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Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains are home to one of the largest undisturbed forests in Europe. 400 unique species of mammals, including the Carpathian chamois, call the Carpathian Mountains home. 60% of European brown bear population lives in the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathian Mountains are forming a semi-circle around Transylvania, which one of Romania's nine historical provinces. The Western Carpathian Mountains are also called the Mountains of the Sunset (Muntii Apuseni). Romania’s diverse natural landscapes offer numerous choices for exciting outdoor experiences. Travelers can walk through serene alpine meadows covered with scores of wildflowers, trek around glacial lakes, take in the lush-green scenery while horse riding or mountain biking, climb curious rock formations, photograph fossil traces of 15,000-year old cave-bear species, track gold eagles or other rare birds, study endangered flora, wander in the countryside, picnic in the fields, try your hand at traditional crafts, - or just relax in the home of a village family and sample wholesome, country fare with home made wine and plum brandy. National parks encompass extensive areas of particular geographical interest or outstanding natural beauty. They have an important conservation role and offer protection to many rare species of animals and plants. In addition to nature conservation, Romania’s natural parks also play an important role in preserving local customs, traditional crafts, historical settlement patterns, and regional architecture. Most of Romania’s national parks have arrangements for outdoor activities with a network of marked paths and trails and overnight accommodation in either staffed lodges or local guesthouses. In vulnerable areas where it is desirable to limit the impact of visitors, paths and accommodation are minimal. Romania's natural areas captured scientific attention early in the 20th century. The first law on environment protection was passed in 1930; the first forest reservation (Domogled-Baile Herculane) was set up in 1932, the first National Park (Retezat) in 1935 and the first geological reservation (Detunata Goala - Apuseni Mountains) was recognized in 1938. The Oas – Harghita range in the Carpathian Mountains is the longest volcanic mountain chain in Europe. The 3500-year old Scarisoara glacier, located in the Bihor Mountains – 90 miles southwest of Cluj Napoca - has a volume of 2,649,000 cubic feet (75,000 cubic metres), making it the second largest European underground glacier, after the Eisriesenwelt ice cave in Austria.
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