Prussia of the Balkans
IN a geographical sense, Bulgaria occupies a rather special position in the communist bloc of Eastern Europe. Anchored on the southern flank of the former satellite belt, it is unique in having just one other bloc neighbor ( Romania to the north) and in being the only country to border on more than two non-bloc states ( Turkey and Greece to the south, Yugoslavia to the west).1 Also, Bulgaria shares with East Germany the distinction of remaining under Soviet influence without being contiguous with the U.S.S.R.
Bulgaria, slightly smaller than New York State, encompasses 42,818 square miles within its dimensions of roughly 250 by 150 miles. Significant topographical features include the Danubian tableland across the north; the Balkan mountains in the center; the Thracian plains to the south; and mountains in the southwest. The national language is Slavic but shows the influence of Turkish and Greek. The population, composed of about 91 percent ethnic Bulgarians and 9 percent Turks, was estimated at the end of 1969 to be 8.5 million, of which roughly 4.4 million were classified as urban (51.4 percent) and 3.1 million as rural (48.6 percent).2
For five hundred years Bulgaria was under Turkish rule, with the decline of which came oppression, all the less tolerable because of the new standards and aspirations resulting from the penetration of modern ideas from Western Europe.3____________________