If you read the title and in your head, you went “What the hell is Bulgaria” don’t worry. You’re not the only one.

Bulgaria is a small country in eastern Europe, north of Greece and Turkey. The population is currently at 7 million people, according to Google. Here in Bulgaria, we have beautiful mountains, breathtaking views, a fantastic sandy seaside, and a ton of history all throughout the country. Our culture is a mixture of Balkan traditions and post-communist mentality. However, despite our bizarre cultural state at the moment, people are warm and welcoming for the most part. If you ever wind up in a Bulgarian village and you have nowhere to stay, I almost guarantee that some old lady will take you in for the night. She might even make you some of our traditional meals.

In theory, my country is amazing. When you step foot on Bulgarian land, you will be fascinated with our culture, spirit, and heritage.

Unfortunately, you might see something else as well. Remember that old lady I mentioned earlier? If you look around, you will come to know that the majority of Bulgarian ladies are old. And that village where you met the old lady? There are not many people there. There is a great chance there are no more than a few hundred people in the whole village. When you come here, you will see one of our most significant issues as a nation – the demographic crisis.

Let me explain what I mean by that. A demographic crisis, by definition, is a situation where the population of a territory is not sustainable. This could mean overpopulation or the opposite – too few people. In Bulgaria, the population is significantly unsustainable – birth rates are low, mortality rates are high, a big part of the population is above 60 years old, and the people below 30 emigrate.

There are many reasons for the demographic crisis in Bulgaria, and it is deeply connected to all the other troubles in the country. Financial, cultural, educational problems, you take your pick. The list is endless.

After all, you can’t expect a nation to grow when you suffocate it with problems in all spheres of life. When people don’t have a job, when they don’t have money, they either don’t have kids or go and have kids in another country. It is understandable. If you were a parent, you would want your children to grow up in a healthy, well-functioning society. Bulgaria can’t provide that. Bulgaria is a place of corruption, dysfunctional public systems, and poverty. Who would want to raise a child here? And more importantly, who would have the funds to raise a child here? You can’t have a child when your salary is not enough to feed yourself.

The issue is that nothing is working. Business, politics, education, healthcare. None of these systems function in the way they should, and that hurts the nation. And so people leave – at some point they have no choice.

In the country are left, patriots and older people. Patriots and older adults can’t change the current national state, and they are forced to watch their own homes getting worse and worse by the year.

I couldn’t explain in a single article all the reasons for all the problems in Bulgaria. But I am sure enough that all of our issues reflect on the nation. We are slowly going extinct – either melting in with other countries from all around the world or simply dying off one by one. In 50 years most of our villages will have no people in them. According to demographic research made by our scientists, by 2050, our population will have gone down by 35%. This means we will go down to 4 million. Who knows, in 2100, we might disappear from the map.

It is sad, it is ugly, and it is also a fact. And due to the situation in the country, I will probably emigrate too at some point. I wish I din’t have to, but the choice directly affects my quality of life and the life of my future children.

I will be forced to watch my nation die and not be able to do anything about it.

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