Learn more about specific causes in Bulgaria that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentBulgaria suffers various forms of air and water pollution from industrial emissions and sewage, as well as soil contamination from industrial waste, and deforestation. Forests additionally suffer from the air pollution and acid rain.1 In a country brief prepared by the European Environment Agency, the EEA found that Bulgaria’s industries were consuming significant amounts of the nation’s energy and national resources.2 Bulgaria possesses a high amount of water resources, compared to other EU nations, yet it uses a large amount of these resources for the cooling process during energy production rather than for human consumption.3 There has also been a decrease in the population of birds in the nation.4
FamilyMarriage trends and patterns in Bulgaria are largely the same as those in Western countries.1 Only civil ceremonies are recognized as legally binding, although religious ceremonies often accompany them.2 Divorce is becoming more common and the stigmatization that accompanies it is diminishing.3 Bulgaria passed the Law on Protection Against Domestic Violence in the early 2000s, establishing and inter-ministerial task group assigned with overseeing the law’s implementation. The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy also developed a plan to combat domestic violence, aiming to ensure punishment for abusers, and safety for victims.4
Human RightsBulgaria is on a route taken by many refugees through Iran, Turkey, Serbia, Croatia and Italy.1 After conducting interviews with 45 asylum seekers attempting to cross from Turkey to Bulgaria, the Human Rights Watch found that all but one had been stripped of their belongings, and 26 of them had been bitten by dogs or otherwise beaten by the Bulgarian border authorities.2 Unaccompanied child refugees are not given adequate living conditions upon arrival. Additionally, the Bulgarian media is subjected to political pressure or charges, and is the lowest ranking nation in the European Union on the World Press Freedom Index.3
EducationThe Ministry of Education and Science provides technical and financial support for the education system in Bulgaria.1 Between the ages of 7 and 16, attendance and participation in school is mandatory.2 There are around 51 fully accredited and established higher education schools in Bulgaria, and the official language of instruction is Bulgarian.3-4 However, there are secondary schools that specialize in foreign language learning and there, students can learn Armenian, Hebrew, Russian, French, Italian, English, and German.5 Higher education institutions are subject to regulations from the Higher Education Law of 1995.6 The country’s literacy rate is 98.4 percent.7
Poverty23.4 percent of Bulgarians live under the poverty line, and 6.2 percent of the population is unemployed — a lower rate than in previous years.1 Additionally, 14 percent of Bulgarians do not have modern sewage and sanitation facilities.2 Bulgaria is 10 years behind its European allies in growth and reform economically. It is the poorest nation in the EU. Economists say that bureaucratic red tape and corruption played a heavy role in Bulgaria’s slow reform.3
ReligionThe majority of Bulgarians claim the Eastern Orthodox church. The remainder of the population identifies as Muslim (7.8 percent), other, meaning Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox or Jewish (1.7 percent), none (3.7 percent) or unspecified (27.4 percent).1 The Bulgarian constitution and laws formally protect the aspect of religious freedom, but laws and policies are inconsistently enforced, thus leaving room for societal abuses.2 Additionally, the Eastern Orthodox church is considered the national, traditional church and therefore does not have to register with the government, as other religious groups do.3
Clean WaterNearly all of the country has access to clean water — just 0.6 percent of Bulgarians lacking access. However, 14 percent of Bulgarians do not have modern sewage and sanitation facilities.1 Though water is available to virtually the entire population, rural communities can seasonally experience shortages. In 2016, the World Bank’s Municipal Infrastructure Development Project announced that it will build, complete or repair a number of dams in rural areas of Bulgaria to ensure that approximately 170,000 Bulgarians will have consistent access to a reliable water supply, rather than having to ration water seasonally.2 Bulgaria’s rivers are also subject to pollution through the dumping of raw sewage, heavy metals and detergents.3
EconomyBulgaria’s per capita income continues to be the lowest in the European Union, though its economy has displayed continuous growth.1 Russia is the nation’s primary source of energy, creating an economic dependence, particularly related to natural gas, though Bulgaria is working with the EU to remedy that dependence and expand supply for natural gas.2 Bulgaria’s GDP in purchasing power is $153 billion.3 The unemployment rate is 6.2 percent, a comparatively middle-range rate internationally.4 6.8 percent of the population is in agriculture, 26.6 percent is in industry, and 66.6 percent is in services.5
GovernmentBulgaria is a former Soviet People’s Republic, and communist rule ended in 1990.1 The country became a member of NATO in 2004 and joined the European Union in 2007.2 The Republic of Bulgaria is currently a parliamentary democracy with a president and prime minister.3 Transparency International gives Bulgaria a score of 43 for its national perception of corruption, ranking the nation as 71st in the scoring of 180 countries for transparency. Eastern Europe is one of the lowest ranking regions in transparency and corruption perception.6
HealthA serious issue that Bulgaria currently faces is the high rate of health care professionals and doctors that are leaving Bulgaria in favor of working elsewhere in the European Union.1 Doctors in other EU countries have the opportunity to earn up to ten times more than the salary of a doctor who practices in Bulgaria.2 Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the leading causes of death, and life expectancy is 74.7 years, the second lowest life expectancy in the EU.3 Almost 12 percent of the population lacks health insurance.4 Bulgaria also has the largest smoking population in the EU.5
ChildrenUNICEF reports that Bulgaria has made progress toward the improvement and modernization of child welfare policy, as well as the goals set by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the EU.1 Bulgaria maintained the budget for its child protective service, despite its social services budget receiving cuts. In the early 2000s, the number of children in residential care institutions, such as orphanages and children’s homes, dropped by 40 percent. Children with disabilities still represent 46 percent of children in these residential care systems.2 Roma children are particularly at risk of marginalization in the school system. Roughly 130,000 children do not attend school in Bulgaria, and a majority of them are Roma.3 UNICEF, alongside the Bulgarian government, is working to reduce exclusion through Read More support and resources to such marginalized communities. Their current objective is to make these efforts more systematic.4 Show Less
AnimalsBulgaria is home to the Balkan Forests, and, subsequently, houses a large variety of plants and animals.1 No reliable data or reportable policies exist on animal protection or welfare policies in the nation. However, as a member of the European Union, Bulgaria is subject to the goals and policies of the EU on issues such as animal transportation and trade in the agriculture industry, to prevent animal abuse, the spread of disease and injury.2 There has also been a decrease in the population of birds in the nation.3
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