Bulgaria offers everything – wild wooded mountain ranges, covered by small villages and enchanting monasteries to lively modern cities and beautiful sandy beaches hugging the Black Sea coast, Bulgaria - deserve exploration. The country ranks second in the world as far as natural reserves are concerned and they number 17. The climate is moderate continental with four yearly seasons and average annual temperature of 10.5 C.
Nearly 70% of the country’s territory is hilly land - 30% is mountainous. The highest Bulgarian mountains are Rila and Pirin, situated to the east of the Struma River valley. 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.
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.
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.
Bulgaria is located in the temperate continental latitudes, and its climate is favorable for the development of various types of tourism. The average annual amount of sunshine for the territory amounts to about 2,500 hours.
The snow cover in Bulgaria is unstable, and shows significant deviations both with regard to elevation and geographical location. In the lower parts of the country, the snow cover lasts from December to March, while along the Black Sea coast and in the territory south of the Balkan Mountains it remains for only a month, from January to February.
The small territorial range of Bulgaria and its close proximity to the Danube River and the Black Sea, together with the location of the Balkan Mountains and its proximity to the Aegean Sea are preconditions for short river arteries and small river systems. The Iskar River is the longest river in Bulgaria (368 km), which empties into the Danube River and has its headwaters in the Rila Mountains. Other large rivers that empty into the Danube river are the Lom, the Ogosta, the Vit, the Osam, and the Yantra. The rivers directly flowing into the Black Sea collect their waters from the easternmost parts of the Danube valley, the northern arm of the Balkans, the Balkan Mountains and Strandzha. The largest Bulgarian river within the Aegean drainage basin is the Maritsa (321 km long, with an area of 21,084 square km). Other large rivers are the Arda, the Tundzha, the Mesta, and the Struma.
Bulgaria’s natural lakes (coastal, glacial, karst, landslide, by-river and tectonic) are concentrated along the Black Sea coast and the Danube, and in the alpine regions of the Rila and Pirin ranges.
Medicinal mud deposits are located near the Shabla Tuzla, the Tuzlata, Varna Lake, Pomorie, Atanasovsko Lake, and the Mandra dam. There are turf deposits near the Batak dam in the Rhodopes, in the village of Baykalovo in the Konyavska Mountains), in the town of Straldzha, in the central region of the Tundzha River valley), near Varna Lake, and in the village of Sadovo, in the Gornotrakiyska lowlands) and many more.
The country’s favorable climate and natural attractions provide the basis for the development of its 142 resorts, of which 26 are marine resorts, 56 mountain resorts, and 58 are balneological resorts, not counting the numerous balneological and spa centers.
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.
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.
Source: Bulgaria Travel