Stara Zagora (Bulgarian: Стара Загора, pronounced [ˈstarɐ ˈzaɡorɐ]) is the sixth-largest city in Bulgaria, and the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province.
It has a proud history illustrated by the many impressive ancient Roman buildings preserved in its centre.
In 377, in the Gothic War (376–382), the Goths marched on Beroe to attack the Roman general Frigiderus but his scouts detected the invaders and he promptly withdrew to Illyria. The city was destroyed but rebuilt by Justinian.
John's Byzantine army, and many of the captives, were settled as foederati within the Byzantine frontier.
In 1208 the Bulgarians defeated the Latin Empire in the battle of Boruy, also fought nearby.
The Ottomans conquered Stara Zagora in 1371. A grade school was built in 1840 and the town's name was changed to Zheleznik (Железник; a Slavic translation of Beroe) in 1854 instead of the Turkish Eskizağra (Also called Zağra-i Atik), but was renamed once again to Stara Zagora in 1870. It was an administrative centre in Edirne Province before 1878 as "Zağra-i Atik". After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, it became part of autonomous Eastern Rumelia as a department centre before the two Bulgarian states finally merged in 1886 as a result of the Unification of Bulgaria.
The Treaty of San Stefano was signed on 3 March 1878 by Russia and the Ottoman Empire. It was to set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality spanning Moesia, Macedonia and Thrace, roughly on the territories of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The other Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty out of fear that such a large country in the Balkans might threaten their interests. It was superseded by the Treaty of Berlin, signed on 13 July, which provided for a much smaller state only comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia, leaving large populations of ethnic Bulgarians outside the new country. This significantly contributed to Bulgaria's militaristic foreign affairs approach during the first half of the 20th century.
The Bulgarian principality won a war against Serbia and incorporated the semi-autonomous Ottoman territory of Eastern Rumelia in 1885, proclaiming itself an independent state on 5 October 1908. In the years following independence, Bulgaria increasingly militarized and was often referred to as "the Balkan Prussia". It became involved in three consecutive conflicts between 1912 and 1918—two Balkan Wars and World War I. After a disastrous defeat in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria again found itself fighting on the losing side as a result of its alliance with the Central Powers in World War I. Despite fielding more than a quarter of its population in a 1,200,000-strong army and achieving several decisive victories at Doiran and Monastir, the country capitulated in 1918. The war resulted in significant territorial losses and a total of 87,500 soldiers killed. More than 253,000 refugees from the lost territories immigrated to Bulgaria from 1912 to 1929, placing additional strain on the already ruined national economy.
High death rates result from a combination of an ageing population, a high number of people at risk of poverty and a weak healthcare system. More than 80% of all deaths are due to cancer and cardiovascular conditions; nearly a fifth of those are avoidable. Mortality rates can be sharply reduced to levels below the EU average through timely and adequate access to medical services, which the healthcare system does not provide fully. Although healthcare in Bulgaria is nominally universal, out-of-pocket expenses account for nearly half of all healthcare spending, which significantly limits access to medical care. Other problems disrupting care provision are the emigration of doctors due to low wages, understaffed and under-equipped regional hospitals, supply shortages and frequent changes to the basic service package for those insured. The 2018 Bloomberg Health Care Efficiency Index ranked Bulgaria last out of 56 countries. Average life expectancy is 74.7 years compared with an EU average of 80.2 and a world average of 69.
Bulgaria: Stara Zagora