Vratsa is a province of north western Bulgaria, neighbouring Romania. Its main city is Vratsa, and other municipalities are Borovan, Byala Slatina, Hayredin, Kozloduy, Krivodol, Mezdra, Miziya, Oryahovo, and Roman.
The region is bordered to the north by the Danube, and to the south by Sofia Province. It has an area of 3,621.8 km². The population of 235,189 inhabitants is distributed over 10 municipalities.
Gas, water, electricity and telecommunications
The regional road system consists of 1277 km of the republican road system. Predominating are the 4th class roads. Their maintenance and control are under the responsibilities of the municipalities. The rehabilitation of these roads is a priority of the regional policy. Mezdra is a key railway station connecting the major cities in Bulgaria. The passenger's transport is ensured by 116 buses and 26 trolleys. The telecommunication network consists of 4 regional post stations - Vratsa
, Byala Slatina
, and 116 local post offices. They offer universal post services including express mail and international courier services EMS
. In the town of Vratsa there are branch offices of Mobiltel
, Globul and Vivatel. The water supply system was envisaged to be improved and sewerage was mostly built, but there is a program for modernization all over the province, including the smaller villages. The nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, in the northern part of the province, is the major supplier of electricity in Bulgaria.
Roads, railroads and airports
The administrative capital of the province is Vratsa in the southern parts, about 116 km from Sofia
. The distance to the major cities is as follows: Vratsa - Varna 414 km, Vratsa - Plovdiv
217km; Vratsa - Pleven
108 km; Vratsa - Burgas
416 km. The international road E79 passes through the province. The major European port and ferry complex Oryahovo
, on the river Danube, is situated in Oryahovo municipality.
The economically active population is 48,892, employed as follows: in the services sector - 27,685, in the industry - 19,020, in the agriculture - 2,187. The population has increased since the year 2000, and are mostly in private labour employment. The rate of unemployment is higher than the Bulgarian average, and the aim of the provincial policy is to implement programs to resolve this problem. The labour force distribution in the basic economic sectors is the following - in the industry - 38.9%, in the agriculture - 4.5 % and in services - 56.6%. The decrease of the number and relative share of the employees in the public sector is matched by an increase in the private sector. The proportion of workforce in state and private sectors is 44.2 % to 55.8%. The higher level of education stipulates a higher employment rate. In the province predominates the number of employees of secondary education. On the labour market, the number of specialists of higher education decreases in favour of those without education. The average salary level for the province is 297 levs
Current priority industry sectors
The natural peculiarities of Vratsa Province contribute to the development of agriculture, lumber industry and electricity production. Major companies are the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, of national importance; Chimco AD - fertilizer factory, Beloizvorski cement - cement factory and brewery; Ledenika AD - joint stock company; Centromet AD - centrifugal casting; Vratitsa LTD - yarns, raw and finished fabrics, sewing articles; OMK Holding - machining and machinery, tooling equipment, foundry, special production; Hemus-M AD - limestone, slabs, tiles, blocks, columns; Sunnytex AD - production of household linen, weaving etc.; Metizi AD - steel wires, ropes and their products, spare parts; Variana LTD - concrete articles, greyiron cast, metal safes; Enemona Holding - civil engineering.
Sectors for development
The main projects are related to the development of the transport infrastructure, water supply and sewerage, agriculture - vegetables, cattle breeding, silk-worm breeding, mushroom cultivation, development and strengthening of the existing industrial plants, development of alternative forms of tourism - rural, ecotourism, cultural, religious, spaeology, mountaineering, hang gliding etc. The long-term strategy for the regional economy is to promote small and medium enterprises as an alternative way to develop the industry.
Schools, universities and job training
Because of the close distance to the capital Sofia (site of the main universities in Bulgaria), only one local centre of New Bulgarian University, one pedagogical college - branch of the Veliko Tarnovo University
and one medical college exists in the province. The vocational schools have their main disciplines mostly in agricultural techniques, mechanics and electrotechnics, chemical technologies, civil engineering and construction, language school and mathematical secondary school. The total number of primary schools in the province is 54, 14 of them situated in the municipality of Vratsa and all state-owned. There is only one private school, Europe Schools for English Language and Management.
At present, there are 15 branches of Bulgarian banks. The insurance companies have their 12 branches in the province.
The medical services are provided in 6 hospitals - 2 of them in the main city of the province, Vratsa. As a result of the reforms in health care, there are also private medical services available, as well as stomatological services.
Culture, recreation and resources
Three hotels are available within the province - Valdi Palace, Hotel Tourist in the town and Vratsa, and Hotel Istar in the town of Kozloduy. In the surroundings of Vratsa - 12 kilometres inside the mountain there is a modern centre for recreation with facilities such as sauna, fitness suite and others. Within the territory of the province is the Vrachanski Balkan Natural Park
that offers excellent opportunities for recreation; there is Vrachanski Karst reserve, the cave Ledenika
of international importance, and the Vratsa Gorge near the town of Vratsa.