an administrative and territorial unit in southern Bulgaria, located in the Rhodope Mountains. Area, 3,5000 sq km. Population, 190,000 (1975). The administrative center is the city of Smolian.
The population of Smolian District is concentrated in small intermontane basins and in the narrow valleys of various tributaries of the Maritsa River. The area now occupied by Smolian District was once one of the most backward agricultural regions of Bulgaria. Since the establishment of people’s power, it has become industrially developed. The main branches of industry are the mining and concentration of lead and zinc ores (main centers in Rudozem, Erma-Reka, and Lyki) and logging and sawmilling (primarily wood of coniferous trees). The Dospat-Vycha hydroelectric system is a major power-producing complex.
The best developed branches of agriculture are tobacco growing (in the eastern part of the district), livestock raising on mountain pastures, and potato growing. The district has mountain climatic health resorts and balneological health resorts. The Orfei tourist and recreation complex is located in Smolian District. [23–1863–]