The cross-border area is located in South–Eastern Europe, at the Balkan Peninsula and includes districts: Burgas, Yambol and Haskovo in Republic of Bulgaria and the provinces Edirne and Kırklareli in the Republic of Turkey. The territory has an extent of about 29.000 km² and the common border of both countries stretches along 288 km (including three operating border crossings) and has a total population of 1,5 Million inhabitants (784.480 inhabitants on the Bulgarian area and 742.000 inhabitants on the Turkish area. The area in Bulgaria represents 14.99 % of the total territory of the country respectively the area in Turkey represents 1.58 % of total country territory. Main cities of the region are Burgas (211.535 inhabitants), Yambol (72.778) and Haskovo (92.788) in Bulgaria and Edirne (148.474) and Kırklareli (61.880) in Turkey. Generally, the CBC region shows a very low population density of 54,9 inhabitants/km² in Burgas, 45,3 inhabitants/km² in Haskovo and 39,7 inhabitants/km² in Yambol. Edirne has a population density of 64,7 inhabitants/km², Kırklareli of 53 inhabitants/km².
The geographical structure of the area alternates from altitude 710 m to 1000 m and includes plains, low altitude valleys, plateaus and hilly areas, with some mountain features. In the North-West the area borders to the Eastern Rhodopi Mountains and to the low branches of the Sakar Mountain in Bulgaria, and on the South-west to the Aegean Sea (Saros Gulf) in Turkey. In the North-East the co-operation area borders to the Balkan Range in Bulgaria, and in the South-East to Strandja/Yildiz Mountain and Black Sea littoral presented both in Bulgaria and in Turkey. The water reserves of the area comprise both surface and ground waters. Maritsa/Meric River is the biggest river on the Balkan Peninsula. Tundja/Tunca River is another important one in the region. The region of Strandja/Yildiz Mountain is the richest on water resources in the entire Thracian – Strandja/Yildiz area. Five rivers take their sources from the Strandja/Yildiz Mountain. The largest of them are Ropotamo, Dyavolska and Veleka/Değirmendere.
Also the surface waters are presented by several big lakes situated on the Bulgarian side. The ground water resources consist of mineral springs and thermal waters. Joint influence of the Black Sea and Aegean Sea; Strandja, Sakar, Balkan Range and Eastern Rhodopes Mountains as well as Maritza and Tundja/Tunca Rivers set the patterns of the climate over the cooperation area. The climate varies from transitional-continental to continental-Mediterranean (mild winters, hot summers). The mountains are generally forested with deciduous trees and some evergreen. Different types of mineral resources are presented in the co-operation area - non-metallic mineral deposits (limestone, marble, gabbro, granite, asbestos and argil), metal deposits (polimetallic ore - mainly lead, zinc, and silver) and brown coal deposits on the Bulgarian side. On the Turkish side there are deposits of coal, chrome, iron, copper, bauxite, marble and sulphur. There are considerable sources of sea-salt in the Black Sea coastal areas of the cooperation area.
Burgas is a city on the Bulgarian Southern Black Sea coast. It developed more actively in the beginning of 20th century and today it is a large industrial and tourism center. Built by the sea and surrounded by lakes, Burgas offers relatively mild weather characterized by cooler summers and warmer winters. The population of the city is 211.535. The city is surrounded by three lakes– Vaya (also known as the Burgas lake), Atanaskovsko lake and Mandrensko lake.
The territory of Burgas was populated since ancient times. However at that period most of the lands that today Burgas covers were small fisherman villages and fortifications. It was hard to flourish under the pressure of the better developed at that period trade centers Nesebar and Sozopol.
The earliest signs of life in the region date back 3000 years, to the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age. The favorable conditions on the fertile plain, around the sea, have brought people here from early antiquity. The biggest mark was left by the Thracians who made the region rich in archaeological finds (from around 4th c B.C.). This includes their sanctuary at Beglik Tash along the south coast and a burial mound near Sunny Beach. They built the mineral baths of Aqua Calidae and the fortress Tyrsis.
Under Darius I became part of the Achaemenid Empire, before the Odrysian kingdom was built. Greeks from Apollonia built in area of Sladkite kladenzi (today Pobeda-neighbourhood) a marketplace for trade with the Tracians kings.
During the rule of the Ancient Romans, near Burgas, Colonia Flavia Deultemsium (or Dibaltum, or Develtum) was established as a military colony for veterans by Vespasian. The Romans built the Colonia on the main road Via Pontica. It was the second most important city in the province Haemimontus.
In the Middle Ages, there were important settlements in the area: the fortress Skafida, Poros, Rusokastron, the Baths called Aqua Calidae and used by Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman Emperors; a small fortress called Pyrgos was erected where Burgas is today and was most probably used as a watchtower. Under the Byzantine Empire it became an important city on the Black Sea coast.
In 1206 the Latin Emperor Henry of Flanders destroyed Aquae Calidae, which was known as Thermopolis at this time, The baths were later rebuilt by the Byzantines and Bulgarians.
It was only in the 17th century that a settlement renamed to Ahelo-Pirgas grew in the modern area of the city. It was later renamed to Burgas again and had only about 3,000 inhabitants. By the mid-19th century it had recovered its economic prominence through the growth of craftsmanship and the export of grain.
In the 17th and 18th centuries Burgas became an important port for cereal and possesses its own grain measure, the Burgas-Kile. The town was the regional centre of trade and administrative centre of the Burgas Kaaza. In 1865 the port of Burgas was after Trapezunt the second most important Ottoman port in the Black Sea. Burgas was at this time the major centre on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.
From the late 19th century Burgas became an important economic and industry center. The first development plan of the city was adopted in 1891 and the city's layout and appearance changed, especially through the newly constructed public buildings. In 1888, the city library was founded, in 1891 the sea garden was created and in 1897 the Cathedral of the Holy brothers Cyril and Methodius was built – one of the symbols of the city.
The opening of the railway line to Plovdiv on 27 May 1890 and the deep water port in 1903 were important stages of this boom and led to the rapid industrialization of the city.
Today the local port is the largest in Bulgaria adding significantly to the regional economy. Burgas also hosts annual national exhibitions and international festivals and has a vibrant student population of over 6,000 that add to the city's appeal. The historical society also maintains open-air museums at Beglik Tash and Develtum.
The city of Burgas developed after the beginning of the 20th century and most of the buildings in the city centre date from this time. The city Gallery of Fine Arts is hosted by a secession style synagogue. In the city they are several museums - Ethnographic Museum, Archaeological Museum, Historical Museum, Nature and Science Museum. There are many galleries as well, some of them are Bogoridi, Briz - Boiadzhiev, and Petko Zadgorski Art Gallery.
There are some interesting events in Burgas as well - The Flora is international exhibition for flowers held annually since 1985. It takes place in pavilions in the Sea Garden (Morksa gradina) near the North Beach. The Flora is held usually in the end of April - beginning of May but most of the flower compositions stay for the public until the late summer.
For ornithologists Burgas can offer significant experience - Poda is protected area part of huge wetland area, vitally important as a resting station for many birds using the East European migration route known as the Via Ponticum. As well as many waders, gulls and terns there are also rare and threatened species such as Pygmy cormorants, Dalmation pelicans and Red-breasted geese which may be seen feeding here. For birdwatchers from other countries the Burgas region is famous as a migration viewpoint.
The city has a huge park called Sea Garden (Morska gradina) with variety of green species and fantastic view to the Burgas Bay. The garden starts from the central bus and train station. There are small stairs to the sandy beach and in summer the coast is full of cafes and nightclubs.
In the Sea Garden tourist can find place called Mosta (the Bridge) is a T-shaped pier at the park - the left branch of the "T" has stairs up to a viewing platform, local boys practice diving off the other branch. It's a nice place for a walk, or you can sit at the nearby cafe and watch the world go by.
Walking in the garden little by little it becomes wilder and tourist can reach the salt-pans. The 'salt-factories' produce many tons of salt every year. A small train runs across the salt-pans, riding it you can see how salt is made and refined. The salt-pans are part of the Atanasovsko lake waters.
Due to the fact that the city is a trade center, it has always been open to new religions and foreigners. The St Kiril and Metodii church is located in the city center. Also tourists can visit the Armenian church located next to Bulgaria Hotel.
In summer tourists can go surfing and kite-surfing in the bay. There are a few surf and sea sports schools, which you can find on the North Beach.
International Folklore Festival is one of the oldest international music events in the city. It started in 1965 as festival for Balkan dances and music but later expanded and until today more than 18 000 dancers from more than 400 dance formations from all over the world have been part of it. The festival is held at the end of August in number of venues - Open Air Theatre and scenes in the city garden and central squares. It also offers seminars on the folklore traditions, souvenir shopping and traditional arts and crafts demonstrations.
One of the most acient cities in the region is Edirne. Edirne is a city in Eastern Thrace, in northwest Turkey. It lies on the gently rolling Thracian plains. This city is very old at the same time it has comprehensive cultural wealth. Edirne is one of the oldest settlements of both Thrace and Anatolia. Dating back to the Neolithic age 7.000-6.000 B.C. With last excavations, examples of prehistoric monuments – dolmens, menhirs and tumulus – can be seen from its outskirts, notably in the Çardakaltı prehistoric settlement and in Lalapasa.
The various historical names Edirne has had indicate the many historical periods it has been through. From Odrisia – founded by the Thracian civilisation Odryses in the 5th century B.C. – to Hadrianopolis – after Roman Emperor Hadrian who re-founded the city in the 2nd (123-124) century A.C., it was named Edirne by Sultan Murad I in 1361. As an economic and commercial centre, life in Edirne was rich and colourful and bazaars and caravanserais spread around the city. Edirne is a city of rivers – the Meriç, Arda and Tunca rivers all meet at Edirne and join the Ergene river in the south. Edirne has become famous for the historical bridges on these many rivers – Gazi Mihal bridge built in 1420 is the oldest and Uzunköprü bridge the longest (1 392 m long) with 174 arches. The Museums preserve and reflect the history and traditions of the city. The Edirne city has a rich cultural heritage that makes it a living museum. That is why, for example, Edirne City was awareded “2008 European Tourist Destination of Excellence in Intangible Heritage”
The imperial past is what makes Edirne interesting, from huge Ottoman imperial complexes to neo-classical architecture of downtown shops, although at first all you’ll see will be concrete apartment blocks when entering the city (and Selimiye Mosque right in front of you).
The city was founded as Hadrianopolis, named for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This name is still used in the Modern Greek. The name Adrianople was used in English, until the Turkish adoption of Latin alphabet in 1928 made Edirne the internationally recognized name.
Edirne is home to the traditional oil-wrestling tournament called Kırkpınar, which is held every year in June. Another international festival in Edirne is Kakava, a celebration of Roma people held on 5 May each year.
Edirne is well known for the local dish "ciğer tava" (breaded and deep-fried liver) served often with cacık, diluted yogurt with chopped cucumber.
Handmade broom with mirror is one of the cultural images of the city. In old times, every bride brought a broom with mirror to her new home so it was an important part of the weddings. It is possible to see many small handmade brooms with mirror in souvenir shops.