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Introduction of Hajdú-Bihar County

Located close to the Eastern border of Hungary, Hajdú-Bihar County (6210,56 km²) with its 82 settlements (with a total population of 521 000 in 2023) owns unique natural and cultural values. Accessibility is provided by highways, railway network and Debrecen International Airport. The county area is part of the Hungarian Great Plain with the highest point of about 170 metres above sea level and composed of different landscapes: the sand hills of Nyírség formed by the wind on the North-eastern part, the loess table of Hajdúság in the middle, the salt steppe and large „Puszta” area of Hortobágy in the West and the meadow and flood soils of the Berettyó-Körös area in the South form a flat but diverse picturesque land to see.

Its climate (moderately warm and dry) is defined by the characteristics of neighbouring landscapes, with a drier summer and colder winter than generally in the Great Plain. Although the county extends on a small area and there are no big height differences among regions, significant climatic variations are recorded both from the West to the East and from the North to the South. The total annual number of sunny hours is 2020-2150, the average annual temperature is 10,5-11 °C with the highest values in July and the lowest ones in January.

The county is one of the driest regions in the Great Plain; the annual rainfall is less than 500 mm in Hortobágy and reaches about 600 mm in the Berettyó-Körös area.

The county is part of the catchment area of river Tisza, but poor in surface water. River Tisza runs on a short section on the North-eastern border of the county while in the South, Berettyó and Sebes-Körös mean the most significant watercourses. Man-made canals are organic parts of the county’s water management: Eastern Main Canal originally served agricultural needs while contributing to the operation of fish farms; Western Main Canal serves ecological purpose. Still water bodies are of both natural origin (e.g. oxbow lakes, backwaters) and man-made. Thermal groundwater means important natural asset meaning the base for health tourism – widely known spa and thermal hotels offer high quality services for visitors arriving from all over the world.

To protect and preserve the significant nature values, different types and levels of protection are applied. Starting from the most significant area, Hortobágy National Park (World Heritage site since 1999, Ramsar site, Biosphere Reserve, and designated silver tier Dark Sky Park) is the oldest national park in the country with the largest protected area (800 km2) in Hungary and the largest semi-natural grassland in Europe. Landscape protection areas as well as nature protection areas also cover an important size of the county. Significant areas are designated as Natura 2000 sites; some of them belongs to Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) while others to Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Protected values of local importance are also have to be mentioned: more than 100 natural monuments and 3200 ha of natural values are defined.

Concerning the county’s economy, the most valuable asset is its arable land with especially high quality in several areas. Extensive grasslands also enrich the potential for making the county one of the leading agricultural producers in Hungary – more than 73% of the county area is under agricultural cultivation.

Focusing on industry, the county’s most significant industries are chemicals and pharmaceuticals, machines, food processing and energy. Pharmaceuticals and food processing mean specific potentials as leading innovative fields. Service sector is a large contributor to economic performance, with special focus on IT: multinational companies established their regional centres in the city of Debrecen (capital of the county).

The economy of the county is strongly strengthened by tourism as well: utilizing landscape, traditions, thermal water and the knowledge available via the University of Debrecen, one can find widespread opportunities and services for recreation, sightseeing, fishing and hunting, gastronomic and cultural events as well as conference and business tourism.

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