American University in Bulgaria, Southeastern University
Blagoevgrad General Information
Blagoevgrad district is located in the south-west part of Bulgaria. It is borderedb by Smolyan, Pazardjik, Sofia District and Kystendil district. The south and the west borders of the region are Greece and Macedonia respectively. It is the third largest in Bulgaria after Burgas and Sofia districts and comprises 5.8 % of the country's territory. The region includes the mountains, or parts of, Rila (highest point on the Balkan Peninsula - Musala summit, 2925 m), Pirin, Ograzhden, Vlahinska, Rodopi, and Belasitza. There are two major rivers - Struma and Mesta, with population concentrations along their valleys. The beautiful and preserved environment is widely considered an important resource. A number of national parks and protected territories care for the biodiversity. European transport corridor number 4 passes through the district.
The climate is temperate continental to Mediterranean for the southern parts of the district like Sandanski - the town with the hottest average annual temperature in Bulgaria. The region is rich in timber and mineral springs and there are also find if coal, marble and granite. The forests take up 52% of the land in the district and the arable land is 39%.
There is decrease of the population in the district like in the whole country, but it decreases a lot slower than the average for the country. 57.5 % of the population lives in urban areas, while 42.5 % lives in the rural. Bulgarians account for 80% of the people in the district, the rest of the people are Turks - 9.5 %, Roma - 4.4 % and others.
The municipality of Blagoevgrad is located in the southwestern corner of Bulgaria and covers an area of approximately 628 km2, on which Blagoevgrad itself and 25 adjacent villages are situated. The region of Blagoevgrad includes parts of three of the biggest Bulgarian mountains - Rila, Pirin and the Rhodopes and is well known under the name of Pirin region. The city of Blagoevgrad is the major city in the region and one the most important economic and cultural centers in Southwest Bulgaria. The main international routes connecting Bulgaria with Greece and Bulgaria with the Republic of Macedonia pass through it. Blagoevgrad also allows easy access to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia (approximately 100 kilometers to the north) and to all towns in the region.
The region around Blagoevgrad has abundant natural resources. The Blagoevgrad area is part of the region, known as "Pirin" which is characterized by its unique geographic location, physical beauty of the surrounding mountains, and rich flora and fauna. Three majestic mountain ranges grace the plain -- the Rila, Pirin and Rhodopes. Picturesque lakes and roaring rivers provide the region with pure, fresh spring water. The names of the local rivers Bistritsa, Glazene, Struma and Mesta echo in the songs and the folklore of the region. The Blagoevgrad municipality has an ample supply of pure mineral water, river systems and lush mountain forests. The landscape is varied and beautiful. The physical characteristics combine to make Blagoevgrad the largest and most important town in southwestern Bulgaria. It is an important cultural, administrative, and industrial center for the entire southwestern part of the country.
More interesting places in the region are Sandansk, Rila Monastery, Pirin National Park and Melnik
Sandanski town is situated in south-west Bulgaria, at the foot of Pirin Mountain. With its unique, mild climate and concentration of mineral water springs, Sandanski is famous as a relaxation and recreation center. It is pronounced for the best natural healing center of Bronchial Asthma in Europe.
Rila Monastery was founded in 10 century by St. Ivan of Rila. It is the greatest Bulgarian monastery - unique architecture, exquisite wall paintings, brilliant iconostasis, a rich collection of icons and old manuscripts - a true masterpiece of the National Revival Period. Under UNESCO's protection, Rila Monastery is one of Bulgaria's biggest sanctuaries.
Pirin National Park lies in the highest part of the Pirin Mountain. Forests cover 60% of its total area. Trees between 280 and 1000 years old have been declared natural sites, the oldest one being the 16 meter high Baikousheva white fir which is 1200 years of age.
Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria. It is a town-museum having 96 buildings pronounced for cultural monuments. Melnik is also famous for its wine made of unique varieties of grapes, and for the sand and limestone pyramids - exceptional geographical structures for the territory of Bulgaria.
The district is in sixth place for its share of the GDP right after the more industrial districts of Sofia, Varna, Sofia District, Plovdiv, Bourgas. The registere unemployment is slightly below 10%, less than the average for the country.
Industries of interest:
1. Food and tobacco processing industries - Animal products, fruit, vegetables, tobacco, and liquor production. High export potential.
2. Textile industry - Foreign investors have helped the development of many firms that produce ready-made clothing.
3. Timber and furniture industries - The easy access to local resources makes gives that branch perspectives for development. There are open foreign markets for furniture. Increasing interest of foreign investors.
4. Iron processing and machinery industry - Firms specialize mainly in production of metal constructions and details. Radio-electronic equipment and other electronic communication components are being produced.
5. Construction materials industry - The terrain characteristics are suitable for the extraction of certain minerals, used in construction. Marble is extracted at numerous locations in Sandanski municipality, Koprivlen, Petritch, Strumiani.
6. Other - Tourism, pharmaceuticals, plastics, paper, shoes.