Carpathians (kärpāˈthēənz) [key] or Carpathian Mountains, Czech, Pol., and Ukr. Karpaty, Rom. Carpaţii, major mountain system of central and E Europe, extending c.930 mi (1,500 km) along the north and east sides of the Danubian plain. The geologically young mountains, which are part of the main European chain, link the Alps with the Balkans. The Carpathians begin in SW Slovakia and extend northeasterly along the Czech–Slovak border to Poland. There the Northern Carpathians, comprising the Beskids and the Tatra, run east along the Polish border, then SE through W Ukraine; in Romania they are continued by the Transylvanian Alps (or Southern Carpathians), which extend SW to the Danube River. The highest peaks are Gerlachovský (8,737 ft/2,663 m) in the Tatra and Moldoveanu in the Transylvanian Alps. The Carpathians are rich in minerals and timber. The region's cold winters and hot summers make it a year-round resort. Although the Carpathians are a barrier to the southward movement of cold air masses, numerous low passes facilitate overland travel between the densely populated areas that flank the system. The Carpathians themselves are sparsely populated, with the greatest number of people found in the larger agricultural valleys to the south.
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