The Balkan Mountains
The Balkan Mountains to the south are not the barrier that they appear on most maps, and low passes connect the north and south sides, the Shipka Pass (4,377 feet) being the most important. One of the branches of the Danube, the Isker, cuts through the Balkan range and provides a route to the capital, Sofia. The whole mountain system trends downward to the Black Sea. A depression due to a sharp down-faulting of the land lies along its southern base. It is marked by several hot springs where thermal bathing resorts have arisen. South of this depression lie the so-called anti-Balkans, a smaller, more southerly range, which in turn separates the depression from the Maritsa Valley. A little coal, small deposits of copper, lead, and zinc, abundant forests of oak and beech, facilities for waterpower, and abundance of wool from the sheep of the mountains all favor the development of small home industries. Even more important, however, is the character of the people. The Bulgarians, not only here, but elsewhere, have an industrious quality and a degree of intelligence which cause home handicrafts to be more widely developed than in most parts of eastern or southern Europe. In this respect they resemble the Swiss and the Bavarians.