Economy and Agriculture
Bulgaria's economy contracted dramatically after 1989 with the loss of the market of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) member states, to which the Bulgarian economy had been closely tied. The standard of living fell by about 40%, but it regained pre-1990 levels in June 2004. United Nations sanctions against Yugoslavia and Iraq took a heavy toll on the Bulgarian economy. The first signs of recovery emerged in 1994 when the GDP grew and inflation fell. During 1996 the economy collapsed due to lack of international economic support and an unstable banking system. Since 1997 the country has been on the path to recovery, with GDP growing at a 4% – 5% rate, increasing FDI, macroeconomic stability and European Union membership.
Tourism has always been a big industry in the country, and still booming: one of the 130 hotels in Slanchev Bryag, one of the most popular resorts in Eastern EuropeThe former government, elected in 2001, pledged to maintain the fundamental economic policy objectives adopted by its predecessor in 1997, i.e., retaining the Currency Board, practising sound financial policies, accelerating privatisation, and pursuing structural reforms. Economic forecasts for 2005 and 2006 predict continued growth in the economy. The annual year-on-year GDP growth for 2005 and 2006 is expected to total 5.3% and 6.0%, respectively. Industrial output for 2005 was forecast to rise by 11.9% from the previous year, and for 2006 by 15.2%. Unemployment for 2005 was projected at 11.5% and for 2006 about 9%. As of 2006 the GDP structure is: agriculture 8.0%; industry 26,1%; services 65.9%.
Agricultural output has decreased since 1989 but production is growing in recent years. Farming is more important than stock-breeding. The prevalence of mechanisation is higher than most other Eastern European countries but there is lack of modern equipment. There are more than 150,000 tractors, 10,000 combines, alongside aeroplanes and other equipment. Production of the most important crops is: wheat 4,120,000 t; sunflower 1,080,000 t; maize 2,120,000 t; grapes 500,000 t; tobacco 79,000 t; tomatoes 530,000 t; barley 1,180,000 t; potatoes 650,000 t; peppers 213,000 t; cucumbers 110,000 t; cherries 75,000 ; watermelons 420,000 t; cabbage 340,000 t; apples 150,000 t; plums 150,000 t; strawberries 52,000 t.
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