Romania

Date of establishment: May 9, 1877

Brief history:

3rd Century: The Roman Empire establishes the province of Dacia in the territory of present-day Romania after the conquest by Emperor Trajan in 106 CE. This region becomes heavily Romanized, laying the foundation for the Romanian language and culture.

9th Century: The development of the Romanian language and culture continues in the Carpathian and Danube regions, influenced by the Latin heritage left by the Romans and the interactions with neighboring peoples.

14th Century: The first principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia are established, emerging as semi-independent states that played significant roles in the regional politics of Eastern Europe.

16th Century: The Ottoman Empire gains control over Wallachia, and by the end of the century, Moldavia also becomes a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. Both principalities retain internal autonomy but are subject to Ottoman suzerainty.

1859: Alexandru Ioan Cuza unites Moldavia and Wallachia under a single leadership through a personal union, laying the groundwork for the modern Romanian state. This event is known as the Union of the Principalities.

1877-1878: Romania participates in the Russo-Turkish War, leading to the recognition of its independence from the Ottoman Empire at the Berlin Congress in 1878.

1881: Romania becomes a kingdom, with Carol I as its first king, following the proclamation of independence and the consolidation of its international status.

1916-1918: Romania participates in World War I on the side of the Allies. Although initially suffering significant losses, the country achieves its national aspirations at the end of the war.

1918: Romania unites with Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, forming Greater Romania. This unification is recognized by international treaties, significantly expanding the country’s territory.

1940: Following the Second Vienna Award and other geopolitical pressures, Romania loses territories: Northern Transylvania to Hungary, Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria, and Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union.

1941-1944: Romania initially participates in World War II on the Axis side under the leadership of Ion Antonescu, mainly to reclaim territories lost to the Soviet Union. In 1944, Romania switches allegiance to the Allies following a coup led by King Michael I.

1947: Romania becomes a people’s republic under Soviet influence, following the abdication of King Michael I and the establishment of a communist regime.

1989: The communist regime falls due to a revolution, culminating in the overthrow and execution of Nicolae Ceaușescu. This marks the end of 42 years of communist rule.

1990: Romania begins a process of democratization and market reforms, transitioning from a planned economy to a market economy and establishing democratic institutions.

2007: Romania becomes a member of the European Union, marking a significant step in its integration into European political and economic structures.

 

International abbreviation: RO

 

Currency: Romanian Leu (RON)

The name “leu” (plural “lei”) comes from the Dutch thaler, which featured a lion and was widely used in Eastern Europe in the 17th century.

Romanian coins come in several common denominations, including 1 ban (1 bani), 5 bani, 10 bani, and 50 bani.

Romanian leu banknotes are issued in various values, including 1 leu, 5 lei, 10 lei, 50 lei, 100 lei, and 500 lei. The 200 lei banknote is also issued but is less commonly used.

 

Internet domain: .ro

 

Dialing code: +40

 

Time zone: GMT+2

 

Geography:

Romania is dominated by the Carpathian Mountains, which arc through the center of the country, including the notable regions of Transylvania and Maramureș. The Transylvanian Plateau, situated within this arc, is a central feature of the region.

Southern Romania, known as Wallachia, is characterized by the flat plains of the Romanian Plain and the hilly terrain of the Subcarpathians. This region includes the fertile plains of Oltenia and Muntenia, as well as various river valleys.

Eastern Romania, including the historical region of Moldavia, is primarily an agricultural area with fertile plains and rolling hills. This region is crucial for agriculture and the food industry due to its rich soil and favorable climate.

The Danube Delta, located in the southeastern part of the country, is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved deltas. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a biosphere reserve, home to a diverse array of species of plants, animals, and birds.

The Black Sea coast runs along Romania’s eastern border, featuring sandy beaches and popular tourist destinations such as Constanța and Mamaia. The coastline offers a mix of recreational activities and important port facilities.

 

Highest peak: Moldoveanu, 2 544 m (8 356 ft) above sea level.

 

Climate:

Most of Romania has a continental climate, characterized by distinct seasons with significant temperature variations between summer and winter. Summers are warm to hot, with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), and can occasionally reach up to 35°C (95°F), particularly in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Winters are cold and can be quite chilly, especially in the mountainous regions. Average winter temperatures range from -3°C to 3°C (27°F to 37°F), but can drop well below freezing, particularly in the Carpathian Mountains where temperatures can fall to -15°C (5°F) or lower.

In spring (March to May), temperatures gradually rise from about 10°C (50°F) in early March to 20°C (68°F) in late May.

Autumn (September to November) sees temperatures decreasing from around 20°C (68°F) in September to 5°C (41°F) in November, with the season characterized by cooler weather.

The coastal region along the Black Sea has a milder maritime climate, with cooler summers and milder winters compared to the interior, benefiting from the moderating influence of the sea. Average summer temperatures in coastal areas range from 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F), while winter temperatures range from 0°C to 5°C (32°F to 41°F).

 

Fauna and flora:

Romanian forests are home to a diverse array of animal species. The Carpathian Mountains provide a habitat for one of the largest populations of brown bears in Europe. Gray wolves also inhabit these forests, and the region supports a significant population of Eurasian lynxes, which are elusive predators found in the Romanian Carpathians.

Birds are a significant part of Romania’s fauna, particularly in the Danube Delta and other wetland areas. The Danube Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is renowned for its rich avian diversity, including species such as white storks, Dalmatian pelicans, great cormorants, and grey herons. This region is one of the most important bird habitats in Europe and serves as a crucial stopover for migratory birds.

Romania’s flora includes extensive mixed forests in the Carpathians, featuring tree species like beech, spruce, fir, pine, and larch. The lower elevations and plains are characterized by deciduous forests, with species such as oak, beech, and hornbeam. The country also has significant areas of steppe vegetation, particularly in the Dobrogea region, which includes grasses and drought-resistant plants.

 

Agriculture:

The cultivation of cereals is a key element of Romanian agriculture. The country produces a variety of cereals, including wheat, barley, corn, and oats. Romania is one of the largest grain producers in the European Union.

Livestock farming is also crucial. Romania has a strong tradition of sheep and goat farming, which play an essential role in the rural economy and cultural heritage. Sheep farming is particularly important for producing wool, meat, and dairy products, such as traditional Romanian cheeses like telemea and brânză de burduf.

Beef and dairy production are significant as well, with cattle raised for both meat and milk. However, pork is the most consumed meat in Romania, and pig farming is a substantial part of the livestock industry. Poultry farming is another important sector, contributing to both domestic consumption and export markets.

Romania also cultivates a wide range of other crops, including sunflowers (for oil production), potatoes, sugar beets, and vegetables. Viticulture is notable in regions like Transylvania, Moldavia, and Dobrogea, where wine production is an important agricultural activity. The country’s diverse climate and fertile soils support the growth of various fruits, such as apples, plums, and grapes, further enhancing its agricultural output.

 

Natural resources extraction:

Romania has coal reserves, though coal mining has decreased in recent years due to environmental concerns and a shift towards cleaner energy sources. The Jiu Valley is one of the most notable coal mining regions in the country.

Romania also has iron ore reserves, which have historically been important for the iron and steel industry, though their extraction has diminished over time.

Several other metals are mined in Romania, including gold, silver, copper, and lead. The Apuseni Mountains are known for their gold and silver deposits, with the Roșia Montană area being particularly notable, although mining activities there have faced environmental and legal challenges.

Romania has significant oil and natural gas reserves, with a long history of extraction dating back to the 19th century. The Ploiești region is historically important for oil production. While production has declined over the years, Romania remains one of the larger oil producers in the European Union. Offshore oil and gas fields in the Black Sea are also being explored and developed, offering potential for future increases in production.

Additionally, Romania has reserves of non-metallic minerals such as salt, with the Praid and Slănic salt mines being well-known. The country also extracts construction materials like limestone, gypsum, and clays, which are important for the building industry.

 

Industry:

Romania is home to several automobile factories, including the well-known automaker Dacia, which is part of the Renault group. Dacia’s plant in Mioveni is one of the largest car manufacturing facilities in Eastern Europe. Additionally, Ford operates a manufacturing plant in Craiova, contributing to the automotive industry’s significance in Romania.

Heavy industry, including engineering, metallurgy, and machinery manufacturing, remains important. The country has a strong tradition in these sectors, with significant production facilities for steel, machinery, and industrial equipment.

The food industry is a key sector in Romania, producing a wide variety of products, including meat, dairy, baked goods, confectionery, beverages, and processed foods. Major food companies operate within the country, catering to both domestic and export markets.

The textiles and apparel industry is significant, although it faces competition from countries with cheaper labor costs. Romania’s textile sector produces garments, footwear, and home textiles, and has a reputation for high-quality craftsmanship, particularly in niche markets.

Romania also has a growing information technology (IT) and software development sector, with cities like Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, and Timișoara becoming important IT hubs. The country’s well-educated workforce and competitive costs have attracted numerous multinational IT companies and startups.

Additionally, the energy sector plays a crucial role, with Romania being a notable producer of oil and natural gas, as well as having significant renewable energy resources, including hydroelectric, wind, and solar power.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

Natural attractions in Romania include the Carpathian Mountains, known for their impressive peaks, beautiful lakes, and wild forests. The Carpathians offer activities such as hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching, with notable sites like Retezat National Park and the Bucegi Mountains.

Romania’s cultural heritage features historical landmarks, castles, and monasteries. Key attractions include Bran Castle, the medieval Corvin Castle, and the fortified churches of Transylvania, such as those in Biertan and Viscri, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina and the Curtea de Argeș Monastery are also significant.

Historic cities like Bucharest, Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, and Brașov are known for their architecture, museums, and cultural events. Notable landmarks include the Palace of the Parliament and the historic Lipscani district in Bucharest, St. Michael’s Church in Cluj-Napoca, and the Black Church in Brașov.

The Danube Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved deltas, offering birdwatching and eco-tourism opportunities.

 

 

Form of government:

Romania is a semi-presidential republic with a parliamentary system. The president is the head of state and is elected directly by citizens for a five-year term, with the possibility of being re-elected for one additional term. The president’s powers include representing Romania in international affairs, appointing the prime minister, calling referendums, and vetoing laws, but these powers are subject to checks and balances from the parliament and government.

Parliament consists of two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Both chambers play crucial roles in lawmaking, approving the budget, and overseeing the government. Members of both chambers are elected for four-year terms through a mixed electoral system.

The government is led by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president but must be confirmed by the parliament. The prime minister holds executive power, overseeing the administration of government policies and day-to-day affairs. The government includes various ministers who head different departments.

The judiciary in Romania is independent and responsible for upholding the law and ensuring justice. The highest judicial authority is the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which handles the most significant legal cases. Additionally, the Constitutional Court oversees the constitutionality of laws and acts as a check on legislative and executive powers.

 

Capital city: Bucharest

Located in the southern part of the country, Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania. It is renowned for its rich history, diverse architecture, museums, and vibrant cultural events. The city plays a significant role in Romania’s economy and is home to many important institutions, companies, and universities.

Bucharest boasts several notable architectural landmarks. The Palace of the Parliament, also known as “Palatul Parlamentului” or “Casa Poporului,” is one of the largest administrative buildings in the world and a symbol of the communist era. Other significant landmarks include the Romanian Athenaeum, an iconic concert hall known for its stunning neoclassical architecture, and the Arcul de Triumf, modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The city’s historic Lipscani district features charming cobblestone streets, old churches, and vibrant nightlife. Additionally, Calea Victoriei is a major avenue lined with museums, shops, and historic buildings, including the National Museum of Romanian History and the National Museum of Art of Romania.

Bucharest is also home to numerous parks and green spaces, such as Herăstrău Park (King Michael I Park), which includes a large lake, and Carol Park, known for its monuments and peaceful atmosphere.

The city has a population of about 1 880 000.

 

Area: 238 397 km² (92 046 square miles)

 

Population: 19 660 000 (2022 estimate)

The official language of Romania is Romanian, a Latin-based language related to Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

The majority of the population adheres to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, reflecting the significant cultural and historical influence of the Orthodox Church in the country. Additionally, there are communities of Roman Catholics, Protestants (including Reformed, Lutheran, and Pentecostal denominations), Greek Catholics, and smaller groups of other religious denominations, including Muslims and Jews.

The main ethnic group is the Romanians, who make up approximately 83% of the population. There are also significant ethnic minorities, including Hungarians, who constitute about 6% of the population, and Roma, who make up around 3%. Other ethnic groups include Germans, Ukrainians, Russians, Turks, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, and Tatars, each contributing to the country’s cultural diversity.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 9

 

  1. Danube Delta (1991) – The best-preserved river delta in Europe, located in the Romanian region of Dobruja. A smaller part of the Danube Delta extends into Ukraine.
  2. Churches of Moldavia (1993) – This inscription includes eight churches in the Romanian historical region of Moldavia. The churches are adorned with exterior frescoes that are excellent examples of Byzantine art.
  3. Horezu Monastery (1993) – A 17th-century Orthodox monastery located in the Wallachia region.
  4. Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania (1993) – This inscription includes seven villages located in southeastern Transylvania.
  5. Dacian Fortresses of the Orăștie Mountains (1999) – Remains of six defensive fortresses built in the period around the turn of the eras to defend against the Romans.
  6. Historic Centre of Sighișoara (1999) – The historic center of a town located in the historical region of Transylvania, retaining the character of a medieval German town.
  7. Wooden Churches of Maramureș (1999) – Eight wooden churches in the Maramureș region.
  8. Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007) – Preserved beech forests in various parts of Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Black Sea.
  9. Roșia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape (2021) – A mountainous mining area near the village of Roșia Montană in the historical region of Transylvania.

 

National parks: 14

 

  1. Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park
  2. Rodna National Park
  3. Retezat National Park
  4. Cheile Nerei-Beușnița National Park
  5. Semenic-Cheile Carașului National Park
  6. Călimani National Park
  7. Cozia National Park
  8. Piatra Craiului National Park
  9. Munții Măcinului National Park
  10. Defileul Jiului National Park
  11. Ceahlău National Park
  12. Bicazului-Hășmaș National Park
  13. Buila-Vânturarița National Park
  14. Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve