GDP for the North-Eastern region (2011): 7 503 mil. BGN

Area of the city of Varna: 65 km2 (25 sq mi)

Population (2012):

  • City: 334 688
  • Density: 1 718/km2 (4 450/sq mi)


Labour Market

  • Employees under labour contract as of 2011: 149 361
  • Average annual wages and salaries of the employees under labour contract in Varna as of 2011: 8 144 BGN
  • Average annual wages and salaries of the employees under labour contract in the North-Eastern region as of 2011: 7 350 BGN
  • Employed population of 15 – 64 years of age in Varna as of 2012: 176 300; for the whole North-Eastern region: 359 400
  • Employment rates of population of 15 – 64 years of age in Varna as of 2012: 1%
  • Unemployed population of 15 – 64 years of age in Varna as of 2012: 34 900
  • Unemployment rate of population aged 15 – 64 years in Varna of as of 2012: 16.5%
  • Unemployed population of 15 – 64 years of age in the North-Eastern region as of 2012: 80 800
  • Unemployment rate of population aged 15 – 64 years in the North-Eastern region as of 2012: 18.8%



Regional Specialization

The following sectors are particularly developed in the region:

  • Chemical products production (64 companies, 1 971 employees as of 2012)
  • Vehicle production, excluding automobiles (24 companies, 798 employees as of 2012)
  • Repairs and installing of machines and equipment (490 companies, 4 720 employees as of 2012)
  • Whole- and retail sale of automobiles and motorcycles, technical service and repairs (1 279 companies, 4 120 employees as of 2012)
  • Information and Communication Technologies



Development Potential

  • This region is attractive for businesses and for growing foreign investments because of its strategic location and the high availability of transport infrastructure, such as Pan-European transport corridors, roads and railroads, an international port, and an international airport.
  • There is potential to develop combined river and sea transport (the Danube and the Black Sea) or sea and road/railroad transport of cargoes, which could become an important sector for the economy of the region.
  • This region has the potential to develop as an eastern gateway of the EU and may use cross-border and transnational cooperation to create better conditions for communication between the countries of Central and Western Europe and Asia.
  • Varna is the major urban hub of the region. It has national/transnational importance according to the European classification of Functional Urban Areas (FUAs) and plays the role of an European gateway. It has the potential to grow into a Metropolitan European Growth Area (MEGA).
  • Nature is well preserved and very beautiful with lots of protected areas, great biodiversity and rich cultural heritage. It all helps develop a strong tourist sector including seaside holidaymaking, yachting, or cultural, nature or rural tourism. It is also good for the development of fisheries and aquaculture.
  • This region has significant potential to expand the use of renewables. Conditions are excellent for wind power generation because coastal areas belong to the so called Large-scale Wind Power zone. The location is also good for photovoltaic power generation and it is possible to deploy solar and PV installations. Geothermal energy is yet another option for the North-Eastern region.


The North-Eastern region is a leader in tourism compared with the other regions of the country with a 30.4% share of the total revenue from tourism for 2011 and a 29.2% share of the country’s occupancy capacity.


Foreign Direct Investments in non-financial enterprises in Varna as of 2011 (thousand EUR): 1 500 599.7



There are several pieces of road infrastructure which play a major role in integrating this region with the national and Pan-European road networks: the Е-772 class one road (connecting Yablanitsa, Veliko Tarnovo, and Shoumen), the І-7 (connecting Silistra, Shoumen, Yambol, and Elhovo), the Е-70 (connecting Rousse and Varna), and the Е-87 (connecting Durankulak, Varna, Bourgas, Sozopol, and Malko Tarnovo). Four border checkpoints operate on the territory of this region. Two of them are land checkpoints on the border with Romania; the other two are sea checkpoints located in the Port of Varna plus the RORO terminal and the Port of Balchik.

Railroad transport is represented by three major routes accommodating both passenger and freight trains. In 2010, the existing operational railways in the region represented 11.8% of the railroad network of the country.

Maritime transport is well developed. The international Port of Varna is an important hub for Bulgaria’s transport system, which handles a large portion of the country’s imports and exports. The port plays an important role in the overall development of the region’s economy and in its capacity as a hub for traffic coming through Pan-European transport corridors 7, 8 and 9, it greatly facilitates the transit of cargoes between Europe and the Middle and Far East. The Port of Balchik is customized to the export of grain, while the Deep Water Port of Silistra on the river Danube, scheduled for an upgrade, will complement the Port of Rousse.

Air transport is represented by the Varna Airport (shareholder company), which has the status of an international airport. Almost 99% of the passenger flow happens during the four months of summer when tourists come in.



Educational System

In terms of educational services, this region has the second largest number of inhabitants holding a university degree after the South-Western region, and is a leader in terms of its network of educational establishments. It has six universities (five in Varna and one in Shoumen) and two colleges (in Varna and Dobrich), which provide the necessary setup to develop research centres.


Cultural Heritage

There are 3 180 immovable cultural assets in the region, including the Madara Rider on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The ancient Bulgarian capitals of Pliska and Preslav located in this region have been transformed into national archaeological reserves. There are also ethnographic theme parks. The region has 22 museums and 7 art galleries. Varna hosts about 15 international festivals, such as the International Varna Summer Festival, the International Ballet Competition, the International Jazz Festival, the International Folklore Festival, etc.