The Republic of Bulgaria is perhaps the epitome of a Balkan country, as the Balkan mountain range that gave the peninsula its name runs through the heart of this culturally and naturally very wealthy country. Bulgaria is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the east; and ranks as Europe's 15th-largest country.
Bulgaria's location has defined it as a historical crossroad for various civilizations; Prehistoric cultures began developing on Bulgarian lands during the Neolithic period. Its ancient history was marked by the presence of the Thracians, and later by the Greeks and Romans. This mélange of peoples and cultures gave Bulgaria its unique face: beautiful monasteries in isolated valleys, historic towns, Roman ruins, gastronomy and traditions.