I. The situation of the village Şuncuiuş
The village Şuncuiuş is located on the northwest of Romania, on the eastern part of the county Bihor, at the foot of the mountains called “Pădurea Craiului” (meaning “the king's forest”), on the middle flow of the river Crişul Repede and includes four villages: Şuncuiuş, which is the central village, and the villages Bălnaca, Zecehotare and Bălnaca Groşi, which is located on a 7204 ha of land.
The administrative territory of the village Şuncuiuş is bordered by the villages: Borod on the north, Bratca on the east and northeast, Vadu-Crişului on the west and northwest, Dobreşti on the southwest and Roşia on the south. Şuncuiuş is situated in central position between Vadu Crişului (at about 7 km distance), Bratca (at about 7 km distance) and Borod (at about 11 km distance); once these villages provided a large number of workers to the workshops of the village, especially workers trained on the field of mining.
The relief of Şuncuiuş is very diverse: it has hills, the most important among them are: the Cărmăzan (855 m), the Recea (750 m), the Dealul Popii (683 m), the hill of the Rujet (845 m), the hill Hăpătag (730 m) and many others with a smaller altitudes. Beside the hills, the village has a part with lower mountains too, belonging to the Mountains of the “Pădurea Craiului” (called “the Peak of Runcul ”). An other geographical form that can be found on the territory of Şuncuiuş is the basin situated at the center part of the village (by the villages Şuncuiuş and Bălanaca). This basin area belongs to the Basin Compartment of Vad-Borod, which separates the mountain Pădurea Craiului from the mountain Şes. The hilly and mountainous part of the village has mainly clayey and chalky subsoil; during the karst-formation the water built caves (approximately 70 in number) in the latter – among which the most important is the “Peştera Vântului”; dolines, sinkholes, periodical springs and karstic valleys that are unique by their structure and the amount of information that they hide about the long-passed periods.
The village Şuncuiuş is crossed by the river Crişul Repede and its' branches on a 7 km length; some of them are permanent like the valley of the Izbândişul, and that of the Mişidul , which springs on the territory of the village, as well as a lot of brooks that flow in terms of seasons and precipitations: the valley of the Gros, the valley of the Măguranul, the valley of the Ţarin, and the valley of the Făget.
From administrative point of view Şuncuiuş is a village founded in the year 1964, by the time of the administrative reorganization, and nowadays it includes lands that before the reorganization belonged to the neighboring villages. The village includes: Şuncuiuş, which, with its 1832 inhabitants (according to the census from the year 2002) is also the administrative center, Bălnaca with 1013 inhabitants, Zecehotare with 499 inhabitants and Bălnaca – Groşi with 167 inhabitants. In the village centre (in the village Şuncuiuş ) prevail the families who live in apartment-houses built before the year 1989 and connected to the water and sewerage networks, the village Bălnaca has much and the less the same compact distribution, and in the other two villages Zecehotare and Bălnaca – Groşi prevail the dissipated households, that are specific for the mountainous villages with average or large distance between the houses. Each of the above-mentioned villages is made up of hamlets, 7 in number on the village level.
As it c concerns the road- and railway infrastructure, the village Şuncuiuş is crossed by a railway; respectively the railroad Bucureşti – Oradea and it has a train station with ticket-office, waiting hall and other specific appurtenances. Concerning the road-system that crosses the village, it is crossed by two county-roads: DJ 764 Aleşd – Beiuş and DJ 108-I Tileagd – Bratca ; 5 communal-roads, respectively the DC 177 Şuncuiuş – Zecehotare, that bounds the two county-roads; DC 273 Bălnaca –Bălnaca-Groşi; DC 36 Corn – Cărmăzan and DC 38 Topile (DC 177), Pojorâta, DC 165 Bălnaca-Chirămaş, which cross the village on 48 km length.
II. Historical presentation
The first documentary attestation of the settlement Şuncuiuş can be dated to the year 1256 by the name Sunkulus in a record of the diploma of Béla the 4 th , the king of Hungary . Beginning the years 1264, 1284, 1508 and 1604, the settlement Şuncuiuş is mentioned for many times as being part of the area Şinteu. After being exiled, Gavrilaş Movilă and Constantin Şerban, the former lords of Wallachia , settle down on this area in the first part of the 17 th century. They tried to reform their forces to seize back their lost thrones. The contemporary history of these places records the martyrdom of George Groza and Mihai Ungur, who were arrested and cruelly killed by the members of the Hungarian guard after the “Great Union” from the year 1918. Their successors, the veterans of our times were rewarded with several medals by the time of the World War II. Şuncuiuş becomes a village in the year 1964, when as a result of the administrative reorganization of the country it has been founded this village too, that included lands formerly belonging to the neighboring villages. It was also by this time that the village Zecehotare, nowadays belonging to the village Şuncuiuş, has been dismembered.
The most impressive development of the area has taken place after the World War II, when there begins the exploitation of the clay and bauxite deposits on the nowadays territory of the village, the clay problem of Şuncuiuş being considered a problem of national interest on the period precursory to 1989.
III. The population
The four settlements of the village Şuncuiuş have 3511 inhabitants (According to the census from the year 2002): Şuncuiuş has 1832 (idem), Bălnaca 1013, Zecehotare 499 and Bălnaca Groşi 167 inhabitants. According their religion, most of the inhabitants are Orthodox: 2841, but there are inhabitants of other religion too: 463 Pentecostals, 123 Baptists, 48 Reformed, 27 Romano-Catholics, 14 Greek-Catholics, 6 Christians of Old Communion, 1 Lutheran, 1 Jehovah's Witness and 5 undeclared. According to their nationality most of the inhabitants are Romanians: 90,71 %,; 5.50 % Roma; 4,01 % Hungarians and few than 1 % of other nationalities (Russians, Germans and Slovaks). One may speak about a quite strong aging of the population as a result of the migration of the young population to the cities for more studying and working opportunities.
One may notice a decrease of the number inhabitants in the village, not only as a result of the migration (a phenomenon that had a continuous leap simultaneously with the reorganization of the mining-related factories in the village, so that the inhabitants were obliged to look after workplaces elsewhere), but also as a result of the decreasing of the birth rate by the village, which is also specific for the whole country in this period of time.
The employment of the labor-power in the settlement is very low; the majority of the employees are working in other settlements, especially in the neighboring cities. In the village there are very few working-places, the mining industry being the main source of working-places for the inhabitants of the village and the neighboring settlements until the reorganization. Currently this domain is restricted very much, as the exploiting of the (clay) deposits is made only on the surface quarries with a reduced number of workers. Other categories of workers are those working on the field of trade, tourism, diverse services, administration and so on, but most of the inhabitants of the village are working in other cities. The unemployment rate of the village is estimated somewhere about 10 – 15 %. The majority of the inhabitants are trained in the mining domain, because in that period of time mining undergoes to a quite backed development, but the younger population is trained for new professions and trades adapted to the time period and the needs of the current labor-power market in the area. Currently the Local Public Administration grants social security to 68 families.
Referring to the sanitary system and its representation on local level, there are 3 health centers in the villages Bălnaca, Şuncuiuş and Zecehotare. There are two individual doctor's offices in Şuncuiuş with two doctors and three nurses. There is also a dentist's surgery in Şuncuiuş. There is only one nurse in the doctor's office of the villages Bălnaca and Zecehotare to attend the duty, and the special medical assistance is also attended periodical by the two doctors of the medical unit from Şuncuiuş.
Speaking about the veterinary sanitary assistance, there is a pets' clinic with a veterinary surgeon in the village centre, which assures permanent specific medical assistance.
Speaking of the education and its representation on local level, i n Şuncuiuş there are 8 schools, a high school and two kindergartens with normal program: one in Şuncuiuş and one in Bălnaca. One may state that the establishment of the education could be realised only step-by-step and it faced a lot of difficulties in Şuncuiuş, as in all the other Romanian villages. Thanks to the efforts of the inhabitants, in 1874 there is built the first teachers' dwelling with stonewall that is going to serve as school with 1-4 grades until the year 1955, and later, when the 5 th -8 th grades are founded, it is going to be extended. The number of the children increased, so they decided for the raising of a new building that is going to function as primary school from the year 1965. In the year 1973 it is built the new one-storied school building with installed water, sewerage, electric power and central heating. Until the year 1984 it functions only as an elementary school, respectively from the year 1985 there are going to function as 1-10 grades school; the night-school classes of the Alexandru Roman Trade School of Aleşd were also functioning in the new school building until the year 1991, when it becomes the High-School of Şuncuiuş. From the year 1991 until nowadays the high school had the following sections: mining mechanics, electro-technique, mathematic-physics and environment. The high school of Şuncuiuş has well maintained financial ground, sports grounds, gym, library, and a well prepared teaching stuff dedicated to prepare the pupils willing to attend the school in Şuncuiuş. There are 34 teachers employed in the four educational cycles of the training school from Şuncuiuş. Also in Şuncuiuş, respectively in the village Pojorâta there is another school with 1-4 classes with united classes, because of the reduced number of the pupils. The situation is the same by the schools from the hamlet Cărmăzan, the village Zecehotare, Bălnaca –Groşi and by the School from the hamlet Chirămaş, and the village Bălnaca. There is an elementary school in the village Bălnaca and also in Zecehotare.
Still the most important school is the high school from Şuncuiuş with two sections of fulltime classes: mathematics-informatics and environment and reduced attendance high school education: electro-technique section.
Referring to the local communication system, there are both fixed telephone networks with digital centre (Romtelecom), and cable television services operating on the territory of the village. There is coverage for the Romanian mobile telephones, and for some international network services, but for some of them the coverage level is quite low and it varies depending on the area.
VIII. Houses and communitarian services
Speaking about the houses, with only a few exceptions they are almost totally in private property, their prices being quite accessible. The house prices are variable, depending on the village and their location. The village-centre is installed with centralized water and sewerage system by accessible prices available for anyone.
On the hill and mountain areas there are no such water networks installed and maintained by the inhabitants benefiting of them, they use the springs and wells as water sources. There are no natural gas networks in the village. With only a few exceptions (2-3 households) the village is almost completely covered by the electric network.
Among the communitarian services existing in the village one may mention: the police office with two policemen serving in it, and a fire-department seating near the town-hall.
IX. Recreation, amusement, nature and surroundings
of interaction between stone and water amazing by its perfection and exceptional by its value more unchanged than here. The most important cave is the one called “Peştera Vântului” (“the wind's cave”), which was discovered on the 7 th of April 1957, unique not only by its length, but also for its morphology so specific for the inner karstic formations. Another very important cave is the “Ungurul Mare” (“the great Hungarian”), cave “Mişid”, cave “Moanii”, and cave “Bătrânului” which makes part of the “Imaşul Bătrânului”, cave “Izbândiş”, cave “Lesiana” and many other karstic offsets.
Those who are fond of alpinism may find Şuncuiuş a very favourable place for the practicing of this activity. There are many ranges for the alpinists by the ravine of the Crişul Repede situated on right slope; mentioning only some of them: Traseul Crucii (the range of the cross), Traseul „Creasta Abruptă” (the range of the abrupt ridge), Traseul Roşu (the red range), Traseul „1 Mai” (the range 1 st of May) and so on.
Taking into account that the Crişul Repede River crosses the village Şuncuiuş, which along the years created a stunning ravine by the continuous erosion of the mountain. In 1955 the ravine of the Crişul Repede has been declared nature reservation on a 3 km distance by the Romanian Academy . The entire area is very interesting from biological point of view: the current and fossilized flora and fauna, and also from spelunking, archeological and physical geographic point of view. Due to its complex pedoclimatic parameters, there are about 1500 plant species in the ravine, 757 of them are superior plants. We mention only a few of the protected plants: Fritillaria meleagroides, Amygdalus mana, Ruscus aculeatus, and Pulsatila Montana . There are also a lot of herb species and edible mushrooms. There are a lot of amphibians and reptiles belonging to the fauna of the ravine (newt species, salamanders, green lizards, wall lizard, Aesculapian snake ), bird species, some of them especially rare (sparrowhawk, kestrel), small and big mammals (otter, deer, wild-boar, wild-cat, lynx).
The ravine area of the Crişul Repede offers optimal spare-time activity conditions to the tourists who are fond of rafting.
There are many fish species in the area, so there are also good fishing conditions. In the village there are also hunting opportunities; the hunting area is the property of the regional Hunting & Fishing Association. There are many huntable wild animal species living in the area, as for instance: wild boar, deer, hare, as well as a great variety of bird species and small animals.
There are a lot of wandering and walking opportunities for all those who come to visits the village Şuncuiuş, there being a lot of tourist ranges installed with the adequate marks, and being of average and reduced difficulty, some of them being un-recommended in wintertime. Even though there is no properly arranged ski-truck in the village yet, one may also ski in wintertime, there do still exist some adequate places, where besides skiing one may also sledge or practice other winter sports. In the village center there is a large football-ground, which is optimal for competitions, handball- and volley-grounds and a gym facilitated with all the necessary equipment as part of the local school.
As a conclusion the village Şuncuiuş has been a typically mining settlement, but by the time of the drastic reduction of these kind of activities the inhabitants were obliged to adapt to the newly appeared socio-economical conditions, just as in fact anywhere else; some of the succeeded it, others not. Currently many inhabitants, mainly those living in the villages situated on hills and mountains, earn their living by farming and especially stockbreeding. There would be quite many developing possibilities in fields like: tourism, agro-tourism and amusement-tourism, but in the same time there are some economical activities that have good potentials on local level. Among others, there are considerable amounts of clay, bauxite, simple chalkstone, black chalkstone, and water resources, and last but not at least labour-power that is quite well-qualified in different domains.