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a megye (county) in southwestern Hungary, on the border with Yugoslavia, in the basin of the Drava River. Area, 3,300 sq km; population, 267,000 (1970). The administrative center is the city of Zalaegerszeg.
The main branch of the megye’s economy is agriculture, mainly grain farming and animal husbandry. Rye, oat, and potato crops predominate on the slopes of the hills, which are partly wooded (forests cover about one-fourth of the megye)’, wheat and, to a lesser extent, corn are grown in the valleys. There is viticulture and horticulture. Cattle are raised (there were 113,000 head of cattle in 1968). Zala is the country’s major region for the extraction of petroleum (deposits in Nagylengyel, Budafapuszta, Hahót, and Lovászi) and gas. Manufacturing is based on the processing of local agricultural raw materials (flour-milling, brewing, dairy, and meat industry) and petroleum, with oil refineries at Zalaegerszeg and Lovaszi, and the production of equipment for the petroleum industry in Nagykanizsa and Zalaegerszeg.