After World War II, Bulgaria became a Communist state and was part of the Eastern Bloc, but today it is a democratic republic and a member of both NATO and the European Union. Its capital city, Sofia, has 1.38 million inhabitants.
Bulgaria is credited with giving the world the Cyrillic alphabet, the second most widely-used alphabet in the world, in the 10th century A.D. The internationally famous artist Christo was born Hristo Yavashev in Bulgaria in 1935.
The country boasts no fewer than nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, some historic and some because of natural beauty, and is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Its cuisine demonstrates both eastern European and Mediterranean influences and there are many regional wines and beers to sample.