In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Bulgaria is Number 22 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Bulgaria was a powerful medieval kingdom that came under the control of the Ottoman Turks in the 14th century. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877−78 and the Congress of Berlin of June−July 1878 resulted in the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria, which remained, nonetheless, subject to Ottoman suzerainty. Full independence was achieved in 1908. The study contains sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. It traces the turbulent history of Bulgaria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, up to the First Balkan War of 1912−13, in which an alliance of Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece attacked and defeated the Ottoman Empire, and the Second Balkan War of 1913, in which Bulgaria fought against Romania, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and the Ottoman Empire over the spoils of the First Balkan War. The study stresses the importance of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, but notes the presence of Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant minorities and concludes that “religious toleration prevails to a greater extent than in any other State in Eastern Europe.” The Bulgarian economy is characterized as relatively backward, with only the beginnings of a modern industrial sector. Most Bulgarians were engaged in agriculture, with sericulture (the breeding of silk worms) and rose-growing important branches of the agricultural economy.

Last updated: September 2, 2015