views updated May 23 2018



237,500sq km (91,699sq mi) 21,698,181

capital (population):

Bucharest (2,016,131)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Romanian 89%, Hungarian 7%, Romany (Gypsy) 2%


Romanian (official)


Romanian Orthodox 70%, Roman Catholic 3%, Uniate Catholic 3%, Protestant 6%


Romanian leu = 100 bani

Balkan republic in se Europe. The Balkan republic of Romania is dominated by a central plateau. The Carpathian Mountains run in a horseshoe-shape from n to sw, framing the region of Transylvania. Eastern and s Romania form part of the Danube river basin – the site of the capital, Bucharest. The Danube's delta, near the Black Sea, is one of Europe's most important wetlands. The port of Constant̨a lies on the Black Sea coast. In the extreme w lowlands lies the city of Timişoara.

Climate and Vegetation

Romania has hot, dry summers and cold winters. It is one of the sunniest places in Europe, with more than 2000 hours of sunshine every year. Arable land accounts for c.66% of Romanian land use. Forests cover 28%.

History and politics

Modern Romania roughly corresponds to ancient Dacia, conquered by the Romans in ad 106. The Dacians assimilated Roman culture and language, and the region became known as Romania. The principalities of Wallachia (s) and Moldavia (e) emerged in the 14th century. Initially, the princes retained local autonomy but by the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire dominated Romania. In the late 18th century, the Empire began to break up.

Russia captured Moldavia and Wallachia in the Russo-Turkish War (1828–29). Romanian nationalism intensified and the two provinces united in 1861. The Congress of Berlin (1878) ratified Romania as an independent state, and in 1881 Carol I became king.

Neutral at the start of World War I, Romania joined the Allies in 1916, but German forces occupied it in 1917. The Allied victory led to Romania acquiring large regions, such as Transylvania. Michael became king in 1927, but surrendered the throne to his father, Carol II, in 1930. Political instability and economic inequality led to the growth of fascism and anti-Semitism. At the start of World War II, Romania lost territory to Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Soviet Union. In 1940, Michael returned as king. Ion Antonescu became dictator and, in June 1941, Romania joined the German invasion of the Soviet Union. More than 50% of Romanian Jews were exterminated during World War II.

In 1944, Soviet troops occupied Romania: Antonescu was overthrown and Romania surrendered. In 1945, a communist-dominated coalition assumed power, led by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. In 1947, Romania became a People's Republic. In 1952, Romania adopted a Soviet-style constitution. Industry was nationalized and agriculture collectivized. In 1949, Romania joined the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), and in 1955 it became a member of the Warsaw Pact. In 1965, Gheorghiu-Dej was succeeded by Nicolae Ceauşescu. Rapid industrialization and political repression continued.

In December 1989, Ceauşescu and his wife were executed. Ion Iliescu, a former communist official, led a provisional government. The National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu, won a large majority at elections in May 1990. A new constitution was approved in 1991, and Ion Iliescu re-elected in 1992. In 1994, economic crisis forced the Social Democracy Party of Romania (PDSR) into a coalition with the nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR). In 1995, Romania applied to join the European Union. In 1996 elections, Emil Constantinescu and his centre-right coalition defeated Iliescu. In 1999 and 2000, there was a series of strikes and protests over the pace and direction of economic reforms. Iliescu was re-elected in 2000. In 2003, Romanians voted in favour of a new constitution.


Communism's concentration on heavy industry devastated Romania's economy (2000 GDP per capita, US$5900). Today, industry accounts for 40% of GDP. Oil, natural gas, and antimony are the main mineral resources. Agriculture employs 29% of the workforce and constitutes 20% of GDP. Romania is the world's second-largest producer of plums. It is the world's ninth-largest producer of wine. Other crops include maize and cabbages. Economic reform is slow. Unemployment and foreign debt remain high.

Political map

Physical map