One of the earliest societies in the lands of modern-day Bulgaria was the NeolithicKaranovo culture, which dates back to 6,500 BC. In Antiquity (6th–3rd century BC), the region became a battleground for Thracians, Persians, Celts and Ancient Macedoniansuntil it was conquered by the Roman Empirein 45 AD. The Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire lost some of these territories to an invading Bulgar horde in the late 7th century. The Bulgars then founded the First Bulgarian Empire in AD 681, which dominated most of the Balkans and significantly influenced Slaviccultures by developing the Cyrillic script. This state lasted until the early 11th century when Byzantine emperor Basil II conquered and dismantled it. A successful Bulgarian revolt in 1185 established a Second Bulgarian Empirewhich reached its apex under Ivan Asen II(1218–1241). After numerous exhausting wars and feudal strife, the Second Bulgarian Empire disintegrated in 1396 and its territories fell under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries.
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 resulted in the formation of the current Third Bulgarian State. Many ethnic Bulgarian populations were left outside its borders, which led to several conflicts with its neighbours and an alliance with Germany in both world wars. In 1946 Bulgaria became a one-party socialist state and part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. The ruling Communist Party gave up its monopoly on power after the Revolutions of 1989 and allowed multi-party elections. Bulgaria then transitioned into a democracyand a market-based economy.