Transylvania

There are not too many places that evoke spookiness more than Transylvania, the fictional lair of Count Dracula, werewolves and blood-sucking vampires.
But contrary to popular belief, there is no Dracula (although the literary character may have been based on 15th century Romanian prince, Vlad III, the son of Vlad Dracul), no werewolves (just wolves) and no vampire bats (more like small harmless church-roosting bats).

Actually, Transylvania, in western Romania along the Hungarian border, is one of the most beautiful natural regions in Europe surrounded by the forests and streams of the Carpathian Mountains.
 / ©: B&C Promberger
Carpathian wolf.
© B&C Promberger
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Green Mountains -- The Carpathian Mountains in eastern Slovakia, Polana National Park
© Popp & Hackner / WWF

Land across the forest

Transylvania, translated from Latin, means "the land across the forest”. The land they are talking about are the green forests of the Carpathian Mountains.

Arching across 7 countries - from the Czech Republic, across Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary, and down to Romania and the tip of Serbia - the Carpathians are Europe's last great wilderness area.

Here one find's half of Europe's populations of bears, wolves and lynx, and is home to one of the last remaining stands of old growth forests.

Vampire bats

 / ©: Wikipedia
Vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), Picture taken at Sangayan Island, Paracas National Reserve, Departamento Ica, Peru, in March 2005.
© Wikipedia
I've come to suck your blood...
  • Vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) do exist but they don’t live in Transylvania or anywhere close. They live in Central and South America.
  • Vampire bats have a wingspan of about 20cm and a body about the size of an adult's thumb. Because of their small size, they only drink about a tablespoon of blood each night.
  • Vampire bats feed on the blood of large birds, cattle, horses and pigs. They don’t actually "suck" blood but use their blade-like upper incisors to make tiny cuts in the skin of a sleeping animal.

Carpathian Facts & Figures

    • The Carpathian Mountains cover and an area of 209,256km2 - 5 times the size of Switzerland and larger than the Alps.
    • The mountains, arching 1,500 km across Central and Eastern Europe, are home to 18 million people.
    • More than 80% of Romania’s water supply (excluding the Danube) and 40% of Ukraine’s water supply originate directly from the Carpathians.
    • The highest range within the Carpathians are the Tatras, on the border of Poland and Slovakia, where the highest peaks exceed 2600m, followed by the Southern Carpathians in Romania, where the highest peaks exceed 2500m.

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