Did you know? - Some more ‘surprising’ facts about Bulgaria.

The Rila Cross, a wooden cross with 140 microscopic scenes from the Bible featuring more than 1,500 figurines, the largest of them no bigger than a grain of rice, was carved by a monk over a period of 12 years.

Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, the bacterium that is responsible for giving Bulgarian yoghurt its unique flavour and consistency, can be found only in Bulgarian air.

The Voyager spacecraft, launched in the 1970s on a voyage to meet and communicate with other planets, carried a laser disc of ten songs believed to be representative of Earth. One of these songs was the Bulgarian tune Izlel e Deliu Haidutin from the Rhodopes region.

Rila Cross

The famous Bulgarian rose-oil, produced in the region of Kazanlak, is a component of French and of other world-famous perfumes.

The largest bay is the Bourgas bay at the Black Sea coast. It stretches 31km into the land. At its widest, it measures 41km, and its deepest point is 25m.

The only Bulgarian volcano, long extinct, is Kozhukh (281m above sea level). It is not far from the southwestern town of Petrich.

The longest river running across Bulgarian territory alone is the Iskar (368km).

Rose Pickers

One of the most famous opera bass singers (Boris Christov and Nickolai Guaurov) and the beautiful soprano Raina Kabaivanska are Bulgarians.

The highest waterfall is Raiskoto Praskalo (Paradise Sprayer) at 124m. It is not far away from the Botev peak in the Balkan range. The total number of falls in Bulgaria is nearly 300, 70 of which are looked after by the state.

The largest lowland in this country, and in the Balkans, is Upper Thrace. Plovdiv is the metropolis of the region. It is about 180km long and 50km wide. Its overall area is 6,032 square km.

Raina Kabaivanska

Elias Canetti was born in Bulgaria. 1981 Nobel Laureate in Literature for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power. 1905-1994. Place of Birth: Rouse, Bulgaria.

The oldest tree is an oak growing in the village of Granit in the vicinity of Stara Zagora. Its age is estimated at about 1,650 years. The crown of this oak tree covers 1,017 square metres; the circumference of its trunk is 7.45m and its height 23.40m.The tallest tree is the 62-metre Baikusheva Mura (white fir) in the Pirin Mountains. Its age is about 360 years.

The greatest number of mineral springs is to be found in the town of Velingrad (more than 70).

Elias Canetti

The inventor of the first electronic computer John Vincent Atanassoff is of Bulgarian origin. Professor John Atanassoff, together with graduate student Clifford Berry, built the world's first electronic digital computer, at Iowa State University, between 1939 and 1942. The Atanassoff - Berry Computer represented several innovations in computing, including a binary system of arithmetic, parallel processing, regenerative memory, and a separation of memory and computing functions.

The longest mountain range is Stara Planina, known also as the Balkan Mountain (530km). The whole peninsula is named after it. The highest are the Rila mountains; the peak Moussala rises to an altitude of 2,925 m above sea level. This is the highest point in the Balkans. The first written evidence of the peak being climbed refers to King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.

John Vincent Atanassoff

The largest coastal lake is Varna Lake, covering an area of 18 square km. It is also the deepest at 19m.The largest glacial lake is Smradlivoto in the Rila Mountains. It covers 21.2 hectares. The highest glacial lake is Popovoto, in the Pirin Mountains, situated at 2,715 m above sea level.

The mightiest karst spring is Glava Panega in the vicinity of the town of Lovech. Its average capacity is 4,178 litres per second.

The longest cave is close to the village of Bosnek, in the Vitosha Mountains near Sofia (over 15km). Six underground rivers have cut labyrinths in its galleries. As many as 4,000 caves have been investigated and mapped in Bulgaria.

The lowest temperature, measured in an inhabited locality, was registered in the winter of 1947 in the town of Tran, west of Sofia (minus 38.3 degrees centigrade). The highest temperature was measured in the summer of 1916 in Sadovo, near by Plovdiv (45.2 degrees centigrade).

The most rain was recorded on 21 August 1951 in the neighbourhood of the port of Varna, where in only 24 hours there was rainfall of 342mm. By way of comparison: the average annual precipitation for the country is 650mm.

The longest lasting fog occurred in December 1948 in Sofia (29 days and nights). At that same time, the fogs in Plovdiv and Lom stayed for 28 days. The capital of Bulgaria is also its foggiest city (33 days annually on average).

The hottest mineral water is found in the village of Separeva Banya, near the town of Dupnitza - its temperature is 103.8 degrees centigrade. According to some sources, this is the hottest spring in Europe.

The tallest cactus grows in the botanical garden of the town of Balchik, at the Black Sea coast. The height of this 'hedgehog' is 7 metres.

The last lion in Bulgarian lands was killed during the campaign of the Persian king Xerxes (as evidenced by Xenophon).The last lynx was shot in 1941, in the Rila Mountains.The largest bear in Europe fell victim to man in 1936, in the neighbourhood of Brevets, a resort in the Rila Mountains. This record was recognised at an international hunting exhibition in Berlin.

The last recorded snake bite that led to a human death occurred in 1936.

Bison in Bulgarian lands disappeared as early as the Middle Ages. In 1961 the reserve near the town of Razgrad acquired two pairs of bison, and settled them in the Voden forest. Nowadays there are several dozen bison in different Bulgarian preserves.

The largest amphibian is a turtle, which was caught and then set free near the town of Krumovgrad in 1987. It weighed 5kg, was 35cm long, of the same height, 29cm wide and 100-120 years old - i.e., at the age limit of European fauna. Another turtle of similar dimensions was caught some 80 years ago in the neighbourhood of Kotel, a town in Central Bulgaria.

The rarest animal species is the Black Sea seal, of which only 5 or 6 specimens are left now. They inhabit the caves along the shoreline around the Black Sea capes of Kaliakra and Masslen.

The farthest migration is that of the eels, which live in Bulgarian rivers, but spawn as far away as the Sargasso Sea, east of Florida, U.S.A.