The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc across Central and Eastern Europe. Roughly 1,500 km (930 mi) long, it is the third-longest European mountain range after the Urals at 2,500 km (1,600 mi) and the Scandinavian Mountains at 1,700 km (1,100 mi). The range stretches from the far eastern Czech Republic (3%) and Austria (1%) in the northwest through Slovakia (17%), Poland (10%), Hungary (4%), Ukraine (10%), Romania (50%) to Serbia (5%) in the south. The highest range within the Carpathians is known as the Tatra mountains in Slovakia and Poland, where the highest peaks exceed 2,600 m (8,500 ft). The second-highest range is the Southern Carpathians in Romania, where the highest peaks range between 2,500 m (8,200 ft) and 2,550 m (8,370 ft).
The term Outer Carpathians is frequently used to describe the northern rim of the Western and Eastern Carpathians.
The Carpathians provide habitat for the largest European populations of brown bears, wolves, chamois, and lynxes, with the highest concentration in Romania, as well as over one third of all European plant species. The mountains and their foothills also have many thermal and mineral waters, with Romania having one-third of the European total. Romania is likewise home to the second-largest surface of virgin forests in Europe after Russia, totaling 250,000 hectares (65%), most of them in the Carpathians, with the Southern Carpathians constituting Europe's largest unfragmented forest area. Deforestation rates due to illegal logging in the Carpathians are high.
The ecology of the Carpathians varies with altitude, ranging from lowland forests to alpine meadows. Foothill forests are primarily of broadleaf deciduous trees, including oak, hornbeam, and linden. European beech is characteristic of the montane forest zone. Higher-elevation subalpine forests are characterized by Norway spruce (Picea abies). Krummholtz and alpine meadows occur above the treeline.
Wildlife in the Carpathians includes brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), European wildcat (Felis silvestris), Tatra chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica), European bison (Bison bonasus), and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).