About Bulgaria

 

LOCATION

 

Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. Its territory is located between 44°13’ and 41°14’ north latitude, 22°22’ and 28°37’ east longitude. It is a European, Balkan, Black Sea and Danube country. This geographic location places it on the crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Bulgaria is situated closer to the Equator than the pole. It falls within the southern part of the temperate climate zone with subtropical influence. Its location on the transition line between two climate zones influences the climate, soils, vegetation and animal species. All of them are characterized by great diversity. The country’s geographic position also determines the relatively wide angle of sunlight that falls on the country, making the country predominantly sunny. The official time in Bulgaria is Eastern European Time, which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Time. The Black and the Aegean Sea also influence the country’s climate. The influence of the Mediterranean is extensive for the climate in the southern parts of the country, while the Black Sea influences the climate over an area extending some 40 km inland, supporting diverse flora and fauna. The Danube River is important for the country, both with regard to water resources and for species diversity. Bulgaria’s favorable geographic location creates excellent preconditions for the development of tourism.

Bulgaria is also a transport crossroad, affording access to Western Europe, the Near East and the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. A series of major European transport corridors pass through Bulgaria. These corridors include the international highways that connect Western and Central Europe the Near East and the Middle East (through Beograd to Sofia and Svilengrad), including connections to Baghdad and Basra on the Persian Bay; from the Baltic Sea to the Aegean Sea (from Moscow to Kiev, Bucharest, Ruse, and Stara Zagora to Thessaloniki) and to the Adriatic Sea (from Sofia through Skopje to Drach). Another important transport route is the road from Constanta to Varna, Burgas, Tsarevo, Malko Tarnovo and Istanbul. Bulgaria is also connected to the Trans-European networks that lead from Berlin to Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Thessaloniki, and Istanbul and from Durres to Tirana, Skopje, and Sofia to the Black Sea ports of Varna and Burgas. These transport corridors are also serviced by rail. Bulgaria’s Black Sea ports connect with all other countries that border the Black Sea countries, offering particularly excellent opportunities for the development of transport through the large bays that front Burgas and Varna. Along the Danube River the country connects with the transport corridor that leads to the Rhine and the network of waterways that crisscross Western Europe.

The total length of Bulgaria’s borders is 2,245 km. Of these borders, 1,181 km are on land, 686 km are on rivers, and 378 km are on the sea. Bulgaria borders to the north with Romania, to the east with the Black Sea, to the south with Turkey and Greece, and to the west with Macedonia and Serbia. The distances between Sofia and the capitals of the neighboring Balkan states are: Skopje - 239 km, Beograd – 374 km, Bucharest – 395 km, Athens – 837 km, Ankara – 1,012 km. The following checkpoints (BCCP) operate on Bulgaria’s borders – along the Bulgaria-Serbia border – BCCP Bregovo, BCCP Vrashka Chuka, BCCP Kalotina, BCCP Strezimirovtsi, BCCP Oltomantsi; along the Bulgaria-Macedonia border – BCCP Gyueshevo, BCCP Stanke Lisichkovo, BCCP Zlatarevo; along the Bulgaria-Turkey border – BCCP Malko Tarnovo, BCCP Lesovo, BCCP Kapitan Andreevo; along the Bulgaria-Greek border – BCCP Kulata, BCCP Ilinden, BCCP Kapitan Petko Voyvoda, BCCP Ivaylovgrad, BCCP Zlatograd; along the Bulgaria-Romania border – BCCP Vidin (by ferry), BCCP Oryahovo (by ferry), BCCP Ruse – the Danube bridge, BCCP Silistra, BCCP Kardam, BCCP Durankulak; on the river ports – BCCP Vidin, BCCP Lom, BCCP Somovit - Nikopol, BCCP Svishtov, BCCP Ruse, BCCP Tutrakan, BCCP Silistra; at the sea ports – BCCP Balchik, BCCP Varna, BCCP Burgas, BCCP Tsarevo, and at the airports – BCCP Sofia Airport, BCCP Plovdiv Airport, BCCP Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport, BCCP Varna Airport, and BCCP Burgas Airport.

 

 

CLIMATE

Bulgaria has a temperate-continental climate with moderate features which is characteristic for Central Europe, with hot summers, long, cold winters and very distinct seasons. Abundant snowfalls may occur throughout the country from December to mid-March, especially if you are in the mountainous areas of Bulgaria.

 

The annual average temperature depends on latitude and ranges from 8°C in the North and 11°C in the South, with temperatures of 2.6°C in the mountains and 12°C in the plains. In general, the warmest areas are in the southern districts of bulgaria, influenced by the nearby mediterranean sea. Daytime temperatures vary from 0-5°C in the winter and 25-30°C in summer months. In the southern areas it can be warmer, in the northern and eastern mountainous districts of Balkan mountains it can be cooler with moderate daytime temperatures and cool nights in the summer and temperatures far below zero in the winter.

 

Annual average rainfall is about 700 mm, more in themountains (up to 1000 mm and more) and less on the coast (around 400-600 mm). It can rain throughout the year; in general, winter is the driest season. In summer, showers and thunderstorms are common, especially in the mountains.

 

Required clothing:
Lightweights are worn in summer on the coast and in low inland areas. Warmer clothes are needed in winter and throughout the year in the uplands. Rainwear is recommended throughout the year.

 

 

 

NATURE

 

The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations. About 70% of the country’s territory is hilly land and 30% is mountainous. The average elevation of the country’s territory is 467 m, generally decreasing from south to north and from west to east.

In the central part of the country lies the Balkan Mountain Range, where the highest peak is Botev (2,376 m). From south to north, its western area is crossed by the Iskar River, which forms a picturesque gorge more than 70 km long. The northern arm of the Balkan Mountains is mainly karst. The highest peak in this range is Vasilyov (1,490 m).

To the south of the Balkan Mountains are the western Balkan valleys and the Srednogorie (central mountainous region). The largest valley in the southern arm of the Balkans is the Sofia valley, the location of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The mountains in the Srednogorie are the Zavalsko-Planska Range, the Ihtimansko Srednogorie, the Sashtinska Sredna Gora, and the Sarnena Gora.

Between the northern arm of the Balkans and the Danube River lies the Danube valley, with an area of roughly 31,000 square meters. Its eastern part consists of plateaus – the Dobrudzha plateau, the Plovadia plateau, the Lilyak plateau, and the Shumen plateau, among others. To the north lie the Trans-Danube lowlands, which occupy the terraces of the Danube river.

To the south of the capital Sofia rises the mountain Vitosha, whose highest peak is Cherni Vrah (2,290 m). Its foothills extend to the middle part of western Bulgaria, where low-lying and medium-elevation mountains alternate, such as Ruy, Milevska, Zemenska, Konyavska, Verila, and others. West of the Struma River valley and south of Kraishteto is the Osogovo-Belasishka mountain range, which includes the peaks of Osogovska (Mount Ruen, 2,251 m), Vlahinska, Maleshevska, Ograzhden and Belasitsa (Mount Radomir, 2,029 m).

The highest Bulgarian mountains are in the Rila and Pirin ranges, situated to the east of the Struma River valley. The average elevation of these mountains is 1,258 m, and 60% of their area is higher than 1,000 m. In Rila there are 31 peaks with an altitude of over 2,600 m. The highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula, Musala (2,925 m), is located there.
There are two peaks of over 2,600 m elevation in the Pirin range. One is Mount Vihren (2,914 m) – the second highest peak in Bulgaria and the third highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula. Beautiful alpine glacial lakes have formed in the circuses of these peaks.

The Rhodope Mountains are located to the east of the Mesta River valley and Rila. There are 11 peaks with an elevation of over 2,000 m there, the highest of which is Golyam Perelik (2,191 m). The many natural landmarks – caves, waterfalls, and alpine lakes – attract scores of tourists every year.

Between the Srednogorie, Rila, Rhodope and Black Sea are the Gornotrakiyska Lowlands, the Haskovo Foothills, the middle Tundzha river valley, the Burgas Lowlands and the Strandzha and Sakar mountain ranges. The eastern parts of the country border on the Black Sea, where beaches covering hundreds of kilometers attract Bulgarian and foreign tourists.

Bulgaria is the second most biologically diverse nation in Europe. There are more than 12,360 plant species, 3,700 of which are higher species. Of these, 763 are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria, which lists rare or endangered species. About 750 plant types have been registered as medicinal, and 70% of these are economically valuable. The country exports about 15,000 tons of herbs each year. The forested areas amount to about four million hectares, which is 36.85% of the territory of the country. Of the deciduous broad-leaved forests, the most widespread are oak and beech. The oak forests are in areas up to an elevation of 1,000 meters, and the beech forests are mainly in the country’s central mountain ranges. Dense forests have developed at the lower reaches of the rivers Batova, Kamchiya, Ropotamo and Veleka. Natural coniferous forests are found in areas up to 2,200 meters above sea level, and are the most widely spread in the Rhodope Mountains. They mainly consist of spruce, fir and white pine. Black fir grows in the Slavyanka and Pirin Mountains, and white fir grows in the Central Balkans, the West Rhodope, the Middle Pirin, Rila, and Vitosha.

There are 27,000 species of invertebrate fauna in Bulgaria, and more than 750 species of vertebrates. Of these, 397 are birds, 207 are fresh-water and Black Sea fish, 94 are mammals, and 52 are amphibians and reptiles. Seven zoological regions are recognized throughout the country, four of which are in the Mediterranean climatic zone. Bulgaria is home to European, Euro-Siberian and Mediterranean flora and fauna, and the Mediterranean climate has strongly influenced the development of many species. The cave fauna in Bulgaria consists of more than 100 species. The Black Sea fish populations attract both sport and industrial fishing.

Three national parks have been established in the country: Pirin National Park (a UNESCO natural heritage site), Rila National Park, and the Central Balkans National Park. There are also 11 nature reserves – Belasitsa, Balgarka, Vratsa Balkan, Golden Sands, Persina, Rila Monastery, Rusenski Lom, Sinite Kamani, Strandzha and the Shumen Plateau.

 


LANGUAGE
 
The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian which is spoken by all the population. Bulgarian uses the Cyrillic alphabet as opposed to the Roman alphabet commonly used in Western Europe.

 

The Bulgarian language is related to Serbian, Russian and other Eastern European languages, but contains many international words. Bulgarians use the Cyrillic alphabet which can make the task of getting around the country somewhat difficult if you aren't familiar with this alphabet as most signs are written in it. However, getting acquainted with the alphabet isn't very difficult and may save you a lot of trouble, especially as many common words are homophones of English or French words.

Also, as Bulgarian education emphasizes foreign language studies, especially English language, it wouldn't be a problem to talk and find information in English in bigger cities. It's best to turn to the young population for a direction or an advice.


In tourist areas almost all the local population will speak fluent English, additionally many menus, forms etc. will also be translated due to the number of visitors to these areas.

Due to its history and similarity, Russian is widely understood and spoken by Bulgarians, particularly amongst the older generation. Other languages that are common include French; Greek, Serbian and Turkish.


CURRENCY
 

The monetary unit in the Republic of Bulgaria is the lev (BGN), which is equal to 100 stotinki (st.). Since 1997, the country has been governed by a currency board and the value of the lev has been pegged to the Euro, at a fixed rate of 1 EUR – 1.95583 BGN.

You can find current currency information on the site of the Bulgarian National Bank: www.bnb.bg.

Currency can be exchanged in banks or in any of the country’s many currency exchange offices. Some of these exchange offices also work on holidays. Euro-cheques can be exchanged in banks.

Credit cards: Most Bulgarian hotels and stores now accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Club credit cards.

 


COST OF LIVING
 
The cost of living is quite low compared with other European countries. For example some costs for breakfast & dinner can start around 10 leva, which are around 3.00 GBP. Bulgaria is also renowned for the excellent quality of its wine and is a major exporter of wine to Europe. Beer is also lower in price, the brewed ones in Bulgaria as well as imported.

You can find more (regularly updated) details on the following link: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Bulgaria&displayCurrency=GBP

 



TOURISM
 
Tourism is a key component in the Bulgarian economy with 3 million tourists visiting Bulgaria last year. The advantage of the low cost of living compared to with other big cities is a major point for attracting people to Bulgaria along with its lifestyle.
 
From a tourism perspective, the most popular destinations are along the coastline, the Ski resorts and the Spa & Wellness resorts. The Black Sea Coast is dominated by the larger more successful summer resorts such as those at Sunny Beach, Pomorie, Sozopol, St. Vlas, Albena and Balchik, which are serviced by two main airports at Bourgas and Varna.
The mountain destinations have grown in popularity substantially in recent years, the most successful one being at Bansko, the other two main Skiing resorts being Borovets and Pamporovo. Skiing is also available in Sofia on Vitosha Mountain.