Bulgaria is situated in Southeastern Europe, in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula. It borders on Roumania to the north, Yugoslavia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the east. Bulgaria covers an area of 110 993.6 square kilometres and its population numbers about 8.5 million (1992). Its territory is about the same size as that of Portugal in Europe, Jordan in Asia, Liberia and the Republic of Benin in Africa, Guatemala and Cuba in Latin America, the US state of Ohio in North America.
Most of Bulgaria's land in its contemporary boundaries lies between 41 and 44 degrees northern latitude. Sofia, its capital city, is in approximately the same latitude as Rome, Madrid, Chicago and Beijing. The country's climate is temperate continental, the Mediterranean breath often being felt in its southern parts, the Central European air - in its northwestern regions, and the air of the Russian Steppes - in its northeastern territory.
Bulgaria's landscape provokes spontaneous gratitude to the Creator. It is fascinatingly variegated - low, medium and high mountains, hills and plateaus, low lands and plains, gorges and passes, valleys and meadows, gulfs and beaches. Rila and Pirin are alpine mountains. Their height exceeds 2900 m above sea-level. Stara Planina is the longest mountain; it divides the country into two parts: Northern and Southern. Called also the Balkan /range/, it is the "name-giver" of the whole peninsula. The forests, deciduous and coniferous, are large in number but not startling in size. The Great Bulgarian Wood (Magna silva bulgarica), famous in the Middle Ages, is only a legend now. The rivers are numerous, but not very long and deep. None of them is navigable today. The longest river running solely through Bulgarian territory is the Iskar - 368 km. Bulgaria's northern borderline follows the Danube. It connects Bulgaria with the Ukraine, Roumania, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany, as well as with the system of the navigable canals of the whole of Europe. The number of coastal, river and mountain lakes and swamps is small, and their size is inconsiderable. Some of them are world-known preserves. The largest lakes in the Balkans are the Ohrid and the Prespa lakes which are closely connected with Bulgarian history. The size of its Black Sea islands is that of a large courtyard.
The mineral resources have been exploited ever since Thracian times. Predominant are woodland soils and chernozems /rich black soils/. Owing to it fertile soil, as well as to its other geographic and climatic conditions, the Bulgarian land has enjoyed the fame of a place blessed for agricultural work ever since the period of classical antiquity. The vine was cultivated here, this is one of the centres where vegetable- and fruit-growing were developed. The vegetation is mainly European, largely enriched however, with Mediterranean, Caucasian, Steppe and Asia Minor influences. The animal population is typical of Europe. Two of the major European "highways" of migratory birds - Via Pontica (along the Black Sea coast) and Via Aristotelis (along the Strouma river) - run through Bulgaria. In its flora and fauna there is a large number of endemic species - species that can be found nowhere else in the world. Moreover, there are a number of reserves in Bulgaria - mountains, lakes, swamps, etc. - that are also of international interest.