The high-level Giurgeului Basin lying at the upper reaches of the River Mures is a characteristic ethnographical region of Szeklerland. An ethnographer of Gheorgheni Márton Tarisznyás wrote that "the history of Gheorgheni is the history of the struggle with the forest as well. The swift alpine streams assured the amount of water necessary to the settlement and gave the mills driving force." Gheorgheni Seat was first mentioned in 1406, which indicates that it must have had a lot of settlements by then.
Topographically, the Giurgeului Basin is a closed inter-Carpathian basin among the Gurghiului, the Giurgeului and the Harghita Mountains. The River Mures takes it source on its area. The Giurgeului Basin is almost 30 km wide on the Gheogheni-Borzont line and it lies 800-850 m above sea level. The area of the Gheorgheni country - including Toplita, but without Borsec, Tulghes and Bicaz - is of 1,609.2 km2, its population was of 78,700 people (on 1st January 1996). Administratively, it consists of Gheorgheni and Toplita towns as well as 10 communes (Ciumani, Ditrau, Galautas, Joseni, Lazarea, Remetea, Sarmas, Subcetate, Suseni and Voslobeni). The centre of the region is Gheorgheni, the former district town. Toplita town and its neighbourhood are also regarded as part of the region, although this country has never belonged to the historical Gheorgheni Affiliated Seat.
The run-off of the basin is the Mures- breakthrough opening under Toplita: here arrives in Szeklerland the Corona express running on the Budapest-Cluj-Napoca-Deda line. Several passes establish connections with the neighbouring regions from the basin: the Bucin Pass with the Praid Basin, the Liban Peak with the Odorhei country, the Pongrác Peak with Moldova through Lake Red (Lacu Rosu) and the Bicaz Canion, the Cross Peak with the Ghiurghiului valley, the Ditrau Pass with Tulghes, while the Gréces or Izvoru Mures Pass with the Ciucului Basin. The settlements of the microregion can be easily approached along National Roads 12, 13B and County Road 133C. The architectural and cultural history monuments of the settlements deserve special attention. The architectural monuments of Lazarea and Ditrau as well as Lake Red and the Bicaz Pass represent the touristic attractive forces of national importance of this microregion. Although being rich in mineral water, the region has no spa of national significance.
Most probably, the name of Gheorgheni ("Gyergyó") has its origin in the name of the martyr Saint George.
Despite its severe climate, Gheorgheni was populated early; it was already inhabited in the 13th century by Szeklers. The first settlements were formed at the foot of the mountains, those along the Mures seem to have been formed later. In the beginning, Gheorgheni, Lazarea and Joseni parishes were known which must have included several villages. In 1853, a total of 18 villages were mentioned to belong to the region of which area was then sized up to 32 square miles. In the formation of the villages duplication played an important role: for example, Valea Stramba separated from Gheorgheni, Ciumani from Joseni, Ditrau and Remetea from Lazarea. According to the registration of 1567, Gheorgheni appeared with 78 gates, Valea Stramba with 40, Lazarea with 48, Joseni with 44, Suseni with 32, Ditrau with 26, Ciumani with 14, while Remetea appeared with 6 gates (between 1562-1660, a "gate" meant a taxpayer unit consisting of 10-11 families; only the serf-gates were listed).
The income sources of the inhabitants were timbering, board cutting, floatage, animal-breeding and farming. The villages were situated near the streams and had decimal structure. Border fences and gates separated the villages from the border. Several families, usually relatives lived in the courts. The settling down of the Armenians in Gheorgheni brought a new elan into the development of industry and trade. On the turn of the century (19-20th), the development of the wood-mills and the building of the railway made its effect be felt in a significant way: many undertook jobs in wood processing and transport. The Szekler circular railway connecting Gheorgheni to other parts of Transylvania was finished only in 1906.