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Bulgaria Economy


Industry plays a key role in the Bulgarian economy. Although Bulgaria lacks large reserves of oil and gas, it produces significant quantities of electricity. Bulgaria formerly ranked as the most important exporter of electricity in the region due to the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, which has a total capacity of 2,000 MW, but after the closure of its 4 blocks, exports of electricity declined sharply and the country lost its leading position as an energy-supplier for the Balkans. Construction has started on a second plant, the Belene Nuclear Power Plant with a projected capacity of 2,000 MW. Plans exist for a $1.4bn project for construction of an additional 670 MW for the 500 MW Maritza Iztok 1 Thermal Power Plant.

Ferrous metallurgy has major importance. Much of the production of steel and pig iron takes place in Kremikovtsi and Pernik, with a third metallurgical base in Debelt. In production of steel and steel products per capita the country heads the Balkans. Recently the fate of Kremikovtsi steel factories has come under debate, because of serious pollution of the capital, Sofia.

The largest refineries for lead and zinc operate in Plovdiv (the biggest refinery between Italy and the Ural mountains), Kardzhali and Novi Iskar; for copper in Pirdop and Eliseina; for aluminium in Shumen. In production of many metals per capita, Bulgaria ranks first in South Eastern Europe.

About 14% of the total industrial production relates to machine-building, and 24% of the people work in this field. Its importance has decreased since 1989.

Electronics and electric equipment-production have developed to a high degree. The largest centres include Sofia, Plovdiv and the surrounding area, Botevgrad, Stara Zagora, Varna, Pravets and many other cities. These plants produce household appliances, computers, CDs, telephones, medical and scientific equipment.

Many factories producing transportation equipment currently do not operate at full capacity. Plants produce trains (Burgas, Dryanovo), trams (Sofia), trolleys (Dupnitsa), buses (Botevgrad), trucks (Shumen), motorcars (automotive assembly plant in Lovech). Ruse serves as the main centre for agricultural machinery. Most shipbuilding takes place in Varna, Burgas and Ruse. Arms production mainly operates in central Bulgaria (Kazanlak, Sopot, Karlovo).

Foreigners seeking additional homes have recently boosted the Bulgarian properties market. Buyers come from across Europe, but mostly from the United Kingdom, encouraged by relatively cheap property-prices and the country's easy accessibility via air-travel.

Agricultural output has decreased overall since 1989, but production has grown in recent years, and together with related industries like food-processing it still plays a key role in the Bulgarian economy. Arable farming predominates over stock-breeding. The country has a lack of modern equipment. Alongside aeroplanes and other equipment, Bulgarian agriculture has over 150,000 tractors and 10,000 combine harvesters.

Production of the most important crops (according to the FAO) in 2006 (in '000 tons) amounted to: wheat 3301.9; sunflower 1196.6; maize 1587.8; grapes 266.2; tobacco 42.0; tomatoes 213.0; barley 546.3; potatoes 386.1; peppers 156.7; cucumbers 61.5; cherries 18.2; watermelons 136.0; cabbage 72.7; apples 26.1; plums 18.0; strawberries 8.8.

Bulgaria became a member of the European Union in 2007; the World Bank classifies it as an "upper-middle-income economy". Bulgaria has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years. The country still ranks as the poorest member state of the EU, but standards of living have started to rise.

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