ECONOMY: MINERAL RESOURCES AND INDUSTRY
Mineral resources are not abundant, but during the decades of the communist regime they received a certain enhancement, in function of the country’s industrialization effort. There are coal deposits in various areas of the western and eastern Balkans; more abundant and widespread is lignite, widely used for the production of electricity (of which Bulgaria is a net exporter), of which only a small part of water origin. In 1974, the Kozloduj nuclear power plant, in the Vratsa district, came into operation, producing approx. 40% of Bulgarian electricity; a second plant is under construction in Belene on the Danube. There are also modest oil fields in the Danube region, along with some natural gas, and in the pontic area. Among the metal ores is iron, which has allowed the creation in Pernik, in the Sofia area not far from coal deposits, of a steel industry capable of a decent annual production of cast iron, ferroalloys and steel. Other important productions of metal ores are those of lead, zinc, copper, manganese and bauxite. The whole manufacturing sector has been growing strongly since 2000: the mechanical sector is quite developed; the most important sectors are those connected to the production of agricultural machinery, motor vehicles (mainly, assembly of foreign models) and electrical equipment; Varna has shipyards. According to allcountrylist, among the manufacturing industries, the most important is the textile one (cotton, wool, artificial fibers, silk) of ancient tradition and with main centers in Sofia, Gabrovo and Pernik. The chemical sector is also well represented, which operates as a function of agriculture (fertilizers), but also supplies pharmaceutical products, sulfuric and nitric acids, plastics, etc.; that Petrochemical has refineries in Kameno near Burgas and in Pleven. While the chemical-petrochemical and agri-food sectors recorded a certain decline in the 1990s, export-related branches, such as metallurgy, tobacco factories, electricity production (with sales to Turkey) achieved positive results. The processing industry of agricultural products retains a leading role: canneries, sugar refineries, breweries, rose distilleries, etc. Finally, since the 1970s, major investments have been made in the electronics and information technology sectors. The secondary sector as a whole employs 32.8% of the workforce and produces 30% of GDP (2009 estimates).
ECONOMY: COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMERCE
Internal communications, which take place mainly with an EW trend, are ensured by a railway network (4318 km) which connects the country’s largest node, Sofia, with the Danube valley, the Marica valley and the coast. The main line, which winds through the Marica valley, is flanked by a superhighway very busy with Europe-Asia car traffic; for the rest the roads have an adequate development to the still limited motorization. In any case, Bulgaria is crossed by five “trans-European corridors” of transport and communication, along which conspicuous international investments converge aimed at strengthening and modernizing infrastructures. In the Danube the country has an important communication route that unites it with the other European states and with Ukraine (but the river navigation was seriously damaged by the NATO bombings in Serbia); the major river ports are Ruse (where a large bridge over the Danube connects the city with the Romanian Giurgiu), Lomand Vidin, which mainly trade agricultural products; Varna and Burgas, on the other hand, represent the vital outlets of the country on the sea. Finally, after a very troubled financial period, air services are in new expansion, ensured by the national airline Bulgaria Air, which operates connections with about twenty destinations in Europe and the Middle East, and by some private companies. Telecommunications are developing rapidly: in 2004 the number of mobile phones practically equaled that of landline phones. Foreign trade sees a growing development of commercial relations with Western Europe (the main partners are Germany and Italy), also in light of the association with the EU, of which Bulgaria will become a full member on 1 January 2007. Bulgaria has a wide range of goods from fuels and means of transport. The contributions of tourism are also quite relevant, very developed in the last decades of the communist era and returned to grow with great dynamism from the end of the nineties, largely attracted by the seaside resorts of the Black Sea.