Environment in Bulgaria Essay

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F rom 1946 to 1990, Bulgaria was part of the Soviet bloc of nations. After the breakup of the bloc, Bulgaria held its first multiparty election of the post World War II era and began its transformation into a market economy. This nation of 7,450,349 people covers 110,910 square kilometers, with the Black Sea forming its eastern border. Because of the temperate climate, Bulgarian summers are dry and winters are cold and damp. Bulgarian industry utilizes large deposits of coal, copper, and zinc. Other natural resources include bauxite, lead, timber, and arable land. The mountainous terrain makes the country vulnerable to landslides, and earthquakes are a constant threat.

Environmentally, Bulgaria faces problems with air pollution caused by industrial emissions and with rivers polluted by raw sewage, detergents, and heavy metals. Additionally, Bulgarian forests have been damaged by air pollution and acid rain, and the soil has been contaminated by heavy metals and other industrial wastes. Around 4.5 percent of Bulgaria’s land area is protected. Among the 81 species of mammals endemic to the country, 14 species are threatened, as are 10 species of the 248 endemic bird species. A study conducted by Yale University in 2006 ranked Bulgaria 50th of 132 countries on environmental performance; however, Bulgaria outranks most other countries in its income and geographic groups. Concerning overall quality-oflife issues, The United Nations Development Project (UNDP) Human Development Reports rank Bulgaria 55th.

Environmental Pros and Cons

Bulgaria’s labor force is heavily dependent on services (56.3 percent) and industry (32.7 percent). And while almost 70 percent of the population lives in urban areas and only 11 percent of the labor force is engaged in agriculture, the per capita income of $9,000, unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, and poverty rate of 13.4 percent mean that backyard gardening, canning, and informal urban agriculture are crucial components of livelihoods throughout the country. All Bulgarians have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

Indiscriminate usage of pesticides in the past continues to create environmental problems for Bulgaria. In 1996, for instance, an inventory revealed that large quantities of organochlorine pesticides, which have been banned by the government, are still stockpiled. High concentrations of hydrocarbons (HCBs) have been found in the Danube, Dnieper, and Dniester Rivers. HCB residues dropped extensively in Bulgaria between the 1970s and the 1990s. On the other hand, lindane continued to show up in the Bulgarian waters of the Danube. Pollution has also been found in estuaries in areas of Bulgaria where oil production refineries are located.

Offering a more positive view of Bulgaria’s environment than that presented by the Regional Environmental Center, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers has identified Bulgaria’s environmental strengths as low air, water, and soil pollution, overall cleanliness, rich biological diversity, legislation and programs to promote environmentalism, a high percent of nuclear power use, and a well developed pollution monitoring system. Nevertheless, the study also identified environmental weaknesses in Bulgaria that include a shortage of funding for environmental programs, water shortages, inefficient water usage, high noise pollution, high levels of transportation pollution, a lack of administrative oversight capacity, persistent “hot spots” of pollution in large cities, and continued problems of waste disposal.

Local governments have been given responsibility for dealing with pollution in their own areas, and Bulgaria has pledged a commitment to global environmentalism by participating in the following international agreements: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Wetlands. Bulgaria has ratified but not signed the agreement on Air Pollution-Sulfur 94.


  1. Glenn Curtis, Bulgaria: A Country Study (Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993);
  2. Kevin Hillstrom and Laurie Collier Hillstrom, Europe: A Continental Overview of Environmental Issues (ABC-CLIO, 2003);
  3. Republic of Bulgaria, Council of Ministers, National Strategy for the Environment and Action Plan 2000-06 (Ministry of Environment and Water, 2001);
  4. UNEP, Europe Regional Report: Chemicals (Global Environment Facility, 2002).

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