The history of the Republic of Bulgaria is rich with curious firsts and lasting influences. The local prehistoric civilizations included the world’s first gold workers, and Bulgarian, the oldest written Slavic language, remains the native language of more than 80% of the country’s population. A Slavic cultural hub during the Middle Ages, Bulgaria still produces unique folk music, ornate carpets, and cultural expositions including ancient rituals and dancing over live coals. The country’s incredible biodiversity hosts some of the world’s oldest trees in the forested countryside. An open-market economy is protected by political and financial stability, and the Euro-pegged Bulgarian lev is one of the strongest currencies in Eastern Europe.