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The Kingdom of Bulgaria, also referred to as the Tsardom of Bulgaria, the Third Bulgarian Tsardom and the Third Bulgarian Empire (Bulgarian: Царство България, Tsarstvo Balgariya), was a constitutional monarchy. The Kingdom was bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east.
The state was almost constantly at war throughout its existence, lending to its nickname as the Balkan Prussia. For several years Bulgaria mobilized army of more than 1 million people from its population of about 5 million and in the next decade (1910–20) it engaged in three wars - the First, the Second Balkan War and the First World War. After this the Bulgarian army was disbanded and forbidden to exist by the winning side of the World War and all plans for national unification of the Bulgarian lands failed (Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine).
The Tarnovo Constitution of 1876, amendment in 1893 and 1911, stated that the Kingdom of Bulgaria was a hereditary monarchy with a parliament whose members were elected by the people. The constitution was suspended in 1881–1883.
The state guaranteed freedom of expression and assembly, of conscience, inviolability of private property and formally established the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the official religion of the nation, although people of other religions were considered equal to those who followed the official faith.
According to the new constitution the state powers are:
- executive power is exercised by the Tsar, who delegates it to the Council of Ministers. The Tsar names the president of the Council of Minister. The monarch was supposed to be male and of Orthodox religion;
- the council of ministers under the presidency of the primer minister is in charge of the executive power. All ministers are appointed and named by the Tsar. The ministers are responsible to the King and the National Assembly.
- legislative power is entrusted to the National Assembly. The National Assembly was elected through universal suffrage every four years. In addition to the ordinary National Assembly, a Grand National Assembly (twice the number of deputies of the National Assembly) could be convened in order for matters of special jurisdiction, such as: 1) Adoption of a new Constitution; 2) electing the Regency of the Bulgarian Kingdom if the Tsar had not come to age; 3) Amendment of certain articles of the Constitution, e.g. those related with the basic civil rights; 4) Changes in the territory (gain or loss), etc.
- the judicial power rests in the Supreme Court of Cassation, Supreme Administrative Court, and lower courts.
All male Bulgarian citizens over 21 years of age have full political and civil rights.
Bulgaria was divided into counties (okrug), sections and municipalities.
The main parties, with parlamentary representation are:
- the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU), the main representative of Bulgarian peasantry and rural zones and villages. The BANU is an important radical agrarianism party in the Balkans.
- Liberalism and radicalism whose main representatives are the National Liberal Party (Nacionalliberalna Partija), the Democratic Party (Demokratičeska Partija), and the Radical Party (Radikalna Partija),
- The Bulgarian Communist Party (Balgarska Komunisticheska Partiya, BKP), and
- the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers Party (Broad Socialists).
Bulgaria was highly backwards from an economic standpoint. Heavy industry was almost nonexistent due to a lack of major natural resources, and whatever manufacturing did exist consisted almost exclusively of textiles and handicrafts. Even these required extensive tariff protection to survive. Some natural resources did exist, but bad internal communications made it impossible to exploit them and nearly all important manufactured implements were imported. Farm machinery and chemical fertilizers were nearly unheard of. Agricultural products were almost the only thing Bulgaria could export and after the economic crisis it became very hard to do this.
Bulgaria was fortunate in lacking a native landowning class since historically the landowners had all been Turks displaced after independence in 1878. As such, Bulgarian agriculture was almost entirely one of small farmers and peasants. Plots were small and almost exclusively under 50 acres, but they were worked intensively and even the tiniest 5-acre farms often produced crops for market sale. Bulgarian peasants also had a better work ethic than their counterparts in Romania or Hungary (In Austria-Hungary) due to historical reasons.
As elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Bulgarian peasants traditionally grew grains for their landowners which after the war could not be effectively marketed due to competition from the United States and Western Europe. However, they were able to switch with little difficulty to garden crops and tobacco in contrast to other countries where the peasantry suffered harder due to continued reliance on corn and wheat.
While more successful than the rest of Eastern Europe, Bulgarian agriculture still suffered from the handicaps of backwards technology and especially rural overpopulation and scattered plots (due to the traditional practice of a peasant dividing his land equally among all surviving sons). And all agricultural exports were harmed by the onset of the Great Depression. On the other hand, an underdeveloped economy meant that Bulgaria had little trouble with debt and inflation. Just under half of industry was owned by foreign companies in contrast to the nearly 80% of Romanian industry.
The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) acts as the central bank and issues and control the national currency (Bulgarian lev). The Bulgarian Agricultural Bank (Bulgarska Zemedelska Banka, BZB) and Bulgarian Central Cooperative Bank (Bulgarska Centralna Kooperativna Banka, BCKB) are the main public credit banks. Also important are the agricultural credit cooperatives that operated in the countryside, being fed on the funds of the BZB, and a town and city equivalent, called popular banks, formed to provide loans to crafts.
Railways are a state monopoly administered by the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ).
Since the population was 85% ethnic Bulgarian, there was relatively little social strife aside from the conflict between the haves and have-nots. Most inhabitants of Sofia (the only real city in Bulgaria) maintained close ties to the countryside, but this did not prevent a rift between the peasants and urban class (i.e. Sofia versus everyone else), although some was the result of deliberate manipulation by politicians seeking to take advantage of traditional peasant distrust of the "effeminate city slicker". Mostly however, it was due to a quarrel between the rulers and the ruled.
Around 14% of the population were Muslims, mostly Turks (i.e. the remnant of the landowning class), but also a handful of so-called "Pomaks" (ethnic Bulgarians who practiced Islam). The Muslim population was alienated from the dominant Orthodox Christians both due to religious and historical reasons. They neither pressed for minority rights or tried to set up their own schools, and instead asked nothing more than to be left alone to mind their own business. The Bulgarian government obliged except for a great willingness to assist them in emigrating back to Turkey.
Armed forces of Bulgaria
Throughout history, the Army has played a major role in defending the country's sovereignty. Only several years after its liberation (1878), Bulgaria became a regional military power and was involved in several major wars – Serbo-Bulgarian War (1885), First Balkan War (1912–13), Second Balkan War (1913), First World War ((1915-1920) and Third Balkan War, during which the Army gained significant combat experience.
However after Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine the Bulgarian military was not allowed to have active combat aircraft or naval vessels, the Land Forces were reduced to about 20,000 men in peacetime and abolished the obligatory military service.
By law Bulgaria had compulsory enlistment to the military service for all for male citizens from eighteen to twenty-seven years of age for a period of two years, after the Treaty a voluntary service was mandated to be established.
The Ministry of War was in charge of political leadership while overall military command remains in the hands of the Defense Staff, headed by the Chief of the General Staff. The Bulgarian Army was organized in three services
- Bulgarian Land Forces,
- Bulgarian Navy,
- Bulgarian Air force,
the last two disbanded by the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine. However the said treaty allow to keep or form a voluntary frontier guard, so the Maritime and River Police Service was formed along the existing Frontier Guard.
Public order was maintained by the Bulgarian National Police and National Gendarmerie. The safekeeping of the frontiers is under the control of the Frontier Guard and Maritime and River Police Service.
Bulgaria as medium sized indigenous defense industry. Arsenal AD, is the oldest weapons manufacturer (est. 1878), and largest machine-building company in the country