EXPO 2005 sets the ambitious goal of reminding us once again that to be able to survive we need to stop and listen to the intrinsic wisdom of Nature. We are supposed to obtain power and inspiration for our development from the harmony and perfection of Nature and should reproduce it in the model community of the 21st century. The Earth does not belong to mankind, mankind belongs to the Earth. What befalls the Earth befalls all the humankind. Therefore, we must learn to preserve and love Nature with all heart and mind.
Nowadays, we are facing a lot of challenges. On the one hand, the disturbing environmental and social issues, ranging from the decrease of the biological diversity and the global warming to the growing poverty in certain regions of the world, are signals that we should change the way we live. On the other hand, we need a vital economy to improve the quality of life, to ensure employment and earnings for all. To overcome the conflict and reach the balance, the sustainable development should be implemented as a guiding principle of the global progress.
Each of the official participants in EXPO 2005 has the chance to present its own approach of responding to those challenges.
Bulgaria has outstanding achievements in this field. Through the course of the years, the country has succeeded in finding the balance between environment and modern life, the clean nature and the accelerated economic growth. Good examples in this aspect are the longstanding traditions in the production of wine, honey, rose oil, yoghurt, herb-gathering and use of mineral waters. These products are emblematic for Bulgaria. That is why they have been chosen to represent the country at EXPO 2005.
The participation of Bulgaria in the 2005 World Exposition will provide an opportunity to show Bulgaria to the world as a country with beautiful and generous nature and well-developed economy, which is on the way of taking its well-deserved place within New Europe. The presentation of Bulgaria at Expo 2005, Aichi will further contribute to strengthening the mutually beneficial relations with the host country, Japan.
Main Theme of Bulgaria’s Participation
The theme of Bulgaria’s participation in Expo 2005, Aichi, Japan is “Nature’s Wisdom and Gifts of Nature – Essential for Human Health, Lifestyle and Tolerant Coexistence”
The exhibition is focused on showing the specific Bulgarian viewpoint on the important balance of humankind and nature. The sought-after effect is to reveal the traditional and modern approach of the Bulgarians to the production of typically Bulgarian natural and organic products.
Bulgarian Rose Oil
Bulgaria is the second largest producer of rose oil in the world. A ton of rose oil is exported annually to the major perfumeries and cosmetics companies in France, Germany and the United States.
Rose oil has been a traditional product for Bulgaria since the 17th century. The Rosa Damascena, the oil giving rose, is cultivated in the famed Valley of Roses, an area of 14 000 square kilometers to the south of the Balkan Range. The roses bloom in May and June and fill the air in the whole region with their sweet, intoxicating scent. Rose petals are collected early in the morning before dawn and are steam distilled into rose oil, an essential ‘top note’ ingredient in quality perfumes and cosmetics products. It takes 3000 kg of rose petals to make 1 kg of rose oil.
Bulgarian oil producing companies are making new investments in an effort to improve further the quality of rose fields and rose oil and strengthen the country’s position on the world’s essential oils market.
In late spring tourists from around the world flock to the Valley of Roses to observe the gathering of rose petals and attend the festivities on the Holiday of the Rose.
The effects of natural yoghurt on human health and longevity have been known for centuries. Yoghurt is a staple food for Bulgarians and can be grown from cow, sheep or goat’s milk through the naturally occurring process of milk fermentation. This magical process is made possible by Lactobacillus Bulgaricum, a bacterium native to the Bulgarian lands.
The quality of yoghurt produced through natural fermentation is so good and so distinctive that the product is exported simply as Bulgarian Yoghurt. Licenses and know-how for its production are currently used by companies in Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Finland and South Korea. In Japan only, MEIJI Dairies produces a total of 200 000 tons of Bulgarian yoghurt annually.
Bulgarian yoghurt producers are taking steps to legally protect the trade mark of Bulgarian yoghurt on the European market and distinguish it from other product types that do not contain live bacteria.
Legend has it that the temple of Dionysus, Greek god of wine, was built on Bulgarian land. What we know for fact, is that grapes have been cultivated on the territory of present-day Bulgaria since 4000 B.C.
Bulgaria’s climate is influenced by the Black Sea and the Mediterranean and is excellent for the cultivation of a variety of grapes. The country produces a number of fine wines from local grapes – Mavrud, Melnik, Gamza, Dimyat, Misket – as well as quality international varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Bulgaria exports 770 000 hectoliters of bottled wine annually. The three top export markets are Great Britain, Germany and Russia.
For the last three, years a total of 55 million Euros from the SAPARD pre-accession program of the European Union have been invested in new vineyards, plant capacity and production improvements.
Bulgaria’s Mineral Waters
Bulgaria has an abundance of mineral waters: more than 1000 springs of varying temperatures and chemical composition, with a total output of 400 million liters per day.
The last ten years have seen a rapid growth in the production of bottled mineral water. Currently Bulgaria exports 10 million liters of superior quality water per year to the United States, Germany, Holland, Romania and Greece.
The curative qualities of Bulgaria’s mineral waters have been known since Roman times. Waters rich in sulphate are great for the liver and the gall bladder; salty mineralized waters are best for the treatment of orthopaedic, neurological and gynaecological diseases; other types of drinking water are good for the kidneys and the urinary tract.
A number of Bulgaria’s spa resorts are built in areas of former Thracian or Roman settlements – Sandanski, Hisarya, Velingrad, Sapareva Banya. After a decline in the last decade, the infrastructure for spa tourism is improving.
Honey gathering was known to the Slavic tribes in the Bulgarian lands as early as the 7th c. A.D. when the first Bulgarian kingdom was founded. From earliest times honey was treasured for its nutritional and medicinal uses.
Bulgaria has excellent conditions for the production of honey: a clean nature, a mild climate and a richly forested land. Numerous types of blossoming plants and trees make for a variety of subtle honey flavors.
Currently Bulgaria has a total of 400 000 bee hives producing 9 600 tons of honey per year. Most of this is exported to the European Union. 45 000 people are employed in the sector.
Herb gathering in Bulgaria has a long tradition dating back to medieval times. More than 3000 different types of plants grow on the sunny slopes and in the shady forests of Bulgaria’s four great mountains. Over 300 of these plants are used in the pharmaceuticals industry, while 750 types are used in alternative medicine. Some of the most popular herbs are mint, chamomile, thyme, lavender, wild marjoram and St. John’s wort.
Bulgaria is the fourth largest producer of medicinal herbs in the world, exporting a total of 12 000 tons per year, most of it to the European Union and the United States.
The 1990-ies have brought about a boom of privately owned companies trading in herbs. Currently a total of 350 000 people are employed in the herb industry in Bulgaria.
To further this, the Bulgarian government has recently announced plans to invest a total of 50 million Euro for the development of alternative agriculture in the Rhodopi Mountains in the south of Bulgaria.
The Bulgaria Pavilion offers the visitors the opportunity to view an original exposition involving all senses.
The Bulgarian national exhibition is arranged on an area of 324 sq. m. in the central part of the EXPO site. The thematic displays are located along the main visitors’ traffic, showing exhibits and samples of herbs, mineral water, Bulgarian rose oil and related products, Bulgarian yoghurt, wine and honey.
The displays for the presentation of the products have a neat and elegant design allowing visitors to enjoy themselves while adding to their knowledge less known facts about the nature, history and people of Bulgaria.
The pavilion has a restaurant where Bulgarian dishes are served and a shop where visitors can buy souvenirs from Bulgaria. Selected Bulgarian folk music is played as a musical background. The symbolic center of the exhibition is the stage for music and dance performances.
The virtual experience of Bulgaria is enhanced by films running on the displays above the exhibition stands and featuring our country and exhibited products.