Geography

LOCATION Situated in south-eastern Europe, Bulgaria occupies the north-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. With a territory of only 110,994 sq. km. Bulgaria is the fifteenth largest country in Europe but one of the continent’s most varied, geographically and in terms of climate. It is situated on the west coast of the Black Sea, with Romania to the north, Greece and Turkey to the south, and Serbia and Macedonia to the west. The average altitude of the country is 470 m above sea level.


   

     

         

THE LAND Bulgaria has a remarkably diverse landscape. In what is a relatively small territory there are extensive lowlands, plains, hills, low and high mountains, many valleys and deep gorges. Lowlands occupy 31% of the territory. Plains and hilly regions account for 41%. The mountains account for 29% of the territory. Nearly 35% of Bulgaria consists of forests. The main characteristic of Bulgaria's topography is alternating bands of high and low terrain that extend east to west across the country. The landscape ranges from the Alpine snow-capped peaks in Rila, Pirin and the Balkan Mountains to the mild and sunny Black Sea coast; from the typically continental Danubian Plain in the north to the strong Mediterranean climatic influence in the valleys of Macedonia and in the lowlands of the southernmost parts of Thrace. The mountainous southwest of the country has two alpine ranges - Rila and Pirin - and further east stand the lower but more extensive Rhodope Mountains. The Balkan mountain chain runs west to east through the middle of the country, just north of the Rose Valley. Hilly countryside and plains lie to the southeast, along the Black Sea coast, and along Bulgaria's main river, the Danube, to the north. Bulgaria has a dense network of about 540 rivers, most of them - with the notable exception of the Danube - short and shallow. Most rivers flow through mountainous areas. The longest river located solely in Bulgarian territory, the Iskar, is 368 km long. Bulgaria has some 500 reservoirs of mineral water with over 1,600 water springs. It occupies one of the highest places among the European countries for the amount and diversity of mineral water.


 
 
The Rose Valley   Pirin Mountains   Tyulenovo - Black Sea

CLIMATE The predominant climate in Bulgaria is mild and transitional continental with cold winters and hot summers. A Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and damp, mild winters, prevails in the valley of the south-western Rhodope Mountains. The northern limit of the climatic zone is the Balkan Range. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains has some influence on climate throughout the country - northern Bulgaria experiences lower temperatures and receives more rain than the southern lowlands. Bulgarian mountains and valleys act as barriers or channels for air masses, causing sharp contrasts in weather over relatively short distances. The continental zone is predominant, because continental air masses flow easily into the unobstructed Danubian Plain. The continental influence, stronger during the winter, produces abundant snowfalls; the Mediterranean influence increases during the second half of summer and produces hot and dry weather. The barrier Precipitation averages about 630 mm per year. Bulgaria receives 2,000 to 2,400 hours of sunlight per year.


 

 
Dospat Reservoir - Rhodope Mountains

Melnik Pyramids - Photo By Bistra Shanina
   Rhodope Mountain

FLORA AND FAUNA Because of its geographical location, varied climate and geology, Bulgaria has a very rich flora, with over 3800 species of high altitude plants including Central European, Mediterranean, Pontic, Pannonian, Steppe and Oriental features. Compared to other European countries, Bulgaria's flora boasts a relatively large percentage of native plants, with 170 native species and 100 native subspecies. The highest concentration of these is found in the Balkan  and Rhodope Mountains. With regard to Bulgaria's rich wildlife, it results from a combination of climatic and geographical factors. In terms of its diversity, Bulgaria's fauna ranks amongst the richest in Europe, and the country is thought to be home to almost one quarter of the species found on the continent so far.  Bulgaria has 3 national parks, 11 natural parks and 2 nature reserves that include large high-mountain meadows, vertical rock faces, precipices, deep canyons, waterfalls, and numerous peaks, at altitudes of 2,000 metres and above.

 
 
 A Deer in Central Balkan Mountans
   The Krushunski Waterfalls - Photo By L.Yazadhieva    A Blue Tit

source: www.wikipedia.org