Romania, republic in southeastern
Europe, bounded on the north by Ukraine;
on the east by Moldova; on
the southeast by the Black Sea; on the south by Bulgaria;
on the southwest by Serbia;
and on the west by Hungary.
its capital and largest city.
Though rich in
culture and natural resources, Romania
has long been one of Europe's poorest and
least developed nations. Foreign powers, including the Ottoman and
Austro-Hungarian empires, controlled the country for much of its history. In
1948 Communists took control of Romania
and modeled the government and economy after those of the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics (USSR). However, in the 1960s Romania's
Communist leaders began to distance themselves from the USSR and
develop their own domestic and foreign policies. Romania's economy grew during the
1960s and 1970s, but by the 1980s most Romanians were suffering from food
shortages and other economic hardships. In 1989 Romanians revolted against the
repressive dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, the country's president and
Communist Party leader. Ceausescu was executed, and a non-Communist government
was installed. The first free multiparty elections took place in Romania in
Romania has a total land area of
about 237,500 sq km (about 91,700 sq mi). The country is roughly oval in shape,
with a maximum distance from east to west of about 720 km (about 450 mi) and a
maximum distance from north to south of about 515 km (about 320 mi). A long
chain of mountain ranges curves through northern and central Romania. The Danube River
forms much of the country's southern and southwestern borders with Bulgaria and Serbia,
and the Prut River
divides Romania from its
northeastern neighbor Moldova.
extensive elevated plateau region that reaches a maximu m height of about 600 m
(about 2000 ft), occupies most of central and northwestern Romania.
Transylvania is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains,
a large mountain system of central and eastern Europe. The Eastern Carpathians
extend from the northern border to the center of the country and contain the
forested region of Bukovina; the Southern Carpathians, also known as the
Transylvanian Alps, stretch westward from the Eastern Carpathian range; and the
Western Carpathians traverse the western portion of Romania. The Southern
Carpathians contain the country's highest peak, Moldoveanul, which
reaches an elevation of 2543 m (8343 ft). The geological structure of the
Carpathians has given rise to severe earthquakes: in 1977 an earthquake with a
magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale inflicted serious damage on Bucharest and claimed
more than 1500 lives. Another earthquake measuring 6.0 was registered in 1990.
stretching outward from Romania's
mountainous interior contain hills and tablelands full of orchards and
vineyards, and flat lowlands where cereal and vegetable farming takes place.
Western Romania is dominated by the Tisza Plain, which borders both Hungary and Serbia;
the section of the plain that borders Serbia
is generally known as the region of Banat, while the section that borders Hungary is
commonly referred to as Crisana-Maramures. To the east of central Romania, stretching from the Carpathians to the Prut River
along the Moldovan border, lies the region of Moldavia. Southern Romania contains
the region of Walachia, which stretches from the southernmost mountains to the
Danube and contains the city of Bucharest.
The small region of Dobruja, located in the extreme southeast between the Danube River
and the Black Sea, is an important tourist
important river of Romania is the Danube.
Its lower course forms a delta that covers much of northeastern Dobruja. Most
of Romania's major rivers
are part of the Danube system; these include the Mures, the Somes, the Olt, the
Prut, and the Siret. Romania has many small, freshwater mountain
lakes, but the largest lakes are saline lagoons on the coast of the Black Sea;
the largest of these is Lake
and Animal Life
now largely cleared for agriculture, dominate the plains of Walachia and Moldavia. Fruit
trees are common in the foothills of the mountains. The lower slopes have
forests with such deciduous trees as birch, beech, and oak. The forests of the
higher altitudes are coniferous, consisting largely of pine and spruce trees.
Above the timberline (approximately 1750 m/5740 ft), the vegetation is alpine.
Wild animal life
is abundant in most parts of Romania.
The larger animals, found chiefly in the Carpathian
Mountains, include wild boar, wolves, lynx, foxes, bears, chamois,
roe deer, and goats. In the plains, squirrels, hare, badgers, and polecats are
common. Many species of birds are abundant; the Danube
delta region, now partly a nature preserve, is a stopover point for migratory
birds. Among species of fish found in the rivers and offshore are pike,
sturgeon, carp, flounder, herring, salmon, perch, and eel.
resources of Romania are agricultural, but the country also has significant
mineral deposits, particularly petroleum, natural gas, salt, hard coal, lignite
(brown coal), iron ore, copper, bauxite, chromium, manganese, lead, and zinc.
Timber is also an important natural resource.
About 43 percent
of land in Romania
is cultivated, and the soils in most parts of the country are fertile. In
Banat, Walachia, and Moldavia,
soils consist mainly of chernozem, or black earth, highly suited for growing
grain. Soils in Transylvania are generally
lower in nutrients.
Romania has a temperate climate
with four distinct seasons. Temperatures are generally cooler in the mountains,
while the hottest areas in summer are the lowlands of Walachia, Moldavia,
and Dobruja. The average daily temperature range in Bucharest is -7° to 1° C
(19° to 34° F) in January and 16° to 30° C (61° to 86° F) in July. Rainfall is
heaviest during the months of April, May, June, September, and October. Yearly
rainfall averages about 650 mm (about 25 in), ranging from about 500 mm (about
20 in) on the plains to about 1020 mm (about 40 in) in the mountains. The
climate of Dobruja is extremely dry.
measures have been taken to reduce air and water pollution in Romania. One of
the country's most polluted areas is the city of Giurgiu
on the northern bank of the Danube, where a Soviet-designed chemical plant was
built in 1984; the plant has produced serious air pollution in both Giurgiu and the Bulgarian city of Ruse,
located on the other side of the Danube. The
town of Copsa Micà
also has severe air pollution problems, stemming from the industrialization
policies of the Communist period. Soil erosion is also a significant problem in
At the 1992
had a population of 22,760,449. The 1995 estimated population is about
23,505,000, yielding an average population density of about 96 persons per sq
km (about 246 per sq mi). At the time of the 1992 census the population was
about 54 percent urban.
Bucharest, the capital and largest city of Romania,
had a population of 2,064,474 in 1992; Bucharest
is the commercial and industrial center of the country. Other major cities
include Constanta (350,476), the principal Romanian port on the Black Sea; Iasi
(342,994), a cultural and manufacturing center; Timisoara (334,278) a textile,
machinery, and chemical manufacturing center; Cluj-Napoca (328,008), a
commercial and industrial center; Galati (325,788), a naval and metallurgical
center; Brasov (323,835), a transportation and industrial center; and Craiova
(303,520), a center of food processing and locomotive manufacturing.
Romanians, who constitute about 89 percent of the population, are descendants
of the inhabitants of Dacia, an ancient land
roughly equivalent to modern Transylvania and Walachia.
Dacia was conquered by the Romans and
incorporated into the Roman Empire in the
early 2nd century. The largest minority groups are Hungarians, who comprise
about 8 percent of the population and are settled chiefly in Transylvania;
Roma (or Gypsies), who constitute about 1.5 percent of the population; and
Germans, who make about 0.5 percent of the population. Romania's German population has declined since
the 1980s as many Germans have emigrated to Germany. Romania also has communities of
Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Russians, Serbs, Croats, Turks, Bulgarians, Tatars, and
Romania's official language is
Romanian (see Romanian Language), a Romance language derived mainly from
Latin. Minority languages include Hungarian, German, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian,
and Romani (the language of the Roma). English and French are taught in many
schools and are the most common second languages spoken in Romania.
religion of Romania
is Christianity. About 70 percent of the population belongs to the Romanian
Orthodox Church, the largest religious organization in the country.
Approximately 5 percent of inhabitants (including much of the Hungarian
population) belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The country also contains
Protestant churches of various denominations and significant numbers of Muslims
rate in Romania
is about 97 percent. Before 1989 the educational system heavily emphasized
practical and technical studies; in recent years, however, management,
business, and social sciences have become more popular. Primary education in Romania is free
and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 16; most children choose
to continue their education beyond primary school. There are five types of
secondary schooling available: general education schools, which prepare
students to continue at the university level; vocational schools, which
emphasize technical training; art schools, which provide general education with
an emphasis on art and music; physical education schools, which provide general
education with an emphasis on physical fitness and training; and
eight general universities: the University of Bucharest (founded in 1694;
refounded in 1864); the Al. I. Cuza University of Iasi (founded in 1860); the
Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca (1919); the University of Craiova
(1966); the University of Ploiesti (1948); the Dunarea de Jos (Lower Danube)
University of Galati (founded in 1948; given university status in 1974); the
University of Timisoara (founded in 1962), and the Transylvania University of
Brasov (1971). There are also eight technical universities and a number of
other institutions of higher education.
and economic changes that have taken place in Romania since the 1980s have made
daily life difficult for many ordinary citizens. Food prices are high relative
to the country's low minimum wage, and few Romanians can afford luxuries.
One-family houses are common in Romania's
villages, while most city dwellers live in one-family apartments. Most
apartment buildings were built during the Communist period and are cramped with
minimal facilities. In Romania
there are about 15 cars and 120 telephones for every 1000 inhabitants. Popular
Romanian foods include mititei (seasoned grilled meatballs) and màmàligà
(a cornmeal porridge that can be served in many different ways). Wine and a
plum brandy called tuica are popular beverages among Romanians, and plàcintà
(turnovers) are a typical dessert. Soccer is the favorite national sport.
The most serious
social problem in Romania
is the high rate of unemployment and low standard of living resulting from the
country's transition from a state-run to a market economy. Other social
problems surround the rights and treatment of Romania's minority populations.
Since the end of Communism, the Roma minority has been a target of harassment
and hostility. In the early 1990s a large number of Roma left Romania for Germany, but the German government
sent many of them back the following year. Conflicts have also occurred between
ethnic Hungarians and Romanians in Transylvania,
as Hungarians' demands for greater autonomy and linguistic rights have provoked
responses from nationalist Romanian groups.
is largely derived from the Roman, with strains of Slavic, Magyar (Hungarian),
Greek, and Turkish influence. Poems, folktales, and folk music have always held
a central place in Romanian culture. Romanian literature, art, and music
attained maturity in the 19th century. Although Romania has been influenced by
divergent Western trends, it also has a rich native culture.
literature has a rich and varied history. Between the 15th and 18th centuries
the national literature was primarily religious. In the late 18th century
historical writing became the dominant literary form; a number of major works
from this period considered the origins and history of the Romanian people. In
the century before World War I (1914-1918), Romanian literature reached
maturity and reflected national unity. A major figure of this period was the
poet Mihai Eminescu, whose work was influenced by German Romanticism. Other
authors who distinguished themselves were the narrative poet and dramatist
Vasile Alecsandri and the dramatist Ion Luca Caragiale, whose plays satirized
middle-class life in late 19th century. Between 1921 and 1945 symbolism became
important in Romanian poetry; important poets of that period were Lucian Blaga,
who was also a philosopher, and Tudor Arghezi. The novel also came into
prominence at this time, and Mihail Sadoveanu was widely considered to be Romania's most
important novelist. From the late 1940s through the 1980s, while Romania was
under Communist control, the country's literature was characterized by
socialist realism, except for a brief period in the late 1960s when cultural
controls were relaxed. The Romanian-born playwright Eugène Ionesco became
famous after World War II (1939-1945) while living in France.
like Romanian literature, reached its peak during the 19th century. Among the
leading painters were Theodor Aman, a portraitist, and the landscape painter Nicolae
Grigorescu. Between 1945 and 1989 Romanian art was dominated by socialist
realism, a school of art that was officially sponsored by the Communist
government, and through which socialist ideals were promoted and advanced. A
notable contribution to modern concepts of 20th century art was the work of the
Romanian-born French sculptor Constantin Brancusi.
A number of
Romanian musicians achieved international recognition in the 20th century. Most
notable among them were Georges Enesco, a violinist and composer who is perhaps
best known for his Romanian rhapsodies, and pianist Dinu Lipatti.
Romania's principal libraries are the National Library
(founded in 1955) and the Library of the Academy
of Romania (1867), both in Bucharest. The Romanian
National Museum of Art (1950), in Bucharest,
contains fine collections of national, Western, and Asian art. Other important
museums include the Historical Museum of Bucharest
(1984) and the Museum of Romanian Literature (1957), also located in Bucharest.
Before World War
II, the Romanian economy was primarily agricultural. In 1948 the Communist
government came to power and took control of nearly all aspects of the economy.
Through a series of five-year plans, the Communists transformed Romania into an
industrial nation. The economy grew considerably during the first part of the
Communist period, but by the 1980s it had slid into decline, and shortages of
consumer goods and degradation of the environment had become widespread. After
the Communist government was overthrown in 1989, the Romanian economy virtually
collapsed. In the early 1990s the new non-Communist government began taking
steps to reform the economy. These included devaluing the national currency,
removing government subsidies on most consumer goods, and converting
state-owned companies to private ownership.
economy declined considerably in the early 1990s. In recent years, however, it
has improved slightly. After several years of decline, the gross domestic
product (GDP) increased by about one percent in 1993. In May 1994 the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the Romanian government a $700 million loan, which
helped to lower the country's inflation rate from more than 200 percent to
about 60 percent in January 1995. Although Romania's private sector has grown
considerably, especially in the area of services, most of the country's
industrial production remained in state hands in 1995. This provoked concern
among international lenders and hindered Romania's efforts to attract
foreign investment. In June of that year the Romanian parliament passed a mass
privatization program with the goal of transferring more than 2000 companies to
Romania is currently a member of
the IMF, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World
Bank), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In
February 1993 the Romanian government signed an association agreement with the European
Union (EU), which was expected to lead to EU membership for Romania. A free
trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association came into effect in
been a significant problem in Romania
since the collapse of Communism in 1989; in 1995 about 11 percent of the
population was unemployed. Approximately 36 percent of the labor force was
employed in agriculture in the early 1990s; about 26 percent was employed in
manufacturing, and about 3 percent was employed in mining; services employed
much of the remainder.
governing trade unions were liberalized after the collapse of the Communist
government, and significant labor unrest occurred in the early 1990s,
particularly among miners. Approximately 22 percent of the working population
belongs to one of a number of new trade organizations in Romania. The
largest such organization is the National Free Trade Union Confederation of
Romania (or, CNSLR-Fratia), which was formed by a merger in 1993 and has
headquarters in Bucharest.
Transylvania (Romanian Transilvania),
region in central Romania,
before 1918 a part of Austria-Hungary.
The region is an elevated plateau entirely surrounded by the Transylvanian
Alps, a range of the Carpathian Mountains. The
mountains curve around the region like a wall and in various places spread over
the land. The chief rivers are tributaries of the Tisza.
The terrain is suitable for growing fruits, cereal grains, and sugar beets.
Wine is also produced, and livestock is raised. Transylvania
is rich in minerals, including gold, silver, salt, and coal.
Part of the
Roman province of Dacia, the region became part of the kingdom of Hungary in 1003. In 1526, after the
defeat of Hungary by the
Turks, Transylvania became a separate
principality under the protection of the Turkish sultan. Austria, which had previously claimed
Transylvania, obtained possession of the region by the Treaty of Karlowitz in
1699, which concluded war between Austria
In 1765 the region was made a grand principality of Austria
and in 1849 an Austrian crown land, but it was reunited with the Hungarian Kingdom
in 1867 upon the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Transylvania
became a part of Romania in
December 1918 following World War I. Hungary persisted in claiming the area
because of its large population of Magyars, who form the major ethnic group in Hungary. In
1940, during World War II, by the Italo-German award of August 30, the northern
part of Transylvania, including 44,030 sq km (17,000 sq mi) with a population
of 2,700,000, was given to Hungary.
Following the war the ceded area was returned to Romania. Today, the majority of
ethnic Hungarians in Romania
live in the region of Transylvania. Area,
about 62,160 sq km (about 24,000 sq mi).