?ara Mo?ilor (German: Motzenland), also known as ?ara de Piatr? ("The Stone Land") is an ethnogeographical region of Romania in the Apuseni Mountains, on the upper basin of the Arie? and Cri?ul Alb River rivers. It covers parts of the Alba, Arad, Bihor, Cluj and Hunedoara counties of Romania and a section of it forms the Apuseni Natural Park.
?ara Mo?ilor's inhabitants are known as "mo?i" (German: Motzen, Hungarian: mócok). Some scholars consider the 'mo?i' as descendants of the Celts, because of their blonde hair and blue eyes, elements more frequent here than among other Romanians; however, the hypothesis is not accepted by mainstream historians due to its lack of consistency. Other scholars believe that they are the descendants of Slavs, for the same very reasons, or of the Alans. Yet another group of scholars consider them the descendants of Germanic tribes (Gepids). Due to their blonde hair and blue eyes, so far seventeen theories regarding their origins have been formulated.
They live in scattered villages at altitudes up to about 1,400 m, higher than any other permanent settlements in Romania. The '?ara Mo?ilor' traditionally begins at Bistra, just before Câmpeni, formerly called Topani by the mo?i themselves or Topesdorf by the Austrians, traditionally considered the unofficial capital of the mo?i, while the villages down the Arie? towards Turda such as Lup?a, S?lciua etc. are inhabited by the mocani. The mo?i were also known under the name of 'topi' (in German 'Die Zopfen'). Before the last change of the old administrative boundaries there existed an Arie? county in its own right.
The term "?ara" means literally "country" (cf. Latin and medieval Latin: terra); exceptionally in this case (differently from ?ara Bârsei, ?ara Oa?ului, ?ara F?g?ra?ului, ?ara Ha?egului, ?ara Z?randului and Maramure?), it doesn't imply any political, social or administrative status. It is, instead, an archaic term referring to an enclosed and more or less isolated depression between the Carpathians. The region has a long history of resistance and fighting for political, economical and social rights, with movements such as the Revolt of Horea, Clo?ca and Cri?an (1784-1785) and the Romanian part of the Transylvanian revolution of 1848 having their origins here.
Logging, woodworking and mining are the main traditional industrial activities in ?ara Mo?ilor, with leather processing, blacksmith work, the miller's trade, and the manual combing and spinning of wool as secondary activities. The large Oak, beech and spruce forests provide the material for the famous artisanal barrels, furniture and other specific items made there. Coal (at Brad), iron (at B?i?oara and Iara), silver and gold (at Baia de Arie?, Bucium, Ro?ia Montan?, Zlatna, B?i?a, Musariu, Criscior), bauxite (at Vârciorog, Ro?ia, Dobre?ti, Zece Hotare), mercury (at Izvorul Ampoiului), copper, lead, zinc (at B?i?a, S?c?râmb, Ro?ia Poieni) and molybdenum (at B?i?a) are all extracted here to the present day, with some of the mines (Ro?ia Montan?) being almost 2000 years old.
Because of the highland conditions, the mo?i practice animal husbandry. Their main livestock of choice is cattle and the local highland cattle, called "Pinzgau de Transilvania", a variant of Tyrolese Pinzgau breed, was introduced by the Austrians during the 19th century. Sheep, poultry and pig farming are a secondary choice for farmers in the area. Along south-facing mountain slopes, and along the narrow river valleys one can found scattered cultivation of potatoes, barley and even cold-resistant vegetables.
The zone is renowned for its folkloric traditions, stunning landscapes, and the variation of the Karstic relief which produced over 800 natural caves such as Sc?ri?oara, Focul Viu (both of them with surviving glaciers inside) and Pe?tera Ur?ilor (which contains fossils of Ursus spelaeus, the cave bear). Agritourism and ecotourism are also widely practiced in the area. The main winter sports center for the area is in Arie?eni.