Varna Province is a province
in northeastern Bulgaria, on? of the 28 Bulgarian provinces.
In comprises 12 municipalities ; its administrative centre
|One of Byala's beaches
|Chudnite skali on Lake Tsonevo
The province's territory is 3,820 square kilometres. It borders
the Black Sea and covers parts of the hilly Danubian Plain
(including parts of the Frangen Plateau, South Dobruja, the
Provadiya Plateau, Ludogorie, and the Avren Plateau), Eastern
Stara Planina, the Varna—Devnya valley with the lakes
(limans) of Varna and Beloslav, and the Kamchiya river valley.
Other rivers include Provadiya, Devnya, and Batova, and the
largest artificial lake is Tsonevo.
The Black sea coast is hilly
and verdant, mostly cliff, with a couple of rocky headlands
(Cape Galata, Cape St. Athanassius), several expansive sand
beaches, the largest of which, at the mouths of the rivers
Kamchiya and Shkorpilovska, is nearly 13 km long and up to
200-300 m wide, and many small cove beaches. Agricultural
lands cover 60% of the area, with fertile chernozem soils
mostly in the north and west; forests—28.1% (with some
of the oldest oak massives in the nation), mostly in the south;
and urban zones—6.8%.
Natural resources include
large deposits of rock salt, limestone, silica, and clays,
all extensively utilized in local chemical, cement and glass
manufacturing and construction; silica is also exported. Significant
deposits of medicinal fango (mineral mud) are found in Lake
Varna. The province abounds in thermal mineral waters. There
are also natural gas reserves; the offshore Galata gas field,
a relatively minor project with planned cumulative production
of 2 billion cubic meters, is expected to provide up to 15%
ot the nation's gas consumption for its lifetime. Manganese
ore deposits are also found.
The climate inland is temperate,
with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers, and akin to
Mediterranean along the Black Sea coast, with milder winters
and cooler summers.
- Aksakovo (including the town of Aksakovo
and the villages of Botevo, Dobrogled, Dolishte, Ignatievo,
General Kantardzhievo, Izvorsko, Kichevo, Klimentovo,
Krumovo, Kumanovo, Lyuben Karavelovo, Novakovo, Oreshak,
Osenovo, Pripek, Radevo, Slanchevo, Voditsa, Vaglen, Yarebichna,
Zasmyano, and Zornitsa)
- Avren (including the villages of Avren,
Benkovski, Bliznatsi, Bolyartsi, Dobri Dol, Dabravino,
Kazashka Reka, Kitka, Krusha, Priseltsi, Ravna gora, Sadovo,
Sindel, Trastikovo, Tsarevtsi, Yunak, and Zdravets)
- Beloslav (including the town of Beloslav
and the villages of Ezerovo, Strashimirovo, and Razdelna)
- Byala (including the town of Byala and
the villages of Dyulino, Goritsa, Gospodinovo, Popovich,
- Dalgopol (including the town of Dalgopol
and the villages of Arkovna, Asparuhovo, Boryana, Kamen
Dyal, Komunari, Krasimir, Lopushna, Medovets, Partizani,
Polyatsite, Royak, Sava, Sladka Voda, Tsonevo, and Velichkovo)
- Devnya (including the town of Devnya
and the villages of Kipra and Padina)
- Dolni Chiflik (including the town of
Dolni Chiflik and the villages of Bardarevo, Bulair, Detelina,
Golitsa, Goren Chiflik, Grozdyovo, Krivini, Nova Shipka,
Novo Oryahovo, Pchelnik, Rudnik, Solnik, Staro Oryahovo,
Shkorpilovtsi, Venelin, and Yunets)
- Provadiya (including the town of Provadiya
and the villages of Barzitsa, Blaskovo, Bozveliysko, Chayka,
Cherkovna, Chernook, Dobrina, Gradinarovo, Hrabrovo, Kiten,
Komarevo, Krivnya, Manastir, Nenovo, Ovchaga, Petrov Dol,
Ravna, Slaveykovo, Snezhina, Staroselets, Tutrakantsi,
Venchan, Zhitnitsa, and Zlatina)
- Suvorovo (including the town of Suvorovo
and the villages of Banovo, Chernevo, Drandar, Izgrev,
Kalimantsi, Levski, Nikolaevka, and Prosechen)
- Valchidol (including the town of Valchidol
and the villages of Boyana, Brestak, Cherventsi, Dobrotich,
Esenitsa, General Kiselovo, General Kolevo, Iskar, Izvornik,
Kaloyan, Karamanite, Krakra, Metlichina, Mihalich, Oborishte,
Radan Voyvoda, Shtipsko, Stefan Karadzha, Strahil, Voyvodino,
- Varna (including the city of Varna and
the suburban villages of Kamenar, Kazashko, Konstantinovo,
Topoli, and Zvezditsa)
- Vetrino (including the villages of Belogradets,
Dobroplodno, Gabarnitsa, Mlada Gvardiya, Momchilovo, Nevsha,
Neofit Rilski, Sredno Selo, Vetrino, and Yagnilo)
The population of the province is 495702 (2007). 71% live
in Varna, and 81% in urban areas (national average 70%). Population
density (130 per sq km) is significantly higher than the national
average (70); the birth, marriage, and divorce rates are also
higher; the death rate and the unemployment rate (7.34%, 2005)
are lower. 71,1% of the population are in working age; above
working age are 14.8%.
The ethnic composition includes
Bulgarians—85.3%; Turks—8.1%; Roma—3.4%
(there are a few mostly Roma-populated villages such as Lyuben
Karavelovo in Aksakovo municipality—inhabited by Vlach
Gypsies of the Kopanari subgroup); Armenians—0.6%; Russians—0.3%
(including about 340 Cossacks in the Lipovan village of Kazashko);
and smaller numbers of Ukrainians, Jews, Greeks, Crimean Tatars,
Circassians, Vlachs, and others. There is a growing number
of western expatriates and new Chinese, Indian, Arab, African,
and other immigrants.
The province was a centre
of the Bulgarian Turks' human rights movement in the 1980s
resisting the assimilation campaign of Todor Zhivkov's communist
government. The Drandar group (named after the village of
Drandar, municipality of Suvorovo, also birthplace of politician
Ahmed Dogan) is considered the germ of the Movement for Rights
Several rural villages in
the municipalities of Aksakovo, Suvorovo, and Valchidol, as
well as the Vinitsa quarter of Varna, have historically been
populated mostly by Gagauz, who for the most part now identify
themselves as Bulgarians.
Religious groups include
Orthodox Christians—83%; Muslims—9.75%; smaller
groups of Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, members
of new religious movements, and others. Varna was the initial
centre of Peter Deunov's Esoteric Christianity. Deunov himself
was born (1864) in Nikolaevka, municipality of Suvorovo.
The area has been populated at least since the Neolith and
was a major centre of an Eneolithic culture with unique skills
in metallurgy and seafaring, with a developed social structure
and religion (see Varna Necropolis, site of arguably the oldest
man-made gold treasure in the world).
By the first millennium BC,
is was inhabited by Thracians who dominated it throughout
classical antiquity; by the end of the period they were largely
Romanized. In the 6th century BC, an ancient Greek trading
colony (apoikia), Odessos (Varna), was founded, becoming an
enduring contact zone between Thracians and Greeks. In the
4th century, the province was included in the empire of Philip
II, Alexander the Great and his diadochus Lysimachus.
By the first century AD,
it was conquered by the Roman Empire. Under Emperor Diocletian,
Marcianopolis (Devnya) became the centre of the Roman province
of Moesia Secunda of the Diocese of Thrace; during Emperor
Valens' wars with the Goths (366-369), this city was temporary
capital of the empire. Both Marcianopolis and Odessus (the
Roman name of Odessos) were major early Christian centres;
it is believed that Saint Andrew founded the local Christian
church and his disciple Ampliatus served as bishop at Odessus.
In the 6th century, Slavs'
migrations altered the ethnic composition of the then Byzantine
province, and in 680-681 it became the heartland of the First
Bulgarian Empire, whose capital was perhaps initially near
Varna, before it moved to Pliska. Two of the most significant
scriptoria of the Preslav Literary School were located at
Ravna (near Provadiya) and Varna.
The latter two cities were
major fortresses and trade emporia of the Second Bulgarian
Empire as well. The peasant war of Ivailo in the late 13th
century started from the region, which at the time was plagued
by Tatar raids and was finally subdued by the Ottomans in
1389. In 1444, the Battle of Varna was fought, as were several
ground and naval battles of the Russo-Turkish wars of the
18th and 19th century.
Under the Ottomans, the population
became extremely diverse, with significant number of Turks
and other Muslim peoples arriving from Asia Minor, the steppes
north of the Black Sea, and the Caucasus, along with Orthodox
Christian Gagauz, Armenians, and Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki,
while many Bulgarians from the region were forcibly relocated
to Asia Minor and, in the wake of the Russo-Turkish wars,
up to 250,000 eastern Bulgarians were transferred to Russian
Bessarabia and Crimea.
Compact Bulgarian population
persisted throughout the Provadiya Plateau, Devnya Valley,
and Eastern Stara Planina. Villagers from places such as Chenge
(modern Asparuhovo, municipality of Dalgopol), Gulitsa (modern
Golitsa, municipality of Dolni Chiflik), and neighbouring
Erkech (modern Kozichino, Burgas Province) later colonized
and returned the Bulgarian ethnic character to dozens of villages
throughout northeastern and southeastern Bulgaria, including
much of Varna province.
After the liberation of 1878,
with the exodus of most Turks and Greeks and the migrations
of Bulgarians from other parts of Bulgaria, mostly Stara Planina,
as well as North Dobruja, Asia Minor, Bessarabia, and later
from Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, ethnic diversity gradually
gave way to Bulgarian predominance.
The province in currently second only to Sofia in foreign
direct investment; its GDP per capita is higher and its unemployment
lower than the national averages. The economy is service-oriented;
it is responsible for over 30% ot the nation's total revenue
in tourism (2004). (See also the list of coastal resorts,
beaches and locales below.)
It is also an important communications
and transportation hub with the Port of Varna on the Black
Sea and inland waterways, the International Airport of Varna,
the Varna railway ferry terminal, parts of several railway
lines (including the oldest one in Bulgaria, Rousse-Varna,
opened 1866) and junctions (Sindel, Razdelna, Komunari), and
portions of two of the nation's motorways (Haemus and Cherno
More). Varna is the easternmost destination of Pan-European
transport corridor 8 and is closely connected to corridors
7 and 9 via Rousse.
In June of 2007, Eni and
Gazprom disclosed the South Stream project whereby a 900-km-long
offshore natural gas pipeline from Russia's Dzhubga with annual
capacity of 30 billion cubic meters is planned to come ashore
possibly at Pasha dere, near the Galata offshore gas field,
en route to Italy and Austria.
Manufacturing is concentrated
mostly in the Varna-Devnya Industrial Complex and Provadiya.
Agriculture (notably wheat, fruit, wineries) and forestry
are also of economic significance. The province is a major
education and international culture centre with five universities,
several other higher learning and research institutions, numerous
museums, performing arts institutions, and hosted international
Real estate has been booming
over the last few years not only in Varna but in rural villages
both near the coast and inland. "English villages"
of Britons settling in Bulgaria emerged in the rural countryside
at Avren, Banovo (municipality of Suvorovo), and General Kantardzhievo
(municipality of Aksakovo), among others.
Varna is Bulgaria's third largest city, after Sofia and Plovdiv.
The oldest gold (dated 4200 - 4600 BC) in the world was found
near the city. It was an inhabited place long before the Greeks
established the colony of Odessos there about 580 B.C. Later,
under the Romans and their successors, the Slavs and Bulgarians,
Varna became a major port trading with Constantinople, Venice
and Dubrovnik. In 1393 it was captured by the Turks, who made
it an important military centre.
Nowadays it is the nation's
main port for both naval and commercial shipping and, adjacent
as it is to the coastal resorts of Constantine and Helena,
Riviera, Golden Sands, and Kamchia. Sailors on shore-leave
in unfamiliar ceremonial uniforms, mingle with foreign tourists
and locals as they promenade along shady boulevards, lined
by dignified 19th and early 20th century buildings.
The 19th century Dormition
of the Theotokos Cathedral is an imposing landmark, which
contains a finely carved iconostasis and bishop's throne,
some interesting murals and stained glass.
The 2nd century Thermae are
the remains of the largest Roman public building in Bulgaria.
During this century enough has been revealed by archaeologists
to give a good impression of the original layout, though some
parts of the building remain hidden under nearby streets.
Coming across an extensive ancient building amidst the streets
and houses of a modern city is not unusual in Bulgaria, but
is always a delight.
Further from the centre,
a monument commemorates the Battle of Varna, which took place
in 1444. Here 30,000 Crusaders were waiting to sail to Constantinople
when they were attacked by 120,000 Turks. The Polish King
Ladislaus III was killed in a bold attempt to capture Sultan
Murad II. The subsequent retreat foreshadowed Christendom's
general retreat before the advancing Ottomans.
North of Varna there is a
cluster of seaside resorts all with fine sandy beaches but
differing in size and style.
Some other places of interest
include (by municipality):
- Avren: observatory, Petrich fortress,
cave monastery, museum of ethnography in Tsarevtsi
- Aksakovo: Batova chalet park near Dolishte,
St. Marina monastery near Krumovo
- Dolni chiflik: museum of ethnography,
Sherba state hunting farm and chalet
- Dalgopol: museum of history, Ovchaga
ethnographical village in Asparuhovo
- Provadiya: Lambova kashta ethnographical
complex, Ovech fortress, ethnographical collections in
Dobrina and Manastir
- Suvorovo: museum of history, mosque,
Peter Deunov house museum in Nikolaevka
- Valchidol: ski run