Due to the beneficial natural and economic conditions a considerable part of the population and the economic potential are concentrated on the coast. The northern boundary of the region runs along the Stara Planina Mountains.
Through the low and convenient Stara Planina passes (Varbitsa Pass - Varbishki prohod, Rish Pass – Rishki prohod), etc. Burgas Region is connected to the regions of Shumen and Varna. The highways and railways to Sofia (via Plovdiv and Karlovo), to Varna to and Ruse, to Harmanli and Kardzhali (via Elhovo and Topolovgrad), the scenic road Constanta – Varna – Burgas – Malko Tarnovo – Istanbul are of great importance for the maintenance of busy economic relations with the other administrative regions in the country.
The geostrategic position of the region is a factor of national significance and a point of intersection of the following established axes of economic and political interests: Europe – the Near East - Asia; Europe – the Middle East - Asia; Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and West Europe. Thireen municipalities are located in the territory of the region: Aytos, Burgas, Kameno, Karnobat, Malko Tarnovo, Nesebar, Pomorie, Ruen, Sozopol, Sredets, Sungurlare, Primorsko and Tsarevo.
The region has a varied landscape. Lowlands with an altitude of up to 200 m and hills are predominant. The lowland belt is mainly represented by Burgas Lowland and the fields of Karnobat and Aytos – convenient for mechanized farming. About one third of the territory is taken up by hilly heights which are suitable for growing vineyards and fruit trees. The northern parts of the region are occupied by ridges of the eastern Stara Planina Mountains which are a little over 1000 m high and do not substantially hinder the communications with the regions of Northeast Bulgaria.
In the south of the region are the Strandzha Mountains with Gradishte (710 m high) as the highest peak in this part of the range. The mountains are covered with deciduous forests and pastures and provide conditions for the development of logging, pasture stock-breeding and tourism. The landscape and the marsh-alluvial soils, rich in humus, are favourable for the development of farming and exert a great influence on its specialization. The landscape, consisting predominantly of lowlands and hills, facilitates the construction of a network of towns and villages, of railway and road infrastructure. The indented coastline provides good opportunities for building harbours.
The long wide beach strip, small islands and headlands, lagoons, firth lakes and sand dunes facilitate the development of seaside recreational tourism, and the interior of the region has a potential for the development of other specialized forms of tourism such as ecological, rural, etc.
The climate of Burgas Region is determined by the combined influence of the Black Sea, Stara Planina and Strandzha. The average annual temperature of the air ranges from 11.3°C for the municipalities in the interior (Ruen and Malko Tarnovo) to 13.3°C for Sozopol on the coast. The coldest month in the whole region is January with a mean temperature around and above zero (3.2°C in Tsarevo).
The hottest months for the whole region are July and August. Winter in the region is comparatively milder with no snow on most days in the flat areas, and with a snow cover that lasts from 20 to 46 days in the Stara Planina and Strandzha Mountains. Due to the influence of the sea autumn is long and vastly warmer than in the interior of the country, and spring is comparatively cold and comes about a month earlier. The average annual rainfall ranges from 500 l/m² for Sozopol to 927 l/m² for Malko Tarnovo.
The highest rainfall in the central and northern parts of the region is in May and June and for the district of the Strandzha Mountains – in November and December. The lowest rainfall for the whole of the region is in August. The climatic conditions are a prerequisite for seaside recreation from the end of May to the end of September.
Summer and autumn are typically Mediterranean – long and dry. The annual daily air temperature in the summer is 26.4 °С, the temperature of the seawater - 24.8 °С, with maximum daily temperatures above 20°C occurring as late as November. The number of sunny days in the summer ranges from 24 to 27 per month with 10-11 hours of sunshine per day.
The northern part of Burgas Region is distinguished for an extremely low outflow of rain water due to the predominantly lowland landscape and the presence of coastal lakes covering a large area. The regime of the flow is typically Mediterranean with a predominant share of winter flow and a pronounced February maximum (18 – 21% of the yearly volume).
There is a long and steady lack of water with the minimum insufficiency occurring in August. In years of drought some of the smaller rivers dry up. Within East Stara Planina the river valleys are relatively undeviating, running mainly in a west to east direction (Dvoinitsa, Hadzhiiska), and the rivers in the Lowland of Burgas flow down in a fan-like pattern from the upland rim surrounding the lowland to the lakes and the sea, forming shallow alluvial valleys.
A specific peculiarity of the part of the coast around and north of Burgas is the presence of sizeable but shallow coastal lakes, which are firths (Lake Burgas, Lake Mandra and Lake Atanasovo) or lagoons (Lake Pomorie) of different salinity of the water and different economic purpose. The bottoms of some of them are covered with a thick layer of dark curative mud – the largest peloid deposits in the country are here.
The southern part of the region is drained by the rivers Ropotamo, Dyavolska, Veleka and other smaller tributaries which empty directly into the sea or in the above rivers. The regime of flow is typically Mediterranean as is in the whole of the Strandzha region, where these rivers form their flows. The rivers of Strandzha are relatively short and cut deeply in their upper courses despite the relatively low altitude of the mountain.
Due to their connect ion with the seawater, the water level in the parts of the rivers near their mouths has small fluctuations, and their relatively great depth makes them navigable for much of their lengths. The lakes in this part are lagoons – Alepu, Arkutino and Stomopolo, and are characterized by water salinity which is not very high and by specific vegetation. Seawater is a valuable natural asset of our coast. Its recreational importance is in its general tempering and therapeutic effect on the human body.
It is also distinguished for a suitable temperature regime – the beginning of the period with the seawater temperature holding steady above 18°С comes in the first five days of June, and its end is between October 5th and 10th , which makes the sea suitable for swimming about 140 days per year.
The thermal mineral springs at the village of Medovo and Vetren Quarter (Burgas Mineral Baths) are of balneological and recreational importance.
PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE
The forests are of special importance for the region. They cover about 35 % of the total area of the region, with over 70% of them being natural forests. The plant cover of Burgas Black Sea Region is characterized by a great variety and specific features. This is due to the circumstance that during the Quaternary Period the low-rising mountains, the valleys and the warm coastal areas gave refuge to Tertiary, relicts of which have been preserved until the present day. Forests of Euxine type occur here such as the forests of oriental beech (Fagus orientalis) and oriental durmast (Quercus polycarpa).
They occur in the Stara Planina Mountains, Strahdzha and the eastern Rhodopes and nowhere else not only in Bulgaria and in the Balkan Peninsula, but in the whole of Europe. Their ties of relationship are far in the east in Asia Minor, the Caucasus, etc. The forests of Strandzha are particularly rich in Euxine species.
Representatives of the laurel family occur here – Strandzha periwinkle (Rhododendron ponticum), Pontian mad tree (Daphne pontica), Strandzha blueberry, (Vaccinium arctostaphylos), cherry laurel (Laurocerаsus officinalis), etc. The vegetation along the coast has pronounced Mediterranean features and is represented by shrub and grass communities. Beautiful sand lilies grow in large quantities in some places on the dunes south of Sozopol. A type of vegetation peculiar to the region is that of the so called ‘longoz’ forests (swamp forests) forests along the lower course of the rivers Ropotamo, Veleka, etc., rich in lianas – silk vine, greenbriar, traveller’s joy, woodbine, etc., which weave impassable curtains in some places.
Animal life is also very interesting and varied. The rivers and freshwater lakes are rich in fish, and among the reptiles there are quite a number of protected species. The wealth of birds is particularly interesting. The lakes near Burgas are the wintering sites of protected bird species such as the spot-billed pelican, herons (black-crowned night heron, squacco heron, small white heron, great white heron and purple heron) and cormorants, the greater white-fronted goose, the red-breasted goose, the common shelduck, the pied avocet, etc. Lake Burgas and Lake Atanasovo as well as the locality of Poda are on Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, more particularly as habitats of water birds.
Burgas lake complex is located on the migratory route Via Pontica and is a site with a narrow front of migration for roaming birds from a considerable part of North, East and Central Europe. Every year up to 300 000 storks and 60 000 birds of prey fly over the lakes at the time of the autumn migration. At the time of passage this is the site in Europe with the biggest concentration of the rosy and Dalmatian pelican, of the western marsh harrier and the second biggest (after the Bosphorus) concentration of the lesser spotted eagle.
The globally endangered slender-billed curlews have been recorded during migration. The protected areas of the Veleka’s Mouth and Silistar, located on the great migration route Via Pontica, are part of the Veleka-Rezovska complex, described as a priority wetland of national significance in Bulgaria. They are on the list of the most important wetlands in Bulgaria, which are of marked significance for the protection of water birds. The most common cloven-hoofed mammals are the wild boar, red deer, fallow deer stag and roe deer.
A wide network of protected areas has been built in the territory of Burgas Black Sea Region. Strandzha Nature Park - the biggest in the country, with an area of 116 136 hectares, declared at the beginning of 1995, is here. Within the park there are five nature reserves – Silkosia, Tisovitsa, Vitanovo, Sredoka and the biosphere reserve of Uzunbudzhak.
In Strandzha Park there are 12 protected areas and a lot of scenic attractions (rock formations, century-old trees, etc.). Oriental durmast, Italian oak, oriental beech and Strandzha oak trees with diameters of 1.5 – 2.0 meters and over 500 years old occur very often in the natural massifs of old forests – the most valuable and conservationally important habitats.
In the nature park you can get introduced to the greatest variety of amphibian reptiles in Europe, come across remains from Thracian tombs, enjoy the sight of blooming periwinkle in May, wade in the crystal-clear rivers, enjoy archaic customs and traditions, surviving from pagan antiquity and preserved with love by the people everywhere around the mountains.
The whole of the territory of Strandzha Nature Park is included in Natura 2000 – the international ecological network. Strandzha periwinkle is the symbol of the park. Though outside the territory of the nature park, the reserves of Ropotamo, Atanasovo Lake, Velyov Vir (Water Lilies) and Sand Lily are also in the region, with the latter three belonging to the maintained reserves. Ropotamo Reserve comprises the territory around the mouth of the Ropotamo River.
It is known for its unspoilt wildlife, a combination of diverse natural assets, varied landscape, cliffy shores, a vast sand strip, swamp forests and coastal marshes. Atanasovo Lake Reserve is mainly used for the needs of salt production and the protection of its exceptional biodiversity. The salt pans have been here since 1906. It has been a Ramsar site since 1984 (after the name of the little Iranian town of Ramsar, where on February 2 1971 the Convention on Wetlands was signed). 316 bird species (of about 400 species occurring in the territory of the whole country) have been recorded in the vicinity of Lake Atanasovo – birds that migrate, winter or nest in the reserve. The Water Lilies Reserve, 15 km south of Sozopol, aims to conserve the water lilies growing here in abundance, and the Sand Lily Reserve, also located south of Sozopol, has Bulgaria’s largest community of sand lilies with delicate snow white blossoms.
The region of the southern Black Sea coast is distinguished for its conserved natural environment, and the lack of big industrial enterprises in the resort centres is a prerequisite for their good ecological condition. In the territory of Burgas Black Sea Region there are ten Blue Flag beaches and one Blue Flag marina.
The most important Blue Flag criteria are: clean seawater and sand, high quality tourist service, commitment to the environment, safety and awareness of the activities on the beach. The awarded beaches are the beach at Eleni Holiday Village, the East, New and Central beaches in the town of St. Vlas, Slanchev Bryag – north, Slanchev Bryag – south, Northern Beach – Burgas (pilot beach), Harmanite in Sozopol, the beach of Dyuni Holiday Village as well as Marina Dinevi in Sveti Vlas.
The population and local authorities seek to preserve the environment in good condition in order to establish the region as an attractive tourist destination. In 2008 a referendum asking the citizens to vote for or against the oil pipeline between Burgas and Alexandroupolis was held in Burgas. 97 % of the participants in the referendum, which is nearly 50 000 people, were against the building of the pipeline. In 2010 the Municipality of Burgas won a project for Integrated Urban Transport, supported by the EU with 70 million Euros.
This provided the municipal Carrier Burgasbus with the opportunity to renew its bus fleet and to expand and renew the functioning trolleybus network. Twenty kilometres of bike paths and part of the coastal bike route Nesebar-Pomorie-Burgas-Sozopol, which is yet to be completed, were set apart.
In November 2011 Burgas declared its intention to reduce energy consumption by 27% by 2020, to decrease greenhouse emission by 25% and to increase the use of renewable sources of energy by 26%. The same year, due to its commitment to protect the environment, Burgas was declared the Greenest Bulgarian Town in the category ‘settlement with more than 200,000 inhabitants’ within the campaign Green Bulgaria of the Ministry of Environment and Water.