Proiect la limba engleza - Romania referat



Romania, country in southeastern Europe. Romania is rich in culture and natural resources, but it has long been one of Europe’s poorest and least developed nations. Foreign powers, including the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, controlled the country or parts of it for much of its history. Bucharest is its capital and largest city.

The modern country of Romania was created in 1859. It became fully independent in 1878. Romania was a kingdom from 1881 to 1947. 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.


Romania has a total land area of 237,500 sq km (91,700 sq mi). The country is 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 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), and on the west by Hungary. Romania is roughly oval in shape, with a maximum distance from east to west of 720 km (450 mi) and a maximum distance from north to south of 515 km (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 the FRY, and the Prut River divides Romania from its northeastern neighbor Moldova.

A Natural Regions

Transylvania, an extensive elevated plateau region that reaches a maximum height of about 600 m (about 2,000 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 2,543 m (8,343 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 1,500 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 the FRY; the section of the plain that borders the FRY 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.

B 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.

C 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 deciduous trees such as birch, beech, and oak. The forests of the higher elevations are coniferous, consisting largely of pine and spruce trees. Above the timberline (approximately 1,750 m/5,740 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.

D 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.

E Climate

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 1,020 mm (about 40 in) in the mountains. The climate of Dobruja is extremely dry.

F Environmental Issues

Air and water pollution by industry are serious environmental problems in Romania. The country’s factories, chemical plants, and electric power plants depend heavily on burning coal, a process that emits dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The industrial centers of Copsa Mica, in central Romania, and Giurgiu, in the south, have severe air pollution problems. Bucharest, the capital, also has serious air pollution. Industrial runoff ends up in the Danube and other rivers, making water unsafe for drinking and threatening the diverse ecosystems of the Danube delta. The delta, the largest in Europe, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1991. Its lakes and marshes are home to hundreds of species of birds and dozens of fish and reptile species. As a result of air and water pollution, however, many species are threatened with extinction.

Unsystematic farming practices, particularly poor crop rotation, have led to severe soil degradation and erosion in Romania. In the 1980s large tracts of marshland along the Danube were drained and converted to cropland to aid food production. Nevertheless, deforestation is not a problem in Romania—in 1995, 27.1 percent of the country’s total land area was forested. The government has designated 4.7 percent (1997) of the country’s area protected. It has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to air pollution, biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, environmental modification, hazardous wastes, ozone layer protection, ship pollution, and wetlands.


A Population and Settlement

At the 1992 census, Romania had a population of 22,760,449. The 2002 estimated population is 22,317,730, yielding an average population density of 94 persons per sq km (243 per sq mi). The population is 56 percent urban.

B Principal Cities

Bucharest, the capital and largest city of Romania, is the commercial and industrial center of the country. Other major cities include Constanta, the principal Romanian port on the Black Sea; Iasi, a cultural and manufacturing center; Timisoara, a textile, machinery, and chemical manufacturing center; Cluj-Napoca, a commercial and industrial center; Galati, a naval and metallurgical center; Brasov, a transportation and industrial center; and Craiova, a center of food processing and locomotive manufacturing.

C Ethnic Origins

Ethnic 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 7 percent of the population and are settled chiefly in Transylvania; Roma (or Gypsies), who constitute 2 percent of the population; and Germans, who make up less than 1 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 Slovaks.

D Language

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.

E Religion

The principal religion of Romania is Christianity. The Romanian Orthodox Church is the largest religious organization in the country, claiming 70 percent of the people as adherents. Approximately 6 percent of inhabitants, including much of the Hungarian population, are Roman Catholic. Another 6 percent of the population belongs to various Protestant denominations.The country also contains significant numbers of Muslims and Jews.

F Education

The adult literacy rate in Romania is 100 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. Education in Romania is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 14; most children choose to continue their education beyond the compulsory obligation. 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 teacher-training schools.

Romania has 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.

G Way of Life

The political 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 133 passenger cars and 175 telephones for every 1,000 inhabitants. Popular Romanian foods include mititei (seasoned grilled meatballs) and mamaliga (a cornmeal porridge that can be served in many different ways). Wine and a plum brandy called tuica are popular beverages among Romanians, and placinta (turnovers) are a typical dessert. Soccer is the favorite national sport.

H Social Problems

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.


Romanian culture 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.

A Literature

While under Communist control, the country’s literature was characterized by socialist realism.

Romanian 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 poet Mihai Eminescu, whose work was influenced by German Romanticism. Other authors who distinguished themselves were narrative poet and dramatist Vasile Alecsandri and 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. Romanian-born playwright Eugène Ionesco became famous after World War II (1939-1945) while living in France.

B Art and Music

Romanian art, like Romanian literature, reached its peak during the 19th century. Among the leading painters were Theodor Aman, a portraitist, and 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 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.

C Libraries and Museums

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. Although dominated by former Communists, the new government began taking steps to reform the economy in the early 1990s. These steps included devaluing the national currency, removing government subsidies on most consumer goods, and converting some state-owned companies to private ownership.

The Romanian economy declined considerably in the early 1990s. After several years of decline, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased by about 1 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 by 1995. Although Romania’s private sector grew 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, with the IMF suspending further loans, and hindered Romania’s efforts to attract foreign investment.

In June 1995 the Romanian parliament passed a mass privatization program with the goal of transferring more than 2,000 companies to private ownership. Due to the continued slow pace of economic reform, however, the IMF did not resume disbursing loans to Romania in 1996, and foreign investment remained negligible. In 1997 the Romanian government promised to institute rigorous reforms and the IMF responded by awarding the country a $430 million loan. However, the government only succeeded in lifting price controls before privatization bogged down again. In January 1998 the IMF froze disbursement of loans to Romania once again. Most companies remained in state hands as of early 1999.

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). Romania became an associate member of the European Union (EU) in February 1993, and in December 1997 the EU invited Romania to begin the process of becoming a full member. No timetable was established at that time for when it would join. A free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association went into effect in May 1993.

A Labor

Unemployment has been a significant problem in Romania since the collapse of Communism in 1989; 10.8 percent of the population was unemployed in 2000. Some 42 percent of the labor force is employed in agriculture, forestry, or fishing; 28 percent in manufacturing, mining, or construction; and 31 percent in services.

22 percent of the working population belongs to one of a number of new trade organizations in Romania.

The regulations 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.

B Agriculture

Farm in Romania More than two-fifths of the land in Romania is used to grow crops. During the Communist period much of the land was organized into collective farms. Since the end of Communist rule in 1989, the Romanian government has returned most of the country’s farms, such as this one located near the Carpathian Mountains, to the original owners or their heirs.Walter S. Clark/Photo Researchers, Inc.

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.

C Forestry and Fishing

Forests, which cover 28 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.

D 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. Important new deposits were found under the Black Sea in the 1980s, but petroleum reserves were expected to remain slim. Natural gas is produced in significant quantities. Other mineral products include lignite (brown coal), hard coal, iron ore, bauxite, copper, lead, and zinc.

E Manufacturing

Romanian Bauxite Plant A bauxite extraction plant spews a cloud of pollution over the Danube delta city of Tulcea. Severe air pollution problems stem from the rapid industrialization of Romania during the Communist period.Barry Lewis/Corbis

During the Communist period, Romania’s leaders pursued a policy of rapid industrialization with an emphasis on heavy industry, particularly machinery and chemicals; a much lesser emphasis was placed on consumer goods (goods manufactured for use by people). In the early 1990s Romania’s chief manufactures were machinery, chemicals, cement and other construction materials, iron and steel, wood products, processed foods, textiles and clothing, and footwear. Many industries, particularly iron and steel, have been hampered by shortages of electricity and raw materials.

F Energy

Thermal power plants fueled by petroleum, gas, and coal supply 54 percent of Romania’s electricity, while most of the rest comes from hydroelectric facilities. The country has two major hydroelectric plants, operated jointly with Serbia at the Iron Gate gorge on the Danube. A nuclear power plant opened in 1996 at Cernavoda.

G Tourism and Foreign Trade

Romania’s tourism industry has expanded considerably since the end of the Communist period. Popular attractions include the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube delta region, and the resorts and beaches of the Black Sea.

During the early part of the Communist period, Romania’s foreign trade was conducted almost exclusively with the USSR and other Communist countries. However, in the 1960s trade restrictions were eased somewhat and Romania began expanding its contacts with Western nations. In 2000 exports totaled $10.4 billion and imports totaled $13.1 billion. Principal exports include metals and metal products, mineral products, textiles, and electrical machines and equipment. Imports include minerals, machinery and equipment, textiles, and agriculture goods. Leading purchasers of Romania’s exports are Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, The Netherlands, and China. Chief sources for imports are Germany, Italy, Russia, France, the United States, and Egypt.

H Currency and Banking

The basic monetary unit of Romania is the leu (plural, lei), divided into 100 bani. The leu was devalued in October 1990, but since 1991 its value has been determined by the open market. In 1990 about 22 lei were equal to U.S.$1; by 2000 the exchange rate averaged 21,709 lei per U.S.$1. The National Bank of Romania (founded in 1880) is the country’s bank of issue; it is also responsible for managing monetary policy and supervising the financial activities of all state enterprises. A number of private banks have been founded since 1990. A Romanian stock market opened in Bucharest in June 1995.

I Transportation

Romania’s railroad system is owned by the government. Buses provide a popular means of transportation within cities, and Bucharest has a subway system.

Romania’s principal seaports are Constanta, on the Black Sea, and Galati and Braila, neighboring cities on the lower Danube; Giurgiu, which has pipeline connections to the oil fields of Ploiesti, is an important river port. A canal that opened in 1984 links Constanta with Cernavoda, a Danube River port. Another canal, completed in 1992, connects the Main and Danube rivers and allows transport from the Black Sea to the North Sea via the Rhine River. Romania has two major airlines, TAROM, which is owned by the state, and LAR, which was established as an independent airline in 1990. International airports are located in Bucharest, Constanta, Timisoara, and Arad.

J Communications

Romania’s press has a regional, rather than a national, orientation.

Under the Communist regime, Romania’s press and media were subject to strict governmental control. However, the democratic constitution adopted in 1991 provides for freedom of the press. Romania’s press has a regional, rather than a national, orientation. Newspapers and periodicals are published in all of the country’s administrative districts, and many are published in the languages of Romania’s ethnic minorities, including Hungarian, German, and Serbo-Croatian. The number of newspapers in Romania has increased substantially in recent years; in 1998 there were 95. The newspaper with the largest circulation is Evenimentul Zilei (The Event of the Day), published in Bucharest. Other important newspapers include Adevarul (The Truth) and Romania Libera (Free Romania), both of which are published in Bucharest. A large number of periodicals are also published. Although radio and television in Romania are still largely state-owned, several independent stations have been established since 1990.


Between 1948 and 1989 the Communists controlled all levels of government in Romania, and the head of the Communist Party was the country’s most powerful leader. In 1989 the Romanian army joined in a popular uprising against the Communist regime. President Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed and executed, and a provisional government was established with Ion Iliescu, a former Communist, as president. In May 1990 multiparty elections were held to elect a president and national legislature. Iliescu was elected president, and his party, the National Liberation Front (NLF), gained control of the legislature. In December 1991 a new constitution was approved by popular referendum. The constitution declares Romania to be a parliamentary republic and provides for multiple political parties, a separation of powers between branches of government, a market economy, and respect for human rights. In 1996 presidential and legislative elections, the former Communists were defeated by an opposition coalition, with Iliescu losing the presidency to a reformist, Emil Constantinescu. Presidential and legislative elections in 2000 brought Iliescu and the former Communists, now calling themselves Social Democrats, back to power.

A Executive

The president of Romania is elected by direct, popular vote for a maximum of two four-year terms. He or she represents the country in matters of foreign affairs and is the commander of the armed forces. According to the 1991 constitution, the president may not belong to any political party.

The president appoints a prime minister to head the government; the prime minister is generally the leader of the party with the majority of seats in parliament. The prime minister is responsible for selecting a cabinet to help carry out the operations of government.

B Legislature

Romania has a bicameral (two-chamber) parliament called the National Assembly. Its lower house, called the Chamber of Deputies, maintains 343 seats, of which 15 are reserved for ethnic minorities; the upper house, or Senate, has 143 seats. Members of both houses of parliament are elected for four-year terms, according to a modified system of proportional representation. All citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote.

C Judiciary

The Supreme Court is Romania’s highest judicial authority. Its members are appointed by the president at the proposal of the Superior Council of Magistrates. In each of Romania’s 40 counties and in the special district of Bucharest there is a county court and several lower courts, or courts of first instance. The country also has 15 circuits of appellate courts, in which appeals against sentences passed by local courts are heard; there is a right of appeal from the appellate courts to the Supreme Court. Romania has a Constitutional Court, charged with ensuring a balance of power among the organs of government. The procurator-general is the highest judicial official in Romania, and is responsible to the National Assembly, which appoints him or her for a four-year term. The death penalty was abolished in December 1989 and is forbidden by the 1991 constitution.

D Political Parties

Between 1948 and 1989 the only political organization in Romania was the Communist Party. Led by Nicolae Ceausescu after 1965, it controlled all aspects of government. After Ceausescu was deposed in 1989, the Communist Party dissolved and a number of former members formed the National Salvation Front (NSF). Many other new parties also emerged at this time. In May 1990 Romania’s first free multiparty elections since World War II were held, and the NSF scored an overwhelming victory. In subsequent elections held in 1992, the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF), which had broken from the NSF, gained the majority of seats in parliament. In 1993 the DNSF merged with the Romanian Party of Social Democracy and the Republican Party and became the Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PSDR). The Romanian Communist Party was reestablished in May 1994.

About 200 political parties were registered in Romania in 1994; however, only a small percentage of these were represented in the government. The party with the largest representation in the legislature was the PSDR, which governed in coalition with other anti-reform parties. The Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR), the main opposition grouping led by the Christian Democratic National Peasants’ Party, also held seats in both houses of the legislature. The PSDR lost to the reform-minded DCR in the November 1996 legislative elections. The DCR, which won the most seats of any party or coalition, then joined in a governing coalition with another group of opposition parties—the Social Democratic Union (SDU)—supported by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (which represents the country’s Hungarian minority). The PSDR won the greatest number of seats (but not a majority) in the legislative elections of November 2000. It decided to govern alone in a minority government rather than form a coalition.

E Local Government

Romania is divided into 40 counties and the municipality of Bucharest. Each unit has its own local government, as do cities, towns, and communes (rural areas), within each county.

F Social Services

Romania has a comprehensive social insurance system that includes vacations at health resorts.

Romania has a comprehensive social insurance system that includes medical care, family allowances, retirement pensions, and vacations at health resorts. After the revolution of 1989, Romania’s poor health conditions were brought to light. International attention was focused particularly on Romanian orphanages containing large numbers of neglected children, many whom were found to be suffering from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis, and other serious illnesses. In the mid-1990s Romania had one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe. The World Bank has granted loans to the Romanian government to help improve the country’s health-care system.

G Defense

In 2001 the total strength of Romania’s armed forces was 103,000 members. In addition to centrally controlled units, the armed forces consisted of 52,900 in the army, 18,900 in the air force, and 10,200 in the navy. Military service is compulsory for all men and lasts for a period of 12 months in the army and air force and 18 months in the navy. The Securitate (secret police force), loyal to Ceausescu, was disbanded in 1990 and replaced by the Romanian Intelligence Service.

H International Organizations

Romania is a member of the United Nations (UN) and the Council of Europe (CE). In January 1994 it joined the Partnership for Peace program as a precursor to eventual membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


The territory that is now Romania first appeared in history as Dacia. Most of its inhabitants were originally from the region of Thrace, in Greece; they were called Getae by the Greeks, and later, by the Romans, they were known as Dacians. Between ad 101 and 106 Dacia was conquered by Roman emperor Trajan and incorporated into the Roman Empire as a province. Roman colonists were sent into Dacia, and Rome developed the region considerably, building roads, bridges, and a great wall that stretched from what is today the Black Sea port of Constanta across the region of Dobruja to the Danube River.

In the middle part of the 3rd century the Goths drove the Romans out of much of Dacia. In about 270 Roman Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelian decided to withdraw the Roman legions and colonies to an area south of the Danube; some Roman civilians chose to stay, however. Under the influence of the Romans, the people of Dacia adopted the Latin language.

For the next thousand years, the Daco-Roman people were subjected to successive invasions by the Huns, Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars. Slavs brought Christianity to the region in the 4th century, and through intermarriage and assimilation, changed the ethnic balance in Romania. Its inhabitants developed into a distinct ethnic group, known as the Vlachs, a name designating Latin-speakers of the Balkan Peninsula. In the 9th century the Eastern Orthodox form of Christianity was introduced by the Bulgars.

In 1003 King Stephen I of Hungary established control over most of the region of Transylvania in what is now central and northwestern Romania. In the 13th century King Béla IV of Hungary brought Saxons and other Germanic tribes into Transylvania to strengthen Hungary’s position there. In the middle of the 13th century Hungarian expansion drove many Vlachs to settle south and east of the Carpathian Mountains. There they established the principality of Walachia, and later that of Moldavia. Each was ruled by a succession of voivodes (native princes), who were generally under the authority of either Hungary or Poland. Until the 19th century the history of Romania was that of the separate principalities of Walachia and Moldavia.

A Walachia

Michael the Brave Michael the Brave, ruler of Walachia from 1593 to 1601, is the national hero of Romania. He led a revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1599 and united Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania. He was assassinated in 1601 on orders of a Habsburg general who sought Habsburg domination of Transylvania.Hulton Getty/Archive Photos

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Walachia was involved in frequent struggles against Hungary. In the 15th century the rulers of the Ottoman Empire began to extend their conquests northward. Walachia was forced to capitulate to the Ottomans, although its leadership, territory, and religion were not changed. Direct Ottoman rule was not felt in Walachia until after the Ottomans defeated the Hungarians at the Battle of Mohács in 1526.

At the end of the 16th century, a Walachian voivode, Michael the Brave, led a revolt against the Ottomans.

At the end of the 16th century, a Walachian voivode, Michael the Brave, led a revolt against the Ottomans and succeeded in bringing Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania under his rule for a very brief period. Michael is the national hero of Romania for his part in this uprising and for being the first to combine the three territories that were to form Romania. After Michael’s defeat and death in 1601, the Hungarians ruled over Transylvania and the Ottomans regained control of Moldavia and Walachia. Until 1821 the ruling families were often of Greek origin. Known as hospodars, they were chosen from the Phanar district of Constantinople (now İstanbul, Turkey) by the Ottoman sultan. The period of Phanariot rule was one of the most oppressive and corrupt in Romanian history. Exploitation of the peasants caused mass starvation and emigration.

B Moldavia

The history of Moldavia followed a course similar to that of Walachia. The Moldavians were subjected first to Hungarian and then to Polish rule before the Ottomans established a firm hold over the region shortly after their conquest of Walachia. The reign of Moldavia’s national hero Stephen the Great, which lasted from 1457 until 1504, was marked by futile attempts to gain united support from Poland, Hungary, and Venice against the Ottomans. As in Walachia, the Ottomans introduced Phanariot rule, with the same disastrous results.

C Russian Domination

By the early 1700s the power of the Ottoman Empire was declining. In the later 18th century Catherine the Great of Russia, who had sought Romanian support against the Ottomans, declared Russia the protector of all Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire and brought Moldavia and Walachia under Russia’s sphere of influence. In 1821 Tudor Vladimirescu, a Romanian officer in the Russian army, led a nationalist revolt resulting in the replacement of Phanariot rule with that of native Romanian princes in Moldavia and Walachia. However, Russia obtained concessions in Romania as a result of the Russo-Turkish wars. By the terms of the Treaty of Bucharest (1812), Russia annexed the region of Bessarabia (Bessarabiya) from Moldavia. The Treaty of Adrianople (1829) gave Russia a virtual protectorate over Moldavia and Walachia. A Russian-sponsored constitution gave power to the native princes and landowners of Moldavia and Walachia. Creation of the same governmental structure for both principalities facilitated their later union.

D The Struggle for Independence

Alexandru Cuza Alexandru Cuza was the ruler of Romania from 1859 to 1866. He was the first ruler of the modern country. His attempts at land reforms led the local landowners to force him to abdicate.Archivo Iconografico, S.A./Corbis

By the mid-1800s a unification movement had gathered strength in Moldavia and Walachia. The movement produced local uprisings that were suppressed by the combined action of Ottoman and Russian troops. The Treaty of Paris of 1856, which ended the Crimean War between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, established Moldavia and Walachia as principalities that would continue to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire. Russia was obliged to return southern Bessarabia to Moldavia. In 1857 the councils of Moldavia and Walachia voted for union under the name Romania, with a hereditary prince, autonomy, and neutrality. Alexandru Ion Cuza was elected prince in January 1859.

In May 1864 a new constitution of Romania was adopted, establishing a bicameral national legislature. In the same year, Prince Alexandru Ion I freed the peasants from their feudal burdens. His attempts at reform led to his removal by local landowners in 1866. A German prince, under the name of Carol I, was elected to replace him, and a new constitution gave Carol veto power over all legislation. The long period of Carol’s reign (prince, 1866-1881; king, 1881-1914) saw great economic expansion but few political rights for the Romanian people. The last traces of Ottoman rule, which had lasted for nearly 500 years, finally disappeared as a result of a Russian-Romanian victory over the Ottomans in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and 1878.

E The Kingdom of Romania

The full independence of Romania was recognized in 1878 by the Congress of Berlin, which also restored southern Bessarabia to Russia. As compensation, Romania accepted northern Dobruja from Bulgaria. Carol I was crowned king in 1881 and won the recognition of the major European powers.

Political corruption, continual foreign intervention, and the need for land reform continued. Two Balkan Wars, arising from the collapse of Ottoman power in Europe, were fought in 1912 and 1913. Romania entered the second Balkan War and annexed the southern part of Dobruja from Bulgaria. King Carol died in 1914 and was succeeded by his nephew, Ferdinand I.

F Greater Romania

When World War I broke out in 1914, Romania declared a policy of armed neutrality.

When World War I broke out in 1914, Romania declared a policy of armed neutrality. However, in August 1916, Romania joined the Allies in their fight against the Central Powers, chiefly Austria-Hungary and Germany. Romania hoped to gain several provinces of Austria-Hungary that had large Romanian populations. The Allies won the war in 1918, and as part of the peace settlement, Romania acquired Transylvania, part of the Banat, and the Crisana-Maramures region from Hungary, Bukovina from Austria, and Bessarabia from Russia. Romania emerged from the war having almost doubled its area and population.

During the 1920s, Romania had a parliamentary regime and a prosperous economy. Land reform broke up many large estates. However, friction between ethnic minorities, many of them living in territories ceded to Romania after World War I, caused instability. King Ferdinand’s reign ended with his death in 1927, but his son, Crown Prince Carol, renounced the throne in favor of his own son Michael.

G The Rise of Fascism

After 1929, Romania was engulfed in the general world economic crisis. Large-scale unemployment and political unrest led to the rapid growth of fascist organizations, the most powerful of which was the violently anti-Semitic Iron Guard. Prince Carol returned in 1930 and was proclaimed King Carol II. Romania moved slowly into the sphere of influence of Nazi Germany. Rigid censorship was introduced, and the administration began to govern by decree. In 1938 Carol assumed dictatorial powers, but the new regime was not supported by the government. After the signing of the German-Soviet pact in 1939, Romania was forced to cede part of Transylvania to Hungary and to give Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the USSR. Southern Dobruja was returned to Bulgaria soon afterwards. Faced with the beginning of rebellion led by the Iron Guard, the king suspended Romania’s constitution and appointed General Ion Antonescu prime minister. Antonescu, backed by the Guard, demanded that King Carol abdicate in favor of the king’s son Michael, and leave the country. Antonescu then assumed dictatorial powers and became chief of state as well as president of the council of ministers.

H World War II

As an ally of Germany, Romania declared war on the USSR in 1941. The Romanian army reclaimed Bessarabia and Bukovina and advanced as far as southern Ukraine, but suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 and 1943. When Soviet troops entered Romania in 1944, King Michael dismissed Antonescu, surrendered to the USSR, and declared war on Germany. Soviet pressure led to the creation of a left-wing government under Petru Groza in March 1945.

I Romania Under Communism

By the terms of the armistice agreement, Romania lost northern Bukovina and Bessarabia to the USSR and recovered northern Transylvania from Hungary. The agreement also limited the strength of the Romanian armed forces and stipulated that the Romanian people should enjoy all personal liberties. On December 30, 1947, the monarchy was abolished, and King Michael was forced to abdicate. The People’s Republic of Romania was then proclaimed, with a constitution similar to that of the USSR, and power passed to the Communist Party.

In 1948 and 1949 Romanian cultural and political institutions were reorganized to conform with Soviet models. This process, known as Sovietization, also included frequent purges of dissidents (political protestors). In 1949 the United States and the United Kingdom twice accused Romania of systematically violating the human rights provisions in the post-World War II peace treaty. In November 1950 this charge was upheld by the United Nations General Assembly. New constitutions adopted in 1952 and 1965 were both patterned after the Soviet Communist government. Throughout the postwar period Romania’s leadership remained stable. Gheorghe Gheorgiu-Dej, head of the Communist Party since 1945, replaced Groza as premier.

J An Independent Regime

After the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1953, Romania gradually drew away from close dependence on the USSR. Gheorgiu-Dej asserted the country’s right to develop its own variety of socialism. Throughout the 1950s the government emphasized the nationalization and development of industry. This effort proved highly successful, and in the 1960s official estimates of the national industrial growth rate averaged about 12 percent annually, ranking among the highest in Eastern Europe. The collectivization of agriculture began in July 1949, and in 1962 the government announced that all arable land had been absorbed into the socialized sector. Farmers were permitted, however, to retain small plots for private use.

In the early postwar years, under Soviet domination, Romania cooperated fully in such Communist organizations as Cominform, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), and after 1955, the Warsaw Pact. From the early 1960s on, however, Romania began to exercise a considerable degree of independence. In 1963 the government rejected COMECON plans for the integration of the economies of the Communist states, chiefly because the plans restricted Romania to a role as supplier of oil, grains, and primary materials. Romanians thought these plans would hinder their rate of industrial growth, which had been higher in the several years prior than that of any other Soviet-bloc country. Romanian protests gained some concessions in the form of Soviet aid for the development of a major steel plant at Galati. The rift between the USSR and China in the 1960s gave Romania new opportunities to throw off Soviet influence. A party statement in 1964 confirmed Romania’s independent policies, including closer ties with the West.

In 1965 Gheorgiu-Dej, party chief for most of 20 years, died and was succeeded by Nicolae Ceausescu. In 1967 Ceausescu also became president of the state council. He advanced Romania’s nationalist policies and renamed the country the Socialist Republic of Romania. A new constitution in 1965 downgraded the USSR’s role in Romanian history. The country did not follow the Soviet bloc in breaking diplomatic ties with Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, or in invading Czechoslovakia in 1968.

At home, the Communist government held sole power, censored the press, and restricted personal liberties. Ceausescu promoted a personality cult around himself and his family. Improved relations with China and Western Europe brought aid and new technology, and the economy grew substantially in the 1960s and 1970s.

Romania continued to pursue an independent foreign policy, despite the disapproval of the Soviet bloc. In addition, the Romanian government actively increased its contacts with the West. After a visit from United States president Richard Nixon in 1969, Ceausescu paid several visits to the United States. In 1975 the United States granted Romania most-favored-nation status, and in 1976 a ten-year economic pact was signed by the two countries. Romania joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) in 1972 and in 1976 signed the first formal pact (on textiles) between the European Economic Community and an Eastern European nation.

As the leader of the only Eastern European country to recognize both Israel and Egypt, Ceausescu helped arrange Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat’s historic peacemaking visit to Israel in 1977. Romania signed a friendship treaty with the USSR in 1970, received Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev in 1976, and sent Ceausescu to the USSR and East Germany. Romania also signed a treaty of friendship with Hungary in 1972 and agreements on hydroelectricity with Yugoslavia in 1976 and Bulgaria in 1977. Taking an unprecedented step outside the Soviet bloc, Ceausescu visited the People’s Republic of China in 1971, subsequently signing economic and air transport agreements. In 1980 he refused to endorse the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Although diplomatic in matters of foreign policy, Ceausescu strictly enforced Communist orthodoxy in domestic affairs. In 1971 he cracked down on all deviation in party, government, and cultural leadership. He was reelected head of state in 1975, and the party and government were reorganized in 1977. Despite enormous damage caused by severe floods and an earthquake, the economy grew during the 1970s, especially heavy industry and foreign trade. However, repression, pollution, and mismanagement of agriculture gradually discredited the government. In the 1980s Ceausescu used virtually all of Romania’s foreign currency reserves to pay off the foreign debt, producing major food and fuel shortages in a country whose standard of living was already among the lowest in Europe. A forced resettlement program announced in 1988, which called for the destruction of up to 8,000 villages, was also widely unpopular.

K The Regime Changes

Demonstration for Democracy Romania’s antigovernment demonstrations of December 16 to 22, 1989, brought an end to the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu when the army joined the uprising. Before the month’s end, Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were captured, tried, and executed.Francis Apesteguy/Liaison Agency

In 1989 Ceausescu’s brutal suppression of antigovernment demonstrations in Timisoara turned the army against him. He fled Bucharest with his wife, Elena, on December 22, 1989, but the two were soon captured. Ceausescu and his wife were charged with murder and embezzlement of government funds, and a secret trial took place. Both were found guilty and were executed on December 25. An interim body made up chiefly of former Communist officials took control of the government, and Ion Iliescu became the country’s acting president. The new government revoked many of Ceausescu’s repressive policies and imprisoned some of the leaders of his regime.

In May 1990 multiparty elections for the legislature and the presidency were held. Iliescu was elected president, and his party, the National Salvation Front (NSF), won control of the legislature. Peter Roman became Romania’s prime minister. The elections did not put a stop to the antigovernment demonstrations, which continued throughout the year, often in protest of economic conditions. Riots by miners led to the resignation of Roman’s government in September. In October former finance minister Theodor Stolojan succeeded Roman as prime minister and formed a new cabinet. An economic austerity program was introduced that month.

L Recent Developments

In December 1991 a new democratic constitution was adopted by popular referendum. Presidential and legislative elections were held in September 1992 with a runoff presidential contest in October. Iliescu was reelected president, while the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF), a party that emerged from the breakup of the NSF, won the largest representation in the legislature and formed a coalition government. Iliescu appointed economist Nicolae Vacaroiu to head the government as prime minister. In 1993 the DNSF merged with several smaller parties and changed its name to the Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PSDR). During 1994 nationalist parties gained increasing influence in the Romanian government.

Romania experienced significant ethnic turmoil in the early 1990s. Attacks against Roma (Gypsies) in 1991 resulted in an exodus of Roma to Germany. However, in September 1992 the German government returned 43,000 refugees to Romania, more than half of them Roma. Relations with Hungary were strained as a result of clashes between ethnic Hungarians and Romanian nationalists in Transylvania. In 1993 the Romanian government expanded the educational and linguistic rights of ethnic Germans and Hungarians within its borders. In 1994 Romania hosted an international conference on the status of ethnic minorities in Central Europe. However, disagreements over the rights of ethnic minorities in Romania continued to be a problem. In June 1995 the Romanian parliament enacted a law that denied ethnic minorities the right to higher education in their native language in many subjects. Thousands of ethnic Hungarians protested against the legislation. In September 1996 the leaders of Romania and Hungary signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation that guaranteed the rights of ethnic minority groups.

In the 1990s Romania’s foreign affairs were focused primarily on relations with Western Europe. Romania became an associate member of the European Union in 1993 and formally applied for full membership in 1995. Romania also joined the Partnership for Peace program of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1994 and is currently seeking full NATO membership.

Presidential and legislative elections held in November 1996 marked Romania’s first peaceful transfer of power. The ruling coalition headed by the PSDR lost its majority in parliament to opposition parties. The Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR), a coalition of six opposition parties, joined with another opposition grouping, the Social Democratic Union (SDU), in a governing coalition, forming Romania’s first staunchly anti-Communist majority in the legislature. The DCR’s presidential candidate, reform-minded academic Emil Constantinescu, defeated Iliescu in the runoff presidential elections held November 17. Constantinescu named a popular DCR politician, Bucharest mayor Victor Ciorbea, as the new prime minister.

The new government pledged to implement a comprehensive plan of economic reform in an attempt to counter Romania’s seven years of lackluster progress toward a free-market economy. Also during this time, the government pursued a highly publicized and rigorous campaign against crime and corruption. Constantinescu symbolically broke with former policy by lifting a ban on visits into the country by Romania’s former monarch, King Michael, who was deposed during the Communist takeover.

In 1997 Romania’s diplomatic relations with its neighbors improved dramatically. Efforts to reconcile centuries of distrust with Hungary brought an unprecedented visit to Romania by a Hungarian head of state, President Árpád Göncz, in late May. In early June the presidents of Ukraine and Romania signed a friendship treaty that ended a decades-old territorial dispute over a fuel-rich island located near the coasts of both countries in the Black Sea.

However, for all of its success internationally, Ciorbea’s government struggled domestically to continue the process of economic reform. In 1997 inflation soared, state-owned companies and utilities with bloated payrolls were not streamlined, and a promised sale of the state banks never occurred. The SDU defected from Ciorbea’s coalition in parliament in January 1998, and in March Ciorbea was forced to resign. Radu Vasile, from the DCR, was appointed in April to succeed him, and the SDU rejoined the ruling coalition. Upon taking office, Vasile promised to move ahead with privatization. Vasile’s government planned to close more than 150 unprofitable factories and mines. In January 1999 about 10,000 striking coal miners marched on Bucharest to protest mine closures and to demand a major wage increase. The miners marched for five days until they dispersed after the government deployed army and special police forces. Vasile also agreed to substantially increase wages and reopen some mines. Vasile’s government collapsed in December 1999 when several cabinet ministers withdrew their support for him and resigned. Constantinescu then dismissed Vasile, but Vasile refused to go, claiming the president’s action was illegal. However, intense political pressure led Vasile to resign, and Constantinescu named National Bank governor Mugur Isarescu to succeed him.

In parliamentary elections in November 2000 the PSDR won the greatest number of seats (but not a majority). In presidential elections in the same month Iliescu finished first, with 37 percent of the vote, and Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the far-right Greater Romania Party, came in second. Iliescu won the runoff election in December, garnering 67 percent of the votes cast. The PSDR decided to form a minority government, rather than trying to put together a coalition cabinet. Adrian Nastase, first vice president of the PSDR, was named prime minister.

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