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Geographic location

Bulgaria is in south-eastern Europe occupying the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the North, via the Danube River, it borders with Romania, to the West with the Republic of Macedonia. To the South its neighbours are Greece and Turkey. To the East Bulgaria touches the Black Sea, which links it also to Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia The Blacksea borderline is 378 km (240 miles) long.The country's total territory is 111 000 sq. km (43 000 sq. miles).

Relief

Bulgaria possesses a variety of natural forms, located in the range of 0 and 2,925 m. altitude. Its territory includes part of the lower Danubean plain, The Balkan range part of the Alpine and Himalayan chain, part of the Thracian lowland and to the south the mountain structures of the Macedonian - Thracian massif. Its best known mountains are Rila (its highest peak being Musala - 2 925 m.), Pirin ( Vihren peak 2 914 m.), Vitosha (Cherni Vrah peak - 2 291 m.), Stara planina (i.e. the Balkan range) (Botev peak - 2 376 m.), and the Rhodope (Golyam Perelik peak- 2 191 m.). The mountains occupy half of this country's territory, with the highmountain relief i.e. at an altitude above 1 600 m., comprising 5 % of its entire area. The Bulgarian mountains easily accessible and the presence of towns and villages in them that have preserved the authentic Bulgarian spirit and hospitality, gives a chance for receiving and accommodating tourists at village houses.

Natural phenomena

Bulgaria is a much attractive tourist destination also because of the numerous natural phenomena, scattered across the country mountain passes and gorges, rock pyramids and bizarre rock formations, numerous caves and waterfalls, beautiful secluded lakes. Here are some of the best known: The Melnik pyramids; the Fossil forest; the Belogradchik rocks; the gorges of the rivets Trigradska in the Rhodope, Etma river off the town of Tran, Vratzata; the defiles of the rivers Iskar, Strnma, and Mesta; the canyon of the Roussenski Lom river; the "Srebarna" lake reserve; the Rupite locality with the Church of the prophet gramy Vanga; the Aladjamonastery of the city of Varna, the rock monasteries near the town of Rousse. While the Rila and the Pirin mountain impress with their cirques, glacial valleys and carling pinnacles. There is a great diversity of Karst forms, among these some 4 300 caves. The deepest cave in Bulgaria is 415 m. deep, and the longest - 15 535 m. long. Many of the caves have electric power and have been adapted for visits by tourists. The best known are the Ledenika, the Maguarata, and the Saeva Dupka caves in the Balkan range; the Snezhanka (Snowwhite), the Yagodinskata, the Dyavolskoto Garlo (Devil's throat), and the Uhlovitsa in the Rhodope. From December to April the highlands in Rila, Pirin, Vitosha, the Balkan range and the Rhodope offer favourable skiing conditions. The best known mountain resorts are Borovets, Pamporovo, Bansko, and Aleko near the capital of Sofia, and Malyovitsa.

Climate

From North to South on the territory of Bulgaria there alternate temperate continental climate and transitional climate, while in the south an impact of the Mediterranean climate is felt. The average annual air temperature is 10,5 degrees centigrade (51 F). Altitude differences determine the vertical zoning of the climate. In the East there is an influence by the Black Sea there summers are cooler and autumns warmer and longer. The combination of the course of air and seawater temperatures with average values above 18 C (65 F) is favourable to seaside vacationing in the period from late May till early October. The soft transitional-Mediterranean climate and the fertile soils are very suitable for growing the centuryfamed Bulgarian attaryielding rose a valuable raw material for perfumery, medical and foodvine and tobacco industries.

Waters

Bulgaria has some 500 deposits of mineral waters with over 1,600 water sources. These are localised chiefly at the mountain foothills. The spa resorts of all-national significance are Bankya, Velingrad, Sandanski, the mineral baths of Stara Zagora, Narechen, Sliven and Haskovo, as well as Kyustendil, Vashets, Pavel banya, Hissarya, Merichleri, Momin Prohod, and Kostenets. Climatic sea-side resorts oflering various recreation services are Balchik, Bourgas, Varna ("Zlatni Pyassatsi" - "Golden sands"), Kiten, Pomorie, Primorsko, Nessebur ("Slantchev Bryag" "Sunny beach"), and Sozopol. Picturesque lakes hide in the cirques of the Rila and Pirin mountains. Dam lakes of recreational potential are to be found in the Rhodope mountain namely Batak, Vatcha, Studen Kladenets, at the foot of the Balkan range Ticha, as well as in some other places. There are good prerequisites for the development of adventure tourism: "wild waters" - rafting and canoe, diving, delta and paradrifting in the river valleys of Vatcha, Iskar, Chepelarska, Struma, and Mesta rivers.

Flora and fauna

Bulgaria has many territories, which have preserved in their natural state unique natural nooks, preserving a remarkable biodiversity. Contemporary natural vegetation demonstrates a considerable ecological diversity. A total of 12 360 species have been found in its composition, of which - 3 700 higher plants. The Bulgarian endemic plants which are to be found nowhere else world-wide, number more than 250: Rila primrose, Balkan violet, Bulgarian blackberry, Rhodopean tulip... Forests abound with wild fruits, briars, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mushrooms all of them of proven flavour and of qualities strengthening the body. There is also a great diversity of herbs and healing plants. Bulgaria's fauna numbers some 13 000 species, which is 14 % of the total number of registered animal species in Europe. Rare mammal species are to be found in this country. Reserves and hunting grounds are inhabited by pelicans, stags, deer, does, wild goats, quails, pheasants, etc. A network of 3 national parks has been set up (with a total area of 221 252,2 ha) - Rila, Pirin, and the Central Balkan, 9 natural parks (over 180 000 ha), reserves as well as 2 234 protected territories and natural landmarks. Of them the "Pirin" National Park and the "Srebarna" biosphere-reserve have been included in UNESCO's world heritage list. Together with further 16 biosphere reserves they offer wonderful conditions for photohunting, scientific and cognitive tourism and hobby tourism.

Interior Policy

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