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    STUDIA GEOGRAPHIA - Issue no. 1 / 2005  

Authors:  GRIGOR P. POP.
  Abstract:  Definition, Limits and Regionalization of The Western Hills and The Western Plain. These two significant geographical units cover the entire western flank of Romania, starting at the limit with Ukraine, to the north (Tarna Mare) and stretching to the limit with the Serbia and Montenegro Union, to the south, where they stretch in latitude for about 370 km north to south, while the longitudinal development can vary from one sector to another: approximately 110 km along the Carei Plain – Valea Lui Mihai – Baia Mare Depression alignment, and approximately 180 km in The Banatului Plain – Lipovei Hills (Beba Veche-Ilia), while they reach only approximately 40 km in the proximity of the Plopiş, Pădurea Craiului, Codru Moma and Zarand „piedmonts peninsulas.” As concerns the definition of the two analyzed units the geographical literature points to several terms regarding the first unit, including a terminology ranging from The Tisei Plain, to The Western Romanian Plain or simply The Western Plain. For obvious reasons, the author of this paper uses the The Western Plain term. However, the most interesting aspect regarding the western Romanian flank is the discussion centered on the limit between the plain units and the hill units. Almost unanimously, the geographical literature clearly states that The Western Plain penetrates along the rivers in both the hilly and even mountainous sectors via units known as „depressions-gulfs.” This situation is described via a wide array of suggestive terms ranging from „penetrates” to „enters” and all the way to „extends into” and „intercalates.” These views and terminology are anchored in both the altitudinal criteria and geological formations criteria, while also sometimes including the geographical landscape component. In order to support the above views without the analysis of a complex array of geographical factors, the author emphasizes three fundamental aspects: Any plain unit, including The Western Plain unit, reveals itself as a „wide open plain” opened along at least three of its margins, situation which is not replicated along the rivers running up through the hilly sectors. Largely speaking, the Western Hills unit is primarily represented by a series of hilly forms of relief know as „măguri,” primarily in the Silvano-Somesene Hills (Pleşcuţa, Turlung-Vii, Jelejnic, Spatele Dealului, Codrului, Coşeiului and Şimleului), as well as by hilly, depression-like and corridor zones (see the scheme of regionalization of The Western Hills and Plain). If we were to accept the above discussed general view regarding the “penetration”, “entrance”, “extending into”, “intercalation” etc of the plain into the hilly units, in the form, of the so-called „depression-gulfs” that would mean that we would readily attribute many of the hilly formations to the plain (floodplain and some terraces, often emphasized often in the specialty literature), which would then quickly lead us to pose the following question: „What does really belong to the depressions and corridors shaped by the rivers crisscrossing the Western Hills unit? In conclusion, the author argues that the above presented general view should be discarded and as a result the limit between The Western Plain and The Western Hills should include the strip along an alignment of the following settlements including Seini-Crucişor (on the Someş River), Dobra-Săcăşeni (Crasna), Roşiori-Sălard-Biharia (Barcău), Oradea-Sânmartin-Apateu (Crişul Repede), Tinca-Belfir-Olcea (Crişul Negru), Beliu-Ineu-Mocrea-Moroda-Pâncota (Crişul Alb), Păuliş-Zăbrani (Mureş), Recaş-Sârbova-Buziaş (Bega and Timiş), Valeapai (Pogăniş) and Berzovia (Bârzava). To the east of the above mentioned alignment of settlements lie the corridors of the Someşului, Crasnei, and Barcăului rivers, as well as the depressions of Crişului Repede, Crişului Negru, Crişului Alb, Mureşului Corridor and Lugojului Depression. Obviously, in the light of this new vision of the limit between plains and hills along the western flank of Romania, as well as by including other significant geographical elements, the regionalization concept is challenged and the regionalization issues regarding the two discussed units needs to be addressed, which the author does in detail in the accompanying scheme. Among these, there are to be emphasized: inclusion, as it is normal, of the Carei-Valea lui Mihai Plain in the Crişurilor Plain, its attaching to the Someşului Plain, as presented in some geographical papers of synthesis written in the last period, not having sufficient elements of justification; elimination from the geographical literature of the conception regarding the plain’s „penetration”, „entrance”, „extension” and „intercalation” in the domain of the classical „depressions-gulfs”; emphasizing the Western Hills’ continuity character, larger or narrower (depending on their genesis), which start at Tarna Mare and stretch all the way down to the Nera, by highlighting the presence of the Oaşului Hills, the Şiriei Glacis etc.; redefining some of the lower compartments (see the accompanying regionalization scheme and the map), in relationship with the reality of places etc.  
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