Geographically and climatically, Bulgaria is noted for its
diversity, with the landscape ranging from the Alpine snow-capped
peaks in Rila, Pirin and the Balkan Mountains to the mild
and sunny weather of the Black Sea coast, from the typically
continental Danubian Plain (ancient Moesia) in the north
to the strong Mediterranean influence in the valleys of
Macedonia and the lowlands in the southernmost parts of
Thrace. Bulgaria comprises portions of the classical regions
of Thrace, Moesia, and Macedonia. The southwest of the country
is mountainous with two alpine ranges - Rila and Pirin,
and further east are the lower but more extensive Rhodope
Mountains. Rila mountain includes the highest peak of the
Balkan Peninsula, peak Musala at 2,925 meters (9,596 ft);
the long range of the Balkan mountains runs west-east through
the middle of the country, north of the famous Rose Valley.
Hilly country and plains are found in the southeast, along
the Black Sea coast in the east, and along Bulgaria's main
river, the Danube in the north. Other major rivers include
the Struma and the Maritsa river in the south. There are
around 260 glacial lakes situated in Rila and Pirin, several
large lakes on the Black Sea coast and more than 2,200 dam
lakes. Mineral springs are in great abundance located mainly
in the south-western and central parts of the country along
the faults between the mountains.
The Bulgarian climate is temperate, with cool, damp winters,
very hot, dry summers, and Mediterranean influence along
the Black Sea coast. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains
is felt throughout the country: Northern Bulgaria is slightly
cooler and receives more rain than the southern regions.
Average precipitation in Bulgaria is about 630 millimetres
per year. The driest areas are Dobrudzha and the northern
coastal strip, while the higher parts of the mountains Rila
and Stara Planina receive the highest levels of precipitation.
In summer, temperatures in the south of Bulgaria often exceed
40 degrees Celsius, but remain cooler by the coast.
The country is relatively rich in mineral resources, including
vast reserves of lignite and anthracite coal; non-ferrous
ores such as copper, lead, zinc and gold. There are large
deposits of manganese ore to north-east. There are smaller
deposits of iron, silver, chromite, nickel and others. Bulgaria
is rich in non-metalliferous minerals such as rock-salt,
gypsum, kaolin, marble.
The Balkan peninsula derives its name from the Balkan or
Stara Planina mountain range which runs through the centre
of Bulgaria into eastern Serbia.The largest cities in the
country are Sofia (1,246,791), Plovdiv (376,918), Varna
(345,522), Burgas (259,985), Rousse (176,118) Stara Zagora
(163,193), Pleven (121,700), Dobrich (115,861), Sliven (106,434);Bulgaria
has a scientific base on Livingston Island in the South
Shetland Islands, Antarctica.