The lands where are today's borders of Bulgaria were inhabited from earliest times and were part of several ancient civilizations. The most notably of them is the Thracian civilization. Some of the world's oldest gold artifacts point to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast as the cradle of the world's metal production. Later, the Thracian lands were incorporated into the Roman Empire, as exemplified by the well-preserved Roman amphitheater in the city of Plovdiv.
The forerunner of today's Bulgarian state was founded by Khan Asparukh in 681 AC. He came with other Proto-Bulgarian Khans from Central Asia to Europe. Bulgaria adopted Christianity as early as 865, fought against the Byzantine Empire and dominated the entire Balkan region on and off for several hundred years.
Bulgaria fell under Ottoman rule in 1396 and remained part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years until the end of the XIX century when the Bulgarian people arise against the Turkish yoke.
After the Liberation of Bulgaria the country endures some wars - two Balkan wars and the two World Wars. It became a Communist state after the end of World War II and was one of the staunchest supporters of the Soviet Union. The peaceful end of Communism in 1989 paved the way for Bulgaria's path to democracy, joining NATO in the spring of 2004 and on track to join the European Union in 2007.
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