Bulgaria Country Overview Part 1
Despite the Turkish influence, which left its roots in five centuries of domination, the country of roses, as Bulgaria is known, is closely linked to Russia and the other countries of Eastern Europe, due to historical and cultural ties.
Bulgaria is located on the Balkan peninsula, where it occupies an area of 110,912 km2, with an approximately rectangular shape. It is limited to the north by Romania, to the east by the Black Sea, to the south by Turkey and Greece and to the west by Yugoslavia and Macedonia.
Geology and relief
The Bulgarian relief is dominated by two parallel mountain ranges, oriented from west to east, that cut the country from the border with Yugoslavia to the Black Sea. Between them lies a region of plains and extensive valleys, ancient Thrace, where the main sources of wealth and the largest demographic concentrations of the country are found. The mountain range that borders Thrace to the north is the Stara Planina, or Balkan mountain range, whose width does not reach fifty kilometers, but which in some places reaches more than two thousand meters in height (Botev, 2,376m; Triglav, 2,276m ).
In the south of the country, the Antibalcans form mountainous landscapes with a complex structure and generally higher than the Balkans. They form the border with Yugoslavia and Greece. The Vitosha massif, a short distance from Sofia, reaches 2,290m, while the peak, the Musala peak, with 2,925m, is in the Rila mountain range. The Pirin mountain range reaches 2,914m at the peak of Vikhren, and the Ródope hills, 2,191m at Goliam Perelik. To the north of the Balkans, the terrain descends on a gentle slope towards the banks of the Danube, which runs parallel to the mountain range, about a hundred kilometers to the north.
In most of Bulgaria, the climate is continental, and harsh winters, with frequent snowfalls, alternate with torrid summers. In the Thracian plain, the influence of the Mediterranean is sensitive and in the vicinity of the Black Sea the climate becomes milder. Precipitation in the plains is modest (between 400 and 600mm per year), while in the mountains they reach more than 1,200mm, often with snow. The maximum frequency of rains is in the spring.
The hot summers allow the cultivation of semi-tropical species, such as cotton and rice. The rigor of winter, however, makes it difficult to grow Mediterranean species, such as the olive tree, which is only abundant on the Black Sea coasts.
According to COMPUTERMINUS, Bulgaria’s territory is divided into four large basins. To the north of the Balkans, numerous rivers with wide valleys across the mountain range are tributaries of the Danube. All are born in the Balkan chain, except Iskur, which, coming from the Rila massif, reaches the depression where the country’s capital is and crosses the mountains through a narrow valley, until reaching the Danube plain. Between the Balkans and the Antibalcans, the Thrace plain is bathed by the Maritsa and its tributaries, the most flowing of which is the Arda, which collects its waters from the northern slope of the Ródope mountains. Both rivers merge on the Greek-Turkish border, before flowing into the Mediterranean. Digging their valleys in the Antibalcans, Struma and Mesta head south, until they flow into the Greek Aegean coast. Several smaller rivers flow directly into the Black Sea.
With the end of the second world war, Bulgaria adopted a socialist system of state economy, based on the Soviet model. There were five-year plans, agrarian collectivization and accelerated development of heavy industry. The country is no longer underdeveloped. But in spite of increases in production, economic growth subsided from the 1960s, as in other socialist countries. The economic model persisted until the late 1980s, when communism collapsed and the Soviet empire disintegrated.
Agriculture and Livestock
Bulgarian agriculture has reached a considerable degree of mechanization and is gradually returning to private control. Many dams and irrigation channels have been created. The main crops are wheat, barley, corn, fodder, cotton, tobacco, vegetables and fruit. It is a Bulgarian tradition to industrially cultivate rose bushes, using roses for various purposes, ranging from the manufacture of sweets to the extraction of essences for perfumes.
Cattle farming, especially sheep and pigs, is of great economic importance and the exploitation of large forest areas in mountainous areas is intense. River and sea fishing is not very developed.
Mining and industry
On the northern coast of the Black Sea, oil and natural gas are extracted. Iron, copper, zinc and other metals are exploited in significant quantities. In the Maritsa valley there are lignite deposits, used to obtain electricity from thermal power plants.
Thanks to the concentration of investments in the secondary sector, the fertilizer, cement, chemical, mechanical and paper and cellulose steel industries have developed considerably; also important are the industries of fabrics and food products.
Trade and transport
Foreign transactions diversified considerably after the extinction of the socialist bloc. Trade with the West has intensified. An important tourist sector has also developed, based mainly on Black Sea resorts and winter sports.
The country has a dense network of railways and roads, which were important for industrial expansion. Tourism and international transport are favored by the route that links Yugoslavia to Turkey, passing through Sofia. Navigation on the Danube, where the ports of Ruse and Lom stand out, is intense. Foreign trade is used to a large extent by the sea ports of Varna and Burgas. In addition, the country has international airports in Sofia, Varna and Burgas.