Romania (formerly spelled Rumania or Roumania; Romanian: România) is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Ukraine and Moldova in the northeast, Hungary in the west and Serbia and Bulgaria to the south along the Danube river. Romania has a stretch of sea coast on the Black Sea and the eastern and southern Carpathians mountains run through its center.
The name of Romania (correctly spelled România) comes from Român (which means "Romanian" in the Romanian language, being a derivate of the word "Roman" from Latin). "Ţara Românească" (The Romanian Country) was also the alternate name of Wallachia in Romanian.
Main article: History of Romania
The tribal confederation of the Getae were encountered by Darius in his campaign in the Balkans in 513 BC. The Dacians were defeated by the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan in two campaigns stretching from 101 to 106, and the core of their kingdom became the Roman province of Dacia. The Gothic and Carpic campaigns in the Balkans during 238 - 256 forced the Roman Empire to reorganize a new roman province of Dacia south of Danube inside former Moesia Superior, in 271 the ancient Dacia becoming the kingdom of the Goths until the end of the fourth century when it was included in the Hunnic Empire. The Gepids and the Avars ruled Transylvania until eighth century, thence the Bulgars included Romania in their Empire until 1000. The Pechenegs, the Cumans and Uzes were also mentioned by historic chronicles on the territory of Romania until the founding of the Valachian principalities of Wallachia by Basarab I, and Moldavia by Dragos during the 14th century. In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania.
Wallachia and Moldavia came under the suzeranity of the Ottoman Empire during 15th and 16th century respectively, with internal autonomy under the millet system, and brief periods of independence, Moldavia losing its eastern side Bessarabia to the Russian Empire in 1812 (though partially regained in the Treaty of Paris in 1856), its northern part Bukovina to the Austrian Empire in 1775 and its south-eastern part Bugeac to the Ottoman Empire.
Transylvania came under Kingdom of Hungary's control by 12th century (since 1301 Hungary and Transylvania became possesions of House of Anjou, of Habsburg, and of Holy Roman Empire), becoming a Principality under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire in 1526, following the Battle of Mohacs. At the end of the 18th century, the Austrian Empire (since 1867 Austria-Hungary) included Transylvania inside its borders.
The modern Romania was formed by the merging of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1859 under the Domnitor Alexandru Ioan Cuza, replaced by a Hohenzollern dynasty in 1866, and independence and status as a Kingdom were recognised by the Great Powers in 1878 following the Rusian-Ottoman War in which Romania fought on the Russian side. At that time, and contrary to a treaty, Russia once again seized the two districts of Bessarabia that had been regained by Moldova after the Crimean War 1852. At the end of the WW I which brought the disintegration of the empires of Russia and Austro-Hungary and the rise of Bolshevism in Hungary and Russia, Transylvania and Bessarabia opted for a Union with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918.
In 1940, at the beginning of WW II, northern Bukovina and Bessarabia, Northern Transylvania, and southern Dobrudja were occupied by the Soviet Union, Hungary and Bulgaria respectively, Romania being under the dictatorship of Carol II. In 1940 Carol II abdicated, Romania joined Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria recovering Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Union and taking part in the invasion of the later. In August 1944 Romania turned against Germany and joined the Red Army, but its role in the defeating of Germany was not recognised by the 1946 Treaty of Paris. In 1947 king Michael I Hohenzollern abdicated, and Romania became a communist state - under direct military and economic control of the USSR until 1958.
The decades-long reign of Nicolae Ceauşescu ended in late 1989 (see Romanian Revolution of 1989), and the elections of 1990 were won by FSN, part of which, now reformed as the Social Democrats continued to be present in the democratically elected government until 1996 when CDR, a center-right coalition took power for one term. After repudiating their 'Contract With Romania' platform which would have required the CDR to resign en masse after 200 days from a mixed coalition government (some members had signed on to the contract program while others had not), the major CDR parties were electorally eviscerated in 2000 and the Social Democrats returned to power. The leader of the Democratic Party, who split from FSN in 1996, Traian Băsescu was elected President on December 12, 2004, and took office December 20. Traian Băsescu managed to form a government around his own political party, the Truth and Justice Alliance (Alianta Dreptate si Adevar), by appointing Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu. The Alliance formed a government with the Romanian Humanist Party (Partidul Umanist Roman), which was formerly allied to the Social Democrats, but switched sides, and an ethnic minority rights party, the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (Uniunea Democrata a Maghiarilor din Romania), which has participated in government since 1996.
Following the end of the Cold War in 1989, Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, joined NATO in 2004 and it became an acceding country to the European Union, hoping to join on January 1, 2007.
See also: Kings of Romania, Bessarabia, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania
Main article: Politics of Romania
Romania is a democratic republic. The legislative branch of the Romanian government consists of two chambers, the Senat (Senate), which has 137 members (as of 2004), and the Camera Deputaţilor (Chamber of Deputies), which has 332 members (as of 2004). The members of both chambers are chosen in elections held every four years.
The president, the head of the executive branch, is also elected by popular vote, every five years (until 2004 - four years). The president appoints a prime minister, who heads the government, the members of which are in turn appointed by the prime minister. The government is subject to a parliamentary vote of approval.
Main article: Counties of Romania
Romania is divided into 41 judeţe, or counties, and the municipality of Bucharest (Bucureşti) - the capital.
The counties are (in alphabetical order):
Map of Romania with cities
Main article: Geography of Romania
A large part of Romania's borders with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube. The Danube is joined by the Prut River, which forms the border with Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea forming the Danube Delta which is a reservation of the Biosphere.
The Carpathian Mountains dominate the center of Romania surrounding the Transylvanian Plateau, with peaks up to 2,500 m, the highest, Moldoveanu, reaching 2,544 m. In the south, the Carpathians sweaten into hills, towards the Bărăgan plains.
Major cities are the capital Bucharest, Braşov, Timişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Constanţa, Craiova, and Iaşi.
Main article: Economy of Romania
After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989-91, Romania was left with an obsolete industrial base and a pattern of industrial capacity wholly unsuited to its needs. In February 1997, it embarked on a comprehensive macroeconomic stabilisation and structural reform programme, but reform subsequently has been a frustrating stop-and-go process. Restructuring programs include liquidating large energy-intensive industries and major agricultural and financial sector reforms.
Romania's lagging and unstable economy of the 1990s has been transformed into one with macroeconomic stability, high growth and low unemployment, although a high inflation rate of 9.2% (as of 2004) remains a problem. 2002 and 2003 were successful economic years, and currently GDP growth is forecast at 5.5% per annum. The economy grew by 8.3% in 2004, the fastest growth in the post-Communist era. Foreign direct investments reached EUR 4,1 billion in 2004. Romania was granted in October 2004 the much desired 'functional market economy' status by EU officials. Romania is expected to join the EU in 2007.
In January 2005, Romania's new Tăriceanu government imposed major fiscal reforms, replacing Romania's progressive tax system with a 16% flat tax on both personal income and company profit. Romania now has one of the most liberal taxation systems in Europe, and this, along with increased foreign investment, is expected to boost economic growth in the coming years, as well as lower corruption and bring to light the grey economy.
The average gross wage per month in Romania is 9,514,658 lei as of January 2005, a decrease of 5.2% over the previous month. This equates to 265.03 euro, US$353.70. The average net salary per month in January 2005 was 7,233,398 lei/723,33 RON (201,03 EUR), an increase of 5,2%, over the previous month.
Unemployment in Romania is at 6.0% (march 2005), which is very low compared to other large European countries such as Poland, France or Germany.
Despite the improvements in macroeconomics, privatisation and fiscal policy of the last few years, corruption remains a major problem at all levels and threatens to stifle economic growth. Additionally, lack of transparency in public spending and lack of competitivity in the agricultural sector remain problems.
Romania's legal tender is the LEU (plural LEI). On 1 July 2005, the leu will be subject to redenomination so that 10,000 old lei, in circulation on that date, shall be exchanged for 1 new leu. The existing banknotes and coins, i.e. the old lei, will be legal tender until end-December 2006. By 31 December 2006, the existing banknotes and coins, i.e. the old lei, are to be replaced gradually by the new banknotes and coins. The ISO code for the old currency, ROL (Romanian Leu) will be replaced with RON (Romanian New). The process will prepare Romania on euro-adoption. The new currency is expected to be used for a few years only, before Romania, a European Union candidate, will adopt the Euro as legal tender (expected by 2012).
Main article: Demographics of Romania
Ethnic groups (2002 est.):
Religions (2002 est.):
The official language is Romanian, a Romance language of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, which are also called Romanic, and are spoken by about 670 million people in many parts of the world, but mainly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
Sizeable minorities of Hungarian and German descent, mostly in Transylvania, also speak Hungarian and German. Other ethnic groups include Rroma and natives of Romania's neighbouring countries. There are also some other like Polish minority (numbering a few thousand people) living in Suceava County.
The true size of the Rroma population is unknown because it is undercounted in national censuses (for various reasons, some Rroma choose to declare themselves as Romanians or Hungarians; usually the criterion is based on a terse individual population count). The Rroma people are commonly known in Romania as ţigani (tsigany).
Most Romanians are members of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which is one of the churches of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Catholicism (both Roman Catholic and Romanian Catholic) and Protestantism are also represented, mostly in the areas inhabited by population closer to western influence.
In Dobrogea, the region lying on the shore of the Black Sea, there is a small Muslim minority (of Turkish and Tatar ethnicity), a remnant of the Ottoman rule and migrations from Crimea, respectively.
Main article: Culture of Romania