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The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the largest mountain range in Europe. They provide the habitat for the largest European populations of brown bears, wolves, chamois and lynxes, with the highest concentration in Romaniamarker, as well as over one third of all European plant species.

The chain of mountain ranges stretches in an arc from the Czech Republicmarker in the northwest to Slovakiamarker, Polandmarker, Hungarymarker, Ukrainemarker and Romaniamarker in the east, to the Iron Gatesmarker on the Danube River between Romaniamarker and Serbiamarker in the south. The highest range within the Carpathians are the Tatrasmarker, on the border of Polandmarker and Slovakiamarker, where the highest peaks exceed , followed by the Southern Carpathiansmarker in Romania, where the highest peaks exceed .

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 Bratislavamarker and Košicemarker in Slovakia; Krakówmarker in Poland; Cluj-Napocamarker, Sibiumarker and Braşovmarker in Romania; and Miskolcmarker in Hungary.


Inner Western Carpathians, High Tatras, Slovakia.

The range is called Karpaty in Czech, Polish and Slovak, Karpaten in German and Dutch, Kárpátok in Hungarian, Carpaţi in Romanian, Karpaty (Карпаты) in Russian, Karpati (Карпати) in Serbian and Karpaty (Карпати) in Ukrainian.

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 scharf "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 Bratislavamarker. They surround Transcarpathia and Transylvania in a large semicircle, sweeping towards the south-east, and end on the Danube near Orşovamarker, in Romania. The total length of the Carpathians is over , and the mountain chain's width varies between . 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 Tatramarker group (the highest range, with Gerlachovský štítmarker, at 2,655 m (8,705 feet) above sea level in Slovak territory near the Polish border). It covers an area of 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 , 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 Planinamarker, or "Balkan Mountains," at Orşovamarker, 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 Seamarker, 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: Bratislavamarker (Slovakia, 426,091), Cluj-Napocamarker (Romania, 310,243), Braşovmarker (Romania, 284,596), Košicemarker (Slovakia, 234,596), Oradeamarker (Romania, 206,614), Miskolcmarker (Hungary, 178,950), Sibiumarker (Romania, 154,892), Târgu Mureşmarker (Romania, 146,000), Baia Maremarker (Romania, 137,976), Tarnówmarker (Poland, 117,109), Râmnicu Vâlceamarker (Romania, 111,497), Uzhhorodmarker (Ukraine, 111,300), Piatra Neamţmarker (Romania, 105,865), Suceavamarker (Romania, 104,914), Drobeta-Turnu Severinmarker (Romania, 104,557), Reşiţamarker (Romania, 86,383), Žilinamarker (Slovakia, 85,477), Bistriţamarker (Romania, 81,467), Banská Bystricamarker (Slovakia, 80,730), Devamarker (Romania, 80,000), Zlínmarker (Czech Republic, 79,538), Hunedoaramarker (Romania, 79,235), Zalăumarker (Romania, 71,326), Przemyślmarker (Poland, 66,715), Alba Iuliamarker (Romania, 66,369), Zaječarmarker (Serbia, 65,969), Sfântu Gheorghemarker (Romania, 61,543), Turdamarker (Romania, 57,381), Bormarker (Serbia, 55,817), Mediaşmarker (Romania, 55,153), Popradmarker (Slovakia, 55,042), Petroşanimarker (Romania, 45,194), Negotinmarker (Serbia, 43,551), Miercurea Ciucmarker (Romania, 42,029), Făgăraşmarker (Romania, 40,126), Odorheiu Secuiescmarker (Romania, 36,926), Petrila (Romania, 33,123), Sighişoaramarker (Romania, 32,287), Zakopanemarker (Poland, 27,486), Câmpulung Moldovenescmarker (Romania, 20,076), Gheorghenimarker (Romania, 20,018), Vatra Dorneimarker (Romania, 17,864), and Rakhivmarker (Ukraine, 15,241).


The Carpathian Mountains were formed during the Alpine orogeny.

Divisions of the Carpathians

[[File:mapcarpat2.png|right|thumb|300px|Map of the main divisions of the Carpathians.

1. Outer Western Carpathians

2. Inner Western Carpathians

3. Outer Eastern Carpathians

4. Inner Eastern Carpathians

5. Southern Carpathiansmarker

6. Western Romanian Carpathiansmarker

7. Transylvanian Plateaumarker

8. Serbian Carpathiansmarker]]

The largest range is the Tatrasmarker.

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

The geological border between the Western and Eastern Carpathians runs approximately along the line (south to north) between the towns Michalovcemarker - Bardejovmarker - Nowy Sączmarker - Tarnówmarker. In older systems the border runs more in the east – at the line (north to south) along the rivers Sanmarker and Osława (PL) – the town of Sninamarker (SK) – river Tur'iamarker (UA). Biologists, however, shift the border even further to the east.

The border between the Eastern and Southern Carpathians is formed by the Predealmarker Pass, south of Braşovmarker 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 Passmarker), 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: Also included are the Călimani Mountains and Pietrosu Peak.

Notable people

See also


  1. Carpathian montane conifer forests - Encyclopedia of Earth
  2. Room, Adrian. Placenames of the World. London: MacFarland and Co., Inc., 1997.

External links

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