A regular feature of the TransferGo blog is a look at the different migrant communities that make up the United Kingdom. Migrants have played an important part in the history of the UK for centuries; influencing and shaping various aspects of the country’s culture, cuisine, politics and arts.
Many of the groups we have featured on the blog have long established populations and communities throughout the UK. The Bulgarians are an exception. Migrants from Bulgaria have established communities throughout Western Europe for quite a while; however the Bulgarian community within the UK is relatively new.
Prior to World War II only a few Bulgaria were living in the UK, with the majority of them coming to the country to study. Emigration due to political or economic reasons was scared. It was not until the mid-1940s during the height of the war that emigration for political reasons reached a significant number.
During the Cold War the number of Bulgarian migrants remained very low, with the total number estimated at around 4,000. The socialist government of Bulgaria, which existed until 1991, made freedom of movement for the country’s citizens a bit more problematic.
However, even with a democratic government and becoming a member of the European Union in 2007, the number of migrants from Bulgaria to the UK has remained relatively small. Currently, there are about 70,000 Bulgarians living in the UK, with the majority of them living in England.
The number of Bulgarians eligible to enter the UK was restricted for 7 years after Bulgaria became a member of the EU. Those restrictions expired in 2014, so a rise in emigration to the UK was likely. However the recent Brexit vote may have an effect on the number of those coming to the UK, until the politicians clarify the policies that may affect newly arrived migrants.
A fairly significant number of UK expats live in Bulgaria, so much so that they inspired a television sitcom. The two countries are also minor trading partners, so a fairly good relationship between the two countries is likely to continue even after the lengthy Brexit process is complete.
Bulgarians’ contribution to the UK culture as primarily has been in the fields of sports and the arts. Boncho Genchev was the first Bulgarian in the Premier League; Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov is also from Bulgaria. In the arts, writers Georgi Markov and Gerri Peev, actors Stanislav Ianevski and George Baker, and chef Silvena Rowe are Bulgarian.