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About Romania / Transylvania / Sz?kely Land

Currently all Care2Travel volunteer placements are based in the county of Harghita which is part of the region known by the Hungarian population as Sz?kely Land (Sz?kelyf?ld) located in the East of Transylvania.

Sz?kely Land is a historic and ethnographic area in Romania, inhabited mainly by the Sz?kely, sometimes also referred to as Szeklers (Romanian: Secui, German: Szekler, Latin: Siculi), a subgroup of the Hungarian people. Sz?kelyf?ld largely corresponds to Transylvania's eastern counties: Covasna, Harghita and Mureș. Its territory is roughly 16,943 square kilometres with a population of 809,000 (2002).

The Sz?kely derive their name from a Hungarian expression meaning "frontier guards". In the Middle Ages, the Sz?kely, along with the Saxons lived up to their name by playing a key role in the defence of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Ottomans. At the time they were seen as the guards of the eastern border.

It is believed that the Sz?kely descended from Attila's Huns although others claim that their roots go back further. 
With the Treaty of Trianon of 1920, Transylvania (including Sz?kely Land) became part of Romania, and the Sz?kely population were a target of Romanianization efforts.        
Sz?kely villages can often be identified by the beautiful carved gates guarding each yard and occasionally on the road leading into a village. The picturesque road between Odorheiu Secuiesc (Sz?kelyudvarhely in Hungarian) and Miercurea-Ciuc (Cs??kszereda) has some good examples. A slight detour to the pottery-crazy village of Corund will satisfy all ceramic cravings” (The Independent; The complete guide to Transylvania, 2009).