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Anthem:  Deșteaptă-te române!
Awaken thee, Romanian!
Location of Romania (dark green):   on the European continent   in the European Union
Location of Romania (dark green):
  in the European Union
and largest city
44°25′N 26°06′E
Official languages Romanian
  • Hungarian
  • Romani
  • Ukrainian
  • German
  • Serbian
Ethnic groups (2011)
  • 88.6% Romanians
  • 6.5% Hungarians
  • 3.2% Roma
  • 1.7% other minorities
Demonym Romanian
Government Unitary semi-presidential republic
 -  President Traian Băsescu
 -  Prime Minister Victor Ponta
 -  President of the Senate Crin Antonescu
 -  President of the Chamber Valeriu Zgonea
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house Chamber of Deputies
 -  Little Uniona 24 January 1859 
 -  Independence from
the Ottoman Empire
1877 / 1878b 
 -  Great Unionc 1 December 1918 
 -  Total 238,391 km2 ( 83rd)
92,043 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 3
 -  2011 census 19,043,767 ( 59th)
 -  Density 80/km2 ( 121st)
207/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $274.070 billion
 -  Per capita $12,838
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $171.401 billion
 -  Per capita $8,029
Gini (2008) 32
HDI (2013) Increase 0.786
high · 56th
Currency Romanian leu ( RON)
Time zone EET ( UTC+2)
 -  Summer ( DST) EEST ( UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code +40
Internet TLD .rod
a. The double election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Moldavia and Wallachia (respectively, 5 January and 24 January 1859).
b. Independence proclaimed on 9 May 1877, internationally recognized in 1878.
c. The union of Romania with Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania in 1918.
d. Also .eu, shared with other European Union member states.

Romania ( / r ˈ m n i ə / roh-MAY-nee-ə; dated spellings Roumania and Rumania; Romanian: România [romɨˈni.a]) is a country located at the intersection of Central and Southeastern Europe, bordering on the Black Sea. Romania shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and Moldova to the northeast and east, and Bulgaria to the south. At 238,400 square kilometers (92,000 sq mi), Romania is the eighth largest country of the European Union by area, and has the seventh largest population of the European Union with more than 19 million people. Its capital and biggest city is Bucharest, the tenth largest city in the EU.

The United Principalities emerged when the territories of Moldavia and Wallachia were united under Prince Alexander Ioan Cuza in 1859. In 1866 Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was called to the throne as the Ruling Prince of the Romanian Principate and in 1881 he was finally crowned as King Carol I the first monarch of the Kingdom of Romania. Independence from the Ottoman Empire was declared on 9 May 1877, and was internationally recognized the following year. At the end of World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia united with the Kingdom of Romania. World War II gave cause to the rise of a military dictatorship in Romania under fascist General Antonescu, who chose to fight on the side of the Axis powers from 1941 to 1944. After his removal, Romania switched sides in 1944 and joined the Allies. By the end of the war, some formerly Romanian northeastern territories were occupied by the Soviet Union, with Red Army units stationed on Romanian soil. Then Romania forcibly became a People's Republic and a member of the Warsaw Pact.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the 1989 Revolution, Romania began its transition towards democracy and a capitalist market economy. After a decade of post-revolution economic problems and living-standards decline, extensive reforms fostered economic recovery. As of 2010, Romania is an upper-middle-income country with a high human development index.

Romania joined NATO on 29 March 2004, and the European Union on 1 January 2007. It is also a member of the: Latin Union, Francophonie, OSCE, WTO, BSEC, United Nations, etc. Today, Romania is a unitary semi-presidential republic, in which the executive branch consists of the President and the Government.


The România derives from the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome". The first known use of the appellation was by 16th-century Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia.

Neacșu's Letter from 1521, the oldest surviving document written in Romanian.

The oldest surviving document written in Romanian, a 1521 letter known as the " Letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung", is also notable for including the first documented occurrence of the country's name: Wallachia is mentioned as Țeara Rumânească ("The Romanian Land", țeara from the Latin terra, "land"; current spelling: Țara Românească).

Two spelling forms: român and rumân were used interchangeably until sociolinguistic developments in the late 17th century led to semantic differentiation of the two forms: rumân came to mean " bondsman", while român retained the original ethnolinguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the word rumân gradually fell out of use and the spelling stabilised to the form român. Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used the term Rumânia to refer exclusively to the principality of Wallachia.

The use of the name România to refer to the common homeland of all Romanians—its modern-day meaning—is first documented in the early 19th century. The name has been officially in use since 11 December 1861. English-language sources still used the terms Rumania or Roumania, derived from the French spelling Roumanie, as recently as World War II, but the name has since been replaced with the official spelling Romania.


Prehistory and antiquity

Emperor Trajan's annexation of Dacia in 106 set the stage for the ethnogenesis of modern Romanians.

42,000-year-old human remains were discovered in the " Cave With Bones", and being Europe’s oldest known remains they may have been among the first modern humans to have entered the continent. The Neolithic-Age Cucuteni area in northeastern Romania was the western region of the earliest European civilization, known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Also the earliest known salt works in the world is at Poiana Slatinei, near the village of Lunca in Romania; it was first used in the early Neolithic, around 6050 BC, by the Starčevo culture, and later by the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the Precucuteni period. Evidence from this and other sites indicates that the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture extracted salt from salt-laden spring water through the process of briquetage.

The earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of present-day Romania, the Getae, comes from Herodotus, in his Histories book IV (c. 440 BC). Territories located north of the Danube were inhabited by Dacians, who are considered to have belonged to the Getae tribes, mentioned by Herodotus, that were a branch of Thracian people. The Dacian kingdom reached its peak between 82 and 44 BC during the reign of Burebista.

Roman emperor Domitian led military campaigns in the region between 87 and 88 AD at Tapae. Roman incursions happened again during the years 101–102 AD and 105–106 AD under Trajan, who successfully defeated Dacia and annexed its southwestern parts to the vast Roman Empire. The Dacian population subsequently underwent the ethno-linguistic process of Romanization and the conquered parts became an imperial province. Due to Dacia's rich ore deposits (especially gold and silver), Rome brought colonists from all over the empire. This introduced 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 proposed to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians coalesced as a major ethnic group both south and north of the Danube in the regions previously colonized by Romans.

Middle Ages

Battle of Posada
The Battle of Posada in the Chronica Hungarorum.

Gesta Hungarorum mentioned the existence of three voivodeships in Transylvania in the 9th century: the Voivodeship of Gelou, the Voivodeship of Glad and the Voivodeship of Menumorut. The anonymous author describes the first as Vlach. Another voivodeship, ruled by Gyula, was mentioned in the 11th century. A 1176 Old Bulgarian inscription attests the existence of a župan Dimitri that ruled over Dobrogea in 943.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia ( Romanian: Țara Românească – "Romanian Land"), Moldavia ( Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania ( Romanian: Transilvania). By the 11th century, Transylvania had become a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary,. It was 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. Both territories inhabited by Romanians achieved their independence from the Hungarian Crown after military conflicts ( Battle of Posada, 1330) or social conflicts (Moldavian boyars' revolt against Hungary, 1364)--these historic events being initiated by Basarab I of Wallachia (1310–1352) and Bogdan I of Moldavia (1359–1365).

Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania were briefly united under the rule of Michael the Brave in 1600.

By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary had become Ottoman provinces. Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania were under Ottoman suzerainty, preserving partial or full internal autonomy until the mid-19th century (Transylvania until 1699). During this period, in the Romanian lands the feudal system slowly disappeared. A few rulers of territories in what is now Romania distinguished themselves: these rulers include Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia; Matei Basarab, Vlad the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia; and John Hunyadi (Ioannes Corvinus) and Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), but the chance for a lasting unification was lost after Mihai was assassinated only one year later. After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldavia and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and external independence, which they 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 returned only in 1739), and in 1775 to include the northwestern part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina. The eastern half of the Moldavian principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

Independence and monarchy

Changes in Romania's territory since 1859.

During the period of the Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were considered second-class citizens or even non-citizens in a territory where they formed the majority of the population.

Following the Wallachian uprising of 1821, more insurrections followed in 1848 in Wallachia as well as Moldavia. The flag adopted for Wallachia by the revolutionaries was a blue-yellow-red horizontal tricolour (with blue above, in line with the meaning "Liberty, Justice, Fraternity"), while Romanian students in Paris hailed the new government with the same flag "as a symbol of union between Moldavians and Muntenians". The same flag, with the tricolour being mounted vertically, would later on be officially adopted as the national flag of Romania. But after the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians' expressed desire to officially unite in a one single state, which forced them to proceed alone with their struggle against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same leader – Alexandru Ioan Cuza– to be their Ruling Prince ( Domnitor in Romanian). Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit without including Transylvania. There, the upper class and the aristocracy chose to remain under Hungarian rule, even though the Romanians were by far the most numerous ethnic Transylvanian group and constituted the absolute majority.

In a 1866 coup d'état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol I of Romania. During the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, and as a result of it in the Treaty of San Stefano and the Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state both by the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers. In return, Romania ceded the district of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I of Romania.

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.

World Wars and Greater Romania

Romanian infantry on the Eastern Front in 1943. The Second World War claimed the lives of over 370,000 Romanian soldiers.

In August 1915, about a year after the start of World War I, Romania tried to maintain neutrality. One year later, under significant pressure from the Allies, on 27 August 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 of all the territories populated with Romanians.

The Romanian military campaign began disastrously for Romania as the Central Powers occupied two-thirds of the country within months. Nevertheless, Moldavia remained in Romanian hands and the invading forces were blocked in 1917. Total losses from 1914 to 1918, military and civilian, within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000. By the war's end, both Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires had collapsed and disintegrated; Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania proclaimed their unification with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. In the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary was forced to give up all Austro-Hungarian claims over Transylvania from the Romanians. The unification 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 28 June 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance. Again foreign powers created heavy pressure on Romania, by means of the Soviet-Nazi "Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of non-aggression" from the 23rd August 1939 (incidentally the same day on which Antonescu was arrested and handed over to the Red Army, when it entered Romania 5 years later). As a result of it the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well as from northern Bukovina in order to avoid war with Russia. This, in combination with other factors, prompted Romania to join the Axis military campaign. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was ceded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis powers' arbitration. The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated the throne in 1940, and was succeeded by a fascist National Legionary State dictatorial regime, in which power was shared by General Ion Antonescu and the antisemitic Iron Guard right-extremist militia. Within months, Antonescu had to crush down the "Iron Guard" by force after their January 1941 bloody coup-d'etat. The subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers under the supreme German command.

Romania was the main source of oil for the Nazi war machine, thus attracting multiple bombing raids by the Allies. Apropos the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from Soviet Russia, under the command of general (later marshal) Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu fascist regime played a major role in the Holocaust, following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of Jews and Romas, mainly in the Eastern territories reoccupied by the Romanians from the Soviet Union in Transnistria and in Moldavia. Jewish Holocaust victims in Romania totaled between 280,000 and 380,000, plus another 11,000 Roma people.

In August 1944, Marshal Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Mihai I of Romania and the country switched sides joining the Allies. In spite of that Romania's role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947 even though the Romanian Army had suffered 170,000 casualties after switching sides.


Future President Nicolae Ceaușescu condemning the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in front of a massive crowd in 1968. Romania was the only Warsaw Pact nation to issue such a condemnation.

During the Soviet occupation of Romania, the Communist-dominated government called for new elections, which were won with a 85% majority of the vote. Thus they 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 unilateral exploitative purposes.

In 1948, the state began to nationalize private firms, and to collectivize agriculture the following year. From 1947 to the early 1960s, the Communist government established a terror regime, carried out mainly through the Securitate (the Romanian secret police). During this period they launched several campaigns of purges in which numerous " enemies of the state" and "parasite elements" of the society were imprisoned for political or economic reasons, tortured and eventually killed. Punishments included deportation, internal exile and internment in forced labour camps and prisons, sometimes for life; dissent was vigorously suppressed by the regime. Nevertheless, Romanian armed opposition to communist state terror was one of the most long-lasting in the Eastern Bloc.

In 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power and started applying an independent foreign policy by being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, by maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War and by establishing diplomatic relations with West Germany the same year (after economic links have been established already in 1963). At the same time, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel–Egypt and Israel–PLO peace talks. But as Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from US$3 to 10 billion), the influence of international financial organisations (such as the IMF and the World Bank) developed gradually conflicting with Nicolae Ceaușescu's autocratic rule. The latter eventually initiated a policy of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing austerity steps that impoverished the Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy. At the same time he also greatly extended the authority of the police state, and imposed a severe cult of personality. All these led to a dramatic decrease in Ceaușescu's popularity and culminated in his overthrow and eventual execution in the violent Romanian Revolution of 1989; but by that time Romania's foreign debt was almost completely paid off. A 2006 Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania estimated the number of direct victims of the communist repression at two million people. This number does not include civilians who died in liberty as a result of their "treatment" and malnutrition in communist prisons, nor does it include those people who died because of the dire economic circumstances in which the country found itself. Those numbers remain unknown but could reach a few million.

Euro-Atlantic integration

Protesters in Bucharest during the 1989 revolution. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country whose Communist government was overthrown violently.
Romania joined the European Union in 2007 and signed the Lisbon Treaty.

After the revolution, the National Salvation Front (NSF), led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures. Several major political parties of the pre-WWII 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 the University Square, Bucharest, accusing the NSF of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters called the election undemocratic and asked for the exclusion from political life of former high-ranking Communist Party members, such as president Iliescu himself. The protest rapidly grew to become what president Iliescu called the Golaniad. The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, prompting the intervention of coal miners, summoned by Iliescu in June 1990, from the Jiu Valley. This episode has been documented widely by both local and foreign media, and 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 several democratic changes of government: in 1996 the Democrat-Liberals' opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social-Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again as president; and, finally, 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 full member on January 1, 2007. Due to the European "free travel agreement", the reaction to the Cold War period, as well as 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, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and the United States.

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 budget deficit in 2009 led to Romania borrowing heavily, eventually becoming the largest debtor to the International Monetary Fund in 2010. Worsening economic conditions led to massive unrest and eventually to a political crisis in 2012. Romania still faces issues related to infrastructure, medical services, education, and corruption.


A general map of Romania.

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. It lies between latitudes 43° and 49° N, and longitudes 20° and 30° E.

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. The 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 best preserved delta in Europe, and also a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. Other major rivers are the Siret (596 km), the Olt (614 km), the Someș (388 km), and the Mureș (761 km).

Lakes and lake complexes have a low share throughout Romania, occupying only 1.1% of total land area. The largest lake complex in size is Razelm-Sinoe (731 km²), located on the Black Sea seaside. Glacial lakes exist in the Făgăraș Mountains, a result of quaternary glaciation, of which the largest are: Lake Avrig (14,700 m²), Bâlea Lake (46,500 m²), Capra Lake (18,000 m²), etc. Other notable lakes are Lake Sfânta Ana, the only volcanic lake in Romania, and Red Lake, a natural dam lake, both situated in Harghita County.


Satellite image of Romania in December 2001, showing most of its territory under snow.

Owing to its distance from the open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is 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 in 1951 and −38.5 °C (−37.3 °F) at Bod in 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 rising to 28 °C (82 °F), and 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 rainy and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage. Winters can be cold, with average maxima even in lower-lying areas reaching no more than 2 °C (36 °F) and below −15 °C (5 °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 (15 in).

Because of Romania's geographic location, respectively the regional orographic peculiarities, there exists a varied range of local winds. Humid winds from the northwest are most common, but often the drier winds from the northeast are strongest. A hot southwesterly wind, the austru (cf. lat. Auster), blows over western Romania, particularly in summer. In winter, cold and dense air masses encircle the eastern portions of the country, with the cold northeasterly known as the crivăț blowing in from the Russian Plain, and oceanic air masses from the Azores, in the west, bring rain and mitigate the severity of the cold. Other wind types present locally are nemirul, black wind, foehn, băltărețul, zephyr, cosava etc. Romania enjoys four seasons, though there is a rapid transition from winter to summer. Autumn is frequently longer, with dry warm weather from September to late November.

Natural environment

Although presently in decline, Romania has the largest population of brown bears in Europe (over 5,000 individuals).

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, birds, reptiles and amphibians in Romania. The fauna consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate.

Some 3,700 plant species have been identified in the country, from which to date 23 have been declared natural monuments, 74 missing, 39 endangered, 171 vulnerable and 1,253 rare. The three major vegetation areas in Romania are the alpine zone, the forest zone and the steppe zone. The latter can be subdivided (depending on soil, climate, and altitude) into regions dominated by the Norway Spruce, European Beech, and various species of Oak, together with less widespread vegetation types such as the Dinaric calcareous block fir forest. The Danube Delta is the largest continuous marshland in Europe. Vegetation in the marshland is dominated by reeds, with Willow, Poplar, Alder, and Oak on the higher ground. The delta supports 1,688 different plant species.

There are almost 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (about 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.

Administrative divisions

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. The prefect 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 their own mayor and local council. There are a total of 319 cities and 2,686 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 coordinating regional development projects and statistical purposes.

Romanian Counties
Development region Area ( km2) Population (2011) Most populous urban centre1
Northeast 36,850 3,148,578 Iași (400,323)
West 32,028 1,729,379 Timișoara (367,347)
Northwest 34,159 2,495,247 Cluj-Napoca (392,562)
Centre 34,082 2,251,268 Brașov (402,041)
Southeast 35,762 2,399,602 Galați (231,204)
South 34,489 2,998,643 Ploiești (297,593)
Bucharest-Ilfov 1,811 2,042,226 Bucharest (2,678,392)
Southwest 29,212 1,977,993 Craiova (330,359)
Romania 238,391 Red Arrow Down.svg 19,043,767 Bucharest (2,678,392)
  • Footnote: 1Together with its metropolitan area.



Parliament of Romania.

The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France's Fifth Republic and was approved in a national referendum on 8 December 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 semi-presidential republic where executive functions are held by both government and the president. The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, each term lasts 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 by simple plurality.

Traian Băsescu, current President of Romania, with George W. Bush, President of the United States, July 27, 2006.

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 Constituțională) 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 be amended by only a public referendum, the last of which took place 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 Romania was ranked, together with Bulgaria and Greece, as the most corrupt EU country by Transparency International in 2009.

Foreign relations

2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest.

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 29 March 2004, the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007, while it had joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1972, and is a founding 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, and Croatia 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. Romania opted on 1 January 2007, to adhere the Schengen Area, an area of free movement in Europe that comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries. Romania's bid to join the Schengen Area was approved by the European Parliament in June 2011, but was rejected by the Council of Ministers in September 2011.

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 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 lost ground 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 so far to reach agreement on a basic bilateral treaty. After the 2009 protests in Moldova and subsequent removal of Communists from power, relations between the two countries have improved considerably. On 3 May 2011, after the stabilisation of the Moldovan political situation, the Romanian prime - minister M.R. Ungureanu and the Moldovan premier Vladimir Filat held a joint governmment meeting in Iași, where they signed 8 bilateral strategic military and economic agreements.


Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan during a joint operation in 2003.

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.

From 2015, Romania will host Europe's first NATO anti-missile shield.

Of the 90,000 men and women that comprise the Armed Forces, approximately 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 were 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 are actively participating in the War in Afghanistan. The Air Force currently operates modernized Soviet MiG-21 LanceR fighters which are due to be replaced by new fighters by 2013, according to present plans. However due to poor economical conditions this may change. 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 have been commissioned by 2010.

Romanian troops participated in the occupation of Iraq, reaching a peak of 730 soldiers before being slowly drawn down to 350 soldiers. Romania terminated its mission in Iraq and withdrew its last troops on 24 July 2009, among the last countries to do so. Romania currently has some 1,900 troops deployed in Afghanistan. The Regele Ferdinand frigate participated in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.

In December 2011, the Romanian Senate unanimously adopted the draft law ratifying the Romania-United States agreement signed in September of the same year that would allow the establishment and operation of a US land-based ballistic missile defence system in Romania as part of NATO's efforts to build a continental missile shield.

Social welfare

The unemployment rate in Romania has been relatively low in recent years and stands at around 5% in 2011.

In the late 2000s, nearly 10 percent of the population were in absolute poverty and of these, 90% live in rural areas.

A set of reforming programs has been started in 1999 introducing private health insurance. The pension system was also reformed. The state-run health care system is free, but suffers from neglect and has deteriorated in recent years due to lack of funding and underpaid staff. In many cases, the patients are bribing the clinic or hospital staff to get better treatment. There is evidence to suggest that a patient's wealth plays an important role in how they receive medical treatment.

By the first quarter of 2011, the average monthly household income is 2,318 lei (equivalent to approximately $862). The difference between countryside and urban area may vary; the income is 36 per-cent higher in the urban areas than in the countryside.

In 2010, the average monthly pension in Romania was 734 lei, or €170. The current average retirement age (55 years for women and 57 years for men) will be gradually increased until 2014 to 60 years for women and 65 years for men.

Many of the Romani people in Romania have no identity cards and are therefore excluded from the social benefit systems, schools and health care.


Dacia Duster concept at the Geneva Motor Show (2009).

With a GDP of around $267 billion and a GDP per capita ( PPP) of $12,476 for the year 2011, Romania is an upper-middle income country economy and has been part of the European Union since 1 January 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. Thereafter, the country fell into a recession in 2009 and 2010, where the GDP contracted −7.1% and −1.3% respectively. It is estimated by the IMF that the GDP will grow again by 1.5% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2012.

According to Eurostat data, the Romanian PPS GDP per capita stood at 46% of the EU average in 2010. In July 2012, the net average monthly wage in the country was $420 - one of the lowest in the EU. Inflation in 2010 was 6.1%. Unemployment in Romania was at 7.6% in 2010, which is very low compared to other middle-sized or large European countries such as Poland, France and Spain. General government gross debt is also comparatively low, at 34.8% of GDP. Exports have increased substantially in the past few years, with a 13% annual rise in exports in 2010. Romania's main exports are cars, software, clothing and textiles, industrial machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, metallurgic products, raw materials, military equipment, 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 current account balance in 2010 held a deficit of $6.842 billion.

BitDefender, an antivirus software product of the Romanian company Softwin.

After a series of privatisations and reforms in the late 1990s and 2000s (decade), 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 one of the lowest fiscal burdens 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 51.2% of GDP, even though industry and agriculture also have significant contributions, making up 36% and 12.8% of GDP, respectively. Additionally, 29.6% of the Romanian population was employed in 2006 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 2011 World Bank report, Romania currently ranks 72nd out of 175 economies in the ease of doing business, scoring lower than other countries in the region such as the Czech Republic. Additionally, a study in 2006 judged it to be the world's second-fastest economic reformer (after Georgia).

During the first quarter of 2011, the average monthly household income was 2,318 Romanian lei, equating to approximately US$ 867 based on international exchange rates, and US$ 1170 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.


Romania's road network.

All transportation infrastructure in Romania is administered by the Ministry of Transports, Constructions and Tourism, except when operated as a concession, in which case the concessions are made by the Ministry of Administration and Interior.

According to the CIA Factbook, Romania total road network is estimated to be 81,713 km long (excluding urban areas), out of which 66,632 km are paved and 15,081 km (2009) are unpaved. The World Bank estimates that the road network that is outside of cities and communes (i.e. excluding streets and village roads) is about 78,000 km long. There are plans to build a 2,262.7 km-long motorway system, consisting of six main motorways and six bypass motorways.As of February 2013, 526.7 km have already been built with 845 km being under construction.

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 Transfăgărășan in the Southern Carpathians. Built in the early 1970s, it is one of the highest and most dramatic roads in Romania.
Căile Ferate Române's icon, the " Blue Arrow" (Săgeata Albastră).

Airports in Romania

Romania has a relatively well-developed airport infrastructure compared to other countries in Eastern Europe, but still underdeveloped compared to Western European standards. There are 17 commercial airports in service today, most of them opened for international traffic. Five of the airports ( OTP, BBU, TSR, CND, SBZ) have runways of over 3,000 meters in length and are capable of handling wide-body aircraft. Three of the airports ( BCM, CRA, SUJ) have runways of 2,500 meters in length, while the rest of them have runways of 1,800 to 2,000 meters. As of December 2006, TCE and CSB are the only airports with no regular flights. Almost all the airports have experienced traffic growth in the last 4 years.

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. Since 2005, was liberalized the passenger rail, several secondary lines being leased to private operators.

Bucharest is the only city in Romania which has an underground railway system. The Bucharest Metro was opened in 16 November 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. Currently, the Bucharest Metro measures 61.41 km lengthwise and includes five metro lines, one proposed and one under construction.

Romania has 16 international airports, of which the busiest are Henri Coandă International Airport (7,120,067 passengers, 2012) and Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (2,398,911 passengers, 2011). Also, Romania disposes of an unworkable international airport ( Caransebeș Airport) and 16 under construction or planned airports, whose construction will be completed until 2020. Romania has about 200 flight corridors, as much as any other European country. Five of the airports (OTP, BBU, TSR, CND, SBZ) have runways of over 3,000 meters in length and are capable of handling wide-body aircraft. Three of the airports (BCM, CRA, SUJ) have runways of 2,500 meters in length, while the rest of them have runways of 1,800 to 2,000 meters. As of December 2006, TCE and CSB are the only airports with no regular flights. The air traffic has doubled in the last 20 years, in the summer of 2010, Romania was crossed by 150 aircrafts simultaneously, bringing considerable incomes to TAROM airline. As of May 2011, TAROM flies to 47 destinations (including the seasonal destinations), such as: Cairo, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Vienna, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Athens, Budapest, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul and London.


Tourism focuses on the country's natural landscapes and its rich history and is a significant contributor to the Romanian economy. In 2006, 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 is characterized by a huge potential for development.

Bran Castle near Brașov, sometimes advertised as " Dracula's castle".

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 past few years, Romania has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans (more than 60% of the foreign visitors in 2007 were from EU countries), thus attempting to compete with Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain. Destinations such as Mangalia, Saturn, Venus, Neptun, Olimp, Constanța and Mamaia (sometimes called the Romanian Riviera) are among the most popular attractions during summer. During winter, the skiing resorts along the Valea Prahovei and Poiana Brașov are popular with foreign visitors.

For their medieval atmosphere and castles, Transylvanian cities such as Sibiu, Brașov, Sighișoara, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureș or Miercurea Ciuc have become major tourist attractions for foreigners. Rural tourism, focusing 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 Maramureș and Sălaj, or the Merry Cemetery in Maramureș County (at Săpânța). Other major natural attractions, such as the Danube Delta, the Iron Gates (Danube Gorge), Scărișoara Cave and several other caves in the Apuseni Mountains have yet to receive great attention.

In terms of tourism potential, Romania benefits from splendid cities, scattered on the smooth plains or high peaks. These include Sibiu, a city built by Saxons, with cobblestone streets and colorful houses. The Hunyad Castle, one of the most important monuments of Gothic architecture in Transylvania, can be visited in Hunedoara. Also, resorts such as Băile Felix, Băile Herculane and Băile Tușnad are points of interest for local and foreign tourists. The Romanian seaside is the most developed tourist area of Romania. In 2009, Romania's Black Sea seaside was visited by 1.3 million tourists, of whom 40,000 were foreign. The shore is very varied, formed by slightly wavy shapes, with emphasized capes and deep bays extending into the Dobrogea valleys, with cliffs, beaches and sand cords. In Târgu Jiu one can see the sculptures of Constantin Brâncuși (1876–1957), a Romanian sculptor with overwhelming contributions to the renewal of plastic language and vision in contemporary sculpture. These include The Endless Column, The Gate of the Kiss and The Table of Silence, which together represent the three parts of a monumental sculptural ensemble.

Science and technology

During the 1990s and 2000s, the development of Romanian science was hampered by several factors, including corruption, low funding and a considerable brain drain. However, since the country's accession to the European Union, this has begun to change. After being slashed by 50% in 2009 due to the global recession, R&D spending was increased by 44% in 2010 and now stands at $0.5 billion (1.5 billion lei). In January 2011, the Parliament also passed a law that enforces "strict quality control on universities and introduces tough rules for funding evaluation and peer review". The country has joined or is about to join several major international organizations such as CERN and the European Space Agency. Overall, the situation has been characterized as "rapidly improving", albeit from a low base.

The early flight pioneer Traian Vuia.

Historically, Romanian researchers and inventors have made notable contributions to several fields, such as: aeronautics, medicine, mathematics, computer science/engineering, physics, biophysics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology. In the history of flight, Traian Vuia made the first airplane to take off on its own power and Aurel Vlaicu built and flew some of the earliest successful aircraft. Also, Henri Coandă discovered the Coandă effect of fluidics. Preceding him, Elie Carafoli was a pioneering contributor to the field of aerodynamics in the world.

Victor Babeș discovered more than 50 germs and a cure for a disease named after him, babesiosis; biologist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin. Another biologist, Emil Palade, received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to cell biology. George Constantinescu created the theory of sonics, while Lazăr Edeleanu was the first chemist to synthesize amphetamine and also invented the modern method of refining crude oil. Costin Nenițescu found new methods for the synthesis of pirilium salts, of carbenes, tryptamine, serotonin, two new syntheses for the indole nucleus, and a new method of polymerisation of ethylene.

Several mathematicians distinguished themselves as well, among them: Gheorghe Țițeica, Spiru Haret, Grigore Moisil, Miron Nicolescu, Nicolae Popescu and Ștefan Odobleja; the latter is also regarded as the ideological father behind cybernetics.

Notable physicists and inventors also include: Horia Hulubei in atomic physics, Șerban Țițeica in theoretical physics, Mihai Gavrilă specialized in quantum theory and discoverer of the atomic dichotomy phenomenon, Alexandru Proca (known for the first meson theory of nuclear forces and Proca's equations of the vectorial mesonic field), Ștefan Procopiu known for the first theory of the magnetic moment of the electron in 1911 (now known as the Bohr-Procopiu magneton), Theodor V. Ionescu, the inventor of a multiple-cavity magnetron (1935), a hydrogen maser in 1947, 3D imaging for cinema/television in 1924 and hot deuterium plasma studies for controlled nuclear fusion, Ionel Solomon known for the nuclear magnetic resonance theory in solids, Solomon equations and photovoltaic devices, Petrache Poenaru, Nicolae Teclu and Victor Toma, with the latter known for the invention and construction of the first Romanian computer, the CIFA-1 in 1955.

The nuclear physics facility of the European Union's proposed Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) laser will be built in Romania. Romania currently has 1,400 MW of nuclear power capacity by means of one active nuclear power plant ( Cernavodă) with 2 reactors, which constitutes around 18% of the national power generation capacity of the country. This makes Romania the 23rd largest user of nuclear power in the world.

In early 2012, Romania launched its first satellite from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guyana.


Demographic evolution

Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1866 4,424,961 —    
1887 5,500,000 +24.3%
1899 5,956,690 +8.3%
1912 7,234,919 +21.5%
1930 18,057,028 +149.6%
1939 19,934,000 +10.4%
1941 13,535,757 −32.1%
1948 15,872,624 +17.3%
1956 17,489,450 +10.2%
1966 19,103,163 +9.2%
1977 21,559,910 +12.9%
1992 22,760,449 +5.6%
2002 21,680,974 −4.7%
2004 21,687,428 +0.0%
2011 19,043,767 −12.2%
Figures prior to 1948 do not reflect current borders.
Ethnic map of Romania according to 2011 census.

According to preliminary data from 2011 census, Romania's population is 19,043,767. 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. In October 2011 Romanians made up 88.6% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Hungarians, who make up 6.5% of the population and Romani people, who make up 3.2% of the population.

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 36,884 remain today, according to the 2011 census. In 1924, there were 796,056 Jews in the Kingdom of Romania. As of 2009, there were also approximately 133,000 immigrants living in Romania, primarily from Moldova, and China.

The fertility rate is decreasing, with 1.3 births per woman recorded in 2012. The birth rate (9.49‰, 2012) is much lower than the mortality rate (11.84‰, 2012), resulting in a shrinking (-0.26% per year, 2012) and aging population (median age: 39.1, 2012), approx. 14.9% of total population having 65 years and over.

The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million. After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a significant number of Romanians emigrated to other European countries, North America or Asia, due to better working conditions and academic possibilities offered abroad. Some 45,000 foreigners are present on the local labor market, of which about 30,000 workers. In 2013, approximately 200,000 to 300,000 foreigners are expected to enter on Romania's labor market, according to estimates by the National Commission for Prognosis.


The official language of Romania is Romanian, a Romance language related to Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese. 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 early 1990s, there were also a substantial number of German-speaking Transylvanian Saxons, even though most have since emigrated to Germany, leaving only 45,000 native German speakers in Romania. There are approximately 32,000 Turkish speakers in Romania.

Bilingual sign in Sibiu showing the city's name in Romanian and German.

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. Hungarians make up some 19% of the population of Transylvania; there are many towns and communes in parts of Transylvania that have Hungarian as a second official language. Language rights are sensitive in these areas, where Hungarian speakers are campaigning for greater official status, and possible autonomy for the predominantly Hungarian counties of eastern Transylvania (' Székely Land'). English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. English is spoken by 5-6 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.

The Romanian language remains, according to the Constitution of Romania, the only official language of Romania, but local councils ensure linguistic rights to all minorities, who form over 11% of the total population. Foreign citizens and stateless persons that live in Romania have access to justice and education in their own language.


Religion in Romania
Religion Percentage
Roman Catholic

Romania is a secular state and has no state religion. However, an overwhelming majority of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. 86.7% of the country's population identified as Orthodox Christian according to the 2002 census, the vast majority of which belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Other major Christian denominations include Protestantism (5.2%), Roman Catholicism (4.7%) and the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church (0.9%). The latter two religious organizations suffered most severely under the Communist regime. The Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed by the Communist government in 1948; later, under the Ceaușescu regime, several churches in Transylvania were demolished. Protestants and Roman Catholics are also concentrated in Transylvania.

The foundation of the oldest-known Romanian Orthodox church is still visible at Drobeta-Turnu Severin today, and dates from the 14th century; however, much earlier crypts with unearthed relics of Christian martyrs executed at the orders of the Roman emperor Diocletian were found in local church records dating as far back as the 3rd century AD. Thus, the relics of Saint Sava the Goth who was martyred by drowning in the river Buzău in Romania, under Athanaric, on 12 April 372, were reverently received by St. Basil the Great. Earlier still, the first known Daco-Roman Christian priest Montanus and his wife Maxima were drowned because of their Christian faith, as martyrs, on 26 March 304.

The Metropolitan Cathedral in Iași, the largest Orthodox church in Romania, founded in 1833.

Romania also has a Muslim minority concentrated in Dobruja, mostly of Turkish and Tatar 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). 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 27 December 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.

The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch. Its jurisdiction covers the territory of Romania, with dioceses for Romanians living in nearby Moldova, Serbia and Hungary, as well as diaspora communities in Central and Western Europe, North America and Oceania.

It is the only Orthodox church using a Romance language. The majority of people in Romania (18,817,975, or 86.8% of the population, according to the 2002 census data) belong to it, as well as some 720,000 Moldovans. The Romanian Orthodox Church is the second-largest in size after the Russian Orthodox Church.

The most significant holidays of the Romanian Orthodox Church are:

  • Baptism of Jesus (6 January) – Boboteaza (Romanian correspondent to Epiphany);
  • Resurrection of Jesus (has no fixed date), associated with Easter;
  • Ascension of Jesus (has no fixed date, celebrated 40 days after Easter);
  • Dormition of the Theotokos (15 August), preceded by two weeks of fasting;
  • Nativity of the Theotokos (8 September);
  • Saint Andrew the Apostle, protector of Romania (30 November);
  • Nativity of Jesus (25 December), associated with Christmas.


In the years following the Revolution has been a massive migration from village to city, but since 1996, the trend was reversed, and after 2005 was even stronger. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of people who have changed residence from rural to urban was 294,000, while the number of people who have changed residence from urban to rural was 418,000, difference being of over 120,000 people. Between 1996 and 2008, the difference was 313,000. According to statistics compiled in 2004, 11,895,600 citizens (54.88%) lived in the urban environment, and 9,777,728 citizens (45.12%) lived in the rural environment. The most urbanized counties are Hunedoara County (76.87%), Brașov County (74.91%) and Constanța County (71.12%), while the most sparsely urbanized counties are Ilfov County (26.09%), Dâmbovița County (30.06%) and Giurgiu County (30.95%). According to CIA World Factbook, the rate of urban population grows by 0.6 percent each year.

Bucharest is the capital and the largest city in Romania. At the census in 2011, its population was over 1.6 million. The LUZ area of Bucharest has a population of 2,192,372 inhabitants. As of 2011, there are plans to establish a metropolitan area up to 20 times the area of the city proper.

Romania has four other cities that are among the European Union's 100 most populous: Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași and Constanța. Other cities with populations over 200,000 are Craiova, Galați and Brașov. Another 11 cities have a population of over 100,000.

At present, several of the largest cities have a metropolitan area: Constanța (446,595 inhab.), Iași (402,786 inhab.), Brașov (402,041 inhab.), Cluj-Napoca (392,562 inhab.), Craiova (333,834 inhab.), Oradea (249,746 inhab.) and Târgu Mureș (212,752 inhab.), and several others are planned: Bucharest (3.4 mil. inhab.), Timișoara (367,347 inhab.), Brăila-Galați (608,904 inhab.), Bacău (248,214 inhab.) and Ploiești (300,358 inhab.).

Rural areas represent about 90% of total area of the country, and their share – among the highest in Europe – amounts to 47.3% of the total population. In December 2006 Romania had 2,854 communes, consisting of 12,951 villages. The average population of a Romanian village is about 800 people.


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.

University of Bucharest.

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 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.

In 2012, according to the prestigious QS World University Rankings, University of Bucharest, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca and West University of Timişoara were included in Top 700 universities of the world.


Colţea Hospital, one of Romania's most modern hospitals.

Romania has a universal healthcare system. As of 2011, total health expenditures were equal to 5.6 percent of gross domestic product. Romania has a comprehensive universal health care system, which covers medical examinations, any surgical interventions, and any post-operator medical care, and provides free or subsidized medicine for a range of diseases. The state is obliged to fund public hospitals and clinics. The Romanian Ministry of Health is in charge of administrating and funding the system. For 2012, the allocated budged for the healthcare sector is 12 billion euros, or roughly 5% of the GDP. The most common causes of death are cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Transmissible diseases, such as tuberculosis, syphilis or viral hepatitis, are more common than in Western Europe. The incidence of HIV/AIDS is less than 0.1%. In 2010, Romania had 428 state hospitals and another 25 private. Only seven medical units in Romania have the highest level of competence, level 1, most of them in the capital city. For each 1,000 people, there are 6.2 hospital beds available. Romania makes use of approximately 2,600 ambulances, and by 2015, the government is planning on purchasing an additional 1,250 ambulances.

Romania also has a professional emergency response unit, SMURD, which operates at major emergencies. It has been created and coordinated since its inception by Raed Arafat. SMURD operates independently from the regular emergency response services, but it can be dialed and asked for by calling 112.


The Palace of Culture in Iași, built on the ruins of the Royal Court of Moldavia, hosts the largest art collection in Romania.
Constantin Brâncuși, a prominent Romanian sculptor.

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.

Arts, literature and philosophy

A unified Romanian literature began to develop 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 by the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, Romanian Transylvanian scholars along with Romanian scholars from Moldavia and Wallachia began studying in France, Italy and Germany. 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 Coșbuc, Ioan Slavici. Although not particularly renowned outside the country, these writers are widely appreciated within Romania for giving birth to modern Romanian literature. Eminescu is considered the greatest and most influential Romanian poet, particularly for the poem Luceafărul. Among other writers that rose to prominence in the second half of 19th century are Mihail Kogălniceanu, Vasile Alecsandri, Nicolae Bălcescu, Ion Luca Caragiale, and Ion Creangă.

The first half of the 20th century is regarded by many scholars as the Golden Age of Romanian culture, as it is the period when it reached its greatest level of international affirmation and enjoyed a strong connection to Western European cultural trends. Notably, figures such as Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco pioneered the anti-war Dada movement beginning with the First World War. The most prominent Romanian artist of this time, however, was sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, a central figure of the modern movement and a pioneer of abstraction. His works present a blend of 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 interwar years, Romanian literature was greatly expanded through the works of, among others, Tudor Arghezi, Mircea Eliade, Lucian Blaga, George Bacovia, Eugen Barbu and Liviu Rebreanu.

A busy market scene in Transylvania, 1818, from the Bibilioteca Academiei Române.

After the World Wars, Communism brought 'absolute' censorship and used the cultural world as well as a means to tightly control the population in addition to the much feared "Securitate" paramilitary organization, numerous formers and their informers. 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. The novelist, poet and essayist Herta Müller also received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.

Romanian contemporary cinema has achieved worldwide acclaim with the appearance of such films as The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu, 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." Also, the cinematographic drama If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle directed by Florin Șerban was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival and won the Jury Grand Prix (the Silver Bear). It should be also noted that the cinematographic production Beyond the Hills of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu won two prizes at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and it has been selected as the Romanian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.


George Enescu is generally regarded to be Romania's most prominent composer.

The first half of the 20th century saw the rise of George Enescu, Romania's greatest composer. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical composition at the age of five and became an accomplished composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher. The annual George Enescu Festival is held in Bucharest in his honour. Also active in this period was Dinu Lipatti, a pianist notable for his interpretations of Chopin, Mozart and Bach.

Some famous postwar Romanian musicians are folk artists Maria Tănase, Tudor Gheorghe, and virtuoso of the pan flute Gheorghe Zamfir, the latter having sold over 120 million albums worldwide.

Artists from Romania have recently begun to inch their way onto the international pop music scene, scoring millions of views on YouTube and selling hundreds of thousands of singles. Among the best known are Inna, Edward Maya, Akcent and Alexandra Stan.

Maya's " Stereo Love" became the first number one song in Billboard's year-end Dance Airplay chart to have reached number one three times in its chart run, while competing in a line-up that included Lady Gaga. Since the 2009 release of "Stereo Love", the Bucharest-born composer has won gold and platinum albums from Canada to Spain and toured clubs as far away as India and Pakistan.

Inna, the first European female singer to surpass one million hits on YouTube.

Inna, however, has been the most successful, having sold nearly two million singles worldwide, notably in the United States and United Kingdom. Inna has had more than 120 million views on YouTube for her hits like " Amazing", " Sun Is Up", " Hot", " 10 Minutes" or " Club Rocker" and more than five million fans on Facebook. Alexandra Stan, also a very popular singer has managed millions of views on YouTube and has won many song contests in countries like Israel, Germany or the United States. She has also put together her first album consisting of songs such as " Mr. Saxobeat". The single " Get Back (ASAP)" was awarded in Italy with Platinum Disc, for sales of over 60,000 copies, also Inna being awarded with Gold Discs in Netherlands and France.

Romania joined the Eurovision Song Contest 1994, after an unsuccessful attempt the year before. Their best result is third overall (first in the 2005 semi final) while their worst finish is in twenty-second place. Mihai Trăistariu is the Romanian singer with most international performances. His song " Tornerò" scored 172 points at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in fourth place. He has sold over 1.5 million albums in Romania and abroad. Also, Paula Seling and Ovi Martin were ranked third following the televoting stage of the 2010 contest, with 162 points.


The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest was opened in 1888.

The 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 Maramureș unique examples that combine Gothic style with traditional timber construction, the Monastery of Horezu, the citadel of Sighișoara, and the Dacian Fortresses of the Orăștie Mountains.

Peleș Castle ( Sinaia), built between 1873–1914, is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Romania and Eastern Europe. Unique architecture and gold gilded rooms attract thousands of visitors daily. Voroneț Monastery, built in 1488, is one of the most valuable foundations of Stephen the Great. Also, Unirii Square is the treasure in the heart of Cluj-Napoca, on which rises the St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, guarded by two "twin" buildings on the eastern side. Located at 29.7 km (18 mi) from Brașov, between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, Bran Castle is a major national monument and tourist landmark. Built by Saxons in the 14th century, today it hosts an art and furniture collection by Queen Marie, but is also marketed as the legendary residence of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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, was the European Capital of Culture alongside the city of Luxembourg.


Lucian Bute, a prominent Romanian boxer.
National Arena (Bucharest), finished in 2011.

Oină is a traditional Romanian sporting game continuously practiced at least since the 14th century, pursuant to chronicles and charters, first official documentary attestation dating since 1364, during the reign of Vladislav I of Wallachia. Oină is a sporting game practiced outdoors, on a rectangular field, preferably covered with grass, between two teams of eleven players. The game requires for complex sports skills and is similar to sports common in other countries, such as German Schlagball, Finnish palsepool, French jeu de paume, respectively Irish cluiche corr. Oină underlying the baseball, being borrowed from the period in which it not evolved enough, compared to contemporary period, in which oină represents an extremely complex game.

Association football is the most popular sport in Romania. The governing body is the Romanian Football Federation, which belongs to UEFA. At the international level, the Romania national football team has taken part seven times in the FIFA World Cup. It had its most successful period in the 1990s, when during the 1994 FIFA 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 București, 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 București 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 București, FC Universitatea Cluj-Napoca and FC Universitatea Craiova.

Ilie Năstase, the ATP's first number 1 tennis player.

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. His doubles and Davis Cup Partner as well as mentor, Ion Țiriac is now the most successful businessman in the country. Virginia Ruzici won the French Open in 1978, while in 1980 she was runner-up. Florența Mihai was another female tennis player from Romania who played the final of the French Open in 1977. The Romanian Open is held every fall in Bucharest since 1993.

Irina Spîrlea was number 7 in the world in the WTA and Andrei Pavel top 15 of the ATP, both in the 90s. Famous currently active players are Sorana Cîrstea, Simona Halep, Monica Niculescu, Irina Begu, Alexandra Dulgheru, Victor Hănescu and Horia Tecău.

Popular team sports are rugby union ( national rugby team has so far competed at every Rugby World Cup), basketball and handball. The Romania national handball team is a four-time world champion team, with Sweden and France (record holder), while Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea is a top team in women's handball.

Some popular individual sports are: athletics, chess, sport dance, and martial arts and other fighting sports. Fighting sports are actually popular in Romania, especially in the TV broadcastings. Famous boxers include Nicolae Linca, Francisc Vaștag, Mihai Leu, Leonard Doroftei, Adrian Diaconu and Lucian Bute, while Daniel Ghiță became the first Romanian kickboxer to qualify for the K-1 World Grand Prix Final. Famous athletes with outstanding results in this sport were: Iolanda Balaș, Lia Manoliu, Doina Melinte, Viorica Viscopoleanu, Mihaela Peneș, Argentina Menis, Ileana Silai, Anișoara Cușmir, Maricica Puică, Paula Ivan, Gabriela Szabo, Lidia Simon and lately Monica Iagăr, Marian Oprea, Mihaela Melinte or Constantina Diță-Tomescu.

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 in an Olympic event. 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, of which 21 were gold.

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. They were noted for participating in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in defiance of a Warsaw Pact boycott, finishing second in gold medals (20) and third in total medal count (53).


Painted Easter eggs.

In addition to the religious aspects, in Romania Easter symbolizes also the rebirth and the renewal of daily life. It is usual on Easter morning, after the return of villagers from churches, for children to go to neighbors' homes, to "bring wishes for luck and wealth" in exchange for a red egg. On Christmas Eve, young people carol their village homes, hosts giving in exchange nuts, sponge cakes, apples, pretzels and other delicacies. The Star boys' singing procession is a very important part of the Romanian Christmas festivity. During the week between Christmas and New Year's eve, in all villages groups of lads prepare for "bid", a complex system of customs and habits. In the evening, on the eve of the respective year which arises promising, are expected folklore dances/games: "Ursul", "Capra", "Bunghierii", "Căiuții", "Malanca", "Jienii", "Mascații" and others.

Folkloric dance group from Năsăud.

The Romanian folkloric costumes characterize own attributes of the Romanian people and contribute essentially to the definition of the ethnic specificity. Closely related to the human existence, the folkloric costumes reflect over time, as they reflect nowadays, the mentality and artistic conception of the people. The folkloric costume has been developed along the people's history, being a genuine expression of coherent traditions throughout centuries. Distinct clothing ornamentation, traditional methods used for sewing and tailoring the pieces of clothing, and a wide variety of costumes from one region to another customize the defining spirit of the Romanian people. For women, one of the most important parts of the celebration costume is a kerchief called "maramă". A "maramă" is made from a special fabric called "borangic", which resembles silk, so that the texture of the material is really nice and soft. An important aspect is its transparency, given by the weaver in which it is made. The "borangic" is obtained from silkworms' cocoons. Every woman grows the silkworms in her own yard, feeding them with mullberry leaves. After approximately 6 weeks, the worms would hide in their cocoons and the person who's in charge of them should move the cocoons into the sun so the worms die and the silk filament can be extracted. Once all the filaments are extracted, they're put into a weaver and one woman starts making the "maramă".

Also, the folklore of Romania is defined by its mythology, branch of folk literature that integrates a variety of ancestral habits, tales, fables and ballads, whose authors are anonymous. The rural character of the Romanian communities resulted in an exceptionally vital and creative traditional culture. So, in the Romanian mythology were conceived fabulous beings, unreal characters endowed with supernatural powers. These include Baba Cloanța, a misshapen and recondite witch, Iele, inconstant virgins endowed with unapproachable ability of seduction and superhuman features, Muma Pădurii, a hag that lives in deep forest, Strigoi, troubled souls of the dead rising from the graves and Făt-Frumos, a Prince-Charm hero that fights the griffons, dragons and witches to liberate his heart chosen, Ileana Cosânzeana. The words "longing" and "mourning" do have correspondents in other language, but the nonfigurative character remains undecipherable and defines the specificity of the Romanian soul. Doina, characteristic only to the Romanian literary folklore, represents the lyric creation of the Romanian language, the most varied and complex range of feelings, strongly rooted in its spiritual structure. In the Romanian folkloric tradition, "doina" was played mainly orally or accompanied by a single instrument, being the song of elegy, played for self comforting and not intended for festive events because of its sober nature.


Amandine cakes.

Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine but also includes influences from the cuisines of other neighbours, such as the Greeks ( musaca), Bulgarians ( zacuscă), Turks ( pilaf), and Hungarians ( langoși). Quite different types of dishes are sometimes included under a generic term; for example, the category ciorbă includes a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, tripe and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, sour cherry plums, vinegar, or traditionally borș (fermented wheat bran). Popular main courses include mititei, frigărui and the șnițel. One of the most common dishes is mămăliga (similar to the Italian polenta), and is served on its own or as a side dish. Pork and chicken are the preferred meats, but beef, lamb and fish are also popular.

Sarmale are prepared from minced meat (pork, beef, mutton, poultry or fish meat, especially in the Danube Delta), mixed with rice and other aliments (pap, couscous etc.) and wrapped in cabbage (fresh or sour) or vine leaves in the form of rolls. Usually, they are served with polenta and sour cream, but can be served with a spoonful of fresh butter.

The list of desserts includes names like amandine, clătite, chec(cake), cozonac, gogoși, griș cu lapte, lapte de pasăre etc. In the north-western Romania, are prepared so-called ciureghe, gomboți cu prune, pancove, plăcinte crețe, while in north-eastern Romania, the traditional desserts are chec cu vișine, tartă cu mere, alivenci moldovenești.

A bottle of țuică purchased in Timișoara.

Țuică is a strong plum brandy that is widely regarded as the country's traditional alcoholic beverage, along with the wine. Romania is the world's second largest plum producer (after the United States) and as much as 75% of Romania's plum production is processed into the famous țuică, a plum brandy obtained through one or more distillation steps reaching (but not limited to) a 70% alcohol concentration (depending on the number of steps of distillation). Alcoholic beverages are also obtained from other fruits (see rachiu, palincă and vișinată). Wine, however, is the preferred drink, and Romanian wines have a tradition of over three millennia. Romania is currently the world's 9th largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow. Romania produces a wide selection of domestic varieties ( Fetească, Grasă, Tamâioasă, Băbească), as well as varieties from across the world ( Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel). Beer is also highly regarded, like the blonde pilsener beer, the traditional methods of preparation being generally influenced by German wheat beers. There are some Romanian breweries with a long tradition, such as Timișoreana, Ursus and Azuga. Since the 19th century, beer has become increasingly popular, and today Romanians are amongst the heaviest beer drinkers in the world.

Certain recipes are made in direct connection with the season's holidays. At Christmas, each family usually sacrifices a pig and prepares a large variety of dishes from its meat and internal organs, like ( cârnați, caltaboși, chiftele, tobă, șnițele). At Easter, it is customary to sacrifice a lamb, preparing from its meat drob de miel and roast lamb with thyme, as dessert being served pască cu brânză and cozonac cu nucă.

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