COUNTRY NAME – România (romanian spelling)
– Rumänien (GERMAN)
– Roumanie (FRENCH)
– Rumania (SPANISH)
– Romenia (PORTUGUESE)
Where is it located?
Romania is located in Eastern Europe, on border with Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Moldova. It has opening to the sea through the Black Sea shore.
Geography and natural resources
Romania’s landscape is composed of the Carpathian mountains chain from North all across Central Romania; in S-E Romania is the Romanian (Vallachian) plain and the opening to the Black Sea. The Danube river flows all throughout the south, where it forms the natural border with Serbia and Bulgaria. The river flows into the Black Sea, forming the Danube Delta.
The plains of south-eastern Romania are part of the world’s two Chernozem belts. A chernozem belt is a large stretch of land made up of black topsoil – the world’s most fertile soil and the best for agriculture. Romania’s plains belong to the Eastern European belt, the second one being found in the Canadian Prairies (for more click here).
The mountains have rugged terrain improper for large-scale farming but suitable for vineyards, orchards and pasturage. They are rich in minerals, precious metals (gold, silver) and a high concentration of rare metals. Metallic ores include iron, chrome, nickel, aluminum, zinc etc. Other natural resources are oil, natural gas, coal, copper, uranium.
The Black Sea also has significant reserves of oil and gas. In 2000, the World Bank requested and signed a memorandum for the privatization of all energy companies. In 2004, the Austrian company OMV bought Romanian oil/gas company Petrom at half price after a faulty evaluation (source). Despite its rich annual production, Romania remains a major oil importer; the national oil/gas production is under the almost exclusive control of OMV.
Official statistics from INS:
Total – approx. 20.120.000 citizens.
Ethnic groups: 88% Romanians, 7% Hungarians; 4% Gypsies.
Other minorities (all counting below 5%):
– Lipovans (Russian old believers) in Dobrogea, near and around Danube Delta; settled here to escape religious oppression in Tsarist Russia.
– Turks and Crimean Tatars – in Dobrogea along the Black Sea coast. They represent Romania’s small Muslim community; arrived here during the Ottoman empire occupation (Dobrogea was the only region fully incorporated into the empire, hence the presence of Turks/ Tatars only in S-E Romania). Many immigrated to Turkey after the Ottoman empire dissolved in 1922.
Saxons (Germans) were invited to to colonize central Transylvania in the XIII century in exchange for privileges, reflected in the Unio Trium Nationum agreement. The agreement excluded rights for the Romanian peasantry. From 1848 onwards, Saxons supported Romanians in their fight for rights.
Before the secret Hitler-Stalin pact (through which the Soviet Union received the green light from Hitler to annex parts of Romania), the Nazis resettled Germans from occupied areas to “safe” regions outside Romania in order to protect them from the secretly-agreed occupation. Mass deportations, executions and other abuses took place after the 1940 Soviet invasion of eastern Romania. The remaining Germans joined the SS troops. After WWII, Germans were forcefully expelled by the Allies from Transylvania and all of Eastern Europe.
– Jews – before the Union of the Romanian Principalities in 1859, the Romanian principalities had little Jewish population. After the Union, whose conditions imposed by Western Powers included full rights and privileges for Jews, the Jewish population grew rapidly after scores of Jews entered from Russia and Western Europe. Educated in the West, the Jews represented a key factor in enabling a market economy in the new Romanian state, hence their guaranteed privileges and protection from foreign consulates. They quickly formed a middle class in the cities. After WW2, significant numbers of Jews emigrated to Israel and the US up until the early 1960’s when their numbers decreased.
Other minorities found in Romania – Serbians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians and the Slovaks. The Greeks also represented a notable minority (as traditional traders), however in modern-day Romania it has decreased to insignificant numbers.
Historic principalities and regions of Romania
Romania was divided into 3 historic principalities: Transylvania, Vallachia (Tara Romaneasca) and Moldavia (Moldova). The principalities had a Romanian ethnic majority who shared the same language, culture, traditions and religion. Their union was made difficult by neighboring empires (Austro-Hungary, Ottoman, Russian empires), each of them with their own territorial ambitions. Prince Michael the Brave achieved the first union of the 3 principalities in year 1600, but he was soon assassinated at the order of Habsburgian Emperor Rudolf, and the union was dissolved.
After WWII, Bessarabia and northern Bukovina were occupied by the Soviets after Hitler-Stalin secret agreement on territorial divisions in a secret pact. The northern half of Bucovina was incorporated into Soviet Ukraine. Though Romania liberated the regions during WW2, they were eventually defeated. Today, Bessarabia is the neighboring country of Moldova.
Romanian, an eastern Romance (Latin) language, is the official language. Romania has an uniform language without dialects on its territory, the only variations being found in accents and local borrowings. The dialects spoken outside Romania are Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian, used by populations who migrated to the Balkans.
The prevalent minority language is Hungarian (in Transylvania).
*In neighboring Moldova, Romanian also represents the official language.
Slavic influences in Romanian occurred in the early Middle Ages, when Old Church Slavonic was introduced from the Byzantine empire to convert the local population to Orthodox Christianity. Old Church Slavonic was used in liturgy and public administration until the 17th century, after deacon Coresi published the first Romanian book in the 16th century.
Romanians are traditionally Christian-Orthodox. The ancient Getae-Dacians were pagan believers who worshiped gods from the Thracian mythology.
The first signs of Christianity in present-day Romania appeared in Luana’s Land in the 3rd-4rd century, when Christian missionaries first entered Europe. The population was fully converted to Orthodox Christianity in the early Middle Ages when the population adopted Old Church Slavonic liturgy from neighboring Bulgaria, through which numerous Slavic linguistical influences occurred. Old Church Slavonic was used in church and public administration until the 17th century, when it was replaced by Romanian.
Orthodox Christianity was inherited from the Byzantine Empire before Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Eastern Byzantine architecture originated in Constantinople can be found all throughout Romania.
Other religious denominations found in Romania are: Roman-Catholic (Hungarians), Protestant (Saxons) and Muslim (Turks/ Crimean Tatars).
Broadcast media – PRO TV Group is the broadcast media market leader. It was founded by Ronald Lauder in 1995, who has developed major media broadcasters throughout all of Central and Eastern Europe after 1990.
National currency – Romanian Leu (abbreviation: RON ). Romania does not use the Euro, although certain hotels/ restaurants may accept it.
Natural hazards: earthquakes are common in the non-mountainous area (south-east Romania) but strong earthquakes are rare. The last significant earthquakes with major loss of life took place in 1940 and 1977.