Varna Province is located in northeastern Bulgaria. It comprises 12 municipalities:
Aksakovo (some of the villages - Botevo, Dobrogled, Dolishte, Ignatievo, General Kantardzhievo, Kichevo, Klimentovo, Krumovo, Kumanovo, Lyuben Karavelovo, Novakovo, Osenovo, Voditsa, etc.), Avren (including Benkovski, Bliznatsi, Bolyartsi, Dobri Dol, Dabravino, Kitka, Priseltsi, Ravna gora, Sadovo, Sindel, Zdravets, etc), Beloslav (including the town of Beloslav and the villages of Ezerovo, Strashimirovo, and Razdelna), Byala (including the town of Byala and the villages of Dyulino, Goritsa, Gospodinovo, etc.), Dalgopol (including Dalgopol, Boryana, Komunari, Krasimir, Lopushna, Medovets, Partizani, Sladka Voda, Tsonevo, Velichkovo), Devnya (with the villages of Kipra and Padina), Dolni Chiflik (Bardarevo, Detelina, Golitsa, Goren Chiflik, Grozdyovo, Krivini, Nova Shipka, Novo Oryahovo, Pchelnik, Rudnik, Solnik, Staro Oryahovo, Shkorpilovtsi, Venelin, and Yunets), Provadiya (including the villages of Barzitsa, Blaskovo, Bozveliysko, Chayka, Cherkovna, Chernook, Dobrina, Gradinarovo, Hrabrovo, Komarevo, Krivnya, Manastir, Nenovo, Ovchaga, Petrov Dol, Ravna, Slaveykovo, Snezhina, Staroselets, Tutrakantsi, Venchan, Zhitnitsa, and Zlatina), Suvorovo (Banovo, Chernevo, Drandar, Izgrev, Kalimantsi, Levski, Nikolaevka, and Prosechen), Valchidol (Brestak, Cherventsi, Dobrotich, Esenitsa, General Kiselovo, General Kolevo, Iskar, Izvornik, Kaloyan, Krakra, Oborishte, Radan Voyvoda, Shtipsko, Stefan Karadzha, Strahil, Voyvodino, and Zvanets), Varna (including the city of Varna and the suburban villages of Kamenar, Kazashko, Konstantinovo, Topoli, and Zvezditsa), Vetrino (including the villages of Belogradets, Dobroplodno, Gabarnitsa, Mlada Gvardiya, Momchilovo, Nevsha, Neofit Rilski, Sredno Selo, Vetrino, and Yagnilo).
The province's territory is 3,820 square kilometres. It borders the Black Sea and covers parts of the hilly Danubian Plain (including parts of the Frangen Plateau, South Dobruja, the Provadiya Plateau, Ludogorie, and the Avren Plateau), Eastern Stara Planina, the Varna—Devnya valley with the lakes (limans) of Varna and Beloslav, and the Kamchiya river valley. Other rivers include Provadiya, Devnya, and Batova, and the largest artificial lake is Tsonevo.
The Black Sea coast is hilly and verdant, mostly cliff, with a couple of rocky headlands (Cape Galata, Cape St. Athanasius), several expansive sand beaches, the largest of which, at the mouths of the rivers Kamchiya and Shkorpilovska, is nearly 13 km long and up to 200-300 m wide, and many small cove beaches. Agricultural lands cover 60% of the area, with fertile chernozem soils mostly in the north and west; forests—28.1% (with some of the oldest oak massives in the nation), mostly in the south; and urban zones—6.8%.
Natural resources include large deposits of rock salt, limestone, silica, and clays, all extensively utilized in local chemical, cement and glass manufacturing and construction; silica is also exported. Significant deposits of medicinal fango (mineral mud) are found in Lake Varna. The province abounds in thermal mineral waters. There are also natural gas reserves; the offshore Galata gas field, a relatively minor project with planned cumulative production of 2 billion cubic meters, is expected to provide up to 15% ot the nation's gas consumption for its lifetime. Manganese ore deposits are also found.
The climate inland is temperate, with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers, and akin to Mediterranean along the Black Sea coast, with milder winters and cooler summers.
The area has been populated at least since the Neolith and was a major centre of an Eneolithic culture with unique skills in metallurgy and seafaring, with a developed social structure and religion (Varna Necropolis, site of arguably the oldest man-made gold treasure in the world).
By the first millennium BC, is was inhabited by Thracians who dominated it throughout classical antiquity; by the end of the period they were largely Romanized. In the 6th century BC, an ancient Greek trading colony (apoikia), Odessos (Varna), was founded, becoming an enduring contact zone between Thracians and Greeks. In the 4th century, the province was included in the empire of Philip II, Alexander the Great and his diadochus Lysimachus.
By the first century AD, it was conquered by the Roman Empire. Under Emperor Diocletian, Marcianopolis (Devnya) became the centre of the Roman province of Moesia Secunda of the Diocese of Thrace; during Emperor Valens' wars with the Goths (366-369), this city was temporary capital of the empire. Both Marcianopolis and Odessus (the Roman name of Odessos) were major early Christian centres; it is believed that Saint Andrew founded the local Christian church and his disciple Ampliatus served as bishop at Odessus.
In the 6th century, Slavs' migrations altered the ethnic composition of the then Byzantine province, and in 680-681 it became the heartland of the First Bulgarian Empire, whose capital was perhaps initially near Varna, before it moved to Pliska. Two of the most significant scriptoria of the Preslav Literary School were located at Ravna (near Provadiya) and Varna.
The latter two cities were major fortresses and trade emporia of the Second Bulgarian Empire as well. The peasant war of Ivailo in the late 13th century started from the region, which at the time was plagued by Tatar raids and was finally subdued by the Ottomans in 1389. In 1444, the Battle of Varna was fought, as were several ground and naval battles of the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th and 19th century.
Under the Ottomans, the population became extremely diverse, with significant number of Turks and other Muslim peoples arriving from Asia Minor, the steppes north of the Black Sea, and the Caucasus, along with Orthodox Christian Gagauz, Armenians, and Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki, while many Bulgarians from the region were forcibly relocated to Asia Minor and, in the wake of the Russo-Turkish wars, up to 250,000 eastern Bulgarians were transferred to Russian Bessarabia and Crimea.
Compact Bulgarian population persisted throughout the Provadiya Plateau, Devnya Valley, and Eastern Stara Planina. Villagers from places such as Chenge (modern Asparuhovo, municipality of Dalgopol), Gulitsa (modern Golitsa, municipality of Dolni Chiflik), and neighbouring Erkech (modern Kozichino, Burgas Province) later colonized and returned the Bulgarian ethnic character to dozens of villages throughout northeastern and southeastern Bulgaria, including much of Varna province.
After the liberation of 1878, with the exodus of most Turks and Greeks and the migrations of Bulgarians from other parts of Bulgaria, mostly Stara Planina, as well as North Dobruja, Asia Minor, Bessarabia, and later from Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, ethnic diversity gradually gave way to Bulgarian predominance.
The province in currently second only to Sofia in foreign direct investment; its GDP per capita is higher and its unemployment lower than the national averages. Per capita income is fifth highest in the nation (2007). The economy is service-oriented; it is responsible for over 30% ot the nation's total revenue in tourism (2004). (See also the list of coastal resorts, beaches and locales below.)
It is also an important communications and transportation hub with the Port of Varna on the Black Sea and inland waterways, the International Airport of Varna, the Varna railway ferry terminal, parts of several railway lines (including the oldest one in Bulgaria, Rousse-Varna, opened 1866) and junctions (Sindel, Razdelna, Komunari), and portions of two of the nation's motorways (Haemus and Cherno More). Varna is the easternmost destination of Pan-European transport corridor 8 and is closely connected to corridors 7 and 9 via Rousse.
In June of 2007, Eni and Gazprom disclosed the South Stream project whereby a 900 km-long offshore natural gas pipeline from Russia's Dzhubga with annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters is planned to come ashore possibly at Pasha dere, near the Galata offshore gas field, en route to Italy and Austria.
Manufacturing is concentrated mostly in the Varna-Devnya Industrial Complex and Provadiya. Agriculture (notably wheat, fruit, wineries) and forestry are also of economic significance. The province is a major education and international culture centre with five universities, several other higher learning and research institutions, numerous museums, performing arts institutions, and hosted international events.