK in 2001.

Money

Currency

Lev (BGN) = 100 stotinki. Notes are in denominations of BGN50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 stotinki.

Note

(a) The Lev is tied to the Euro at a fixed rate; &Euro;1 = BGN1.955. (b) Notes dated 1997 and earlier are now out of circulation.

Currency exchange

A bordereaux receipt indicating the amount of currency exchanged will be given, and must be kept until departure. Visitors are advised to exchange money at banks and at large hotels. Travellers should not change currency on the black market , and they should exercise caution when exchanging money in bureaux de change since some have been known to dupe customers with misleading rates of exchange. No store, bank or change bureau will accept mutilated, torn or excessively dirty foreign currency. ATMs are widespread, although it is best to check with the relevant bank/card provider prior to travel.

Credit & debit cards

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in large cities, in larger hotels and car hire offices, and in some restaurants and shops, mainly in Sofia. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services that may be available. However, Bulgaria is still a country that operates mainly on cash, rather than credit cards.

Traveller's cheques

Accepted in major hotels and restaurants. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival. Local currency can be exchanged at the airport on production of a bordereaux.

Note

Travellers should check the currency regulations just prior to departure, as they may change.

Exchange rate indicators

DateAt time of publishing£1.00=BGN2.86$1.00=BGN1.63

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1600.

Money

Currency

Lev (BGN) = 100 stotinki. Notes are in denominations of BGN50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 stotinki.

Note

(a) The Lev is tied to the Euro at a fixed rate; &Euro;1 = BGN1.955. (b) Notes dated 1997 and earlier are now out of circulation.

Currency exchange

A bordereaux receipt indicating the amount of currency exchanged will be given, and must be kept until departure. Visitors are advised to exchange money at banks and at large hotels. Travellers should not change currency on the black market , and they should exercise caution when exchanging money in bureaux de change since some have been known to dupe customers with misleading rates of exchange. No store, bank or change bureau will accept mutilated, torn or excessively dirty foreign currency. ATMs are widespread, although it is best to check with the relevant bank/card provider prior to travel.

Credit & debit cards

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in large cities, in larger hotels and car hire offices, and in some restaurants and shops, mainly in Sofia. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services that may be available. However, Bulgaria is still a country that operates mainly on cash, rather than credit cards.

Traveller's cheques

Accepted in major hotels and restaurants. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival. Local currency can be exchanged at the airport on production of a bordereaux.

Note

Travellers should check the currency regulations just prior to departure, as they may change.

Exchange rate indicators

DateAt time of publishing£1.00=BGN2.86$1.00=BGN1.63

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1600.







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