Economy of Rhodope

Services, tourism, industry and agriculture dominate the economy of the Rhodopes region.

Livestock breeding, forestry and tobacco are the most important agricultural activities. Due to the large Muslim population the number of pigs is relatively low but there are many sheep which are traditional for the Rhodopes. Tobacco is grown in the Eastern Rhodopes and forms a large part of the total national production.

The industrial sector is well-developed. One of the largest industries in the area is mining. There are around 80 mines for lead and zinc whose reserves are among the largest in Europe. They are situated mainly in central parts of the mountain and along the border with Greece as well as the to the east. Kardzhali Province is rich in non-metalliferrous minerals and gold. There are also small reserves of chromite and iron ore as well as significant impurities of rare metals in the lead and zinc ores. There are several flotation factories which enrich the ores before it is sent to the large lead and zinc refineries in Kardzhali and Plovdiv. Machinery is developed in Smolyan, Kardzhali, Devin, Bratsigovo, Ivailovgrad and others; there is a pharmaceutical plant in Pestera. Some of the centers of textile industry include Zlatograd, Smolyan, Madan, Laki. Timber industry is developed mainly in the western parts where there are some of the most important forest massifs in the Balkan Peninsula. The Phodopes are one of the main hydro-power generation regions of the country with a number of major HPPs such as "Batak", "Peshtera", "Aleko", "Studen Kladenets", "Kardzhali", "Vacha" and others.

Nowadays tourism is an important industry with even growing significance. Pamporovo and Chepelare are famous winter resorts and during summer there are a number of resorts, camp sites and refuges on the shores of the dams or in the green valleys. The caves along the Greek border such as Yagodinska Cave, Uhlovitsa, Devil's Throat Cave, Snezhanka (near Peshtera) and