Romania is a country situated in Central Europe. It is a member of the European Union.
Capital: Bucharest (the sixth largest city in Europe)
Major cities: Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Iasi, Brasov, Craiova, Galati, Ploiesti, Braila
Regions: Transylvania, Banat, Walachia, Oltenia, Dobrogea, Moldavia, Crisana, Bucovina, Maramures
Official language: Romanian (a Latin language very closely related to Italian)
Official currency: Romanian Leu (RON) – approximate exchange rate 1 RON= 4.5 EUROS or 5GBP or 3.5 USD (2012)
Ethnic groups: Romanians, Hungarians, Roma, Ukrainians, Germans, Turks, Russians, Tatars, Serbians, Italians, Chinese.
Population (2012 census): 19 million (the seventh largest European country)
Government: unitary semi-presidential republic
Legislature: Romanian Parliament- Senate and Chamber of Deputies
Time zone: EET (UTC+2)
Romania is a country situated in the south-east of Central Europe, on the river Danube, north of the Balcan peninsula, bordering the Black Sea. The Danube Delta, situated in Romania, is a natural reserve, one of the largest deltas in the world and the only delta in Europe. Romania borders Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, the Ukraine, the Republic of Moldavia, and the Black Sea.
Historically, Romania was under the occupation of the Roman Empire, the Otoman Empire, the Russian Empire and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Romania became an independent country in 1918.
The name “Romania” comes from the latin word “Rome (Roma)”. The oldest documented description of the name Romania dates from around 1500.
The Romanian people originate from the Thracians (the Dacians or the Getae) and the Romans. The first Getae-Dacian state was founded in 30 BC. In 106 AD the Getae-Dacian state was conquered by the Roman Empire and was under Roman rule until 275 AD. In the first millenium Romania was succesively conquered by the Gots, the Huns, the Gepids, the Avars, the Tatars and the Hungarians. In the 15th century the southern part of Romania was under Otoman rule.
In 1526 Transylvania becomes an independent country, but looses its independence in 1867, being conquered by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
The modern Romanian state was first created through the unification of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1859, and in 1918 Transylvania unites with Romania.
In 1916 Romania fights in World War I and in 1922 King Ferdinand becomes the king of “Great Romania”. In 1938 King Charles becomes a dictator.
During World War II Romania was first a German ally, and declared war on the Soviet Union. King Michael becomes king of Romania. In 1944 Romania switches sides, as a result of the Soviet Union occupying Moldavia. In 1947 King Michael of Romania is forced to abdicate by the Soviet army.
Since 1947 and until 1989 Romania was a communist country, called the Socialist Republic of Romania. The best-known Romanian president of that period is Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed in 1989, during the Romanian revolution.
The first modern democratic elections in Romania took place in 1990. Since 2004 Romania is a member of NATO, and since 2007 a member of the European Union.
From a geographical standpoint, Romania is also called the Charpatian-Danubian-Ponthic Space, being shaped by the Carpathian mountains, the river Danube and the Black Sea. Romania is situated in the Northern hemisphere, in Central Europe, at approximately equal distances from the extremities of the European continent. It borders Bulgaria in the South (the largest part of this border is the Danube river), the Ukraine in the North, Hungary in the West, Serbia in the South-West, the Republic of Moldavia in the East (the border is the Prut river) and the Black Sea in the South-East.
The Carpathian mountains surround Transylvania and separate it from the rest of the country, on a distance of 910 km. The highest peak is Moldoveanu, in the Fagaras mountains: 2,544 meters high. The Carpathian mountains are surrounded by the Sub-Carpathians and the Western Hills. There are three large hilly regions in Romania: the plateau of Moldavia, the plateau of Dobrogea and the plateau of Getae. In the South there are two vast planes: The Romanian Plane and the Western Plane. The Danube Delta is the lowest region, 10 meters below sea level. In 1991 it was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage and a natural reserve of the biosphere. There are numerous rivers, subterranean waters, lakes and caves in Romania.
Fauna and flora:
There are 3,700 species of plants in Romania, out of which 23 have been declared natural monuments and 1,253 rare species. The usual wild trees are: oak, linden, ash, beech, durmast, spruce, fir tree, pine tree, juniper, poplar and willow.
Specific alpine fauna are the black goats and the vultures. The Danube Delta is home for hundreds of bird species, including pelicans, wild geese and flamingo.
Temperatures are different in the North and the South: wile in the South the average yearly temperature is 11 degrees Celsius, in the North the average yearly temperature is 3 degrees Celsius. The Romanian climate is temperate-continental, with four seasons.
Romania has around 19 million inhabitants, including the following large ethnic groups: Romanians, Hungarians, Roma, Germans, Ukrainians, Tatars, Russians, Turks, Serbians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Greeks, Italians and Armenians.
Around 12 million Romanians or people with Romanian ancestry live outside the borders of Romania.
The official language in Romania is Romanian, a Latin language related to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan.
The main foreign languages taught in Romanian schools are English, French and German.
The Romanian Constitution ensures freedom of religion. Romania does not have a national religion, and public authorities are compelled to be neutral towards religious cults and associations.
The largest number of believers belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Other significant religious denominations are: Roman Catholic, Reformed, Neo-Christian, Greek Catholic, Protestant and Islamic.
Kindergarten is optional between the ages of 3 and 6. School begins at the age of 7 and is compulsory until the 10th grade: usually until the age of 16 or 17.
Primary and secondary school are divided into 12 or 13 grades. Higher education is similar to that in other European countries.
The school system awards the following certificates: graduation certificate (after the first 8 years of primary and secondary school), baccalaureate (graduation from high-school), Bachelor’s (university), Master’s and PhD.
Bucharest is the largest city in Romania and the capital of the country, with 2.2 million inhabitants. There are other five cities in Romania which are among the most populated cities (around 0.5 million inhabitants) in the European Union: Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Constanta and Craiova.
The Romanian Constitution follows the French model, and was ratified in 1991, after the Romanian Revolution. Romania is a semi-presidential state, organized on the basis of power separation and balance. The president is elected through universal vote. The president appoints the prime-minister, and the prime-minister appoints the Government.
The Romanian Parliament has two chambers: the Senate and the Deputies Chamber.
In 1972 Romania became a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in 2004 it became a member of NATO and in 2007 a member of the European Union.
The relationships between Romania and the Republic of Moldavia have a special statute, because the two countries share the same language and have a common history.
Romania is organized in 8 development territories. From an administrative standpoint it is organized in villages, communes, towns, cities and counties.
There are three main provinces: Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia.
Romania has 41 counties and 82 cities.
Romania is a country with an average to high income. Its external debt is relatively low, about 20% of GDP. It has a low unemployment rate, of about 3.9%.
The main industries are textiles and shoes, metals, light machinery, mining, wood, construction materials, chemical, food and oil. Other less developed industrial areas are pharmaceutical, heavy machinery and house apparel. Very dynamic industries are car production and IT. The most important commercial partners are Italy and Germany.
Romanian economy is based mainly on the service industry, which respresents 55% of GDP, but about 32% of the population works in agriculture and industry, one of the highest percentages in Europe.
An important contribution to Romanian income are foreign investments and the funds sent by Romanians working abroad.
The problems of Romanian economics are: a large number of people living in rural areas, too many people benefiting from social welfare, too much money spent on expensive medicine and a high number of tax dodgers.
In 2006 Romania was classified as the second country in the world regarding the rythm of economic reformation and growth.
The average income for the Romanian population in August 2011 was about 600 Euros.
Because of its geographic position, Romania links the North of Europe to the South and the West to the East. It makes the connection between the European Union countries, East Europe and Asia. Still, the infrastructure is less developed than the one in Western Europe.
The official state railway company is Romanian Railways. There are also some private operators.
The airport network consists of 17 civilian airports, 16 of which are state airports and one private airport. The main operators in Romania are the Romanian companies TAROM and Blue Air, Lufthansa, Eagean Airlines, Olympic Airlines, Carpatair, Wizzair, and Air France.
River transport is rather modest, although Romania has almost 2,000 km of navigable waters. Most registered ships are for entertainment purposes, around 14,000 boats and yachts. The most important water route is the Danube-Black Sea Channel, connecting the river port Cernavoda with the sea port Constanta.
The main common transport means are buses and tramcars. The only city in Romania with an underground is Bucharest.
Tourism contributes greatly to Romanian GDP. About half a million people work in the tourist industry. The usual tourist attractions are the Romanian Riviera (the resorts Mangalia, Saturn, Venus, Olympus and Mamaia), the ski resorts (especially the Prahova Valley and Poiana Brasov), the medieval castles in Transylvania (Sibiu, Brasov, Sighisoara, Cluj Napoca and Tirgu Mures) and the tours to Bran Castle (supposedly the residence of Dracula), the painted monasteries in Northern Moldavia, the wooden churches in Transylvania and the Merry Cemetery in Sapanza, together with other attractions like the Danube Delta, the Iron Gates, the Scarisoara Cave, the Bears’ Cave and other caves in the Apuseni Mountains.
Romania has a unique culture because of its geographic position and historical evolution, fundamentally defined as a crossroads of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe and South-Eastern Europe.
The UNESCO World Heritage list includes the following Romanian monuments: the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, the painted monasteries in Northern Moldavia, the wooden churches in Maramures, the Horezu Monastery, the Fortress of Sighisoara, the Dacian fortresses in Orastie Mountains, and the Danube Delta.
In 2007 the Romanian city of Sibiu was declared the European capital of culture, together with Luxembourg.
The Romanian traditional sport in the villages is called oina, somewhat similar to baseball.
At present, the most popular Romanian sport is football. In 1986 the Romanian football team Steaua was the first East European football team to ever win the European Champions Cup.
Romanian is also known for gymnastics, tennis, parachuting, horse riding, boating, table tennis and boxing.