January 25, 2010


With a territory of 110,994 square kilometers, Bulgaria ranks as the third largest country in Southeast Europe. Its landscape is defined by several mountains and mountain ranges, most notably the Stara Planina (Balkan) and Rodopi mountain ranges, as well as Rila mountain, where the highest peak in the Balkan region, Musala, is located. In contrast, the Danubian plain in the north and the Upper Thracian Plain in the south represent Bulgaria's lowest and most fertile regions. The 378-kilometer Black Sea coastline covers the entire eastern bound of the country.

Geographically and in terms of climate, Bulgaria features notable diversity with the landscape ranging 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 (ancient Moesia) in the north to the strong Mediterranean climatic influence in the valleys of Macedonia and in the lowlands in the southernmost parts of Thrace.

Between 1987 and 1999 Bulgaria consisted of nine provinces (oblasti, singular oblast); since 1999, it has consisted of twenty-eight. All take their names from their respective capital cities:

* Blagoevgrad
* Burgas
* Dobrich
* Gabrovo
* Haskovo
* Kardzhali
* Kyustendil
* Lovech
* Montana
* Pazardzhik
* Pernik
* Pleven
* Plovdiv
* Razgrad
* Rousse
* Shumen
* Silistra
* Sliven
* Smolyan
* Sofia City
* Sofia Province
* Stara Zagora
* Targovishte
* Varna
* Veliko Tarnovo
* Vidin
* Vratsa
* Yambol

In 2007 a total of 5,200,000 tourists visited Bulgaria, making it the 39th most popular destination in the world. Tourists from Greece, Romania and Germany account for 40% of visitors. Significant numbers of British (+300,000), Russian (+200,000), Serbian (+150,000), Polish (+130,000) and Danish (+100,000) tourists also visit Bulgaria. Most of them are attracted by the varying and beautiful landscapes, well-preserved historical and cultural heritage, and the tranquility of rural and mountain areas.

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