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Country Context



Population, million


GDP, current US$ billion


GDP per capita, current US$


Life Expectancy at birth, years 73.6**

*Refers to 2021

**Most recent WDI value (2020) 

Bulgaria has undergone a significant transformation over the past three decades. It has moved from a highly centralized, planned economy to an open, market-based, upper-middle-income economy securely anchored in the European Union (EU). 

Bulgaria’s EU accession raised expectations that living standards would rapidly rise and match average EU levels in a relatively short time span. Bulgaria’s reform momentum was initially robust and rapid. However, following a series of external crises—including the global financial crisis (GFC), the European debt crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine —foreign investment inflows dried up and reform progress slowed, dampening the pace of convergence toward average EU incomes.

The long-term structural challenges facing Bulgaria include negative demographic trends, coupled with institutional and governance weaknesses. Institutional gaps have been mirrored by suboptimal public service delivery, hindering private sector expansion, and undermining inclusive growth and shared prosperity. High rates of inequality of opportunity limit access to key public services, constraining the ability of individuals to escape poverty and thus leading to persistently high-income inequality. Poverty and inequality are reinforced by inadequacies in the targeting, coverage, and generosity of the social security system, limiting its role as a redistributive mechanism.

Last Updated: Apr 07, 2023


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