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The Tisza in Szeged, Hungary
Map of the Tisza
Native name
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 [1]
Length966 km (600 mi)
Basin size156,087 km2 (60,266 sq mi) [2] 154,073.1 km2 (59,488.0 sq mi) [3]
  location Novi Slankamen, Serbia (near mouth)
  average820 m3/s (29,000 cu ft/s) 920.111 m3/s (32,493.4 cu ft/s) [4]
  minimum160 m3/s (5,700 cu ft/s)
  maximum4,500 m3/s (160,000 cu ft/s)
  location Szeged, Hungary (173.6 km upstream of mouth - Basin size: 138,857.7 km2 (53,613.3 sq mi) [5]
  average769 m3/s (27,200 cu ft/s) 890.451 m3/s (31,446.0 cu ft/s) [6]
  location Szolnok, Hungary (334.6 km upstream of mouth - Basin size: 72,889.4 km2 (28,142.8 sq mi) [7]
  average546 m3/s (19,300 cu ft/s) 578.922 m3/s (20,444.4 cu ft/s)
  location Tokaj, Hungary (543.079 km upstream of mouth - Basin size: 49,120.9 km2 (18,965.7 sq mi) [8]
  average465 m3/s (16,400 cu ft/s) 468.77 m3/s (16,554 cu ft/s) [9]
  location Vásárosnamény, Hungary (684.45 km upstream of mouth - Basin size: 30,978.9 km2 (11,961.0 sq mi) [10]
  average340.62 m3/s (12,029 cu ft/s) [11]
Basin features
Progression DanubeBlack Sea
  left Someș, Körös, Mureș, Bega
  right Bodrog, Sajó, Eger, Zagyva

The Tisza, Tysa or Tisa, is one of the major 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, which is at coordinates 48.07465560782065, 24.24443465360461 (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) [12] Its mean annual discharge is seasonally 792 m3/s (28,000 cu ft/s) to 1,050 m3/s (37,000 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. [13]


The river was known as the Tisia in antiquity; other ancient names for it included Pathissus (Πάθισσος in Ancient Greek and later Tissus (in Latin)), (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. [14]

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. [15]

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. [16]


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. [17] [18]

In September 2020, colonies of magnificent bryozoans were discovered in the river. [19]


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 2000 tons of fish. The second, from a mine pond at Baia Borsa, northern Romania, resulted in the release of 20,000 m3 (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. [20]

This series of incidents were described at the time as the most serious environmental disaster to hit central Europe since the Chernobyl disaster. Usage 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. [20]

Examination of river sediments indicates that pollution incidents from mines have occurred for over a century. [21]



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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Hungary</span> Landlocked country in East-Central Europe

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harghita County</span> County of Romania

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

Mureș (river) River in Eastern Europe

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).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Csongrád-Csanád County</span> County of Hungary

Csongrád-Csanád is the name of an administrative county in southern Hungary, straddling the river Tisza, on the border with Serbia and Romania. It shares borders with the Hungarian counties Bács-Kiskun County, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County and Békés. The administrative centre of Csongrád-Csanád county is Szeged. The county is also part of the Danube–Criș–Mureș–Tisa Euroregion.

Târnava River in Alba County, Romania

The Târnava is a river in Romania. It is formed by the confluence of the Târnava Mare and Târnava Mică in the town of Blaj. The Târnava flows into the Mureș after 23 km near the town of Teiuș. The two source rivers of the Târnava are the Târnava Mare and Târnava Mică, and its tributaries include the Tur, Izvorul Iezerului, Secaș, and the Dunărița. Its drainage basin covers an area of 6,253 km2 (2,414 sq mi).

Crasna (Tisza) River in Hungary: Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, Romania and Hungary

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.

Săsar River in Maramureș County, Romania

The Săsar is a right tributary of the river Lăpuș in Maramureș County, Romania. It discharges into the Lăpuș in Bozânta Mare, 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).

Someș River in Satu Mare, Romania and Hungary

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.

Someșul Mic River in northwestern Romania

The Someșul Mic is a river in north-western Romania. At its confluence with the Someșul Mare in Mica, 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 originate in 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pomorišje</span>

Pomorišje is a historical geographical region on the banks of the river Mureș 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 Maramureș

Northern Maramureș 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 subregion of Transylvania, at which time the former Máramaros County was divided into a northern part, and a southern part.

Aranca River in Romania , Serbia

The Aranca or Zlatica is a 117 km long river in the Banat region of Romania and Serbia, left tributary of the river Tisa.

Câmpulung la Tisa Commune in Maramureș, Romania

Câmpulung la Tisa is a commune in Maramureș County, Maramureș, Romania. It is composed of a single village, Câmpulung la Tisa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bega (Tisza)</span> River in Romania, Serbia

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.

The Someșul Rece is the right headwater of the river Someșul Mic in Romania. It joins the Someșul Cald in Lake Gilău, a reservoir near Gilău. Its length is 49 km (30 mi) and its basin size is 330 km2 (130 sq mi).

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 Military unit

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.


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  13. Ildiko Ecsedy, "The Oriental Background to the Hungarian Tradition about 'Attila's Tomb'", Acta Orientalia , 36 (1982), pp. 129-153
  14. "Danube + Tisza River". danube.panda.org. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  15. "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.
  16. NoorderSoft Waterway Database; accessed 13 March 2016.
  17. Konyvek, Szalay (2009). Our Beloved Hungaricums. Pannon-Literatura Kft. p. 94. ISBN   978-963-251-145 0.
  18. Klaushik. "Blooming of the Tisza". amusingplanet.com. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  19. Đorđe Đukić (8 September 2020). "Otkriveni organizmi stari 500 miliona godina" [Organisms originating rom 500 million years ago discovered]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 12.
  20. 1 2 "Third pollution spill hits Hungary". BBC. 15 March 2000. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  21. H. L. Nguyen; M. Braun; I. Szaloki; W. Baeyens; R. Van Grieken; M. Leermakers (2009). "Tracing the Metal Pollution History of the Tisza River". Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 200: 119–132. doi:10.1007/s11270-008-9898-2. S2CID   94627373.