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Rhodope(rŏd`əpē), Bulg. Rodopi Planina, Gr. Rodope, mountain range of the Balkan Peninsula, extending c.200 mi (320 km) from the Struma River, SE Bulgaria, to the lower Maritsa River, NE Greece. It consists of three sections—the Rhodope, Pirin Planina, and Rila Planina—and its highest peak, Musala, rises to 9,596 ft (2,925 m). The rugged range has few passes and has long hindered communications between the upper Maritsa valley and the coastal plain.
mountains on the Balkan Peninsula, in Bulgaria and Greece. The range is approximately 240 km long and has elevations reaching 2,191 m (Mount Goljam Perelik). It consists of a series of massifs that gradually descend toward the east.
Island mountains rising above ancient erosion surfaces are characteristic of the western Rhodopes. In the eastern Rhodopes rugged medium and low relief predominates. The mountains are composed of limestones, sandstones, and crystalline and volcanic rock. Annual precipitation totals 1,000 mm in the west and 650 mm in the east. The rivers in the Maritsa and Mesta river basins are full of rapids and have considerable water power reserves. Hydroelectric systems and reservoirs are located on the Arda and Vŭcha rivers, which are tributaries of the Maritsa.
Brush of the maquis and shibliak type and groves of live oak grow on the lower southern slopes of the Rhodope Mountains, and oak, beech, and coniferous forests grow on the northern slopes. Montane meadows and brush are found at elevations of 1,800–2,000 m.
There is logging in the western Rhodopes. The lower slopes of the eastern Rhodopes (reaching elevations of 700 m) have tobacco plantations and vineyards. There are deposits of iron ore in Khaskovo, chrome in Krumovgrad, and complex metals in Madan.
There are many mineral springs in the Rhodope Mountains. Balneologic and climatic health resorts are located in Narečn, Velingrad, Vasil Kolarov, and elsewhere in Bulgaria. The Rhodope Mountains are a popular center for tourism.
N. N. RYBIN