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History

The “Geography” Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography (NIGGG) is a successor of the Institute of Geography under BAS (the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), which existed during the period of 1950-2010.

The Institute of Geography was established as an independent unit within the BAS system in 1950. The eminent physical geographer, Corresponding Member, Prof. Zhivko Galabov, became its first director. By the early 1970s the Institute studied the fundamentals of physical and economic geography of modern Bulgaria. The results were published in two pioneering works: the monograph “Geography of Bulgaria” in two volumes, and the National Geographic Atlas.

Over the years 1972-1988 the Instituted functioned within the Centre of Earth Sciences, where it occupied a special place, as it studied the interaction between nature and society in Bulgaria. This is what distinguished the Institute from the other scientific units in the group of Earth Sciences, doing research just on certain elements or aspects of nature, population, economy, regionalization and regional development of the country. The Institute of Geography was among the first research organizations, involved in the investigation of different aspects of environmental protection. Its scientific staff during this period continued to grow and the following sections were set up:

  • Geomorphology and Cartography
  • Climatology and Hydrology
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Socio-Economic Geography
  • Geography of Population and Settlements

In the beginning of the 1980s the Institute coordinated the most complex survey of the natural and socio-economic potential of the Bulgarian mountains, the results of which were published in the two-volume monograph “The Natural and Economic Potential of the Mountains in Bulgaria” (1989). During the same period the first three-volume work in the field of regional geography, titled “Geography of Bulgaria” (1989) came out. It suggested the pattern of physical geographical zoning and economic-geographical regionalization of the country.

The political and economic reforms after 1989 marked the beginning of the modern period in the development of the Institute of Geography. The sections “Physical Geography” and “Economic Geography” and the Centre of Geo-Informatics were set up. The structural changes aimed to develop an adequate infrastructure and to encourage the interactions with national, and particularly with international research organizations and networks. The Institute of Geography actively participated in the elaboration of important governmental documents such as the National Plan and the National Strategy for Regional Development, the Demographic Strategy of Bulgaria, monographers Geography of Bulgaria” (1997) and “Geography of Bulgaria” (2002) as well as conceptions and strategies at a regional and local level.

Due to BAS restructuring, the Institute of Geography merged with the Geophysical Institute, the Central Laboratory of Geodesy and the Central Laboratory of Seismic Mechanics and Earthquake Engineering and thus in July, 2010 it was transformed into “Geography” Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography (NIGGG).