|Country name:||Republic of Bulgaria (Republika Bulgaria)|
|Climate:||Warm summers and relatively cold winters|
|Location:||Bulgaria is located in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula and has 4 landscape areas:
|Area:||42,858 square miles|
|Capital:||Sofia, 1,271,000 million inhabitants (unofficially, more than 2 million)|
|Population:||7,364,000 million inhabitants (February 2011). 72.5% of the population lives in urban areas. The population is composed of the following ethnic groups : 84.8% Bulgarians, 8.8% Turks, 4.9% Roma, 2% Russian, Ukrainians, Macedonians, etc.|
In Bulgaria, education and culture have traditionally a major importance. The Bulgarian public education system has a good reputation with its private schools and universities. Apart from the general schools (year 2 – year 12 and 13), there is a two-level system divided in primary schools (year 2 – year 8) and secondary schools (year 9 to year 12 and 13), with both further education and professional training schools. There are two tests after year 5 and year 8, plus a national examination at the end of secondary school, introduced in 2008.
Normally, to be admitted into one of the over 50 state and private universities and higher education institutions, a higher education entrance qualification is required, as well as an admission exam. The new European qualifications Bachelor and Master have been introduced in all Bulgarian higher education institutions.
Foreign Language Teaching
Learning a foreign language is compulsory from year three. A second language is optional. In the so-called “language secondary schools”, after one intensive year of preparation in year 9, students receive up to 20 hours of foreign language lessons a week, as well as subject matter lessons in the foreign language. Many pupils who attend these schools achieve an outstanding language level. These schools are considered elite schools. After English and Russian, German is the third most important foreign language in secondary schools.
Art and Literature
In the big cities there is a lively, diverse cultural life. Many events are sold out and international festivals are organized. Contemporary art plays an increasingly important role, particularly in Sofia and other bigger cities.