Varna is a city in Northeast Bulgaria, located on the Black-Sea coast and Varna Lake. It is the administrative center of the eponymous municipality and region. According to latest census data of the National Statistical Institute as of December 31, 2013 Varna has a population of 335,819, which makes it the third largest city in Bulgaria. Unemployment among the urban population is relatively low, 16.6%. Varna is successor to the Greek colony of Odessos and between December 20, 1949 and October 20, 1956 it was called Stalin. Early written evidence shows that Odessos (today’s Varna) was founded by immigrants from the Middle-Eastern city of Miletus in the second quarter of the 6th century BC. That was the period of the so-called Great Greek Colonization. The name of the city (Odessos means “a town upon water”) is not Greek: it comes from an earlier language layer, suggesting the possible existence of a more ancient settlement at the place.
Due to its history and dynamic present it is often called “the sea capital of Bulgaria”.
The city is home to five universities, five institutes and branches of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, many colleges and specialized vocational schools.
It is the center of one of the most popular world ballet festivals and one of the oldest classical music festivals in Bulgaria. Varna is renowned for its drama and puppet theaters, opera and philharmonic orchestra.
There are five resort complexes functioning near Varna with more than 100,000 beds and more than 17 kilometers of beaches. The sea water has good recreational characteristics that meet the European standards. There are coastal forests, a network of protected areas and four marinas. The existing thermo-mineral resources and medicinal clay provide opportunities for the development of year-round balneological tourism.
Economy of Varna region
The region is third in the country in terms of foreign direct investment per capita. The economic profile of the Varna region comprises industry (40%), transport (25%), tourism (10%), trade (15%) and construction (10%). The main sectors characterizing the structure of the economy include port activities, shipping, ship repair, tourism, chemical industry, machine building, textile industry, food-and-beverage industry, furniture production, construction and agriculture.
The small and medium-sized enterprises in the region operate mainly in the area of services and their economic role is growing. Most of the registered companies are active: approximately 90% of a total of 14,600 enterprises.
Varna projects to the total amount of 51 million leva are expected to be financed by the government under the Growth and Sustainable Development of Regions program in 2014-15. The largest amount, 30 million leva, will be allocated to Varna’s new court of law and 15 million leva will be used for the design of an intermodal terminal at the Varna port. Nearly 4.5 million leva is earmarked for the reconstruction of the Palace of Culture and Sports and another 1.5 million leva for the construction of a pharmacy department at Medical University of Varna.