Cities in ROMANIA
Geography and Landscape
Romania (Romanian: România), is a republic in Southeastern Europe. The total area is 237,500 square kilometers (of which 230,340 km2 of land, 7,160 km2 of water).
Romania is bordered to the north (362 km) and south (169 km) to Ukraine, to the north-east by Moldova (450 km), to the south by Bulgaria (608 km), and to the south-west by Serbia (476 km) and Hungary (443 km). Two thirds of the 3182 km long border line consists of water: the Danube as a natural border with Bulgaria, the Prut with Moldova, the Tisza with Ukraine and the Black Sea (225 km) in the east.
Romania consists of roughly equal parts of mountain land, high plains and low plains. Despite Romania's mountainous character, the average height is only 350 meters. The highest point in Romania is the Moldoveanu in the Fagaras Mountains (Muntii Fagarasului) in the Transylvanian Alps, at 2,548 meters. In the west lies the Bihor Mountains with the highest peak the Curcubata, 1848 meters.
The Carpathians are not as high as the Alps, but date from roughly the same geological era. The Carpathians are often divided into the Eastern Carpathians (Carpatii Orientali), the Southern Carpathians (Carpatii Meridionali) and the Western Carpathians (Carpatii Occidentali).
The Carpathian Mountains include the high plateau of Transylvania (Romanian: Transilvania). In the west of Wallachia (Romanian: Walachia or Tara Romaneasca) the Transylvanian Alps or Southern Carpathians merge into the plain of Oltenia (Romanian: Oltenia).
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The eastern part of the Wallachian plain is occupied by the cultivated Baragansteppe. In Moldova, the central part of the Eastern Carpathians turns into the Bîrlad plateau. North of this plateau lies the undulating plain of Iasi, south of it the plain of Focsani, which in turn joins the Danube plain with the plateau of Dobruja (Romanian: Dobrogea), a relatively high, hilly coastal region consisting of an ancient eroded rock mass. In the wooded Eastern Carpathians there are some volcanic mountain areas, such as the Muntii Calimani and the Muntii Harghitei.
Romania has different types of soils. Podzol soils predominate in the mountains, peat soils on the high plains and brown forest soils in the various lowlands of Transylvania. In the plains, the chestnut-brown soils and black soil that are characteristic of Eastern Europe developed.
Romania is a country with many dripstone caves and other karst phenomena.
Rivers and lakes
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The water balance in Romania is strongly determined by the Carpathians and the Danube (Romanian: Dunarea), whose catchment area covers the whole of Romania. The Danube enters the country at Bazias and flows initially as a fast-flowing mountain river in a 150-meter wide gorge - the Iron Gates or Portile de Fier - between the Banater Mountains and the Balkan Mountains. In Wallachia, the river bed widens and the flow speed decreases sharply. The Danube delta (approx. 5050 km2), the largest delta area in Europe, lies almost entirely on Romanian territory (the rest is in Ukraine) and flows over 1075 km into Romanian territory.
The other rivers in Romania can be divided into three groups, according to origin and direction of drainage. They have in common that they all eventually find their way to the Danube.
The first group rises on the western slopes of the Carpathians and flows to the Tisa (Theiss) or the Serbian part of the Danube. One of them is Mures, whose length in Romania is 716 kilometers and flows from east to west.
The second group are the rivers (including Jiu, Arges, Dîmbovita and Ialomita) that originate in the Southern Carpathians and flow through Wallachia in a south-easterly to easterly direction to the Danube. The Olt (670 km) has its source in the Eastern Carpathians, flows through the Transylvanian Plateau, cuts through the Southern Carpathians and then makes its way to the Danube.
The third group consists of rivers that have their source in the Eastern Carpathians and in Moldova and drain to the Danube in a south-easterly direction.
The main tributary of the Danube is the Prut, which has its source in Ukraine, is 950 km long and forms the border with Ukraine for 716 km.
The approx. 3000 lakes are mainly found in the Danube Valley, the Danube Delta, high in the Carpathians and the coastal plain of Dobrogea.
The largest lakes are in fact lagoons just behind the coastline: Lacul Razelm (394 km2), Lacul Sinoe (166 km2) and Lacul Golovita (119 km2).
Another common group of lakes is that of the limans (drowned river valleys), which occur both on the coast and along the Danube in Wallachia and are over 30 km2 in size. Large reservoirs are Lacul Vidraru and Lacul Bicaz.
Climate and Weather
Romania has a moderate continental climate with very warm summers, cold winters, a short spring and a longer, usually mild autumn. Clear regional differences, however, characterize the coastal area, the low plains and the mountains. In the south and on the Black Sea coast, the annual average temperature is 11°C, in the mountains only 2°C.
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In the summer months of July and August it can get very hot in the low plains; day temperatures above 35°C are no exception. This is the case, for example, in the Danube Plain, where the capital Bucharest is also located.
On the coast and in the mountains it is much more pleasant in summer with average daytime temperatures of 22°C. The number of sunny days on the Black Sea coast is about the same as on the French Mediterranean coast.
In winters, from about November, usually the cold northeasterly "crivat" blows. In the Carpathians the average winter temperature is -3°C, and there is a lot of snow from December to March.
The precipitation in the Carpathians can amount to about 1400 mm per year, for Bucharest it is 580 mm per year. The least rain falls on the Black Sea coast. The wettest month is generally June.
The average monthly temperature in Bucharest is –2.8°C in January and 22.9°C in July; for Cluj in northern Transylvania this is –4.4 and 18.9°C respectively.
In the north, easterly winds predominate, in the south winds from the west.
Plants and Animals
The foothills form a transition zone between two starkly contrasting vegetation areas: the densely wooded Carpathians and Transylvanian Alps and the plains steppes, which, however, have largely been reclaimed into arable land. Especially Wallachia, the Banat, and parts of Moldavia, Transylvania and the Dobruja are bare and vast.
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Forest covers more than 25% of the Romanian land area, especially in the hills and mountains. Coniferous wood predominates in the eastern Carpathians, in the southern Carpathians there are also many deciduous trees. Birches, different types of oaks, maples and poplars occur up to 1200 to 1440 meters; up to 1800 meters of pine, spruce and larch; between 1700 and 1900 meters altitude are typical ferns, hair grass and blueberry; above 1900 meters there are alpine meadows with low vegetation, such as gentians and bell and evening primroses.
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In total, about 1350 plant species have been counted in the Carpathians. Alpine varieties include yellow poppy, saxifrage, Trans-Silvian columbine and edelweiss, one of Romania's national flowers, in addition to the red peony and the dog rose.
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The Danube is lined with willows and poplars, except in the wide delta, where various types of reed are widespread, sometimes in the form of floating reed islands. Plant growth in the Danube Delta is very diverse, including yellow and white water lily, bulrush, floating fern, frog bite, swamp thistle and water mint. The Letea Forest, which lies in the delta, looks somewhat tropical with Grikek liana, ivy and Virginia creeper.
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The animal world is a typical fauna of the Balkans: a mixture of Central, South and East European elements with Asian species such as steppe viper, white-tailed eagle, spotted and steppe brushing from the east.
The large national park in the Southern Carpathians (Western Romania) still houses chamois, brown bear (approx. 5400 specimens), carpathian deer, marten, lynx (2000), wolf (3500), golden eagle and nutcracker, and is therefore unique for Europe.
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On the plains and in the hills you can find partridges, hares, foxes, deer, wild boars and badgers. In the beech forests there are about 100 bird species, including the green woodpecker, ring pigeon, gray owl and jay. In spruce forests live, among others, mountain rooster, hazel grouse, black woodpecker and golden pheasant.
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The large reserve in the Danube Delta on the Black Sea is rightly famous for its rich bird life including cormorants, ibises, storks, spoonbills, herons, ducks (including the white-headed duck), sea eagle, hoopoe, roller and kingfisher. It is also the only place in Europe where Dalmatian pelican colonies occur, and the Dalmatian pelican is therefore, next to the golden eagle, the national bird of Romania.
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The Danube Delta is also a crossroads of five bird migration routes and about 300 bird species use this place to rest and eat, including the black coral. The delta is very rich in fish and contains about 100 species, including 6 sturgeons, carp, catfish, perch and pike. In the Black Sea, turbot, mullet and herring are fished and dolphins are also found.
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Romania has eleven national parks with a total area of almost 4000 km2. The oldest is the Retezat Park (10,000 ha), which was declared a national park in 1935. Approximately 900 plant species grow in the 10,000 hectare park. The highest peak is the Peleaga, 2509 meters.
There are also nearly 600 protected areas, most of which are in the Carpathians. Some well-known nature reserves are: Bucegi Nature Reserve, Piatra Craiului, Ceahlau Massif, Apuseni Mountains, Slatioara Reserve and Todirescu Flower Reserve. The latter reserve is a true splendor in July with tulips, wild hyacinth, yellow daffodil, daisy, chrysanthemum and the poisonous omagul (Aconitum anthora).
Antiquity and Middle Ages
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Today's Romanian territory was founded in the first century BC. inhabited by the Dacians, an Indo-European Thracian people. This people was a close neighbor of the Romans who settled in the second century AD. felt threatened by the increasingly powerful Dacians, especially under King Decebalus. It took Emperor Trajan two campaigns to eliminate Decebalus and subdue the Dacians.
After this, Romania was overrun with settlers who mixed with the native population. Towards the end of the third century, the Romans left again because of the increasingly pushing barbarians.
After the retreat of the Romans, Romania was populated by various nomadic peoples such as the Huns and the Visigoths, and from the 7th century by Slavs who invaded Romanian territory from the north and mixed with the Daco-Romans and the Magyars who joined in the 9th century settled in the Pannonian plain. In the 11th century they made the area northwest of the Carpathians part of the Hungarian kingdom. This area would later be called Transylvania. The first Romanian principalities were formed in the mid-14th century: Wallachia (Romanian: Tara Româneasca) and Moldavia (Moldova).
From the south the young Romanian states were attacked by a very powerful enemy, the Ottomans or Ottomans (Turks) who conquered Constantinople in 1453. Constantinople became the capital of the Ottoman Empire and the center of Islam. Only by paying a lot of money the Romanians managed to prevent their territory from being occupied. Furthermore, the sovereignty of the sultan was accepted by the Romanian monarchs, allowing them to keep their own laws, social institutions and political organs. This is the main reason that there are practically no mosques in Romania.
However, the economic pressure on the Romanians was increasing, and it was therefore not surprising that the Romanians repeatedly tried to liberate themselves from the Turks. However, this hardly succeeded and often only lasted for a short period of time. In the 15th century, Stefan cel Mare managed to rule Moldavia for 48 years and to win dozens of battles against the Turks. Michael the Brave (Romanian: Mihai Viteazul) was the prince of Wallachia, and in 1600 he managed to unite under his authority the three later provinces of Romania, Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia.
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The Ottomans reached the height of their power in the eighteenth century and the Romanians were trapped between the Habsburg and Russian Empires. Power over Wallachia and Moldavia was further confirmed by the appointment of a number of Greeks as rulers of the said kingdoms. These Greeks came from the Fanar or Fener district of Istanbul and were therefore called Fanariots. These Fanariots ruled in Moldavia from 1711 and from 1716 in Wallachia. Positive was the cultural boom that arose due to the Greek influences. Serfdom was also abolished in the mid-eighteenth century and important legal and administrative reforms were introduced.
In the course of the eighteenth century the Ottoman influence diminished, but Russian influence increased again. In 1774, a treaty was signed in Küçük Kaynarca, making the Russians patron of the Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire. The Russians took this opportunity to annex the eastern part of Moldavia (Bessarabia). Meanwhile, Transylvania was under the rule of the Habsburgs and the many Romanians were dominated by the Hungarian aristocracy and German citizens.
Around 1700, many Romanian Orthodox clergymen entered into a union with the Catholic Church of Rome, giving Romanian clergy the same status as Roman Catholics. In the second half of the eighteenth century there was a movement that aimed for recognition of the Romanians as an equal population group. This movement was led by Bishop Inochentie Micu-Klein and was known as the “Scoala Ardeleana” or the Transylvanian School. However, a petition, presented in 1791 to the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, was unsuccessful.
In 1821 the Greek struggle for the independence of the Ottoman Empire started from Moldavia. Inspired by this, the soldier Tudor Vladimirescu started a revolt against the Greek lords of the principalities. However, this uprising led to Russo-Turkish occupation of all of Romania, but resulted in Wallachia and Moldavia being once again ruled by native princes since 1821.
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With the Treaty of Adrianopolis in 1829, Russian influence grew stronger and the Romanian principalities became in effect Russian protectorates and the role of the Turks was played out. The commander of the Russian troops, Pavel Kiseleff, introduced the “Regulament Organic”, a kind of constitution, in the early 1930s. The Romanian population at this time increasingly turned to the west, and the revolutions that occurred in Europe in 1848 also affected the Romanian principalities.
The leaders of the revolution in Romania were called “pasoptisti” (forty-eight), and they wanted a liberal constitution and far-reaching social reforms. The revolution in Moldova was quickly suppressed, but a revolutionary government remained in power for several months in the Wallachian capital, Bucharest. After this, Bucharest was occupied by a Turkish expeditionary force and the rest of Wallachia was occupied by the Russians. In Transylvania, the revolution ended in an ethnic conflict between the Hungarians, who under the leadership of Lajos Kossuth, declared an independent Hungarian state, and the Romanian Avram Iancu, who was of course strongly opposed to this.
A battle ensued between these two groups from which only the Austrian rulers benefited. In 1849 the revolutionaries got the worst of it.
The following years were dominated by the struggle for unification of Moldavia and Wallachia. Russia lost the Crimean War and as a result the Romanian principalities came under the protection of the Western powers. The intention was that each principality would remain a separate country and thus serve as buffer states between Austria, Turkey and Russia. However, the Romanians were strongly against this and in 1859 elected Colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza as ruler of both Wallachia and Moldavia.
With this the unification of the principalities under the name of Romania became a fact. Cuza was a strong supporter of social and political renewal but hardly had time to realize his ideas. In 1866 he was deposed by an alliance of many opponents. After Cuza, Romania was given a foreign head of state: Prince Carol I of Hohenzollern-Sigmarinen, who would rule until 1914 and positively influence Romania's development and modernization.
A new constitution was also passed in 1866 and would remain in effect until 1923. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Romania declared itself completely independent from Turkey and in 1881 the Great Powers also recognized Romania's independence. After this, Carol was crowned king. Transylvania, meanwhile, had lost its autonomous status with the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy in 1867.
The official policy in Hungary was that all residents of the area were considered Hungarians, including the many Romanians who lived here. Despite this situation, a so-called “Triple Alliance” was concluded with Germany and Austria-Hungary, which hoped to be able to counterbalance the Russian drive for expansion. It is clear that relations with Austria-Hungary did not go smoothly. The covenant was therefore jealously hidden from the ordinary pro-French population. During that period, political relations ensured an alternation between conservative and liberal governments.
First and Second World War
The period up to 1914 was one of great stability and progress, despite the often great poverty in which the peasant population lived. In 1907, a great peasant uprising broke out, killing many thousands of peasants. In the First Balkan War (1912-1913) Romania remained neutral, but in the Second Balkan War they joined the coalition against Bulgaria.
Romania acquired a number of Bulgarian districts after the Peace of Bucharest in 1913, which, however, had to be returned at the start of the Second World War in 1940. World War I broke out in 1914 and Romania initially remained neutral. In 1916 they nevertheless joined the Allies, hoping for reunification with Transylvania. The capital Bucharest was occupied by the Germans, but with the help of Russian units it was possible to prevent the entire country from being occupied. After the revolution in their country, the Russians withdrew from the battle, after which Romania was forced in May 1918 to make peace with the so-called Axis powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. When the Allies seemed to win the battle, however, they rejoined the Allies.
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After the war, Romania acquired many territories: Transylvania, the Banate of Hungary, Bucovina, and Bessarabia. The territory doubled and from then on was called Greater Romania. The population increased to 16 million people, one third of which consisted of non-Romanians. In the Interbellum, power was alternated between the Liberal Party and the Peasant Party. Industrialization got off to a good start, causing industrial production to double between 1923 and 1938.
In 1923 a new constitution was introduced which mainly protected the interests of the industrial and economic middle class. Furthermore, a major agricultural reform took place as a result of which a lot of agricultural land was transferred from large landowners to small farmers. In the 1930s, the Romanian economy also suffered greatly from the global economic crisis and the rise of dictatorial regimes elsewhere in Europe also left its mark on Romania. King Carol II instituted a royal dictatorship in 1938 and banned all political parties. Only about fifty years later would parliamentary democracy be restored.
In the Second World War, Romania initially took a neutral position, but after the pact between Hitler and Stalin and the defeat of France, it was forced to cede large parts of the country. Northeastern Transylvania was joined by Hungary, and Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina were incorporated into the Soviet Union. As a result, Carol II resigned and was succeeded by his son Mihai, while de facto government power passed into the hands of the military dictator Ion Antonescu.
He sided with Nazi Germany and took part in the war with the Soviet Union in order to reclaim the lost territories. This failed completely and not much remained of the Romanian army after the Battle of Stalingrad. In order to avoid occupation by the armies of the Soviet Union, the democratic opposition tried in vain to make peace with the Allies.
On August 23, 1944, King Mihai had Antonescu arrested and Romania joined the Allies. After the war, Romania was not declared co-victor and only Transylvania came back to Romania. Bessarabia and Bucovina remained Soviet territory. The whole country was now occupied by the Red Army and the communists had taken over. All democratic parties were banned and the party leaders were put in prison. On December 30, 1947, King Mihai was forced to abdicate and the People's Republic of Romania was proclaimed on the same day. Dictator Antonescu was executed in 1948 by the communist rulers at the time.
People's Republic of Romania
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Due to communist rule Romania became completely isolated from the West. The totalitarian regime became a clone of the Soviet model and in 1948 a constitution was passed in which all power fell into the hands of the communist party. Banks and industrial enterprises were nationalized and all private initiative was rejected, including religious and cultural initiatives.
Emphasis was placed on the development of (heavy) industry and that at one point made Romania one of the largest steel producers in the world. The fact that coal and iron ore had to be imported for this was considered completely normal. The agricultural land was forcibly expropriated and collectivized.
In the late 1940s and 1950s, Romania became permanently entangled in the Soviet web. Hundreds of thousands of Democrats were imprisoned or put in labor camps. And opposition to this was crushed by the Securitate, the secret service. The population remained pro-Western all that time, but anti-communist partisans had to give up their fight in the early 1960s. The first post-war leaders were members of the so-called Moscow group: communists, often not even ethnic Romanians, who had lived in the Soviet Union for a long time and only returned after the communist coup.
It was not until 1952 that the native communists came to power and the Moscow group was sidetracked by the party leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. A period of relaxation began in the 1960s. The standard of living rose somewhat, more consumer goods came onto the market, and cultural contacts were even possible with the West. Politically, however, there was no real liberalization yet, although not all Soviet models were pursued anymore. A tense situation also arose between Gheorghiu-Dej and the Soviet party leader Khrushchev.
The Soviets wanted Romania to stop concentrating on producing agricultural products and raw materials for the other members of the Eastern bloc. Gheorghiu-Dej refused to implement this plan and even distanced himself from the Soviet Union. After this, the Soviet Army left Romania and in 1964 the Romanian Communist Party adopted an official declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.
Period Ceausescu: the Devil Empire
Party leader Gheorghiu-Dej died in 1965 and was succeeded by Nicolae Ceausescu. Also in 1965, a new constitution was passed declaring Romania a socialist republic. Ceausescu's policy was to operate more and more independently of the Soviet Union; for example, he refused to provide troops to put an end to the "Prague Spring" in August 1968. This made him popular with the Western powers and relations with the Soviet Union were hardly affected by Ceausescu's policies. It was well understood that the Communist Party would remain the most powerful and that Romania would always remain a member of the Warsaw Pact.
The period of relative political thaw changed completely from 1971 onwards after the publication of Ceausescu's so-called “July Theses”. It demanded a return to orthodox communist ideology and created the post of “president for life”. After this, Ceaucescu was indeed appointed president, and in the 1970s and 1980s, Romanian society increasingly came under the strangling grip of the party and Ceaucescu tightened its grip on the party. He got his advice only from a small number of faithful and more and more from his own family.
Economically, most of the attention was focused on heavy industry and a lot of money was invested in enormously expensive projects that did not benefit the people but were mainly realized for his own honor and glory. He also decided to accelerate the repayment of the large external debt. All imports were stopped and everything was put on the export of all kinds of products. This caused a total collapse of the economy and a dark period for the Romanian population, a period also known under the three f's: Frica, foame, frig - fear, hunger, cold.
Meanwhile, significant reforms were carried out in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, but as yet had no effect in Romania. In most other socialist countries the supremacy of the communist parties came to an end, but as late as November 1989, Ceaucescu was again elected party leader. However, it was clear that it would only be a matter of time for the entire population to revolt against the hated dictator.
On December 15, 1989, Romania's secret service, the Securitate, tried to forcibly transfer the Reformed ethnic-Hungarian pastor László Tókës from his hometown of Timisoara to a provincial village. However, he was protected by his parishioners and this event turned into a riot that resulted in a massive anti-communist popular uprising in Timisoara.
The military and security forces tried to quell the uprising that killed hundreds of people. On December 21, the uprising spread to Bucharest and other cities in Romania. Ceausescu and his wife tried to flee the country, but were arrested by the army, which had sided with the people, and after a "trial", sentenced to death and executed on December 25.
It is also believed that at the same time a conspiracy took place in the dictator's palace that brought together revolutionaries, party bosses and dissidents (Front for National Salvation = FSN). In the absence of rapid political reforms, the dissidents soon left the FSN and it remained a party of ex-communists led by Ion Iliescu. In the early days after the revolution, there was a lot of social unrest. For example, the democratic opposition accused the FSN of having seized all power and various demonstrations followed.
In March 1990, serious ethnic riots took place in Târgu Mures, a city with many Romanians and Hungarians, which also resulted in deaths. Students demonstrated against the communists' participation in the elections.
On May 20, 1990, the first free elections were easily won by the FSN led by Ion Iliescu, who was then elected president by an overwhelming majority. However, the students in Bucharest did not simply accept the victory of the FSN and continued to demonstrate. The police were unable to relieve University Square and Iliescu then enlisted the help of miners from the valley of the Jiu River. These intervened very hard at the cost of six deaths and hundreds of injuries, giving Romania a bad image abroad.
On December 8, 1991, a popular referendum was held to approve the new constitution. Yet there were still plenty of problems to solve. In Transylvania, for example, ethnic contrasts continued to dominate the picture and the economic problems in Romania became increasingly greater, partly because trade with the other former Eastern Bloc countries had largely disappeared. Problems had also arisen between President Iliescu and Prime Minister Petre Roman about the pace of reforms.
In 1992 this led to a split within the FSN. The Iliescu supporters formed the Democratic Front of National Salvation (9FDSN), later the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). The 1992 elections were won by Iliescu's PDSR and he was elected president a second time. The candidate of the rallied opposition parties, Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), Emil Constantinescu, was now missing out but defeated Iliescu in the 1996 elections.
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The CDR became the largest party and union leader Victor Ciorbea became prime minister. The people had waited a long time for this, a victory of the democratic opposition over the ex-communists and their nationalist allies. On September 15, 1996, a treaty was concluded between Romania and Hungary, creating a better relationship between Hungary and Romania and between the Hungarian and Romanian populations. However, the economic troubles persisted under Prime Minister Ciorbea's rule. He was soon replaced by Radu Vasile who, however, did not last long and was succeeded by the non-party Mugur Isarescu, the governor of the Romanian National Bank.
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Many Romanian voters blamed President Constantinescu for economic development, but it was still a surprise that he did not make himself available for a second term as President of Romania in the spring of 2000. In the opinion polls, however, he was already well behind his long-standing rival Ion Iliescu.
From 1989 it was clear to Romanians that they wanted to join both the European Union and NATO. In 1995, the aspiration to join the EU was set out in the “Snagov Declaration”, which was signed by all political parties. The first official negotiations with the EU followed in December 1999 and Romania set itself the target of becoming a member of the EU on 1 January 2007.
As far as NATO is concerned, Romania was the first country in 1994 to sign the so-called Partnership for Peace with great enthusiasm from the population. Romania therefore expected an invitation to become a NATO member at a summit in Madrid in 1997. However, this did not happen and that was a serious disappointment for the Romanians, especially since Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic will be allowed to join in due course.
The parliamentary and presidential elections of November 26, 2000 were a major defeat for the incumbent government of Iliescu. The cooperating parties under the name CDR 2000 did not even reach the electoral threshold, so that the ruling Christian Democratic party did not return to parliament. The PDSR, the largest opposition party, won 40% of the vote and formed a minority government led by Adrian Nastase. The second party was the extreme right-wing party Greater Romania (PRM). The other parties that passed the electoral threshold were the Social Democratic PD, the Hungarian ethnic group UDMR, and the liberal PNL.
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In the battle for the presidency, it was between the incumbent President Iliescu and the far-right Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Only after a necessary second round on December 10, 2000 did Iliescu score a large majority (65%). Voters felt strongly that they had to choose between two evils, but the danger of becoming internationally isolated prevented Tudor from winning the election. It is to be hoped for Iliescu that Romania's economic situation will improve considerably under his rule. President Iliescu appointed Adrian Nastase Prime Minister in January 2001, who formed a minority government with the support of center-right parties. In May 2001, King Mihai was received by Iliescu and he now lives in Romania again.
The second round of the December 12, 2004 presidential election was won by the mayor of Bucharest, Traian Basescu (Alliance for Justice and Truth, DA). Left-wing Prime Minister Adrian Nastase of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) had won the first round of the elections on November 28, but had less than the required 50% of the vote.
The new president appointed the leader of the Liberal Alliance, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, as formateur. Tariceanu succeeded in forming a majority government and on December 29 this government, consisting of the D.A. Alliance, the UMDR and the PUR, inaugurated. The government has the support of the 18 parliamentarians in the House of Representatives who represent minorities other than the Hungarian. Tensions within the coalition were expressed during the summer of 2005.
In August 2005, Prime Minister Tariceanu reshuffled his government. Five ministers were replaced, namely the Minister of European Integration, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, the Minister of State and the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs. The coalition, which has now been ruling for more than a year, has now entered calmer waters.
After the November 2008 elections, Napoca Emil Boc will become the new head of government. In 2009 the credit crisis hit Romania hard and the IMF came to the rescue. In October 2009 the Social Democrats leave the coalition. After elections in December, Traian becomes Basescu and Boc forms a new coalition.
Prime Minister of Romania has been Victor-Viorel Ponta since December 12, 2012. In March 2014 he forms a new coalition because the National Liberal Party left the coalition. In November 2014, Klaus Iohannis wins the presidential election and defeats Ponta. In November 2015, Ponta stepped down as prime minister after months of accusations of tax evasion and money laundering, ultimately due to inadequate safety features in a nightclub fire that killed 32 people. Ciolos is in-between as head of a technocratic government until the parliamentary elections in late 2016. In January 2017, Sorin Grindeanu becomes prime minister after a victory of the Social Democrats in the elections. In June 2017 he loses confidence and is succeeded by Mihai Tudose.
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In November 2019, the Social Democrats lose the confidence of the parliament and Ludovic Orban becomes a middle man the new prime minister. Defense Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca will become acting prime minister in December 2020 following Ludovic Orban's resignation over worse-than-expected election results.
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The population of Romania consists of approximately 83.4% ethnic Romanians and approximately 11% national minorities; 6.1% from Hungarians, who were again severely oppressed and discriminated against in the 1980s and who emigrated in large numbers to neighboring Hungary after 1989 (they mainly live in Transylvania) and 0.5% from Germans (Zevenburg Saxons) and Danube-Swabia). Their numbers are also steadily decreasing as a result of emigration. In addition, there are minorities of Ukrainians (0.3%), Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians, Slovaks, Czechs, Russians, Tatars, Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Poles.
Officially, 3.1% (approx. 670,000) of the population consists of gypsies (Romani). It is unofficially assumed that there are between 1 and 2 million gypsies in Romania.
It is estimated that around 10,000 Romanians live abroad, especially in the neighboring Republic of Moldova. People who speak a dialect very closely related to Romanian are: Istro-Romanians in the Croatian peninsula of Istria, Megleno-Romanians in Bulgaria, Armâni or Aromanians in Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and especially Northern Greece.
Brief description of the largest minority groups
As early as the 12th century, groups of Germans or Saxons were brought to Romania to trade and to strengthen the borders. To this end, the Saxons built fortified towns that grew into seven castles (Siebenbürgen is the German name for Transylvania).
Many Swabians settled in Romania in the 18th century. Under the dictator's regime, many German descendants wanted to return to Germany. This was allowed against payment of 8,000 Marks and the number of Germans fell in less than ten years from 400,000 in 1975 to 119,400 in 1992. The German Romanians mainly live in the Banat and in Central and Southern Transylvania.
The largest minority group in Romania are the Hungarians. Especially Transylvania is a real "Hungarian" area because about 25% of the population is of Hungarian descent. In fact, they form the majority in the districts of Harghita and Covasna. The Hungarians can be divided into two large groups: the so-called Széklers in Eastern Transylvania (Tirgu Mures) and the others who mainly live in Central and Northwest Transylvania (Cluj-Napoca, Arad, Oradea and Satu Mare).
After all these years, things are still not going very well between the Romanian farmers and the former Hungarian landowners. In 1990 riots between Romanians and Hungarians took place in Tirgu Mures, in which some people were killed. Hungarian-language education is now available at all levels.
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Before the Second World War, approximately 750,000 Jews lived mainly in Northern Romania. Synagogues can still be found in Bucharest, Caransebes, Dej, Sighetu Marmatiei and Timosoara. During the war, approximately 400,000 Jews were deported and murdered by fascist elements in the army (including Marshal Ion Antonescu) and the police.
From 1943 many Romanian Jews emigrated to what was then Palestine (now: Israel) and therefore fewer than 10,000 Jews are currently living in Romania.
Lipovenes are Russian Romanians who fled to Romania in the 17th century for religious reasons. Changes in liturgical practices of the Russian Orthodox Church met with much resistance in this group of so-called "Old Believers".
They were then persecuted and fled to, among other places, southern Moldavia and the north of the Dobruja, but have retained their own identity ever since. There are currently approximately 35,000 Lipovenes living in Romania.
The Lipovenian Church of Romania has its own metropolitan, which has its seat in Braila. They are financially supported by Canadian and American Lipovenes.
There are currently about 670,000 Gypsies (Romanian: tigani) or Roma (Romanian: rromi) living in Romania, at least according to the official readings. Others claim that there are about 2 million gypsies in Romania, but that most of them are included in the Romanian population and therefore cannot be recognized as gypsies anymore. The Roma can be divided into about 40 different groups. The main groups are the Calderari (nomads and blacksmiths), the Lautari (established gypsies and musicians) and Hungarian-speaking gypsies who are doubly discriminated against by the Romanian population.
Most Roma live in permanent places, but a few groups still move around, especially in the summer. The relationship between the Roma and the native Romanians is very tense from time to time and there are frequent fights and arson attacks. The social position of the Roma has only deteriorated after the revolution of 1989. Unemployment among the Roma, in particular, is gigantic and are considered the main culprits of the sharp rise in crime rates. Figures that cannot be substantiated in any way.
In April 2000, the first national Roma bank was opened in Craiova. This bank was established to improve the economic and social life of the Roma.
The size of the many other population groups is almost impossible to determine. It can still be ascertained where most members of these minority groups live:
The Turks mainly live in the Dobruja, a Turkish territory; the Ukrainians live in the Maramures and the area around Suceava; the Serbs along the border with Serbia.
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Romania is home to 21,529,967 people in 2017. The population density is approximately 90 inhabitants per square kilometer. The population density is fairly even outside the high mountains, the Danube Delta and Dobrigea. The share of the urban population in the total has risen sharply in recent years.
Partly as a result of Ceausescu's contested 'urbanization policy', whereby entire rural municipalities were housed, sometimes by force, in urban conglomerations to work in industry, the share of the urban population increased from 32% in 1969 to 54% in 2017.
The largest city is the capital Bucharest with almost 2 million inhabitants.
De jaarlijkse bevolkingstoename was in de periode 1985–1995 nihil, te weten 0,0% In de 21e eeuw is het licht negatief, in 2017 - 0,33%.
De gemiddelde levensverwachting was in 2017 voor mannen 71,9 jaar en voor vrouwen 79 jaar. Door het afnemende geboortecijfer zal de bevolking, net als in de rest van Europa in vrij snel tempo vergrijzen.
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The official language of Romania is Romanian, an Eastern Romance language also spoken by the inhabitants of Moldova and minorities in Greece, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia. Romanian, together with Italian and the disappeared Dalmatian, belongs to the Eastern Romance languages, but has developed completely independently due to its isolation. Grammatically and lexicologically, Romanian is strongly influenced by Slavic, especially Bulgarian, but also Russian and Serbian. The influences of Modern Greek, Turkish and Hungarian are mainly on the lexicological level.
Anyone who knows some French or Latin will come across many well-known words in Romanian. Like French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, Romanian is a language that originated from Latin.
The first written Romanian dates from the 16th century and in 1688 the complete Bible was first translated into Romanian. It was not until the 19th century that Romanian became the main language of culture of the principalities on the Danube and the first Romanian grammars appeared. The Cyrillic script was officially replaced by the Latin script after the unification of Wallachia and Moldavia in the mid-19th century
There are no real dialects within the borders of Romania. A true variety of Romanian is spoken in the Republic of Moldova. There is also Aromanian, which is spoken in some regions, especially in Northern Greece, and also in Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia.
The alphabet consists of 28 letters: the q is missing, but Romanian has the following extra letters, a, â, î, s, and t. With a few exceptions, the pronunciation is almost identical to English.
What is special is that consonants are never doubled, for example: comisar = commissaire.
Some words and phrases:
- A = unu
- Two = doi
- Three = trei
- Ten = zece
- Hundred = o suta
- Good morning = buna dimineata
- See you soon = la reveder
- Monday = luni
- Sunday = duminica
- Forbidden access = access interzis
- No smoking = fumatul interzis
- A single room = o camera cu un pat
- Key = cheie
- Would you like to wake me up at seven? = puteti sa ma treziti la ora sapte?
- A city map = o harta a orasului
The languages of the minorities have the status of an official language in the areas where they live. They therefore have their own education, newspapers and broadcasting time on radio and television.
The Romanians are the only Romanesque people that are not Catholic but Orthodox. From the 3rd century on, the area north of the Danube was Christianized by Latin and Byzantine missionaries. In the Middle Ages, Orthodox Romanian Christians adopted the Slavic Rite, and Church Slavic was the liturgical language for centuries. At a later stage this became New Greek and later Romanian. In 1864 the Romanian Orthodox Church managed to break away from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and became independent.
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Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the new 1991 constitution. The relationship between the church and the state was already regulated in 1948, whereby, among other things, the salaries of church officials were partly paid by the state. Under the communists, the Romanian Orthodox Church was allowed, but its assets were all confiscated in 1974. Furthermore, many Roman Catholic priests and bishops were deported and the Greek Catholic faith was outlawed.
Many ecclesiastical authorities were even secret agents and passed on confessional secrets to the hated security service Securitate. The head of the Romanian Orthodox Church at the time, Patriarch Teoctist, therefore resigned in January 1990. His succession, however, was such a problem that he took over the leadership of the Church again in April. A real renewal of the Romanian Orthodox Church therefore failed to materialize. Since 1990, the church has been disconnected from the state again and, for example, the Greek Catholic Church became legal again.
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Romania has no fewer than sixteen large and small denominations. The mutual relationships do not always run smoothly and it has still not come to an ecumenism.
Approx. 70% of the population belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church and about 6% of the population is Roman Catholic (uniates) or Greek Catholic.
Smaller movements include the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession or Lutheran Church, the Reformed (Calvinist) Church, the Synodal Presbyterians, the Unitarian (anti-Trinitarian) Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Gospel Christians and the Old Rite Christian Church. Romania also has a small number of Orthodox Armenians, Jews and Muslims. Most of the Muslim mosques can be found in the Dobruja with Turkish communities in Constanta and Mangalia.
The highest authority of the Romanian Orthodox Church is the Holy Synod, which has 33 bishops and has its own patriarchate from 1925. The Romanian Orthodox Church has twenty theological seminaries, where more than 4000 students study.
Photo:Csanády in the public domain
The Reformed Church is the largest Protestant faith community in Romania and its members are mainly of Hungarian descent. The Reformed Church was best known abroad for the activities of Reverend László Tökes in 1989. He was forcibly transferred to another congregation, leading up to the fall of dictator Ceausescu.
The Jewish community has shrunk by about 400,000 people since the arrival of the communist regime in 1948, many Romanian Jews emigrated to Israel. At the moment there are officially only about 10,000 Jews in Romania. As with the gypsies, the number is probably much higher, perhaps around 20,000.
Photo: Arvid Olson in the public domain
On December 13, 1991, a new constitution entered into force, stating that Romania is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state. A year earlier, a new electoral law had already been enacted, allowing for the first time since the Second World War to be held free democratic again.
Every citizen of 18 years and older is entitled to vote and from 23 years old can stand for election to the House of Representatives (Camera Deputatilor, 345 seats).
The members of parliament are elected by universal suffrage that takes place every four years through a district system. Thirteen seats in the House of Representatives are reserved for representatives of ethnic minorities. To be elected to the Senate (Senat, 140 seats), one must even be at least 35 years old. Elections for President, House and Senate take place on the same day.
Both chambers have the same powers. For example, laws can only be passed by a majority of votes in both chambers. When a bill is passed by one chamber and rejected by another, the chamber that passed the bill has to rethink it. If the bill is rejected by the other chamber for the second time, the bill will be definitively withdrawn.
Since 1990, the legislative, executive and judicial branches have been separated. The president and the government together form the executive power in Romania and the constitution therefore describes the country as a semi-presidential republic.
Presidential elections take place every four years. If no presidential candidate scores more than 50% in the first round of the presidential election, a second round will follow. The candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the second round becomes president. The president can be elected for up to two terms. The role of the Romanian president is quite significant.
For example, the government is headed by a prime minister, but the president appoints and dismisses ministers. He can also dissolve parliament within 60 days if this institute has withdrawn its confidence in the government. Furthermore, the president is the commander of the military and chairman of the Supreme National Security Council or Supreme Defense Council. For the current political situation see chapter history.
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Romania is divided into 41 districts, which in turn are subdivided into municipalities with extensive powers, cities and country municipalities. The capital Bucharest is its own region.
The government appoints a prefect for each district to represent the government at the local level. A prefect supervises the activities of the decentralized ministerial and other central bodies.
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About 4% of GDP is spent on education, which is low compared to European standards. The current school population is expected to attend an average of 11-12 years of education, significantly more than a few years ago. The number of students in higher education is also increasing sharply.
Education in Romania is free from pre-school to university education. According to law, there is compulsory education for children from 7 to 16 years old. In reality, many children hardly go to school, especially in rural areas where they often have to help their parents to earn a little more money.
Children from 3 to 6 years old go to kindergarten. When the children are 7 years old, they go to eight-year-old primary school. In the last year, the children have to take exams. Based on the exam results, they can choose between two further courses: the four-year high school, which prepares the children for university studies, or the two-year secondary school, which provides a link to vocational education. Pupils who have completed their high school education with good grades are allowed to take the entrance examination for the state universities. They can also go to a private university, for which the entrance exam is less difficult. However, these institutions have to be paid dearly. The vocational training that follows secondary school lasts four years.
A number of private secondary schools and universities have opened since 1989. Approx. 32% of all school-age children and students attending now have private education. The number of students in secondary education has fallen dramatically since 1990, from 90.7% in 1990 to only 68% in 1999. The number of students in university education, on the other hand, has increased, from 10% in 1990 to 25.4% in 1998 The best Romanian universities can be found in Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara.
English and French are taught in all secondary schools. Hungarian, German, Serbian and Ukrainian is taught in areas where many people from these minority groups live.
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Until the end of the Second World War, Romania was an agricultural nation where large land ownership predominated. After 1945, radical land reforms were implemented and large land ownership came to an end.
Until the revolution, Romania had a strongly centrally planned economy. Until then, the means of production were usually in the hands of the state or collectively owned. In the 1950s small farms, heavy industry and banks were also nationalized. This situation lasted until the upheaval when a process of privatization was set in motion. In the mid-1990s, the agricultural sector was most advanced with privatization.
From 1998 to 2000, Romania's economy went through a period of great recession. From 2001, the economy was on the rise again with a growth rate of 5.3%. Romania joined the European Union in 2007 and has since received EU and IMF support to improve its economy. Gross national product per capita in 2017 is: $ 24,600. Gross national product divided by sectors (2017):
Trade and services 62.6%
The unemployment rate has been around 5% for several years now. Inflation in Romania is historically low compared to other countries in this region. An average inflation rate of 1.3% was measured in 2017 (45.6% in 2000).
The purchasing power of the Romanian population will increase in the coming years due to economic growth and the government increasing the incomes of the poorest population groups. Yet at the moment 20% of Romanians are still living below the poverty line.
Environmental issues weigh heavily on Romania and environmental protection is not yet very high on the agenda of the Romanian government. The EU and the World Bank estimate that around € 50 billion will be needed by 2020 to combat environmental pollution.
Waste storage, nature conservation and ozone depletion measures have the highest priority. Zones that are most endangered from an ecological point of view are the areas with a lot of metal industry (Baia Mare, Zlatna, Ramnicu Valcea and Ploiesti) and where paper and cellulose are produced (Braila, Savinesti).
In urban areas, air pollution is significant because many households still burn coal and the outdated fleet, which often still runs on diesel with a high lead content. A report by the Romanian Ministry of Water and Environmental Protection describes one third of the 41 regions in Romania as “atmospheric critical”, where the air contains high levels of heavy metals such as copper and iron.
The processing of household waste is also a major problem here.
Water pollution mainly occurs along the border river between Romania and Moldova, the Prut. Soil pollution is caused by mining and heavy industry. Finally, intensive agriculture leads to over-exploitation of the vulnerable soil, which is often severely dried out.
Agriculture, livestock, fishing and forestry
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Romania is still strongly agrarian, despite Ceausescu's efforts at the time to turn his country into an industrial society. The agricultural sector employs approximately 28.3% (2017) of the labor force, making Romania still one of the most agricultural countries in Europe. Of the available agricultural land, 60% is used as arable land, 25% as pasture land, 4% as vineyards, 6% as hay land and 1.8% as orchards. The revenues have been lagging behind expectations for many years.
The arable areas are: Dobrogea, the Banaat, the Pre-Carpathians, Zevenburgen, Klein Wallachia and Maramures. The main products are: grain, potatoes, legumes, sugar beets, maize, flax, fruit (including plums for the well-known plum gin or “tuica”), rice and wine.
Sunflower production shows constant growth due to the high demand for sunflower oil from abroad. At the moment there are about 500 production companies and that number is still growing. Sunflower seeds, soybeans, linseed and castor oil are processed in the oils and fats sector. The oil processing industry produces more than 400,000 tons a year of processed oils and 48,000 tons a year of margarine.
Livestock farming has undergone radical changes over the past thirty years. The traditionally itinerant shepherds in the Carpathians were forced to settle.
After 1989, the number of cattle in Romania decreased sharply due to the closure of large cooperative farms. As a result, more and more beef is imported from abroad. Much attention has also been paid to pig breeding.
Fishing takes place on rivers, lakes, ponds and artificial lakes near hydroelectric power stations and fishing in the Black Sea has also played an increasingly important role in recent years.
About 28% of the surface is covered with forest. In particular, the southern and eastern Northern Carpathians are very wooded. Forest exploitation is an important source of income in these areas.
Mining and energy supply
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The main mining product is petroleum. There are large oil fields in Prahova, Bacau, Gorj Crisgana and in Cuges. In the 1980s, large quantities of petroleum were exported abroad to repay the high external debt, but production has been declining in recent years.
Natural gas is extracted in the Pre-Carpathians and in the highlands of Zevenburgen. However, these stocks are nowhere near enough to meet domestic needs.
This also applies to coal, iron, lead, copper and manganese ores. There are also brown coal and bauxite. In recent years, many coal and lignite mines, especially in the Jiu Valley, have been closed.
Romania has quite large reserves of oil and gas, but the days when Romania was one of the most important oil producers and exporters in the world are long gone. The oil and natural gas sector is currently very outdated. In order to be able to implement the necessary modernizations, we have to wait for foreign investors and the privatization of state energy companies.
Electricity is supplied by means of combined heat and power plants (petroleum and coal). In collaboration with Yugoslavia, a hydroelectric power station has been built in the Danube at the Iron Gate.
A power plant has been built at Turnu Magurele in collaboration with Bulgaria. A hydroelectric power plant is being built in Cernavada and already has a nuclear power plant on its territory. Own production covers three quarters of domestic demand.
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After the Second World War, industrialization was tackled on a large scale, with an emphasis on the development of the heavy (especially the chemical) industry. Since 1989, more attention has been paid to the consumer goods industry.
The textile sector consists mainly of small and medium-sized companies. Dutch companies often outsource the production process to these Romanian companies because of the low wage costs. The machinery is quite modern and the employees in this sector are often well trained. The textile sector also makes a very important contribution to Romanian exports, approximately 26% of the total exports are realized by this sector.
Just like the textile industry, the metal industry, including the arms industry, also occupies an important place in the Romanian economy, as it generates approximately 15% of industrial production.
The metal industry in Romania is very labor-intensive, but due to the low wage costs and the well-qualified employees, outsourcing production activities for foreign companies is also very interesting here. In Romania, for example, there are still plenty of welders available, professionals who are almost impossible to find in the EU.
Trade and service sector
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The European Union accounts for about two thirds of total trade with Romania, making it the most important trading partner. Exported are: chemical and petroleum products, machines, fertilizers, raw materials for the food industry and textiles. The main customers are currently Germany, Italy, France, Turkey and Hungary.
The total value of exports in 2017 was $ 65 billion and the total value of imports was $ 78 billion. Romania therefore has a trade deficit.
Favorable prospects can be found in the financial services, insurance and accountancy industries, legal services, and the marketing and advertising industries.
Many foreign banks have now established themselves in Romania. The National Bank, which has existed since 1880, functions as the central bank. The bank network currently consists of 17 Romanian banks and 24 banks that are wholly or partly foreign-owned. Since 1995, Romania has had a stock exchange again.
Traffic and transport equipment industry
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Romania's road network of approximately 75,000 kilometers is generally in poor condition and there are less than 1,000 kilometers of motorway. The aim is to increase the number of kilometers of motorway and widen national roads through a multi-year plan. Bucharest will then be a crossroads of several highways at home and abroad. This is supported by the European Union, EIB, EBRD and the World Bank.
Since the 1970s, Romania has had its own automotive industry supplying passenger cars, trucks and buses. This industry collapsed after the revolution due to lagging investments, which meant that the techniques used quickly became obsolete. The national brand is Dacia. Imports of foreign models are on the rise. Many second-hand cars are also being imported. Dacia has been part of the French Renault group since 1999.
Due to the poorly developed road network, the railways are still of great importance for both passenger and business transport. The rail network covers 11,275 km, much of which is electrified. Here too, people are working hard on modernizing the current infrastructure, again with the help of the above-mentioned international organizations. A lot of money is also being earmarked for the modernization of stations, digitization of communication networks, equipment for future maintenance and repair and work on the tram and metro facilities in Bucharest. Due to its geographic position, Romania is a crossroads of international railways connecting different parts of Europe.
At 1000 kilometers, the Danube is the most important waterway on which a large part of the goods transport between Eastern and Central Europe takes place. Important is the 64-kilometer Danube-Black Sea Canal, which allows seagoing vessels to cut off about 380 kilometers from the Danube.
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The Black Sea has the same function with the important port of Constanta. Approx. 60% of foreign trade crosses the border through this port. Constanta has the potential to become the main port on the Black Sea. To this end, large-scale modernization projects are being carried out with the help of Japan, among other things. The off-shore dam will be extended, the number of harbor basins will be increased and a second container terminal will be built. Other important ports are Mangalia, Sulina, Giurgiu, Galati, Braila and Tulcea.
The shipbuilding industry is important to the economy. The production of hulls is particularly important. These hulls are finished into complete ships abroad. The yards are increasingly in the hands of foreign investors.
The main international airports are Bucharest (Otopeni and Baneasa), Timisoara and Constanta. There are also dozens of other airports.
Holidays and Sightseeing
The masses still remain away due to inadequate tourist infrastructure, despite attempts by the Romanian government to improve it. Tourist offices have also been established in major foreign cities trying to stimulate tourism to Romania. The first results were encouraging, as the number of foreign visitors rose sharply in the first half of 2000.
Romania is interesting for business tourism in Bucharest and other business centers, mountain tourism, healing springs and culture.
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The Romanian capital is not only the country's commercial center, but also the economic center. In Romanian, the city is called Bucuresti. On top of one of the city's few hills, known as the Mitropoliei, stands the cathedral, the center of the Romanian Orthodox faith since the 17th century. The church was built by Constantin Serban Basarab, ruler of the province of Wallachia between 1656 and 1658, to a design inspired by the Curtea de Arges monastery. It became the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1925. The Byzantine interior, containing the city's most magnificent iconostasis (wall of icons), as well as a pair of beautifully carved side altars, is of great beauty. A huge crowd gathers here for the Easter service. The beautiful bell tower at the entrance was built in 1698 and restored in 1958.
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Brasov is one of the largest and most attractive cities in Romania. It is located in the central part of the country. Brasov is located 160 km from Bucharest, the Romanian capital. Brasov is surrounded by the Carpathians, at the crossroads of the Eastern and Southern Carpathians. The city is known for being the birthplace of Romania's national anthem. In the old town you can see one of the narrowest streets in Europe. The Strada Sforii is about four meters wide. If you take a walk on the old town hall square (Piata Sfatului), you can enjoy colorfully painted and beautifully finished baroque buildings. Enter the Black Church (Biserica Neagra), the largest Gothic church in Romania. The interior of the church is impressive and you can see one of the largest organs in Eastern Europe. The main square is in the heart of old medieval Brasov. The square is surrounded by beautiful merchant houses with red roofs. In the center of the square you can see the old town hall from 1420, now transformed into the museum of the history of Brasov.
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Romania is a very varied country. The Carpathian Mountains cover about a third of the country. Enclosed on three sides by the Carpathians, the Transylvania plateau is home to many picturesque medieval towns.
The mountains and hills of Romania are suitable for winter sports holidays and hikes with overnight stays in mountain huts, the so-called “cabanas”. Well-known winter sports resorts include Predeal, Baie Borsa, Sinaia and especially Poiana Brasov. In many places you will find dripstone caves and other interesting karst phenomena.
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The Dobrogea, the strip between the Danube and the Black Sea, is characterized by a rolling landscape with many vineyards. Romania is also known for the seaside resorts on the Black Sea with many hotel facilities, such as Mamaia, Eforie and Constinestie. The Black Sea coast has wide sandy beaches and a calm sea. Special are the ruins of Histria, the most important ancient Greek city in Romania.
Worth seeing buildings and castles can be found in Bucharest, Alba Iulia, Bran, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Curtea de Arges, Iasi, Orodea, Ploiesti, Sibiu, Sighisoara (with walled high center), Suceava, Timisoara, Tîrgoviste and Ulpia Trajanus.
Central Romania, or Transylvania, in particular is of great cultural and historical importance. Special in this region are the fortified churches, churches around which three walls are sometimes built for defense.
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Adamklissi has a famous Roman war memorial. Tirgu Jiu shows a lot of work by the sculptor Constatin Brancusi. Suceava is the starting point for a tour of the famous churches of Bukovina, as can be found in the places Sucevita, Moldivita, Voronet, Humor, Arbore, Putna and Agapia. These monastery churches are built in a mixed Byzantine-Gothic style, fortified and decorated with well-preserved 16th century murals, painted not only on the inside but also on the outside.
Romania has about 160 spa towns, mainly on the coast, south of Constanta. Spa towns can also be found inland, including in Slanic Moldova and Baile Herculane.
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Worth seeing are the Romanesque wooden churches in Radauti and Babadag, as well as the old port city of Braila, the Prejmer castle near Brasov, the center of Sibiu and Sighisoara and the wooden houses in the Maramures. In addition to the Carpathians, beautiful landscapes are mainly found in the Prahova Valley and in the Danube Delta, which is a protected area.
In terms of folk culture, Romania is one of the richest countries in Europe. In many places people still regularly walk the streets in traditional costume and Romania also has a reputation to uphold when it comes to folk dances and folk music.
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Bos, J.W. / Roemenië : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur, milieu
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen
Democratisering aan de Donau : Roemenië na de revolutie van 1989
Instituut voor Publiek en Politiek
Steunpunt Oost-Europa Projecten
Versteegen, J. / Roemenië
Williams, N. / Romania & Moldova
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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