Geography - Details of the terrain and location of Bulgaria.
The Black Sea shoreline is 378 km (240 miles) long. The country's total territory is 111,000 sq. km (43,000 sq. miles) in area.
Bulgaria's terrain varies between 0 and 2,925 m. in altitude. Its territory includes part of the lower Danubian plain, the Balkan range (part of the Alpine-Himalayan chain), part of the Thracian lowland, and to the south the mountain structures of the Macedonian-Thracian massif. Its best known mountains are Rila (its highest peak being Musala – 2,925 m.), Pirin (Vihren peak – 2,914 m.), Vitosha (Cherni Vrah peak – 2,291 m.), Stara Planina (i.e., the Balkan range) (Botev peak – 2,376 m.), and the Rhodopes (Golyam Perelik peak – 2,191 m.).
The mountains occupy half of the country's territory, with the high mountain relief – i.e., at an altitude above 1,600 m., comprising 5% of its entire area. The Bulgarian mountains are easily accessible, and the towns and villages have preserved the authentic Bulgarian spirit and hospitality.
The rivers rise mainly in the highest mountains, and flow into the Black Sea (via the Danube) and into the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria has 526 rivers longer than 2.3 km. The only navigable river is the Danube, which flows along the northern Bulgarian border. There are good opportunities for adventure tourism: wild water rafting and canoeing, diving, delta- and para-gliding in the valleys of the Vatcha, Iskar, Chepelarska, Struma, and Mesta rivers.
Natural lakes are about 330 in number; the largest are the Black Sea lakes (Alepou, Arkoutino, Pomorie, Beloslav, Bourgas, Varna, Shabla lakes); the most numerous (more than 260) are the high glacial lakes in the Rila and Pirin mountains. Dams have been built as a part of waterpower systems – Iskar, Arda, Batak Water Power System, Belmeken-Sestrimo, Dospat-Vucha, and a great number of smaller dams.
Bulgaria has some 500 deposits of mineral waters with more than 1,600 water sources. These are localised chiefly at the mountain foothills. The spa resorts of national significance are Bankya, Velingrad, Sandanski, the mineral baths of Stara Zagora, Narechen, Sliven and Haskovo, as well as Kyustendil, Varshets, Pavel Banya, Hissarya, Merichleri, Momin Prohod, and Kostenets.
The Black Sea is very clean, not tidal, and is bordered by long, sandy beaches. Climatic sea-side resorts offering various recreation services are Balchik, Bourgas, Varna (Zlatni Pyassatzi – Golden Sands), Kiten, Pomorie, Primorsko, Nessebur (Slantchev Bryag – Sunny Beach), and Sozopol.
Picturesque lakes hide in the bowels of the Rila and Pirin mountains. Dam lakes of recreational potential are to be found in the Rhodope mountains – Batak, Vatcha, Studen Kladenets; at the foot of the Balkan range – Ticha, as well as in some other places.