balkan mountains

Geography, Nature & Climate

Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe, in the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a European, Balkan, Black Sea and Danube country. This geographic location places it on the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa. Bulgaria is also a transport hub, 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. The country 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 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 from which 30% is mountainous. In the central part of the country lies the Balkan Mountain Range, where the highest peak is Botev (2,376 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. Between the northern arm of the Balkans and the Danube River lies the Danube valley, with an area of roughly 31,000 square meters. 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. 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. 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). 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 soil diversity in the country is great. There are black soils, gray forest soils, maroon forest soils, vertisols, yellow soils, brown forest soils, mountain meadow soils, alluvial meadow soils, swamp soils, salty soils and humus carbonate soils. The territory of Bulgaria is divided into three regions with regard to is soils – northern Bulgaria, southern Bulgaria, and the mountainous zones. There are also many medicinal mud deposits, and most of them are located near the Black sea coast. Popular locations with curative mud are also in the mountain ranges within the country, as well as turf deposits.
Bulgaria has a wide variety of minerals. According to the national records detailing the reserves and resources of Bulgaria’s mineral deposits, 163 types of minerals have been found in the country, 7 types of which are fuel and energy resources, 14 types are ore, 75 types are non-ferrous, and 67 types are viable as rock covering and construction material.
The country is rich in water resources and has a dense network of about 540 rivers. The longest river located solely in Bulgarian territory, the Iskar, has a length of 368 km. Other large rivers are: Lorn, Maritsa, Arda, Tundzha, Mesta, Struma, the Ogosta, the Vit, the Osam, and the Yantra, Batovska, the Devnya, the Provadiyska, the Kamchia, the Dvoynitsa, the Fakiyska, the Izvorska, the Ropotamo, the Dyavolska, the Karaagach, the Veleka and the Rezovska Rivers. 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. Only in the high mountains there are around 400 lakes! 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. Other popular trees are spruce, fir and white pine. There are 27,000 species of invertebrate fauna in Bulgaria, and more than 750 species of vertebrates. The cave fauna in Bulgaria consists of more than 100 species.
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. In order to preserve the biodiversity, 89 reserves have been established. Two of the natural sites – Natural Park Pirin and Srebarna Reserve – have been included in the UNESCO List of the Global Natural Heritage.
Bulgaria is located in the temperate continental latitudes, and its climate is favorable for the development of various types of tourism. The country climate can be divided into five distinct zones – temperate-continental, continental-Mediterranean, transitional, the Black Sea zone and a mountainous zone. 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 average annual amount of sunshine for the territory amounts to about 2,500 hours. The average annual temperature in the country is between 10° and 14°, with a predominant temperature between 11 ° and 12°. This figure is greatly dependent on altitude. The highest average monthly temperatures are typically for the months of July and August. They range from 21 – 24°, Temperature amplitudes vary significantly in different areas. The lowest recorded temperature is -38.3 °C, while the highest is 45.2 °C.
Rainfall is unevenly distributed throughout the country. There is a considerable deviation in average annual rainfall – from 500-550 mm in the Danube valley and the Gornotrakiyska lowland to 1,000-1,400 mm in the alpine regions. The annual snow cover in Bulgaria also depends of the region. Continuous and thick snow cover forms in the mountainous alpine regions. At an altitude of 1,000-1,500 meters, the snow lasts for 4-5 months, and over 2,000 meters – from 7 to 9 months.

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