About Romania

  • Located halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, Romania is the 12th largest country in Europe. Romania’s terrain is almost evenly divided between mountains, hills and plains.

  • About Romania
  • Location
  • History
  • Geography
  • Culture and Traditions

Facts and Statistics About Romania

Official Name: Romania

Location: (Southeastern) Central Europe

Time Zone: Seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT + 2)

Area: 92,043 sq. miles (238,391 sq. km) – a little larger than the state of Minnesota flag of romania Flag of Romania: Three vertical stripes: red, yellow and blue.

Population: 19,942,000 (March 2014)

Largest cities: Bucharest (1,883,400), Iasi (322,000), Cluj Napoca (309,000), Timisoara (303,000), Constanta (298,000), Craiova (295,000), Galati (286,000), Brasov (275,000), Ploiesti (224,000), Braila (205,000), Oradea (196,400). Romania’s population lives in 320 cities and towns and 12,956 villages.

Main Ethnic Groups: Romanian 84%, Hungarian 6.1%, Gipsy 3.1%, German 0.2%, Ukrainian 0.2%

Religions: Christian Orthodox 81%, Roman Catholic 4.3%, Reformed 3%, Greek-Catholic 0.7%, Unitarian 0.3%, Jewish, other.

Official Language: Romanian

Currency: Leu (RON) ( plural Lei )

Climate: Temperate, four distinct seasons, similar to northeastern USA.

Capital: Bucharest (București)

Form of State: Romania is a semi-presidential democracy based on a bicameral Parliament.

Legal system: Based on European models and Constitution of 1991.

Regional Government: Forty-one County Councils (Consiliu Judeţean).

Romania is a member state of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Location

Romania is situated in the southeastern part of Central Europe and shares borders with Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, the Black Sea to the southeast, Ukraine to the east and to the north and the Republic of Moldova to the east. Roughly the size of Oregon, Romania is the second largest country in the area, after Poland.

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Geographical location of Romania: between latitudes 43°37’07″ and 48°15’06″ North and longitudes 20°15’44″ and 29°41’24″ East. Romania extends approximately 300 miles North to South and 400 miles East to West.

Bucharest — the capital city of Romania — is located at the same latitude with the cities of Portland – Oregon; Montreal – Canada; Venice – Italy; and Bordeaux – France.

Romania’s territory features splendid mountains, beautiful rolling hills, fertile plains and numerous rivers and lakes: The Carpathian Mountains traverse the centre of the country bordered on both sides by foothills and finally the great plains of the outer rim. Forests cover over one quarter of the country and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe including bears, deer, lynx, chamois and wolves. The legendary Danube River ends its eight-country journey at the Black Sea, after forming one of the largest and most biodiverse wetlands in the world, the Danube Delta.

About a third of the country consists of the Carpathian Mountains (also known as the Transylvanian Alps). Another third is hills and plateaus, rich with orchards and vineyards. The final third is a fertile plain, largely devoted to agriculture.

Physical features

  • Mountains: 31% of Romania’s territory
  • Hills and orchards: 36%
  • Plains: 33%
  • Areas covered by rivers and lakes: 3.7%
  • Total number of lakes: 3,500
  • Lakes greater than 250 acres: 300
  • Highest mountain peak: Moldoveanu Mt. — 8,349 ft. (2544 m.)

Romania’s History

Romania’s history has not been as idyllically peaceful as its geography. Over the centuries, various migrating people invaded Romania. Romania’s historical provinces Wallachia and Moldova offered furious resistance to the invading Ottoman Turks. Transylvania was successively under Habsburg, Ottoman, Hungarian or Wallachian rule, while remaining an (semi) autonomous province.

Romania’s post WWII history as a communist-block nation is more widely known, primarily due to the excesses of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. In December 1989 a national uprising led to his overthrow. The 1991 Constitution established Romania as a republic with a multiparty system, market economy and individual rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.

Some of the history that has shaped Romania What is now Romania has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age as evidenced by carved stone tools unearthed there.

10,000 B.C. Approximate date of the first known art in present day Romania: cave paintings in northwest Transylvania.

4,000 B.C. Approximate date of pottery (dated to the Neolithic Age) that is found in all regions of Romania.

3,000 B.C. Thracian tribes of Indo-European origin, who migrated from Asia, occupied the actual territory of Romania.

2,000 B.C. A distinctive Thracian sub-group emerged in what is now Romania. The Greeks called these people Getae, but to the Romans they were Dacians. Herodotus called them “the fairest and most courageous of men” because they believed in the immortality of the soul and were not afraid to die.

700 B.C. Greeks arrived and settled near the Black Sea. The cities of Histria, Tomis (now Constanta) and Callatis (now Mangalia) were established. Western-style civilization developed significantly.

70-44 B.C. Dacian king Burebista controlled the territory of modern-day Romania. Burebista created a powerful Dacian kingdom.

100 A.D. Dacian civilization reaches its peak.

“The Dacians had a civilization of which they could be proud. Their lands were rich in minerals, and they acquired great skill in metalworking. They traded with the Greek world, importing pottery, olive oil, and wine, and may have engaged in slave dealing. Compared with their neighbors they enjoyed a high standard of living, as well as a rich spiritual life. Military, the Dacians were less advanced. Unlike the Roman legions, they did not field a standing army, although there was a warrior class, the comati, or ‘long-haired ones’. ” (attribution: Anthony Everitt, Hadrian and the triumph of Rome).

106 A.D. Romans conquer and colonize Dacia (modern-today Romania).

106 – 274 A.D. Dacia is a province of the Roman Empire. Dacians gradually adopt numerous elements of the conquerors’ language.

271 A.D. After fighting off the barbarian Goths, most Roman troops abandon Dacia.

4th Century Christianity is adopted by the Daco-Roman, Latin-speaking people. Both “Byzantine Empire” and “Eastern Roman Empire” are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Basileia Rhõmaiõn; Latin: Imperium Romanum or Romania) and to themselves as “Romans”.

4th – 9th Centuries Nomadic tribes from Asia and Europe (Goths, Visigoths, Huns, Slavs) invade Dacia.

896 — late 1100s Magyars (Hungarians) invade regions in western and central present-day Romania (Crisana, Banat and Transylvania). The local population — Romanians – were the only Latin people in the eastern part of the former Roman Empire and the only Latin people to belong to the Orthodox faith. The oldest extant Hungarian chronicle, “Gesta Hungarorum” or The Deeds of the Hungarians, (based on older chronicles) documents the battles between the local population (lead by six local rulers) in Transylvania and the invading Magyars.

12th Century Saxon (German) settlers begin to establish several towns in Transylvania. (Germans were invited to settle in Transylvania by the king of Hungary who wanted to consolidate his position in the newly occupied territory). Szeklers people – descendants from Attila’s Huns – were also brought to eastern and southeastern Transylvania as border guards.

13th Century The first formal division of the formerly unified Romanian population. The principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania are established. Transylvania becomes an autonomous principality under Magyar rule, until 1526. Magyar forces tried unsuccessfully to capture Wallachia and Moldavia.

14th-15th Centuries Wallachia and Moldavia offered resistance to the Ottoman Empire expansion.

1526 Transylvania (a semi-autonomous principality) becomes subject to Ottoman (Turkish) authority.

16th-17th Century Threatened by the Turks who conquered Hungary, the three Romanian provinces of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania are able to retain their autonomy by paying tribute to the Turks.   The principality of Transylvania prospered as a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.

1600 Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania are briefly united under Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave), prince of Wallachia. Unity lasted only one year after which, Michael the Brave was defeated by the Turks and Hapsburg forces. Transylvania came under Hapsburg rule while Turkish suzerainty continued in Wallachia and Moldavia.

1699 Transylvania and Bucovina (smaller region north of Moldavia) are incorporated in the Habsburg Empire.

1765 Transylvania was declared a Grand Principality of Transylvania, further consolidating its special separate status within the Habsburg Empire.

1821 Moldavia looses its eastern territory east of river Prut (also called Bessarabia) to Russia.

1859 Alexandru Ioan Cuza is elected to the thrones of Moldavia and Wallachia. Wallachia and Moldavia unite to form a national state: Romania.

1866 Carol I (German born) succeeds Alexandru Ioan Cuza, as prince of Romania.

1877 On May 9 the Romanian parliament declared the independence of Romania from the Ottoman Empire. A day later, the act was signed by Prince Carol I.

1881 Kingdom of Romania officially proclaimed.

1914 King Carol I dies. He is succeeded by his nephew King Ferdinand I (1914-1927). Romania enters WWI on the side of the Triple Entente aiming to regain its lost territories (part of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina).

1918 During large public assemblies representatives of most towns, villages and local communities in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bucovina declare union with Romania.

1930 Carol II, Ferdinand’s I son, becomes king of Romania and establishes royal dictatorship.

1940 The Soviet Union annexes Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina. Germany and Italy force Romania to cede Northern Transylvania to Hungary and Southern Dobrogea to Bulgaria. Widespread demonstrations against King Carol II. Marshall Ion Antonescu forces him to abdicate in favor of his 19-year-old son Michael. Carol II flees Romania.

1941 Marshall Ion Antonescu imposes a military dictatorship. In order to regain Bessarabia, Romania enters WWII against the Soviet Union.

1944 King Michael engineers a royal coup and arrests Marshall Ion Antonescu. Romania surrenders, reenters war on Allied side. .

1945 The Yalta Agreement makes Romania part of the Soviet system. Communist-dominated government installed.

1947 With Soviet troops on its territory, Romania enters the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. The communists, who gradually took power, force King Michael to abdicate and proclaim Romania a People’s Republic.

1964 Declaration of autonomy within Communist Bloc.

1968 Condemnation of Soviet-led Warsaw Pacy invasion of in Czechoslovakia by Romania’s communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, earns him praise and economic aid from the West.

1974 Romania was the first country of the Soviet Bloc to have official relations with the European Community. (a treaty included Romania in the Community’s Generalized System of Preferences).

1989 Romanians unite in protests against the communist leadership and local demonstrations sparked a national uprising that finally ousted communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu and his cabinet.

2004 Romania joins NATO.

2007 Romania becomes a member of the European Union.

Geography

Romania is in southeastern Europe at the north end of the Balkan peninsula, bordering Ukraine and Moldova to the north, Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The land area is 91,699 square miles (237,500 square kilometers). The Carpathian Mountains cover about one-third of the country; they surround the Transylvanian Plateau and divide it from the other two main regions: Moldavia in the northeast and Walachia in the south. The Transylvanian Alps in the central region contain the highest peak, Mount Moldoveanu. The eastern and southern regions are characterized by rolling plains.

The Carpathian Mountains

Although not as high as the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains extend over 600 miles in Romania, in the shape of an arch. They are divided into three major ranges: the Eastern (Oriental) Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians (also known as the Transylvanian Alps), and the Western Carpathians. Each of these ranges feature a variety of landscapes, due to the different types of terrain (glacial, karstic, structural, and volcanic).

Romania’s mountains are a great destination for numerous outdoor activities including: climbing, hiking, biking and river-rafting.

The Danube Delta

Danube River ends its journey of almost 1864 miles through Europe in south-eastern Romania. Here the river divides into 3 frayed branches (Chilia, Sulina, Sfântu Gheorghe) forming the Danube Delta. It is the newest land in the country, with beaches expanding almost 65 feet into the sea every year. Overall, the delta is a triangular swampy area of marshes, floating reed islands and sandbanks. It is a UNESCO Biosphere Reservation as well as a protected wetland and natural habitat for rare species of plants and animals.

The Black Sea

The Romanian Black Sea Coast stretches a little over 150 miles. The Black Sea is a continental sea, with a low tide and salinity and water temperatures of 77 – 79˚F in the summertime.  Its wide, sandy beaches facing east and south-east become a major tourist attraction from May until September.

Rivers

98% of the Romania’s rivers spring from the Carpathian Mountains. The upper streams are usually more spectacular, featuring numerous gorges, caves and precipices.

The main rivers in Romania are Mures (473 miles on Romania’s territory), Prut (461 miles on Romania’s territory), Olt (382 miles), Siret (347 miles on Romania’s territory), Ialomita (259 miles), Somes (233 miles on Romania’s territory) and Arges (217 miles).

Europe’s second longest river, the Danube, flows through southern Romania forming part of the country’s frontier with Serbia, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Its blue waters run along 621 miles, from Bazias to the Black Sea.

Lakes

There are around 3,500 lakes in Romania, most of them small or medium. The largest are the lagoons and coastal lakes on the Black Sea shore, such as Razim (164 sq. miles) and Sinoe (66 sq. miles), or lakes along the Danube bank – Oltina (8.5 sq. miles); Brates (8.1 sq. miles).

Formed at the end of the last Ice Age, the glacial lakes in the Carpathian Mountains are small, but spectacular. Worth mentioning are the glacial lakes in the Retezat Mountains: Zanoaga, the deepest lake in the country (95 feet) and Bucura, the largest (24.7 acres) as well as the lakes located in the Transylvanian Alps (Balea, Capra, Caltun, Podragu).

Lake St. Ana, located in Ciomatu Mare Massif, near Tusnad is the only volcanic lake in Romania, sheltered in a perfectly preserved crater and surrounded by vast fir-tree forests. The lake is solely fed by rain. Therefore, its waters are nearly as pure as distilled water.

The Red Lake (elevation 3,215 feet), located in the Hasmas Massif, near Bicaz Gorges, is unique in shape and landscape. It is a natural dam lake created in 1837 after a major landslide. The name “Lacul Rosu” (Red Lake) comes from the reddish alluvia deposited by its main tributary.

Flora and fauna

Due to its varied terrain and climate Romania has a diverse flora and fauna. Over 3,700 species of plants and 33,792 species of animals can be found in Romania.   Oak, beech, elm, ash, maple and linden made up 71 percent of Romania’s forests while conifers (fir, spruce, pine and larch) account for the remaining 29 percent.

Climate

Due to its varied terrain and climate Romania has a diverse flora and fauna. Over 3,700 species of plants and 33,792 species of animals can be found in Romania.   Oak, beech, elm, ash, maple and linden made up 71 percent of Romania’s forests while conifers (fir, spruce, pine and larch) account for the remaining 29 percent.

Romania has a temperate climate, similar to the northeastern United States, with four distinct seasons.

Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days.

Summer is quite warm, with extended sunny days. The hottest areas in summer are the lowlands in southern and eastern Romania where 100 F is often reached in July and August. Temperatures are always cooler in the mountains.

Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage, much like New England.

Winters can be cold, especially in the mountains. While not the rule, abundant snowfalls may occur throughout the country, from December to mid-March.

There are significant regional differences of the climate between different regions of Romania.

Culture and Traditions

Romanian culture sets itself apart from other cultures in the East European region just as it shares some elements with them. Romania’s Dracula legend and its Dacian history are two examples of how Romania’s culture is unique. On the other hand, Romania’s Easter egg traditions and its folk costumes bear some similarities with those of nearby countries. Learn more about Romanian culture in the following articles.

Ceramics

Romanian pottery is still made mainly on traditional kick-wheels with simple finishing tools. Shapes, sizes and patterns reflect the different clays and cultures of diverse areas where are produced. Color glazes and decorations vary from strong geometrics, to delicate florals, animals and humans.

Masks

Masks are linked to folk festivals held predominantly in Maramures and Moldavia. Typically made from the hides of sheep, goats or cows, the masks are adorned with fabric, hats, pompoms, metallic bits, feathers, beans, straw and animal horns to represent bears and goats, they’re traditionally worn to welcome in the New Year during a couple weeks in December and early January.

Painted Eggs

The most readily recognizable examples of Romanian art are the famed painted eggs, especially prominent around Easter time. Painting of real hollowed-out eggs was an integral part of preparations for this festival of renewal. Women and children gathered in someone’s home and spent a day painting and gossiping. Intricate patterns were actually secret languages known only to residents of the regions where they were painted. The oldest known were painted with aqua fortis (nitric acid) on a traditional red background. They’re available in nearly all shops and street markets.

Dracula Legend

Some say that Transylvania sits on one of Earth’s strongest magnetic fields and its people have extra-sensory perception. Vampires are believed to hang around crossroads on St. George’s Day, April 23, and the eve of St. Andrew, November 29. The area is also home to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and it’s easy to get caught up in the tale while driving along winding roads through dense, dark, ancient forests and over mountain passes.

Dracula is literally translated in Gaelic as Drac Ullah meaning bad blood.

Tales of the supernatural had been circulating in Romanian folklore for centuries when Irish writer Bram Stoker picked up the thread and spun it into a golden tale of ghoulishness that has never been out of print since its first publication in 1897. To research his immortal tale, Stoker immersed himself in the history, lore and legends of Transylvania, which he called a “whirlpool for the imagination.”

Count Dracula, a fictional character in the Dracula novel, was inspired by one of the best-known figures of Romanian history, Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who was the ruler of Walachia at various times from 1456-1462. Born in 1431 in Sighisoara, he resided all his adult life in Walachia, except for periods of imprisonment at Pest and Visegrad (in Hungary). For more information about Bram Stocker’s Dracula Novel please visit www.literature.org/authors/stoker-bram/dracula/