Sălaj County

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Sălaj County
Județul Sălaj
Coat of arms of Sălaj County
Coat of arms
Administrative map of Romania with Sălaj county highlighted
Country Romania
Development region Nord-Vest
Historical region Crișana, Transylvania
Capital Zalău
 • Total 3,864 km2 (1,492 sq mi)
Area rank 38th
Population (2011)
 • Total 224,384
 • Rank 39th
 • Density 58/km2 (150/sq mi)
Telephone code (+40) 260 or (+40) 360[1]
ISO 3166 code RO-SJ
Website County Council

Sălaj (Romanian pronunciation: [səˈlaʒ]) (also known as Land of Silvania, silva, -ae means "forest") is a county (județ) of Romania, in the historical regions of Crișana and Transylvania, with the capital city at Zalău.


In Hungarian, it is known as Szilágy megye, in Slovak as Salašská župa, and in German as Kreis Zillenmarkt. The county is named after the Sălaj River, which gets its name from Hungarian Szilágy "elm creek", composed from szil, "elm" and ágy "riverbed".[2]


Sălaj County has a predominantly hilly relief - the Someș Plateau and the piedmont hills of Silvania - as well as mountainous hills - the northern ramifications of Apuseni Mountains (Meseș and Plopiș Mountains). The district stretches over 3,864 km², more than half of them have an agricultural destination (tillable land, meadows, hay-fields, vineyards and orchards). The rest of the surface is covered with forests and other wood vegetation, rivers, ponds etc.


The main characteristic of the hydrographic network of Sălaj County is the relative uniformity of the distribution of rivers throughout the territory, with a very low presence of natural lakes network, but with the advent of increasingly often artificial lakes. Someș, Crasna, Barcău, Almaș, Agrij and Sălaj are the main rivers in the county. Located in Crasna basin, the Vârșolț Reservoir (652 ha) is the drinking water source for the towns of Zalău and Șimleu Silvaniei.[3] Water covers 57.8 km2, representing 1.5% of the total area of the county.[4]


Sălaj County borders on Satu Mare and Maramureș counties to the north, Bihor County to the west and southwest and Cluj County to the southwest.


As for climate, Salaj county is under the influence of masses of air coming from West having a moderate continental climate. The average annual temperature varies between 6°C and 9°C, depending on the zone while the highest temperature, in July, varies between 35°C and 42°C. Rainfalls quantitatively decrease towards the west where 700-800 ml/sq.m were recorded.


Zalău, the largest city in Sălaj County
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1880 159,872 —    
1890 180,145 +12.7%
1900 193,996 +7.7%
1910 230,140 +18.6%
1930 343,347 +49.2%
1948 262,580 −23.5%
1956 271,989 +3.6%
1966 263,103 −3.3%
1977 264,569 +0.6%
1989 268,776 +1.6%
1992 266,308 −0.9%
2002 248,015 −6.9%
2011 224,384 −9.5%
Source: National Institute of Statistics, "Population censuses of 1948, 1956, 1966, 1977, 1992 and 2002"

In 2002, Sălaj County had a population of 248,015 and the population density was 64/km². Majority of the population lived in rural area (60,3%) and 39,7% lived in four cities: Zalău, Șimleu Silvaniei, Jibou, and Cehu Silvaniei.

According to 2011 census,[6] Sălaj County had a population of 224,384 and the population density was 58/km². Majority of the population lived in rural area (60,7%) and 39,3% lived in four cities: Zalău, Șimleu Silvaniei, Jibou, and Cehu Silvaniei.

In 2011, the ethnic composition was as follows:[7]

  • Romanians - 69.05% (or 148,396)
  • Hungarians - 23.35% (or 50,177)
  • Roma - 6.98% (or 15,004)
  • Slovaks - 0.5% (or 1,229)

A negative natural growth rate and an average life span of 71.04 years are characteristic for the social and demographic situation of the district. The social and urban dimension of the district is characterized by a degree of urbanization of more than 40% and by the number of dwelling places per 1,000 inhabitants, which is higher than the average on a national level.[8]


Wooden church of Stâna built in 1778, transferred to Bic Monastery in 1997
The reconstructed gateway of the castrum in Porolissum

The main tourist attractions in the county are:


Greenhouses of the Jibou Botanical Garden

The predominant industries in the county are:

  • Machine and automotive components
  • Food
  • Textiles
  • Wood, furniture and paper


Roman relics displayed at Zalău

Paintings dating back 12,000 years were discovered on the walls of a cave in Cuciulat, a settlement on the banks of the Someş River. They are the oldest paintings of the kind in this part of Europe. The oldest solid gold treasury ever unearthed in Romania, weighing 780 gr. and belonging to the Neolithic, was found in Sălaj at Moigrad.

Lying in the north-western part of Romania, at the crossing between the Western and Eastern Carpathians, Sălaj county has been known since ancient times as Țara Silvaniei, that is the Land of the Forests. Zalău was known as a market town as early as the 14th century and mentioned in a document as a town in 1473.

Under Austria Hungary[edit]

Main article: Szilágy County
Statue of Miklós Wesselényi built in 1902 in Zalău by János Fadrusz

Sălaj County (Hungarian: Szilágy) was formed in 1876, when the counties Kraszna (its center was Valkóváralja at first, later Szilágysomlyó) and Közép-Szolnok (Its center was Zilah) were united. Its territory is for a large part the same as that of the present Romanian county Sălaj County. Its area was 3815 km² around 1910. The capital of the county was Zilah (present-day Zalău in Romania).

In 1918 (confirmed by the Paris Peace Conference 1919-1920), the county became part of Romania. It was occupied by Hungary between 1940-1944 during World War II. Most of it is now part of the Romanian county Sălaj County, except some areas in the north-west (presently in Satu Mare county) and north-east (presently in Maramureș county).

During the Kingdom of Romania, Sălaj County was divided in 8 plăși (Plasa Carei, Plasa Cehu Silvaniei, Plasa Crasna, Plasa Jibou, Plasa Șimleu Silvaniei, Plasa Tășnad, Plasa Valea lui Mihai and Plasa Zălau.


2012 elections[edit]

The Sălaj County Council, elected in the 2012 local government elections, with the following party composition:[10]

    Party Seats 2012 Sălaj County Council
  Social Liberal Union 14                            
  Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania 7                            
  Democratic Liberal Party 6                            
  People's Party – Dan Diaconescu 3                            

Notable residents[edit]

King of Poland between 1575–86, Stephen Báthory was born in Șimleu Silvaniei

Administrative divisions[edit]

Șimleu Silvaniei

Sălaj County has 1 municipality, 3 towns and 57 communes; subdivided into 281 villages


  • Zalău - capital city; population: 56,202 (October 30, 2011)




  • Petri Mór, Szilágy vármegye monographiája [Sălaj County Monography] (I-VI, Budapest, 1901–1904).
  • János Kovács Kuruc, Zilah vallási életéről, In: Limes, 2000, 3, nr. 1-2, p. 138-143.
  • Éva Lakóné Hegyi; Wagner, Ernő. A zilahi kalandosok, In: EM, 2001, 63, nr. 1-2, p. 30-41.
  • Florin Mirghesiu, Modernitatea Zalăului. In: AMPZ, 2001, 2, nr. 4, p. 11-19.
  • Moroti, Elisabeta. Scurtă privire istorică asupra dezvoltării economice a orașului Zalău, In: AMPZ, 2001, 2, nr. 4, p. 36-39.
  • Municipiul Zalău. Prezentare. In: AMPZ, 2002, 3, nr. 7-8, p. 154-161.
  • Elena Muscă, Meșteșugari zălăuani și locul lor în structurile administrației publice locale, In: AMP, 2003, 25, p. 325-332.
  • L. Nicoară; Puşcaș, Angelica. Rolul municipiului Zalău în zona de contact dintre depresiunea Transilvaniei și Dealurile de Vest, In: Studia geogr., 1999, 44, nr. 1, p. 99-112.



  1. ^ The number used depends on the numbering system employed by the phone companies on the market.
  2. ^ Iordan, Iorgu (1963). Toponimia romînească. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Populare Romîne. p. 104. OCLC 460710897. 
  3. ^ "Vârșolț Reservoir", Wikimapia.org
  4. ^ "Geographical location of Sălaj County", Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sălaj
  5. ^ National Institute of Statistics, "Populația după etnie"
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Recensamantul Populatiei si Locuintelor 2011: Populația stabilă după etnie – județe, municipii, orașe, comune
  8. ^ "Sălaj – Dimension and expansion", Sălaj County Council
  9. ^ Matyas, Mirel (26 February 2013). "Ați fost vreodată în Sălaj?". cluj.travel (in Romanian). 
  10. ^ http://www.sj33.ro/articole/310/rezultatele-alegerilor-locale-2012-in-judetul-salaj/

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°12′N 23°03′E / 47.2°N 23.05°E / 47.2; 23.05