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Ten Interesting Facts about Bulgaria

1. Bulgaria was once regarded as the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe because of its huge computer technology exports to communist countries. In 2002, the country ranked 8th in terms of number of IT experts in the world.

2. The inventor of the first electronic computer, Professor John Vincent Atanassoff of the Iowa State University, had Bulgarian origins.

3. The first digital watch in the world was also invented by a Bulgarian. His name was Peter Petrov.

4. Bulgaria is one of the countries in the world suffering from negative population growth. From having 9 million inhabitants in 1988, Bulgaria has just around 7 million people today.

5. The Bulgarian government, with the backing of the Orthodox Church, was one of the only two countries that saved their Jewish population from being sent to Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust. (The other country was Denmark.)

6. The Bulgarians were the first to use Cyrillic script, 9th century AD, which is also the alphabet currently used in Russia.

7. The Bulgarian folksong “Izel ye Delyo Haydutin (Delyo the Outlaw Has to Go Outside)” is one of the songs recorded and sent into space for the Voyager space program, which aimed to make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.

8. Bulgarians generally shake their heads when they mean yes and nod their heads when they mean no – but sometimes, especially in resorts and cities, they do it the other way around to complete the confusion of the tourist talking to them.

9. The world’s oldest gold treasure, dating back more than 6,000 years, was discovered in Bulgaria.

10. Bulgarian yogurt has a unique taste because the bacteria used to make it, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, is only found naturally in Bulgaria. Other countries import it, though, so that they can make their own yogurt.