East Rhodope Mountain Region

Information Page



The East Rhodope region is located in the Southeastern Bulgaria with an area of 4 035,8 square km and a population of 214 000. The City of Kardjali is the heart of the Region with a population of 50 000. The Region has six towns and a population density of 53 people per square kilometer.

After 1989 the country experienced serious political changes and new types of civil and economic relations. A new configuration of the social structure of society arose, especially in the regions with mixed religious population, as our region is. (Here live Bulgarian - 60%, Turks - 37%, Gypsies - 2% and other - 1%) These changes are modeling a new type of inter-personal and inter-group relations. The new processes have a specific manifestation in Rhodope Mountain region. The democratic and economic changes come here very slowly and late. The population is not ready to accept the democratic values. The level of unemployment in the region is very high (up to 80%) and the people are very poor. Because of that, there are a lot of social problems. In principle the educational qualification of the people of the Rhodope Mountain is on a very low level. There is a serious deficiency of information about the process of democratization in the country. Many representatives of the current power demonstrated conservative and undemocratic political and economic ways of management, and this helps for the increase of migratory processes and depopulation of the Region.



The Region enjoys a year around temperate climate with mild, short winters. The climate varies but is mainly Mediterranean and transitional continental. The average temperature is 14 degrees C. Kardjali is the town with very short winter and many sunny days.



Eastern Rhodopes Region occupies the central southern part of the country; To the West- the Plovdiv and Smolian Region; to the North- the Haskovo and St.Zagora region and to the South- Turkey and Greece.The location of the town of Kardjali is in the heart of the region.

The area is divided into 8 territories (communities) with 7 towns and 522 villages and settlements. The biggest town is Kardjali with a population of 76 thousand people.

The transport is mainly automobile way. The international road E-85 leads through the town of Kardjali (European Transport Highway No.9 - from Rousse to Komotiny, Greece). Except this Highway, which is under construction at the moment, the road network of the region is out of condition. The vehicles of the state transport are very old. Some private companies with restricted financial status take transport functions. There is transportation routes providing easy access to Sofia in the west (288 km); to Bourgas and Varna in the east (Black sea); to Rouse at the Romanian Border in the north by railway; and the Greek Port, Alexandrupolis, in the south (120 km).

Because of the mountain relief of the region the communications are not enough developed. There are villages without telephone lines.

The International Automatic Telephone Network provides the Region with a not so quality communication system. New optic highway crosses the town of Kardjali to Greece destination.



The mountain soils of the Region make it not comfortable for productive agriculture and food processing. Forests are one of the Region's most valuable natural resources offering ideal opportunities for logging, wood processing, hiking, hunting, and tourism. The "Gorubso" Basin supplies lignite and brown coal for electrical power plants that provide a part of the electrical power for Bulgaria. There are many precious metal deposits in the South part of Madzharovo field, in the Ustrem village. There are also many non-metallic mineral deposits of industrial importance (bentonite, perlite, talcomagnesite, chalk, feldspar, clay and others). 42 of them are located in the eastern part of the Rhodope.

Metal bearing deposits in the region: Zvezdel-Pecheloyad; Ardino; Zlatograd, Spahievo; Madzharovo; Ustrem. The main reserves of working ore fields are of lead and zinc. As by-products, some precious metals have been extracted such as gold, silver and others.

Bulgaria has one of the largest deposits of high quality marble. A useful technology is used to form marble blocks and to cut thin plates- to 1 cm. The largest marble deposit is in the territory of Ivailovgrad.

The Region is rich in thermal mineral springs. Djebel has national reputation for healing many different diseases. "Belite brezi", with their fresh mountain air, is an important healing center for respiratory and other ailments.


Each part of any country has a history of its own and landmarks to be proud of. The East Rhodope Region, located at the crossroads of multiple civilizations, has a particular glow coming out of its past - hidden in the depth of millennia.

Inhabited by Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Ottomans, and Bulgarians, this antique land bears the immortal historical testimony of its past civilizations. The Devil's arch bridge, the "Stone Wedding", the Thracian tomb are among its countless historical treasures.


The East Rhodope Region has a cultural tradition with an impressive number of talented poets, writers, artists, musicians, and actors. The "Dimitar Dimov" Drama Theater presents outstanding classical theatrical productions and is number 1 in Bulgaria in number of the audiences. Many of Rhodope folklore groups and musicians are famous in Europe and around the world.

The Kardjali's life style offerings include museums, libraries, art galleries, cinemas, sport stadiums, and lovely parks. Eternally green are the trees round the dam lakes of "Kardjali", "Studen kladenets" and "Ivailovgrad" offering best conditions for tourism and water sports. There are also an Astronomy observatory and new sports complex with swimming pool. It is a popular weekend gathering place.



Traditionally, Bulgaria is an agricultural country. Some of the major agricultural products are: oriental tobacco, cotton, vegetables, mushrooms, roses, wine, freshwater fish, etc.

There are good conditions for development of agriculture in the East Rhodope region. The arable land in the region is 696 thousand decares. Land in the bigger part of the East Rhodope Region has been fertile and productive for tobacco produce. The mild climate is favorable for producing of the world famous brands of this agriculture.

The large pastures in the plains and foothills are conducive for superior cattle and sheep breeding. The milk production industry is an important part of the Region's agricultural sector. The land restitution process is not finished. Landowners grow their own crops or participate in cooperatives. Currently about 140 thousand people are engaged in agriculture production.



The Eastern Rhodores Region as a whole has a low-educated work force. In Municipal centers exist many high-educated persons - economists, engineers, and many other highly skilled potential employees. Four percent of the work force is university graduates. Because Bulgarian labor costs are relatively low compared to Western standards, human resources are a valuable commodity to the potential investor. Workers are dedicated, responsible, extremely motivated, flexible, and eager to learn.

The branch of the Plovdiv University in the town of Kardjali leads the Regional educational system. The educational level is adapted to European educational standards.

Specialized secondary schools provide potential investors with a talent pool specifically trained in economics, agriculture, electronics, mechanics, biology and chemistry, music and the arts, mathematics, and language. The linguistic skills acquired in accelerated secondary language schools will provide potential employers with a work force fluent in English, German, Russian and French.




One of the biggest producers of Lead and Zinc in Europe is "Lead and Zinc Complex" in Kardjali. More than 3500 people work there.

The biggest producer of hydraulic and pneumatic machines is located in Kardjali - "Pneumatika" JsC. There are also plants in Momchilgrand and the villages of Benkovski and Podkova.



The Gorubso Basin supplies lignite and brown coal for electrical power plants that provide a big part of the electrical power for Bulgaria.



The proximity of rich forest reserves in the Rhodope Mountain ranges has provided an ideal situation for the development of the wood processing industry. Mebel furniture manufacturers create quality articles.

Private wood coal factory exists near Ivailovgrad.



Numerous food-processing plants throughout the Region are able to buy their raw materials and machinery from local producers and manufacturers. These plants produce meat products, dairy products, soft drinks, flour, pastry and sweet products, honey, acids, fodder, and bio-fodder mixtures, sunflower oil, a staple in Bulgarian cooking. Koveg is a successful exporter, producing macaroni. Several companies in the Region export cheese to the Eastern European and Russian market.



Kardjali-Bulgartabac JsCo is one of Bulgaria’s largest tobacco companies, processing a variety of popular brands for loyal customers in Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and several other countries. The best branches of tobacco are cultivated in the region.



A variety of textile and clothing manufacturers produce a wide range of fabrics, clothing, and knitted wear. Kardjali's "Orpheus", "Ahrida" and "Slavy" Knitwear Factories exports its creations to the Western European and Russian market. Ardino's "Artex" manufactures quality wool fabrics. Djebel's "Sonmes International" manufactures fine men's and ladies' clothing for export to Western Europe and Turkey.






There is an absolute consensus among all political forces in the country on the basic question of attracting foreign investors by creating the most favorable conditions for them.

In Bulgaria there is lot of machinery, meeting world standards, manufactured by international firms. The basic problem, however, is the lack of management experience for work under the conditions of market economy, the lack of business contacts with leading western firms and a significant lack of knowledge on the part of Western investors of the tremendous commercial potential of Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian Parliament has passed one of the most liberal laws in Europe for foreigners in Bulgaria and protection of foreign investment.

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