Carpathian Mountains

Carpathian Mountains

The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians (Carpaţi; Czech, Polish and Slovak: Karpaty; Ukrainian: Карпати (Karpaty); German: Karpaten; Serbian: Karpati / Карпати; Hungarian: Kárpátok) are a range of mountains forming an arc of roughly 1,500 km across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the largest mountain range in Europe. They provide the habitat for the largest populations in Europe of brown bears, wolves, chamois and lynxes, with the highest concentration in Romania, as well as over one third of all European plant species.

The chain of mountain ranges stretches in an arc from the Czech Republic in the northwest to Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine and Romania in the east, to the Iron Gates on the Danube River between Romania and Serbia in the south. The highest range within the Carpathians are the Tatras, on the border of Poland and Slovakia, where the highest peaks exceed 2600 meters in elevation, followed by the Southern Carpathians in Romania, where the highest peaks exceed 2500 meters in elevation. The Carpathian chain is usually divided into three major parts: the Western Carpathians (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary), the Eastern Carpathians (Southeastern Poland, Eastern Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania) and the Southern Carpathians (Romania, Serbia).

The most important cities in or near the Carpathians are Bratislava and Košice in Slovakia, Krakow in Poland, Cluj-Napoca and Braşov in Romania, and Miskolc in Hungary.


The name 'Karpetes' may ultimately be from the Proto Indo-European root *sker-/*ker-, from which comes the Albanian word kar (rock), and Czech word skála (rock, cliff). perhaps by Dacian cognate which meant 'mountain,' rock, or rugged (cf. Old Norse harfr "harrow", Middle Low German shcarf "potsherd", Lithuanian kar~pas "cut, hack, notch", Latvian cìrpt "to shear, clip"). Archaic Polish word karpa meant "rugged irregularities, underwater obstacles/rocks, rugged roots or trunks". The more common word skarpa is sharp cliff or other vertical terrain. Otherwise, the name may instead come from IE *kwerp "to turn", akin to Old English hweorfan "to turn, change" and Greek karpós "wrist", perhaps referring to the way the mountain range bends or veers in an L-shape.

In late Roman documents, the Eastern Carpathian Mountains were referred to as Montes Sarmatici. The Western Carpathians were called Carpates. The name Carpates is first recorded in Ptolemy's second century book Geographia. Around 310 AD the Carpathians are mentioned as Montes Serrorum by the Flavius Galerius Valerius Licinianus Licinius.

The name of the Carpi, a Dacian tribe may have been derived from the name of the Carpathian Mountains. Name recorded in late Roman Empire documents (Zosimus) as living until 381 on the Eastern Carpathian slopes. Alternatively the mountain range's name may be derived from the Dacian tribe.

In Hungarian XIII- i XIV century Hungarian documents named the mountains Thorchal, Tarczal or less frequently Montes Nivium.

In the Scandinavian Hervarar saga, which describes ancient Germanic legends about battles between Goths and Huns, the name Karpates appears in the predictable Germanic form as Harvaða fjöllum (see Grimm's law).


The Carpathians begin on the Danube near Bratislava. They surround Transcarpathia and Transylvania in a large semicircle, sweeping towards the south-east, and end on the Danube near Orşova, in Romania. The total length of the Carpathians is over 1,500 km, and the mountain chain's width varies between 12 and 500 km. The greatest width of the Carpathians corresponds with its highest altitudes. The system attains its greatest breadth in the Transylvanian plateau and in the meridian of the Tatra group (the highest range, with Gerlachovský štít, at 2,655 m (8,705 feet) above sea level in Slovak territory near the Polish border). It covers an area of 190,000 km² and, after the Alps, is the most extensive mountain system in Europe.

Although commonly referred to as a mountain chain, the Carpathians do not actually form an uninterrupted chain of mountains. Rather, they consist of several orographically and geologically distinctive groups, presenting as great a structural variety as the Alps. The Carpathians, which in only a few places attain an altitude of over 2,500 m, lack the bold peaks, extensive snow-fields, large glaciers, high waterfalls, and numerous large lakes that are common in the Alps. No area of the Carpathian range is covered in snow year-round and there are no glaciers. The Carpathians at their highest altitude are only as high as the Middle Region of the Alps, with which they share a common appearance, climate, and flora.

The Carpathians are separated from the Alps by the Danube. The two ranges meet only at one point: the Leitha Mountains at Bratislava. The river also separates them from the Stara Planina, or "Balkan Mountains," at Orşova, Romania. The valley of the March and Oder separates the Carpathians from the Silesian and Moravian chains, which belong to the middle wing of the great Central Mountain System of Europe. Unlike the other wings of the system, the Carpathians, which form the watershed between the northern seas and the Black Sea, are surrounded on all sides by plains, namely the Pannonian plain on the southwest, the plain of the Lower Danube (Romania) on the south, and the Galician plain on the northeast.

Cities and towns

Important cities and towns in or near the Carpathians are, ordered by decreasing population: Bratislava (Slovakia, 426,091), Cluj-Napoca (Romania, 310,243), Braşov (Romania, 284,596), Košice (Slovakia, 234,596), Oradea (Romania, 206,614), Miskolc (Hungary, 178,950), Sibiu (Romania, 154,892), Târgu Mureş (Romania, 146,000), Baia Mare (Romania, 137,976), Tarnów (Poland, 117,109), Râmnicu Vâlcea (Romania, 111,497), Uzhhorod (Ukraine, 111,300), Piatra Neamţ (Romania, 105,865), Suceava (Romania, 104,914), Drobeta-Turnu Severin (Romania, 104,557), Reşiţa (Romania, 86,383), Žilina (Slovakia, 85,477), Bistriţa (Romania, 81,467), Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, 80,730), Deva (Romania, 80,000), Zlín (Czech Republic, 79,538), Hunedoara (Romania, 79,235), Zalău (Romania, 71,326), Przemyśl (Poland, 66,715), Alba Iulia (Romania, 66,369), Zaječar (Serbia, 65,969), Sfântu Gheorghe (Romania, 61,543), Turda (Romania, 57,381), Bor (Serbia, 55,817), Mediaş (Romania, 55,153), Poprad (Slovakia, 55,042), Petroşani (Romania, 45,194), Miercurea Ciuc (Romania, 42,029), Sighişoara (Romania, 32,287), Făgăraş (Romania, 40,126), Zakopane (Poland, 27,486), Câmpulung Moldovenesc (Romania, 20,076), Vatra Dornei (Romania, 17,864), and Rakhiv (Ukraine, 15,241).


The Carpathian Mountains were formed during the Alpine orogeny.

Divisions of the Carpathians

The largest range is the Tatras.

A major part of the western and northeastern Outer Carpathians in Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia is traditionally called Beskids.

The geological border between the Western and Eastern Carpathians runs approximately along the line (south to north) between the towns Michalovce - Bardejov - Nowy Sącz - Tarnów. In older systems the border runs more in the east – at the line (north to south) along the rivers San and Osława (PL) – the town of Snina (SK) – river Tur'ia (UA). Biologists, however, shift the border even further to the east.

The border between the Eastern and Southern Carpathians is formed by the Predeal Pass, south of Braşov and the Prahova Valley.

The Ukrainians sometimes denote as "Eastern Carpathians" only the Ukrainian Carpathians (or Wooded Carpathians), i.e., basically the part situated largely on their territory (i.e., to the north of the Prislop Pass), while the Romanians sometimes denote as "Eastern Carpathians" only the other part, which lies on their territory (i.e., from the Ukrainian border or from the Prislop Pass to the south).

Also, the Romanians divide the Eastern Carpathians on their territory into three simplified geographical groups (north, center, south), instead of Outer and Inner Eastern Carpathians. These are:

Fictional depictions

The Carpathian Mountains have been depicted as the setting of several fictional works.

Notable people

See also


External links

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