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Romania



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 1990.

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 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, 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 Razelm.

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 resource.

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 Romanian agriculture.

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.

Federal Republic 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, and Spain. 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 and Germany, 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 of Hamburg. 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.

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