Georgi Dimitrov

Bulgaria's Economic Development

Source: Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works Sofia Press, Sofia, Volume 1, 1972, pp. 23-30
Transcription/HTML Markup: Mathias Bismo
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive ( 2003


After the liberation from Turkish political oppression,1) the doors of our country were flung wide open to the influof the advanced European capitalist states. The strong impact of this influence produced a profound change in the life of the entire country.

The old primitive methods of production, the crafts which had formerly flourished in Turkish times and were now outdated, proved impotent and helpless in the face of the competition of modern, mechanized, large-scale capitalproduction in the European countries. Our home marwas flooded with their goods, which displaced the local products with amazing rapidity and weakened or ruined a series of craft productions. This process was accelerated by the fact that after Bulgaria's liberation, many of the crafts had to forego the free market of Asia Minor and the other provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which had been at their disposal prior to liberation.

The intensified spread and development of capitalism in Bulgaria began in these economic conditions. A number of modernly equipped factories and other capitalist enterwere built, at first with foreign and later also with local capital. European and Bulgarian banks and other credinstitutions were founded, so were big commercial firms with branches in the country's major towns. Railway lines and ports were built. Parallel with the perfected machines and steam engines, electric power was introduced into indus In general, the way was cleared for the development of local, national capital, and this acquired particular momenafter the economic crisis came to an end towards 1901, and during the upswing that set in in 1903 and 1904 which, but for some minor fluctuations, has been continuing to this day.

The state itself, organized on the model of the state or in capitalist countries with a numerous and highly-paid bureaucracy, an extremely expensive monarchy and military establishment, fell entirely under the strong influence of emergent capitalism. At first there were vacilbetween the old forms of production and modern capitalist production, but later the state sided ever more consistently and resolutely with capitalism, making every effort to promote the latter's rapid and untrammeled devel

Together with the illegal and piratic accumulation of huge capital in the hands of a minority of local capitalists, many of whom had started on a shoestring, an accumulation obtained from the state treasury and state loans through the government and by means of wholesale spoliation of the population, the state also created numerous facilities and privileges for the capitalists. Besides everything else, the special Act on Fostering Local Industry, passed in 1895, was extended and the privileges and benefits it granted afmany new branches of industry. The system of direct taxation was replaced by that of indirect taxation, and the state thus acquired revenues which, together with the floatng of loans, enabled it to start the construction of a number of new railway lines, ports, bridges and roads and, in gen extensively to protect capitalism.

According to the census carried out by the State Board of Statistics on December 31, 1904, and the data provided by the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture on July 2, 1907 the state-protected factories numbered:

1895-1900 99
1901-1904 166
1905-1907 207

Thus, in less than 12 years, the number of factories enprotection2) increased by 108.

Most of the protected industries are big factory enterprises. Of these 56 have a capital of from 100,000 to 500,000 leva, and 94 a capital of 500,000 to one million or more leva.

Of course, today the number of enterprises protected by the Act is far larger. After 1907 many new factories were built: in Varna a textile mill, in Roussé a factory for iron articles, in Elisseina a copper ore-dressing factory, in Gableather, footwear, textile, wood-processing and other factories, which do not enter into the figure of 207.

Moreover, it should be borne in mind that, besides the protected productions, there are many other industrial enter which do not enjoy the benefits of the Act on FosLocal Industry, because they are subject to special laws. Among these are: the tobacco factories, the factories for cartridge cases, the printing and bookbinding enter the trams, arsenals (military and railway), the two state mines, as well as the private collieries, which are now developing very rapidly. At the moment there are no precise industrial statistics, but it may be boldly asserted that there are today more than 800 industrial enterprises in our country and that this number is quickly growing with the present industrial upswing in Bulgaria.

At the same time, the railway network has deen develgreatly, as can be seen from the following data:

1888 536,905
1895 761,089
1900 1,465,520

When the newly-built railway lines of Turnovo-Tsareva Livada-Plachkovitsa, Kyustendil-Gyuéshevo, and Chirare added, the total railway network exceeds 2,000 kilometres. Moreover, many more kilometres of raillines are under construction, such as: Mezdra-Vidin, Tsareva Livada-Gabrovo, Boroushtitsa- Stara Zagora, and Devnya-Dobrich.3) The railway network is being rapextended and will soon, after the projected lines are built, connect all the parts of the country of importance for industry, trade and agriculture, with railway lines.

The railway lines in operation have yielded the following revenues:

1893 - 3,612,538 leva  1902 -  7,498,178 leva
1894 - 3,618,070 leva  1903 -  8,226,841 leva
1895 - 4,120,454 leva  1904 - 10,960,288 leva
1896 - 4,587,830 leva  1905 - 11,170,969 leva
1897 - 4,592,615 leva  1906 - 11,772,387 leva
1898 - 5,110,555 leva  1907 - 14,082,009 leva
1899 - 5,118,021 leva  1908 - 15,423,993 leva
1900 - 6,163,454 leva  1909 - 17,552,451 leva
1901 - 7,285,097 leva    

Since 1903 the state has had a clear profit of from two to six million leva a year from the railways.

In 1903 there were 7,570 kilometres of state and municroads, periodically maintained and repaired (5,935 km state and 1,635 km municipal roads). That same year there were 11,729 bridges (8,809 built by the state and 2,920 by the municipalities). There were 208 lodges for the maintemen in charge of roads and bridges. That same year 3,148 km of roads were under construction or had been pro which were completed in 1909. Roads, bridges and maintenance men's lodges are in far greater numbers today.

Post and telegraph offices, of which there were only 100 in 1886, numbered 295 in 1908. There were only eight postal agencies and mobile bureaus in 1886 while in 1908 their number had risen to 1,757. In 1886 there were all in all 3,834 km of postal rounds, while by 1908 they had risen to 23,509 km.

The entire telegraph network in 1886 was 3,548 km, while in 1908 it was 5,900.

In 1903, when telephone exchanges were first installed, there were just four of them with 565 telephones. In 1908 these had increased to 21 with 2,039 telephones. In 1903 there were 135 km of telephones lines, and in 1908-263 km.

In the last four years state revenues from the posts, teleand telephones have been as follows:

1906   4,300,494 leva
1907   4,745,075 leva
1908   5,140,336 leva
1909   5,510,000 leva

There were seven Bulgarian ports in operation on the Black Sea in 1895. In 1908 there were eight, two of which (those of Varna and Bourgas) were organized as modern ports. These were visited in 1895 by 2,733 ships (1,583 sailing boats and 1,150 steamships), while in 1908 the number was 5,933 (3,489 sailing boats and 2,444 steamships).

There were eight ports in operation on the Danube in 1895, and nine in 1908. The number of incoming ships was 4,608 (589 sailing boats and 4,019 steamships) in 1895, and 9,137 (934 sailing boats and 8,203, steamships) in 1908.

The two main Black Sea ports (Bourgas and Varna) supplied the following revenue from 1903 to 1907 (in leva):

Years Bourgas Varna Total
1903   149,571.06   11,974.75   161,545.81  
1904   379,679.30   34,431.15   414,110.45  
1905   363,703.20   83,075.35   446,778.55  
1906   282,515.35   271,842.30   554,357.66  
1907   283,903.30   435,815.15   719,718.45  

Of course, revenues after 1907 have been far greater.

The capitalist development of Bulgaria is also reflected in its foreign trade which, in the various years following the liberation until the present, progressed as follows (in leva):

Years Imports Exports
1879   32,137,800   20,092,854
1885   44,040,214   44,874,751
1890   84,530,497   71,051,123
1895   69,020,295   77,685,546
1900   46,342,100   53,982,629
1905   122,249,938   147,960,688
1909   160,429,624   111,433,683

Imports consist primarily of ironware, machinery and various other similar materials necessary for industry, conand agriculture.

Capitalism, albeit more slowly, is now penetrating agriculture. The concentration of land in the hands of ever fewer persons and the proletarization of the peasant masses is a continuous process. According to official 1897 statis 799,588 farmers owned 3,977,577.73 hectares. If we cona farm of between 0.1 to 10 ha as a small farmstead, one of 10 to 100 ha as medium-sized and one of 100 to 500 and over as a large farmstead, we obtain the following picture:

698,030 peasants own       1,946,722.04 ha
100,610 peasants own       1,771,025.28 ha
648 peasants own       259,760.41 ha
799,588 peasants own       3,977,507.73 ha

This little table shows that a mere 948 persons own more than 250,000 ha. If we divide the total number of hectares by the number of owners, we shall get the following average per peasant owner: only 2.8 ha for the first category, 17.6 ha for the second, and 274 ha for the third.

This trend towards land concentration is still more clearapparent in the following table:

Hectares Owners Total ha Lots
From 100 to 200    606    82,600.26    19,001
From 200 to 300    155    37,779.31    6,900
From 300 to 500    100    42,736.12    3,575
From 500 upwards 87    96,641.42    2,413

Consequently, 87 owners own more land than the 255 owners of the second and third category, and more than the 606 owners of the first category. Moreover, the fewer the ownand the larger the property, the less the number of lots, which goes to show that the small lots are concentrated in the big farms.

This becomes even clearer from the following table, acto which the ownership of the farms existing in 1897 was distributed as follows:

166,765 farmsteads possess up to 0,5 ha
90,508    from 0.5 ha to 1 ha
106,373    from 1.0 ha to 2 ha
75,100    from 2.0 ha to 3 ha
60,061    from 3.0 ha to 4 ha
50,222    from 4.0 ha to 5 ha
92,515    from 5.0 ha to 7.5 ha
56,486    from 7.5 ha to 10.0 ha
55,503    from 10.0 ha to 15.0 ha
22,095    from 15.0 ha to 20.0 ha
14,911    from 20.0 ha to 30.0 ha
4,338    from 30.0 ha to 40.0 ha
1,770    from 40.0 ha to 50.0 ha
1,993    from 50.0 ha to 100.0 ha
606    from 100.0 ha to 200.0 ha
155    from 200.0 ha to 300.0 ha
100    from 300.0 ha to 500.0 ha
87    over 500.0 ha
Total 799,588 farmsteads

Today the situation has changed still further in this direction, particularly in the Varna, Bourgas, Lom and other districts. A large mass of farms are doomed to ruin. According to more recent statistics, the number of farms which possess less than 5 ha has risen to 792,618! As is known, a minimum of 5 ha are necessary for the existence of an average farm.

Of course, it should also be borne in mind, that most of the independent farms listed in the official statistics are only fictitiously independent as actually they are in the hands of usurers or of the Agricultural Bank.

Land concentration and the proletarization of the peasant population goes hand in hand with a comparatively rapid industrialization of agriculture.

From 1890 to 1908 the following farm machinery has been imported:

Year Amount (kg) Value
1890    310,404    201,999
1895    309,132    323,551
1900    429,058    428,313
1905    936,548    834,019
1906    1,771,777    1,448,054
1907    2,541,802    2,199,336
1908    1,678,722    1,366,800

In recent years farm machines have been introduced into the cultivation of land still more rapidly.

Thus, the capitalist mode of production and trade have been consistently invading the entire country_ , penetrating into all the pores of its economic, social and political life, and creating new conditions, new class groups and relations, and new social movements and struggles.


1) Referring to Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule by the Russian army as a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

2) The Act on Fostering Local Industry protects only those inenterprises which have a minimum capital of 25,000 leva, or exploit at least 20 workers and work with machines and other modern means.

3) Today Tolbukhin.