Sofia Province

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Coordinates: 42°40′N 23°40′E / 42.667°N 23.667°E / 42.667; 23.667

Sofia Province
Софийска област
Province
Location of Sofia Province in Bulgaria
Location of Sofia Province in Bulgaria
Country Bulgaria
Capital Sofia
Municipalities 22
Government
 • Governor Krasimir Zhivkov
Area
 • Total 7,059 km2 (2,725 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 247,489
 • Density 35/km2 (91/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
License plate CO

Sofia Province (Bulgarian: Софийска област, Sofiyska oblast) is a province (oblast) of Bulgaria. The province does not include Sofia in its territories, but Sofia remains its administrative center. The province borders on the provinces of Pernik, Kyustendil, Blagoevgrad, Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Lovech, Vratsa, Montana and "Sofia-Capital" (which is in a separate oblast, see Sofia Administration), to the northwest there is border with Serbia.

History[edit]

Prehistory and antiquity[edit]

Neolithic pottery discovered near Chavdar
Neolithic pottery discovered near Chavdar

Archaeological excavations near Chavdar suggest that the region has been settled by humans as early as 7,000 years ago.[1] The earliest evidence of a mass settlement dates back to Thracian times, including tumuli (burial mounds) which remain poorly studied.[2] According to Thucydides, the areas north of Vitosha were inhabited by the Tilataei and the Treri. The Triballi were also known to have inhabited the region around Serdica.[2] The Serdi, a Celtic tribe that appeared in place of the vanished Treri and Tilataei,[3] were first mentioned in 29 BC. Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus began his campaign against the Triballi in that year, and in 27 BC his troops captured Serdica.[2]

Felix Philipp Kanitz, the first person to study the Iskar Gorge area thoroughly, identified eight Roman castella, which he considered proof of the great strategic importance the Romans placed on the gorge. The road passing through it connected Roman lands from Thessaloniki all the way to Dacia.[2] However, up until modern times, the gorge was poorly accessible because of its rugged terrain. As a result, the inhabitants were partially isolated from the rest of the world, self-reliant, but also safe from wars and invasions.[2] Some of the population of Moesia thus found the Iskar river area an appealing safe haven later in the 5th century, when the province was threatened by Hunnic and Gothic raids.[2]

Middle Ages[edit]

Gothic assaults were followed by large-scale settlement of South Slavs in territories south of the Danube in the early 580s AD.[4] The Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was incapable of defending these territories at the time. With most Byzantine troops protecting the rich Asian provinces from Arab and Persian raids, even small and disorganised Slavic attacks caused much disruption throughout Moesia.[5] The numerous Slavs gradually mixed with and assimilated the native population.[6] The area remained under Byzantine control until 809 AD, when Krum captured Serdica and massacred some 6,000 soldiers and civilians.[7] Sometime in the 10th century, construction of the Boyana Church began as well.[8]

Churches and monasteries in the area flourished during the Second Bulgarian Empire. Tsar Ivan Alexander established a ring of 14 monasteries around Sredets (formerly Serdica), with rules and organisation similar to the monastery cluster on Mount Athos, known as Sveta Gora in Bulgarian.[9] The Sveta Gora of Sofia includes temples and monasteries throughout today's Sofia Province, spanning from Plana and Vitosha Mountains in the south to Dragoman and the slopes of Stara Planina in the north. Some of these were established during the First Bulgarian Empire or generally before Ivan Alexander's rule.[9] Apart from these monasteries, a number of other, smaller temples can be traced back to the Second Empire. This includes the Saint Nicholas church in Bukovets, built by Crusaders in the 12th century.[10] Crusader presence was also attested around Bov, which is believed to have been established by an eponymous Fourth Crusade knight who became a vassal of Tsar Kaloyan.[11]

Ottoman rule[edit]

The modern territory of Sofia Province has been part of three of the four revolutionary districts during the April Uprising.

Under the Third Bulgarian State[edit]

Painting of Bulgarian Prince Alexander I observing the battle of Dragoman
Bulgarian Prince Alexander of Battenberg observing the battles against Serb forces near Dragoman

A few years after Bulgaria's liberation in 1878, Bulgarian nationalists organised a coup in the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia and declared its unification with the Principality of Bulgaria.[12] The Kingdom of Serbia opposed the strengthening of its rival. Serbian king Milan I declared war on Bulgaria on 14 November 1885, but the Serbian forces were decisively defeated at the Battle of Slivnitsa between 17 and 19 November.[12] Another decisive Bulgarian victory occurred at Gurgulyat, where Bulgarian soldiers and civilian volunteers fought the Serb Moravian division and prevented it from reinforcing the main Serbian force at Slivnitsa.[13]

During World War II, a number of resistance fighters were based in the area. The mainly Soviet-oriented resistance - the People's Liberation Rebel Army, PLRA - organised locally under the 1st Sofia Rebellion Operations Zone, particularly in the areas around Botevgrad and Ihtiman.[14] Anti-partisan operations by the Bulgarian government military, then part of the Axis powers, had become fierce by 1944. In January 1944, Special Operations Executive Major William Frank Thompson and another British officer, Sergeant Kenneth Scott, were parachuted with radio equipment in southern Yugoslavia; their mission was to provide liaison between the British Army and the PLRA.[15] The two joined a group of 100 ill-equipped Bulgarian partisans and entered Bulgaria in May 1944.

After some initial success, the group was ambushed, and Thompson was captured near Eleshnitsa along with a dozen Bulgarian partisans. After being shown the severed heads of other partisans on pikes, they were tortured by government troops and their paramilitary aides, the Gendarmerie.[16] Because of his Communist sympathies and fluent Bulgarian and Russian, Thompson and the other resistance fighters were executed by a firing squad.[15][17] Several villages in the area were merged after the war into what is now a single village, Thompson, named after the British officer.[18]

Geography[edit]

Rila Mountain as seen from Relyovo, Samokov Municipality

With a territory of 7 020 km², Sofia Province is the second-largest in Bulgaria.[19] It also has the highest number of municipalities, 22, and borders nine other provinces as well as Serbia to the northwest. The lowest areas stand at 350 metres above sea level, whereas the highest rise above 2,900 metres, resulting in diverse terrain, soil and climatic factors.[19]

A temperate climate with cold winters, cool springs and mild summers hampers the agricultural use of the otherwise fertile mountain valleys.[19] Stara Planina, Sredna Gora and Rila are the principal mountain ranges that the province straddles, while Plana and Vitosha lie entirely within its territory.[19] The highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula, Musala, rises 2,925 metres above sea level in Rila at the southern end of the province.[20]

The precise height of Musala was only measured in 1932 by an expedition of the State Geographic Institute of the Ministry of War. Previously, Vihren in southwest Bulgaria was imprecisely measured and proclaimed to be the country's highest peak. This made Mytikas on Mount Olympus in Greece, which rose only three metres higher than Vihren, the highest on the Balkan Peninsula. Locals in Bulgaria supposedly began piling up rocks on Vihren over time to restore its status, but the 1932 military expedition measured both Vihren and Musala with a margin of error of only 15 centimetres and thus put an end to the rivalry.[20]

Rila is also the source of the Iskar,[21] the longest river that runs entirely within Bulgarian territory.[22] It is a tributary to the Danube and forms part of the Black Sea river basin. The 23 km long Cherni (black) Iskar is considered the main stem of the river,[21] taking its source from the Chamovsko Lake (2,500 m) to the north-east of Damga Peak (2,669 m) and from there the river flows in north-eastern direction through the Govedartsi Valley, filled by the waters of the Chanakgyolski, Malyovishki and Urdini Lakes.[21] The river enters the Balkan Mountains at the town of Novi Iskar and forms a long and spectacular gorge, whose slopes reach a height of 200 m up to 500 m at some points.[23] The Iskar Gorge reaches a length of 70 km between its beginning at Kurilo, a neighbourhood of Novi Iskar, and the village of Lyutibrod where it ends.[23] Other rivers flowing through the province s territory are Topolnitsa, Nishava and Maritsa, and larger bodies of water include 60 barrages and dams.[19]

Panoramic view of the Iskar Gorge
Panoramic view of the Iskar Gorge near Zasele

Demographics[edit]

Municipalities of Sofia province

Sofia Province has 247,489 inhabitants according to the 2011 Bulgarian Census.

The Sofia province (Област, oblast) contains 22 municipalities (singular: община, obshtina - plural: Общини, obshtini). The following table shows the names of each municipality in English and Cyrillic, the main town (in bold) or village, and the population of each as of 2009.

Municipality Cyrillic Pop.[24] Town/Village Pop.[24]
Anton Антон 1,650 Anton 1,650
Botevgrad Ботевград 36,183 Botevgrad 23,694
Bozhurishte Божурище 6,735 Bozhurishte 4,829
Chavdar Чавдар 1,252 Chavdar 1,252
Chelopech Челопеч 1,571 Chelopech 1,571
Dolna Banya Долна баня 4,917 Dolna Banya 4,917
Dragoman Драгоман 5,373 Dragoman 3,541
Elin Pelin Елин Пелин 22,015 Elin Pelin 7,293
Etropole Етрополе 13,773 Etropole 12,078
Godech Годеч 5,670 Godech 4,783
Gorna Malina Горна Малина 5,668 Gorna Malina 1,357
Ihtiman Ихтиман 18,903 Ihtiman 14,571
Koprivshtitsa Копривщица 2,547 Koprivshtitsa 2,547
Kostenets Костенец 14,154 Kostenets 7,762
Kostinbrod Костинброд 16,145 Kostinbrod 11,523
Mirkovo Мирково 2,534 Mirkovo 1,707
Pirdop Пирдоп 9,217 Pirdop 8,361
Pravets Правец 7,919 Pravets 4,440
Samokov Самоков 41,544 Samokov 30,085
Slivnitsa Сливница 9,511 Slivnitsa 7,790
Svoge Своге 22,557 Svoge 8,741
Zlatitsa Златица 6,274 Zlatitsa 5,529

Population[edit]

The following table represents the change of the population in the province after World War II:

Sofia Province
Year 1946 1956 1965 1975 1985 1992 2001 2005 2007 2009 2011
Population 319,045 313,906 306,913 310,975 305,358 289,962 273,240 262,032 258,397 253,010 247,489
Sources: National Statistical Institute,[25] „Census 2001“,[26] „Census 2011“,[27] „pop-stat.mashke.org“,??

The province had a population of 273 252 (also given as 273,240) according to a 2001 census, of which 49.2% were male and 50.8% were female.[28]

Ethnic groups[edit]

Ethnic groups in Sofia Province (2011 census)
Ethnic group Percentage
Bulgarians
91.4%
Roma
7.4%
others and indefinable
1.2%

Total population (2011 census): 247 489

Ethnic groups (2011 census):[29] Identified themselves: 230 781 persons:

  • Bulgarians: 210 974 (91,42%)
  • Roma: 17 079 (7,40%)
  • Others and indefinable: 2 728 (1,18%)

Ethnic groups in the province according to 2001 census:[30] 253 536 Bulgarians (92.8%),
16 748 Roma (Gypsy) (6.1%) and 2956 others and unspecified (1.1%).

Religion[edit]

Religions in Sofia Province (2011 census)[31]
Religious group Percentage
Orthodox Christian
67.72%
Protestant Christian
1.2%
Catholic Christian
0.26%
Muslim
0.2%
others and indefinable
30.58%

Religious adherence in the province according to 2001 census:[32]

Census 2001
religious adherence population %
Orthodox Christians 261 996 95.9%
Muslims 3 368 1.2%
Protestants 2 320 0.8%
Roman Catholics 186 0.1%
Other 1027 0.4%
Religion not mentioned 4 343 1.6%
total 273,240 100%

Economy[edit]

Copper smelter at Pirdop
The copper smelter in Pirdop

Sofia Province's Gross regional product (GRP) was 3.11 billion leva ($1.84 billion) in 2016, with a per capita value of 13,203 leva ($7810), the third-highest nationally.[33] That year, some 9,000 companies produced 8.12 billion leva ($4.8 billion) worth of goods and services. Nearly two-thirds of businesses are in the processing sector and operate at a profit.[34]

Mining has been developed on a large scale since the 1950s. The Chelopech copper mine opened in 1954 and has since produced 19.7 million tonnes of ore, peaking at 512,000 tonnes annually in 1988.[35] In 1958, a copper smelter and refinery near Pirdop began operations and blended concentrates from Chelopech and two other mines in the area, Elatsite and Assarel.[35] Since its privatisation in 1997,[36] the smelter has become Bulgaria's second-largest company as a subsidiary of Aurubis.[37] Canadian company Dundee Precious Metals Inc. has acquired the Chelopech mine, where gold concentrate is currently extracted alongside copper.[38]

Mondelez Bulgaria (formerly Kraft Foods Bulgaria) is the largest confectionery producer nationally,[39] largely owing to the production capacity of its chocolate factory in Svoge. The factory was established in 1901, privatised in 1993,[40] and upgraded in 2008 to produce up to 365,000,000 chocolate bars annually.[41] Beverages are manufactured near Kostinbrod, where the largest instant coffee factory in Southeast Europe,[41] as well as the main Coca-Cola bottling facility in Bulgaria, are located.[42]

Borovets resort slopes
Ski slopes at the Borovets resort

Botevgrad is a major microelectronics R&D and manufacturing centre.[43] Microchips, integrated circuits, sensors and automotive electronics are all produced by private companies on the grounds of the former "Mikroelektronika" state-owned factories.[44] Computer manufacturing was also thriving in Pravets during the Socialist era and by 1988 Bulgaria seemed set to become a major exporter of computers to the West.[45] Pravetz models manufactured in the town accounted for 40% of all computers used in the Eastern Bloc in the 1980s.[46] The Pravets manufacturing plant became defunct after the collapse of Communism,[47] but a high-voltage electronics factory owned by Siemens has taken its place.[48]

Bulgaria's oldest ski resort, Borovets, is located near Samokov.[49] Its high annual influx of tourists has given a boost to the local property market[50] and has drawn foreign investment in hospitality and recreation.[51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Topolnitsa Archeological Park: a glimpse into the Neolithic world". Bulgarian National Radio. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Исторически контекст". Svoge Heritage Program. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  3. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 2: The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and Other States of the Near East, from the Eighth to the Sixth Centuries BC by John Boardman, I. E. S. Edwards, E. Sollberger, and N. G. L. Hammond, ISBN 0-521-22717-8, 1992, page 600: "In the place of the vanished Treres and Tilataei we find the Serdi for whom there is no evidence before the first century BC. It has for long being supposed on convincing linguistic and archeological grounds that this tribe was of Celtic origin"
  4. ^ Fine 1991, p. 31.
  5. ^ Fine 1991, p. 29.
  6. ^ Fine 1991, pp. 38, 41.
  7. ^ Duychev 2017.
  8. ^ "Boyana Church". UNESCO. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  9. ^ a b "About Sofia Sveta Gora". Credo Bonum Foundation. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  10. ^ "Църквата св. Никола, село Буковец". Svoge Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  11. ^ Minkov, E.; Dinkov, M.; Georgiev, M. (1961). По река Искър. p. 64. 
  12. ^ a b "Serbo-Bulgarian War". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 30 June 2018. 
  13. ^ "Pantheon of the Immortals". Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Institute of History. Retrieved 30 June 2018. 
  14. ^ История на антифашистката борба в България (in Bulgarian). II 1943/1944 г. 1976. p. 39. 
  15. ^ a b "Thompson, William Frank". Winchester College. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  16. ^ "Кой е майор Томпсън и какво научи за смъртта му неговият брат проф. Томпсън". e-vestnik. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  17. ^ "A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson by Peter J Conradi – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  18. ^ "Who was Frank Thompson?". Vagabond. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  19. ^ a b c d e "Geography". Sofia Province Government. Retrieved 21 June 2018. 
  20. ^ a b "Колко е висок връх Мусала?". Geography '21. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  21. ^ a b c Geographic Dictionary of Bulgaria 1980, p. 537
  22. ^ Donchev & Karakashev 2004, p. 68
  23. ^ a b Geographic Dictionary of Bulgaria 1980, p. 225
  24. ^ a b (in Bulgarian) Population Chart as of 15 March 2009 from Directorate General: Civil Registration and Administrative Services
  25. ^ (in English) Bulgarian National Statistical Institute - Bulgarian provinces and municipalities in 2009
  26. ^ (in English) „WorldCityPopulation“
  27. ^ „pop-stat.mashke.org“
  28. ^ (in Bulgarian) Population to 01.03.2001 by Area and Sex from Bulgarian National Statistical Institute: Census 2001
  29. ^ Population by province, municipality, settlement and ethnic identification, by 01.02.2011; Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (in Bulgarian)
  30. ^ (in Bulgarian) Population to 01.03.2001 by District and Ethnic Group from Bulgarian National Statistical Institute: Census 2001
  31. ^ ""Religious composition: 2011 census"". pop-stat.mashke.org. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  32. ^ (in Bulgarian) Religious adherence in Bulgaria - census 2001
  33. ^ "БВП - регионално ниво". National Statistical Institute. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  34. ^ "Activity of non-financial enterprises in Sofia Province in 2016" (PDF). National Statistical Institute. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  35. ^ a b "Current Operations - Chelopech, Bulgaria Overview". Dundee Precious Metals Inc. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  36. ^ "Aurubis Bulgaria". Kapital. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  37. ^ "Kapital 100 - Bulgaria's largest companies in 2017". Kapital. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  38. ^ "Dundee Precious Metals gets permit for metals exploration in Bulgaria". SEENews. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  39. ^ ""Монделийз" е новото име на "Крафт фуудс България"". Kapital. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  40. ^ "Десет компании на върха на хранителната верига". Banker. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  41. ^ a b "Kraft Foods Opens Expanded BGN 40 M Chocolate Factory in Bulgaria's Svoge". Novinite. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  42. ^ ""Кока-Кола ХБК" разширява производствения си център в Костинброд". Kapital. 10 December 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  43. ^ "Най-динамичните/ В родния град на микроелектрониката". Kapital. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  44. ^ "Презареждане за бившия завод Микроелектроника в Ботевград". Mediapool. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  45. ^ Information, Reed Business (11 February 1988). "Perestroika and Personal Computers". New Scientist: 29. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  46. ^ "First Bulgarian laptop: the Pravetz legend braces for a comeback". Bulgarian National Radio. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  47. ^ "Bulgarian PC Brand Pravetz to Start Selling Laptops in January". Novinite. 29 December 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  48. ^ "Произведено в Правец. Oт Siemens". Manager. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  49. ^ "Bulgaria keen to impress ski world". Reuters. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  50. ^ "The Villages Around the Resorts in Bulgaria Attract with Cheap Properties". Novinite. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 
  51. ^ "British entrepreneurs invest in Bulgaria". BBC News. Retrieved 20 June 2018. 

Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]