Geography in Bulgaria
The Republic of Bulgaria is located in the east of the Balkan Peninsula. Bulgaria borders Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. In the east, the Black Sea forms the natural border. Two thirds of the territory of Bulgaria consists of the lowlands formed by the Danube and Mariza rivers with their numerous tributaries. In between lies the Balkan Mountains with the highest elevations in the peaks of Botew (2376 m) and Tschumerna (1536 m). The Danube Plain to the north of the Balkan Mountains is bounded by the Danube, which forms the state border with Romania here.
The Upper Thracian Plain with the Mariza river extends south of the Balkan Mountains and is bounded in the west and south by the Rhodope Mountains and the Sakar and Strandscha mountains. In the south-west of the country there are two other high mountains, the Rila and Pirin Mountains, with peaks between 2,000 and 3,000 meters, with Mount Musala (2925 m) being the highest in the entire Balkans.
The country’s precipitation is channeled into the Black Sea via the Danube and the Truma and Mariza rivers into the Mediterranean.
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Flora and fauna in Bulgaria
A third of Bulgaria’s land area is covered with forest, especially in the mountains. Deciduous trees still grow on the mountain slopes at lower altitudes and conifers such as pines, spruces and firs in the higher mountain regions. Beeches, maples and oaks are common, as well as olive trees and holm oaks on the Black Sea coast. In alpine regions above 2000m only lichens and mosses grow. The plains are designed as grass steppes or are used for agriculture.
The mountain regions of Bulgaria are inhabited by wolves, foxes, badgers, wild cats, deer and chamois as well as brown bears, of which there are around 1000 specimens. Small mammals are the mole, hedgehog, ground squirrel, dormouse, snow mouse, tree dormouse and the tigeriltis. Bulgaria’s sedentary bird life includes stone grouse, wall creepers and imperial eagles. Countless storks, spotted eagles, honey buzzards and pelicans move in late autumn on their way from Siberia across the Balkans to the south and along the Black Sea coast and in spring in the opposite direction. In addition to numerous species of fish, otters, turtles, sea birds and water snakes cavort on the lakes and rivers. Seals, dolphins and pond dwellers populate the Black Sea coast.
National parks and nature conservation in Bulgaria
Bulgaria has three national parks with a total area of almost 2000 km². The national parks are located in the almost 3000 m high Rila Mountains, in the Central Balkan Mountains and in the Pirin Mountains. Bulgaria also has eleven nature parks and 55 nature reserves.
The law on the protection of these areas was passed by the Bulgarian Parliament in 1998 and updated in 2009 following Bulgaria’s accession to the EU. Around 5% of the land area of Bulgaria is under nature protection today.
Climate in Bulgaria
The Balkan Mountains divide the land area of Bulgaria into different climatic zones. The precipitation, which falls mainly in the cooler transitional seasons, adds up to an average of 530 mm per year. In the north, in the Danube lowlands of Bulgaria, there is a continental climate with hot and dry summers and cold, snowy winters. On the north side of the Balkan Mountains there are snowy winters, on the south side, however, only rarely snowfalls. Especially in the west and in the high areas of the Rila and Pirin Mountains, there is an alpine climate. The continental climate cannot penetrate into the Upper Thracian Plain, south of the Balkan Mountains. Here maritime influences already ensure a moderate winter, a rainy spring and a warm summer. At the border with Greece and Turkey – under the influence of the Aegean Sea – the Mediterranean character of the climate intensifies. The climate on the Black Sea coast basically shows a Mediterranean profile, but mostly an easterly wind from the Black Sea across the country. Therefore, the summers are more moderate and the very rainy winters are milder. From May to September the temperature usually rises above 20 ° C every day. In the coldest month, January, it rarely falls below freezing point.