Bulgaria is a European nation that spans an area of roughly 42,855 square miles and it is one of the top 100 economies globally. In 2017, the Bulgarian gross domestic product was ranked 74th in the world while its per capita gross domestic product was the 63rd highest in the world. The Bulgarian economy is classified as an open economy with the private sector playing a huge role in the country's economic success. Bulgaria's economy has undergone intensive reformation since the 1940s when the country was mainly dependent on agriculture. To reduce the reliance on arable land, the Bulgarian government focused on the development and exploitation of other natural resources such as forests, minerals, and fish.
Bulgaria has been blessed with a variety of mineral resources, ranging from iron ore to copper, that was mainly developed during the communist era. After the period ended, the mining industry in Bulgaria began to lose in significance which led to several significant deposits being left unexploited. The decline of Bulgaria's mineral sector has been attributed to several factors primarily the lack of sufficient capital to purchase modern machinery. The Bulgarian government estimated that during the early 21st century, the mining industry only contributed 2% to the country's gross domestic product each year.
One of Bulgaria's most essential minerals is coal. It has vast deposits of the mineral mainly situated in its western region. Geological data indicated that most of the coal in Bulgaria is lignite, a coal variety with lower heat content than other coal varieties. The Bulgarian government estimates that the nation has close to 4.5 billion tons of lignite most of which, close to 70% according to some estimates, is situated in the Maritsa Iztok Coal Basin. The rest of Bulgaria's lignite is situated within the Lom coalfield and the Sofia Coal Basin. Apart from lignite, Bulgaria also has significant deposits of anthracite, the most valuable coal variety due to its high heat output, which is estimated to be around 1.2 billion tons. Bulgaria is unable to exploit its vast anthracite resources because they are located in extremely inaccessible areas. Bulgaria also has roughly 800 million tons of brown coal spread out all over the country in regions such as Bobov Dol and Pernik.
Water is one of Bulgaria's most important natural resources since it is used in energy generation. Some of the Bulgarian rivers used for hydropower generation include the Krka River, the Arda River, and the Vacha River. In 2010, according to statistics from the Bulgarian government, hydroelectricity accounted for close to 10% of the electricity used in Bulgaria. Fifteen hydroelectric power stations, all operated by a state agency, provided close to 95% of all the hydropower used in Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian people also consider wind to be one of their most important natural resources. Several experts from the European Union believed that Bulgaria has great potential to be a leading producer of wind energy. Bulgaria's wind energy sector experienced significant growth from 2004 to 2012, but since that time it has stagnated.
According to geological surveys, Bulgaria is believed to have 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It is thought that Bulgaria's reserves could satisfy the country's demand for natural gas for almost 100 years. There are several major fields of natural gas in Bulgaria such as the Chaika, Izgrev and Deventsi gas fields. The Chaika field is one of the country's youngest offshore gas fields as PetroCeltic discovered it in 2013. The Chaika field is believed to contain nearly 0.55 cubic miles of natural gas. PetroCeltic also discovered the Izgrev offshore field in 1993. The Izgrev field has been proven to have 1.89 cubic miles of natural gas.
Apart from natural gas, Bulgaria also has vast deposits of oil with some estimates indicating that the nation could have 200 million barrels of oil. The Bulgarian government, seeking to replicate the success of several neighboring states, invited several countries to explore oil within its territorial waters and in 2016, the company Total discovered deposits of oil within the Black Sea. To properly explore the oil field, the company planned to drill two wells. In 2018, another company discovered oil while drilling within the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea.
The World Bank estimated that forests covered roughly 35.22% of Bulgaria's total land area in 2015. Since 2004, when the nation's forest cover was approximately 33%, the amount of forested land in Bulgaria has been increasing gradually. The increase in the forested area was due to a concerted effort by the Bulgarian people to raise the country's forest cover. The Bulgarian forests are of great ecological significance since they provide habitats to more than 500 unique animal species. Roughly 5% of the animals that live in Bulgaria are considered threatened.
From 2004 to 2010, the amount of land devoted to agriculture in Bulgaria declined gradually, but from 2010 to 2012 the amount of agricultural land has increased. The Bulgarian government estimated that in 2016, the agricultural sector contributed 5% of the country's gross domestic product. The Bulgarian labor department estimated that approximately 7% of the country's population was employed in the agriculture sector.