Vratsa is a province of north western Bulgaria,
neighbouring Romania. Its main city is Vratsa, and other municipalities
are Borovan, Byala Slatina, Hayredin, Kozloduy, Krivodol,
Mezdra, Miziya, Oryahovo, and Roman.
The region is bordered to the north by the
Danube, and to the south by Sofia Province. It has an area
of 3,621.8 km². The population of 235,189 inhabitants
is distributed over 10 municipalities.
Gas, water, electricity and telecommunications
The regional road system consists of 1277 km of the republican
road system. Predominating are the 4th class roads. Their
maintenance and control are under the responsibilities of
the municipalities. The rehabilitation of these roads is a
priority of the regional policy. Mezdra is a key railway station
connecting the major cities in Bulgaria. The passenger's transport
is ensured by 116 buses and 26 trolleys. The telecommunication
network consists of 4 regional post stations - Vratsa, Byala
Slatina, Mezdra and Kozloduy, and 116 local post offices.
They offer universal post services including express mail
and international courier services EMS, SKYPAK and DHL. In
the town of Vratsa there are branch offices of Mobiltel, Globul
and Vivatel. The water supply system was envisaged to be improved
and sewerage was mostly built, but there is a program for
modernization all over the province, including the smaller
villages. The nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, in the northern
part of the province, is the major supplier of electricity
Roads, railroads and airports
The administrative capital of the province is Vratsa in the
southern parts, about 116 km from Sofia. The distance to the
major cities is as follows: Vratsa - Varna 414 km, Vratsa
- Plovdiv 217km; Vratsa - Pleven 108 km; Vratsa - Burgas 416
km. The international road E79 passes through the province.
The major European port and ferry complex Oryahovo-Bechet,
on the river Danube, is situated in Oryahovo municipality.
The economically active population is 48,892, employed as
follows: in the services sector - 27,685, in the industry
- 19,020, in the agriculture - 2,187. The population has increased
since the year 2000, and are mostly in private labour employment.
The rate of unemployment is higher than the Bulgarian average,
and the aim of the provincial policy is to implement programs
to resolve this problem. The labour force distribution in
the basic economic sectors is the following - in the industry
- 38.9%, in the agriculture - 4.5 % and in services - 56.6%.
The decrease of the number and relative share of the employees
in the public sector is matched by an increase in the private
sector. The proportion of workforce in state and private sectors
is 44.2 % to 55.8%. The higher level of education stipulates
a higher employment rate. In the province predominates the
number of employees of secondary education. On the labour
market, the number of specialists of higher education decreases
in favour of those without education. The average salary level
for the province is 297 levs.
Current priority industry sectors
The natural peculiarities of Vratsa Province contribute to
the development of agriculture, lumber industry and electricity
production. Major companies are the Kozloduy Nuclear Power
Plant, of national importance; Chimco AD - fertilizer factory,
Beloizvorski cement - cement factory and brewery; Ledenika
AD - joint stock company; Centromet AD - centrifugal casting;
Vratitsa LTD - yarns, raw and finished fabrics, sewing articles;
OMK Holding - machining and machinery, tooling equipment,
foundry, special production; Hemus-M AD - limestone, slabs,
tiles, blocks, columns; Sunnytex AD - production of household
linen, weaving etc.; Metizi AD - steel wires, ropes and their
products, spare parts; Variana LTD - concrete articles, greyiron
cast, metal safes; Enemona Holding - civil engineering.
Sectors for development
The main projects are related to the development of the transport
infrastructure, water supply and sewerage, agriculture - vegetables,
cattle breeding, silk-worm breeding, mushroom cultivation,
development and strengthening of the existing industrial plants,
development of alternative forms of tourism - rural, ecotourism,
cultural, religious, spaeology, mountaineering, hang gliding
etc. The long-term strategy for the regional economy is to
promote small and medium enterprises as an alternative way
to develop the industry.
Schools, universities and job training
Because of the close distance to the capital Sofia (site of
the main universities in Bulgaria), only one local centre
of New Bulgarian University, one pedagogical college - branch
of the Veliko Tarnovo University and one medical college exists
in the province. The vocational schools have their main disciplines
mostly in agricultural techniques, mechanics and electrotechnics,
chemical technologies, civil engineering and construction,
language school and mathematical secondary school. The total
number of primary schools in the province is 54, 14 of them
situated in the municipality of Vratsa and all state-owned.
There is only one private school, Europe Schools for English
Language and Management.
At present, there are 15 branches of Bulgarian banks. The
insurance companies have their 12 branches in the province.
The medical services are provided in 6 hospitals - 2 of them
in the main city of the province, Vratsa. As a result of the
reforms in health care, there are also private medical services
available, as well as stomatological services.
Culture, recreation and resources
Three hotels are available within the province - Valdi Palace,
Hotel Tourist in the town and Vratsa, and Hotel Istar in the
town of Kozloduy. In the surroundings of Vratsa - 12 kilometres
inside the mountain there is a modern centre for recreation
with facilities such as sauna, fitness suite and others. Within
the territory of the province is the Vrachanski Balkan Natural
Park that offers excellent opportunities for recreation; there
is Vrachanski Karst reserve, the cave Ledenika of international
importance, and the Vratsa Gorge near the town of Vratsa.
Places to visit
The following protected natural attractions and historical
monuments are located on the territory of the State Forestry
- Vrachanski Karst reserve - including the
beautiful rocky forms of the Vratsa Mountain
- The Natural Park Vrachanski Balkan - covers
part of the State Forestry territory of the Stara Planina
- Ledenika cave, a national tourist attraction
- Ponora cave in the region of Chiren village
- Vratsata gourge of the Leva river by the
town of Vratsa
- The Gods Bridges - a natural rocky bridge
and the karst spring in the Chiren village region
- Borovanska mogila - an ancient Thracian
- Botev pat memorial
- The highest waterfall Skaklya, with a
height of 141 metres