Situated in the central part of Romania, in the middle group of the eastern Carpathians and in the east of the Transylvanian Plateau, Harghita county covers the upper basins of the Mureş, Olt, Tâmava Mare and Trotuş rivers. It has a total surface of 6,610 sqkm, which reprezent or 2.8 per cent of the country’s total surface.
The neighbours of Harghita county are:
In the north: Suceava County,
In the east: Neamţ and Bacău Counties,
In the south: Covasna and Braşov Counties,
In the west: Mureş County.
The county relief is mountainous and it is dominated by mountains (in the east the Hăşmaş Mountains - 1,793 m, the Ciuc - 1,490 m, the Bistriţa, in the west, the Căliman Mountains - with lezeru Calimanului Peak - 2,031 m, the Gurghiu Mountains - 1,777 m, the Giurgeu Mountains - 1545 m in the centre, the Harghita Mountains -1,801 m), hills (parts of the Transylvanian Sub- Carpathians - the Tamave Plateau), intra-alpine depressions (Giurgeu, Ciuc, Gheorgheni, Bilbor, Borsec). The mountains are volcanic in origin, and the region is known for its excellent mineral springs.
The climate is typical intra-mountain with bitter cold long winters and short warm summers. It variates from peak of the mountains to the vallies and depressions. Harghita is known as one of the coldest regions in Romania, although summers can be quite warm.The absolute maximum temperature of 36°C was registered in 1952 at Odorheiu-Secuiesc and the absolute minimum temperature of 35°C below zero – was registered at Gheorghieni. Because of the frequent low temperatures, Harghita County is nicknamed “Romania’s North Pole”.
The waterway network covers three major basins: the Mures in the west, the Olt in the south and the Trotus in the east. The volcanic mountain chain explains the existence in this county of a large number of mineral water springs (2,200). Mineral water bottling stations have been commissioned at Borsec, Sancraieni and Tusnad. Harghita county is the site of the country’s only volcanic lake, St. Ana, located at 950 m altitude amidst a mirific landscape in the crater of the Ciumatu mountain. The rich variety of soils goes from mountain types, covering the largest area, to brown, yellow-brown and acid brown, and alluvial types in the river meadows. The geographical diversity also reflects in the wide range of subsoil minerals in the county: iron ore, copper-bearing pyrites, kaolin, vermillion, salt, carbogaseous mineral waters, white marble, basalt, andesite, solid limestone, travertine. Forests, stretching over more than 30 per cent of the county surface, supply large quantities of fir, oak, spruce fir and beech wood; they are extremely rich in game as well as in wild fruit, raspberries, bilberries, blackberries, gooseberries, mushrooms and herbs.
The January 2002 census indicated a 326,222 inhabitants.The demographic configuration looks like this: 14 per cent Romanians, 85 per cent Hungarians, 1 per cent Roma. People are engaged in the following types of pursuits: 29.70 per cent industry, 34.20 per cent agriculture, 11.90 per cent trade, 5 per cent service supply, 2.80 per cent transport, 5 per cent scientific research and education, 3.80 per cent medical assistance, etc.
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