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 (a constituent republic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and on
the west by Hungary. Bucharest
is its capital and largest city.
Although 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
LAND AND RESOURCES 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.
Natural Regions Transylvania, an extensive elevated plateau region that reaches a maximum
height of about 600 m (about 2000 ft), occupies most of central and
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,
Moldoveanu, 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.
The areas 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 center.
Rivers and Lakes The most
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
Plant and Animal Life Wooded steppe, now largely cleared for agriculture, dominates 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.
Natural Resources The principal 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
About 43 percent of land in Romania is cultivated for crops or
used for orchards, 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.
Agriculture Field crops or orchards occupy 43
percent of land in Romania.
In the mid-1980s more than 80 percent of farms in Romania were either owned by the
state or organized as collectives; in collective farms, workers received wages,
farm products, and a portion of the farm’s profits. Because of the Communist
government’s emphasis on industrial development, agricultural improvements and
investments were neglected, and food shortages developed in the 1980s.
After the Communist regime was overthrown, Romania’s new
government began the process of dissolving collective farms and distributing
land to individual farmworkers. Although state farms were not broken up,
farmworkers whose land had been incorporated into state farms were compensated.
By 1994 about 46 percent of agricultural land had been returned to its original
owners or their heirs, and by 1995 more than three-fourths of Romania’s
farmland had been privatized.
In 1992 a severe drought caused a major decline in agricultural
output; by the following year, however, the sector had largely recovered. In
the early 1990s Romania’s
principal crops were grains, including corn, wheat, barley, and rye; potatoes;
grapes; and sugar beets. Cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and poultry were the most
important types of livestock. Wine production plays a significant role in
Forestry and Fishing Forests, which cover 27 percent of Romania’s total land area, are
state property. The country’s timber provides the basis for important lumber,
paper, and furniture industries. The Black Sea and the Danube delta regions are
known for their sturgeon catch, and the country undertakes considerable fishing
operations in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mining Petroleum is Romania’s
principal mineral resource, and the city of Ploiesti is the center of the petroleum
industry. However, petroleum production is declining due to the gradual
depletion of reserves. Although important new deposits were found under the Black Sea in the 1980s, petroleum reserves are expected
to be exhausted by 2000. Natural gas is produced in significant quantities.
Other mineral products include lignite (brown coal), hard coal, iron ore,
bauxite, copper, lead, and zinc.
of Germany (German Bundesrepublik Deutschland), major industrialized
nation in central Europe, a federal union of
16 states (Länder). Germany has a
long, complex history and rich culture, but it did not become a unified nation
until 1871. Before that time, Germany
had been a confederacy (1815-1867) and, before 1806, a federal empire
comprising many separate and quite different principalities.
LAND AND RESOURCES Germany ranks as
the fourth largest country in Europe, after European Russia (the part of Russia west
of the Ural Mountains), France,
Germany is bounded on the
north by the North Sea, Denmark,
and the Baltic Sea; on the east by Poland
and the Czech Republic;
on the south by Austria and Switzerland; and on the west by France, Luxembourg,
Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Stretching from the Baltic and North seas to the Alps, Germany
measures about 800 km (about 500 mi) from north to south; the country extends
about 600 km (about 400 mi) from west to east. In addition to coastline and mountains,
the varied terrain includes forests, hills, plains, and river valleys. Several
navigable rivers traverse the uplands, and canals connect the river systems of
the Elbe, Rhine, see Main, and Danube rivers
and link the North Sea with the Baltic.
Rivers and Lakes Rivers have
played a major role in German development. The Rhine
River flows in a northwesterly
direction from Switzerland
through much of western Germany
and the Netherlands into the
North Sea. It is a major European waterway and
a pillar of economic development. Its main German tributaries include the Main,
Mosel, Neckar, and Ruhr rivers. The Oder River,
along the border between Poland
runs northward and empties into the Baltic; it provides another important path
for waterborne freight. The Elbe River originates in the Czech mountains and traverses
eastern and western Germany
toward the northwest until it empties into the North Sea at the large seaport
The Danube River
connects southern Germany
with Austria and Eastern Europe. Since the recent construction of the Rhine-Danube Canal,
freight can be transported by barge from the North Sea to the Black
Sea. Smaller rivers such as the Neisse and Weser
also play a significant role as transport routes. There are several large
lakes, including the Lake of Constance (Bodensee) in extreme southwest Germany and the glacial moraine lakes of Bavaria, but none of
them have rivaled the importance of rivers in German economic development.
Plant and Animal Life Once a
country of deep forests, Germany
today includes mostly areas that have long been cleared. However, forest
conservation since the 18th century has preserved large areas of oak, ash, elm,
beech, birch, pine, fir, and larch. About one-third of the country is woodland.
Of the many animals that once roamed the forests, deer, red foxes, hares, and
weasels are still common, but these animals and wilder game such as wild boars,
wildcats, and badgers depend increasingly on conservation efforts. Private
hunting licenses are extremely expensive, and even
fishing in the streams and lakes where edible species abound is not encouraged.
Instead, there is a good deal of fish farming, including trout and carp; deer
are also commercially produced to satisfy the demand for venison. Many species
of songbirds migrate to Germany
every year, as do storks, geese, and other larger fowl that fly in over the
Mediterranean Sea from Africa. Herring,
flounder, cod, and ocean perch are found in coastal waters.
Natural Resources The
presence of coal and iron ore encouraged German industrial development in the
late 19th century. Most of the deposits were found in close proximity to one
another, allowing for the convenient use of coal as fuel first to process the
iron into steel and then to manufacture products from the steel. The
availability of inexpensive transport by water, and later by land, facilitated
the growth of manufacturing and encouraged exports. The presence of certain
minerals in great quantity, such as potash and salt, permitted the development
of a chemical industry, including the production of fertilizers and
pharmaceuticals. The availability of wood, petroleum, natural gas, brown coal
(also known as lignite), and hydroelectric power further smoothed the path of
German industrial progress.