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Romania (pronounced /roʊˈmeɪniə/ ( listen) roe-MAY-nee-ə; dated: Rumania; Romanian: România [romɨˈni.a] ( listen)) is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, north of the Balkan Peninsula, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea. Romania shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova to the northeast, and Bulgaria to the south.
Romania emerged as principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia united under prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza in 1859, and as the Kingdom of Romania under the Hohenzollern monarchy. The independence from the Ottoman Empire was declared on May 9, 1877, and was internationally recognized the following year. At the end of the World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia united with the Kingdom of Romania. At the end of World War II, north-eastern parts of its territories were occupied by the Soviet Union, as Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the 1989 Revolution, Romania started a series of political and economic reforms. After a decade of post-revolution economic problems, Romania made economic reforms and joined the European Union on January 1, 2007. Romania is now an upper-middle income country with high human development, although within the European Union, Romania's income level remains one of the lowest.
Romania has the ninth largest territory and the seventh largest population (with 21.5 million people) among the European Union member states. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest (Romanian: Bucureşti [bukuˈreʃtʲ] ( listen)), the sixth largest city in the EU with about two million people. Romania also joined NATO on March 29, 2004, and is also a member of the Latin Union, of the Francophonie, of the OSCE and of the United Nations, as well as an associate member of the CPLP. Romania is a parliamentary republic, unitary state.
The name of Romania (Romanian: România) comes from Romanian: român which is a derivative of the Latin: Romanus (Roman). The fact that Romanians call themselves a derivative of Romanus (Romanian: Român/Rumân) is first mentioned in the 16th century by Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia. The oldest surviving document written in the Romanian language is a 1521 letter known as "Neacşu's Letter from Câmpulung". This document is also notable for having the first occurrence of "Rumanian" in a Romanian written text, Wallachia being here named The Rumanian Land – Ţeara Rumânească (Ţeara from the Latin: Terra land).
In the following centuries, Romanian documents use interchangeably two spelling forms: român and rumân.[note 1] Socio-linguistic evolutions in the late 17th century led to a process of semantic differentiation: the form "rumân", presumably usual among lower classes, got the meaning of "bondsman", while the form român kept an ethno-linguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the form "rumân" gradually disappears and the spelling definitively stabilises to the form "român", "românesc".[note 2] Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used "Rumânia" to refer exclusively to the principality of Wallachia, the southern part of modern Romania.
The name "România" as common homeland of all Romanians is documented in the early 19th century.[note 3] This name has been officially in use since December 11, 1861. English-language sources still used the terms "Rumania" or "Roumania", borrowed from the French spelling "Roumanie", as recently as World War II, but since then those terms have largely been replaced with the official spelling "Romania".
Although some 42,000 years old human remains were discovered in the "Cave With Bones", and being Europe’s oldest remains of Homo sapiens they may represent the first modern humans to have entered the continent, the earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus, in his 440 BCE book IV of his Histories (Herodotus). Dacians, considered a part of the Getae tribes mentioned by Herodotus, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia (corresponding mostly to present-day Romania). The Dacian kingdom reached its peak between 82–44 BC during the reign of Burebista, but was eventually conquered by the Roman Empire in the aftermath of Dacian Wars (87–106 AD), and transformed into the province of Roman Dacia.
Due to Dacia's rich ore deposits (especially gold and silver), Rome brought colonists from all over the empire. This brought Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization, that would give birth to the Proto-Romanian language. During the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, making it the first province to be abandoned.
After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by various migratory populations including Goths, Huns, Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs, and Cumans. Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube in the regions previously colonized by Romans.
In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Ţara Românească—"Romanian Land"), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and became independent as the Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century, until 1711. In Wallachia and Moldavia many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century did the larger principalities of Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerge to fight the threat of the Ottoman Empire.
By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania were under Ottoman suzerainty, preserving partial-full internal autonomy until middle of the 19th century (Transylvania to 1699). During this period the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system. A few rulers of present-day Romanian territories distinguished themselves: these rulers include Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia; Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia; and John Hunyadi (Ioannes Corvinus) and Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania.
In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Ban of Oltenia, but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of Austrian army general Giorgio Basta. Mihai Viteazul, who was prince of Transylvania for less than one year, intended for the first time to unite the three principalities and to lay down foundations of a single state in a territory comparable to today's Romania. After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldova and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and external independence, which was finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs' Austrian empire following the Austrian victory over the Turks in the Great Turkish War. The Habsburgs in turn expanded their empire in 1718 to include an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia (which was only returned in 1739) and in 1775 over the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina. The eastern half of the Moldavian principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.
During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania, and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were in the situation of being second-class citizens or even non-citizens in a territory where they formed the majority of the population. In some Transylvanian cities, such as Braşov (at that time a Saxon citadel), Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.
Following the Wallachian uprising of 1821, more uprisings followed in 1848 in Wallachia as well as Moldavia. The flag adopted for Wallachia by the revolutionaries was a blue-yellow-red tricolour (with blue above, in line with the meaning “Liberty, Justice, Fraternity”), while Romanian students in Paris hailed the new government with same flag, “as a symbol of union between Moldavians and Muntenians”. This flag would later become the adopted as of the flag of Romania. But after the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians' expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, which forced Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person –Alexandru Ioan Cuza– as prince (Domnitor in Romanian). Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit without including Transylvania. There, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian and enjoyed a strong support from Austria, and the establishment of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy in 1867 kept the Hungarians firmly in control even in the parts of Transylvania where Romanians constituted a local majority.
In a 1866 coup d'état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, and in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers. In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.
The 1878–1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.
In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under pressure from the Allies (especially France, desperate to open a new front), on August 14/27 1916, Romania joined the Allies, declaring war on Austria-Hungary. For this action, under the terms of the secret military convention, Romania was promised support for its goal of national unity for all Romanian people.
The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldavia remained in Romanian hands after the invading forces were stopped in 1917. Total deaths from 1914 to 1918, military and civilian, within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000. By the war's end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed and disintegrated; Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania proclaimed unions with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania. The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain, and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.
The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation "Great Romania", but more commonly rendered "Greater Romania") generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time. Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2/120,000 sq mi), managing to unite essentially all of the territories inhabited by Romanians.
During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on June 28, 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance. Under Nazi and Soviet pressure, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war. This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was awarded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration. The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, and succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany, which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust, following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romma, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia. Jewish Holocaust victims totaled 469,000, including 325,000 in Bessarabia and Bukovina.
In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania and Romania changed sides and joined the Allies. But its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947, even though by the end of the war, the Romanian army had suffered about 300,000 casualties.
During the Soviet occupation of Romania, the Communist-dominated government called new elections, which were won with 80% of the vote through intimidation and electoral fraud. They thus rapidly established themselves as the dominant political force. In 1947, the Communists forced King Michael I to abdicate and leave the country, and proclaimed Romania a people's republic. Romania remained under the direct military occupation and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania's vast natural resources were continuously drained by mixed Soviet-Romanian companies (SovRoms) set up for exploitative purposes.
In 1948, the state began to nationalize private firms, and to collectivize agriculture the following year. From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, the Communist government established a reign of terror, carried out mainly through the Securitate (the new secret police). During this time they launched several campaigns to eliminate "enemies of the state", in which numerous individuals were killed or imprisoned for arbitrary political or economic reasons. Punishment included deportation, internal exile, and internment in forced labour camps and prisons; dissent was vigorously suppressed. A notorious experiment in this period took place in the Piteşti prison, where a group of political opponents were put into a program of reeducation through torture. Historical records show hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a wide range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens.
In 1965, Nicolae Ceauşescu came to power and started to pursue independent policies such as being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, and to continue diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967; establishing economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany. Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel–Egypt and Israel–PLO peace processes. But as Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars), the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceauşescu's autarchic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority of the police state, and imposing a cult of personality. These led to a dramatic decrease in Ceauşescu's popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989.
A 2006 Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania estimated that the number of direct victims of communist repression at two million people. This number does not include people who died in liberty as a result of their treatment in communist prisons, nor does it include people who died because of the dire economic circumstances in which the country found itself.
After the revolution, the National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures. Several major political parties of the pre-war era were resurrected. After major political rallies, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in University Square, Bucharest, accusing the Front of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters called the election undemocratic and asked for the exclusion from the political life of the former high-ranking Communist Party members. The protest rapidly grew to become an ongoing mass demonstration known as the Golaniad. The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, and the violent intervention of coal miners from the Jiu Valley led to what is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.
The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and the Alliance for Romania. The former governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been a few democratic changes of government: in 1996 the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Băsescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance. Băsescu was narrowly re-elected in 2009.
Post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting the 2008 summit in Bucharest. The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007. Following the free travel agreement and politics of the post-Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Canada and the USA.
During the 2000s, Romania enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in Europe and has been referred to as "the Tiger of Eastern Europe." This has been accompanied by a significant improvement in human development. The country has been successful in reducing internal poverty and establishing a functional democracy. However, Romania's development suffered a major setback during the late-2000s recession as a large gross domestic product contraction and a large budged deficit in 2009 led to Romania borrowing heavily, eventually becoming the largest debitor to the International Monetary Fund in 2010. Romania still faces issues related to infrastructure, medical services, education, and corruption.
The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France's Fifth Republic and was approved in a national referendum on December 8, 1991. A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with European Union legislation. The country is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Romania is a parliamentary democratic republic where executive functions are held by prime minister. The president is elected by popular vote for maximum two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, the terms are five years. He appoints the prime minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers (based at Victoria Palace). The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (residing at the Palace of the Parliament), consists of two chambers – the Senate with 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies with 346 members. The members of both chambers are elected every four years under a system of party-list proportional representation.
The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature. The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituţională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can only be amended by a public referendum, the last one being in 2003. Since this amendment, the court's decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament.
The country's entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU, and it was ranked as the most corrupt EU country by Transparency International in 2009, alongside Bulgaria and Greece.
Romania is divided into 41 counties and the municipality of Bucharest. Each county is administered by a county council, responsible for local affairs, as well as a prefect responsible for the administration of national affairs at the county level, who is appointed by the central government but cannot be a member of any political party.
Each county is further subdivided into cities and communes, which have own mayor and local council. There are a total of 319 cities and 2686 communes in Romania. A total of 103 of the larger cities have municipality statuses, which gives them greater administrative power over local affairs. The municipality of Bucharest is a special case as it enjoys a status on par to that of a county. It is further divided into six sectors and has a prefect, a general mayor, and a general city council.
The NUTS-3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) level divisions of European Union reflect Romania's administrative-territorial structure, and correspond to the 41 counties plus Bucharest. The cities and communes correspond to the NUTS-5 level divisions, but there are no current NUTS-4 level divisions. The NUTS-1 (four macroregions) and NUTS-2 (eight development regions) divisions exist but have no administrative capacity, and are instead used for co-ordinating regional development projects and statistical purposes .
Since December 1989, Romania has pursued a policy of strengthening relations with the West in general, more specifically with the United States and the European Union. It joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on March 29, 2004, the European Union (EU) on January 1, 2007, while it had joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1972, and is a founder member of the World Trade Organization.
The current government has stated its goal of strengthening ties with and helping other Eastern European countries (in particular Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia) with the process of integration with the West. Romania has also made clear since the late 1990s that it supports NATO and EU membership for the democratic former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Romania also declared its public support for Turkey, Croatia and Moldova joining the European Union. With Turkey, Romania shares a privileged economic relation. Because it has a large Hungarian minority, Romania has also developed strong relations with Hungary.
In December 2005, President Traian Băsescu and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement that would allow a U.S. military presence at several Romanian facilities primarily in the eastern part of the country. In May 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that "Romania is one of the most trustworthy and respectable partners of the USA" during a visit of the Romanian foreign minister.
Relations with The Republic of Moldova are a special case considering that the two countries practically share the same language, and a fairly common historical background. A movement for unification of Romania and Moldova appeared in the early 1990s after both countries achieved emancipation from communist rule, but faded away in the mid-1990s when a new Moldovan government pursued an agenda towards preserving a Moldovan republic independent of Romania. Romania remains interested in Moldovan affairs and has officially rejected the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, but the two countries have been unable even to reach agreement on a basic bilateral treaty.
The Romanian Armed Forces consist of Land, Air, and Naval Forces, and are led by a Commander-in-chief who is managed by the Ministry of Defense. The president is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces during wartime. Of the 90,000 men and women which the Armed Forces comprise, 15,000 are civilians and 75,000 are military personnel—45,800 for land, 13,250 for air, 6,800 for naval forces, and 8,800 in other fields. The total defence spending in 2007 accounted for 2.05% of total national GDP, or approximately US$2.9 billion (39th in the world), and a total of about 11 billion will be spent between 2006 and 2011 for modernization and acquisition of new equipment.
The Land Forces have overhauled their equipment in the past few years, and today are an army with multiple NATO capabilities, participating in a NATO peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. The Air Force currently operates modernized Soviet MiG-21 LanceR fighters which may be replaced by refurbished F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters in the near future. The Air Force purchased seven new C-27J Spartan tactical airlift to replace the bulk of the old transport force. Two modernized Type 22 frigates were acquired by the Naval Forces in 2004 from the Royal Navy, and a further four modern missile corvettes will be commissioned until 2010.
With a surface area of 238,391 square kilometres (92,043 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in southeastern Europe and the twelfth-largest in Europe. Romania's terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountainous, hilly and lowland territories. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the centre of Romania, with 14 mountain ranges reaching above 2,000 m/6,600 ft, and the highest point at Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m/8,346 ft). These are surrounded by the Moldavian and Transylvanian plateaus and Pannonian and Wallachian plains. Romania's geographical diversity has led to an accompanying diversity of flora and fauna.
A large part of Romania's border with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube. Prut River, one of its major tributaries, forms the border with the Republic of Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea within Romania's territory forming the Danube Delta, the second largest and the best preserved delta in Europe, and a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. Other major rivers are Siret, Olt, and Mureş.
A high percentage (47% of the land area) of the country is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Since almost half of all forests in Romania (13% of the country) have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. The integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. There are also almost 400 unique species of mammals (of which Carpathian chamois are best known), birds, reptiles and amphibians in Romania. The fauna consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate.
In Romania there have been identified 3,700 plant species from which to date 23 have been declared natural monuments, 74 missing, 39 are endangered, 171 vulnerable and 1,253 are considered rare. The three major vegetation areas in Romania are the alpine zone, the forest zone and the steppe zone. The vegetation is distributed in an storied manner in accordance with the characteristics of soil and climate and includes various species of oaks, sycamores, beechs, spruces, firs, willows, poplars, meadows, and pines.
There are almost 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (almost 5% of the total area) of protected areas in Romania covering 13 national parks and three biosphere reserves: the Danube Delta, Retezat National Park, and Rodna National Park. The Danube Delta Reserve Biosphere is the largest and least damaged wetland complex in Europe, covering a total area of 5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi). The significance of the biodiversity of the Danube Delta has been internationally recognised. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in September 1990, a Ramsar site in May 1991, and over 50% of its area was placed on the World Heritage List in December 1991. Within its boundaries lies one of the most extensive reed bed systems in the world.
Owing to its distance from the open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is transitional between temperate and continental, with four distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is 11 °C (52 °F) in the south and 8 °C (46 °F) in the north. The extreme recorded temperatures were 44.5 °C (112.1 °F) at Ion Sion 1951 and −38.5 °C (−37.3 °F) at Bod 1942.
Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days. Summers are generally very warm to hot, with summer (June to August) average maximum temperatures in Bucharest being around 28 °C (82 °F), with temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) fairly common in the lower-lying areas of the country. Minima in Bucharest and other lower-lying areas are around 16 °C (61 °F). Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage. Winters can be cold, with average maxima even in lower-lying areas being no more than 2 °C (36 °F) and below −15 °C (5.0 °F) in the highest mountains. Precipitation is average with over 750 mm (30 in) per year only on the highest western mountains—much of it falling as snow, which allows for an extensive skiing industry. In the south-central parts of the country (around Bucharest) the level of precipitation drops to around 600 mm (24 in), while in the Danube Delta, rainfall levels are very low, and average only around 370 mm.
With a GDP of around $271 billion and a GDP per capita (PPP) of $12,600 for the year 2008, Romania is an upper-middle income country economy and has been part of the European Union since January 1, 2007. After the Communist regime was overthrown in late 1989, the country experienced a decade of economic instability and decline, led in part by an obsolete industrial base and a lack of structural reform. From 2000 onwards, however, the Romanian economy was transformed into one of relative macroeconomic stability, characterised by high growth, low unemployment and declining inflation. In 2006, according to the Romanian Statistics Office, GDP growth in real terms was recorded at 7.7%, one of the highest rates in Europe. Growth dampened to 6.1% in 2007, but was expected to exceed 8% in 2008 because of a high production forecast in agriculture (30–50% higher than in 2007). The GDP grew by 8.9% in the first nine months of 2008, but growth fell to 2.9% in the fourth quarter and stood at 7.1% for the whole 2008 because of the financial crisis.
According to Eurostat data, the Romanian PPS GDP per capita stood at 46% of the EU average in 2008. Unemployment in Romania was at 3.9% in September 2007, which is very low compared to other middle-sized or large European countries such as Poland, France, Germany and Spain. Foreign debt is also comparatively low, at 20.3% of GDP. Exports have increased substantially in the past few years, with a 25% year-on-year rise in exports in the first quarter of 2006. Romania's main exports are clothing and textiles, industrial machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, metallurgic products, raw materials, cars, military equipment, software, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, and flowers). Trade is mostly centred on the member states of the European Union, with Germany and Italy being the country's single largest trading partners. The country, however, maintains a large trade deficit, which increased sharply during 2007 by 50%, to €15 billion.
After a series of privatisations and reforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s, government intervention in the Romanian economy is somewhat lower than in other European economies. In 2005, the government replaced Romania's progressive tax system with a flat tax of 16% for both personal income and corporate profit, resulting in the country having the lowest fiscal burden in the European Union, a factor which has contributed to the growth of the private sector. The economy is predominantly based on services, which account for 55% of GDP, even though industry and agriculture also have significant contributions, making up 35% and 10% of GDP, respectively. Additionally, 32% of the Romanian population is employed in agriculture and primary production, one of the highest rates in Europe.
Since 2000, Romania has attracted increasing amounts of foreign investment, becoming the single largest investment destination in Southeastern and Central Europe. Foreign direct investment was valued at €8.3 billion in 2006. According to a 2006 World Bank report, Romania currently ranks 55th out of 175 economies in the ease of doing business, scoring higher than other countries in the region such as the Czech Republic. Additionally, the same study judged it to be the world's second-fastest economic reformer (after Georgia) in 2006.
The average gross wage per month in Romania was 1855 lei in May 2009, equating to €442.48 (US$627.70) based on international exchange rates, and $1110.31 based on purchasing power parity. In 2009 the Romanian economy contracted as a result of the global economic downturn. Gross domestic product contracted 7.2% in the fourth quarter of 2009 from the same period a year earlier, and the budget deficit for 2009 reached 7.2% of GDP. Industrial output growth however reached 6.9% year-on-year in December 2009, the highest in the EU-27.
Due to its location, Romania is a major crossroad for International economic exchange in Europe. However, because of insufficient investment, maintenance and repair, the transport infrastructure does not meet the current needs of a market economy and lags behind Western Europe. Nevertheless, these conditions are rapidly improving and catching up with the standards of Trans-European transport networks. Several projects have been started with funding from grants from ISPA and several loans from International Financial Institutions (World Bank, IMF, etc.) guaranteed by the state, to upgrade the main road corridors. Also, the Government is actively pursuing new external financing or public-private partnerships to further upgrade the main roads, and especially the country's motorway network.
The World Bank estimates that the railway network in Romania comprised 22,298 kilometres (13,855 mi) of track in 2004, which would make it the fourth largest railroad network in Europe. The railway transport experienced a dramatic fall in freight and passenger volumes from the peak volumes recorded in 1989 mainly due to the decline in GDP and competition from road transport. In 2004, the railways carried 8.64 billion passenger-km in 99 million passenger journeys, and 73 million metric tonnes, or 17 billion ton-km of freight. The combined total transportation by rail constituted around 45% of all passenger and freight movement in the country.
Bucharest is the only city in Romania which has an underground railway system. The Bucharest Metro was only opened in 1979 and is now one of the most accessed systems of the Bucharest public transport network with an average ridership of 600,000 passengers during the workweek.
Tourism focuses on the country's natural landscapes and its rich history and is a significant contributor to the Romania's economy. In 2006, the domestic and international tourism generated about 4.8% of gross domestic product and 5.8% of the total jobs (about half a million jobs). Following commerce, tourism is the second largest component of the services sector. Tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest developing sectors of the economy of Romania and characterized by a huge potential for development.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Romania is the fourth fastest growing country in the world in terms of travel and tourism total demand with a yearly potential growth of 8% from 2007 to 2016. The number of tourists grew from 4.8 million in 2002 to 6.6 million in 2004. Similarly, the revenues grew from 400 million in 2002 to 607 in 2004. In 2006, Romania registered 20 million overnight stays by international tourists, an all-time record, but the number for 2007 is expected to increase even more. Tourism in Romania attracted €400 million in investments in 2005.
Over the last years, Romania has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans (more than 60% of the foreign visitors were from EU countries), thus attempting to compete with Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain. Romania destinations such as Mangalia, Saturn, Venus, Neptun, Olimp, Constanta and Mamaia (sometimes called the Romanian Riviera) are among the most popular attraction during summer. During winter, the skiing resorts along the Valea Prahovei and Poiana Braşov are popular with foreign visitors.
For their medieval atmosphere and castles, Transylvanian cities such as Sibiu, Braşov, Sighişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureş have become important touristic attractions for foreigners. Rural tourism focused on folklore and traditions, has become an important alternative recently, and is targeted to promote such sites as Bran and its Dracula's Castle, the Painted churches of Northern Moldavia, the Wooden churches of Maramureş, or the Merry Cemetery in Maramureş County. Other major natural attractions in Romania such as Danube Delta, Iron Gates (Danube Gorge), Scărişoara Cave and several other caves in the Apuseni Mountains have yet to receive great attention.
In 2002, Romania had a population of 21,698,181. Like other countries in the region, its population is expected to gradually decline in the coming years as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates. Romanians make up 89.5% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Szekelys and Hungarians, who make up 6.6% of the population and Romma, who make up 2.46% of the population.[note 4]
Hungarians constitute a majority in the counties of Harghita and Covasna. Ukrainians, Germans, Lipovans, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Russians, Jews, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Armenians, as well as other ethnic groups, account for the remaining 1.4% of the population.
In 1930 there were 745,421 Germans in Romania, but only about 60,000 remain today. In 1924, there were 796,056 Jews in the Kingdom of Romania. The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million. As of 2009, there were also approximately 133,000 immigrants living in Romania, primarily from Moldova, Turkey and China.
The official language of Romania is Romanian, an Eastern Romance language related to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. Romanian is spoken as a first language by 91% of the population. Hungarian and Vlax Romani are the most important minority languages, spoken by 6.7% and 1.1% of the population, respectively. Until the 1990s, there were also a substantial number of German-speaking Transylvanian Saxons, even though many have since emigrated to Germany, leaving only 45,000 native German speakers in Romania.
In localities where a given ethnic minority makes up more than 20% of the population, that minority's language can be used in the public administration and justice system, while native-language education and signage is also provided. English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. English is spoken by 5 million Romanians, French is spoken by 4–5 million, and German, Italian and Spanish are each spoken by 1–2 million people.
Historically, French was the predominant foreign language spoken in Romania, but English has since superseded it. Consequently, Romanian English-speakers tend to be younger than Romanian French-speakers. Romania is, however, a full member of La Francophonie, and hosted the Francophonie Summit in 2006. German has been taught predominantly in Transylvania, due to traditions tracing back to the Austro-Hungarian rule in this province.
Romania is a secular state, thus having no national religion. The dominant religious body is the Romanian Orthodox Church, an autocephalous church within the Eastern Orthodox communion; its members make up 86.7% of the population according to the 2002 census. Other important Christian denominations include Roman Catholicism (4.7%), Protestantism (3.7%), Pentecostalism (1.5%) and the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church (0.9%).
Romania also has a Muslim minority concentrated in Dobrogea, mostly of Turkish ethnicity and numbering 67,500 people. According to the results of the 2002 census, there are 66,846 Romanian citizens of the Unitarian faith (0.3% of the total population). Church officials place the number of believers at 80,000-100,000. Of the total Hungarian-speaking minority in Romania, Unitarians represent 4.55%, being the third denominational group after members of the Reformed Church in Romania (47.10%) and Roman Catholics (41.20%). Since 1700, the Unitarian Church has had 125 parishes—in 2006, there were 110 Unitarian ministers and 141 places of worship in Romania. According to the 2002 census, there were 6,179 Jews, 23,105 people who are of no religion and/or atheist, and 11,734 who refused to answer. On December 27, 2006, a new Law on Religion was approved under which religious denominations can only receive official registration if they have at least 20,000 members, or about 0.1% of Romania's total population.
Bucharest is the capital and the largest city in Romania. At the census in 2002, its population was over 1.9 million. The metropolitan area of Bucharest has a population of about 2.2 million. There are several plans to increase further its metropolitan area to about 20 times the area of the city proper.
Romania has five other cities that are among the European Union's 100 most populous. These are Iaşi, Timişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Constanţa, and Craiova. The other cities with populations over 200,000 are Galaţi, Braşov, Ploieşti, Brăila and Oradea. Another 13 cities have a population of over 100,000.
At present, several of the largest cities have a metropolitan area: Constanţa (450,000 people), Braşov, Iaşi (both with around 400,000), Cluj-Napoca (380,000), Craiova (335,000) and Oradea (260,000), and several others are planned: Timişoara, Brăila-Galaţi, Bacău and Ploieşti.
Since the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Romanian educational system has been in a continuous process of reform that has been both praised and criticized. According to the Law on Education adopted in 1995, the educational system is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Research. Each level has its own form of organization and is subject to different legislation. Kindergarten is optional for children between 3 and 6 years old. Schooling starts at age 7 (sometimes 6), and is compulsory until the 10th grade (which usually corresponds to the age of 17 or 16). Primary and secondary education are divided into 12 grades. Higher education is aligned with the European higher education area.
Aside from the official schooling system, and the recently added private equivalents, there exists a semi-legal, informal, fully private tutoring system. Tutoring is mostly used during secondary as a preparation for the various examinations, which are notoriously difficult. Tutoring is widespread, and it can be considered a part of the Education System. It has subsisted and even prospered during the Communist regime.
In 2004, some 4.4 million of the population were enrolled in school. Out of these, 650,000 in kindergarten, 3.11 million (14% of population) in primary and secondary level, and 650,000 (3% of population) in tertiary level (universities). In the same year, the adult literacy rate was 97.3% (45th worldwide), while the combined gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools was 75% (52nd worldwide).
The results of the PISA assessment study in schools for the year 2000 placed Romania on the 34th rank out of 42 participant countries with a general weighted score of 432 representing 85% of the mean OECD score. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, in 2006 no Romanian university was included in the first 500 top universities world wide. Using similar methodology to these rankings, it was reported that the best placed Romanian university, Bucharest University, attained the half score of the last university in the world top 500. Notably, Bucharest boasts the largest university in Europe by number of students, Spiru Haret University.
Romania has a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and of its distinct historical evolution. Like Romanians themselves, it is fundamentally defined as the meeting point of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, but cannot be truly included in any of them.
The Romanian literature began to truly evolve with the revolutions of 1848 and the union of the two Danubian Principalities in 1859. The Origin of the Romanians began to be discussed and Transylvanian and Romanian scholars began studying in France, Italy and Germany. The German philosophy and French culture were integrated into modern Romanian literature, and a new elite of artists led to the appearance of some of the classics of Romanian literature such as Mihai Eminescu, George Coşbuc, Ioan Slavici.
Although they remain little known outside Romania, they are very appreciated within Romania for giving birth to a true Romanian literature by creating modern lyrics with inspiration from the old folklore tales. Of them, Eminescu is considered the most important and influential Romanian poet, and is still very much loved for his creations, and especially the poem Luceafărul. Among other writers that made large contributions around the second half of 19th century are Mihail Kogălniceanu (also the first prime minister of Romania), Vasile Alecsandri, Nicolae Bălcescu, Ion Luca Caragiale, and Ion Creangă.
The first half of the 20th century is regarded by many Romanian scholars as the Golden Age of Romanian culture and it is the period when it reached its main level of international affirmation and a strong connection to the European cultural trends. The most important artist who had a great influence on the world culture was the sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi, a central figure of the modern movement and a pioneer of abstraction, the innovator of world sculpture by immersion in the primordial sources of folk creation. His sculptures blend simplicity and sophistication that led the way for modernist sculptors. As a testimony to his skill, one of his pieces, "Bird in Space" , was sold in an auction for $27.5 million in 2005, a record for any sculpture.
In the period between the two world wars, authors like Tudor Arghezi, Lucian Blaga, Eugen Lovinescu, Ion Barbu, Liviu Rebreanu made efforts to synchronize Romanian literature with the European literature of the time. George Enescu, probably the best known Romanian musician, also came from this period; a composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, the annual George Enescu Festival is held in Bucharest in his honor.
After the world wars, communism brought heavy censorship and used the cultural world as a means to better control the population. Freedom of expression was constantly restricted in various ways, but the likes of Gellu Naum, Nichita Stănescu, Marin Sorescu or Marin Preda managed to escape censorship, broke with "socialist realism" and were the leaders of a small "Renaissance" in Romanian literature. While not many of them managed to obtain international acclaim due to censorship, some, like Constantin Noica, Paul Goma and Mircea Cărtărescu, had their works published abroad even though they were jailed for various political reasons.
Some artists chose to leave the country for good and continued to make contributions in exile. Among them Eugen Ionescu, Mircea Eliade and Emil Cioran became renowned internationally for their works. Other literary figures who enjoy acclaim outside of the country include the poet Paul Celan and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, both survivors of the Holocaust. Some famous Romanian musicians are the folk artists Maria Tanase, Tudor Gheorghe, and the virtuoso of the pan flute Gheorghe Zamfir – who is reported to have sold over 120 million albums worldwide.
Romanian cinema has recently achieved worldwide acclaim with the appearance of such films as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, directed by Cristi Puiu, (Cannes 2005 Prix un certain regard winner), and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, directed by Cristian Mungiu (Cannes 2007 Palme d'Or winner). The latter, according to Variety, is "further proof of Romania's new prominence in the film world."
The UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites includes Romanian sites such as the Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, the Painted churches of northern Moldavia with their fine exterior and interior frescoes, the Wooden Churches of Maramures unique examples that combine Gothic style with traditional timber construction, the Monastery of Horezu, the citadel of Sighişoara, and the Dacian Fortresses of the Orăştie Mountains.
Romania's contribution to the World Heritage List stands out because it consists of some groups of monuments scattered around the country, rather than one or two special landmarks. Also, in 2007, the city of Sibiu, famous for its Brukenthal National Museum, is the European Capital of Culture alongside the city of Luxembourg.
Association football is the most popular sport in Romania. The governing body is the Romanian Football Federation, which belongs to UEFA. The top division of the Romanian Professional Football League attracted an average of 5,417 spectators per game in the 2006–07 season. At the international level, the Romanian National Football Team has taken part seven times in the Football World Cup. It had its most successful period in the 1990s, when during the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Romania reached the quarter-finals and was ranked sixth by FIFA.
The core player of this "Golden Generation" and perhaps the best known Romanian player internationally is Gheorghe Hagi (nicknamed the Maradona of the Carpathians). Famous currently active players are Adrian Mutu and Cristian Chivu. The most famous football club is Steaua Bucureşti, who in 1986 became the first Eastern European club ever to win the prestigious European Champions Cup title, and who played the final again in 1989. Another successful Romanian team Dinamo Bucureşti played a semifinal in the European Champions Cup in 1984 and a Cup Winners Cup semifinal in the 1990. Other important Romanian football clubs are Rapid Bucureşti, CFR 1907 Cluj-Napoca and FC Universitatea Craiova.
Tennis is the second most popular sport in terms of registered sportsmen. Romania reached the Davis Cup finals three times (1969, 1971, 1972). The tennis player Ilie Năstase won several Grand Slam titles and dozens of other tournaments, and was the first player to be ranked as number 1 by ATP from 1973 to 1974. The Romanian Open is held every fall in Bucharest since 1993.
Popular team sports are rugby union (national rugby team has so far competed at every Rugby World Cup), basketball and handball. Some popular individual sports are: athletics, chess, sport dance, and martial arts and other fighting sports.
Romanian gymnastics has had a large number of successes – for which the country became known worldwide. In the 1976 Summer Olympics, the gymnast Nadia Comăneci became the first gymnast ever to score a perfect ten. She also won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze, all at the age of fifteen. Her success continued in the 1980 Summer Olympics, where she was awarded two gold medals and two silver medals. In her career she won 30 medals, 21 of them were golden
Romania participated for the first time in the Olympic Games in 1900 and has taken part in 18 of the 24 summer games. Romania has been one of the more successful countries at the Summer Olympic Games (15th overall) with a total of 283 medals won throughout the years, 82 of which are gold medals. Winter sports have received little investments and thus only a single bronze medal was won by Romanian sportsmen in the Winter Olympic Games.
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