carpathian mountains

The Carpathian Mountains is a set of mountains in Central Europe that forms the watershed between the Baltic and Black Seas . Its most important sections are the Beskids , the Tatra Mountains , the Polish Carpathians , the Transylvanian Alps or Eastern Carpathians, and the Western Carpathians or Little Carpathians, which separate Moravia from Slovakia . They constitute the natural border between the Czech Republic and Poland . It extends over about 1500 km.


[ hide ]

  • 1 Geographic location
  • 2 Origen
  • 3 Geomorphological structure
  • 4 elevations
  • 5 Three large groups
    • 1 The Eastern Carpathians
    • 2 The southern Carpathians
    • 3 The Western Carpathians
  • 6Orogenia
  • 7 Hydrography
  • 8 Air conditioning
  • 9 Flora and fauna
  • 10Fuentes

Geographic location

list of countries

The Carpathians are located in eastern Europe . These mountains form one of the largest chains on this continent . Despite being part of six different countries. The Carpathian Mountains themselves constitute a well-defined geographical region, with important natural resources and indigenous ways of life. The Carpathians, with their 1500 km longitude and 150 km width, form an arc with the concavity directed towards the west , situating it in coordinates we find it between a width of the latitudes of 50° and 44° north, and between the longitudes 17 ° and 27 ° both to the east.

The western part of the mountainous system distributes its slopes between two countries : the northern one is part of Poland and the southern one occupies Slovakia , although its foothills also reach Hungarian territory. For its part, the Eastern Carpathians extend through Ukraine , in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Romania . This formation has in its skirts cities like Bratislava , Cracow , Bucharest and Belgrade .

The orography of the Carpathians covers 6 states: Hungary , Slovakia , the Czech Republic , Poland , Ukraine and Romania through which it passes to a large extent and literally divides it into two parts.


Its formation belongs to the Alpine movement and together with the Pyrenees and the Alps are the three great mountain ranges in Europe formed in the Alpine orogeny . This movement took place in the Cenozoic era in the Tertiary period about 65 million years ago and lasted for 27 million years.

geomorphological structure

The geomorphological structure of these mountains is very complex, since they have undergone several phases of folding and erosion , the result of which is the formation of a discontinuous mountain chain with two basic units: an internal zone, of crystalline and volcanic massifs separated by interior basins, and an external zone, formed by detrital deposits (sandstones) folded in the Tertiary era .


The Carpathians do not stand out in their altitudes compared to other formations such as the Alps and the Pyrenees, which far exceed it with peaks of up to 3404 m. The greatest heights are presented by the crystalline massifs , which constitute the axis of the system: to the northwest , the Little Tatras and the High Tatras (2655 m on Mount Gerlach , the highest peak of the mountain range, which rises in Czechoslovak territory); to the northeast , the massif of the Maramures (2036 m in the Rodna ); and to the south , the Transylvanian Alps (2543 m in the Moldoveanu).

In the case of the Carpathians, its highest peaks are located in the westernmost part in the Tatra Mountains, although we also find heights of up to 2500 in the Transylvanian Alps. In the Tatras we find the Gerlachov Peak that rises with 2654 m and is within Slovakian territory becoming the roof of the Carpathians.

The general appearance of the Carpathians is one of gentle tops of not great height. This aspect of rounded tops is mainly due to the fact that the Quaternary glaciations had little presence in these reliefs. In fact, it is difficult to find “alpine-type” peaks, that is, with pronounced and sharp ridges in the rock. For this we have to go back to the area of ​​the Tatra Mountains. There we not only find peaks with this structure but also lakes and valleys with glacial relief . Another characteristic of the Carpathians is that of having well-defined mountain ranges and in some cases far from what could be the main or axial axis of this chain.

three large groups

Given the size and shape of the Carpathians, they are usually divided into three:

  1. The Western Carpathians., (from the Danube Valley to the Somesului Valley ).
  2. The Eastern Carpathians, (from the northern border to the Prahova Valley ).
  3. The southernmost southern Carpathians (from the Prahova Valley to the Danube – the Timis – Cerna – Bistra gorges).

Eastern Carpathians

They stretch from the Ukrainian border to the Predeal Pass (the Prahova Valley). The Eastern Carpathians have an average height of 1,300 m, there are few peaks that exceed 2,000 m such as the Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu 2,303 m and Ineu 2,279 m peaks. In the Eastern Carpathians there is the longest volcanic mountain range in Europe: Oas, Gutai, Tibles, Caliman, Gurghiului, Harghitei mountains. There are numerous altitude passes that allow communication between Moldova and Transylvania.

The Eastern Carpathians are subdivided into three groups:

  1. The northern group
  2. The core group.
  3. the southern group

southern carpathians

The Southern Carpathians (Transylvanian Alps) stretch from east to west, from the Predeal Pass to the Danube ( Iron Gates ). They are the highest mountains in Romania, the average heights are around 1500 meters.

The Southern Carpathian group are the second highest group in the Carpathian mountain range after the Tatra Mountains, reaching heights of more than 2,500 meters. Although considerably smaller than the Alps, they are classified as having an alpine landscape. Their high mountain character, combined with great accessibility, makes them a popular place among tourists and scientists.

Western Carpathians

Gerlachovský_štít Peak in the Southern Carpathians.

The Western Carpathians (or the Transylvanian Plateau) occupies the center of the country, between the Danube to the south and the Somes Valley to the north.

The mountain belt stretches from the Lower Beskid range of the Eastern Carpathians along the Polish-Slovakian border into the Moravian region of the Czech Republic and the Austrian Weinviertel. In the south the Northern Middle Mountains encompass northern Hungary. The Western Carpathians area covers about 70,000 km 2 . The summit is Gerlachovský štít (2655 m).


Most of the Carpathian valleys are of luvial origin and, as mentioned before, the glacial valleys affect the northern part. But as occurs in this type of structural movement, various faults and the consequent subsidence of blocks that give rise to tectonic trenches also occur . It is especially in the interior Carpathians where the formation is made up of a succession of blocks, some folded like the Fatra-Tatra. The fact that this series of blocks are produced, as well as their different elevations and folding, means that we find ourselves with a great difference in materials and from different periods.

As occurs in the Pyrenees, in the highest zone there are granites and schists and as we move further away we find older materials from the Eocene , Permian and finally Silurian . Since it was an area of ​​great activity, we also found recent volcanic material.

The Carpathians given its arc shape, in its interior or southern slope practically contains two basins: the panonica and the transilvanica. The main difference between the two is that the one surrounded by the mountains of Transylvania is higher. It rises to a height of between 400 and 600 m and it could be said that it is practically contained in Romania. On the contrary, the Pannonian platform has a height that oscillates between 200 and 400 m and occupies most of the Hungarian territory. In addition to the difference in height, the reliefOn the surface of one and the other it is different since the highest one is more rugged (Transylvania), the Hungarian platform being flatter and with a continuous slope. On the other side of the Carpathians are the great European platform to the north and the Russian to the west. To the south of the Southern Carpathians is the moesic platform .

The Hungarian plain is basically made up of sediments from an ancient sea . This sea that receives the same name as the plain , Panonicus , left up to 3 km thick of marine sediments. Another large part of this plain is made up of alluvial materials, especially in the vicinity of the Danube and Titza rivers, forming the typical terraces.


First stretch of the Vistula river at about 1000 m in the mountains.

If the Carpathians eat a great mountainous barrier , it influences the climate even more, it configures and determines the basins that are around it. Specifically, the Danube, Vistula , Oder and Dniester rivers are the most important channels. Most obviously the Carpathians largely shape the Danube river basin . This has a dimension of 817,000 km² and a length of 2,850  km . But if something surprises about this river , it is its enormous flow of 6507 m³/s. Peaks of up to 13,000 m³/s were recorded at the Iron Gates dams .

Located as the second most important river in Europe, it is fed by all the waters of the eastern slope of the mountain range. This water runs through the entire Romanian and Hungarian Hercynian plain until it reaches the Danube.

One of the most important tributaries in this area is the Tisza River, which originates in the Tatra Mountains. The other one comes from this one, it is the Muresul river and it is born in the alpine mountains of Transilvana. The waters of the Danube pass into the Black Sea, so we could say that a large part of the waters of this come from the orographic barrier formed by the Carpathians. The rest of the rivers fed part of its basin by the Carpathians are from the north and west sides.

The fact that the Black Sea is inland means that most of the contributions are from rivers and therefore a large amount of fresh water is poured into it, which lowers its salinity to levels of less than 30 per thousand (compared to 34 per thousand on average of the seas). Another of the conditions is that the opening of this is towards the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosphorus . This strait is only between 35 and 50  meters deep and lets out to a greater extent the fresh water of lower temperature . The consequence of this is that the salty waters of the Black Sea suffer a stagnation that creates a halocline , that is, a variation in density and salinity that causes anoxia .in the waters that are more than 150 m deep, leaving these with a low level of oxygen .

That is to say, if we were to draw a line through the mountain divide, we would find on one side the slope that goes to the Danube and on the other side the one that overlooks the Vistula , Oder and Dniester rivers . The most to the northwest is the Oder with a basin of 119,000 km², it is the thirteenth most important river in terms of the size of its basin in Europe. The length is about 850 km and a module of about 570 m³/s. Its waters end up in the Baltic Sea .

Gorges at the Iron Gates.

Another of the rivers that flows into the Baltic is the Vistula, also affected by the Carpathian orogeny. This river falls on its northern slope and is the second most important of those affected by this orogeny. Its basin is about 194,000 km² and 1,050 km long. This river is not only the mightiest of this slope with about 984 m³/s but the relative module is also higher. In other words, more water is collected per km² in its basin than in the Oder basin.

On this same northern slope of the Carpathians we have the Dniester . Unlike the other two rivers on this side of the Carpathians, the Dniester takes almost the opposite direction. With a south-east direction, it empties into the Black Sea near the city of Odesa (Ukraine). Its importance is minor in terms of basin and flow. With 72,000 km², this river flows with an average of 317 m²/s and is 1,350 km long. With which it is located as the second river in length affected by the Carpathians.


In the region of the Carpathians, a climate that would be that of high mountains basically predominates . This in itself more than a climate is an azonal variation of the climate. In other words, the orogeny and the mountainous relief mean that the climate that prevails in the bordering areas is not the same as in the mountains and a discontinuity is produced.

This mountainous climate has specific characteristics that are different from those of the surrounding areas, but it has common features with other mountain climates. The fact that these parallels exist between mountainous areas tells us the magnitude of the importance that relief has for the climate, and the effects that they cause in these. It is therefore worth detailing some of the phenomena and features that occur in mountain climates.

In general, there are studies that relate rainfall to the increase in elevation. It happens that normally it rains or snows more the higher the elevation. This occurs mainly because the mountains act as a barrier and the clouds are forced to exert an upward movement that causes precipitation due to cooling , whether in a liquid or solid form. This movement also generates the so-called föhn effect and that in the places located to the leeward the precipitation is less, around three times less than on the rainy side.

The increase in precipitation with height occurs up to 2500-3000m, generally with which the Carpathians fall within this range. The relief also entails the well-known drop in temperatures as we increase the elevation, this occurs at a rate of about 0.5  °C every 100 m in height, although this figure varies, especially depending on humidity .

In general and for all the Carpathians, the rainfall in the high areas is 1500  mm , while for the rest of the surrounding plains it is around 500-700 mm per year.

According to the Köpen classification, the Carpathians fall into this category that we could say is special, which is the mountain climate (designated by the letter H in this classification). It is also relevant that the area surrounding the Carpathians is classified as Dfb, that is, a cold climate with sufficient precipitation every month and relatively mild temperatures (summer below 22  °C and at least 4 months with temperatures above 10  °C ) . . The air masses that mainly affect this area are polar. A maritime one that generally comes from the northeast and a continental one from the Siberian region from the northeast. It is also affected, although to a lesser extent, by the southwestern continental mass that originates in Africa .. Contributing each of them according to origin different conditions of temperature and humidity .

Flora and fauna

The flora of the Carpathians includes more than 1350 species, among which many are endemic. The deep forest cover is more than a third of the country’s surface. In the plains, the wooded steppe predominates , today very clear due to agriculture . Fruit trees are common in the areas at the foot of the mountains. Forests found on the gentler slopes are made up of deciduous tree species such as birch , beech , and oak . Conifers predominate in the elevated areas of the mountains, especially pines and spruces. Above approximately 1,750 m, the flora is alpine.

The fauna of the Romanian Carpathians is very rich and diverse. Here is found the highest concentration of large carnivores in Europe ( brown bears , half of Europe’s bear population, wolves (more than a third of Europe’s wolves), together with lynx (35% of Europe) and also , wild boar , wild cats , wild goats , deer , chamois , roe deer and other small mammals.In the plains the characteristic animals are squirrels , hares , badgers andpolecats . Many species abound; the Danube delta region (today, in part, a nature reserve ) is a staging point for migratory birds . Among the fish that can be found in rivers and shorelines are pike , sturgeon , carp , herring , salmon , perch , and eel .

The mountains, the forests, the waterfalls , the rock formations strangely eroded into human shapes, the glaciers , the canyons , the caves , the spring … offer beauty, history and natural happiness in abundance, matched only by heritage. country culture. The small villages and the secret paths of the shepherds bring an extraordinary and pastoral perfume, forgotten by the modern world. See and experience the traditional lifestyle in the countryside, with the friendly people of the place. You can opt for rural accommodation and rural pensions to be closer to nature




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *