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The Tisza in Szeged, Hungary
Map of the Tisza
Native nameTisza  (Hungarian)
Tisa  (Romanian)
Тиса  (Rusyn)
Тиса  (Ukrainian)
Tisa  (Slovak)
Тиса / Tisa  (Serbian)
Physical characteristics
  location Eastern Carpathians, Ukraine
  elevation2,020 m (6,630 ft)
Mouth Danube
Downstream of Novi Sad, Serbia
45°8′17″N20°16′39″E / 45.13806°N 20.27750°E / 45.13806; 20.27750 Coordinates: 45°8′17″N20°16′39″E / 45.13806°N 20.27750°E / 45.13806; 20.27750 [1]
Length966 km (600 mi)
Basin size156,087 km2 (60,266 sq mi)
  location mouth
  average820 m3/s (29,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
Progression DanubeBlack Sea
  left Someș, Körös, Mureș, Bega
  right Bodrog, Sajó, Zagyva
Hydrography of the Pannonian basin before the river and lake regulations in the 19th century. Hydrography of the Pannonian basin before the river and lake regulations in the 19th century.jpg
Hydrography of the Pannonian basin before the river and lake regulations in the 19th century.

The Tisza, Tysa or Tisa, is one of the main rivers of Central and Eastern Europe. Once, it was called "the most Hungarian river" because it flowed entirely within the Kingdom of Hungary. Today, it crosses several national borders.


The Tisza begins near Rakhiv in Ukraine, at the confluence of the White Tisa and Black Tisa (the former springs in the Chornohora mountains; the latter in the Gorgany range). From there, the Tisza flows west, roughly following Ukraine's borders with Romania and Hungary, then shortly as border between Slovakia and Hungary, later into Hungary, and finally into Serbia. It enters Hungary at Tiszabecs. It traverses Hungary from north to south. A few kilometers south of the Hungarian city of Szeged, it enters Serbia. Finally, it joins the Danube near the village of Stari Slankamen in Vojvodina, Serbia.

The Tisza drains an area of about 156,087 km2 (60,266 sq mi) [2] and has a length of 966 km (600 mi) [3] Its mean annual discharge is 792 m3/s (28,000 cu ft/s). It contributes about 13% of the Danube's total runoff. [2]

Attila the Hun is said to have been buried under a diverted section of the river Tisza.


The river was known as the Tisia in antiquity; other ancient names for it included Tissus (in Latin) and Pathissus (Πάθισσος in Ancient Greek), (Pliny, Naturalis historia , 4.25). It may be referred to as the Theiss in older English references, after the German name for the river, Theiß. It is known as the Tibisco in Italian, and in older French references (as for instance in relation to the naval battles on the Danube between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries) it is often referred to as the Tibisque.

Modern names for the Tisza in the languages of the countries it flows through include:


The length of the Tisza in Hungary used to be 1,419 km (882 mi). It flowed through the Great Hungarian Plain, which is one of the largest flat areas in central Europe. Since plains can cause a river to flow very slowly, the Tisza used to follow a path with many curves and turns, which led to many large floods in the area.

After several small-scale attempts, István Széchenyi organised the "regulation of the Tisza" (Hungarian : a Tisza szabályozása) which started on August 27 1846, and substantially ended in 1880. The new length of the river in Hungary was reduced to 966 km (600 mi) in total, with 589 km (366 mi) of dead channels and 136 km (85 mi) of new riverbed. [4]

Lake Tisza

In the 1970s, the building of the Tisza Dam at Kisköre started with the purpose of helping to control floods as well as storing water for drought seasons. However, the resulting Lake Tisza became one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hungary since it had similar features to Lake Balaton at drastically cheaper prices and was not crowded.

The Tisza is navigable over much of its course. The river opened up for international navigation only recently; before, Hungary distinguished "national rivers" and "international rivers", indicating whether non-Hungarian vessels were allowed or not. After Hungary joined the European Union, this distinction was lifted and vessels were allowed on the Tisza. [5]

Conditions of navigation differ with the circumstances: when the river is in flood, it is often unnavigable, just as it is at times of extreme drought. [6]


The Tisza has a rich and varied wildlife. Over 200 species of birds reside in the bird reserve of Tiszafüred. The flood plains along the river boast large amounts of diverse plant and animal life. In particular, the yearly "flowering" of the Tisza is considered a local natural wonder. The flowering attracts vast numbers of mayflies which is a well known spectacle. [7] [8]

In September 2020, colonies of magnificent bryozoans were discovered in the river. [9]


In early 2000, there was a sequence of serious pollution incidents originating from accidental industrial discharges in Romania. The first, in January 2000, occurred when there was a release of sludge containing cyanide from a Romanian mine and killed 2,000 tonnes (2,000 long tons; 2,200 short tons) of fish. The second, from a mine pond at Baia Borsa, northern Romania, resulted in the release of 20,000 cubic metres (710,000 cu ft) of sludge containing zinc, lead and copper occurred in early March 2000. A week later, the third spill occurred at the same mining site at Baia Borsa, staining the river black, possibly including heavy metals. [10]

This series of incidents were described at the time as the most serious environmental disaster to hit central Europe since the Chernobyl disaster. Use of river water for any purpose was temporarily banned and the Hungarian government pressed the Romanians and the European Union to close all installations that could lead to further pollution. [10]

Examination of river sediments indicates that pollution incidents from mines have occurred for over a century. [11]



The rivers of Tisza and Bodrog at Tokaj, from above River Tisza & Bodrog Tokaj.jpg
The rivers of Tisza and Bodrog at Tokaj, from above
The Tisza joins the Danube. 038 Titel, Knicanin, Tisa, Danube - Serbia.jpg
The Tisza joins the Danube.

The following rivers are tributaries to the river Tisza:

Cities and towns

The Tisza (Tisa) flows through the following countries and cities (ordered from the source to mouth):

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Hungary

Hungary is a landlocked country in East-Central Europe with a land area of 93,030 square km. It measures about 250 km from north to south and 524 km from east to west. It has 2,106 km of boundaries, shared with Austria to the west, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the south and southwest, Romania to the southeast, Ukraine to the northeast, and Slovakia to the north.

Harghita County County of Romania

Harghita is a county (județ) in the center of Romania, in eastern Transylvania, with the county seat at Miercurea Ciuc.

Szeged City with county rights in Southern Great Plain, Hungary

Szeged is the third largest city of Hungary, the largest city and regional centre of the Southern Great Plain and the county seat of Csongrád-Csanád county. The University of Szeged is one of the most distinguished universities in Hungary.

Mureș (river)

The Mureș is a 789-kilometre-long (490 mi) river in Eastern Europe. Its drainage basin covers an area of 30,332 km2 (11,711 sq mi). It originates in the Hășmașu Mare Range in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, Romania, rising close to the headwaters of the river Olt, and joins the Tisza at Szeged in southeastern Hungary. In Romania, its length is 761 km (473 mi) and its basin size is 27,890 km2 (10,770 sq mi).

Crasna (Tisza)

The Crasna (Romanian) or Kraszna (Hungarian) is the name of a river in northwestern Romania and northeastern Hungary. The Crasna is a left tributary of the Tisza. Its source is in Transylvania, Romania, near the village of Crasna. It flows through the Romanian counties Sălaj and Satu Mare and the Hungarian county Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. It flows into the Tisza in Vásárosnamény. Cities along the Crasna are Șimleu Silvaniei in Romania, Nagyecsed and Mátészalka in Hungary.

Pannonian Basin Large basin in Central Europe

The Pannonian Basin, or Carpathian Basin, is a large basin in Central Europe. The geomorphological term Pannonian Plain is more widely used for roughly the same region though with a somewhat different sense, with only the lowlands, the plain that remained when the Pliocene Epoch Pannonian Sea dried out.


The Săsar is a right tributary of the river Lăpuș in Maramureș County, Romania. It discharges into the Lăpuș in Lăpușel, southwest of Baia Mare. It is a medium-size river which flows through the cities of Baia Sprie and Baia Mare. Its length is 31 km (19 mi) and its basin size is 306 km2 (118 sq mi).


The Someș is a left tributary of the Tisza in Hungary and Romania. It has a length of 415 km (258 mi), of which 50 km are in Hungary. The Someș is the fifth largest river by length and volume in Romania. The hydrographic basin forms by the confluence at Mica, a commune about 4 km upstream of Dej, of Someșul Mare and Someșul Mic rivers. Someșul Mic originates in the Apuseni Mountains, and Someșul Mare springs from the Rodna Mountains.


Potisje is the name of the Tisa river basin parts located in Serbia, in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. The river Tisa flow between Banat and Bačka regions.

Someșul Mic

The Someșul Mic is a river in north-western Romania. At its confluence with the Someșul Mare in Dej, the Someș is formed. Its total length is 178 km (111 mi), and its drainage basin area is 3,773 km2 (1,457 sq mi). It is formed at the confluence of two headwaters, Someșul Cald and Someșul Rece, that come from the Apuseni Mountains. From the confluence, in Gilău, the Someșul Mic flows east and north through Cluj-Napoca, Apahida and Gherla, until it meets the Someșul Mare in Dej.


Pomorišje is a historical geographical region on the banks of the river Mureş that in the past has had a sizable ethnic Serb population. The region is mostly divided between Romania and Hungary, with small part of it in northern Serbia. Today, a Serb minority is present in parts of the region that are part of Romania and Hungary.

Northern Maramuresh is a geographic-historical region comprising roughly the eastern half of the Zakarpattia Oblast in southwestern Ukraine, near the border with Romania. Until 1920, it was part of the Maramureș of Transylvania, at which time the former Máramaros County was divided into a northern part, and a southern part. Alternative names for the regions are Northern Máramaros, Northern Maramureș, Northern Maramorshchyna, Northern Marmatia.

Bega (Tisza)

The Bega or Begej, is a 244 km long river in Romania and Serbia. It rises in the Poiana Ruscă Mountains in Romania, part of the Carpathian Mountains, and it flows into the Tisa river near Titel, Vojvodina, Serbia. Its drainage basin covers an area of 4,458 km2 (1,721 sq mi), of which 2,362 km2 (912 sq mi) in Romania.


Maramureș is a geographical, historical and cultural region in northern Romania and western Ukraine. It is situated on the northeastern Carpathians, along parts of the upper Tisza River drainage basin; it covers the Maramureș Depression and the surrounding Carpathian mountains.

Hydrology of Hungary

The hydrology of Hungary, is mostly determined by Hungary's lying in the middle of the Carpathian Basin, half surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. All parts of the country have some outflow. All surface water gravitates towards its southern center, and from there, is united in the Danube, which flows into the Black Sea. The whole of Hungary lies within the Danube drainage basin.

2000 Baia Mare cyanide spill

The 2000 Baia Mare cyanide spill was a leak of cyanide near Baia Mare, Romania, into the Someș River by the gold mining company Aurul, a joint-venture of the Australian company Esmeralda Exploration and the Romanian government.

Danube–Criș–Mureș–Tisa Euroregion

The Danube–Criș–Mureș–Tisa Euroregion is a euroregion located in Hungary, Romania and Serbia. It is named after four rivers: Danube, Criș, Mureș and Tisa.

Multinational Engineer Battalion Tisa

Multinational Engineer Battalion Tisa is an engineering unit intended to quickly respond to flooding and other natural disasters in the Carpathian Region. Initial idea for creation of such unit was voiced by Ukraine in December 1998. Battalion was created on November 15, 2002 after Heads of General Staff of Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak and Ukrainian Armed Forces signed the Technical Arrangement on Implementation of Intergovernmental Agreement on Multinational Engineer Battalion Tisa in Budapest. The name comes from river Tisza.

Romania–Ukraine border

The Romania–Ukraine border is the state border between Romania and Ukraine. It consists of land and maritime boundary. The total border length is 613.8 km (381.4 mi) including 292.2 km (181.6 mi) by rivers and 33 km (21 mi) by the Black Sea. It is part of the external border of the European Union.


  1. Tisza at GEOnet Names Server
  2. 1 2 Tockner, Klement; Uehlinger, Urs; Robinson, Christopher T., eds. (2009). Rivers of Europe (First ed.). London: Academic Press. Sec. 3.9.5. ISBN   978-0-12-369449-2.
  3. "Analysis of the Tisza River Basin 2007- Initial step toward the Tisza River Basin Management Plan – 2009" (PDF). www.icpdr.or. March 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  4. "Danube + Tisza River". danube.panda.org. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  5. "Declaration On Co-Operation Concerning The Tisza/Tisa River Basin And Initiative On The Sustainable Spatial Development Of The Tisza/Tisa River | International Environmental Agreements (IEA) Database Project". iea.uoregon.edu. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  6. NoorderSoft Waterway Database; accessed 13 March 2016.
  7. Konyvek, Szalay (2009). Our Beloved Hungaricums. Pannon-Literatura Kft. p. 94. ISBN   978-963-251-145 0.
  8. Klaushik. "Blooming of the Tisza". amusingplanet.com. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  9. Đorđe Đukić (8 September 2020). "Otkriveni organizmi stari 500 miliona godina" [Organisms originating rom 500 million years ago discovered]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 12.
  10. 1 2 "Third pollution spill hits Hungary". BBC. 15 March 2000. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  11. H. L. Nguyen, M. Braun, I. Szaloki, W. Baeyens, R. Van Grieken and M. Leermakers (30 October 2008). "Tracing the Metal Pollution History of the Tisza River". Springer. doi:10.1007/s11270-008-9898-2. S2CID   94627373 . Retrieved 11 October 2010.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)