Bulgaria has changed swiftly since casting off the yoke off communism, though in the villages and even in Sofia you may find a horse or donkey on the road.
Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cold damp winters and hot dry summers. Spring (particularly April to mid-June) is an excellent time to visit. The days are lengthening, the weather is good, and the waves of summer visitors are yet to arrive.
Summer (mid-June to early September) is the peak season for tourism though temperatures can be very high unless you visit the mountains. The beaches on the Black Sea coast are very popular and can get very crowded.
September is perhaps one of the best months to see Bulgaria. The autumn is glorious and the tourist hordes have returned home. The ski season begins in mid-December and can last until April, Bansko being the winter resort with the longest season due to its higher altitude.
History of Bulgaria
History abounds in Bulgaria, with Thracians, Persians, Celts (Gauls) and Macedonians all fighting for dominance. Rome conquered the area in 45 AD, bringing stability, but when the Roman Empire collapsed in the West, Bulgaria and the surrounding lands found themselves settled by Slavs.
The First Bulgarian Empire ended in the 11th century when the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) re-expanded into its former lands. A rebellion in 1185 led to the Second Bulgarian Empire and lasted until 1396 when the Ottomans imposed their rule for nearly 500 years.
Ottoman-Russian conflict in 1877-78 ended with the formation of free Bulgaria. The First Balkan War started in 1912 when countries formerly under Ottoman rule joined to attack the Ottoman Empire but unhappy with the result, Bulgarian then turned on its former allies leading to the Second Balkan War and another redrawing of the maps in the area.
The Balkan Wars were brutal and saw atrocities committed against civilians. Such atrocities were thought to be consigned to the early 20th century but the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s showed that the propensity for genocide and ethnic cleansing hasn't gone away. This period can be considered to have been unfinished business and extension of the Balkan Wars.
Bulgaria allied with Germany in World War 1 and 2, and after WW2 ended up as a Communist puppet state under the Soviet Union. With the end of the Soviet Union and Communism in 1989, Bulgaria became a democratic and market-led economy. Years of mismanagement under Soviet rule and Communist government has set Bulgaria back decades and struggles due to corruption and population decline, despite it being in the European Union, though arguably being part of the European Union with it's open borders has been the reason for such a drastic population decline and brain drain.