Bulgarian Lands before the Foundation of the State
The Bulgarian lands have been settled since the earliest historical times . Traces of the Palaeolithic, the Neolithic and the Eneolithic Ages have been discovered in different regions of the country. The Bronze Age is related to the Thracians and their rich material culture. The Early Iron Age (11th-6th centuries BC) witnessed changes in the structure of society which led to the rise of the first Thracian state alliances, when the flourish of the Thracian society began (6th-2nd centuries BC) and lasted until the invasion of the Roman emperor Trajan. In the 1st century AD Roman rule was established over the Thracian lands which were taken within the boundaries of Byzantium from 5th c. AD. The Barbarian invasion in the 3th-5th centuries ended with the settlement of the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians in the Balkan Peninsula.
The First Bulgarian Kingdom
In 681 the Bulgarian State was founded with khan Asparouh as the leader of a union of the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians in their struggle against Byzantium. The following period between the 8th and the 10th centuries brought the political rise and territorial expansion during the reign of khan Tervel (700-721) and especially at the time of khan Kroum (803-814), when, to the west, Bulgaria borders on the empire of Charlemagne and in the south-east Bulgarian troops reach the walls of Constantinople. Prince Boris I Mihail (852-889) converted the Bulgarians to Christianity and adopted the Slavonic script created by Constantine Cyril the Philosopher and his brother Methodius and propagated in Bulgaria by their disciples. Ohrid, Pliska and Veliki Preslav became centers of the Slavonic culture. Czar Simeon (893-927) conquered new lands and expanded Bulgaria to the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Adriatic. The Golden Age of the Bulgarian culture came. Bulgaria became one of the most powerful states in Europe. At the time of his successors Petur I (927-968) and Boris II (969-972) the Bulgarian state weakened due to internal riots; the heretical teaching of the Bogomils spread and later it influenced the heresies of the Cathars and the Albigenses in West Europe. After exhaustive wars with Byzantium which ended with the defeat of the troops of czar Samuil (997-1014) the Byzantine rule over Bulgaria was established. The Bulgarian state institutions ceased to exist for two centuries (1018-1187). The liberation movements began already in the first decades of the Byzantine rule. The uprising headed by the two brothers, the boyars Asen and Petur, threw off the domination of Byzantium in 1187.
The Second Bulgarian Kingdom In 1187 the Second Bulgarian Kingdom with Turnovo as a capital was established. Petur II was pronounced czar of the Bulgarians, later - his younger brother Asen I (1187-1196). The power of Bulgaria was restored by czar Kaloyan (1197-1207) who inflicted a final defeat on the forces of the Latin emperor Baldwin I. The ascension of czar Ivan Asen II (1218-1241) on the throne is connected with a new strengthening of the state and its political hegemony in South-Eastern Europe, with the expansion of its borders, and with economic and cultural development. The internal riots and the uprising of peasants led by Ivailo (1277) caused territorial fragmentation and a new decline of the country. After a period of temporary stability the secessionist strivings of boyars gained the upper hand again during the reign of czar Ivan-Alexandur (1331-1371) who divided the country between his sons Ivan Sratsimir (1371-1396), who was given the Vidin Kingdom, and Ivan Shishman (1371-1393), who became a ruler of the Turnovo Kingdom. The cultural life was on the upsurge again. The Turnovo literary and art schools continued the traditions of the Bulgarian culture.
The Otoman Rule
The attacks of the Ottoman Turks on the Balkan Peninsula in the 14th century led to the waning of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom taken over in 1396. The Ottoman rule already aroused the resistance of the conquered Bulgarians in the first decades of the 15th century. The uprisings and the attempts to cast off the Ottoman rule continued in the 16th and the 17th centuries.
The Bulgarian National Revival
The 18th century witnessed the beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival and the formation of the Bulgarian nation. The period of the National Revival began with "The Slav-Bulgarian History" written in 1762 by Paisii of Hilendar. The ideology of national liberation was conceived, the independent Bilgarian church, education and culture were restored. The national liberation movement was formed on the basis of organized revolutionary activities and was related to the deeds of Georgi Rakovski, of Vasil Levski - strategist and ideologist of the national revolution, of the writer Lyuben Karavelov (1876), and of the poet Hristo Botev. The April Uprising (1876) drowned in blood had a strong political effect. It drew the attention of the European countries and created conditions for national liberation of Bulgaria.
The Third Bulgarian Kingdom
As a result of the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878) the Bulgarian State was restored, but it included only a small part of the Bulgarian lands. The Berlin Congress (1878) revised the San Stefano Peace Treaty and dismembered the Bulgarian territory into several parts: the Principality of Bulgaria with elected knyaz (prince), Eastern Roumelia with a Christian Governor-General, appointed by the sultan, and Thrace and Macedonia which remained in the Ottoman Empire. Alexander I Battenberg was elected knyaz. The Bulgarian people reacted against the decision of the Berlin Congress with the Kresna-Razlog uprising (1878-1879), accomplishment of the unification of Eastern Rumelia and the Principality of Bulgaria (1885) and organized the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising (1903). Taking advantage of the favourable conditions created by the Young Turkish Revolution in 1908, prince Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha proclaimed Bulgaria independent and himself the czar. Bulgaria, together with Serbia and Greece, was victorious in the Balkan War (1912-1913) against Turkey for the liberation of Thrace and Macedonia, but in the Inter-Allies War (1913) it was defeated by its former allies who tore out territories inhabited by Bulgarians. Bulgaria's participation in the World War I on the side of the Central Powers ended with a national catastrophe, czar Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his son Boris III (1918-1943). The Neuilly Peace Treaty (1919) imposed hard conditions on Bulgaria. The period between the two world wars started with a heavy crisis and with the rule of the Bulgarian Agrarian Union - a Government with its leader Alexander Stamboliiski at the head. He was ousted by a coup d'etat (1923) and a dictatorial regime headed by prof. Alexander Tsankov was established in the country. The resistance of the left forces led to the September 1923 uprising guided by the Communist Party. During the next decade the influence of the monarchist circles increased which strengthened the personal power of czar Boris III. At the time of the government of prof. Bogdan Filov, Bulgaria was oriented to Germany and it was forced to join the Axis in 1941. Bulgaria declared the so called "Symbolic war" on USA and Great Britain, but did not participate in the battles on the Eastern Front, the Bulgarian society saved the Jews living in the country from deportation. After the death of czar Boris III a council of regents was formed and it ruled instead of the underage Simeon II. A National Committee of the Fatherland Front (organization created by the communists) was set up and a guerilla movement was organized.
The People's Republic of Bulgaria
In 1944 the Fatherland Front took over the power and a Government headed by Kimon Georgiev was formed. The presence of the Soviet Army in Bulgaria sped up the changes in the political life and the following events - the declaration of the Republic (1946) and the coming to power of the Bulgarian Communist Party; the political parties were dismantled, nationalization of industry and banks, cooperation of land were implemented . At the head of the state and of the Communist Party were placed: Georgi Dimitrov (1946-1949), Vasil Kolarov (1949-1950), Vulko Chervenkov (1950-1956), Anton Yugov (1956-1962) and Todor Zhivkov (1962-1989).
On the Way of the Democracy
In 1989 democratic changes began in Bulgaria - the political parties and the parliamentary functions were restored, restitution of the property taken away in 1947 was carried out, and the agricultural lands were returned. The National Assembly adopted a new Constitution which regulates the functions of the three main powers - legislative, executive and legal. The country is ruled by a president for a period of five years. Since 1997 Petur Stoyanov is the respective elected presidents.