Situated in north-western Romania, Maramures has a surface of 6.304 km2 (2.434 sq mi) and holds a population of 461.000. Maramures size reprezents 2.65% of the total size of Romania and it is the 15th largest county (out of 41). It borders Satu Mare county to the west, Salaj, Cluj and Bistrita Nasaud counties to the south, Suceava county to the east and it has a state border with Ukraine to the north.
There are 13 cities/towns in Maramures: Baia Mare - the county capital, Sighetu Marmatiei - former Maramures capital, Baia Sprie, Borsa, Cavnic, Dragomiresti, Salistea de Sus, Seini, Somcuta Mare, Ulmeni, Targu Lapus, Tautii Magheraus and Viseu de Sus, 63 communes and 151 villages.
Archaeological evidence trace human life in Maramures as early as paleolithic (Busag) and neolithic (Oarta de Sus and Seini). The expansion of the population in the region and its cultural progress are proven by the numerous artifacts and early settlements dating from the bronze and iron age: Sighet, Sarasau, Oncesti, Barsana, Bicaz, Prislop, Seini, Suciu de Sus, Damacuseni, Tg. Lapus, Vad, Valenii Somcutei, Ardusat, Lapusel, etc. It is interesting to notice the existence of the 'Suciu de Sus ceramic culture' during the bronze age, with strong influence in north-west Romania and the only archaeological culture named after a location from Maramures.
After romans conquered Dacia (ancient name of Romania) in 105-106 AD, Maramures remained outside of the occupied area but there was plenty of interaction and trade with the roman province. Coins, tools, new ceramic motifs, names or ethnographic elements prove the connections between the two regions.
Until the X-XI century, communities in Maramures lived by the law of each village/valley under a local knyaz or knez (chieftain), later on developing into small feudal principalities (knezate) and eventually creating the Voivodeship of Maramures (a feudal state administered by a voivode - slavic name for commander/prince/duke/count).
The year 1199 brings the first written documentary evidence of Maramures when the king of Hungary, Emeric I, donates land to earl Lauretiu as reward for saving his life during a hunting in Maramures. The ever growing influence of the Hungarian kingdom and the feudal era put an increasing pressure on the Voivodeship of Maramures and, at the end of the XIV-th century, it becomes a province in the Hungarian empire. The most important consequnce for this overtaking is the decision taken by the Voivode Bogdan from Cuhea to pass the mountains into Moldavia and, after overtrowing Voivode Balc, to form the independent feudal Moldavian state.
Maramures belongs to the Hungarian empire until 1538 when becomes part of Transylvania Voivodeship. In 1688 Maramures becomes part of the Austro-hungaric empire.
Maramures was finally united with Romania on the 1st of December 1918 at the Great National Meeting in Alba Iulia. Nonetheless, due to Romanian government political animosity, after the first World War 2/3 of Maramures (the land north of Tisa river) was lost to Czechoslovakia, later on to USSR and finally became part of Ukraine. During the communist era, Historical Maramures was bond with Lapus Land, Chioar Land and with Codru Land to form Maramures county with the capital Baia Mare.
The relief of the region is mostly mountainous (43%) due to the three mountain chains that cross Maramures: Ignis-Gutai-Tible, Maramures and Rodna. The hills and hillocks occupy 30% while valleys, plains and river meadows strech over 27% of the county. The lowest elevation is 120 m (394 ft) in the Somes meadow near Seini and the highest is 2303 m (7555 ft) on Pietrosul Rodnei peak.
Due to the mountainous-hilly relief, Maramures has a well developed and spread river system, the most importand being Somes, Tisa, Lapus, Iza, Mara and Viseu.
Besides rivers, there are plenty of natural lakes in the areas, many of them representing important touristical attractions:
-Buhaescu (1,2,3 and 4), Iezer, Morarenilor, Chendroaiei, Taul lui Dumitru and Vinderel - all these lakes have a glacial background and are declared natural reserves
-the Blue lake in Baia Sprie was declared natural reserve due to the unique chemical composition of its water
-the lakes in Ocna Sugatag, formed through the collapse of the former salt mine galleries, are responsible for the development of spa tourism in this resort
Out of the man-made lakes, Firiza is the largest in Maramures with a surface of 110 hec (271 acre).
Maramures displays a transitional climate, between temperate and continental, with medium-hot summers - 20o to 30o (68 F to 86 F) and not very cold winters: -1o to -10o (30 F to 14 F). The areas has one of the highest precipitation average from Romania.