Bulgaria is essentially an agricultural country: 75.42% of its population is employed in agriculture; just 10% belongs to industry, 6.35% to commerce, 6.54% to public administration, professionals, landowners and other occupations.
Characteristic of the Bulgarian economy is the predominance of small and medium-sized properties. About half of the territory (48.8%) belongs to private, a little more than 1 / 4 municipalities (25.09%), around 1 / 12 to the state (7.89%): the first above all possessing fields and meadows, the latter pastures and forests, the latter almost exclusively forests. The liberation from the Turkish yoke begins the splitting of the property, which accelerated in the twenty years 1888-1908. In this period the number of owners increased by 50%, while the population grew by only 37%.
The cultivated area, which amounted to 3,920,251 ha. in the period 1908-12, it drops to 3,820,068, in that of 1923-7 (40.69% and 37.04% respectively of the national territory): the decrease is a consequence of the Treaty of Neuilly, which, while depriving Bulgaria of fertile lands in Dobruja, left them eminently mountainous areas in Thrace and Macedonia.
Of the cultivable area 2,430,096 ha. (70.14%) were destined for cereals in 1927, a proportion that from the end of the war (1919: 61.82%) onwards marked an ascending rate (period 1923-7: average 2,311,023 ha.), Despite the fact that development which at the same time was accentuated in the cultivation of oil-bearing and industrial plants (1914: 1.28%, 1927: 3.17%, average 1923-7: 96.300 ha., 1927: 109.668), in that of potatoes (11,499 ha. In 1927 against 2958 on average from 1908 to 1912) and in that of vegetables. Among cereals, the first place goes to wheat; surface (1,028,691 ha on average in 1923-7) and yield (9-10 q. per ha.) have changed little since the beginning of 1900. The quantity of wheat recorded in 1929 was 9 million q., but the average 1923-7 period is about 9 1 / 2million against more than 11 in that 1908-12. Figures are not far off for maize (9.4 million quintals in 1929; average for the period 1923-7 just over 6 million); follow at a distance barley (2 million q. in 1929; average 1923-7 q. 2 1 / 4), rye (q 1.9 million in 1929, average 1923-7 q. 1 1 / 2) and oats (1.4 million q. in 1929, average 1923-7 q. 1).
The cultivation of industrial plants and especially of oil plants (rapeseed, sesame, sunflower, etc.) and sugar beets has spread rapidly. From 1924 onwards, the import of vegetable oils has decreased by half. Cotton, widespread in the districts of Philippopolis, Haskovo, Hanmanlii and Petrič, occupied about 5400 ha in 1929. against 763 in 1912; fiber production rose from 140 to 938 thousand kg. during the same period. Much more important is the cultivation of tobacco, very ancient (dating back at least to the 13th century), concentrated above all in the southern districts of Dupnica, Gorna Džumaja, Pazardžik, Philippopoli, Stanimaka, Haskovo, Harmanlii and Kărdžali, but still in a period of rational settlement. Faced with 6 thousand hectares sown and 5 million kg. produced in 1913, 1929 marked 34.4 thousand ha. and 25 million kg. (average 1923-7: 38 million kg. against about 6 in the five-year period 1908-12). Unlike cotton, whose cultivation is still done with primitive systems and does not produce valuable products, Bulgarian tobacco enjoys a reputation for being of excellent quality, and has won a good place on the European markets. For Bulgaria public policy, please check petsinclude.com.
A certain interest also have the cultivation of the vine, from which are obtained 1-1 1 / 2 million hectoliters of wine, and 2-3 million tons of grapes per year; that of rice (along the Marizza and Struma), and fruit trees (districts of Tărnovo, Plevna and Kjustendil) which could give rise to a fair trade in first fruits.
Livestock breeding is done essentially for the needs of agricultural work. Although it is one of the most important export items, the quality is not very accurate; instead the number is increased by 1 / 3 since 1890. Bulgaria has nearly 2 million cattle, 400,000 buffaloes, as many horses and about 200,000 donkeys and mules. Rodope, Srednja Gora and eastern Bulgaria keep numerous sheep (10 million head in the kingdom), but the wool is of poor quality. Goats and pigs exceed 2 million heads: great progress has been made especially in pig farming, the total of which has doubled in the last ten years. Even more important is poultry farming. There is thus a large export of poultry (872 thousand head in 1927) as well as eggs (11 million kg. For a value of 750 million leva, on average in recent years). There is still a long way to go before we can speak of rational breeding.
Sericulture has old traditions and is rapidly increasing, but it too is only an auxiliary activity of agriculture.
A place in itself is to be given to the well-known rose cultivation, concentrated on the southern slope of Srednja Gora, in the famous “valley of roses” along the upper Tungia, in the districts of Kazanlăk and Karlovo. The cultivated area has dropped from 7629 sq km. on average from the period 1908-12 to 4940 in 1923-7; production from 11 to 6.2 million kg. (4.8 in 1928), the value from 4.5 to 3.1 million leva. 3-4 thousand kg are extracted on average. of essence a year, which gives life to about forty factories.
Deforestation was also intense in Bulgaria, although there are no reliable statistics. Forest reserves cover an area probably less than 30% (25% according to other data) of the total, and are reduced to the most inaccessible parts of the Rila, Rodope, the Balkans and the area between the Sakar and the Black Sea. It is estimated that 2 / 5 of those reserves are made up of conifers, but little or nothing has been done for their rational exploitation, and the country is now forced to importar timber from Romania.
Despite the financial difficulties it found itself in for a long time after the Balkan wars, the Bulgarian government devoted intense attention to every branch of the national agriculture. Among the works planned or in progress, the hydraulic and hydroelectric ones deserve a mention, for which it is estimated that they can count on over 1 million HP. About thirty hydroelectric plants are already in operation; with thermals the number rises to 139 (1927).