From the Danube in the north, the Black Sea to the east, and the mountains of the central Balkan and Rila national parks, Bulgaria ranks among the most biologically diverse countries in Europe. During a cruise to Bulgaria be sure to visit some of the country’s 3 national parks, 11 natural parks, 89 natural reserves, and 2234 natural sites. The environment supports 94 species of mammals, 36 reptiles, 16 amphibians, 207 Black Sea and freshwater fishes, an estimated 27,000 insects and other invertebrate species, between 3,550 and 3,750 species of vascular plants, and more than 6500 nonvascular plants and fungi. Bulgaria is also one of the best places for bird watching in Europe, offering more than 400 bird species.
A Bulgaria trip should include a tour of some of the regions 40,000 historical sites, seven of which are a part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. These sites originate from various eras throughout the country’s history. Areas of interest include prehistoric sites, Thracian and Bulgarian monuments, Greek and Roman ruins, and more than 120 scenic monasteries and architectural reserves.
Bulgaria’s three National State Parks, Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan, make up more than one-third of all protected areas in Bulgaria. The parks are public and are managed and administered by the Ministry of Environment and Waters. These national parks are identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Category II protected areas. The Management Plans for Rila and Central Balkan are the first modern conservation management documents of their kind in the Balkans.
Particularly important to Bulgaria are the various renewable resources that provide a source of revenue and cultural value for people living in close proximity. There are also vital links between sustainable non-timber resource harvesting and economic development opportunities for the country.
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