CHAPTER 1: GENERAL INFORMATION
Official name: Romania (a name adopted in 1862, after the 1859 Union of the Romanian Principalities of Wallachia/ Tara Romaneasca and Moldavia)
Form of government: republic
International status: member of UNO (since 1955), UNESCO (since 1956), the Council of Europe (since 1993), NATO (since March 29th 2004), European Union member (as of January the 1st, 2007)
Capital: Bucharest (municipality situated in the south of the country, with an area of 228 square kms), first documented in 1459.
Geographical position: state in the south-east of Central Europe, in the north of the Balkan Peninsula, on the lower Danube and bordering on the Black Sea. From west to east, Romania is crossed by some 9 meridians (between 20 degrees 15 minutes 44 seconds longitude West and 29 degrees 41 minutes 24 seconds longitude East). From north to south, Romania is crossed by some 5 parallels (between 48 degrees 15 minutes 6 seconds latitude North and 43 degrees 37 minutes 7 seconds latitude South).
Area: 238,391 square kilometres(91,843 square miles) . Romania is Europe's 12th largest country.
Borders: around 3,150 kilometres, of which one-third are land borders and two-thirds are on waters (the Tisa and Prut rivers, the Danube river and the Black Sea). The Romanian Black Sea Coast sperads over some 245 kms of coastline.
Neighbours: Hungary (to the west and north-west), Ukraine (to the north and east), Republic of Moldova (to the north-east and east), the Black Sea (to the south-east), Bulgaria (to the south) and Serbia (to the south-west and west)
Official language: Romanian - a neo-Latin language
CHAPTER 2: INSIGNIA, NATIONAL DAY, FLAG, LEGAL HOLIDAYS, OFFICIAL TIME, CURRENCY
National Day: 1 December (on December 1st, 1918 all historical provinces inhabited mainly by Romanians were united in a ceremony held at Alba Iulia, in the centre of the country)
Flag: Romania has a tricolour flag (blue, yellow and red) which has not suffered major changes in the course of its history. The colours are placed vertically, in 3 bands of equal width, with the cobalt blue near the mast, followed by yellow-chrome and red-vermilion.
National anthem: “Awake, ye, Romanian”. The lyrics were written by the 1848 Romantic poet Andrei Muresanu and the music by poet and singer Anton Pann
Coat-of-arms: the central element of the current emblem is the golden eagle, standing on an azure shield and holding in its talons a sceptre and a sabre. On the bird’s chest there is a quartered escutcheon with the symbols of the historical Romanian provinces (Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, Maramures, Banat and Crisana, the territories bordering on the Black Sea)
Official time: Eastern Europe time: GMT + 2 hours (winter), GMT + 3 hours (summer). Daylight saving time applies from the last Sunday of March to the last Sunday of October
Legal holidays: 1 and 2 January (New Year), the first two days of Easter, 1 May (The International Labour Day), the first two days of Pentecost, 15 August (the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), 30 November (Saint Andrew Feast Day), 1 December (National Day), 25 and 26 December (Christmas).
Currency: the Romanian leu (plural: lei, international code RON), subdivided into 100 bani. The exchnage rate against various hard currencies is available on our website.
CHAPTER 3: THE SEPARATION OF POWERS, STATE POWERS
Separation of powers: the state is organised according to the principle of the separation and balance of powers - the legislative, the executive (Government and President) and the judiciary - within a constitutional democracy (according to Romania’s 2003 Constitution.
The President is elected directly for a 5-year mandate. Any person can hold the office of President of Romania only for two mandates.
Romanian governments have more often than not been coalition governments, especially since the first change of power in the post-communist era in 1996.
The two-chamber Parliament, made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (the higher chamber), is elected through universal suffrage in the single-winner voting system, after only one ballot and for a 4-year term in office. Romanian citizens living abroad can elect 4 Deputies and 2 Senators to represent their interests.
Under the Constitution, all ethnic minority groups that cannot directly acceded to Parliament have one vacancy set aside for each of them in the Chamber of Deputies, provided they secure the minimum number of votes at national level. A total of 18 ethnic minority groups are each represented by one deputy. The only minority group that is directly represented in Parliament is the Hungarian group, the largest national minority group in Romania.
A total of 33 Euro MPs represent Romania in the European Parliament, each over a 5-year-mandate.
CHAPTER 4: SOCIAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC DATA
According to the latest Population and Housing Census conducted in October 2011 (temporary results), stable population stood at some 19 million people (19.043.000), of which 18,38 million took part in person while 659 thousand where declared temporarily absent. Another 910 thousand people were reported absent over a long period of time (over 12 months), while 300 thousand people were temporarily present. At the general census of 2002 revealed a total population of 21,68 people. Since then population numbers have gone down on a regular basis due to a severe drop in the country’s birth rate and to a negative balance of external migration.
Of Romania’s overall stable population, 52.8% are domiciled in large cities and towns and 47.2% in the rural area.
16,87 million people of the country’s stable population (or 88,6%) have declared themselves Romanian-only. Ethnic Hungarians reportedly totalled 1.24 people (6,5%), while the number of ethnic Roma totalled 619 people (3,2%). Other ethnic minority groups included: Ukrainians (51,7 thousand people), Germans (36,9 thousand), Turks (28,2 thousand), Lipovan-Russians (23,9 thousand) and Tartars (20,5 thousand people).
The largest communities of Romanians or Romanian-born people abroad were reported in the Republic of Moldova, the United States, Canada, Ukraine, Serbia, Germany, Israel and Australia. Adding to these are the large numbers of Romanians seeking job abroad, in such countries as Italy and Spain.
Population numbers by gender, according to the National Institute for Statistics (last update January 1st, 2011): 51.3% female, 48.7% male. The life expectancy rate for men was 70.1 years and 77.5 years for women. The median population age was 39.8 years according to estimates dated January 1st, 2011.
CHAPTER 5: ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS, MAIN CITIES
Administrative units: 41 counties plus the capital city of Bucharest, with the special status of a county, totalling 320 cities and towns (of which 103 large cities) and 2,861 communes.
Main cities: Bucharest (with as many as 1.94 million inhabitants), followed by Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Constanta and Craiova (each with more than 300 thousand inhabitants).
CHAPTER 6: HISTORY
In the Carpathian area, the first ethnographic documentation attests to the existence of a conglomerate of Tracian tribes of which Herodotus, in the 6th century BC, mentions a distinct one, along with that of the Getae, who lived north of the Danube. In the Roman documents, the Getae are called Dacians, and according to geographer Strabo, from the time of emperor Augustus (27 B.C. - 14 A.D.) “the Dacians and the Getae spoke the same language”. The political centre of the Getae-Dacian civilisation was located in the Orastie Mountains in Sarmizegetusa (the western part of current Romania), this civilisation reaching its peak during the rule of kings Burebista (around 80- 44 B.C.) and Decebalus (87-106 A.D.)
Following two military campaigns in 101-102 and 105-106 AD, Emperor Trajan defeated the Dacians and created the Roman province of Dacia. Until around 270-275 when the Roman Empire decided to withdraw its military and administration from the province, Dacia underwent rapid and dramatic transformations that made it a legitimate part of the Roman world.
For almost 1000 years between the 4th and the 14th century, the territory of today’s Romania was invaded by a whole series of migrant tribes of Germanic, Iranian, Slavic and Turkish descent. While varying in intensity and presence, they all brought their influence to bear on the local people.
Forms of pre-Romanian civilization were first recorded in Byzantine documents as early as the 7th and the 8th century, but the first state actually ruled by a Romanian leader was Duke Gelu’s, lying inside the Carpathians’ Arch and attested by the Hungarian kings’ chronicle Gesta Hungarorum in the 10th century. The Principality of Transylvania was founded in the early 12th century after the Hungarians, now converted to Christianity, defeated local opposition and occupied the territory north of the Carpathians. The first medieval Romanian states in the south and the east of the Carpathian Mountains, Moldova and Wallachia, would only appear two centuries later, between 1330 and 1350.
Although located in Europe’s hinterland, the Romanian space shared in contemporaneous European values, the most salient of which was Christianity. The preponderance of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Romanian principalities was a mark of the pervasive Byzantine influence in the whole south European region.
Between the 14th and the 16th century, Romanian princes like Mircea the Elder, Stephen the Great, Vlad the Impaler and Iancu of Hunedoara in Transylvania, founder of the Hungarian Huniady Dynasty, joined the alliances of the European kings who were trying to stem the rise of the Ottoman Empire.
By the end of the 16th century the sultans in Istanbul had conquered the whole Balkan region, Asia Minor, North Africa, the Middle East and had penetrated into Europe as far as the gates of Vienna. For well over half a millennium the Romanian space was under the influence of the Ottoman cultural model.
The first attempts to escape the Turkish domination and return to European values were made from the 17th century onwards under the reign of history-making figures such as Michael the Brave, Serban Cantacuzino, Constantin Brancoveanu and Dimitrie Cantemir.
In the 18th century the political, social and economic crisis of the Ottoman world deepened, and as a consequence turning to the West was seen as increasingly attractive. At the same time the Austrian-Russian alliances, supported by some Romanian princes, began to push the Ottoman empire back, out of the South-east European space.
In the early 19th Century, a period which saw the birth of nations across Europe, the Romanian space began to adopt the ideas of Romanticism. The debates over the future of a Romanian state led to the union between Moldova and Wallachia and the creation of the institutions that would make such a state functional.
As a result of the reforms carried out by King Carol 1 of Hohenzollern-Singmaringen (1866-1914), the second half of the 19th century proved to be one of the most glorious periods in Romanian history. At the end of World War One in 1918, a number of territories that had previously been part of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, but which were inhabited mostly by Romanians, were united with the Romanian Kingdom and came to form what was then called the Greater Romania.
In the period between the two world wars Romania’s economic and political growth continued under the reigns of King Ferdinand I (1914-1927) and King Carol II (1930-1940). Romanian industry in particular burgeoned especially in the mining, steelworks and engineering sectors. Political stability led to a rise in living standards, due mainly to growing foreign investment. Liberal democracy and private property became the twin engines of a free Romanian society.
But in the 20th century, “the century of extremes”, totalitarianism affected Romania as well. First, it was fascism, which reached its peak in the 1930s and 40s and under marshal Ion Antonescu’s regime. After the Second World War, it was replaced by the Communist dictatorship with the help of the Soviet armies. Fascism and particularly communism meant the deportation and killing of hundreds of thousands of people, apart from the traumas of the war itself.
Communism was practically tantamount to the breach of the most common rights and liberties of man, the destruction of private property, the annihilation of political opposition and the imprisonment of protesters, intellectuals, peasants, workers, of the middle class and of all those who were against the regime in general.
The communist regime led by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (1947-1965) and Nicolae Ceausescu (1965-1989) led to very strong social mutations, introduced Stalinist practices inspired by the Marxist-Leninist political model, repressed any form of dissidence and took catastrophic measures in terms of economic policies.
But the communist crisis reached its peak in the 1980s and ended in 1989 with the toppling of Ceausescu’s communist regime after a revolution that cost some 1,300 Romanians their lives The revolution only came to confirm the failure of the communist project. As of 1989 Romania has gradually returned to democracy and market economy.
CHAPTER 7: RELIEF, HYDROGRAPHY, CLIMATE, FLORA AND FAUNA, PROTECTED AREAS, MINERAL RESOURCES
Romania has three major forms of relief: mountains, hills and plains. The Carpathian Mountains are the highest form of relief with the Moldoveanu peak reaching 2544 meters in altitude. The Sub-Carpathian region, made up of hills and plateaus, has an average altitude. Lowest lying are the plains, meadows and the Danube Delta. The Delta, the youngest form of relief, has an average altitude of 0.52 meters.
The three forms of relief are concentric radiating outwards from the natural amphitheatre of the Carpathians, a U-shaped outcrop in central Romania. The mountains cover 31% of the country’s surface, the hills and plateaus 36% and the plains and meadows 33%.
Romania’s climate is temperate-continental of the transitory type, with ocean, Mediterranean and excessive-continental influences. The annual average temperature varies according to latitude, reaching 8 degrees C in the north and exceeding 11 degrees C in the south, and according to altitude, ranging from minus 2.5 degrees C in the mountains and 11.6 degrees C in the plain areas.
Over recent years, there have been instances of some particularly extreme meteorological phenomena, unusual for the country. Many resulted in casualties and huge material damage: heavy and fast rainfalls, tornadoes, or heat waves followed by prolonged draught.
Romania’s running waters follow a radial distribution, most of them springing from the Carpathians and flowing into the Danube, which flows along the southern border of the country and covers 1075 kms. The Danube flows into the Black Sea through a delta. Most of Romania’s lakes are natural and spread across all the forms of relief. There are glacial lakes in the mountain ranges (such as the Mioarelor Lake in the Fagaras mountains at an altitude of 2,282 m), seashore lakes such as Lake Techirghiol at 1.5 m altitude. There are also artificial lakes all across Romania.
The flora is distributed across different altitude levels, in accordance with the forms of relief, with soil and climate characteristics. The mountains are covered with coniferous forests (mainly spruce), mixed forests (beech, fir trees and spruce) and beech forests. At higher altitudes there are alpine meadows and juniper, blueberry and cranberry bushes and many others. In the hilly and plateau areas there are mainly deciduous forests, the dominant types of trees being the beech, the durmast and the oak tree. The steppe and forest steppe vegetation that grew on the areas with low humidity was, to a large extent, replaced by agricultural crops.
Fauna: at the alpine level you can encounter such species as the chamois and the golden eagle. In the Carpathian forests there live various mammals: bears, deer, lynxes, wolves, boars, roebucks, squirrels and a great number of bird species. In several mountainous regions you can still find black cocks. In the hills and plains the fauna consists of rabbits, moles, hedgehogs, various bird species, lizards and batrachians; the fauna characteristic of the steppe areas consists of rodents (ground squirrels and hamsters). The water fauna includes trout in the mountain rivers, European chub and barbell in the hilly waters and carp, perch, pike, cat fish and gold fish in the plain waters and the Danube Delta. Various species of sturgeon can be found in the Black Sea and the lower Danube.
The country’s main mineral resources are: oil (Romania has an old oil exploitation tradition), natural gas, coal, mainly coking pit coal, brown coal or lignite, ferrous and non-ferrous ores, gold, silver and bauxite deposits, large salt deposits as well as many non-metal-bearing resources. A special category of underground riches are the more than 2000 mineral water springs, used for consumption and medical treatments.
The total surface of protected natural areas in Romania amounts to almost 20% of Romania’s surface, comprising, in 2011, 3 biosphere reserves included on the UNESCO world heritage list (The Danube Delta, the Retezat National Park and the Rodnei Mountains National Park), 8 wet lands of international importance, 13 national parks, 15 natural parks, 206 natural monuments, 64 scientific reserves, 699 natural reserves and 148 areas where bird and fauna species are especially protected.
CHAPTER 8: TRANSPORTS
Romania has about 500 kms of highways or motorways that link the capital Bucharest to 3 areas of the country: A1 (Bucharest- Pitesti-Sibiu- Deva- Timisoara- Arad- Nadlac), A2 (Bucharest- Constanta), A3 (Bucharest- Brasov- Oradea- Bors). Class A European roads that cross Romania are: E58, E60, E68, E70, E79, E81, E85, E87. The total length of roads in Romania is around 198 930 kms.
The total length of railways is 10 785 kms of which 4020 kms are electrified railways.
Mains ports to the Black Sea: Constanta and Mangalia. Main ports on the Danube: Orşova, Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Calafat, Corabia, Turnu Mãgurele, Zimnicea, Giurgiu, Olteniţa, Cãlãraşi, Cernavodã, Brãila, Galaţi, Tulcea, Sulina.
Main airports: Bucharest (Henri Coanda- Otopeni and Aurel Vlaicu- Baneasa for charters and private flights), Constanta (Mihail Kogalniceanu), Timisoara (Traian Vuia), Cluj Napoca, Targu Mures (Transilvania), Bacau, Iasi, Sibiu, Arad, Oradea, Baia Mare and Suceava.
CHAPTER 9: COUNTRY CALLING CODES, THE INTERNET
Romania’s international country calling code is 0040 or +40. The calling code for Bucharest if you call from outside Romania is 004021 to which you add 7 digits.
The Internet country code top-level domain for Romania is .ro
Text in Romanian by: Steliu Lambru, Eugen Cojocariu, Ştefan Baciu.
Photos: The Chamber of Deputies, the Romanian Senate, The National Forestry Authority - ROMSILVA, Mircea Vergheleţ, Editura Didactică şi Pedagogică Publishers- Bucharest, Florin Orban, Ştefan Baciu, Daniel Onea, Vasile Captaru, Eugen Cojocariu.
Complementary sources: the National Institute of Statistics (www.insee.ro), The Romanian Constitution, http://www.recensamantromania.ro, http://biodiversitate.mmediu.ro/