Economy of Bulgaria

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Bulgaria Map Economy History

Bulgaria's economy contracted dramatically after 1989 with the collapse of the COMECON system and the loss of the Soviet market, to which the Bulgarian economy had been closely tied. The standard of living fell by about 40%. In addition, UN sanctions against Yugoslavia and Iraq took a heavy toll on the Bulgarian economy. The first signs of recovery emerged when GDP grew in 1994 for the first time since 1988, by 1.4% and then by 2.5% in 1995. Inflation, which surged in 1994 to 122%, fell to 32.9% in 1995. During 1996, however, the economy collapsed due to shortsighted economic reforms and an unstable and decapitalized banking system.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov (UDF), who came to power in 1997, an ambitious set of reforms were launched, including introduction of a currency board regime, bringing growth and stability to the Bulgarian economy. Three-digit inflation in 1997 fell to 2.6% in 1999. GDP grew 3.5% in 1998, 2.4% in 1999, and due to an increase in investments and exports, the GDP rose to 5.8% in 2000.

In spite of the transition to a new government in July 2001, Bulgaria remains committed to the market reforms undertaken in 1997. The new government's economic team is young, energetic, and Western-trained. Recent measures introduced by Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg seek to reduce taxes, curtail corruption, and attract foreign investment. While economic forecasts for 2002 and 2003 predict continued growth in the Bulgarian economy, the government still faces high unemployment and low standards of living.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $48 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.5% (1999 est.), 5% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $6,200 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture:  15%
industry:  29%
services:  56% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 22.5% (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.2% (1999 est.), 10.4% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 3.83 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 26%, industry 31%, services 43% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15% (1999 est.), 17.7% (2000 est.)
Budget:
revenues:  $4.85 billion
expenditures:  $4.92 billion (2000 est.)
Industries: electricity, gas and water; food, beverages and tobacco; machinery and equipment, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, nuclear fuel
Industrial production growth rate: -3% (1999 est.), 10.8% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production: 36.217 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel:  51.52%
hydro:  8.35%
nuclear:  40.12%
other:  0.01% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 33.182 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 2.2 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 1.7 billion kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: vegetables, fruits, tobacco, livestock, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers, sugar beets
Exports: $4.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, fuels
Exports - partners: Italy 14%, Turkey 10%, Germany 9%, Greece 8%, Yugoslavia 8%, Belgium 6%, France 5%, United States 4% (2000)
Imports: $5.9 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuels, minerals, and raw materials; machinery and equipment; metals and ores; chemicals and plastics; food, textiles
Imports - partners: Russia 24%, Germany 14%, Italy 8%, Greece 5%, France 5%, Romania 4%, Turkey 3%, United States 3% (2000)
Debt - external: $10.4 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $1 billion (1999 est.)
Currency: 1 lev (Lv) = 100 stotinki

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Bulgaria Map Economy History