Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén (Hungarian: Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén vármegye, pronounced [ˈborʃod ˈɒbɒuːj ˈzɛmpleːn]; Slovak: Boršodsko-abovsko-zemplínska) is an administrative county (comitatus or vármegye) in north-eastern Hungary (commonly called "Northern Hungary"), on the border with Slovakia (Košice Region). It shares borders with the Hungarian counties Nógrád, Heves, Hajdú-Bihar and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. The capital of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county is Miskolc. Of the seven statistical regions of Hungary it belongs to the region Northern Hungary.

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén vármegye
Landscape in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, near Boldogkő
Sajó near Sajónémeti
Castle of Diósgyőr, Miskolc
Descending, from top: Hills near Boldogkőváralja, Sajó river near Sajónémeti, and Castle of Diósgyőr
Flag of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County
Coat of arms of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County within Hungary
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County within Hungary
Coordinates: Coordinates: 48°15′N 21°00′E / 48.250°N 21.000°E / 48.250; 21.000
Country Hungary
RegionNorthern Hungary
County seatMiskolc
 • President of the General AssemblyDezső Török (Fidesz-KDNP)
 • Total7,249.67 km2 (2,799.11 sq mi)
 • Rank2nd in Hungary
 • Total648,216[1]
 • Rank2nd in Hungary
Postal code
Area code(s)(+36) 46, 47, 48, 49
ISO 3166 codeHU-BZ

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén is the second largest county of Hungary both by area (after Bács-Kiskun) and by population (after Pest County). It is the only Hungarian county with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst and the Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape).

Origins and meanings of nameEdit

The county bears the name of three historic counties of Hungary, each of them was centered around a castle.

  • Borsod is named after the castle to which it belonged. The castle was possibly named after its first steward, Bors (in old Hungarian language the -d suffix was a derivation suffix for place names, thus the name Borsod means 'place belonging to Bors.') The name Bors itself is of Hungarian origin, derived from the Turkish loan word bors, which means 'black pepper / peppercorn'[2] or a Slavic personal name Bor(i)š, Borša. The castle itself was a motte castle, and stood near modern-day Edelény.
  • Abaúj is a shortened form of the name of its castle, Abaújvár. The Aba portion refers to the Aba clan which ruled the area in the Middle Ages, while új vár means 'new castle.' The castle stood near the village of Abaújvár.
  • Zemplén is named after its castle as well. The name is derived from the Slovak word zem or the Slavic zemlja, meaning 'earth, soil, ground' or 'country.' The castle, like its name indicates, was a motte with earthen walls; its remnants can still be seen near the Slovak village Zemplín.

Note that besides these three castles, there were other castles in the old counties which became the modern Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, such as the well-known Füzérvár.

Coat of arms and flagEdit

The coat of arms

The county's coat of arms was created in 1991 from the coats of arms of the former counties now forming parts of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén. From left to right: Coat of arms of Abaúj-Torna county. – Coat of arms of Zemplén county. – Coat of arms of Borsod county. – Coat of arms of Gömör / Gömör-Kishont county[3] (with its red background color changed to the same blue as used in the coat of arms of Abaúj).

The flag is vertically divided into two equal sections (red and blue), with the coat of arms on it, and the county's name embroidered with gold thread under the coat of arms. Its ratio is 2:1. The use of both coat of arms and flag is regulated by the county council.[3]


Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén is one of the most geographically diverse areas of Hungary. It lies where the Northern Mountains meet the Great Hungarian Plain, thus the northern parts of the county are mountainous – with some of the highest peaks and deepest caves in the country –, the southern parts are flat. The average temperature is lower than that of the country, the average humidity is higher (7–800 mm/year.) The region holds the country's record for lowest temperature: −35 °C (−31 °F) on 16 February 1940 in the town of Görömböly-Tapolca (now Miskolctapolca.)


  • Tisza, which forms a natural border between Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg countries
  • Sajó, a tributary to Tisza
  • Bodrog, a tributary to Tisza
  • Hernád, a tributary to Sajó

Highest pointsEdit


Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county was created after World War II from the pre-1938 counties Borsod-Gömör-Kishont, Abaúj-Torna and Zemplén (see also: 1950 Administrative Reform in Hungary).

From the Conquest until the Turkish occupation (900s–1526)Edit

The historical comitatus (Hungarian: vármegye – "castle county", since each of them belonged to a castle) came into existence during the Middle Ages. Borsod county belonged to the Castle of Borsod, Abaúj belonged to the Castle of Újvár (in the modern village of Abaújvár) and Zemplén belonged to the Castle of Zemplén (today in Slovakia.)

At this time the area of Borsod also included the later county Torna, and Abaúj also included the later counties Sáros and Heves. In the 12th century the former Abaúj comitatus was split into Abaúj, Heves and Sáros counties, while Torna was separated from Borsod. For the next hundreds of years the borders remained unchanged.

About two-thirds of the areas of these counties were royal property, the others were ruled by clans, for example the Miskóc clan (after whom the city of Miskolc was named.) The area was inhabited mostly by castle serfs and foreign settlers (Pechenegs, Walloons, Czechs and Germans.) By the 12th century more and more areas were owned by noble families and the Church. Most of Borsod was ruled by the Bors-Miskóc clan, while Abaúj was the estate of the Aba clan.

By the 14th century most of the area was owned by oligarchs. To straighten his rule Charles Robert waged war against them. Palatine Amadé Aba (Genus Aba) was "de facto" ruler of Northern Hungary. Charles Robert betrayed and defeated Amadé in the Battle of Rozgony in 1312, and also gained power over Northern Hungary.

The differences between towns and villages became important during the Anjou age of Hungary. In Borsod and Abaúj the Free Royal Town of Kassa (today's Košice, Slovakia) and Miskolc emerged as the most important towns. The Castle of Diósgyőr had its prime under Louis the Great, it was one of the favourite residences of the royal family.

In the 16th century wine growing gained more importance. Today Tokaj-Hegyalja in Zemplén is one of the most important and famous wine districts of Hungary, home of the famous Tokay wine (named after the town Tokaj, the center of the wine district.)

From the Turkish occupation until the First World War (1526–1914)Edit

After the battle of Mohács, as the Turks occupied more and more of the Southern territories of Hungary, the area of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, as the northernmost part of the country, became an important area. After the Turkish occupation ended, and Hungary became part of the Habsburg monarchy, the area – because of its distance from Austria – was the main base of the resistance, and held this status until the Ausgleich ("Compromise"), when Hungary, formerly a mere province of the Empire, became an equal partner with Austria (1867). The family of Francis II Rákóczi (leader of the Revolution against Habsburg rule in the early 18th century) had estates here, and the revolution itself was organised from here.

The region also had cultural importance. The Reformation began its spreading in Hungary in this area, and the first Protestant college was opened in Sárospatak. Many of the important persons of the Age of Enlightenment grew up in this region, for example the important politicians Lajos Kossuth, Bertalan Szemere and László Palóczy, and the language reformer Ferenc Kazinczy.

During the 18th century several towns bought their freedom from their feudal landowners. New guilds were formed, manufactures were built, mines were opened, glassworks and forges were built. Miskolc began to catch up with Kassa and take over the role as the leading city of the region, and because of this Borsod was the fastest developing county of the three counties. Many foreign settlers arrived, Slovaks, Greeks, Germans, Russians – even today there are whole villages with significant number of them. According to the census of 1787 Borsod, Abaúj and Zemplén had almost 500,000 inhabitants.

After the Ausgleich Northern Hungary – just like the other parts of the country – experienced an era of prosperity and fast development. New factories, railway lines were built, the population grew. In 1882 Abaúj county was merged with Torna, and was renamed Abaúj-Torna.

Furthermore, a large population of Jews was established during this time period. The famous film mogul who created Paramount Pictures, Adolph Zukor, was born in Ricse, a town in this county.[4]

From 1914 to todayEdit

After World War I and the Treaty of Trianon Hungary had to give up its northern parts to Czechoslovakia. Abaúj-Torna had to give up 48% of its area, 72% of Zemplén became part of Czechoslovakia, only Borsod remained fully within Hungary. The neighboring county of Gömör-Kishont retained 7.5% of its area, and remaining parts were merged with Borsod. The county seats were Miskolc (Borsod-Gömör-Kishont), Szikszó (Abaúj-Torna) and Sátoraljaújhely (Zemplén).

Under the First Vienna Award, arbitrated by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy following the Munich Agreement, Hungary re-annexed territories that has been ceded to Czechoslovakia. During World War II Kassa was the capital of Abaúj-Torna. After Allied Victory in Europe, the pre-1938 borders were reinstated. The administration of the country needed to revert to pre-war status quo, since most of the land grabs proved temporary. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians remaining in Slovakia were forcibly expelled. In 1950 the Hungarian parts of the former counties Borsod-Gömör-Kishont, Abaúj-Torna and Zemplén were united, forming the county of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, with Miskolc being the county capital.

During the Socialist era the region was developed into the centre of heavy industry. Whole new towns came into existence in place of small villages (Tiszaújváros, Kazincbarcika), the industrial character of existing cities became more important (Miskolc, Ózd.) Urbanization was rapid, workers from all over the country were arriving in these cities and towns, and the population of Miskolc reached its highest level in the 1980s (around 211.000.) The end of the Socialist era and the recession of the 1990s hit hard, the unemployment rate is one of the highest of the country, and the local governments try to get over the crisis by strengthening the touristic potential. This seems to be a good idea, since Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén is a geographically diverse area with rich natural and cultural treasures.


Religion in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County (2011 census)

  Roman Catholic (36.1%)
  Greek Catholic (5.1%)
  Calvinism (19.8%)
  Lutheranism (0.5%)
  Other religions (1.6%)
  Non-religious (12.1%)
  Atheists (0.8%)
  Undeclared (24.0%)

In 2015, it had a population of 667,594 and the population density was 92/km2.

Year County population[5] Change
1949 630,621 n/a
1960   725,303 15.01%
1970   776,750 7.09%
1980   809,468 (record) 4.21%
1990   761,963 -5.87%
2001   744,404 -2.30%
2011   686,266 -7.81%
2015   667,594 -2.79%
2018   648,216 -2.99%


Besides the Hungarian majority, the main minorities are the Roma (approx. 58,000), Germans (2,500), Slovaks (2,000) and Rusyns (1,500).

Total population (2011 census): 686,266
Ethnic groups (2011 census):[6] Identified themselves: 643,950 persons:

  • Hungarians: 576,814 (89.57%)
  • Romani: 58,246 (9.05%)
  • Others and indefinable: 8,890 (1.38%)

Approx. 89,000 persons in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County did not declare their ethnic group at the 2011 census.


Religious adherence in the county according to 2011 census:[7]

Regional structureEdit

Districts of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County
No. English and
Hungarian names
Seat No. of
1 Cigánd District
Cigándi járás
389.99 16,042 41 Cigánd 15
2 Edelény District
Edelényi járás
717.86 33,314 46 Edelény 45
3 Encs District
Encsi járás
378.39 21,390 56 Encs 29
4 Gönc District
Gönci járás
549.67 19,275 35 Gönc 32
5 Kazincbarcika District
Kazincbarcikai járás
341.70 66,470 195 Kazincbarcika 22
6 Mezőcsát District
Mezőcsáti járás
351.27 14,446 41 Mezőcsát 8
7 Mezőkövesd District
Mezőkövesdi járás
723.87 42,434 59 Mezőkövesd 23
8 Miskolc District
Miskolci járás
972.80 250,530 258 Miskolc 39
9 Ózd District
Ózdi járás
385.57 54,285 141 Ózd 17
10 Putnok District
Putnoki járás
391.25 19,290 49 Putnok 26
11 Sárospatak District
Sárospataki járás
477.67 24,946 52 Sárospatak 16
12 Sátoraljaújhely District
Sátoraljaújhelyi járás
321.38 23,058 72 Sátoraljaújhely 21
13 Szerencs District
Szerencsi járás
432.07 38,106 88 Szerencs 16
14 Szikszó District
Szikszói járás
309.25 17,507 57 Szikszó 24
15 Tiszaújváros District
Tiszaújvárosi járás
248.87 31,842 128 Tiszaújváros 16
16 Tokaj District
Tokaji járás
255.81 13,331 52 Tokaj 11
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 7,249.67 686,266 95 Miskolc 358


Due to the emphasis on industrialization during the former Socialist regime and the county's richness in brown coal, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén has become one of the leading industrial regions of the country, "the Ruhr Area of Hungary". The most important centres of heavy industry were Miskolc, Ózd, Tiszaújváros and Kazincbarcika. With the fall of the Socialist regime the industry faced a crisis, and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén is among the counties that have the highest rate of unemployment and also the lowest rates of GDP per capita in Hungary.

The county is the site of the Borsod Power Plant, one of the largest biomass power plants in Hungary.


County hall of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén

County AssemblyEdit

The Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County Council, elected at the 2019 local government elections, is made up of 29 counselors,[8] with the following party composition:

Party Seats Current County Assembly
  Fidesz-KDNP 18                                    
  Opposition coalition[a] 8                                    
  Democratic Coalition 3                                    

Presidents of the County AssemblyEdit

President[9] Terms
Dezső Török (Fidesz-KDNP) 2014–

Members of the National AssemblyEdit

The following members elected of the National Assembly during the 2022 parliamentary election:[10]

Constituency Member Party
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 1st constituency Katalin Csöbör Fidesz–KDNP
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 2nd constituency János Kiss Fidesz–KDNP
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 3rd constituency Gábor Riz Fidesz–KDNP
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 4th constituency Zoltán Demeter Fidesz–KDNP
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 5th constituency Richárd Hörcsik Fidesz–KDNP
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 6th constituency Zsófia Koncz Fidesz–KDNP
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County 7th constituency András Tállai Fidesz–KDNP


Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County has 1 urban county, 27 towns, 8 large villages and 322 villages.

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén is the county of extremes: it is the home of the country's fourth largest city and second largest agglomeration, where one fourth of the county' population resides, on the other hand, the county is full of hamlets with population under 200. Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén has 28 cities/towns (as of 2019) and over 300 villages. With a total of 358 cities, towns and villages this county has the most municipalities in Hungary. Approximately half of the population lives in cities/towns.

City with county rights

(ordered by population, as of 2011 census)


  municipalities are large villages.

Tourist sightsEdit



International relationsEdit

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County has a partnership relationship with:

References and notesEdit

  1. ^, population data of Hungarian settlements
  2. ^ Ladó János – Bíró Ágnes: Magyar utónévkönyv. Budapest: Vince. 2005. ISBN 9639069728. p. 41.
  3. ^ a b Decree about the coat of arms and flag of the county (PDF)
  4. ^ "Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary (English pages 79-109)".
  5. ^ népessé, "Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megye népessége 1870–2015"
  6. ^ 1.1.6. A népesség anyanyelv, nemzetiség és nemek szerint – Frissítve: 2013.04.17.; Hungarian Central Statistical Office (in Hungarian)
  7. ^ 2011. ÉVI NÉPSZÁMLÁLÁS, 3. Területi adatok, 3.5 Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megye, (in Hungarian) [1] Archived 1 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Megyei közgyűlés tagjai 2019–2024 (Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megye)". Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  9. ^ Önkormányzati választások eredményei (in Hungarian)
  10. ^ "Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megye parlamenti képviselői (Parlamenti Információs Rendszer 2022-)" (in Hungarian). Hungarian National Assembly.

External linksEdit