Carpathian Mountains, a mountain system in central Europe, encircling Transleithan Austria on the N. W., N. E., and S., and separating it from Moravia, Austrian Silesia, Galicia, Bukowina, and Roumania. The entire range forms a semicircle about 800 m. long, commencing at New Orsova, on the Turkish frontier, where it is separated from the N. offshoots of the Balkan range only by the Danube, and terminating on the same river in the lofty rock on which the castle of Presburg is situated. Its breadth, including branches on both sides of the Hungarian and Transylvanian frontiers, varies from 100 to 200 m. The highest eminences rise 8,000 or 9,000 ft. above the sea level. The loftiest peaks were formerly thought to be in the Transylvanian section, but recent meas-urements show that the Gerlsdorf and Lomnitz peaks of the Tatra range, in the Hungarian sec-tion, has a greater altitude. The highest parts of the whole Carpathian system consist of granite. Sandstone and limestone are found at a lower level, and basalt, porphyry, jasper, petrosilex, lava, obsidian, and numerous other substances, the result of volcanic and aqueous action, are scattered among the lower ranges. No traces exist of recent volcanic eruption, though there is unquestionable evidence of the extensive agency of fire and water at some time.
The Carpathians stand preeminent among the mountains of Europe in respect to mineral wealth. Nearly every metal is produced abundantly from their sides. There are rich mines of silver and gold at Kremnitz and at Schem-nitz in Hungary, and a gold mine at Nagy Ag in Transylvania, which is esteemed one of the richest in Europe. Iron, copper, lead, and mercury are also found in large quantities, and rock salt lies in immense deposits throughout both sections of the chain. The Carpathians present four zones of vegetation, rising successively. There is first the woody region, where the oak, beech, and chestnut thrive, which reaches to a height of more than 4,000 ft. above the sea. Then the pinus abies, or Scotch fir, appears, and occupies a zone of 1,000 ft. This is succeeded by the moss pine, which diminishes in size as the elevation increases, and at the height of 6,000 ft. appears only as a small shrub and in scattered patches. The open places of this region produce a few blue-bells and other small flowers. From the termination of the moss pine to the summit the mountains have a barren and dreary look, their conical peaks being of naked rock, or covered only with lichens; yet even at these heights a straggling blue-bell or gentian may sometimes be found.
None of the Carpathians are covered with perpetual snow. Small mountain lakes of great depth, called "eyes of the sea," are met with in various parts. Numerous passes intersecting these mountains facilitate communication between the countries lying at their base. The most remarkable and frequented of these are those of Teregova, leading from Orsova to Temesvar; of Vulcan, forming the valley in which the Schyl flows; and of the Red Tower in a gorge formed by the Aluta, at the foot of Mt. Surul. All of these passes were formerly strongly fortified to prevent the entrance of the Turks into Transylvania, but several of them have nevertheless at various times been forced. (See Hungary, and Transylvania.)