This is a hilly district of rivers and valleys, inland from the Black Sea coast, with peaks inland as high as 2000 m. The climate is wet, hence the number of valleys that have been cut though by mountain streams, so floods and landslides are a constant threat even today. The coastal vegetation is broad-leaved but the higher land is pine forest, with Alpine plants in the high meadows up in the Kaçkar Mountains.
Güneysu is an impoverished rural district losing much of its population as they migrate to jobs elsewhere (some of Turkey's biggest construction firms have their roots here for example). The main source of income is growing tea and in recent years kiwi fruit. Other crops are mainly grown in family gardens for personal use. The only industry is tea processing, and Güneysu is a centre of this for the Rize province.