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The number of Bulgarians outside Bulgaria has sharply increased since 1989, following the collapse of the communism in Central and Eastern Europe. Over one million Bulgarians have left the country, either permanently or as temporary workforce, leading to a marked decline in its population. Many took advantage of the US green card lottery system (people applied for tickets, they did not purchase them). Also many Bulgarians immigrated to Canada using the advantage of the Canadian immigration point system for skilled workers. Others went across the European Union. In countries such as Greece and Spain many Bulgarians work and stay there intermittently while retaining Bulgaria as their permanent residence, especially after the country became a European Union member state in 2007.
Most of the causes for the spread of the post-1990s Bulgarian diaspora throughout the EU member states and Northern America (USA and Canada) have been related to work and education. Therefore, the majority of the emigrants have been allowed residence in other countries on skilled worker or student basis. That includes people of various skills - lower education workers (which usually deal with utilities and housekeeping) plumbers, construction workers, gardeners, handymen, maids, as well as a substantial amount of higher-education specialists - usually from the areas of engineering, computer science, chemistry and medicine.
Distribution by country
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