Traditional Bulgarian culture contains mainly Thracian, Slavic and Bulgar heritage, along with Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Persian and Celtic influences.
Nine historical and natural objects have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Madara Rider, the Thracian tombs, the Boyana Church, the Rila Monastery, Pirin National Park, Sreburna Nature Reserve and the ancient city of Nesebar. Nestinarstvo, a ritual fire-dance of Thracian origin, is included in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Slavic culture was centered in the Bulgarian Empires of the Middle Ages and the Preslav, Ohrid and Tarnovo literary schools had great cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox world and many languages in Eastern Europe. Bulgarian literature has been at a high level since the beginning of the 20th century, several Bulgarian authors, such as Ivan Vazov, Pencho Slaveykov, Peyo Yavorov, Yordan Radichkov and Tzvetan Todorov have gained prominence whilst 1981 Bulgarian-born writer Elias Canetti was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Bulgarians love their folk music is by far the most extensive traditional art and has developed as a fusion of Eastern and Western influences. It contains Far Eastern, Oriental, medieval Eastern Orthodox and Western European tonalities and modes. The most distinguishing features is extended rhythmical time, which has no equivalent in the rest of European music.
Bulgarian cuisine is similar to those of other Balkan countries and demonstrates a strong Turkish and Greek influence.Yogurt, lukanka, banitsa, shopska salad, lyutenitsa and kozunak are among the best-known local foods. Meat consumption is lower than the European average, because Bulgarians prefer salads. Rakia is a traditional brandy. Bulgarian wine is known for its Traminer, Muskat and Mavrud types, until 1989, Bulgaria was the world’s second-largest wine exporter.
Bulgaria performs well in sports; wrestling, weight-lifting, boxing, gymnastics, volleyball, football and tennis. Football is by far the most popular sport. Hristo Stoichkov, winner of the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball is the most successful Bulgarian player.
Bulgarians are friendly people who like having foreign friends, Bulgarian is the official language, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but English, German and French is spoken in resorts, hotels and restaurants.
When doing business relationship building is important, and initial meetings may be used as an introduction, after which more business-related meetings can be planned. Dress conservative in business attire when doing business and be punctuality.
In Bulgaria, a shake of the head means ‘yes’ and a nod means ‘no’, it is useful to clarify the answer verbally to avoid confusion.