Despite having joined the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria’s problems are not over. There remains a 14% poverty rate, 20% of all transactions currently take place on the black market and the country is still one of the poorest in Central and Eastern Europe. Bulgaria suffers greatly from inflation (2.8%, 2010), unemployment (9.1%, 2009), corruption and crime. From 2004-2008, growth averaged 6%, driven by significant amounts of foreign direct investment. Despite successive governments demonstrating a commitment to economic reforms, the global downturn has reduced exports, capital inflows and industrial production. In 2009, GDP contracted by approximately 5%.
The Jewish population of 8,000 consists largely of Sephardim and has a great desire for greater self-sufficiency in its communal life. The majority of Bulgaria’s registered Jews are elderly and alone, reliant upon outside assistance for survival.
Population = 7,148,785
Jewish population = 8,000
Life expectancy at birth = 73 years
Population below poverty line = 27.1%
Unemployment rate = 9.5%
GDP per capita = $12,800
Inflation rate = 2.1%