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CAPITAL: Bucharest (Bucuresti)

FLAG: The national flag, adopted in 1965, is a tricolor of blue, yellow, and red vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: Trei culori (three Colors).

MONETARY UNIT: The leu (l) is a paper currency of 100 bani. There are coins of 25 bani and 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 lei, and notes of 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 lei. l1 = $0.00003 (or $1 = l28800) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; International Labor Day, 12 May; Liberation Day, 23 August; National Day, 1 December; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


Situated in Eastern Europe, north of the Balkan Peninsula, Romania has a total area of 237,500 sq km (91,699 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Romania is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. The dimensions of the country are 789 km (490 mi) ew and 475 km (295 mi) ns. It is bounded on the n and ne by Ukraine and Moldova, on the e by the Black Sea, on the s by Bulgaria, on the sw by Serbia, and on the w by Hungary, with a total boundary length of 2,733 km (1,698 mi), of which 225 km (140 mi) is coastline. Romania's capital city, Bucharest, is located in the south central part of the country.


The backbone of Romania is formed by the Carpathian Mountains, which swing southeastward and then westward through the country. The southern limb of this arc-shaped system is known as the Transylvanian Alps, whose compact, rugged peaks rise to 2,543 m (8,343 ft) in Mt. Moldoveanu, Romania's highest. the eastern Carpathians have an average elevation of 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and exceed 1,900 m (6,200 ft) only in the highest ranges.

On the eastern and southern fringes of the Carpathian arc are the low plateaus and plains of Walachia, extending to the Prut River (Moldovan border) in the east and to the Danube (Bulgarian border) in the south. On the inside of the Carpathian arc is the Transylvanian Basin, a hilly region dissected by the wide, deep valleys of the Mures and Somes rivers.

The Dobruja, located between the lower Danube and the Black Sea, is an eroded plateau with average elevations of 400 to 600 m (1,3101,970 ft). Except for the low-lying, swampy Danube Delta in the north, the Black Sea coast of the Dobruja is steep, facing the sea with almost vertical cliffs.

Romania is susceptible to severe earthquakes. An earthquake that struck Romania on 4 March 1977 destroyed or severely damaged some 33,000 buildings and left more than 34,000 families homeless. The shock, measuring 7.2 on the open-ended Richter scale, was the most severe in Europe since a series of shocks in OctoberNovember 1940, also in Romania.


Romania's climate is of the moderate humid continental type, exposed to predominant northerly cold winds in the winter and moderate westerly winds from the Atlantic in the summer. Average January temperatures range from -4°c to 0°c (2532°f). During the summer, the highest temperatures are recorded in the Danube Valley (24°c/75°f). Temperatures decrease toward the high elevations in the northwest and toward the southeast, where the Black Sea exerts a moderating influence. Precipitation decreases from west to east and from the mountains to the plains, with an annual average of between 100 and 125 cm (about 40 and 50 in) in the mountains and about 38 cm (15 in) in the delta.


Natural vegetation consists mainly of steppe like grasslands in the Moldavian and Walachian lowlands, with tall, deep-rooted grasses in the more humid sections and short, shallow-rooted grass in the drier parts. The Carpathian system is covered with forests, with deciduous trees at lower elevations and conifers at altitudes above 1,0701,220 m (3,5004,000 ft). Alpine meadows occupy the highest parts of the mountains.

Wild animals, including the black chamois, Carpathian deer, wolves, hares, marten, brown bear, lynx, boar, and fox, have sought refuge in the sparsely inhabited and forested Carpathians. Water birds flourish in the Danube Delta, and sturgeon abound in the waters of the lower Danube. Carp, bream, and pike populate the lakes; dace, barbel, and trout are found in rivers and streams.

As of 2002, there were at least 84 species of mammals, 257 species of birds, and over 3,400 species of plants throughout the country.


Rapid industrialization since World War II has caused widespread water and air pollution, particularly in Prahova County, an oil-refining region. The nation has 42 cu km of renewable water sources, with about 59% of the annual withdrawal used to support farming and 33% used for industrial purposes.

Air pollution is heaviest in the nation's cities, where industry produces hazardous levels of sulphur dioxide. In 1992, Romania had the world's 28th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 122.1 million metric tons, a per capita level of 5.24 metric tons. However, by 2000 total of carbon dioxide emissions had dropped to 86.3 million metric tons.

Damage to the nation's soils from erosion and pollution has decreased agricultural production by 50% in some areas. Acid rain originating in Hungary is another environmental problem. Some water conservation programs were initiated in the mid-1980s, but the Environmental Protection Law of 1972 has not been strictly enforced.

Romania's forests and natural steppes have been encroached on by farmers. Radioactivity from the Chernobyl nuclear site, two floods, and two earthquakes have also contributed to the nation's environmental problems. Moreover, intensive exploitation of forests before, during, and immediately after World War II necessitated a reforestation program that, between 1950 and 1964, resulted in the replanting of 1,159,600 hectares (2,865,400 acres).

As of 2003, 4.7% of Romania's total land area was protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 15 types of mammals, 13 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 10 species of fish, 22 species of invertebrates, and 1 species of plant. The Romanian bullhead perch, Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, and Mediterranean monk seals are among those listed as endangered.


The population of Romania in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 21,612,000, which placed it at number 50 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 14% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 16% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 95 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be -0.2%, a rate the government viewed as too low. To address the decline in population, the government established the Population Commission in 2004. The projected population for the year 2025 was 18,129,000. The population density was 91 per sq km (235 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 53% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.09%. The capital city, Bucharest (Bucuresti), had a population of 1,853,000 in that year. Other major cities and their population estimates were Constanţa, 350,581; Iaşi, 348,000; Timişoara, 334,115; Cluj-Napoca, 332,00; Galati, 326,141; Braşov, 323,736; Craiova, 313,000; Ploiesţi, 253,623; and Brăila, 235,763.


Population shifts numbering in the millions occurred as a result of the two world warsbecause of territorial changes, deportation and liquidation of Jews by the Nazis, flight before the Soviet military forces, deportations to the USSR, expulsion of the Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans), and departures following the Communist takeover and before stringent security measures halted the flow. About 117,950 Jews emigrated to Israel between 1948 and 1951; another 90,000 were permitted to emigrate during 195864. Some 120,000 ethnic Germans left Romania between 197888, and some 40,000 ethnic Hungarians fled in 1987 alone. In 1990, 80,346 people left, 78% to Germany, 9% to Hungary. Some 44,160 Romanians emigrated in 1991 and 31,152 in 1992. In 1992, 103,787 Romanians were given asylum in Germany, but in September of that year Germany returned 43,000 refugees, over half of whom were Gypsies. According to Migration News, in 2005 the Romanian government discouraged illegal migration by preventing some 14 million Romanians from leaving to travel to EU countries on the grounds that they had insufficient funds, or could not prove that they were merely visiting abroad. In addition, returning Romanians who overstay 90 days abroad have their passports confiscated. Between 19902000, remittances to Romania increased tenfold. In 2003 remittances were $7.3 million.

During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, Romania offered to accept 6,000 Kosovar refugees from Macedonia under the UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme. It only actually hosted about 100, until the end of July 1999 when all but one returned to Kosovo. By the end of 2004, there were a total of 2,237 persons of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Romania, 1,627 refugees, 210 asylum seekers primarily from Iraq, and 400 stateless Roma.

From 19912003, some 10,000 Romanians per year were permanent emigrants. In 2004, 3,730 Romanians applied for asylum in 10 countries, predominantly to Italy. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated -0.13 migrants per 1,000 population.


According to the 2002 census, Romanians constitute about 89.5% of the total population. Hungarians make up the largest minority group with about 6.6% of the total population. Roma account for about 2.5% of the population according to census figures; however, international groups estimate that the actual number of Roma may include up to 10% of the population. Despite government efforts for improvement, the Romani community continues to face discrimination and harassment. Lesser minority groups include Ukrainians (0.3%), Germans (0.3%), and Russians (0.2%). Others include Turks, Serbs, Croats, Jews, Poles, Bulgarians, Czechs, Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, and Slovaks.


Romanian is the official language. As a Romance language derived from the Latin spoken in the Eastern Roman Empire, Latin word elements make up 8590% of the modern Romanian vocabulary. In the 2,000 years of its development, the language was also influenced by contacts with Slavonic, Albanian, Hungarian, Greek, and Turkish. Of the loanwords, Slavonic elements are the most numerous. Earliest Romanian written texts still extant date from the 16th century. In addition to letters of the English alphabet, Romanian has the letters ă, î, â, ş, and ţ. Hungarian and German are spoken by a large percentage of the inhabitants of Transylvania.


According to the 2002 census, about 86.8% of the population were members of the Romanian Orthodox Church, one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches. Under Bulgarian influence, the Slavonic rite was maintained in the Romanian Church until the 17th century, when Romanian became the liturgical language. The Romanian Church enjoyed a large measure of autonomy in the Middle Ages and, after Romania achieved full independence from the Turks in 1878, was formally declared independent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople; it is now headed by its own patriarch. The Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church was formed in 1698 by the Transylvanian Orthodox, who acknowledged the jurisdiction of the Holy See. In October 1948, the new Communist regime compelled the Uniate Church to sever its ties with Rome and to merge with the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Roman Catholics account for about 4.7% of the population. the Greek Catholic Church is also represented as a recognized religion in the country. Protestant denominations make up about 7.5% of the population. Officially recognized Protestant denominations include the Reformed Church (which is the largest in the country), the Romanian Evangelical Church, the Unitarian Church (mostly Hungarian), Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Evangelical Augustinian Church. Islam and Judaism are also officially recognized religions; there are about 67,257 Muslims and 10,200 Jews. There are also small communities of Methodists, Presbyterians, Baha'is, God's Children (The Family), Hare Krishnas, Zen Buddhists, and Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), all of which are not officially recognized by the state.

The constitution provides for religious freedom, but the government retains a great deal of legal control over religious groups and activities. The Romanian Orthodox Church holds substantial influence in political and social venues. All religious groups must register with the government. Those that are granted official recognition are eligible for state support; the government officially recognizes 17 religions. Proselytizing is not illegal, but minority religions engaging in such activities have reported restrictions and harassment by local government officials. Some tension does exist between religious groups; particularly between the Romanian Orthodox and minority groups.


Romania is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. As of 2004, Romania's railroad network totaled 11,385 km (7,074 mi), of standard, broad and narrow gauge lines, of which 3,888 km (2,416 mi) were electrified. Standard gauge railways predominate at 10,898 km (6,779 mi), followed by narrow gauge at 427 km (266 mi), and broad gauge railways making up the remainder.

There were 198,755 km (123,625 mi) of roads at the end of 2002, of which 100,173 km (62,307 mi) were paved, including 113 km (70 mi) of expressways. In 2003, there were 3,087,628 passenger cars and 635,342 commercial vehicles in use.

Only the Danube and, to a lesser extent, the Prut rivers are suitable for inland navigation, which accounts for only about 1% of the total freight traffic. The main Danube ports include Galati, Brăila, and Giurgiu. At Giurgiu, on the main transportation line between Romania and Bulgaria, a road-and-rail bridge was completed in 1954, replacing the former Danube ferry to Ruse, Bulgaria. A major project, the Danube-Black Sea Canal, designed to bypass the shallow, silted arms of the Danube Delta, was started in 1949 but abandoned in 1953. It was revived in the early 1980s and opened in 1984. The canal is 64 km (40 mi) long and connects Cernavoda with Constanţa. Overall, Romania as of 2004, had 1,731 km (1,076 mi) of navigable inland waterways the Romanian merchant fleet consisted of 34 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 395,350 GRT in 2005, and was based in Constanţa, the nation's chief Black Sea port.

Romanian airports totaled an estimated 61 in 2004. As of 2005, a total of 25 had paved runways, and there was also one heliport. Otopeni International Airport, near Bucharest, was opened in 1970 and remains the nation's principal international air terminal. Baneasa Airport, also near Bucharest, handles local traffic. Other important airports include M. Kogalniceanu at Constanţa and Giarmata at Timişoara. Romanian Air Transport (Transporturile Aeriene Române-TAROM) and Romanian Air Lines (Liniile Aeriene Române-LAR) are the primary air carriers. In 2003, about 1.251 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Archaeological excavations show that the land now known as Romania has been inhabited for thousands of years. Agriculture was introduced in the 6th century bc, and by the 3rd century bc the Cucuteni civilization had produced polychrome pottery. the Dacians, of Thracian stock, had become a distinct people by the end of the 1st century bc. The kingdom of Dacia reached the highest stage of its development toward the end of the 1st century ad, in the reign of Decebalus (87106), but after four years of war, Dacia fell to the Roman Emperor Trajan in ad 106. the withdrawal of the Romans in ad 271 left the Romanians a partly Christianized Dacian-Roman people, speaking Latin and living in towns and villages built on the Roman pattern. In the following centuries, as Dacia was overrun by successive waves of invaders, the early Romanians are believed to have sought refuge in the mountains or to have migrated south of the Danube River. There the Dacian-Romanians, assimilating Slavic influences, became known by the 7th century as Vlachs (Walachians). The Vlachs apparently remained independent of their neighbors, but came under Mongol domination in the 13th century.

The establishment of the two principalities of Walachia and Moldavia in the late 13th and early 14th centuries opened one of the most important chapters in the history of Romania. Walachia came under Turkish suzerainty in 1476 and Moldavia in 1513; 13 years later, Transylvania, which had been under Hungarian control since 1003, also passed into Turkish hands. The tide of Ottoman domination began to ebb under Russian pressure in the second half of the 17th century; in 1699, under the Treaty of Karlowitz, Transylvania was taken by Austria (later Austria-Hungary), and in 1812, Russia obtained Bessarabia, a section of Moldavia, from the Turks. The Congress of Paris in 1856, which ended the Crimean War, guaranteed the autonomy of the principalities of Walachia and Moldavia and forced Russia to return the southernmost part of Bessarabia to Moldavia. The two principalities formed a union in 1859, with Alexandru Ioan Cuza as its first prince, but he was replaced in 1866 by Carol I of the house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, under a new governing document that proclaimed Romania a constitutional monarchy. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Romania obtained full independence from Turkey but returned southern Bessarabia to Russia. Under the rule of Carol I, Romania developed into a modern political and economic unit.

As a result of the Balkan Wars in 191213, Romania gained southern Dobruja from Bulgaria. Carol I died in 1914 and was succeeded by Ferdinand I. In World War I, Romania joined the Allies and as a result acquired Bessarabia from Russia, Bukovina from Austria, and Transylvania from Hungary. the establishment of a greatly expanded Romania was confirmed in 191920 by the treaties of St. Germain, Trianon, and Neuilly. In the early postwar period, Ion Bratianu (son of a 19th-century premier) instituted agrarian and electoral reforms. Both Ferdinand and Bratianu died in 1927. A brief regency period under Iuliu Maniu, Peasant Party leader, was followed in 1930 by the return to Romania of Carol II, who, having earlier renounced his right of succession, now deposed his nine-year-old son, Michael (Mihai), and established a royal dictatorship.

As economic conditions deteriorated, Fascism and anti-Semitism became increasingly powerful, and Carol II sought to appease both Germany and the USSR, which by August 1939 had concluded their nonaggression agreement. In 1940, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the USSR, northern Transylvania to Hungary, and southern Dobruja to Bulgaria. In the same year, Carol II abdicated in favor of his son Michael, and German troops entered the country. Romania joined the Axis in war against the Allies in 1941. As Soviet forces drove into Romania in 1944, a coup overthrew the wartime regime of Gen. Ion Antonescu on 23 August, and Romania joined the Allies against Germany. A Communist-led coalition government under Premier Petru Groza was set up in March 1945. King Michael was forced to abdicate on 30 December 1947, and the Romanian People's Republic was proclaimed. The Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 fixed Romania's frontiers as of 1 January 1941, with the exception of the border with Hungary, which was restored as of 1 January 1938, so northern Transylvania was once again part of the Romanian state.

The Communist constitution of 1948 was superseded in 1952 by a constitution patterned more directly on that of the USSR. In international affairs, Romania followed a distinctly pro-Soviet line, becoming a member of CMEA and the Warsaw Pact. Internally, the regime nationalized the economy and pursued a policy of industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture. During the 1960s, however, and especially after the emergence of Nicolae Ceausescu as Communist Party and national leader, Romania followed a more independent course, increasing its trade with Western nations and avoiding a definite stand in the Sino-Soviet dispute. In 1967, Romania was the only Communist country that did not break diplomatic relations with Israel following the Six-Day War. In 1968, Romania denounced the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia and the USSR-Romania treaty of friendship and cooperation expired; a new accord was not signed until 1970. Further examples of Romania's independent foreign policy in the 1970s were the gradual improvement of relations with China, numerous bilateral agreements with the nations of Western Europe, and President Ceausescu's state visit in December 1973 to Washington, where he signed a joint declaration on economic, industrial, and technical cooperation with the United States. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Romania also became increasingly involved in the nonaligned movement. In 1982, Ceausescu called on the USSR to withdraw from Afghanistan.

In contrast to some other East European countries, there was relatively little political and cultural dissent in Romania during the first 30 years of Communist rule. In 1977, however, about 35,000 miners in the Jiu Valley, west of Bucharest, went on strike because of economic grievances. Afterwards, the Romanian Communist Party hierarchy was frequently reshuffled, ostensibly to improve economic management, with Ceausescu and several members of his family (particularly his wife, Elena) increasing their power.

In the early and mid-1980s, there were a number of work stoppages and strikes caused by food and energy shortages. In early 1987, Ceausescu indicated that Romania would not follow the reform trend initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR.

The progress of perestroika (restructuring) in the Soviet Union, intensified by the wave of "velvet revolutions" which rolled across Eastern Europe in autumn 1989, only served to highlight the repressiveness of the Ceausescu regime, which had all but starved and frozen the country to death in its attempt to repay international indebtedness, which President Ceausescu said in April 1989 had been us$10 billion. The regime was also single-mindedly pushing ahead with the "systemization plan" begun in March 1988, which intended to force about half the country's peasants into urbanized "agro-industrial" complexes by bulldozing their villages.

The policy was especially offensive to the 2.5 million Hungarians in Romania's western regions, who understood the policy to be an attempt to further undercut their cultural autonomy. In mid-December 1989, abysmal economic conditions and ethnic tension led to spontaneous demonstrations in the western city of Timişoara. When the Securitate, Romania's secret police, attempted to deport Laszlo Toekes, a popular clergyman who had been a leading spokesperson for the local Hungarians, thousands of people took to the streets. Troops were summoned, and two days of rioting ensued, during which several thousand citizens were killed.

News of the riot, and of the government's handling of it, fanned further demonstrations around the country. Probably unwisely, President Ceausescu went ahead with a planned three-day visit to Iran. Upon his return, he convened a mass rally at which he attempted to portray his opponents as fascists. However, the rally turned into an antigovernment demonstration, in which the army sided with the demonstrators.

Ceausescu and his wife attempted to flee the country, but were apprehended, tried, and summarily executed, on 25 December 1989. Several days of fighting raged, as the Securitate and the army battled for power. A hastily assembled Council of National Salvation took power, repealing a number of Ceausescu's most hated policies and laws. The Council's president was Ion Iliescu, a former secretary of the Communist Party, who had been one of several signatories to a letter, which had accused Ceausescu of gross mismanagement of Romania's economy, made public in March 1989. The prime minister, Peter Roman, was also a prominent Communist.

Although the Council contained some non-Communists, the majority had been prominent officials in Ceausescu's regime, which prompted almost continuous public protests. Despite a continued government monopoly on media, political opposition groups managed to rally public support to demand the banning of the Communist Party, and the widening of the government. In February 1990, Iliescu agreed, replacing the 145-member Council of National Salvation with a 241-member Council of National Unity, which included members of opposition parties, national minorities, and former political prisoners; it also contained the full membership of the former Council, and Iliescu remained president.

Parliamentary elections were held in May 1990 against a background of continued civil unrest, especially in the Hungarian west. Although international observers considered the elections to have been generally fair, the National Salvation Frontnow a political partymade ruthless use of its media monopoly to take about two-thirds of the parliamentary seats from a divided, disorganized, and inexperienced opposition. Iliescu was elected president, with about 85% of the votes, in a contest in which there had been more than 94% voter turnout.

The conviction that ex-Communists had "stolen" the election brought continued demonstrations in Bucharest and elsewhere. In April 1990, in a move that was criticized internationally, the Iliescu government trucked in miners from the northern part of the country, urging them to beat up and disperse the demonstrators, ending what threatened to become a coup d'etat against Iliescu.

After the failure of those demonstrations, the opposition began to link up into parties, hoping to challenge Iliescu and his party in the next parliamentary elections, to be held in 1992. Popular discontent, however, continued to find more direct expression. Angry that the promises which had brought them to Bucharest in June had not been kept, the miners returned in September 1991, this time to link up with many of the opposition figures that they earlier had attacked, now to mount a mass attack on the government. Iliescu had no choice but to dismiss Prime Minister Roman, replacing him with Theodor Stolojan, an economist who managed to contain popular discontent until the general elections of September 1992, largely by delaying implementation of economic reforms. The parliamentary elections demonstrated a wide diffusion of political support. Iliescu's National Salvation Front won 28% of the seats, making it the largest party, but the Democratic Convention, an anti-Communist opposition coalition with a strong monarchist wing, took 20%, while former Prime Minister Roman's National Salvation Front, now opposed to Iliescu, took 10%. The remaining 42% of the seats were divided among five other parties.

The popular vote for president showed that Iliescu still had support, although it had dropped to just above 60% of the electorate. The success of his opponent, Emil Constantinescu, a former rector of Bucharest University, demonstrated the continuing hostility to Iliescu and the other ex-Communists who had managed to retain power.

Iliescu's dismissal of Stolojan, in November 1992, was widely seen as a recognition of that significant minority's opposition. Iliescu chose Nicolae Vacaroiu as prime minister, who had no earlier ties to the Ceausescu or Iliescu governments. However, the move was addressed as much to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the rest of the international financial community, which had emerged as Romania's chief source of support. Continued political instability and the fitful pace of privatization, combined with a strong nationalist bloc in the parliament which warned against "selling out" Romania to foreigners, all kept foreign investment quite low, a total of only about $785 million for all of 199094. As a consequence Romania has had to rely upon loans from Western sources, especially the IMF, piling up foreign debt at the rate of about $1 billion a year. In return for this infusion of cash the foreign donors have set stringent requirements of economic reform, which Romania is not finding easy to meet.

Romania's fitful progress toward democratization exacerbates the social pressures of its continued economic decline. Romanians began the post-Ceausescu period as among the poorest people in Europe, and their economy worsened for several years. Inflation for 1992 was 210%, and more than 300% for 1993, while unemployment was almost 10%. Most significantly, production fell for the first couple of years after the anti-Communist revolution. Beginning in 1994, however, Romania began slowly turning its economy around. In 1996, it even applied for membership in the European Union (EU)although it knew that admission before 2000 was doubtful.

In November 1996, presidential and parliamentary elections were held as the economy, while still fairly grim, continued to improve in several sectors. Popular opposition to the ex-Communist Iliescu had grown strong leading up to the elections, mainly due to broken promises of economic security and widespread corruption that saw the enrichment of a small clique of ex-Communist insiders amid general economic hardships across the country. Iliescu also failed to deliver on many privatization schemes, angering the middle-class merchants. In the election's first round on 3 November, the Democratic Convention Alliance of Opposition Groups, led by Emil Constantinescu, Iliescu's 1990 opponent, earned the highest percentage of votes (30%) followed by Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy (PDSR) and the Social Democratic Union (22%), and former prime minister Peter Roman's center-left party (13%). In the presidential election, neither Iliescu nor Constantinescu received a majority, so a runoff was held on 17 November, in which Constantinescu took 54% of the vote, becoming Romania's first true post-Communist leader. The West was thrilled with the victory, as Constantinescu was seen as significantly more pro-free market and pro-international investment than Iliescu. the new government immediately began imposing austerity measures, vowing to reduce the deficit significantly by the end of 1997. However, it was hobbled by disagreements among coalition members, and in March 1998, the prime minister, Victor Ciorbea, was replaced by Radu Vasile. The government's position was weakened even further in January 1999 when it backed down in the face of demands by striking coal miners in order to avert potential violence. In December 1999, in order to save face, and boost the popularity of the coalition for the upcoming elections, President Constantinescu forced Radu Vasile to resign and replaced him with Mugur Isarescu, the governor of the Romanian National Bank.

By the first half of 2000, the failure of the reformist government to bring about the promised economic recovery had led to widespread disenchantment. Inflation, unemployment, and debt remained serious problems, and Romania had also failed to achieve its major foreign policy objectivesadmission to NATO and the EU. Public discontent had led to a resurgence in the popularity by Iliescu's ex-Communists, who won a decisive victory in the June local elections. At midyear it was widely expected that the November general elections would bring a change in both the government and the presidency, and it was considered possible that Iliescu himself might stage a political comeback.

Presidential and parliamentary elections were held on 26 November 2000, which were won by Iliescu's PDSR. Iliescu became president after a second round of voting was held on 10 December, defeating extreme right-wing candidate Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the xenophobic Greater Romania Party (PRM). Tudor has been compared to France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Austria's Jörg Haider, and the late Pym Fortuyn of the Netherlands. Voter turnout was around 60%, 20% lower than in 1996. Iliescu won 36.4% of the vote in the first round, to Tudor's 28.3%; in the second round, Iliescu took 66.8%, and Tudor won 33.2% of the vote.

In December 2001, under pressure from the EU, Romania repealed a provision of its penal code that discriminated against homosexuals. In November 2002, NATO formally invited Romania to join the organization, one of seven Eastern European nations to join in 2004.

Although between 2000 and 2004 Romania registered some of the highest economic growth rates in Europe, endemic corruption and internal problems within the ruling PDSR led to a surprise victory by the Truth and Justice Alliance in the November 2004 elections. Traian Basescu, a former sea captain who served as the minister of transportation from 1996 to 2000, and as the mayor of Bucharest from 2000 to 2004, won the presidential elections. Basescu, who ran for the Truth and Justice Alliance, garnered 51.23% of the votes in the second round, while his opponent, Adrian Nastase, the former prime minister of Romania and a member of PDSR got 48.77%. The Alliance formed by the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party (PD), sustains a fragile parliamentary majority with the backing of the UDMR, the Humanist Party (PUR), and several ethnic minority groups.

Internal problems within the Alliance, the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq, and massive floods that covered most of Romania in the spring and summer of 2005 threatened to break the coalition apart. President Basescu and the new prime minister, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, agreed to put their differences aside in order to achieve one of the most important goals for Romaniathe accession to the EU.

In April 2005, the European parliament gave the green light to Romania and Bulgaria, with 497 votes in favor of the accession, 93 against, and 71 abstentions; both countries are expected to join in 2007. The EU specified however that Romania's accession could be delayed until 2008 if the reform of the judicial system failed and if the fight against corruption was not intensified.


The Council for National Unity enacted a new constitution for Romania in November 1991, and the document carried many of the hallmarks of Soviet-era constitutions, granting rights in some articles and revoking them in others. In October 2003, the constitution was revised, following a national referendum. the legal system is generally based on Romania's old 1923 constitution, and on the constitution of France's Fifth Republic.

The present arrangement has a directly elected president who serves for a maximum of two five-year terms; he is head of state. The president, in consultation with the parliament, names the prime minister. The prime minister, in turn, chooses his governing body, which has to be approved by the parliament. the government, together with the president, represents the executive power in the country.

The legislature is made up of two houses, the Senate, with 137 seats (one senator for 160,000 inhabitants), and the Chamber of Deputies, with 332 seats (one deputy for 70,000 inhabitants); members of both bodies are directly elected on a proportional representation basis to serve four-year terms.


After the coup against Ceausescu, some 80 political parties appearedsome new; others, like the Liberals and the Peasant Party, revivals of prewar parties that the Communists had outlawed. the dominant party in the 1990 elections, however, proved to be the National Salvation Front (NSF), which took two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly.

By 1992, the NSF had split over the issue of whether or not to support Iliescu. The main party renamed itself the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), while a pro-Iliescu wing became the Democratic National Salvation Front, and an anti-Iliescu wing, headed by ex-Prime Minister Roman, became the Front for National Salvation (FSN). The PDSR took 28% of the vote and the FSN, 10%.

The second-largest party in the 1992 elections was a coalition, called the Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR), which incorporated such parties as the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), the Movement of Civic Alliance, the Party of Civic Alliance, Liberal Party '93, and the Social Democratic Party. There are also small ultranationalist parties, the Party of Romanian National Unity and the Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the Communists have been reborn as the Socialist Labor Party. Despite superficial political differences, all three parties are anti-Hungarian, anti-Gypsy, and anti-Semitic, as well as anti-democratic.

In the parliamentary elections held on 3 November 1996, the PDSR lost its majority standing, and the DCR won a strong majority. The DCR became the ruling party with 53 seats in the Senate and 122 in the Chamber of Deputies; the PSDR held 41 and 91, respectively; the Social Democratic Union, 23 and 53; Hungarian Democratic Union, 8 and 19; Greater Romania Party, 8 and 19; and National Union Party, 7 and 18. Victor Ciorbea, a trade union leader and former mayor of Bucharest, became prime minister, and Emil Constantinescu became president.

Parliamentary and presidential elections were held on 26 November 2000, which were won by the PDSR. The PDSR merged with the Romanian Social Democratic Party to form the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and with the Humanist Party of Romania, formed the Democratic Social Pole of Romania. this coalition won 155 of 346 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 65 of 143 seats in the Senate. The PRM took 84 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 37 in the Senate; the Democratic Party took 31 and 13 seats, respectively; the National Liberal Party won 30 and 13; the Hungarian Democratic Alliance (UDMR) won 27 and 12; and 19 ethnic parties were represented with 1 seat each in the Chamber of Deputies.

On 28 November 2004, the Truth and Justice Alliance, comprised of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party (PD), scored a surprise victory over the ruling PSD. the Alliance formed a fragile coalition with UDMR, the Humanist Party (which recently changed its name to the Conservative Party), and several ethnic minorities. The coalition holds only 169 of 332 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 71 of 137 seats in the Senate, while PSD won 110 and 45 respectively, and PRM 32 and 19. At that time there were also 19 deputies with no political affiliation.


Romania is divided into 41 counties (judete ), as well as the municipality of Bucharest, which has separate status. Below the counties, there are three other categories of local authority: approximately 2,800 communes (with populations up to 5,000), 280 orase (towns with populations of approximately 5,00020,000) and 86 municipalities. In the Ceausescu era the counties were administered by appointees of the central government, whose responsibility was solely to Bucharest. The Iliescu government attempted to reshape local government, but most sources agree that the result was to further remove authority from the countryside. Much of Romania is deeply rural, with almost no contact between localities or with the central government.

While more than 40% of the Romanian population lives in the rural countryside, attending to a highly fragmented agricultural system, almost 40% of the national wealth is concentrated in Bucharest. As a result, prominent figures from all of Romania's main provinces have pleaded for a more decentralized government system. To date, all 41 counties are led by a prefect who is appointed by the government. The prefects respond directly to the Ministry of Public Administration.


The 1992 law on reorganization of the judiciary established a four-tier legal system, including the reestablishment of appellate courts, which existed prior to Communist rule in 1952. the four tiers consist of courts of first instance, intermediate appellate level courts, a Supreme Court, and a Constitutional Court. the Constitutional Court, six of whose nine members are chosen by the parliament and three by the president, has judicial responsibility for judicial review of constitutional issues. the Constitutional Court judges are appointed for nine-year terms. The Supreme Court was reorganized under a separate 1993 law; its members are appointed by the president of Romania and exercise ultimate authority over all other courts in the country. The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for a term of six years and may serve consecutive terms.

Under the law, the courts are independent of the executive branch. The constitution vests authority for selection and promotion of judges in the Ministry of Justice. Judges are appointed for life by the president upon recommendation from a panel of judges and prosecutors selected by parliament.

Alongside this ordinary court system is a three-tiered military court system, which handles cases involving military personnel.


The Romanian armed forces have been reorganized in the wake of the revolution of 198990, which destroyed the Communist armed forces and security establishment. In 2005, the armed forces numbered 97,200 active personnel, supported by 104,000 reservists. There were 66,000 active personnel in the Army, 7,200 in the Navy, and 14,000 in the Air Force. The Army was equipped with 1,258 main battle tanks, four reconnaissance vehicles, 177 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 1,583 armored personnel carriers, and 1,238 artillery pieces. The Navy operated one frigate, six corvettes, 38 patrol/coastal vessels, 12 mine warfare, and 11 logistics/support vessels. The Air Force was equipped with 106 combat capable aircraft, including 25 fighters and 68 fighter ground attack aircraft, as well as 8 assault helicopters. Romania also had a paramilitary force of 79,900 members that consisted of 22,900 border guards and an estimated gendarmerie of 57,000. Romania participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and in peacekeeping or military missions in 10 other countries or regions. The defense budget in 2005 was $2.10 billion.


Romania, which became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955, participates in ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the World Bank, the ILO, the FAO, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Romania served on the UN Security Council from 200405. The Romanian government has supported UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Liberia (est. 2003), Burundi (est. 2004), and Côte d'Ivoire (est. 2004), among others.

Romania is also a member of the WTO, G-9, G-77, the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, the EuroAtlantic Partnership Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the OSCE. Romania became a member of NATO in 2004. The country has observer status in the OAS and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA). Romania is an applicant for membership in the European Union.

Romania is part of the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group). In environmental cooperation, Romania is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Before World War II, the economy was predominantly agricultural, with agriculture and forestry contributing 38.1% of the national income in 1938, and industry (including construction) 35.2%. As a result of the industrialization program of the Communist government, this ratio has changed greatly. In 1996, agriculture and forestry contributed 19% to national income; industry, 36%; construction, 7%; and services, 38%. Within industry, structural changes reflected the government's emphasis on the development of heavy industry, particularly machine-building, as opposed to consumer goods. The relative neglect of the agricultural sector, in addition to peasants' resistance to collectivization, resulted in agricultural difficulties, including shortages.

The basic organization of economic management in Romania was highly centralized, like its original Soviet model, with few of the modifications introduced elsewhere in Eastern Europe. During the late 1970s and in the 1980s, the continued emphasis on industrial expansion and consequent neglect of agriculture led to food shortages and rationing. Romania's economic problems in the 1980s were exacerbated by the government's program to reduce foreign debt: the debt was indeed reduced, from $10.5 billion in 1981 to $6.6 billion at the end of 1987, but at the cost of reduced industrial development. In addition, two extremely harsh winters (1985 and 1987) resulted in widespread power shortages and loss of production. In the 1990s, foreign debt has once again been on the rise; after reaching a low of $3.5 billion in 1992, it had risen to $10 billion in 1998.

The transition to a market economy also proved extremely painful. By 1992, grain production was only two-thirds of the 1989 level, GDP had fallen by 30%, industrial production had fallen 47% and inflation had reached 300%. Growth returned weakly in 1993, with GDP increasing 1%, but then gained some momentum, rising 3.9% in 1994, 6.9% in 1995 and 4% in 1996. In 1997, the government entered into an arrangement with the IMF for a standby agreement (SBA) supported by a credit line of $430 million, but the agreement was suspended because of the government's slowness in implementing agricultural reform. At the end of 1997, GDP had fallen -6.6% and inflation had soared to 151.4%. the effects of the Russian financial crisis in 1998, which came to a head in August, spread quickly to Romania, helping produce a further contraction of 7.3% of GDP for the year. Inflation, however, under new government restraints, moderated to 40.6%. Despite an austerity budget for 1999, inflation increased to 54.8% and the GDP contracted 3.2% for the year. In August 1999 the government entered into another SBA with the IMF, and in 2000 and 2001, GDP registered positive growth (1.6% and 4.1%, respectively), and decreasing inflation rates (40.7% and 37.5%, respectively). In October 2001 the government entered into its third SBA arrangement with the IMF, which was successfully completed in October 2003. In July 2004, a stand-by agreement was signed with the IMF. the agreement is to be completed in two years and is aimed at decreasing the account deficit and the inflation rate through a mix of monetary policies and structural reforms.

Romania's macroeconomic performance improved dramatically in the 21st century. Between 2001 and 2003, the GDP registered a 5% average growth; in 2004 the growth rate jumped to 8.3%second only to Latvia in Europe. Inflation has decreased steadily over this time period, to reach single digit values (at 9.6%) in 2004, and predicted to fall to 7.5% in 2005, and 5.0% in 2006. the unemployment rate has remained fairly stable, averaging around 6% between 1997 and 2004.

This growth of the economy can be attributed to several factors. First and foremost, household consumption has expanded radically, fueled by higher real wages and remittances sent from people working abroad. Investments are another factor that contributed to this growth, peaking in 2004 with the acquiring of Petrom (the national oil company) by the Austrian OMV. Exports improved annually at double digits, although strong internal demand translated into higher imports.

Today, Romania boasts a technologically advanced market economy, a diverse and dynamic economic base, agricultural self-sufficiency, and a strong will to sustain the present economic boom.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Romania's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $186.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $8,300. the annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.2%. the average inflation rate in 2005 was 8.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 13.1% of GDP, industry 33.7%, and services 53.2%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $124 million or about $6 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.2% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $601 million or about $28 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.1% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Romania totaled $40.32 billion or about $1,858 per capita based on a GDP of $57.0 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.2%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 36% of household consumption was spent on food, 9% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 20% on education. It was estimated that in 2002 about 28.9% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


Romania's labor force in 2005 was estimated at 9.31 million people. As of 2004, agriculture accounted for 31.6%, with 30.7% in industry, and 37.7% in the services sector. Unemployment was estimated at 6.5% in 2005. The Romanian economy is in the process of privatization. Private firms accounted for 64.5% of the workforce in 2001. However, the government was still prominent in the large industrial sector.

Labor legislation adopted in 1991 guarantees the right of private sector employees to associate freely, organize and join unions, bargain collectively, and carry out strikes. In 2005, there were about 18 nationwide trade confederations plus smaller independent unions. Unions are permitted to strike, but only after all attempts at arbitration have failed and a 48-hour advance notice is given to employers. However there have been complaints that the courts are biased towards ruling strikes illegal. Also, while the law protects the right to bargain collectively, contracts arising from collective bargaining have not been consistently enforced. However, at the branch and unit level, collective bargaining contracts covered around 80% of Romania's workforce in 2005.

Most employees work a five-day, 40-hour week with overtime pay rates for weekends, holidays and work over 40 hours. the minimum wage in 2005 was $105 per month, and while the government also subsidizes necessities such as housing and health care, this does not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Children under the age of 16 years are not permitted to work, although 15-year-olds may be employed with parental consent. Minors are also banned from working under hazardous conditions. However, child labor remains a problem in Romania. Neither the government nor industry has the resources to enforce safety and health standards in the workplace.


Although under Communism the emphasis had been on industrialization, Romania is still largely an agricultural country. Of the total land area, 43% was arable land in 2003. Agriculture engaged about 15% of the active population and accounted for 12% of GDP in 2003.

The government began forming collective farms in 1949 and had largely completed the collectivization process by 1962. By 1985, of a total of 15,020,178 hectares (37,115,460 acres) of agricultural land, 29.7% was in state farms, with another 60.8% in large cooperative farms. The socialized sector consisted of 3,745 collectives, 419 state farms, and 573 farming mechanization units by 1985. The Land Reform of 1991 returned 80% of agricultural land to private ownership. Of the 14.8 million acres of agricultural land in 1996, some 2.6 million private producers farmed 44.6%; 20,400 associations of private producers farmed 25%; 1,171 state farms operated 12.8%; and public land accounted for the remaining 17.6%. Average farm size for private producers that year was 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres); for associations, 180 hectares (445 acres); and for state farms, 1,620 hectares (4,003 acres). In 2003, Romania had 4,484,890 agricultural holdings, the highest in the European Union. That year, 64% of holdings were used for crops, 35% for animal farming, and 1% for agricultural services.

Grain growing has been the traditional agricultural pursuit, but the acreage has been reduced since World War II, and more area has been assigned to industrial and fodder crops. the 2004 production totals (in thousand tons) for major crops was wheat, 7,735; barley, 1,406; corn, 4,452; oats, 447; soybeans, 298; sunflower seeds, 1,558; sugar beets, 673; vegetables and melons, 4,573; potatoes, 4,230; and grapes, 1,230. In 2004, Romania produced an estimated 57 million liters of wine. That year, exports of agricultural products totaled $765.3 million and agricultural imports amounted to $2,145 million.


Romania has some 4.8 million hectares (11.9 million acres) of pastures. Animal production in Romania has developed somewhat more rapidly than crop production. The 1970 value of total livestock production, including the increase in herds and flocks as well as livestock products, was slightly more than double the level of 1938, and the 1974 value was 34% above that of 1970. In view of the initially low level of Romanian livestock production, development has been slow, however. The major reasons for the inadequate increases had been lack of economic incentives, insufficient fodder, and inadequate shelter. Since the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime in 1989, privatization of much of the grazing land has begun. In order to improve livestock raising, the government continues to stress agricultural modernization. Livestock productivity during 200204 was 10.8% higher than during 19992001.

The livestock numbers (in thousands) for 2005 were cattle, 2,950; hogs, 6,500; sheep, 7,430; and chickens, 87,500. After several years of livestock reduction, the hog and poultry inventories rose at the end of 1995, due to increases in the private sector. Sheep numbers have dropped because of exports. State farms were also forced to cut their flocks due to reduced grazing land and financial difficulties.

Production of livestock food products for 2005 consisted of 781,380 tons of meat, 5,720,000 tons of cow's milk, 344,000 tons of sheep's milk, 37,900 tons of cheese, 405,600 tons of eggs, and 7,154 tons of butter. In 2004, exports of meat amounted to $37.2 million.


Romania lost an important fishing region and nearly all its caviar-producing lakes with the cession of Bessarabia to the USSR in 1940. But the Black Sea, the Danube and its floodlands, as well as other rivers, lakes, and ponds, are favorable to the development of the fishing industry, which expanded rapidly during the early 1970s. About 90% of the fish comes from the Danube floodlands and delta and 10% from the Black Sea. In 2003, the total catch was 19,092 tons, as compared with 95,473 tons in 1991 and 16,000 in 1960.


In 2004, forests covered 6.5 million hectares (16 million acres), representing about 27% of the total area of Romania, with 68% of forests state-owned. The forests are found mainly in the Carpathian Mountains and in Transylvania, and are 70% hardwood (mostly beech and oak) and 30% softwood (mainly spruce and pine). Commercial forests account for 98% of the total forest area. About 40% of Romania's forests are damaged, and up to 25% are defoliated. Insects, air pollution, and fires are the main causes of tree damage. The amount of timber permitted to be cut is approved annually by the Romanian parliament, and was set at 18 million cu m (643 million cu ft) for 2005 (63% from state-owned forests). Roundwood production in 2004 was estimated at 17,500,000 cu m (618 million cu ft). Domestic lumber production is estimated at 5 million cu m (175 million cu ft) with more than half coming from small factories. Romania's furniture industry consists of about 2,400 furniture producers employing about 100,000 people, with exports of around 850 million in 2004. Forestry accounts for 3.5% of GDP and 9% of exports.

Between 1976 and 1985, 580,000 hectares (1,433,200 acres) were reforested. After the collapse of the Communist regime, domestic demand, exports, and reforestation plummeted. During 19902000, some 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) were annually reforested. Since trade liberalization in 1997, Romania's wood industry has expanded; there are nearly 7,000 small and medium sized firms.


Romania's production of metals, industrial minerals, and mineral fuels was mainly of regional importance. The country is a producer of aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, steel and ferroalloys.

Production of mined iron ore (gross weight) totaled 304,000 tons in 2003. Mined copper production (gross weight) totaled 21,317 metric tons in 2003. Bismuth (metal) output in 2003 was estimated at 40 metric tons in 2003, while gold mine output (metal content) in that year came to 400 kg. Silver mine production (metal content) totaled 18 metric tons in 2003. Among industrial minerals in 2003, Romania produced barite, bentonite, diatomite, feldspar, fluorspar, graphite, gypsum (394,000 tons), kaolin, lime (2.025 million tons), lime, nitrogen (content of ammonia), pyrites, salt, sand and gravel, caustic soda, soda ash, sulfur, and talc.

Metals and metalworking in the region were well documented by Roman times, when Romania and Bulgaria, respectively known as Dacia and Thrace, were important sources of base and precious metals. Gold and nonferrous metals mined in the region remained attractive investment opportunities.


Although Romania is the largest producer of oil in Central and Eastern Europe, it is a net importer of oil. The country also dominates the downstream petroleum industry in Southeastern Europe.

As of 1 January 2005, Romania had proven oil reserves estimated at 956 million barrels. Although Romania's oil production averaged an estimated 114,000 barrels per day in 2004, domestic demand for that year averaged an estimated 277,000 barrels per day, making the country a net importer, that year averaging 163,000 barrels per day. Romania is also the region's largest producer of refined petroleum products. Of the 11 refineries located in Southeastern Europe, 10 are located in Romania.

Romania, as of 1 January 2005, had proven reserves of natural gas estimated at 3.6 trillion cu ft. In 2002, natural gas production totaled an estimated 470 billion cu ft, while demand that year came to an estimated 646 billion cu ft, thus requiring imports totaling an estimated 176 billion cu ft.

In 2002, Romania had recoverable coal reserves estimated at 1,606 million short tons. As with oil and natural gas, Romania's demand for coal outstripped production. In 2002, demand was estimated at 36.3 million short tons, while output in that same year came to an estimated 33.6 million short tons. Imports that year were estimated at 2.7 million short tons. Romania's coal production consists of low-quality brown coal (lignite), while imports consist of anthracite for use in thermal power plants.

Romania's electric power is mostly generated by conventional thermal fuel plants, followed by hydroelectric and a single nuclear power plant. In 2002, Romania's electric generating capacity came to 21.568 million kW, with conventional thermal fuel plants accounting for 14.741 million kW, hydroelectric plants 6.122 million kW, and nuclear power for 0.705 million kW. Production in 2002 totaled 52.367 billion kWh, of which 59.9% was from fossil fuels, 30.3% from hydropower, and the rest from the country's sole nuclear plant. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was 45.847 billion kWh.

Romania's Cernavoda nuclear plant has one operating reactor. However, a second reactor is to start generating commercial power in 2006.


Industrial development received about half of all investment during the 195180 period. As officially measured, the average annual growth rate in gross industrial production between 1950 and 1980 was 12.3%, one of the highest in Eastern Europe. In 1993, however, industrial production was at only 47% of the 1989 level. The next year, industrial production increased by 3.3%. In 1995, it increased by 9.4% in absolute volume and was 13% higher than the 1992 output. In 1996, industrial production increased by 9.9% with the largest increases coming in the processing industry (12.5%) and machine and electronics (27.3%). After the Russian collapse of 1997, however, the industrial growth rate for 1998 was -17%. Industrial production picked up after Romania began to recover from its recession in 2000, and in 2001, the industrial growth rate was 6.5%.

Although industry continues to be a large sector of the economy (38% of GDP in 2003), it is partially in need of modernization and restructuring. (Agriculture contributed 13% to the GDP in 2003, while services came in first with 49.1%.) Key industries in 2004 included textiles and footwear, light machinery and automobile assembly, construction materials, metallurgy, chemicals, food processing, and petroleum refining. While in 2001 all of Romania's car manufacturers produced 68,761 automobiles, by 2004, Dacia alone produced 94,720.

Romania has been fairly successful in privatizing its industrial basein 2005, less than 5% of the industrial assets were still in the hands of the state. While some privatizations have been plagued by corruption accusations, and while some of the newly privatized companies are not yet economically viable, the rest have benefited from switching leadership. Some of success stories include the privatization of Dacia (Romania's main car manufacturer), and of Petrom (the national oil company), which were acquired by Renault and OMV respectively; the privatization of the bank sector has also been hailed as an important step towards a functional market economyBCR and CEC, two of Romania's largest banks, are to be fully privatized by 2006.


The Romanian Academy, founded in 1866, has sections of mathematical sciences, physical sciences, chemical sciences, biological sciences, economical sciences, technical sciences, agricultural sciences and forestry, medical sciences, and science and technology of information. The Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences were both founded in 1969. All three organizations are located in Bucharest, and in 1996, had 67 research institutes attached to them.

In 2002, total research and development (R&D) expenditures amounted to $555.266 million or 0.38% of GDP. Of that amount, 48.4% came from the government, while the business sector accounted for 41.6%. Foreign sources provided 7.1%, while higher education accounted for 3%. In that same year, there were 286 technicians and 910 scientists and engineers engaged in R&D per one million people. High technology exports in 2002 were valued at $390 million, or 3% of the country's manufactured exports. In 1996, Romania had 22 universities offering courses in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 21% of university enrollment.


Wholesale and retail trade were entirely in the socialized sector before 1990. By 1993, however, 50% of retail trade had been privatized. Since 1996, the government has worked more diligently, yet slowly, to create a market economy by eliminating consumer subsidies, liberalizing the exchange rates, and initiating tighter monetary policies. Further privatization programs are also underway and the government is considering ways to promote and encourage foreign commercial investment.

Domestic trade of consumer goods has been limited to local markets. There are only a few professional distributors and independent retailers tend to be rather small. The chief seaport is at Constanţa. Cluj-Napoca, Timişoara, Iaşi, Craiova, and Braşov serve as regional industrial centers and railroad hubs. Oradea serves as a regional marketing and shipping center for livestock and agriculture. Arad is a regional commercial and industrial center in the west while Pitesti serves as a hub for the south-central region. Turgu-Mures serves as a regional industrial and agricultural center for central Romania.

Stores are open daily, except Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm. Food shop and retail department store hours are 7 am to 9 pm Monday to Saturday and 7 am to 12 noon on Sundays. there are however shops, especially small privately owned neighborhood stores, that are open nonstop. Also, the number of retailers and products has increased dramatically in the past years. Big companies like Metro, Billa, Selgros, and Carrefour opened stores in most of Romania's big cities, offering an increasing array of products.

Offices generally open at 7 or 8 am and close at 3 or 4 pm. Exchange counters in banks transact public business from 8 am to 12 noon, but exchange offices at border crossings remain open 24 hours a day.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 17,618.1 24,003.2 -6,385.1
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 4,288.3 4,697.2 -408.9
Germany 2,771.0 3,560.0 -789.0
France-Monaco 1,295.2 1,748.0 -452.8
United Kingdom 1,181.6 794.1 387.5
Turkey 902.0 923.7 -21.7
Netherlands 627.7 467.3 160.4
United States 619.1 554.1 65.0
Hungary 617.2 868.0 -250.8
Austria 567.2 847.1 -279.9
Greece 425.9 324.4 101.5
() data not available or not significant.


Before 1990, foreign trade was a state monopoly carried out through export-import agencies under the administration of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Since World War II, the orientation and structure of Romanian foreign trade have shifted. Before the war, cereals, oil, timber, livestock, and animal derivatives accounted for over 90% of total exports, while consumer goods (60%) and raw materials (20%) accounted for the bulk of the imports. Under the Communist industrialization program, structural changes were particularly striking in exports, with machinery and nonedible consumer goods emerging as important export items. Foreign trade was in surplus throughout the 1980s, but fell into deficit in the 1990s. Romania's increasing trade deficit after 1994 was due in large part to the depreciation of its currency, large energy imports (despite large domestic reserves), and the loss of two important export markets due to international sanctions: Iraq and the former Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). The low quality of Romania's export products has also contributed to its large trade deficits. Additionally, with 80% of all imports taking the form of raw materialsprincipally oil, natural gas, and mineralsthe country has little foreign exchange for the importation of equipment and technology of the type needed to modernize its sluggish industrial sector.

Exports in 2000 totaled $10.4 billion and imports $13.1 billion; the major export categories were apparel (22%); machinery and electric equipment (19%); metals and their manufactures (17%); mineral fuels (7.2%); chemicals and related exports (5.8%); and food products, beverages, and tobacco (2.6%). By 2004, the exports doubled to $21 billion (FOBFree on Board), while the imports grew to $28 billion (CIFCost, Freight, and Insurance). For 2005, the exports were expected to grow to $25 billion, and the imports to $31 billion. Major export groups in 2004 were manufactures (especially textiles and footwear), basic metals and articles, and mineral products; the major import groups included capital goods, food, fuel and energy.

Trade with the EU countries, especially Germany, has increased substantially in recent years, largely because of Romania's expanding need for advanced Western technology and equipment. In the first quarter of 2004, Romania's main export markets were Italy (with 22.8% of total exports), Germany (15.5%), France (8.5%), Turkey (6.8%), the United Kingdom (6.8%), Hungary (3.6%), Austria (3.3%), the Netherlands (3.2%), Greece (2.6%), and the United States (2.3%). Imports came mainly from Italy (16.9% of the total imports), Germany (13.8%), the Russian Federation (8.0%), France (7.0%), Turkey (4.3%), the United Kingdom (3.6%), Austria (3.4%), Ukraine (3.4%), China (3.2%), and Hungary (3.2%)


Trade with Western countries has involved growing amounts of credits in recent years. As a result of a series of devaluations of the Romanian leu dating from February 1990, Western imports became increasingly costly while the quality of Romania's exports significantly declined. Romania's poor performance was additionally due to its reliance on the importation of raw materialssuch as oil, natural gas and mineralswhich accounted for as much as 80% of imports in 1995, leaving little exchange currency for equipment and technology.

Current account deficits have been financed in large measure by loans and grants from international financial institutions, but Romania has attempted to diversify its sources of external financing. Romania's external debt stood at $11.6 billion in 2001. the country's international risk ratings have made it difficult for Romania to borrow from the private international credit market.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Romania's exports was $11.5 billion while imports totaled $14.4 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $2.9 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Romania had exports of goods totaling $11.4 billion and imports totaling $14.4 billion. The services credit totaled $1.99 billion and debit $2.20 billion. The exports of goods and services rose to $24.6 billion in 2004, while the imports grew to $29.2 billion; the trade deficit totaled $4.6 billion.

Current Account -3,311.0
   Balance on goods -4,537.0
      Imports -22,155.0
      Exports 17,618.0
   Balance on services 70.0
   Balance on income -705.0
   Current transfers 1,861.0
Capital Account 213.0
Financial Account 4,400.0
   Direct investment abroad -39.0
   Direct investment in Romania 1,844.0
   Portfolio investment assets 9.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities 569.0
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets 72.0
   Other investment liabilities 1,945.0
Net Errors and Omissions -289.0
Reserves and Related Items -1,013.0
() data not available or not significant.


Romanian banks were nationalized in 1948. Established in 1880, the bank of issue is the National Bank of the Socialist Republic of Romania, which also extends short-term loans to state enterprises and supervises their financial activities. The Romanian Bank for Development (1990) finances investments of state enterprises and institutions and grants long-term credit. As investments increased in volume, this bank was required to intensify its control over the use of funds allocated for investment. The Romanian Bank for Foreign Trade conducts operations with foreign countries. Savings are deposited with the Loans and Savings Bank. In 1974, New York's Manufacturers Hanover Trust opened an office in Bucharest, the first such instance for a Western commercial bank in a communist nation.

Romania has generally been very cautious in its approach to banking reform. Since 1990, the financial sector has undergone a fundamental overhaul, although the pace of change has been slower than elsewhere in the region. The number of banks rose from five in December 1990 to 41 by the end of 2000including four branches of foreign banks, four branches of joint ventures based abroad, and 33 domestic banks. The foreign specialized banksfor development, agriculture, and foreign tradestill handle almost all of the business in these areas. the Romanian Commercial Bank is still the banker to most Romanian firms, while the Savings Bank retains a virtual monopoly on personal savings deposits. At decade's end, Romania's financial institutions, like the rest of its economy, remained in severe and protracted crisis. Despite repeated calls from the IMF to privatize, the seven state-owned banks still controlled 70% of all assets in Romania's banks. Moreover, these banks continued to be plagued by bad debt.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $2.1 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $9.3 billion. the discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 35%.

Romania set up its first postwar stock exchange in 1995, after the enabling legislation has been delayed for several years. the RASDAQ (Romanian Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation), an over-the-counter securities market, opened in 1996. As of 2001, the total market capitalization of the RADAQ was $2.1 billion, up 98% from the previous year. As of 2004, a total of 4,030 companies were listed on the combined Bucharest Stock Exchange and RASDAQ exchanges, which had a combined market capitalization of $11.786 billion. In 2004, the BET Index rose 101% from the previous year to 4,364.7.


During the Communist era, all commercial insurance was nationalized. Since 1991, casualty, automobile, and life insurance have been made available through private insurers with foreign partners. Private insurers are only legally permitted as joint-stock or limited liability companies. Policies available include life, automobile, maritime and transport, aircraft, fire, civil liability, credit and guarantee, and agricultural insurance, with third-party auto insurance compulsory. Foreign insurance companies and agencies are now allowed to set up representative offices within Romania, though they must have a joint venture with a local company; a foreign company can own any percentage but 100%. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $795 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $608 million. Romania's top nonlife insurer that year had direct written nonlife premiums of $139.5 million, while the nation's leading life insurer had gross written life insurance premiums of $79.2 million.


The annual budget is presented to the Grand National Assembly around December and becomes effective for the fiscal year on 1 January. The state budget, prepared by the Ministry of Finance, is a central part of the financial plan for the whole economy. the reduction of the growth rate of expenditures during the early 1980s was in keeping with an economic stabilization program designed to hold down domestic investment and consumption. As a result of fiscal reforms begun since the fall of the Ceausescu regime in December 1989, adherence to IMF fiscal targets, and an unanticipated inflation-fed revenue windfall during the first half, the central government unofficially recorded a relatively modest deficit for 1991. Privatization of industry was accomplished in 1992 with the transfer of 30% of the shares of about 6,000 state-owned businesses to five private ownership funds, in which each adult citizen received certificates of ownership. As of the first decade of the 21st century, the government's priorities included reigning in of its fiscal policy, continuing to develop its relationship with the IMF, and continuing the process of privatization.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Romania's central government took in revenues of approximately $29.9 billion and had expenditures of $31.3 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1.4 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 21.1% of GDP. Total external debt was $29.47 billion.

Revenue and Grants 312,534 100.0%
    Tax revenue 137,200 43.9%
    Social contributions 128,918 41.2%
    Grants 1,345 0.4%
    Other revenue 45,071 14.4%
Expenditures 354,837 100.0%
    General public services 64,525 18.2%
    Defense 18,056 5.1%
    Public order and safety 25,239 7.1%
    Economic affairs 49,286 13.9%
    Environmental protection
    Housing and community amenities 6,626 1.9%
    Health 54,839 15.5%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 4,007 1.1%
    Education 20,862 5.9%
    Social protection 111,396 31.4%
() data not available or not significant.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were l312,534 billion and expenditures were l354,837 billion. The value of revenues was us$9 million and expenditures us$11 million, based on a market exchange rate for 2001 of us$1 = l33,200.1 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 18.2%; defense, 5.1%; public order and safety, 7.1%; economic affairs, 13.9%; housing and community amenities, 1.9%; health, 15.5%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.1%; education, 5.9%; and social protection, 31.4%.


Romania's taxation system in the 1990s was notable for its erratic and confusing nature, but with reforms in late 1999 there has been movement towards uniformity and simplicity. As of 2005, the standard corporate income tax rate in Romania was 16%. Profits from nightclubs, casinos, and discotheques were taxed at the standard corporate rate, with the stipulation that total tax could not be lower than 5% of qualifying gross revenue earnings. Capital gains are taxable at the normal corporate income tax rate of 16%, although a lower rate of 10% applies to the sale of corporate shares held in Romanian companies and the sale of Romanian real estate if the seller owned the real estate or shares for more than two years, and if the buyer is not related to the seller. Dividends, paid to either residents or resident companies by Romanian firms are subject to 10% withholding. Dividends paid to nonresident companies or individuals by Romanian firms are subject to a 15% withholding tax. Interest and royalties earned through nonresident companies are subject to withholding tax rates of 5% and 15%, respectively.

As part of the tax reform; Romania's top marginal rate for personal income tax was dropped from 60% to 40%. Personal income tax in 2003 was levied according to a progressive schedule with rates ranging from 18% (for taxable income above $67/month; as of 1 January 2003 the monthly personal deduction was about $57.35 up from $51 in 2002), to 40% plus $98/month (on increments of monthly income above $370), with intermediate rates of 23% plus $12; 28% plus $35; and 34% plus $62. the tax-exempt limit for a monthly pension payment was raised from $159 in 2002 to $182 in 2003. There are also property taxes.

The main indirect tax is Romania's value-added tax (VAT), with a standard rate of 19% as of 2005. Many basic services are exempt from VAT including banking and financial services. Other taxes include excise and stamp taxes.


Romania joined the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in December 1992 and signed an association agreement with the European Union early in 1993, which provided for Romania to adapt to EU economic-commercial standards over a 10-year period. Under an interim collaborative agreement effective 1 May 1993, a revised Romanian import tariff schedule was introduced with preferential tariffs for imports from European Union and EFTA member nations. Generally, customs duties range from 030%, with a weighted average of 11.7%. For imports of ores and fuels, the duties are zero or 310%. Duties are higher for cigarettes (8 ECUs plus 20%), spirits (100150%), wines (20%), beer (5570%), and coffee (80%). Tariff rates are on an ad valorem basis. there is also a value-added tax (VAT) of 19% levied on almost all goods.


Foreign investment was negligible before the overthrow of the Communist regime. A new 1991 foreign investment law was enacted in 1991. Incentives to foreign investors include tax holidays and reduction, full foreign ownership of an enterprise, and full conversion and repatriation of after-tax profits. However, the latter is a drawn-out process because of the central bank's shortage of hard currency.

In 1997, the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) reached $1.2 billion, and then rose to a record of over $2 billion in 1998. Affected by the Russian financial crisis of August 1998, FDI inflow fell to a little over $1 billion in 1999. Annual FDI inflow averaged about $1.1 billion from 2000 to 2002. the FDI inflow continued to grow, reaching $1.6 billion in 2003, and a whopping $5.1 billion in 2004.

France, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and Italy have been the largest sources of FDI. The largest foreign operations are in the automobile, steel, oil and banking industries.


The economy of Romania before 1990 was centrally planned and, for the most part, under complete state control. the nationalized industries and other economic enterprises operated within the state economic plan and were governed by the directives issued by the pertinent ministries. Economic planning, conducted by the State Planning Commission, emulated the Soviet example.

Nationalization of industry, mining, transportation, banking, and insurance on 11 June 1948 was followed by one-year economic plans in 1949 and 1950. These were succeeded by the first five-year plan (195155), which laid the groundwork for rapid industrialization, with emphasis on heavy industry, primarily machine-building. The state's second five-year plan (195660) provided for an increase of industrialization by 6065%. Greater attention was given to consumer goods and to agriculture. A subsequent six-year plan (196065) envisaged an overall industrial increase of 110%, especially in producer goods. the five-year plan for 196670 realized an overall industrial increase of 73%. the five-year plans for 197175, 197680, and 198185 called for further industrial expansion and, according to official figures, during 196685 industrial production grew by 9.5% annually. The eighth five-year plan, for 198690, projected a 13.314.2% annual increase in Romania's net industrial production.

In the farming sector, the government has assiduously pursued a policy of collectivization. By virtue of the 22 March 1945 land reform, most farms over 50 hectares (123 acres)a total of about 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres)were confiscated without compensation. In 1949, the remaining large private farms were seized, and their 500,000 hectares (1,236,000 acres) organized into state farms. Various pressures, including coercion, were used to force peasants into joining. In April 1962, collectivization was announced as virtually completed, although there were farms, especially in remote areas, that were left in the hands of their rightful owners. Agricultural development in following years was comparatively neglected.

As of 1 January 1979, Romania began implementing the "new economic-financial mechanism," an attempt to introduce into the Romanian economy the principle of workers' self-management as previously developed elsewhere in Eastern Europe, notably in the former Yugoslavia and Hungary. Accordingly, autonomous production units were expected to plan for their own revenues and expenditures and manpower needs. These separate plans were, however, to be harmonized with the national economic plan, so that Romania's centralized system of goal and price setting was not significantly altered.

One of the major economic targets in the 1980s was the reduction of foreign debt, which was achieved but at the cost of drastic austerity measures and reduced industrial growth. After the fall of Communism, a major objective was the privatization of 6,200 state enterprises. The economy was to be completely restructured, with the emphasis on private ownership and adherence to the market for the allocation of resources. By late 1996, nearly all the country's agricultural land had been returned to private ownership, but only 65% of all eligible recipients had been officially given title. By 2002, Romania had privatized many major state-owned enterprises, with the help of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Union. The private sector in 2002 accounted for an estimated 65% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Economic growth declined in the late 1990s, but picked up in the early 2000s. Inflation, once a problem (it stood at 18% at the end of 2002), has been reduced to single figures in 2004, and is predicted to drop to 5% by 2006. In 2004, the foreign direct investment in Romania reached $5.1 billion (second only to the Czech Republic in Europe), while the GDP registered a whopping 8.3% increase (second only to Latvia in Europe). The economy is expected to grow at a rate of around 7% in the coming years.

Romania is seeking admission to the European Union, with accession envisaged for 2007. The accession could however be postponed until 2008 if Romania fails to implement the necessary reforms (one of the biggest problems that still needs to be addressed is corruption). The center-right government that was elected in 2004 is confident however that 2007 is a realistic target, and is working hard towards achieving that goal. In December 2004 Romania closed the pre-accession negotiation with the European Union, in October 2004 it received the "functionally market economy" status, and it is looking to continue its sustained economic growth in the years preceding the accession.

However, one of the biggest concerns that Romanian policy makers are having is the capacity of the country to respond to EU market pressures once it will be part of that organization. While some sectors have registered significant progress, others are still lagging and will probably suffer once the accession is completed. For example, Romania's main car manufacturer, Dacianow owned by Renault, has been very successful in acquiring an important share of the internal and external market with its new modelLogan; the information technology (IT) industry is one of the most vibrant in Europe (a study recently done by Brainbench found that Romania is in fourth place globally, in terms of its IT workforce numbers). The agriculture sector, on the other hand, suffers from fragmentation, lack of economic cohesion (economies of scale are hard to achieve on small parcels of land that are owned by people with different interests), and a lack of future perspective.

In 2005, the new center-right government has introduced a 16% flat tax on both wages and firm turnoverone of Europe's most liberal taxation systems. this fiscal reform is expected to strengthen the economic boom, increase foreign investment, bring to light the gray economy, and lower corruption.


A social insurance system has been in place since 1912. Social security covers most wage earners, and a voluntary system is in place for persons wishing additional coverage. Old-age pensions are granted at age 65 for men and at 60 for women. those engaged in hazardous or arduous work are eligible for retirement earlier. The program is funded by contributions from employers and employees, with deficits covered by the government. Workers who do not meet the conditions of duration of employment at retirement age are provided with social assistance. Survivors' benefits are payable to the spouse, father and mother, and brothers and sisters who are dependents of the deceased, and to children up to age 16. Workers' compensation and unemployment insurance are also provided, as well as maternity benefits and family allowances.

All residents are entitled to medical care. Families with children under age 16 receive family allowances and a birth grant for each child. In addition to state social insurance, other schemes cover members of artisans' cooperatives, the clergy, and the professions.

The constitution guarantees equal pay for equal work, but women are still concentrated in low-paying professions. Few women are in senior management positions in the private sector. Women also face considerable employment discrimination in Romania's harsh economic climate and suffer from a higher rate of unemployment than do men. Violence against women, including rape, is a serious problem. It is difficult to bring rape cases to trial because the victim's testimony is not considered sufficient evidence; medical evidence and witnesses are required. Domestic abuse is widespread.

Ethnic Hungarians are the largest minority and are subject to discrimination. The Roma population continues to be harassed, and there are reports of anti-Semitic activity. Human rights are generally respected although there were continued reports of the mistreatment of detainees. The government has improved prison conditions and instituted vocational training, but prisons are still overcrowded.


As part of a broader social and economic transition, Romania's health care system underwent major reforms in the 1990s as it was transformed from a centralized, tax-based system to a pluralistic one based on contractual relationships between health care providers and insurance funds. Until the end of the decade, primary care was provided mainly through some 6,000 public-sector dispensaries throughout the country, with each patient assigned to a facility. Patients have subsequently been allowed to choose their own dispensary and general practitioner. As of 2004, there were an estimated 189 physicians, 402 nurses, and 23 dentists per 100,000 people. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 4.6% of GDP.

Increased mother and child care lowered the infant mortality rate from 143 per 1,000 live births in 1948 to 15.39 in 2005. The general health of the population has likewise improved, with several previously serious diseases eliminated or greatly reduced (e.g., diphtheria, tuberculosis), although proper sanitation was available to only 53% of the population and safe drinking water to 58%. Leading causes of death were cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases. Overall mortality was 12.3 per 1,000 people as of 2002. Average life expectancy in 2005 was 71.35 years. Romania's birth rate in 2002 was an estimated 10.8 per 1,000 people. About 48% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception. The total fertility rate was 1.3 children per woman during her childbearing years. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 100%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 97%; polio, 97%; and measles, 97%.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 6,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 350 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Inadequate housing has been a serious problem since World War II. Romanian housing suffered from the 1940 earthquake, war damage, neglect, and inadequate repair and maintenance after the war. An increase in the urban population caused by industrialization and emphasis on capital construction exacerbated the problem. Since 1965, the government has encouraged private construction by state support in the form of credits and expertise. However, an uncertain economy means that maintenance for existing properties has been somewhat poor.

In 1999, the total housing stock was at about 7.88 million units. At the 2002 census, there were 8,107,114 dwellings serving 21.6 million people. About 56.8% of all dwellings were single-family detached houses of two or three rooms. About 97% of all units are under private ownership. About 47% of all residential buildings were built in the period 194570.


Education is compulsory for students between the ages of 6 and 16. The general course of study includes four years of primary school followed by four years of lower secondary school. Students may attend art or trade schools after their primary education is complete. At the upper secondary level, students may choose between schools offering general studies, vocational programs, or technical studies. Upper secondary programs generally last from three to four years. The academic year runs from October to June.

In 2001, about 75% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 89% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 81% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 89.4% of all students complete their primary education. the student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 18:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 14:1.

Admission to an advanced institution depends on a variety of factors, including the student's social background. Over half the students receive government assistance. Yearly quotas are established by the Ministry of Education according to manpower needs. Students in some fields must first complete six months of practical work in industry or agriculture.

In 1959, the Romanian Victor Babes University (founded 1919) and the János Bolyai University (1945) for Hungarian minority students, both in Cluj-Napoca, were merged into the Babes-Bolyai University in order to strengthen "socialist patriotism." there are six other universitiesin Bucharest (founded in 1864), Braşov (1971), Craiova (1966), Galati (1948), Iaşi (1860), and Timişoara (1962).

Like the other formerly Communist countries, Romania has emphasized polytechnic education in recent years. This "link of education with life" in the early grades means studying practical subjects; however, beginning in the upper grades there are work programs, often directly in enterprises, in workshops, or on collective farms, depending on the locality.

In 2003, about 35% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 97.3%. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.5% of GDP.


The National Library in Bucharest holds over 8.7 million items. The Romanian Academy Library in Bucharest is also a national library. It holds about 10 million items, mainly on the history and culture of the Romanian people. The next largest public libraries are the university libraries at Bucharest (1.4 million volumes), Iaşi (3 million), and Cluj-Napoca (3.6 million).

Romania has some 400 museums. Bucharest is home to many of the most important museums, including the National History Museum of Romania, the National Museum of Art, and the newer Historical Museum of Bucharest (founded in 1984) and Cotroceni National Museum (1991), featuring Romanian fine art, architecture, and decorative art. Also in the capital are the Cecilia and Frederick Storck Museum, highlighting the works of Karl Storck, a great Romanian sculptor, and his family, also prominent artists; the Curteo Veche Museum, featuring archaeological exhibits and housed in a 15th-century palace; and the Museum of Romanian Literature.


In 2003, there were an estimated 199 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 465,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 324 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

In 2004, Romanian Public Television controlled four national stations. Radio Romania operates one domestic and one external service. There are several privately owned commercial stations in both television and radio. As of 1998, there were 40 AM and 202 FM radio broadcasting stations. A 1995 report indicated there were 48 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 358 radios and 697 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 172.5 of every 1,000 people are cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 96.6 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 184 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 65 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The leading daily newspapers (with 2002 circulation figures) are Evenimentul Zilei (Events of the Day, 200,000); Adevarul de Cluj (Truth of Cluj, 200,000); Romania Libera (Free Romania, 100,000); Adevarul (Truth, 85,000); and Libertatea (Liberty, 75,000).

Though the constitution provides for freedom of expression and prohibits censorship, it is illegal to "defame" the country. Journalists are prosecuted under this law and sentenced to prison terms.


Economic organizations concerned with Romania's internal and external economic activities include the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 1992 the Council for National Minority Affairs was formed for the discussion of minority issues. the organization helps the government formulate policies favorable to the minorities of the country. The body is headed by the Secretary General of the government. Representatives from 16 officially recognized minority groups and 12 government ministries make up the organization.

There are also many cooperatives in key sectors of the economy. Many Romanian farmers belong to the private Farmers' Federation. There are about 4,000 farming cooperatives and 41 district unions. A large cooperative located in the manufacturing and consumers sectors of the economy is the Central Union of Commerce and Credit Cooperative. There are over 2,500 production and 850 credit cooperatives. Another important cooperative is the Central Union of Handicraft Cooperatives. The National Union of the Consumers' Cooperatives is based in Bucharest. There is also an active Association for the Protection of Consumers.

The Romanian Academy was founded in 1866 to promote public interest, education, and research in scientific fields. Several professional associations also promote research and public education in specific fields, such as the Romanian Medical Association.

Serving a very specific cultural niche, the Transylvania Society of Dracula, based in Bucharest, promotes the study of the Bram Stoker novel, Dracula, and the life of Prince Vlad Dracula, on whom the book is loosely based.

National youth organizations include the Free Youth Association of Bucharest, the League of Students, National Union of Independent Students of Romania, Junior Chamber, Romanian Council of Churches-Youth Unit, the National Scout Organization of Romania, and YMCA/YWCA. There are several sports associations representing a variety of pastimes, such as tennis, skating, track and field, baseball and softball, and badminton.

Civitas Foundation for the Civil Society, established in 1992, sponsors community development and social programs promoting an open, democratic society. Other social action groups include the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania and the Women's Association of Romania. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, UNICEF, and Habitat for Humanity.


The Carpathian Mountains, the Black Sea coast, and the Danube region were developed to attract large numbers of tourists. Major attractions include many old cities and towns (Braşov, Constanţa, Sibiu, Sighisoara, Suceava, Timişoara, and others) and more than 120 health resorts and spas. The monasteries in Bukovina are famous for their exterior frescoes. Castle Dracula, the castle of Prince Vlad of Walachia, has been a tourist attraction since the 1970s.

Popular sports are football (soccer), skiing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, wrestling, handball, and gymnastics. Between 1965 and 1984, Romanian athletes won 176 Olympic medals (48 gold, 52 silver, and 76 bronze). Romania was the only Socialist country to send athletes to the 1984 games in Los Angeles; all the others, following the USSR's lead, boycotted these games.

A valid passport is required to enter Romania of all foreign nationals except those of the countries of the European Union who only need an identity card. Citizens of the United States, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

In 2003, tourist arrivals numbered 5,594,828, of whom 96% came from Europe. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $523 million. There were 97,320 hotel rooms with 201,636 beds and an occupancy rate of 34%. The average length of stay was 3.5 nights.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Bucharest at $228. Other areas were significantly lower at $152 per day.


Perhaps the most famous historical figure in what is now Romania was Vlad (1431?76), a prince of Walachia who resisted the Turkish invasion and was called Tepes ("the impaler") and Dracula ("son of the devil") because of his practice of impaling his enemies on stakes; he was made into a vampire by Bram Stoker in his novel Dracula. the first leader of Communist Romania was Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (190165), who held the office of premier from 1952 to 1955 and of president of the State Council from 1961 until his death. Nicolae Ceausescu (191889) was general secretary of the Communist Party between 1965 and 1989 and head of state from 1967 to 1989; his wife, Elena (191989), was a member of the Permanent Bureau of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party.

Ion Heliade-Radulescu (180272) founded the Bucharest Conservatory and the National Theater and became first president of the Romanian Academy. Mihail Kogalniceanu (181791), a leading statesman in the early Romanian monarchy, inaugurated modern Romanian historiography. Vasile Alecsandri (182190) was a leader of the traditionalist school of writers, which sought its inspiration in the Romanian past rather than in imitations of foreign writers. Mihail Eminescu (185089) is regarded as an outstanding poet, famous for romantic lyricism. His friend Ion Creanga (183787) drew from folklore and wrote with a gaiety and gusto recalling Rabelais. The nation's greatest playwright was Ion Luca Caragiale (18521912), who excelled in social comedy; an internationally famous Romanian-born playwright, Eugène Ionesco (191294), settled in Paris in 1938. Mihail Sadoveanu (18801961) was an important novelist in the period between the two world wars. Romanian-born Elie Wiesel (b.1928), in the United States from 1956, is a writer on Jewish subjects, especially the Holocaust, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Romanian-born Mircea Eliade (190786) was a scholar in comparative religion and comparative mythology, in the United States from 1948. Romanian-born Tristan Tzara (18961963), a literary and artistic critic who settled in Paris, was one of the founders of Dadaism. Nicolae Grigorescu (18381907) and Ion Andreescu (185082) were leading painters, as was Theodor Aman (183191), a modern artist and founder of the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest. Saul Steinberg (19141999) was a cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his work for the New Yorker magazine; he emigrated to the United States in 1942. Sculpture was greatly advanced by Constantin Brâncusi (18761957). Perhaps the greatest names Romania has given to the musical world are those of the violinist and composer Georges Enescu (18811955), known for his Romanian Rhapsodies, and the pianist Dinu Lipatti (191750). A prominent tennis player is Ilie Nastase (194694); gymnast Nadia Comaneci (b.1961) won three gold medals at the 1976 Olympics and two gold medals at the 1980 games.


Romania has no territories or colonies.


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Carey, Henry F. (ed.). Romania since 1989: Politics, Economics, and Society. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2004.

Frucht, Richard (ed.). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005.

Gallagher, Tom. Modern Romania: The End of Communism, the Failure of Democratic Reform, and the theft of a Nation. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

Gross, Peter. Mass Media in Revolution and National Development: The Romanian Laboratory. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1996.

International Smoking Statistics: A Collection of Historical Data from 30 Economically Developed Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Kellogg, Frederick. The Road to Romanian Independence. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1995.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Romania
Region: Europe
Population: 22,411,121
Language(s): Romanian, Hungarian, German
Literacy Rate: 97%
Academic Year: October-June
Number of Primary Schools: 6,188
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 3.6%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 14,181
Libraries: 3,246
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 1,405,308
  Secondary: 2,212,090
  Higher: 411,687
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 103%
  Secondary: 78%
  Higher: 22%
Teachers: Primary: 71,829
  Secondary: 175,958
  Higher: 26,310
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 20:1
  Secondary: 12:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 103%
  Secondary: 78%
  Higher: 24%

History & Background

Romania, located in southeastern Europe, is about the size of Pennsylvania and New York combined. The terrain of Romania mainly consists of rolling, fertile plains with hills in the eastern region of the central Danube River basin and with the Carpathian mountain ranges running north and west in the center of the country. Romania is bordered on the north and northeast by the Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, on the northwest by Hungary, on the south and southwest by Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and on the east by the Black Sea. The country occupies an area of 237,499 square kilometers (91,699 sq. mi.).

As of the year 2000, the estimated population of Romania was 22.5 million and was decreasing at a rate of 2.7 percent. Its largest city and capital, Bucharest, had an estimated population of 2.02 million. Although much of the population is rural and agricultural, there are six cities with populations of 300,000 or more (Constanta, Iasi, Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca, Galati, and Brosav).

Its people are overwhelmingly Romanian (89 percent) which, unlike Slavs and Hungarians, are traced to Latin speaking Romans. However, there are a large number of ethnic and minority groups that make up a small portion of Romania's population. Hungarians make up about seven percent of the population and the remainder comprises Germans, Ukranians, Croats, Serbs, Russians, Turks, and gypsies. Hungarians and gypsies are their primary minority groups. The official language is Romanian, but some of its population speaks Hungarian and German. The religious population of Romania is almost entirely Christian. More than 85 percent of its population is Orthodox; about five percent is Roman Catholic; another five percent is Reformed Protestant, Baptist, or Pentecostal; and a very small number are Greek Catholic or Jewish.

Forty-two percent of the Romanian workforce (about 9 million) is in agriculture; 38 percent is in industry and commerce; and the remaining workforce is in tourism and other occupations. Agriculture (e.g., corn, wheat, potatoes, and livestock) is about 16 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Romania, industry (e.g., textiles, mining, machine building, and chemicals) makes up about 40 percent of the GDP; and services (e.g., tourism) makes up about 43 percent of the GDP. Romania's natural resources include oil, natural gas, timber, coal, salt, and iron ore. Its chief exports are textiles, fuels, metals, wood products, chemicals, and light manufactures. The GDP of the economy of Romania has been growing at rates as high as seven percent in the 1990s (in 1998). Its highly literate workforce (98 percent literacy) and its economic base in agriculture, energy, and tourism gives Romania great economic potential in the future (United States Department of State 2000).

Romania's history and politics has driven the intellectual development of their people. Throughout Romania's history the country has been on what has been called a "path of a series of migrations and conquests" (United States Department of State 2000). In 200 B.C. the area of Romania was settled by the Dacians, who were a Thracian tribe. In the second century A.D., Dacia (early Romania) was incorporated into the Roman Empire, but was abandoned by the Romans almost two centuries later. Remnants of early education, including Latin inscriptions, have been found from this time period. Romania was considered to be lost for a number of years, but reemerged in the middle ages as part of Moldova and Wallachia. There were church related schools beginning in 1000 A.D. The oldest known school in Romania was started in the monastery at Cenadul Vechi in the eleventh century.

Due to the influence of Rome in these early principalities, much of the instruction at this time was in Latin and continued to be so from the eleventh through sixteenth centuries. The first schools to teach in the Romanian language are rooted back to the sixteenth century. Like most schools of the time, these were church-related. In the seventeenth century, more schools were founded in the cities of Sighet, Tirgoviste, Jina, Lancram, Hateg, and Turda. Schools of Greek education were later founded in Bucharest and Tirgoviste. The first university was also founded in Moldavia in 1640 where philosophy and literature were the foundations of its curriculum.

It is important to note that a portion of Romania (e.g., Transylvania, Nasaud, and Tara Birsei) was influenced by other empires such as the Austrio-Hungarian Empire and the Germans. This becomes important in Romanian history as Hungarians and Germans later become national minorities and education in their languages is suppressed by latter day Romanians.

Up until the 1700s, churches still dominated schools, but there began to be some schools under the administration of local communities. In the 1700s and 1800s, the majority of schools were tied to localities and varied in organization and curriculum. But starting in the late 1700s and into the 1800s, some of the schools were budgeted by communities, and local laws began to form and administer education systems. Teachers and professors became a profession separate from the clergy. Schools of music, medicine, and engineering were founded and there began to be some sense of equality in education where women and men were treated equally. Private schools also began to open that were not related to churches.

The Moldovian and Wallachian principalities, however, were badly managed under the Ottoman Empire and were eventually unified under a native prince, Alexander Ioan Cuza, in 1859. In 1864, the new Legislative Assembly provided Romania with a compulsory education system that included free primary education for the first four years, a system of secondary education for seven years, and three years of higher education. Romania is considered to be one of the first countries to provide compulsory education.

Romania became independent under the 1878 Treaty of Berlin after the War of 1877. Romania later crowned its first king in 1881. In this early period of Romania, numerous educational laws and regulations were handed down that set out the education system of Romania. Some of these laws provided for the selection and training of teachers, the extension of compulsory education, the exclusion of peasant children from secondary schools, and extensions in the curricula of secondary and higher education. Graduates of Romanian higher education before 1990 had to go through a period of compulsory employment after their studies (Reisz 1994). Through a propaganda program, higher education in Romania was considered elitist and came to be associated with institutions that produced doctors, teachers, engineers, economists, and lawyers.

Although Romania was located between the Hungarian, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian Empires, it garnered much of its educational, cultural, and administrative models from its complex history and from the west. In particular, influence came from trade relations with the French (United States Department of State 2000). Romania was an ally of the west in World War I and was granted more territory after the war in such areas as Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Buckovina. In 1918, the addition of Transylvania established the national state of Romania. Because Transylvania was a portion of the Austrio-Hungarian empire, Transylvania's education and culture were heavily influenced by the Hungarians. Schools in Transylvania, before its annexation by Romania, only permitted instruction in Hungarian. As a result, there were far more Hungarians than Romanians who were enrolled in secondary schools. This became an important foundation in Romanian educational history, because Romanians under communism required Hungarians to be taught in the Romanian language. The University of Cluj, for instance, began to offer instruction in Romanian for the first time.

Pre-World War II, Romania exhibited many of the qualities of a dictatorship although it had a constitutional monarchy. Much of the political thought pre-World War II was anticommunist, pronationalist, and held anti-foreign and anti-Jewish influence on its economy. Educational laws primarily sought to unify the new nation into a single education system. The education system became more egalitarian by the provision of free compulsory primary education and free books for those who could not afford them. Like Romanian politics, education was nationalist in its ideology.

During World War II, Romania, under the direction of General Antonescu, sided with the Axis powers and invaded the Soviet Union to retain some of its territories. In 1944, a coup was staged by King Michael that deposed the Antonescu dictatorship and placed the armies of Romania on the side of the Allied powers. Romanian armies, then, fought the Germans, the Transylvanians, the Hungarians, and the Czechs (United States Department of State 2000). As socialism began in Romania, so did the establishment of Marxist and Leninist thought into its education system.

After the Peace Treaty signings in Paris in 1947, Romania came under the influence of the Soviet Union and communism. The Romanian educational curriculum became socialist as well with the teachings of materialism, scientific socialism, and Marxist historical philosophy. The Bessarabian and the Northern Buckovian territories came under soviet annexation whereas the northern portion of Transylvania was returned from Hungary to Romania. The Soviets pressed for inclusion of Romania's Communist Party into the government and political opponents were eliminated. King Michael went into exile in 1947. This early phase of communist rule was dominated by the Soviet Union and the Hungarian minority in Romania (Gallagher 1995).

Under communism, the education system became state-controlled and intimately influenced by the communist revolution in Eastern Europe. Religious and private schools immediately came under state control. For example, the first constitution of the Romanian Peoples Republic (April 1948) had attempted to abolish confessional general schools and the Educational Reform of 1948 abolished all private schools as well as religious teachings in the curriculum (Shafir 1985). This new education law transferred all private schools to state control and all church school property was taken by the state without compensation.

In the 1950s, the Romanian Communist Party was considered by a majority of Romanians to be a gang taking orders from the Russians, which were in turn directed by the Hungarians (Gallagher 1995). Thus, a very important part of Romanian education was a suppression of the Hungarian minority in Romania. This was done in part by an educational philosophy that "Romanianized" all minorities through the educational process. Because of the past Romanian encounters with Hungary, reforms in education after the 1960s made it very difficult, if not impossible, to learn or teach in the Hungarian language. Hungarian schools were merged with Romanian schools and beginning in 1956 this effort was stepped up (Gallagher 1995). One of the most important events in this regard was when, in 1959, the Hungarian Bolyai University was merged with its Romanian counterpart, the Babes University. Technical classes that were formerly taught in Hungarian were now taught in Romanian. In fact, it was nearly impossible to study applied sciences or engineering in the Hungarian language. Those courses that were taught in Hungarian were generally of an ideological nature. The ultimate result of this merger was a real blow to Hungarian language education. The number of Hungarian undergraduates dropped from 10.75 percent in 1957 to 5.7 percent in 1974 (Romania: Language, Education, and Cultural Heritage, 2001).

In the 1950s and into the 1960s, Romania began a nationalist communist regime that distanced itself from the Soviet Union both economically and socially. This new regime was influenced by the leadership of Gheorghiu-Dej and emphasized Romanian national values, history, and patriotism. As to education, this meant the building of a Romanian intelligentsia that promoted state-controlled education and communist thought. In addition, the vision of totalitarian Romania was an educational emphasis on preparing young people for industrial tasks (Gallagher 1995). Higher education in Romania was still elitist, but it did increase in the 1950s (Reisz 1994). Another important part of this movement in Romanian history was an abandonment of Russian and Soviet interpretations of Romanian history in the 1960s (Gallagher 1995).

After the death of Gheorghiu-Dej, the Romanian Communist Party was controlled by Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceausescu became head of state in 1967. Education under Ceausescu became much more communist and nationalist. Romania under Ceausescu from 1967 until the revolution in 1989, was a time of foreign policy that was independent from Russia. In 2000 the U.S. Department of State said that Romania's independence from Russia led to some respect by Western democracies that allowed Ceausescu's rule to become increasingly tyrannical in the 1970s. As the anticommunist revolution increased political inertia in the late 1980s, Ceausescu's policies, including education, became more and more nationalist and more and more geared toward the needs of the economy. There were severe cuts in the diversity of higher educational programs in the mid-1970s that led to 74 percent of students being enrolled in engineering and agricultural schools by 1988 (Reisz 1994). In addition, numerous reforms were undertaken to continue the domination of the Romanian language in education.

In 1989, the Ceausescu regime fell along with other communist dominated governments in Eastern Europe. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on Christmas Day in 1989 and the government was taken over by the National Salvation Front (NSF), which claimed that it had restored freedom and democracy. Elections were held in 1990 and Ion Iliescu, the NSF leader, won the vote and two-thirds of the seats in parliament. The NSF then began what was termed as "cautious free market reforms" (U.S. Department of State 2000). However, much of the country was impatient with the slow reform and blamed it on the intelligentsia and other communist devotees. As a result, protesters and miners who were angry with the progress led to an angry and brutal treatment of these Ceausescu-era intellectuals. The miners returned to Bucharest in 1991 and demanded higher wages. As a result of this unsettling political environment, the FSN split into two parties shortly after the parliament drafted a new democratic constitution in 1991 and after that constitution was approved by referendum in December of that same year.

Along with the fall of came a slow, but progressive set of reforms in Romanian society. The reforms in education included the slow decentralization of the education system, the increase in number of private schools in Romania, and the increased pressure by Hungarians to restore education in the Hungarian language. Progress has been hampered by the lack of resources, the slow progress of changing textbooks from communist to reform, and the remaining communist intelligentsia in Romania that dominated education and political life under communism (Gallagher 1995).

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Although Romania was one of the first countries with a compulsory education system, under socialism, education was centralized, Marxist-based, and free. The centralization of education allowed for teaching communist party ethics and was, a very important role of government. At the local level, the education section of the local communist party administered education. The local communist party Executive Committees of the County People's Councils housed these education sections (Braham 1972). These People's Councils, as well as the education sections, usually acted in accordance with general guidelines or instructions that were issued by the Party and by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education was the central government body charged with implementing education policy.

After the revolution in 1989, the Ministry of Education became the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and the Constitution in Romania changed as the state moved from socialism to a progressively market oriented economy. Under the new Constitution of 1991, Romania provides a right to education regardless of social background, sex, political and religious affiliation, and any other restrictions that might injure any human right (The Educational System in Romania 2001). Therefore, one can see the change in constitutional emphasis in the language surrounding political and human rights equality issues. The prereform constitution also mentioned a right to education and equality of education for minorities. However, the constitution used separation of church and state language to prohibit religious education.

Three Important Historical Foundations of Romanian Education: There are three very important legal and historical foundations of Romanian education today. The first Romanianization of education came through communist party education or "party teaching." The second Romanianization of education began in the 1950s where minority ideas were suppressed (e.g., the rooting out of Hungarian language education). The third important influence was the emphasis of Romanian education on industrial education at the expense of agricultural and other disciplines.

The Intelligentsia: Party Education Under Communism: With the increased nationalism in Romania in the 1960s, the Romanian Communist Party (RCP) saw a need in the early 1970s for more "revolutionary consciousness." In the 1960s, cooption was used to bring intellectuals into the party. These intellectuals consisted of 46 percent of engineers and 50 percent of all teachers (Shafir 1985). As a result of this, there was a fear by Ceausescu of a "red" versus "expert" split in the country. This fear of a "narrow professionalism" among party members led to a minicultural revolution in 1971. The cultural revolution was used to bring the political minorities into the party that had wished to push beyond party limits on free speech. Thus, in 1971, the Stephen Gheorghiu Academy for Social and Political Education was reorganized to provide "party higher education" in order to produce individuals with satisfactory professional qualifications and correct ideological values. This reorganization led to two divisions of party education: one in charge of scientific management and the other in charge of party and mass organization.

In addition, in 1972, the RCP adopted a code of communist ethics. Party education was necessary for establishing the intelligentsia that comprised government offices and positions in education. "Party teaching," was used to improve the level of RCP members and to create a loyal intelligentsia that would influence political and social life in the state. Party higher education under the Academy was up to four years long and was regarded as a major step toward their party careers. As a result of this, the totalitarian vision from the party was an emphasis on science and industrial education that prepared young people for industrial jobs (Gallagher 1995).

In the 1980s, as democratic movements began to assert themselves in Eastern Europe, party education became more important in Romania. In 1982, the Political Education Committee (PEC) recognized the poor efforts of party education and trained a group of propagandists that visited each county and spent four days a month training and educating local propagandists. These locals did "party teaching." Party members were often forced to attend sessions or classes after work or school. One significant problem with the failure to "party teach" was that a plurality (47 percent) of all members had not yet completed high school. By 1983, over 200,000 party members had graduated from party schools (Shafir 1985).

Suppression of Minorities in Education: Romanianization was the primary policy beginning in the second communist wave of the 1950s. Assimilation, and even elimination, of ethnic and political minorities was a policy that had a great impact on Romanian education in the Ceausescu years and in the reform years after his reign. Shafir notes that three primary policies aided in the suppression of minorities in education. First, education was used to assimilate Romanian ethics into Transylvania and to disperse non-Romanian ethics out of the region. Second, there was a policy and history of shrinkage of the number of schools providing education in minority languages (e.g., Hungarian and German). Third, there was a promotion of Romanian as the national language in early nationalist and communist politics.

For example, from the 1970s to the 1980s, minimum numbers of 25 students in primary schools and 36 students in secondary schools were required before a class could be open to minority language instruction (Shafir 1985). This rule did not apply to Romanian language classes. In universities, minority language teaching was regulated by a provision that university study groups for minority languages could only be established if there was a minimum of 15 students. However, students were distributed among groups so that group numbers rarely reached 14 students.

In addition, the Educational Reform of 1973 was geared to transform the education system by making it two-thirds technical and one-third humanities in order to keep up with industrialization. However, as of 1985, this policy had not been applied to Hungarian language instruction. Because technical courses were only taught in the Romanian language, this further isolated Hungarian students in Romania from educational development (Romania: Language, Education, and Cultural History 2001). In 1974, only 1.4 percent of technical instruction was in Hungarian. From 1974 to 1985, only one out of four technical schools taught in minority languages and technical textbooks were rarely translated out of the Romanian language (Shafir 1985). Thus, Hungarian and German parents tried to register their children in Romanian language schools. This led to complaints by some party members, so Ceausescu had these applicants rejected when they applied to technical schools.

The educational foundation under communist and totalitarian Romania was a Romanianization of minority languages in education. In addition, non-Romanians were filtered away from training that would achieve for them the more important industrial jobs in Romanian society. With educational reform after the 1989 revolution, politically active Hungarians demanded steps toward inclusion in the education system. One very important demand was the reconstitution of Bolyai University (Gallagher 1995). The merger of Bolyai with the Romanian Babes University had eroded Hungarian language teaching in higher education and this became a major issue among education reforms in the 1990s.

Emphasis on Industrial Education: In the late 1960s Romania began to emphasize industrial and technical education. This, to some, came at the expense of training in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. This became a real issue for reform in the post-Ceausescu era and had a great effect on the education levels of rural students.

Much of the Romanian workforce in 1981 commuted from rural areas to fill industrial jobs in the cities (Shafir 1985). Most of these workers, however, were very poorly educated and unskilled laborers. Seventy percent of these workers were said to have only four years of elementary education. The migration of these undertrained workers to the city led to a real problem with fewer (and also poorly trained) workers in rural areas for agricultural jobs. As of 1982, there were lower levels of education for agricultural workers and agricultural jobs were low in income and low in prestige. Only children who did not pass entrance exams to other schools would attend agricultural schools; half of those who graduated from agricultural schools went to work in rural villages; and only 15 percent of these would be in agricultural jobs two to three years later.

Reform under Ceausescu attempted to remedy the rural and agricultural drain. One reform was to require most students who graduated the eighth grade in rural schools to attend high school (especially the vocational and agricultural variety) in their own areas. This was done to slow rural migration and the harm to the agricultural sector of the economy. A second reform was a decree that retired citizens and school children must help with agricultural work during the peak agricultural season. During peak farming months children aged 10 and above would work the fields and schools would close (if need arose) in order to weed the fields (Shafir 1985).

Therefore, Romanianization in party education, minority education, and industrial education had its effects on the education system. Party education became formal for members and it was an important socializing force for the creation of an intelligentsia that would become teachers and professors under Ceausescu. Party education also emphasized the necessity for scientific and industrial advancement that forced changes in the curricula of Romanian schools. This emphasis on industrial economy also led to serious problems with education in the agricultural sectors of society. Education in Romania had a very firm and important effect on assimilating minorities into a centralized Romanian culture. This was done, in part, by reforms that harmed the ability of minorities to study in their own languages.

Educational SystemOverview

In discussing Romanian education, it is quite important to provide an overview of education before the democratic revolution in 1989. The political reforms in 1989 greatly shaped the education system today.

Education Before 1989: Education in socialist Romania was a key component of socialist society and was centrally controlled. Every student from nursery school to graduate school was taught in a socialist environment controlled by the state and attendance was compulsory up through secondary school (Rabitte 2001). The centralized education system provided one notable successliteracy rates were estimated at 98 percent during communist rule (U.S. Department of State 2000).

The Ministry of Education (MOE) set the curriculum and the curriculum was heavily influenced by communist doctrine. The Ministry also planned the number of students who would be accepted at institutions. Students were generally free to apply to the school that they chose, but acceptance was regulated by the state. The number of pupils to be accepted at schools of each level was planned during the summer by the MOE for the school year beginning in September (Rabitte 2001). The MOE and the state declared that all schools had the same quality of education, but it was clear that technical schools were the emphasis of the state. Agricultural and rural schools had fewer resources and were not sought after like technical schools, which included the sciences and engineering.

Education reforms in the 1970s provided a heavy emphasis on technical schools at a ratio of two-thirds technical schools to one-third humanity schools. This was, in part, due to Ceausescu's belief that study of the humanities was a waste of state resources and that intellectuals were not productive members of society like those trained in industry. The emphasis on technical education is exemplified by the different tracks of curricula available to students entering high school. Technical schools, at the high school level, were divided into three types and students were selected for these on the basis of entrance exam scores. The best students were placed into physics and math curricula, middle grade students were placed into electronics, and the lower level students were trained in mechanics (Rabitte 2001). Each high school student was also compelled to complete a one-month internship or apprenticeship per trimester.

Despite the technical emphasis of education, Rabitte (2001) notes that the curriculum was well balancedeven by Western standards. Students balanced their technical training with courses in Romanian literature and language, two additional foreign languages, history, sports, geography, biology, and drawing. It is not surprising that international estimates of literacy rates were reported so high. Schools taught the English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian languages. However, Russian was not taught in schools because of Ceausescu's severance of ties with the Soviet Union during the late 1960s.

Religious and private schooling was nonexistent in communist Romania and so the state curriculum was geared toward communist indoctrination. Courses were taught on the politics and economics of capitalism and socialism. The MOE selected the educational curriculum and books. Teaching methods focused on memorization of material for state exams. Very little emphasis was placed on critical thinking (Rabitte 2001).

Reform: Education After 1989: With the 1989 democratic revolution that brought down communism, the Romanian education system began the process of reform. Education reform was adopted, but implementation of that reform was a slow process. Shortly after the revolution, libraries were emptied of their communist writings and these were burned in the streets. This, of course, left the system with a need for newer, reform oriented booksa process that would take some time. In fact, Rabitte (2001) tells us that it took until 1992 for democratic reform textbooks to begin to show up in schools. Market reforms allowed several new publishing houses to open up and print books for the new national curriculum.

A great number of the qualified teachers in Romania during the immediate postrevolution were members of the communist intelligentsia and/or the communist party. Therefore, the implementation problem that existed in the postrevolution continued in a number of schools because new curricula had not been swiftly adopted and communist ideas remained among the teachers. One interesting reform allowed students the opportunity to dismiss teachers and professors that were not changing with society. In addition, all teachers who were active members of the communist party were forced to retire from teaching (Rabitte 2001).

One of the immediate reforms of education was to rid the country of socialist ideology classes. Religious education and other private schools began to emerge from socialism. Included in this was a growth of private universities. However, many of these schools were quite expensive for locals and the curricula were considered by some to be "fly by night." Many who graduated found that their degrees were not valuable in the market. As reform continued, there were improvements in the private universities and many became nationally accredited. Rabitte (2001) suggests that these institutions have improved greatly and have sunk much of their profits into internal, capital improvements.

State run universities and their curricula also came under reform. Reisz (1994) argues that the initial reform of universities in the 1990s was an expansion of academic freedom. These included a development of new disciplines by academics along with the fall of barriers to international information (e.g., by the Internet). In particular, reform toward a more open society included a new emphasis on business, and the arts and humanities in education. However, the new government in 1991 continued to promote the industrialization of Romania and technical education remained important. This meant deemphasizing fields such as health and education to fund industrial priorities. These implementation problems are of particular concern to rural areas that are underfunded and without good facilities and textbooks. Raisz (1994) argues that the early reform experiment of "absolute freedom" in curricular affairs was considered to be unsuccessful. Therefore, he suggests that academics in Romania have been held back by the Ministry of National Education and that this signals a return to more central control over education in Romania.

The Romanian curriculum also changed from an emphasis on memorization to an emphasis on critical thinking. International experts aided Romania with this transition in urban areas. However, this transition has been slower in the rural areas where teachers still follow the old teaching techniques. In higher education, Rabitte (2001) suggests that many university courses follow the American model of curriculum and testing. There was also a new emphasis on international education and international exchanges of both faculty and students.

Despite reform efforts since the 1989 revolution, many problems persist including what has been termed as "chaotic growth" (Smith 1995). Student enrollments increased from 164,505 in 1988-1989 to 256,690 in 1992-1993; the number of faculties tripled; and private universities grew to 73 by 1995. Along with this growth came a serious shortage of teachers. The number of teaching positions grew from 14,485 to 31,249 from 1989 to 1993. However, although the positions grew by 116 percent, the number of positions filled only grew by 64 percent. This becomes even more significant with the growth of student hours to 36-hour attendance weeks that are above other western schools.

Resources for education after the revolution improved overall and there was adoption of new curricula that was more democratic in focus. However, adoption does not mean implementation. The education system has been slow to change because efforts and budget priorities have focused on the construction of a market economy, a change in politics, and a continued emphasis on industrialization, technology, and business.

In 1990 Romania put forth objectives for educational reform. Wilson Barrett (1995-96) discusses the reform mission put forth in 1990 by Romania as a series of reforms that were in line with other national reforms (constitutional, political, economic, and social). The following objectives had priority. One was decentralization of educational administration by delegating responsibilities to inspectors and school principals; by increasing university autonomy and the accountability of education through a system of public responsibility for efficiency; and by creating boards to facilitate the participation of local officials, parents, trade, and industry. Other very important priorities included: modernization of education finance, reorganization of teacher training, restructuring of vocational and secondary technical schools, modification of curricula including books, and the abolition of the state monopoly over textbooks. Along with granting more autonomy, Romania also prioritized higher education reform to include academic evaluation, accreditation, and new financing systems. Finally, new government institutions were set up to implement education reform. These included the Department of Reform, Management, and Human Resources (under the Ministry of Education); the establishment of teacher centers in each county; regional managers of reform at the local level; a network of pilot schools organized by the Institute for Educational Services; the National Council for Educational Reform; and the National Council for Evaluation and Accreditation.

In a 1992 article, Dr. Gheorghe Stefan, the Minister of Education and Science recognized that early education reform in Romania necessitated building the "bones" of educational-legal foundations and that the "flesh" would be added later. Education reform in Romania is rather new and it will take time for reform goals to be adequately implemented in Romanian society. There have been great changes that have occurred very quickly in Romanian political and economic life. Education reform has been no different and in the future there will be typical implementation problems that occur when a country experiences societal upheaval.

School Technology: School technology has been a real problem in the pre- and post-reform eras of education. In a 1992 multiple case study of technology in schools, Diamandi wrote about a case study of a school in Bucharest, Romania. In his introduction, Diamandi argues that Romanian education was still dominated by the informative rather than formative style of educating. Technology was one way of providing formative education in schools.

With the enormous growth of students and a lack of resources, Romania has had problems affording and introducing computing into the classroom. In 1984, Romania introduced computer use into the education system. This occurred once national production of personal computers began in Romania. The first introduction of computers to the classroom consisted of: 1) the introduction of elementary computing within mathematics that included informatics and BASIC programming; 2) familiarizing the younger generation with new technologies through computer camps and special informatics classes (Again, BASIC was the primary language); and 3) research and financial support from government agencies to develop educational software and use of computers with pupils (Diamandi 1992). The central problem with these initiatives was the computer technology was not widely sold to the public and PC technology was quite expensive. Therefore, small school budgets and lack of a national program to introduce technology led to a very poor record of technology in schools.

To correct this, in 1985 the Ministry of Education endowed a number of secondary schools with Sinclair-Spectrum compatible computers. This endowment led to the production of other Sinclair-Spectrum compatible systems and spurred a market in Romania. However, Diamandi (1992) points out that these systems were inadequate because of shortcomings such as a nonstandard operating mode, small internal memory capacity, and external data storage via tape.

Because of these issues, computer use was hard to integrate into the curriculum in the late 1980s in part because of poor hardware and because of the overuse of older languages such as BASIC.

The state of technology in 1992 was also problematic. Technology was integrated in the schools in a "top-down" fashion from secondary schools down to primary and elementary schools. These latter schools were not the priority schools and they did not obtain adequate technology (Diamandi 1992). Even at the secondary level, computing technology was a priority in the "Informatics Secondary Schools" and those that emphasized math. Another problem at all school levels is that technology was integrated into the curricula by local teachers that were poorly trained in computer use and instruction. Finally, there were problems in obtaining software for computing. Despite this, however, Diamandi argues that the computer skills of young people have made remarkable progress.

Some changes by the Institute for Computers (ITC) have been to project the requirements for producing hardware and software in Romania. In addition, since 1984, the ITC has fostered research on technology in schools that includes the testing of computers used in the schools and developing applications for the classroom. They have also researched and created courses for computing. Finally, there has been ongoing research that is based in schools with respect to integration of computing into the classroom.

In the late 1990s, the Ministry of National Education brought forth a new commitment to technology in Romanian schools in its creation of the Program for the Implementing of Information and Communications Technologies in Pre-University Education (Information and Communication Technology in Romanian Education System 2001). The core emphases of this program are to integrate technology into a national curriculum, train teachers in information and communication technology, provide computer technology to schools, and create partnerships with business and other organizations (e.g., NGOs and charities).

Education Rights: Every Romanian citizen is afforded a right to an education and that right extends to social class, sex, political affiliation, religion, and any other possible injury to human rights (The Education System in Romania 2001). Education is compulsory for eight years and access to education at all levels is open and free to citizens. The state also provides financial support to pupils that obtain very good grades and/or that prove special abilities in their field.

Education is provided in the Romanian language at all levels. However, given the past educational policies aimed at Hungarians, Romania provides the right for national minorities to be educated in their native tongue. Romanian education now consists of both public and private alternatives.

The education structure consists of preschool education (three levels of small, intermediate, and big); primer education grades (grades 1-4); secondary education with two levels (secondary school: grades 5-8; high school: grades 9-12); intermediary education (post-high school); and higher education (graduate and postgraduate).

Preprimary & Primary Education

The early stages of schooling in Romania include preschool education and primer education (The Educational System in Romania 2001). Preschool education usually includes children between the ages of three and seven. There are three levels of students, which are small, intermediate, and big. Education is developed in kindergarten with a normal, prolonged, and intermediate program. Education at this level is not compulsory and is typically positively correlated with income and social class (Romanian Educational System 2000). The last year of preprimary school is the "school preparatory group," which is used to prepare students for primary education.

Data from the National Institute for Education indicate that just below 65 percent of three to six-year olds attended preprimary schools in 1998/1999. This has increased by about two percent compared to 1997/1998, but is still a large decrease from the 80 percent figure in 1989/1990 (Romanian Educational System 2000). Of those students who are not enrolled, most are poor, minority, have parents with low education levels, and live in areas where there are few museums and other supplementary educational opportunities. This presents a real problem that such students will be underprepared for school and that they will remain in poverty.

Preprimary education is not compulsory, classes are coed, and classes are organized according to age based on a national syllabus. There are, however, no nationally approved textbooks and education at this level generally varies by locality. Locals have more freedom to put together educational programs at this level.

Compulsory Education: Compulsory education traditionally consists of four years of primary education and four years of lower secondary education or middle school (Romanian Educational System 2000). Students typically enter primary school at the age of seven, but may enter at age six if they are mentally capable. Students may leave secondary education at the age of 16 if they are not able to complete the educational requirements. In 1999, an education law changed the duration of compulsory education from eight to nine years.

Educational reforms in Romania have focused on changing the curriculum and books for compulsory education in grades one through eight as well as in high school through grades 12. As of 1999/2000, primary school education adopted alternative texts, but grades 4 through 12 had not. (Romanian Educational System 2000.) Assessment procedures have also begun in primary education. Teachers continuously assess primary school students throughout the curriculum. Regular school examinations are given and focus on the basic subjects of the curriculum. No examination is given at the end of the four-year primary cycle as it is at the higher levels of education.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Romania is made up of secondary schools, which house students from the fifth through the eighth form, and high schools that educate students from the ninth form through the twelfth form. In each level of education, students graduate or pass with the passing of an "ability" or "leaving" examination. The first form of secondary school is lower secondary school and it is compulsory. Upper secondary school is not compulsory.

Lower Secondary School: The secondary school is typically found in schools that run through the eighth form or the twelfth form (The Educational System in Romania 2001). The ability examination for secondary schools is formed from a methodology produced by the Ministry of Education. Students are assessed regularly in their classrooms by examination. At the end of the eighth grade, students are given an ability exam. Students are tested in Romanian language and literature, mathematics, Romanian history, and Romanian geography. Students that do not pass the ability exam do not continue their studies in high school, but they can be given a grades certificate upon request. Eighth form graduates or vocational school graduates who earn an ability certificate can sign up to continue their education in high school.

Participation rates among the lower secondary age group (11 to 14 years old) have increased substantially (Romanian Educational System 2000). After a decline from 86.1 percent in 1992/93 to 84.6 percent in 1994/95, participation rates increased to 94.3 percent in 1996/97. The participation rate slipped a little in 1998/99, but still remained very high at 92.75 percent.

Dropping out of compulsory education is viewed to be a problem in Romania and the government has taken some action to promote student entry and reentry into school. The dropout rate in the 1990s ranged from 0.6 percent to 1 percent. High dropout rates were typically associated with truancy, excessive absences, and failure to be promoted to the next grade. Dropout rates were higher in rural areas than in urban areas and were even higher among some particularly disadvantaged or less affluent rural areas. Starting with the school year 1998/1999 actions were taken by the Ministry of Education to reduce the dropout rate of students in compulsory education. These actions included a program to make sure that students had the skills to obtain the next grade level and a World Bank sponsored program that focused on improving rural education.

High School: Entry into high school requires passing an admissions exam. High school education is offered from the ninth to twelfth forms during day school or from the ninth through thirteenth forms in night school or distance education (The Educational System in Romania 2001). There is an age limit of 16 for students who enter day school, but the night high school is open to any student who graduates the eighth form. Restrictions are tighter for "normal schools" and theological seminaries that require an age limit of 16, a test average of seven points or higher on the ability exam, and a record of good behavior. Romanians who have studied abroad can take the high school admissions exam after they pass the "difference exams" offered and established by the Ministry of National Education.

There are three primary options for upper secondary schooling (Romanian Educational System 2000). The first is an academic option that consists of lyceu (four- or five-year high schools). The second option is scoala professionala or vocational school, that consists of two-, three, or four-year options. Finally, there are scoala de ucenici, or apprentice schools, that have one-, two-, or three-year programs. These schools are all typically taught in Romanian, but national minorities may form schools that teach in their own language (e.g., German or Hungarian).

Public secondary school tuition is free and so are the textbooks (Romanian Educational System, 2000). As of 1999, there were almost 1,300 high schools, of which most were public. There has been an increase in recent years in the number of private schools since the fall of communist Romania.

High school curricula are generally focused in three areas, but this may vary by the type of upper secondary school. These orientations are 1) theoretical training (e.g., hard sciences and humanities); 2) technological training (e.g., technical, services, and natural resources and environment); and 3) aptitude based (e.g., sports, artistic, military, and theological) (Romanian Educational System 2000).

Upper secondary school is based primarily on examination, but access to education at this level is an important consideration of government. Access is considered fairly tough for rural students. In the 1998/1999 school year, "of the total number of 1,315 upper secondary institutions, 84.5 percent were located in urban areas, and about 93.7 percent of the total number of pupils were enrolled in these institutions" (Romanian Educational System 2000).

The education participation rates in upper secondary schools of the average 15- to 19-years-old, are about 65 percent. One of the reasons for such low participation rates is the presence of admission exams. An additional reason may be the lack of such schools in rural areas.

Upper Secondary Admission Exam: Admission exams are required for entry into high school and also determine the type of high school a student can enter (The Educational System in Romania 2001). It's a written exam and covers Romanian language and literature (for all applicants), maternal language and literature (for national minority applicants), and mathematics (for all applicants). Those who wish to enter bilingual or special schools such as sports, marine studies, forestry, technical drawing for decorating, normal schools, and orthodox seminaries must pass special tests. These special tests are taken before the general admissions exams. If rejected by a low score on a special test, a student may still take the admissions exam to enter other high schools.

Upon passing the admissions exam or special exams, students may attend a wide variety of high schools. Two important types of high schools are theoretical high schools with concentrations on the sciences or humanities, and industrial schools, which prepare students in engineering and other industrial work. Other high schools include agricultural, forestry, economics, informatics, metallurgical, normal, arts, sports, military, the High School of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and orthodox theological seminaries (The Educational System in Romania 2001).

In order to graduate from high school, a student must pass a series of "leaving" exams. These typically consist of five exams of which three are written and two are colloquies (The Educational System in Romania 2001). In all high schools, a student must pass the written exam and colloquy in Romanian language and literature. After graduation, a student can apply for work according to their education or can continue their education at the post-high school or higher educational level.

Post-high school education is more specialized and is organized by the Ministry of National Education (The Educational System in Romania 2001). These schools are created by the initiative of the Ministry or upon the request of companies or other institutions. Admission to post-high schools consists of an admission exam, which can be taken whether a student is a high school graduate or not. The only exception is admission to medical school, which requires passage of the high school leaving exam. Post-high school is typically one to three years in length and is completed by passing a leaving exam. Passing of the exam earns the student the right to obtain a skills certificate. The exam can usually be taken two more times within three years of the last courses.

Postsecondary schools are divided into two types: post-high schools and foreman schools. Each type provides advanced training for an educated, vocational workforce. Foreman schools are more like "on the job" training for jobs in industry and technology (Romanian Education System 2000). The post-high schools provide more specialized training in technological work as well as nontechnological careers. Post-high school provides education in technics and services such as environmental and resource jobs, assistants in administration, and personnel for banks.

Special Education: Special education exists for children with deficiencies and disabilities in order to prepare and integrate them into society. There is a special education network that exists at all levels of schools including preprimary, primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, and postsecondary schools (Romanian Education System 2000).

The program's goal is for public school attendance of every child with learning or development problems along with "making available the necessary psychopedagogical and specialized assistance." The program is aimed at integrating children into society. The program works to make communities aware of special education students so that they can be placed. In the 1999/2000 school year, eight counties were included in the integration program and in 2000/2001 the program was to be operational throughout Romania. The Ministry of National Education is cooperating in this program with UNICEF.

Higher Education

Since the revolution in 1989, scholars report that higher education has grown dramatically in both enrollments and numbers of institutions (Eismon et al. 1999). Enrollments have particularly grown in the fields of the social sciences. This is due, in part, to an ideological shift in education from technical, scientific, and industrial education since the fall of socialism. Part of the growth of institutions has been found in an exponential increase in the number of private colleges and universities. With this increase in demand for education, Eismon and his colleagues report that there have been difficulties with finding resources for higher education. In addition, the growth of private education, coupled with a lack of qualified teachers, has led to concerns about the quality of these institutions. Therefore, there have been a number of reforms instituted by the Ministry of Education and other national councils for higher education.

As of 1998/1999, there were 58 private higher education institutions and 54 state universities operating in Romania. As to participation, Romania ranked poorly in Europe being "last but two in Europe in 1994/1995, with only 1,483 students per 100,000 inhabitants" (Romanian Education System 2000). In 2000, Romania registered a rate of 1,990 students per 100,000.

Structure: Higher education is organized into universities, colleges, academies, faculties, conservatories, and other postsecondary vocational institutes. Higher education is primarily structured into graduate education and postgraduate education (The Educational System in Romania 2001).

Graduate Education: Graduate education is broken into types: short and long duration. Short duration education is found in colleges and generally takes from two to three years. Colleges are usually organized in parallel to the long duration form and their mission is to prepare executive specialists for business careers and others. Long duration graduate education is found in universities, institutes, academies, conservatories, and faculties. This education is generally four to six years in length and prepares students for employment as higher executives and specialists.

Graduate classes are generally offered in the day, evening, and by distance learning. Students who wish to study in a public or private institution of this sort must take an admission exam and have a high school leaving certificate (The Educational System in Romania 2001). This exam consists of several written exams on a variety of subjects and will often fit the specialization of the institution. Graduate education studies are generally completed with a "license" exam, which includes a series of written exams and a paper or project.

Postgraduate Education: Postgraduate education is designed to provide training in more specialized fields and is typically done through further education studies, postgraduate, postgraduate academic studies, and specialization studies and courses (The Educational System in Romania 2001). Access to postgraduate training is typically through an admission exam for further education, postgraduate, and postgraduate academic studies. Further education studies is typically one to three years in duration and after graduating, students obtain a "master" or "magister" diploma. Students may take several masters simultaneously or successively. A student may be granted a scholarship for only one master studies.

The postgraduate (PG) is the highest form of scientific professional education in Romania. The duration of PG is typically four years for day courses and about six years if studying through distance learning. The postgraduate education is coordinated by two graduate school advisors. These advisors can both be from Romania or one may be from a foreign county. The Ministry of National Education approves foreign coordinators and approves any decisions for the study to be in a foreign language.

PG programs typically begin with two years (four years distance) of preparation for gathering material, data, and other studies. The thesis preparation is generally another two to four years depending upon whether or not the student is studying by distance.

Students enter the PG on an admission exam and most students who qualify can obtain a variety of scholarships for study including Praiseworthy, Study, and Social Support. Social support scholarships are typically awarded to students who are orphans or who have financial or medical deficiencies. The other scholarships are based on testing and on the basis of prizes won in international competition.

Postsecondary Vocational Institutes: Students who fail to gain entrance to a public university or who cannot afford entry into private universities typically attend postsecondary vocational institutes (Eismon et al. 1999). Postsecondary training typically ranges from one to three years in duration. By 1993, Eismon and his colleagues report that over 420 vocational institutes existed in Romaniaup from 161 in 1990-1991. These institutes are typically attached to secondary schools and train students in teaching, technical training, tourism, and business administration.

Growth of Higher Education after Reform: Higher education has grown dramatically since the fall of Romanian communism in 1989. Higher education participation rates have doubled and about 20 percent of college aged students are enrolled in public or private institutions (Eismon et al. 1999). The 1993 enrollment statistics for vocational students were 37,000, which was an increase from only 18,000 students in 1990-1991. However, Eismon and his colleagues also report that the number of entering students is declining as opportunities for university spots grow. In public higher education, enrollments grew from 164,507 in 1989-1990 to over 240,000 in 1992-1993. The number of institutions grew in this same period from 44 to 56.

There have also been great shifts in enrollments based on field of study. Because higher education used to be focused primarily on technical and scientific training, reform has brought an increase in study in new fields. Enrollments have shifted away from science and engineering toward business, law, and the social sciences (Eismon et al. 1999). From 1980-1990 to 1992-1993, Eismon and colleagues reported a drop in engineering enrollment from 65 percent to 38 percent. On the other hand, study in the arts tripled from one percent to three percent, sciences, social sciences, and humanities increased from 10 percent to 25 percent, and economics increased from 9 percent to 20 percent in the same time period.

With these changes in enrollments, there has been a severe problem with resource allocation and with staffing. Although the overall student to faculty ratio changed very little, the shift of enrollments to other disciplines led to real staffing problems. For example, as economics and business enrollments doubled, the number of staff members in the field remained constant (Eismon et al. 1999).

Reform of Higher Education in Postcommunism: Early reforms in higher education after 1989 included changes to public universities. Public universities amended their charters, declared themselves politically autonomous, adopted participatory governance in administration, and purged the Ceausescuappointees (Eismon et al. 1999). Admissions constraints were lifted at most universities and the strong attachment to the central state was minimized. Finally, a very large number of private universities formed and began graduating students.

With the enormous growth of higher education, there have been problems with a dearth of instructional resources, a lack of full-time staff, and diversity in educational training. In response to these and other problems, there were reforms in the early 1990s and the Ministry of National Education adopted a strategy of higher education reform in 1994. This strategy, according to Eismon (1999) and his colleagues is now being implemented in the country. This strategy consisted of the establishment in 1994 of the National Council on Higher Education Financing that sought to find ways to diversify the financing of higher education (Eismon et al. 1999). A portion of the finance strategy was to improve efficiency by cutting instruction hours from 36 to 22-24 hours per week for undergraduates and from 24 to 12 hours for graduate students. As to budget reforms, in 1999 Romania began to move from financing its schools based on the amount of university inputs (staff, physical plant, administration) to a more competitive system based on students (Romanian Educational System 2000).

There were also severe staffing problems in public and private higher educational institutions. Staff shortages led to high employment opportunities, but many jobs were filled by young faculty without doctoral degrees. In most universities and colleges, there were heavy teaching loads that discouraged faculty research and development. Some of the reforms made in this area include an increase in the number of faculty that may supervise doctoral degrees (an increase of seven times from 1990 to 1992), the development of a differentiated higher education system by changing academic employment (e.g., promotion and tenure, changing faculty responsibilities), and changes in salary structure.

Diversity in higher educational opportunity was (and will likely continue to be) a real problem in Romania due in large part to the educational policies during the Ceausescu era. In prereform Romania, most of the higher educational opportunities were in technical fields and in the sciences. In postsecondary vocational education problems included unclear educational missions, overspecialized programs in technical fields, and poor articulation of their programs (Eismon et al. 1999). Among the problems in the PGs and other institutes is a shortage of professors. This has made it difficult to diversify the studiees in higher education. Among the government reforms in this area are: 1) encouraging the development of short and long-cycle courses; 2) the phaseout of many overspecialized undergraduate programs; 3) allowing multiple specialization in certificate and degree programs; and 4) establishing masters programs as a prerequisite to doctoral studies. These reforms, however, are thought to be contingent on the role of the state in allowing institutions more room to manage themselves and on reform in financing higher education. The growth of private universities as alternatives is also a hope of some scholars for diversity in the subject areas that are taught in higher education in Romania.

Finally, study abroad opportunities have increased as well in postreform Romania. Romanians living abroad and foreigners have access to all levels of education in Romania. Foreign applicants are regulated and handled by the International Relations Department of the Ministry of Education (The Educational System in Romania 2001). Students wishing admission are usually tested in a written or oral fashion and they start their studies by learning the Romanian language. Study abroad opportunities are numerous for Romanian citizens and are encouraged with scholarship support. These opportunities have increased with the advent of the European Union (EU) in such programs as ERASMUS, which offers opportunities for student and teacher mobility among European universities. In addition, the LINGUA program offers opportunities to study foreign languages within the EU. Finally, there is the TEMPUS program that is a trans-European program of cooperation in higher education. TEMPUS is designed to promote exchanges to promote economic and social reconstruction in Central and Eastern European countries (a program called PHARE) and to promote similar reconstruction in the new independent states of the former USSR (a program called TACIS).

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of National Education (MoNE) is the chief national administrative agency for the Romanian education system. The MoNE is made up of seven general departments and 31 departments that have the general goals of controlling and coordinating the national education system, making educational policy, coordinating financial and human resources policy in education, and social protection through education (Ministry of National Education 2001). The primary departments include the Minister's Office, the General Secretariat, the State Secretariat for Pre-University Education, the State Secretariat for Higher Education, the State Secretariat for National Minorities, other Consultative Bodies Supporting the MoNE, and other Consultative Bodies Subordinated to the MoNE.

The Minister's Office has the primary responsibilities of administrative control and international relations on the education front. It has a mission of cooperating with other international states, of promoting the image of Romanian education internationally, and of achieving the recognition of diplomas and education awards in international settings.

The General Secretariat handles the primary administrative duties of public relations, record keeping, and information technology. There are three subordinate departments that fulfill each of these duties.

The State Secretariat of Pre-University Education has the responsibilities of primary and lower secondary education, upper secondary education, private and alternative schools at this level, and teaching equipment. Its functions include approving the national curriculum, approving national assessment, organizing and implementing the functions of these educational units, the duties of special education, administration of the school calendar, and approving textbooks and teacher equipment. Reporting to this department is the Human Resources General Department that administers the school network, sets up schools at this level, evaluates the schools on national standards, ensures staff and teacher mobility, and has responsibility for adult and continuing education.

The State Secretariat for Higher Education administers university education and administers the financial operations of the education system. Each of these responsibilities is housed in a separate department and the Secretariat also includes departments for the World Bank Higher Education Reform Project and the PHARE Reform Education Department. The General Department of Finance provides documentation for the budget bill for education and executes the budget. The Department of Higher Education and Scientific Research administers the higher education system in Romania, coordinates admission to higher education facilities, and promotes scientific research at the university level.

The State Secretariat for National Minorities has the function of ensuring education in the mother tongue of national minorities. This is an important reform in response to Romania's history of suppressing the education of minorities. Reporting to the Secretariat, are specific departments for the Hungarian and German minorities in Romania. In addition, the Secretariat houses the General Department of the Patrimony, which has the responsibilities of school physical plants and libraries.

There are also other legal institutions that include consultative bodies that support the MoNE and consultative bodies that report to the MoNE. Those that support the MoNE include a variety of National Councils with such issue agendas as research, reform of higher education, libraries, and lifelong learning. Those bodies reporting to the MoNE include a variety of councils and centers dedicated to numerous educational functions.

Nonformal Education

Evening schooling and distance learning, are offered in Romania as expanded educational opportunities. Evening schooling is offered in high school as well as in higher education. Although, with the reform era, there has been a decrease in enrollments. The percentage of evening students enrolled in higher education decreased from 36 percent to 19 percent from 1989 to 1992 (Eismon et al. 1999). This may, in part, be due to the fact that so many educational opportunities have opened in day schooling.

With distance learning it takes a few years longer to obtain a degree than it does attending day classes. However, distance learning has improved access to higher education for many Romanians and has provided opportunities for retraining of managers, engineers, teachers, physicians, and other professionals (Eismon et al. 1999). Distance learning enrollments in higher education have remained steady or slightly increased from six percent to seven percent from 1989 to 1992.

Teaching Profession

There has been a shortage of teachers at all levels in the Romanian education system. One of the reasons is the purging of educators after the revolution in 1989. However, other reasons are more practical, including the aging of the profession (Romanian Educational System 2000) lower salaries for teachers (Eismon et al. 1999), and the dramatic increase in enrollments (Smith 1995). Eismon and his colleagues (1999) mention that the teaching and medical sectors, which are public employees, are becoming less attractive because of the movement of individuals into business and the social sciences. Smith (1995) reports statistics showing that the number of teaching positions grew by 116 percent from 1989 to 1993.

At the university level, Eismon and his colleagues (1999) write that there have been severe shortages of professors and that the state has undertaken considerable reform efforts to staff higher education. These measures include placing more faculty in position to direct dissertations, a decrease in the research requirements of young faculty, and decreasing the qualifications for teaching from doctorates to masters degrees. In the interim, chronic staff shortages have led to the recruitment of many young faculty without doctorate degrees and these individuals are teaching large numbers of courses with little opportunity to do research. A number of reforms have been instituted that would make teaching at the university level more attractive. These reforms include attaching significance to rank between contract and tenured faculty, designing a credit system to relate rank and salary for staff, and developing a two-track promotion system for those who wish to teach and those who wish to teach and research.

One measure aimed at enhancing access to higher education is the transformation of pedagogical high schools into teacher training university colleges (Romanian Educational System 2000). One hope for this change is to attract more individuals into the teaching profession as well as decreasing the increased enrollment in other institutions. Of the primary education reforms that are often listed by education advocates, "reorganization of teacher training systems" is common (Barrett 1995-96).

Teachers and professor are also in position in the late 1990s to obtain additional training in computers and communication technology. The Ministry of National Education has instituted a number of reforms for this purpose and these include classes and seminars to train teachers in new computing skills and in designing curricula for the integration of computing into the classroom.


The Romanian education system, like its political system, has undergone enormous changes. Many of these changes include great advancements in human rights, which include the broadening of education to all levels of society. In particular, higher education enrollments have exploded, there has been a diversity of degrees sought, and there has been an explosion in private education and religious education at all levels. Also of importance is the real reform in allowing national minorities more access to education, including in the language of their mother tongue. Like prereform Romania, the literacy rate in the country is still a very high 98 percent.

However, despite these changes, reforms have also brought serious problems. Many of the reforms have been implemented too slowly. Although the law has changed, people have not. For example, the purging of Ceausescu era teachers has led to a real shortage in educators. Those who are left are older and young people are turning towards the professions of business rather than government employment, which pays less. The communist intelligentsia led to human rights violations, but it also gave great prominence to the education profession that may be losing ground in reform-minded Romania. Textbooks were also slow to change from the communist philosophy to newer market and democratic based textbooks. In addition, the explosion in higher education enrollments is also a problem in governing and accrediting the private institutions that have formed to meet the demand.

Finally, the disparity between urban and rural education is still evident and educational leaders have sought to reform this aspect of education as well. For example, one serious problem is the lack of educational advancement for those in poverty or in rural areas. For example, preprimary education generally is based on class and income and excludes the poor, minorities, and children from families with low education levels. This presents a problem for upward mobility and may necessitate reforms similar to the American "Head Start" program. There are also few supplementary educational facilities such as libraries and museums in impoverished areas.

Romania has undergone great changes and its education system is not an exception. It is, in fact, too soon to tell where reform will take the country in the realm of education. However, the structure of reform law is in place; the Ministry of National Education has dedicated time and resources to the problems in the country; and the formation of world partnerships will help this transition. The future of Romanian education looks quite bright, but the process is bound to be slow and the achievements will take time.


Barrett, Wilson. "Romania." European Education: A Journal of Translations 27 (Winter 1995/1996): 70-71.

Braham, Randolph L. Education in Romania: A Decade of Change. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1972.

Diamandi, Ion. "An Information Technology School Project in Romania." In Technology Enriched Schools: Nine Case Studies with Reflections. ed. Betty Collis and Gerrit Carleer, 77-86. Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education, 1992.

"The Educational System in Romania." January, 2001. Available from

Eismon, Thomas Owen, Ioan Mihailescu, Lazar Vlasceanu, Catalin Zamfir, John Sheehan and Charles H. Davis. "Higher Education Reform in Romania." European Education 31 (Summer 1999): 39-62.

Gallagher, Tom. Romania After Ceausescu. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1995.

"Information and Communication Technology in Romanian Education System." March 2001. Available from

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Reisz, Robert D. "Curricular Patterns Before and After the Romanian Revolution." European Journal of Education 29 (3) 1994): 281-290.

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Seton-Watson, R. W. History of the Romanians. Hawder, CT: Archon Books, 1963.

Shafir, Michael. Romania: Politics, Economics, and Society. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1985.

Smith, Kevin. "A Romanian Renaissance." The London Times. Higher Education Supplement 1178 (June 2, 1995): 10.

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Roger E. Hartley

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Republic of Romania

Major Cities:
Bucharest, Braşov, Constanţa, Timişoara

Other Cities:
Arad, Bacǎu, Baia Mare, Brǎila, Buzǎu, Cluj-napoca, Craiova, Galaţi, Giurgiu, Hunedoara, Iaşi, Oradea, Piatra-nea mţ, Piteşti, Ploieşti, Reşiţa, Sibiu, Tîrgu-mureş


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated February 1992. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Although surrounded by Slav and Magyar neighbors, the Republic of ROMANIA is mainly a Latin country which traces its origins to the Roman Empire. It has been a unitary state for less than a century, and its culture and historical traditions are a source of pride and national sentiment. Romania's high proportion of ethnic minorities and its rich and varied cultural life lend it a special appeal for folklorists and students of the fine arts.



Bucharest (in Romanian, Bucureşti), Romania's largest city and its political, economic, and administrative center, has a population of over two million, including the immediate suburbs. It is situated on a wide agricultural plain in the southeastern part of the country, 40 miles north of the Danube and 156 miles west of the Black Sea.

Bucharest, probably founded late in the 14th century, was known then as Cetatea Dambovitei. It grew as a military fortress and commercial center along the trade routes to Constantinople. Known under its present name since the 15th century, it became the capital of Romania in 1861. During World War I, Bucharest was occupied from 1916 to 1918 by the Central Powers, the alliance formed by Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire. In World War II, following Romania's surrender to the Allies in August 1944, German planes bombed the city extensively. When Soviet troops entered on August 31, 1944, a coalition of leftist parties had already seized power.

The city lies on the Dîmbo-viţa River, at an altitude of 265 feet, and enjoys a temperate climate. The skyline is low except for the 22-story Intercontinental Hotel. Many attractive parks and drives add an element of beauty to the city. A large part of Bucharest's architecture dates to the pre-World War II era and consists of baroque and Renaissance-style structures. Many of these are former homes of the old aristocracy taken over as offices for state enterprises or by foreign diplomatic missions. Construction in recent years was limited to apartment buildings, the Metro, and civic buildings. Now the focus is on restoration work.

French is the second most common language spoken in Bucharest, but some knowledge of English is common among educated persons under 35 years of age. Knowledge of Romanian is an important asset.

Traffic in Bucharest, moderate by Western standards, is always hectic due to the increasing number of vehicles on the road, newly found freedom to drive, and narrow streets. City dwellers enjoy walking, and pedestrian traffic is always heavy, particularly from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. Parks and recreation facilities are crowded on weekends. Romanians usually take to the highways on weekends, beginning around noon on Saturday.


Dress in Romania is simple and informal. Wardrobes should resemble those needed in Washington, DC.

Local ready-made clothing and shoes, including children's, differ from U.S. quality and fit and are more expensive. Clothing can be made here by a tailoring or dressmaking cooperative or, occasionally, by a seamstress. This is not always satisfactory because of the time, workmanship, and expense involved. For tailor-made clothing, the purchaser should furnish sewing notions. Materials of good quality can be bought locally, but are expensive.

Shoes can be repaired satisfactorily in Romania. Wardrobes for an extended stay should include rubber boots, children's clothes and shoes, winter clothing, including sports-and footwear (e.g., ski clothes and ice skates), and summer sportswear (for tennis and swimming).


Meat and fish on the local market generally are of poor quality and are scarce. Fresh vegetables and fruits are usually available in season at local open-air markets. Milk and milk products are not pasteurized.

Supplies & Services

In general, basic services and supplies are expensive and either unavailable or only irregularly found. In many cases, such as in auto, radio, and stereo repair, the lack of spare parts hinders service. Repairs for locally purchased TV sets are obtainable.

Barbershops for men are readily available and are satisfactory. Several beauty shops are fairly good, including those at the Intercontinental and Lido Hotels in Bucharest.

Domestic Help

Many Americans living in Romania have household help. The number depends on family size. Single people and couples without children usually have only part-time help, or one full-time person who does the housecleaning and some cooking. Families, especially those with small children, often have two domestics.

Romanian domestics do not live in. Minimum monthly salaries for full-time help is about $100 a month. Romanian labor law requires employees to pay additional taxes: 25% social security and 4% unemployment tax.

Housecleaning help is not hard to find. Reliable baby-sitters and good cooks are more difficult to locate. English-speaking help is hard to find.

Religious Activities

The Romanian Orthodox Church is dominant in Romania, but there are also Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Calvinist, and Unitarian churches; several synagogues; and two mosques in Bucharest. The British community sponsors an Anglican church, with services in English.


The American School of Bucharest, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, has a pre-kindergarten and grades kindergarten through eight.

The American School, incorporated in the State of Delaware, is financed primarily by tuition fees and a grant from the Department of State. It is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools. Its curriculum and materials parallel those currently used in the U.S. and, because of its international character, the educational experience is broadening. Current placement policy according to chronological age requires a birthdate on or before November 30. For example, a child entering the pre-school class must be four-years old by November 30.

American children above the eighth grade normally attend school outside of Romania. Several schools in the area have boarding facilities.


Romania has many natural and historical points of interest and beauty. Travel restrictions do not exist in Romania. Signs designate certain areas as "off limits" for photography but, in general, unlimited and irresistible photo opportunities abound.

Among the many interesting places to visit in Romania are the Black Sea coast, the Danube delta, the Moldavian monasteries, Maramureş and its wooden churches, the scenic Retezat Mountains in western Romania, and the medieval cities of Sibiu and Sighişoara. A few locations in southern Romania, from the west to the Black Sea coast (e.g., Sarmizegetusa, Adamclisi, and Histria), have ruins from Greco-Roman times. Camping enthusiasts find many sites, either in commercial cabins or by pitching tents, in attractive surroundings. Mountain climbing possibilities abound, and fishing for trout in the mountains or for a variety of game fish in the delta can be arranged. Hunting can be productive, but expensive.

Bucharest and vicinity have a few tourist spots. Just outside the city limits is a small zoo. North on the road to Ploieşti are Lake Snagov and the Caldarusani Monastery (where Vlad Tepeşthe historical prince tenuously identified as Count Draculawas reportedly buried). To the northwest is the town of Tîrgovişte. To the west, about two-and-a-half hours by car, are the beautiful monastery of Curtea de Argeş and the scenic Vidraru Lake north of Capatineni. Near the lake, there is an old fortress once belonging to Vlad Tepeş and, on a clear day, the peaks of the Fǎgǎraş Mountains, the highest in Romania, can be seen in the distance. All of these spots provide good picnic areas.

Some interesting museums, with fine art and history collections, and a botanical garden are in Bucharest. Also, tours to arts and crafts mills occasionally can be arranged. There are several nice parks for strolling (particularly Herǎstrǎu Park, beyond the massive triumphal arch), but they are crowded on weekends.

Numerous spectator sports in Bucharest are available to foreigners; the most popular is soccer. Other sports are volleyball, hand-ball, basketball, boxing, tennis, and ice hockey. Tickets are reasonable. A number of international matches are played in Bucharest each year between Romanian and foreign teams. American teams have made a few visits.

Professional tennis lessons can be arranged for visitors at the Club Tineretului or the Bucharest Tennis Club, and admittance to the former for swimming also can be arranged. In winter, one can ice skate at the Floreasca rink and ski in the mountains near Sinaia and Predeal.


Local entertainment possibilities for English-speaking visitors are limited. Many inexpensive cinemas exist, but the films shown are either poor or are in a foreign language. Few American films are shown. Some good operas and ballets are seen each season, and many fine concerts and recitals are given. For those skilled in the Romanian language, the live stage is enjoyable.

Good restaurants were scarce, but new restaurants are opening and old ones seem to be improving. Selection is limited, and service is often slow. Nightclub entertainment is also improving, but still limited. Discotheques are opening all over town and are usually open from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Folk festivals with the various regional dances and colorful costumes can be enjoyed in the countryside. Bucharest holds a growing number of international fairs.

The American Library and Cultural Center provides some good reading material. The cultural attractions produced in the center's theater are worth attending.


Braşov (sometimes Brashov), located in central Romania 75 miles north of Bucharest, has a population of approximately 314,000. Situated at the foot of the Transylvanian Alps, the city was founded early in the 13th century by the Teutonic Order of Knights. Braşov was a major trade and industrial center in the Middle Ages, enjoying considerable autonomy under the Hapsburg empire. It was part of Hungary until after World War I; consequently, there are large numbers of Hungarians and Germans in the city.

There are several interesting ecclesiastical buildings in Braşov, including the large 14th-century Black Church, so called because of extensive fire damage in 1689; St. Bartholomew Church (13th century); and St. Nicholas Church (14th century, rebuilt in 1751). The medieval town hall (built in 1420, and restored in 1777) and the 17th-century citadel still stand. Today, Braşov is a road and rail junction, as well as a major industrial center. The city's chief products are tractors, trucks, machinery, chemicals, and textiles. Braşov was called Stalin, or Oraşul-Stalin, from 1950 to 1960.

The Carpathian resort and winter sports center of Poiana Braşov is close by.


Romania's chief seaport is Constanţa, situated in the southeastern part of the country on the Black Sea. Located about 120 miles east of Bucharest, Constanţa's major exports are petroleum (brought by pipeline from the oil fields near Ploieşti), grain, and lumber. Constanţa also handles traffic involving Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, serves as the country's major naval and air base, and is a seaside resort. Romania acquired the city in 1878 after a varied history.

Founded as the Greek colony of Tomi in the seventh century B.C., it later came under Roman and Turkish rule. Ovid, the greatest Roman poet of his time (43 B.C.-A.D.17), spent his final years in exile at Tomi, then a lonely fishing village.

Constanţa has several synagogues and mosques, an Orthodox cathedral, a statue of Ovid, and many Roman and Byzantine ruins. Also interesting are a regional archaeological museum and a marine biology station. The population is 342,000.


Timişoara, situated on the Beja Canal in western Romania, has a population of 324,000. About 235 miles northwest of Bucharest, Timişoara is a railroad hub and an industrial center. There are plants here that process food and tobacco, and factories that manufacture textiles, machinery, and chemicals. Timişoara also has a university, founded in 1945, and other institutions of higher education.

Timişoara was an ancient Roman settlement, came under Magyar rule in 896, and was annexed to Hungary in 1010. An important frontier fortress, the city was held by the Turks from 1552 to 1716. It was formally restored to Austria-Hungary with the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, and passed to Romania via the Treaty of Tianon in 1920. The inner city is now surrounded by boulevards, replacing the old ramparts. Several buildings date from the 18th century, including Roman Catholic and Orthodox cathedrals and the city hall. There is also a regional museum, housed in a 14th-century castle.

Thermal springs in use since Roman times are still operated as spa facilities in Timişoara.


ARAD is located in western Romania near the Hungarian border, 260 miles northwest of Bucharest. Situated on the Mureşul River, Arad is a leading regional commercial and industrial center, as well as an important railroad junction. Chief industries include distilleries, sawmills, and the manufacture of textiles, machine tools, locomotives, electrical goods, and leather products. Arad was under Turkish rule for more than a century (16th to 17th centuries), under Austrian domination for more than 150 years (1685 to 1849), and controlled by the Hungarians, who made it their headquarters against the Hapsburg empire from 1849 to 1920. In 1920, after World War I, Arad became part of Romania. The city has a theological seminary and a teachers' training school. Cultural institutions include a state theater, a philharmonic orchestra, and a museum. There also is an 18th-century citadel built by Empress Maria Theresa. Arad's population is about 184,000.

BACǍU is the capital and principal city of the district of the same name. It lies on the Bistriţa River, 150 miles northeast of Bucharest, and has a population of 209,000. Fighter plane manufacture is the main industry; others include footwear, textile, and paper production. Because of its location near the confluence of two major rivers, Bacǎu has long been an important trade center. Originally a customs post, it was noted in documents as early as 1408. Today this city is a major road and railway junction. As a cultural hub, Bacǎu has a state theater, symphony orchestra, and museums.

BAIA MARE (in Hungarian, Nagybánya) is situated in the far northwest, 250 miles from Bucharest. Surrounded by mountains, it is shielded from northeast winds, and has a Mediterranean-like vegetation. Heavy industries, such as lead and zinc smelting plants, predominate here. Baia Mare's 14th-century clock tower, known as Stephen's Tower, overshadows the medieval quarter. Saxon immigrants founded the city in the 12th century, and called it Neustadt. Baia Mare has an estimated population of 150,000.

BRǍILA is in southeastern Romania near the Ukraine border, about 100 miles northeast of Bucharest. Situated on the lower Danube River, Brǎila has an estimated population of 234,000. The city is Romania's chief grain-shipping port and also a major industrial and commercial center whose principal products are machinery, metals, foodstuffs, and textiles. Brǎila's history dates to Greek times. In the 15th century, the city was burned by the Turks and again by forces of Stephen the Great of Moldavia. Brǎila played an important role in the Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th century. Today, Brǎila has many landmarks, including the Cathedral of St. Michael, a theater, and an art museum.

BUZǍU is a market and trading center located about 60 miles northeast of Bucharest. It dates to the early 15th century, and is surrounded by a fertile agricultural region. Industries in Buzǎu include those producing alcohol, textiles, and plastics. Approximately 148,000 people live in the city.

CLUJ-NAPOCA is located in central Romania, about 200 miles northwest of Bucharest. Situated on the Someşul Mic River in the hills of Transylvania, it is the capital of Cluj Province, and has a population of roughly 332,000. The administrative center of an area rich in agriculture and minerals, Cluj-Napoca manufactures machinery, metal products, electrical equipment, textiles, chemicals, and shoes. It also is a noted center of education, with two universities, a branch of the Romanian Academy of Sciences, a fine arts institute, a polytechnic institute, and several scientific research centers. Founded in the 12th century by German colonists, the city became an important cultural and commercial center in the Middle Ages. A Jesuit academy was founded here in 1581; Cluj-Napoca then became the chief cultural and religious center of Transylvania. Incorporated into Austria-Hungary in 1867 and transferred to Romania in 1920, it was occupied by Hungarian forces during World War II. Historical sites in the city include the 14th-century Gothic Church of St. Michael and the ruins of an 11th-century church. Cluj-Napoca also has beautiful botanical gardens.

CRAIOVA lies on the Jiul River, a tributary of the Danube in southwest Romania. Approximately 110 miles west of Bucharest, Craiova is the administrative and industrial center of an agricultural and mineral region, and also an important market for grain. Chief industries include food processing, machine building, and electrical equipment manufacturing. It is a city of about 314,000 residents. Built on the site of a Roman settlement, Craiova was destroyed by an earthquake in 1790 and burned by the Turks in 1802. Culturally, the city is the site of a university (founded in 1966) and other institutions of higher learning, a philharmonic orchestra, and several museums displaying prehistoric and Roman relics. Also of interest are St. Demetrius Church (built in the 17th century and later restored) and a 19th-century palace.

GALAŢI , also called Galatz, is in eastern Romania, about 115 miles northeast of Bucharest. With a population of about 330,000, Galaţi is a major inland port and the home of the Romanian Danube flotilla. An important rail junction, Galaţi also has large iron and steel plants and shipyards. Chief exports are grain and timber. Founded in the Middle Ages, Galaţi became an international trading center in the 18th century, and a free port between 1834 and 1883. A cultural and educational center, Galaţi has an agricultural college and a technical institute.

GIURGIU , an important inland port, is situated on the Danube in southern Romania. Directly across the river is Ruse, Bulgaria, and the two are linked by a bridge. Oil pipelines from Ploieşti are connected to Giurgiu. The city also has shipyards and some light industry. Genoese merchants founded Giurgiu in the 10th century and named it San Giorgio. Conquered by the Turks in 1417, Giurgiu played an important role in 16th-century wars. Parts of the old town wall, ruins of a 14th-century medieval fortress, and an old clock tower still stand. The population is about 55,000.

HUNEDOARA is in west-central Romania, about 275 miles northwest of Bucharest. A major industrial center with iron-and steelworks, it also has iron ore and coal mines nearby. Historically, the city is noted for Hunyadi Castle, built in the 15th century on the site of a citadel. The population is currently about 80,000.

IAŞI , or sometimes Jassy, is located in eastern Romania, in the region called Moldavia. Near the Moldova border and 200 miles northeast of Bucharest, Iaşis a population of approximately 348,000. The city is the commercial center for a fertile agricultural region where machinery, textiles, furniture, pharmaceuticals, food products, plastics, and metal are produced. Iaşi was the capital of the Romanian principality of Moldavia from 1565 until 1859. It served as Romania's temporary capital during World War I. In the Second World War, Iaşi's large Jewish population was exterminated by the Nazis. Iaşi has long been a cultural center; the first book in the Romanian language was printed here in 1643 and the national theater was founded in the city in 1849. A university was established in Iaşi in 1860; there are also several other institutions of higher learning. Three churchesa 17th-century cathedral, the Church of the Three Hierarchs, and the Church of St. Nicholasare all examples of the Moldavian adaptation of Byzantine architecture.

ORADEA , sometimes called Oradea-Mare, is situated near the Hungarian border in western Romania. Approximately 270 miles northwest of Bucharest, Oradea has a population of around 222,000. It is the marketing and shipping center for a livestock and agricultural region, as well as an important industrial city. The seat of a Roman Catholic bishopric as early as 1080, Oradea was destroyed in the 13th century, but rebuilt in the 15th century. Held by the Turks from 1660 to 1692, Oradea became part of Romania after World War I. Hungarian forces occupied the city during World War II. Most of the architecture in Oradea is baroque. The city is popular with tourists for the health resorts which are found nearby.

PIATRA-NEAMŢ is a northeastern district capital, situated 175 miles north of Bucharest on the Biastriţa River. This cultural center of some 125,000 people has a regional natural science museum, state theater, and archaeological museum. Textiles, chemicals and canned foods number among its industries. St. Ion Church here is a classic example of the Moldavian architectural style. It was built by Stephen the Great of Moldavia in 1497-98. The Biastriţa Monastery, erected in the early 15th century, is five miles west of Piatra-Neamţ.

PITEŞTI , with a population of around 187,000, is located 70 miles northwest of Bucharest, in south-central Romania. Piteşti is a commercial center and an important rail junction, and has both heavy and light industry. The city is famous for its wines and for several resorts in the vicinity.

PLOIEŞTI (or sometimes Ploeşti), the center of the Romanian petroleum industry, is situated in south-central Romania, just north of Bucharest. With a population of around 251,000, Ploieşti is a railroad hub linked by pipelines with Bucharest, and with the ports of Giurgiu on the Danube, and Constanţa on the Black Sea. Reflecting its importance in the oil region of Romania, Ploieşti has large refineries and oil storage installations. Founded in 1596, it was the largest oil-producing center of southeast Europe by the 19th century. The city provided substantial oil to Germany during World War II and, consequently, was heavily bombed by Allied forces in August 1943. Ploieşti was occupied by the U.S.S.R. on August 31, 1944. After the war, Romania nationalized the oil industry here.

REŞIŢA (also spelled Reciţa) is located in the western foothills of the Transylvanian Alps, approximately 200 miles west of Bucharest. A leading mining and industrial center, Reşiţa produces iron, steel, machinery, metals, and chemicals. Coal and iron ore are mined nearby. Reşiţa was known as a mining center for precious metals during Roman times. The modern city was established in 1768, when the first foundry was built. Currently the population is close to 94,000.

SIBIU is situated at the foot of the Transylvanian Alps in central Romania. Located about 135 miles northwest of Bucharest, Sibiu has a mechanical engineering works and produces textiles, agricultural machinery, chemicals, and leather. It is also a market for farm products and cattle. Originally a Roman settlement, German colonists reestablished Sibiu in the 12th century, but the town was destroyed during the Tatar invasion in 1241. By the 14th century, Sibiu had recovered and was a leading administrative and commercial center for the German communities in Transylvania. Austrians controlled the city in the 17th century. Sibiu retains much of its medieval character and has a large German population, even though many Germans were forced to leave after World War II. Long recognized as the cultural center of Transylvania, Sibiu has a philharmonic orchestra, a state theater, and a museum. The population here is about 170,000.

TÎRGU-MUREŞ , a major industrial center, is in central Romania about 165 miles north of Bucharest. Situated on the Mureşul River, Tîrgu-Mureş has sugar refineries and distilleries, and manufactures food products, chemicals, fertilizers, machinery, and furniture. It is also a market for agricultural products. Tîrgu-Mureşdates from the 12th century, and remained a part of Hungary until 1918, when Romania acquired Transylvania; consequently, more than half of the city's population is Hungarian. Its name in that language is Maros-Vásárhely. A fire destroyed most of the city in 1876, but a 17th-century citadel, several old churches, and some baroque mansions survived. The population is approximately 165,000.


Geography and Climate

The Republic of Romania is the twelfth largest country in Europe. It occupies the greater part of the lower basin of the Danube River system and the hilly eastern regions of the middle Danube Basin. Its 91,700 square miles make it similar in size to the United Kingdom or Oregon. Some consider Romania to be a "Latin Island" because it is bordered by two seas, one realthe Black Sea to which Romania owes its 150 miles of coastlineand the other, the sea of non-Latin countries with which it shares its other borders. The Black Sea is to the east, Bulgaria is south, Serbia is west, Hungary northwest, and Moldova and Ukraine east and north.

Romania has three major geographical areas. A fertile fluvial plain stretches in a crescent from the northeast to the southwest, bounded by the Danube and Prut rivers. Bordering this plain to the west and north are the Carpathian Mountains and the Transylvanian Alps, a number of which reach above 7,000 feet. Most of the rest of the country is comprised of the hilly Transylvanian plateau. Finally, there is the Black Sea shore with its coastal plain, and the Danube delta.

Because of Romania's geographical and topographical diversity, the climate varies from region to region. It is generally continental, with short springs that quickly give way to long, warm summers, followed by pleasant, prolonged autumns and moderately cold, but comparatively short, winters. Snowfall in the Bucharest (capital) area usually is not heavy; however, the mountains have enough snow for skiing. The average daily minimum temperature for Bucharest in February is 28.6°F, and the average daily maximum in August is 95°F. Rainfall is normally heaviest from April through July, with an average of five inches in June. Aside from the relatively low humidity, Bucharest's climate is much like that of Washington, DC.


Romanians consider themselves descendants of the ancient Dacians and their conquerors, the Romans. After the Roman occupation and colonization (between 106 and 271), the Goths, Huns, Slavs, Magyars, Turks, and other invaders each, in turn, left their mark on the population. Nevertheless, contemporary Romanians take particular pride in their Roman origins and Latin language and culture which, they believe, differentiates them from their Slavic and Hungarian neighbors.

Today about 90% of the country's estimated 23.4 million inhabitants are ethnically Romanian. Most of the remaining 10%, principally Hungarians and Germans live in Transylvania, which was, until 1918, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Jews and Gypsies are spread throughout the country, predominantly in Moldavia. The Jewish population was formerly larger, but emigration, primarily to Israel, has greatly reduced its numbers.

As a result of the country's ethnic diversity, Hungarian and German are important secondary languages, and various other tongues are spoken among the smaller minority groups. The Romanian language itself is related to Italian and Portuguese; the Cyrillic alphabet was replaced by the Latin in 1860. Religious affiliations tend to follow ethnic lines, with about 70% of all Romanian citizens belonging, at least nominally, to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Roman Catholics, mostly Hungarians, constitute about 3% of the population, and the 6% who are Protestant include Calvinists, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists.

Romanian law towards minorities is nondiscriminatory and the government allows them some cultural and linguistic freedom. The concept of Romania as a unitary national state, however, runs deep among ethnic Romanians and tension with minorities occasionally appears.


Romania ceased to be a Socialist Republic on December 22, 1989, when the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown. The government replacing the communist dictatorship, which had controlled Romania since the end of World War II, renamed the country Romania (it had previously been the Socialist Republic of Romania) and proclaimed its support for a multi-party democracy, a republican form of government, a tripartite separation of powers, a free market, and the observance of fundamental human rights. Movement toward these objectives in the years following the revolution was uneven, however, and the country continues to suffer from a difficult economic situation and experiences sharp political and social divisions.

The central government appoints prefects who serve as the chief executive official in each of the country's 40 provinces and Bucharest. Mayors of cities, towns, and rural communes are elected.

The bicameral parliament consists of a 119-member Senate and a 397-member Chamber of Deputies. The national legislature is elected on a proportional representation, party-list system through a universal, secret ballot. The Chamber of Deputies also includes 12 appointed members to represent the national minorities who do not win an elective seat in Parliament.

Romania's current chief of state is the president. The president is elected by universal, direct, and secret voting by all citizens over the age of 18; once elected, he must sever ties with any party or political organization. Decrees issued by the president, including ratifying treaties, promulgating laws, and declaring war and states of emergency, must be countersigned by the prime minister.

The prime minister is currently appointed by the president, with the approval of both houses of Parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the representative of the political party receiving a majority of votes in the national parliamentary elections. The prime minister appoints and dismisses the members of his cabinet. Appointments are subject to approval by both houses of Parliament.

The president appoints the members of the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general, with Senate approval. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal. The prosecutor general is the chief public prosecutor. The prosecutor general's office is divided into civil and military jurisdictions and each of the country's provinces has its own prosecutor, subject to the prosecutor general.

Primary law enforcement rests in the hands of the national police force, which investigates common crimes, patrols populated areas, and controls traffic. Each province has its own police precinct, located in the provincial capital, which supervises the activities of police constables stationed in every sizeable town. There are eight precincts in Bucharest with a chief of police maintaining overall supervision. The national gendarmerie, under the control of the Ministry of Interior, is a uniformed paramilitary force that is deployed in situations beyond the control of local police, such as for riot control. The gendarmerie also provides security for diplomatic embassies and facilities as well as for economically significant industrial installations. The Ministry of Interior coordinates counternarcotics responsibilities involving several agencies, including local police and customs agents. Internal security and the protection of state secrets are the responsibilities of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), which includes among its personnel, uniformed troops. The SRI also is responsible for counterterrorism; an anti-terrorism brigade is assigned to each of Bucharest's six sectors.

The Romanian flag consists of three vertical bands in blue, yellow, and red. The emblem of the republic appears in the central yellow band.

Arts, Science, Education

The impact of folklore and tradition has had a strong influence on the evolution of Romanian culture. Miori ţa (The Ewe Lamb ), an ancient legend about the relationship between man and nature, is considered the masterpiece of Romanian literature. The richly embroidered cultural tradition of Romania has been nurtured by many factors, much of it predating the Roman occupation. Traditional folk arts, dance, woodcarving, weaving, and decoration of costumes as well as an enthralling body of folk music still flourish in many parts of the country.

Modern Romanian literature was born in the mid-19th century and boasts such writers as Mihail Eminescu (1850-1889), Ion Creangà (1837-1889), Ion Luca Caragiale (1842-1912), and the poet Tudor Arghezi (1880-1967). Romania has over 21,000 public libraries. Every Romanian, on average, reads five books a year.

Despite strong Austrian and German influence, the modern movement in painting and sculpture is rooted in the revolutionary period of 1830 to 1848, when the sons of wealthy Romanian boyars (aristocrats) traveled abroad to study in Western schools of art, particularly in Paris and Rome. Such painters as Theodor Aman (1831-1891) and Nicolae Grigorescu (1838-1907) found their themes and subjects in peasant life. Notable modern painters are Nicolae Tonitsa (1886-1940), Gheorghe Popescu (1903-1975), Ion Tucuescu (1910-1961), and Marin Gherasim (born 1937). Constantin Brâncuşi produced sculpture of first rank. Graphics, book illustration, and poster design are respected arts in Romania. Romanian artists, ancient and modern, are distinguished by their fondness for bold, bright colors.

In music, Georges Enescu and Dinu Lipatti are well known. Bucharest has had opera since 1864; soprano Elena Teodorini (1857-1926) received wide public acclaim.

Serious literature is widely read, and mid-city Bucharest is sprinkled with galleries exhibiting the work of both Romanian and foreign artists. Several concerts and recitals are held weekly in season, in addition to regular performances of the Romanian opera and ballet. Theater in Romania is extremely active, and a wide selection of plays from Romania, the U.S., and other countries is presented.

Science and technology in Romania are closely connected with contemporary efforts to modernize the nation and create an industrial state. The most prestigious of the scientific societies established in the last century is the Romanian Academy, founded in 1866. Today, applied science and technology represent important areas of official emphasis, particularly in the educational and research institutions. Research work in scientific fields is directed by the National Council for Science and Technology and the Academy of Social and Political Sciences.

Education in Romania is state supported and state controlled. Elementary education and the first two levels of secondary school are compulsory for all students. Secondary schools, called licee, are available for students who have passed national examinations and are preparing for advanced study at universities. Competition for entrance into the universities and for postgraduate study is intense. Major university centers include those in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iaşi, Timişoara, and Craiova. Half of the students receive state scholarships. The literacy rate in Romania is 97%.

Commerce and Industry

Romania's economy, which used to be centrally controlled, is currently being transformed toward a free market system. A large number of formerly state-owned enterprises have been turned into limited-liability or joint-stock companies, and thousands of privately-owned businesses, mostly small service-oriented operations, have appeared. In spite of this positive trend, the country still suffers from the crippling legacy of the communist regime, and faces enormous difficulties in the process of changing old economic structures and mentalities. Industrial production has decreased sharply, foreign trade has recorded unprecedented deficits, unemployment is rampant, and inflation is spiraling. It will probably take a massive influx of Western equipment and technology, which also means Western financing to facilitate Romania's transition to a market economy.

Representing considerable natural wealth, Romania's resources include petroleum, timber, natural gas, soft coal, iron, copper, water-power, uranium ore, bauxite, and salt. The largest share in the country's industrial structure is held by the chemical and petrochemical, iron-and-steel, and machine-building sectors. Textile, leather, and glassware manufacturing, as well as wood processing, are significant.

Romania has a total of some 37.5 million acres of agricultural land, of which 25 million are arable. About 40% of the work force is involved in agriculture. Corn, wheat, barley, and sunflower are the most important crops. Romania also has extensive areas covered by orchards, vineyards, and truck farms. Animal husbandry (mostly cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry) has good potential for producing significant quantities of meat and dairy products. Modernization of agriculture and of food processing is top on the country's priority list.

Romania maintains economic and commercial relations with most other nations. Romania belongs to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. A growing number of foreign firms (including some 45 U.S. companies) have representative offices in Bucharest.

There is a Chamber of Commerce in Romania at Boulevard Nicolae Bǎlescu 22, Bucharest.


Bucharest's Bǎneasa Airport provides domestic air service on the state airline, TAROM (Transporturile Aeriene Romǎne). Otopeni Airport, about 10 miles outside Bucharest, has foreign air service. Foreigners frequently use the inexpensive rail system for official and personal trips within Romania. Intercity buses exist, but are rarely used by foreigners.

The national road system is generally good. Most roads are two-lane and asphalt-surfaced, but dirt roads also are common. A four-lane highway goes from the northern city limits of Bucharest to Ploieşti, and a limited access superhighway goes to Piteşti. Frequent encounters with heavy truck traffic and horse-drawn carts or farm machinery can hinder progress on Romanian roads. Rest stops for fuel and food are virtually nonexistent.

Buses and trolleys in Bucharest are plentiful and cheap, but often are crowded, and breakdowns are common. Reasonably priced taxis are difficult to obtain. Streets in Bucharest are hard-surfaced and of varying quality, with bumpy and cobblestone streets still common in many sectors. Streets become slippery when wet, particularly cobblestone routes.

Left-hand-drive automobiles are used here. The lack of foreign car parts is a major inconvenience. Parts for European cars are obtained more quickly from abroad, but most American car parts must be imported from the U.S., which takes several weeks. The most conveniently serviced automobiles are those of European manufacture.

Third-party liability insurance is mandatory. It must be bought locally and is relatively inexpensive.

Gas stations are located in most regions and are labeled PECO. To be safe, drivers should fill up when the gas gauge falls below half, since chronic gas shortages do occur.

Police cars are blue and white, are labeled "militia," and have blue lights on top. Fire trucks are red. Many ambulances are not white and they do not always use their sirens. Some have a red cross painted on the door and may use only a flashing light.


Romania has reasonably good, but slow, telephone service. The dial system is used. Long-distance domestic service is available, but 30-minute waits and bad connections are common. International calls often are faster and of better quality than domestic service. Calls from the U.S. to Romania cost approximately the same as calls made from Romania to the U.S. International telegraph services are not always reliable.

Delivery time for mail between the U.S. and Bucharest is approximately two weeks, except for parcels, which usually take three to five weeks. Both incoming and outgoing parcels require a customs declaration.

Although Romanian radio carries music and news programs, it is not a common source of information and entertainment for visitors. Two local television channels, with some programming in French and English, make a TV set worthwhile. Romanian television carries international news, Western movies (many of them American of varying vintage), American reruns, international sports events, children's cartoon shows, and international events by satellite. For those who are interested in and understand the Romanian language, local television is a good way to learn more about Romanian politics, economics, culture, and sports.

Local publications are of interest to those with Romanian-language skills. International newspapers and magazines are seldom found, even in international-class hotels.


Generally, local medical care is below U.S. standards. The Romanian Government maintains a Diplomatic Polyclinic in Bucharest for medical examinations and treatment. Patients ordinarily receive good attention at the Polyclinic for routine ailments. Emergency dental problems are referred to Vienna or Athens. Local pharmacies usually do not stock Western medical and health supplies, but the Polyclinic sometimes stocks limited supplies.

Weather and local sanitation can be a problem and aggravate health conditions. Garbage is picked up sporadically. Street sweeping and washing in Bucharest is sporadic, but sewage disposal is adequate. Winter weather is hard because streets are not cleaned of snow and ice, and apartments and work sites are irregularly heated. In winter, soot from wood burning and soft coal aggravates some sinus problems and allergies; dust from the extensive construction in Bucharest will do the same for some people year round.

Water should be boiled and filtered before use. The 1977 earthquake disrupted the aging plumbing system which caused the water quality to deteriorate, especially during the spring rains and winter freeze/thaw cycles. Bottled drinks are considered safe.

AIDS and seropositive HIV have recently come to the forefront in Romania as a major public health problem, particularly in the pediatric population. Thus far, many of these cases seem to be attributed to the use of giving blood microtransfusions to young babies, and the reuse of contaminated syringes, particularly in the institutionalized child and/or the child with multiple hospitalizations. Research is continuing to try and help clarify this issue. The practice of microtransfusions in Romania has been banned, and disposable syringes are becoming more available, but the problem still exists. In additions, AIDS surveillance programs are being set up in Romania, as well as programs for blood donor screening for HIV and Hepatitis B.


Passage, Customs & Duties

Bucharest is served by numerous foreign airlines which use Otopeni International Airport. Flights are scheduled daily from Frankfurt, and four to six flights a week arrive from Vienna, Paris, Rome, and London. TAROM, the Romanian airline, provides service between Bucharest and New York. International shipping arrives at the Black Sea ports of Constanţa and Galaţi. Rail connections are available from Western Europe via Budapest and Belgrade, as well as from Eastern European countries. Travel by car from Western Europe also is possible.

A passport is required. Tourist visas for stays up to thirty days are not required. An exit visa must be obtained only in cases when the original passport used to enter the country was lost or stolen and a replacement passport has been issued by the American Embassy. For stays longer than thirty days, visas should be obtained from a Romanian embassy or consulate abroad. These should be extended at passport offices in Romania in the area of residence. Travelers can obtain visas and other information regarding entry requirements from the Romanian Embassy at 1607 23rd St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone number (202) 232-4747, or the Romanian consulates in Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York City. The Romanian Embassy maintains a web site at

Romania's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Romania of items such as firearms, antiquities, and medications. Romanian law allows foreigners to bring up to $10,000 in cash into Romania. No amount in excess of that declared upon entry may be taken out of Romania upon departure. Sums larger than $10,000 must be transferred through banks. No more than 1,000,000 Romanian lei (rol) may be brought into or taken out of the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Romania in Washington or one of Romania's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Americans living in or visiting Romania are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Romania and obtain updated information on travel and security within Romania. The U.S. Embassy is located at Strada Tudor Arghezi 7-9, telephone (40) 1-210-4042. In life or death emergencies, an after hours duty officer may be reached by calling (40) 1-210-0149. Consular services for U.S. citizens are performed in the Consular Section located at Strada Filipescu no. 26 (formerly Strada Snagov), one block from the

U.S. Embassy at the corner of Strada Batistei. The telephone number of the Consular Section is (40) 1-210-4042, and faxes can be sent to (40) 1 211-3360. An Embassy Information Office in Cluj-Napoca is located at Universitatii 7-9, Etaj 1, telephone (40) 64-193-815. This office is able to provide only limited consular information.


No regulations restrict the importation of household pets (cats and dogs). Animals with proper documentation, such as health and rabies-vaccination certificates, are quickly cleared through customs.

There is a significant population of stray dogs in and around Bucharest, and attacks on pedestrians and joggers are not uncommon. While there have not been any reported problems with rabies, travelers are advised to avoid all stray dogs.

Disaster Preparedness

Romania is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Aanagement Agency (FEMA) at

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The leu is the official unit of currency (the plural is lei ). There are 100 bani in one leu.

Romania is largely a "cash only" economy. While an increasing number of businesses do accept credit cards, travelers are advised to use cash for goods and services rendered due to an increase in credit card fraud. Venders have been known to misuse credit card information by making illegal purchases on individuals' accounts. There are an increasing number of ATM machines located throughout major cities. Travelers' checks are of limited use, but they may be used to exchange local currency at some exchange houses.

The metric system of weights and measures is in force.

The time in Romania is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus one.


Jan. 1New Year's Day

Jan. 2Day after New Year's Day

Apr/MayEaster (Orthodox)* Apr/MayEaster Monday*

May 1Romanian Labor Day

Dec. 1Romanian National Day

Dec. 25Christmas Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Behr, Edward. Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite: The Rise and Fall of the Ceausescus. New York: Random House, 1991.

Demekas, Dimitrios and Mohsin Khan. The Romanian Economic Reform Program. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 1991.

Fischer-Galati, Stephen. Twentieth-Century Romania, 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

Haynes, Jim, ed. Romania: People to People. Somerville, MA: Zephyr Press, 1992.

Jones, Harold D. Where to Go in Romania. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1991.

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Romanian Journey. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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Located in southeastern Europe on the Black Sea, Romania covers an area of 238,500 square kilometers (92,085 square miles), making it slightly smaller than Oregon. It borders Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine, and has a coastline of 225 kilometers (140 miles). The capital, Bucharest, is towards the south of the country.


The population of Romania was estimated at 22,334,312 in July 2000, having fallen 2.6 percent since its peak in 1988. The population is expected to continue falling for the next decade thanks to net emigration and low birth rates, a fact that worries the government. But improved health care should slow the rate of decline as infant mortality falls from its current 19.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Meanwhile, the proportion of retired people is rising. By 2005, 14.6 percent of the Romanian population will be aged 65 or over, compared to 11.8 percent in 1995. For this reason, Romania has recently reformed its state pension system because rising unemployment has combined with the aging population to make the former payas-you-go system unaffordable. The plan is to encourage complementary private pensions, allowing younger citizens to save for their own old age while maintaining payments to those that are already pensioners .

Romania's population is remarkably homogenous. Almost 90 percent are ethnic Romanians, claiming descent from Latin-speaking Romans who settled among the local Dacians in 100-200 A.D. As a result, Roman-ian is a Romance language related to French and Italian, in contrast to the Slav languages spoken in surrounding countries. Around 70 percent of Romania's population is Romanian Orthodox.

The biggest minority group is Hungarian, which is particularly strong in the western region of Transylvania. Hungarian-Romanians have automatic rights to parliamentary representation and Hungarian-language education. There are also sizeable Roma, Turkish, and Croat populations, as well as Ukrainians, Greeks, Russians, Armenians, and Serbs. Romania used to have a Jewish population of around 300,000. Most of them survived World War II but emigrated to Israel, leaving only a few thousand now. During the 1990s, two-thirds of Romania's German population also emigrated to Germany.


Romania is well-endowed with minerals, natural fuels, and rich agricultural land, and has a good trading location on the Black Sea. But a turbulent history, culminating in the repressive communist regime of 1947 to 1989, have kept it from turning its natural advantages into profit. Originally settled by the Dacian tribe, the region now known as Romania fell under Roman rule in the 2nd century A.D. The Romans abandoned the area less than 2 centuries later, and Romania was split between local fiefdoms until the medieval period, when it fell under Ottoman rule.

Over the next few centuries, Hapsburg forces from Austria-Hungary took over the northwestern region of Transylvania and gradually pushed the Ottoman Empire south. But it was not until the 19th century that the Ottomans finally left Romania. Europe's other powers were anxious to stop Austria-Hungary and Russia from dominating the region, and their pressure led to Romania being declared a nation in 1878 under the German prince Carol of Hohenzollern. For the next 50 years, the country struggled to establish a liberal democracy. It cultivated links with the West, particularly France, and fought with the Allied forces in World War I. But, by 1938, it had become a dictatorship, and the country entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.

The country fell under full communist control at the end of 1947 after Soviet troops moved into Eastern Europe. The country's first communist leader, Gheorgiu-Dej, was originally a Stalinist but gradually loosened ties with Moscow. That process was completed by his successor, Nicolae Ceaucescu, who started to improve relations with the West. During the 1970s, he borrowed heavily abroad to build up Romania's infrastructure and heavy industry, often building plants without any commercial rationale. Then, in the 1980s, he adopted a policy of isolationism and self-sufficiency. Industry and infrastructure was starved of investment as Romania strove to repay all of its foreign debts .

Nicolae Ceaucescu was overthrown and killed in 1989 in a revolution that officially cost 689 lives. He was replaced by his former aide, Ion Iliescu, who called elections in 1990. Despite protests, these resulted in Iliescu being elected president, while his party headed the government. Since then, Romania has worked towards becoming a democratic, Western-style economy. This has involved breaking up and privatizing its huge industrial plants, reviving foreign trade, and allowing the growth of small businesses.

The process has been difficult, and Romania has not progressed as fast as some of its Eastern European neighbors. A decade of stop-and-go reforms meant that Romania's first post-communist recession was followed by another 3-year slump in the mid-1990s. By 1999, the country's GDP was just 76 percent of its 1989 level, according to the Development Ministry. Romania has struggled to maintain its infrastructure and restructure its outdated heavy industry. Agricultural output has fallen, largely because the land has been split up into tiny subsistence farms . Many of the country's largest companies are still state-owned and loss-making.

With the help of the World Bank, Romania has drawn up a list of state companies to be closed or sold in an attempt to improve the government's finances. But progress has been slow because of the job losses involved. The transition to a market economy has also put an enormous strain on the country's social support systems. Unemployment has risen rapidly and the World Bank estimates that 22 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The year 2000 may be the start of a turnaround, however. Romania's economy started growing again and is expected to continue growing for the next 2 years at least. High world commodity prices in the past 2 years have boosted exports. Meanwhile, the service sector has expanded quickly, with new private shops and trading companies springing up. Romania's tourism industry, centered around the Black Sea coast and the beautiful mountain resorts, is reviving. There has also been some limited foreign investment, notably the acquisition of the Dacia car plant by France's Renault in 1999.

Romania's main aim for the next few years is to reduce inflation (45.7 percent in 2000) and boost growth, partly by attracting more foreign investment. Longer-term, the country hopes to join NATO and is 1 of the 10 Eastern European countries negotiating to join the European Union (EU). Romania's own target date for EU entry is 2007, but the latest progress report from the EU Commission in October 2000 was not encouraging. It put Romania in last place out of all the current candidates, saying that the country did not yet have a functioning market economy, a prerequisite for entry. Most analysts expect it to take Romania at least another decade to pass the reforms necessary for EU entry, even if the political will is there.


Since the overthrow of communist leader Nicolae Ceaucescu in 1989, Romania has been ruled by a succession of new or reformed parties, each claiming that they will be able to revive the economy. The most dominant has been the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), a leftist party that developed out of the former Romanian Communist Party. It is headed by Ion Iliescu, a former communist who took over from Ceaucescu in 1989 in what many see as an insiders' coup.

Iliescu recognized the need to turn Romania into a democratic market economy and called elections in 1990 and 1992. These resulted in his being declared president and the PDSR becoming the main party in the governing coalition. The PDSR advocated a slow reform program and started to liberalize the economy, restitute land to its pre-Communist owners, and privatize smaller companies. But it kept state controls over some prices, particularly in the energy sector, and over foreign exchange markets. It also failed to break down many of the big state monopolies . The economy, after a recession in the early 1990s, revived on the back of government subsidies . But Romania's economic problems and allegations of corruption led to Iliescu and the PDSR losing the presidential and government elections in 1996.

They were succeeded by a multi-party coalition that promised more rapid reforms, including faster privatization and liberalization. Unfortunately, this new government, headed by the Democratic Coalition, proved too inexperienced and quarrelsome to push through many of the necessary measures. Others proved unexpectedly painful. Price liberalization pushed up inflation and a credit crunch boosted unemployment, while privatization was slow and scandal-ridden. The coalition went through 3 prime ministers in 3 years as politicians squabbled and the economy went into a 3-year recession.

By November 2000, when new government and presidential elections were held, the coalition government had become deeply unpopular. Romanians voted overwhelmingly for the return of Iliescu and the PDSR. However, the PDSR did not receive a majority of the votes. The ultra-nationalist Greater Romania Party received the 2nd highest percentage of votes, which generated anxiety in many national and international circles because of the party's isolationist and xenophobic rhetoric. Instead of forming a coalition with other parties to create a majority government, the PDSR formed a single-party minority government. The party claims to have changed since its previous term in office and is now presenting itself as a European-style social democratic party. It has announced its support for Romania's bids to join the EU and NATO and is trying to woo foreign investors by pushing through reforms recommended by the EU and International Monetary Fund.

In general, the elections confirmed that democracy in Romania is on a stronger footing than the economy. The European Commission says that substantial progress has been made in establishing political parties, a plural-istic media, and civilian control of the army. None of these things is yet assured, however. Parties often have similar platforms and are continually splitting, while the media is under pressure from both politicians and business lobbies. Meanwhile, corruption is widespread, according to a report published in March 2001 by the World Bank. Romania passed new anti-corruption legislation in May 2000 establishing several agencies and tightening up rules on public administration, but it will take years for the effects to show.

The trade unions, particularly in the mining industries, form a powerful and potentially disruptive lobby group. In the past decade, notably in 1991 and 1998, the miners and other unions have stepped in at moments of crisis by marching on Bucharest. Rival politicians are often accused of triggering these miners' marches for their own ends, and disagreements with the unions was one reason for the problems faced by the Democratic Coalition and its partners in government. The PDSR enjoys closer ties with the unions and is trying to use this relationship to contain wage increases. In February 2001, it struck a key social pact with the unions and employers, trying to set a framework for all 3 sides to work together.

One perennial source of political and economic problems is taxation. Weak administration and collection, the collapse of several big tax-paying firms, and widespread tax avoidance have led to a sharp decline in revenues. Some 30 to 40 percent of the real economy is probably not registered in the official figures, and the government runs a persistent deficit (7 percent of GDP in 2000) as it struggles to fund social security systems, health care, and education. In 2000, the government tried to boost its tax take partly by lowering tax rates and broadening the tax base, in a bid to lure non-payers back into the system. Despite all this, government spending still accounts for 40 percent of the economy because of slow privatization of state industry.


Romania's infrastructure is fairly extensive, with 103,671 kilometers (64,276 miles) of road, 11,385 kilometers (7,058 miles) of rail, and 3.84 million main telephone lines. But most of it is in a poor state of repair, due to decades of underinvestment. This is a situation that successive governments are eager to rectify, though they have had difficulty finding the necessary funding. Most hopes rest on foreign aid, particularly from the EU, and on attracting foreign investment.

Since 1989, every government has instituted a road-building program, partly in an attempt to generate employment. The EU has helped, but its money has mainly gone towards improving border posts and building the major trans-European corridor routes that run through Romania. Critics say the money would be better spent on improving smaller roads, particularly in ensuring that donkeys and carts are kept off major routes. Railway services, meanwhile, are still provided by the state-owned rail company SNCFR and are loss-making, despite government subsidies. Only a third of the tracks are electrified, and speed restrictions are widespread. In March 2001, the Japanese government lent Romania US$220 million to upgrade the Bucharest-to-Constanta railway.

Romania has 6 major ports, of which Constanta is seen as the most important to the country's future. It is located where the River Danube flows into the Black Sea. The Danube itself is the country's most important trade route, but, in 1999, was blocked thanks to NATO's bombing of Serbia. It has recently reopened, but problems remain. Romania also has 3 international and 16 domestic airports. The dominant carrier is the country's national airline, Tarom. It is currently state-owned, and the government has been trying to find a strategic investor to provide financing and connect the airline into the rapidly forming global alliances. But the latest attempt

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Romania 300 319 233 119.2 29 N/A 10.2 9.01 600
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Poland 113 523 413 83.3 50 N/A 43.9 40.86 2,100
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

to sell Tarom, in late 2000, failed thanks to a lack of interest.

Investment into Romania's energy sector is also badly needed. The country currently generates 22.6 gigawatts of power from a combination of thermal, hydro-electric, and nuclear power plants. But most of the plants are over 20 years old, and about 60 percent of Romania's power capacity will have to be replaced within the next 10 years. The power market is dominated by the state monopoly Conel. To meet EU expectations and attract investment into the power market, Romania plans to liberalize the power market, break up Conel, and privatize parts of the sector. The government is also pushing for an oil and gas pipeline to be built through the country to transport fuel from the Caspian Sea region to the West. But with several countries competing to become a transit route, the outcome is uncertain.

Romania's telecommunications system is extremely outdated, with poor service. But there has been some progress in recent years. In 1998, Greece's OTE bought a 35 percent stake in the state fixed-line monopoly, Romtelecom. OTE plans substantial investment, while the government has raised US$7 to 8 billion through a 15-year telecoms program supported by the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Meanwhile, mobile telecoms have grown rapidly, led by private companies such as Mobifon and Connex. Over 1 million Romanians are now thought to have mobile phones, with 60 percent of the country covered. Internet access has been slow to develop because of poor phone lines. Internet accounts penetration is now 0.25 per 100 inhabitants, compared with 1.25 in neighboring Hungary, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.


Romania's economy was designed for self-sufficiency under the communist regime, and great emphasis was placed on building up manufacturing industry to supply the population's needs. This resulted in a fairly diversified economy. But the 1980s scramble to repay foreign debts led to chronic underinvestment. Then, during the 1990s, the transition to a market economy and the liberalization of foreign trade exposed many of the country's products as obsolete. Two deep recessions in the past 10 years have added to the problems afflicting many of Romania's companies.

Industry's share of GDP has fallen from 41 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 1999. Much of the slack has been taken up by services, which were underdeveloped during the communist era. Services now account for 48 percent of GDP, largely because of a growth in trade. Agricultural production also slumped heavily during the 1990s, and the inefficient structure of farming, as well as export barriers, means it will not rise markedly in the future. Instead, Romanian growthpredicted at 3 to 4 percent in each of the next 4 yearsis expected to come from reviving industry and services.

Foreign trade has developed rapidly during the 1990s, despite the disruption caused by war in former Yugoslavia, and now accounts for 64 percent of GDP. The previous Romanian government put great emphasis on encouraging exports, cutting the profit tax on exports at the start of 2000. The new government says it will continue this policy. Nevertheless, with 22 million people, the domestic market is still the main focus for most companies. It is also the main reason why foreign investors such as France's Renault have moved to the country.


Agriculture employed 42 percent of Romania's labor force in 1999 but generated just 16 percent of GDP. Improving this ratio is one of the biggest challenges facing Romania as it tries to raise living standards and to enter the European Union. One reason for the low productivity of farming is the agricultural reforms started in 1991, which restituted land nationalized under the communists to its former owners or their heirs. A limit was put on the amount of land that could be restituted, in the interests of social equality. The result is that Romania now has the most fragmented agricultural land in Eastern Europe.

The agricultural sector has 2 main components: informal and formal. On the one hand are the estimated 4 million subsistence farmers, which own 60 percent of farmland but produce mostly for their own consumption. These are deemed a social, rather than economic, problem and efforts are focused on improving their living standards, largely by persuading them to move into other jobs. The sheer number of them is a big barrier to European Union entry because, under current EU rules, they would each be entitled to income support. The formal agricultural sector consists of the large farms, which produce for domestic and export markets. Privatization of these began in 1997, though a substantial number are still state-owned.

Agricultural production fell sharply in the early 1990s, followed by a slow recovery. According to the World Bank, total production dropped 20 percent between 1989 and 1998, though gross value-added in the sector has only dropped 1 percent. Droughts in 2000 cut production further, but the underlying problem is the agricultural sector's inefficiency.

The small size of the plots of land makes them uneconomic to farm. In addition, Romania's self-sufficiency drive in the 1980s meant that it started producing crops like rice, which were unsuitable for local conditions. These crops disappeared as soon as agriculture was opened to market forces. Romania also suffered from the Yugoslav wars, from a drop in world commodity prices, and from export barriers imposed by the EU and its Central European neighbors.

These trade barriers have gradually been lifted throughout the 1990s, while the Yugoslav wars have calmed down and prices have risen. But, if Romania is to exploit the new opportunities, it has to increase the efficiency of its farms and of its distribution. The country should be a natural exporter of agricultural goods. It has some of the richest land in the region, with 80 percent of its territory suitable for arable farming. Yet, in 1999, agriculture accounted for just 3.4 percent of the country's exports.



Romania is well-endowed with natural resources. It has large reserves of petroleum, timber, natural gas, coal, iron ore, and salt, as well as facilities for hydropower. But lack of investment is causing the output of everything from coal to oil to fall.

The coal sector has been among the hardest-hit by the transition to a market economy. Coal production fell by 57 percent between 1989 and 1998, to 28.6 million short tons, as the economy shrank and use of other, less-polluting fuels increased. Over the past 5 years, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have pushed Romania to close inefficient mines, in order to stop the sector from gobbling up state subsidies. The social impact of this has been huge, with tens of thousand of miners losing their jobs, pushing unemployment in some regions to 70 percent. The current leftist government has promised that the pit closures will soon stop. It is hoping to boost electricity exports, which will mean more demand for coal.

Romania has proven oil reserves of 1.4 billion barrels, the largest in Eastern Europe. The country used to be a major oil exporter, but lack of investment has caused production to steadily fall over the last 2 decades. Romania now relies on imports to cover half its domestic needs. The government has started to attract foreign investment for oil exploration and production, both on land and in the Black Sea. There are also long-standing plans to privatize the state oil company SNP Petrom, although the attitude of the government remains unclear. Gas production has also fallen, with little money for exploration. Proven reserves of natural gas stood at 13.2 trillion cubic feet in 1998, but Romania still imports gas from Russia.


Romania's manufacturing sector is dominated by machine-building, metals, chemicals, and textiles, all of which have had to turn from supplying the domestic market to finding export markets. Investment has been a key issue, as they try to update the outdated equipment many of them were left with when communism fell. Many of the previously state-owned firms have also been sold to private owners in an attempt to bring in money and improve management. Some of the biggest firms, seen by the government as strategic, have still to be sold, however.

The textile and footwear industries have been among the most successful in the past decade, as Western European and U.S. clothes-makers subcontract work to Romanian firms. As a result, textile exports accounted for 24.2 percent of 2000 exports, while footwear accounted for 7.6 percent. But such work depends on low wages, which is why Romania is anxious to progress from sub-contracting to selling its own clothing designs. At present, the gross monthly wage in the textiles sector is just US$130 a month.

The metals sector has enjoyed a boom in the past 2 years, thanks to high world prices. The aluminum plant Alro is now Romania's biggest exporter and tripled its net profits in 2000. The country's biggest steelworks, Sidex, has also benefitted from the high prices, despite its outdated equipment and competition from stronger steel firms in Slovakia. Sidex is said to employ, directly and indirectly, over a million Romanian workers, both in and outside its home town of Galati. Both Alro and Sidex are still mainly state-owned and are expected to be sold to private owners by 2003.

During the 1990s, many of the largest firms in the machine-building sector were split up into smaller units in an attempt to boost efficiency and speed up their privatization. The disruption has been immense, and Romanian firms, long protected in an isolated market, have also found it hard to raise their production to the standard needed for export. Nevertheless, there has been some recovery in the sector. Exports rose nearly 50 percent during 2000, and it accounted for 14 percent of the total.

Romanian firms in both the metals and machine-building sectors lay great hopes on becoming subcon-tractors for major European manufacturers. That is why the 1999 acquisition of the Dacia car plant by France's Renault is seen as so important to Romania's future. Renault plans to use Dacia to develop, for emerging markets , cars selling for around US$5,000 apiece. To do that, it will have to build up a network of local, cheap suppliers such as the Sidex steelmaker. Renault's entry into Romania has also brought in other foreign investors, among them its international suppliers, such as the United States's Johnson Controls.

Romania's chemicals sector consists of both petro-chemicals, based on its oil industry, and on pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical firms, such as Terapia, have found a niche for themselves in producing cheap versions of international drugs to sell both to Romanian hospitals and to EU countries. But they face problems as Romania moves towards EU membership because its patent laws will have to be made stricter, which will limit the drugs they can produce. Like the oil sector, the petro-chemicals sector has revived in the past year due to rising world prices.



Tourism has always been an important part of Romania's economy. A combination of beautiful mountain regions, a warm sea coast, and Dracula's castles lure tourists. But the development of the industry has been hampered by a lack of money for infrastructure and tourist facilities. Service is still patchy in several parts of the country.

These factors, combined with the wars in neighboring Yugoslavia, mean that tourism numbers more than have halved since communism ended. In 1990, some 6.5 million foreigners visited the country; by 1998, that figure was down to 2.9 million. The collapse of the state tourism monopolies are partly to blame, combined with Romania's rising reputation for corruption. The number of domestic tourists has also slumped, with many Romanians no longer able to afford holidays.

Nevertheless, there are signs of a revival since the mid-1990s. Some limited foreign investment has come into the sector, particularly into Bucharest. Privatization of tourism facilities has speeded up. And the government has made development of the industry one of its prime medium-term objectives.


The development of Romania's banking sector is seen as crucial to economic growth, because it will determine whether companies can get the loans and investment they need to become competitive. In 1990, the market was dominated by a handful of state banks. In 2000, there were 54 banks registered in the country, many of which were subsidiaries of foreign banks.

But Romanian financial services remain small in international terms. And the locally-owned banks in particular are also vulnerable to collapse because of a lack of experience in selecting borrowers, the effects of the 2 recessions, and their limited access to international capital. Several banks and funds collapsed during 2000, leaving thousands of deposit-holders demanding compensation from the government. Altogether, the government has had to spend US$3 billion in the past decade propping up the country's banks.

To overcome these problems, Romania is in the process of privatizing its remaining state banks. The aim is to find foreign strategic investors who can provide both capital and expertise and stop the banks from collapsing. The Romanian Bank for Development was sold to France's Societe Generale, while several financial investors, including America's GE Capital, have bought into Banc Post. In April 2001, Banka Agricola, the agricultural bank, was sold to the Romanian-American Enterprise Fund and Austria's Raiffeisen bank.


Much of the growth of Romania's service sector stems from the growth of trade, both international and domestic. Trade employed 9.5 percent of Romania's workforce by 1998, compared with 5 percent in 1990. And it accounts for an estimated 90 percent of small businesses in the country, many of which operate in the grey economy . Many of these firms are one-person companies with a van to ship goods. Others are small shops or even street-traders.

The retail trade in particular was underdeveloped in the communist era when all shops were state-owned. Now a multitude of small shops have sprung up and are increasingly having to compete with the new supermarkets. Some of the investment has come from foreign countries, with retailers such as Austria's Billa, Germany's Metro, and France's Carrefour building supermarkets and hypermarkets in the major towns. The investors seem unconcerned by the low purchasing power of Romanians. They see fast growth for the sector because it is so underdeveloped, and are keen to establish their position.


Foreign trade has grown rapidly during the 1990s, as Romania has quickly liberalized its trade regime. The country joined the World Trade Organization in 1995 and the Central European Free Trade Area in 1997. It also enjoys special trading rights with the European Union as a precursor to membership. Some 63.8 percent of exports go to EU countries, making Romania's economy dependent on that of major markets, particularly Italy. Great hopes are placed on the ending of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, the successor countries to which are natural trading partners for Romania.

Romanian companies have found it hard to take advantage of the new export opportunities, however. Meanwhile, imports have risen by 42 percent in dollar terms since 1990, as Romanians take advantage of their new access to consumer goods and as companies import investment goods such as computers. As a result, the country runs a persistent trade deficit .

Fortunately, export growth has accelerated in the past 2 years, thanks in part to high world commodity prices for Romanian exports such as steel, aluminum, and refined oil products. Nevertheless, 2000 exports rose 21.9

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Romania
Exports Imports
1975 5.341 5.769
1980 11.209 13.843
1985 12.167 11.267
1990 5.775 9.843
1995 7.910 10.278
1998 8.300 11.821
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

percent in dollar terms compared to the previous year, while imports rose 25.6 percent, according to the national statistics office. And the trade gap is expected to remain large for at least the next 4 years.


The value of the Romanian leu has slowly declined on the world market for the past 10 years. In 1990, there were 24 lei to the U.S. dollar. By 2000, the average exchange rate was 21,693. The government and national bank have attempted to control this devaluation by defending the currency within a controlled band. Inflation averaged 45.7 percent in 2000, and, though the trend appears to be gradually downwards, the government's finances are still strained. There remains a slight risk of a return to the high inflation of the early 1990s (256 percent in 1993). For this reason, international rating agencies do not yet define Romania as an investment grade country.

Romania has 2 stock exchanges: the Bucharest Stock Exchange, which handles the biggest companies; and the Rasdaq, intended for smaller companies. Both exchanges peaked during the mini-boom of 1997, but confidence and turnover is now low. The Bucharest Stock Exchange is capitalized at US$11.5 billion, while the Rasdaq is capitalized at US$826 million.


Under communism, Romania was a comparatively egalitarian society, and this has remained the case. Nevertheless, inequality has increased in the past 10 years. In 1989, the top 10 percent of the population earned around 2.1 times more than the bottom 10 percent. By 1998, the ratio was 3.0, around Western European levels.

At the same time, the rapid rise of inflation during the 1990s and the collapsing power of the Romanian currency have left many in poverty. Cornelia Tesliuc, in a study for the World Bank, estimates that poverty has risen

Exchange rates: Romania
lei (L) per US$1
Jan 2001 26,243.0
2000 21,708.7
1999 15,332.8
1998 8,875.6
1997 7,167.9
1996 3,084.2
Note: Lei is the plural form of leu.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Romania 1,201 1,643 1,872 1,576 1,310
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Poland N/A 2,932 2,819 2,900 3,877
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

six-fold since 1989. That has left some two-thirds of the population (14.7 million people) living on the international equivalent of less than US$4 a day. Yet nearly all these people can still afford a basic food basket, and malnutrition is still rare.

Poverty is far greater in rural areas than in the towns. The northeastern regions, near the border with Moldova, have suffered most, thanks to the collapse of badly located industrial plants placed in these regions in the 1970s. Southern regions, near the Bulgarian border, are also poor. Meanwhile, the wealthiest regions are around Bucharest and in the western regions around Timisoara. But even in wealthier regions, pockets of poverty remain.

One major reason was the break-up and restitution of agricultural land, which left many people living on small subsistence farms. Unemployment has risen to over 10 percent from zero in communist times, thanks to struggling industry. A comprehensive government safety net is in place, providing a wide range of payments to pensioners, the unemployed, and large families. But strained government finances means the social payments have become tiny in real terms. Meanwhile, the average gross salary was just US$136.60 a month in January 2001.

As yet, the growing inequality has not had a noticeable effect on education levels. As in other ex-communist countries, Romania's literacy rate is relatively high, at 97 percent for women and 98 percent for men. The governent

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Romania
Lowest 10% 3.7
Lowest 20% 8.9
Second 20% 13.6
Third 20% 17.6
Fourth 20% 22.6
Highest 20% 37.3
Highest 10% 22.7
Survey year: 1994
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

maccepts that it is vital to maintain these standards if Romania is to overcome poverty in the future. Unemployment is already affecting the less well-educated disproportionately. And there are worrying, if unsubstantiated, reports that school attendance is falling rapidly in some of the poorest rural areas and particularly among the Roma minority.

Maintaining health standards is also important. Romania's health-care system provides for universal access to care, funded from a state insurance fund. But it has proved difficult to maintain standards in the face of rising health-care costs. Many patients report that they have to make unofficial payments to doctors and nurses in order to get treatment, which makes access difficult for the poor. Health-care workers argue that low wages force them to accept such tips.

One of the key problems facing Romania is its orphanages. Abortion and contraception were made illegal in 1966, in an attempt to build up a communist work-force. The result was thousands of unwanted births. Some 150,000 children now live in orphanages, and though Westerners' attempts to adopt some of these children or donate money have helped, they have also brought new problems. A system of illegal adoption agencies has

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Romania 36 7 9 3 20 9 16
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Poland 28 4 19 6 1 8 34
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

grown up around the orphanages, and the foreign aid has encouraged corruption. In 1999, the European Union told Romania that it would have to stamp out this corruption and improve conditions in the orphanages before it could be admitted to EU membership.

A poor family in Romania is likely to be one with 6 or more members, including 4 or more children. It will probably be headed by a woman (particularly an elderly woman), with only primary education. The head of the household will be either unemployed, self-employed, or a subsistence farmer with less than 2 hectares of land. The family is also likely to be a Roma familyRoma are 3.5 times more likely to be poor than other Romanians.

A wealthy family in Romania is likely to be an urban couple with no children and high education. They are likely to be young and employed in a high-paying sector such as financial services.


Between 1994 and 1998, Romania's labor force has fallen from 10 million to 8.8 million. Part of the drop came from growing unemployment. But even more people simply fell out of the labor force by taking early retirement or invalid benefits. Agriculture has also soaked up a huge proportion of the spare labor force as industrial firms collapsed and land was restored to its owners. In 1990, agriculture used to account for 28 percent of the workforce. It now accounts for 42 percent.

Working conditions are regulated by various laws, most importantly the Labor Code of 1991. It sets a working week of 40 hours per week, and paid holidays of 18-24 days a year. It also stipulates redundancy payments and higher pay for workers in dangerous sectors. Nevertheless, workers still complain that working conditions are worsening in Romania. Wages have been slow to recover from a slump in 1997, when they fell 22.6 percent in real terms. And accidents at work are still one of the biggest causes of death for men aged 30 to 50.

The bargaining power of Romanian workers is limited in most sectors, thanks to the weak economy. The huge unions of the communist era have collapsed as the country turned to democracy, and their successors are far weaker. Unions and strikes are both allowed under the 1991 law, but workers complain that there are restrictions on their activity. Politicized sectors, like the miners, have frequently held large street protests. But these have often had political aims rather than pushing for improvements to working conditions.

The current leftist government views relations with the unions as key to its ability to govern the country. That is why it formed a social pact with unions and employers in February 2001. The unions have agreed that wage increases should keep pace with productivity in order to make the country's exports competitive. In return, the government has promised to keep unemployment below 10 percent, improve workplace safety, reduce the grey economy, and stop appointing political managers to state-owned firms.


106 A.D. Roman troops defeat the local Dacians, and Dacia becomes a province of the Roman empire.

271. Goth attacks force the Romans to withdraw.

4TH CENTURY. Christianity arrives in the region and is adopted by the Latin-speaking Daco-Romans. The area gradually coalesces into 3 regions: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania.

1415. The ruler of Wallachia is forced to recognize the suzerainty of the Ottomans, who go on to conquer and unite all 3 regions.

1686. Hapsburg forces from Austria-Hungary take over Transylvania and annex parts of Moldavia over the next 200 years.

1859. After the Turko-Russian war, Wallachia and Moldavia are united and become independent.

1878. Romanian independence is recognized by the UK, France, and Germany. The country later chooses Carol I of Prussia as its first king.

1916. Romania declares war on Hungary and invades Transylvania, which it eventually wins.

1919. The Treaty of Versailles, which ends the First World War, sees Romania double in size, taking over Bukovina and parts of Bessarabia as well as Transylvania. Even now, this Greater Romania is still seen as the country's rightful territory by some politicians, e.g. those in the Greater Romania Party.

1938. King Carol II declares a royal dictatorship to stem a wave of fascist terror sweeping through the country. At the onset of the Second World War, Romania loses many of its northern territories under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Germany and Russia. Carol II steps down.

1941. Under General Ion Antonescu, Romania forms a pact with Nazi Germany and fights to regain its territories. Thousands of Jews are deported.

1944. A royal coup topples Antonescu, and Romania fights the rest of the war on the Allied side.

1947. Romania is declared a People's Republic after communists gain 80 percent of the vote in rigged elections the previous year. Russia takes over northern Bukovina and Bessarabia.

1965. The country's first communist leader, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, dies. His successor, Nicolae Ceaucescu, continues to draw Romania away from Russian influence and towards the West.

1980s. Romania adopts a policy of isolationism and scrambles to pay off its US$10 billion in foreign debts. The clampdown on trade results in widespread shortages of goods, including gasoline. The debt is repaid by 1989.

1989. Nicolae Ceaucescu is overthrown and is shot, together with his wife, Elena. The National Salvation Front (NSF), headed by former Ceaucescu aide Ion Iliescu, takes over the government.

1990. Parliamentary elections are held, resulting in an overwhelming victory for the NSF. Iliescu becomes president. But he has to bus hundreds of miners into Bucharest to quell public demonstrations against the NSF.

1992. Parliamentary elections are won by Iliescu's National Democratic Salvation Front, an offshoot of the NSF. This later becomes the Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PDSR).

1993-95. Romania joins the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization, and becomes an associated member of the European Union and a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace.

1996. Centrist opposition parties win a majority in parliamentary elections and come to power promising faster economic reforms. But the economy subsequently goes into a 3-year recession.

1997. Romania joins the Central European Free Trade Area.

1999. The European Union officially invites Romania, together with 6 other candidates, to negotiate for membership.

2000. The PDSR regains power and promises to continue Romania's progress towards EU and NATO membership.


As Romania enters the 21st century under a new government, its immediate troubles seem to be behind it. The recession is over and growth is predicted for the next 4 years. This is partly for unhealthy reasons, with the government trying to stimulate the economy. But it is also for more healthy reasons. The country's exports are rising as Romanian firms learn to compete in international markets, and more foreign investment is coming into the country.

But for the long term, a lot depends on whether Romania progresses towards membership in the European Union. Even now, the goal of EU membership forces the government to tackle some of the uncomfortable reforms still needed if the economy is to thrive, such as closing down uneconomic factories and rooting out corruption. It also encourages much-needed investment in the country. Meanwhile, the EU itself is contributing billions of dollars in aid to help Romania repair its infrastructure.

These benefits can only increase if Romania achieves its goal and joins the EU within the next decade. EU aid should increase, along with the investment. And trade will be eased, raising living standards. It is the country's best chance for economic security and of achieving some kind of political security. NATO membership would be an added boon, bringing military security.

But there are plenty of risks along the way. One is that Romania's governments will fail to do the work they need to do to persuade the EU and NATO to let them join. Existing EU and NATO members could block Romania's entry to both organizations if the potential problems seem too big. Worst of all, Romania's attempts to establish democracy could fail if there is a backlash against some of the job cuts and austerity measures needed to revive the economy.


Romania has no territories or colonies.


Business Central Europe. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. <>(subscription necessary to access all reports). Accessed April 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Romania. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

"Enlargement." Europa. European Commission. <>. Accessed April 2001.

National Bank of Romania. <>. Accessed April 2001.

"Report on Romanian Energy." Energy Information Administration. <>. Accessed April 2001.

"Romania." World Bank. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Romania In Your Pocket. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Romanian National Commission for Statistics. <>. Accessed April 2001.

"A Survey of Romania, November 2000." Business Central Europe. <>. Accessed April 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000: Romania. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Vienna Institute of Comparative Economic Studies (WIIW). <>. (Subscription necessary to access all reports.) Accessed April 2001.

Ana Nicholls




Romania leu (L). One leu equals 100 bani, though bani are seldom used, thanks to devaluation. There are notes of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000, and 500,000 lei (plural of leu), and coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 lei.


Textiles and footwear, metals and metal products, machinery and equipment, minerals, fuels.


Machinery and equipment, minerals and fuels, chemicals, textiles, footwear.


US$36.7 billion (2000). [ CIA World Factbook 2000 reports GDP at purchasing power parity to be US$87.4 billion (1999 est.).]


Exports: US$10.4 billion (2000). Imports: US$12.0 billion (2000). [ CIA World Factbook 2000 reports exports to be US$8.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.) and imports to be US$9.6 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).]

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Romania
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 22,364,022
Language(s): Romania, Hungarian,German
Literacy rate: 97.0%
Area: 237,500 sq km
GDP: 36,719 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 48
Number of Television Sets: 5,250,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 234.8
Number of Cable Subscribers: 3,532,480
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 157.7
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 320,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 14.3
Number of Radio Stations: 245
Number of RadioReceivers: 7,200,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 321.9
Number of Individuals with Computers: 713,000
Computers per 1,000: 31.9
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 800,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 35.8

Background & General Characteristics

Historical Overview

Although a new nation, Romania has an ancient history. During the Roman Empire, Romania was the province of Dacia. For centuries, Romania was a battleground between opposing forces, Romans versus Germanic invaders, Christianity against pagan faiths, Magyars battling Teutonic knights, and Mongols fighting native Romanians for the control of the principalities of Walachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. These same principalities were short-lived nation states united briefly during the reign of Michael the Brave (1593-1601).

The more powerful empires of the Ottomans and Habsburgs divided the region with Walachia and Moldavia coming under the control of Constantinople, and Transylvania under Habsburg rule from Vienna. Besides Michael the Brave, only Vlad Tepes, prince of Transylvania and later Walachia, gained international renown as nineteenth-century British author Brom Stoker's model for the fictional Dracula.

During the next 250 years, the region that would become Romania remained divided by its Muslim Ottoman and Roman Catholic German overlords. In the eighteenth century, Ottoman influence was gradually replaced with Russian involvement in Romania politics.

With support from Great Britain and France, a united Romania was born in 1861 under the leadership of Alex-andru Cuza. Cuza's reforms quickly lost support among Romania's nobles, politicians, and clergy. A military coup in 1866 ended Cuza's reign. The great powers intervened and selected a German prince from the Roman Catholic House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen to govern Romania.

King Carol (Charles) I governed Romania from 1866 until his death in 1914. A constitutional government was established, the Romanian Orthodox Church declared the official state religion, and a reformed legal system adopted. Romania's 1866 Constitution guaranteed freedom of the press and an end to censorship. King Carol navigated Romania's conflicting internal demands for land reform, and anti-Semitism and nationalistic desires, to expand Romania at the expense of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires.

Successful participation in the Second Balkan War of 1913 added the Black Sea coastal region of Dobruja, captured from Bulgaria, to a Greater Romania. King Carol, a German and a distant cousin of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, signed a secret alliance with the Central Powers. Declining health found Carol unable to force Romania to join Germany and neighboring Austria-Hungary in World War I. Carol died in 1914 and while Romania suffered four years of invasion and desolation at the hands of Germans, Hungarians and Bulgarians, the defeat of the Central Powers ultimately added to the Romanian kingdom the districts of Bessarabia and Bukovina from the Soviet Union and Transylvania from Hungary.

A revised constitution was enacted in 1923 with Articles 5, 25, and 26 devoted to freedom of the press. Censorship and press restrictions were not countenanced and all citizens regardless of rank or status guaranteed the same press and speech freedoms. During the reigns of Ferdinand I (1914-1927) and his successor, grandson, Mihai I (1927-30), the Romanian press flourished and rivaled in number and professionalism those of Western Europe. Romania's print media numbered more than 1,300 newspapers before 1938 with 140 being daily newspapers. There were more than 2,250 magazines and other specialty publications printed in Romania. The freedom the press enjoyed changed when the young King Mihai was deposed.

King Carol II, who ruled from 1930-1940, gradually reduced the freedoms Romanians enjoyed under the 1923 Constitution. In 1938 a royal dictatorship was established in collaboration with Romania's Fascist Iron Guards that sent the democratic forces into exile or hiding. The brutal destruction of Poland by Hitler, the collapse of France and the menacing troop movements along Romania's border with the Soviet Union forced King Carol to bring Romania into the Axis Alliancebut at his country's expense. Large sections of Romania were surrendered to Hungary and Bulgaria. The Soviet Union demanded and got Bessarabia and Bukovnia, in exchange for not invading. Carol II was unable to politically survive these territorial concessions. Iron Guard General Ion Antonescu deposed Carol in 1940 and restored King Mihai to the throne.

From 1940 until Antonescu's overthrow in 1943, Romanians suffered at the hands of a brutal regime. The Antonescu regime suppressed all opposition. The retreat of German forces in 1943 brought Romania's democratic parties and politicians back into the public arena. They formed an alliance with King Mihai, who fired Prime Minister General Antonescu and restored the 1923 Constitution.

Remarkably the overthrow of Antonescu led to a brilliant, though brief, flowering of the Romanian press. New democratic dailies Democratul, Curierul, and Jurnalul de Dimineata each quickly reached circulations of more than 100,000. The newly emerged democratic parties printed their own publications, Dreptatea, Liberalul, and Libertatea. By September 1944, Curierul's circulation numbered around 350,000. King Mihai's new government abolished the Iron Guard's Propaganda Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was given responsibility for the news media in order to protect and reassure foreign journalists in Romania. Law No. 462, published in the Official Bulletin (Monitorul Oficial ) No. 218/1944, stated that there would be no administrative censorship whatsoever except for the customary war censorship exercised by military personnel.

The Allied (Soviet) Control Commission established in Bucharest in 1944 changed everything. Soviet and Romanian Communist authorities began to restrict press freedoms. Article 16 of the Armistice allowed the authorities to regulate the printing, importation, and distribution in Romania of periodicals and other publications as well as radio broadcasts, the postal, telegraph, and telephone communications networks. Annex F of the agreement allowed the Romanian government and its organs to act in accordance with the instructions of the (Soviet dominated) Allied Control Commission. The Control Commission imposed strict censorship on all forms of communication, particularly the press.

Soviet occupation forces published their own Romanian language newspaper, Graiul Nou. Romania's official news agency Rador was increasingly overruled and ignored by directives issued by Graiul Nou. Democratul was suppressed for offending the Soviet Army and its editor jailed. Curierul had part of its operation taken over by the Red Army and Communist Party newspapers. Viitorul was suppressed at the insistence of the Soviet legation in Bucharest. Universul was suspended from publication and purchased by a communist organization. In the provinces, the oldest Romanian language newspaper, Gazeta Tansilvaniei, published in Brashov, was suspended from publication. Only Communist Party media were free to publish. Dispatches from foreign non-communist correspondents had to clear Soviet censors. The publications of Romania's political parties were shortened in length and frequently found their text substituted with communist writings.

A useful tool of the communists was to gain control over the typesetter's unions, which refused to print articles or news that was critical of the Soviets. Soviet influence extended to the sale and distribution of newsprint, which was distributed to only Communist propaganda organs. Administrative Order No. 3395, published March 22, 1945, decreed the need to preserve the secrecy of military operations, domestic order, and state security. Supervision of all Romanian and foreign publications distributed and published in Romania were regulated by the Allied Control Commission.

Law No. 102 and Order No. 3595, published in the Official Gazette February 12, 1945, emphasized that the Romanian press would be purged of all fascist elements. A purge commission was quickly established. Many journalists were arrested and disappeared. Freedom of association ended in Romania. Only communist journalists were published. The Communist government on January 8, 1946, gave assurances that Romania respected freedom of the press. A few political parties continued to publish, primarily the National Peasant Party's Dreptatea andPatria and the Liberals' Liberalul and Natiunea Romana. The Social Democrats were denied publication rights.

In 1946 just 26 newspapers continued to publish. Only six could be described as independent publications. Both censorship and the high cost of newsprint destroyed the remaining privately owned publications. After the Paris peace treaties were signed in February 1947, Romania's last two political opposition newspapers, Dreptatea and Liberalul, ceased publication. The independents, Jurnalul de Dimineata, Monentul, Fapta, Finante si Industrie, andBursa were suppressed and ended publication in January 1948. The combined circulation of all five newspapers had barely numbered 120,000. The death of freedom of the press in Romania corresponded with the forced abdication at gunpoint of King Mihai on December 30, 1947. The king was sent into exile.

With the non-communist press all but destroyed, communist publications began to proliferate. The major communist newspapers were Scanateia, Romania Libera, and Viata Sindicala. After the proclamation of the Peoples Republic of Romania in 1948, additional newspapers were added: Glasul Armatei, Contemproanul, Romaniai Magyar Szo, Scanteia Tineretului, Libertatea, Scanteia Pionierului, Neuer Weg, Gazeta Invatamantului, Urzica, Scanteia, and Satelor. Combined circulations numbered more than 2.7 million readers.

Romania's new constitution guaranteed rights, liberties, and full access to the press. Under Romania's Communist regime, the press was subservient to the Communist Party. The Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the party controlled the media through their propaganda sections. Regional and local presses were given their instructions by local Communist authorities. The Central Committee of the Romanian Workers' Party proclaimed in March 1951 that all printed materials must conform to the high principals and spirit of the party. Decrees No. 62 and 64 created the Ministry of Arts and Information, which was assigned the responsibility to monitor the Directorate of Press and Printing, state news agencies and the media.

During the 1950s and 1960s while under a succession of Romanian Communist leaders, the media served as a propaganda tool for indoctrination and disinformation. The media was controlled by an interlocking group of party and state organizations, supervising bodies, and operating agencies that controlled both print and broadcast media. Romania's newly revised constitution in 1965 promised freedom for the media, but the media was not permitted to print or broadcast information deemed hostile to the socialist system or the interests of the working people.

Romania's 1965 adoption of a new constitution coincided with the selection of Nicolae Ceausescu as president. Ceausescu found favor with the West for his independent form of nationalistic communism. The Romanian Communist Party had full control over all information agencies including the Council for Socialist Culture and Education, and the Council of Romanian Radio and Television. In 1985, Elena Ceausescu, Nicolae Ceausescu's wife, chaired the National Council for Science and Education created to establish uniform policies in science, technology, and education.

The propaganda and media section of the Central Committee supervised all publications. The Romanian Press Agency, individual publishing houses, printing establishments, book distribution centers, motion picture studios, and radio and television stations were all regulated by the Central Committee's initiatives. The number of print media publications in Romania dropped under Ceausescu from 51 dailies, 23 weeklies, and two semi-weeklies in 1969, to 36 dailies and 24 weeklies in 1985.

The daily with the largest circulation wasScinteia, founded in 1931 as the mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Originally an eight-page daily, it was condensed during the Ceausescu years to a four-page daily and one six-page publication per week. This newspaper's articles were reprinted in provincial newspapers, shop bulletins, and enterprise newsletters. Romania Libera, founded in 1942 by the Socialist Unity Front, concentrated on local issues although some news stories were about international events. This newspaper was the only one allowed to have advertisementsbut just one page. Other major communist newspapers included the weekly Munca, the youth oriented Scinteia Timeretului, the Hungarian daily Elore, and the German daily Neuer Weg. All published official government positions.

The number of periodicals also decreased during the Ceausescu period. In 1969, 581 periodicals were printed as compared to 422 in 1985. Periodicals were subjected to the same government control, licensing, and supervision, as were newspapers. Most magazines and journals were party or government entities. Agentia Romana de Presa (Agerpres ), created in 1949 as the Romanian Press Agency, was under the control of the Romanian Communist Party. Agerpres collected and distributed all news, pictures, and press items to domestic and foreign media.

After 1960, the Communist regime used radio to disseminate propaganda. More broadcast facilities were constructed. Three medium-wave and one FM station broadcast news. An estimated 200 hours of broadcasting was done in 13 languages domestically and to foreign countries by Radio Bucharest. Television came under more scrutiny than did radio broadcasting. In 1984 Ceausescu denounced television as corrupted by Western influences. In 1989 the two national television stations were merged into one with only 22 hours of broadcast time.

The Council for Socialist Culture and Education controlled all book publishing. The number of titles published steadily rose from 1955 to 1996 to 9,000 titles, but during the 1980s severe regulations imposed by the Ceausescu regime actually reduced the number of published books to 3,063 titles, with the majority published and written by Ceausescu himself. The Council for Socialist Culture and Education during the Ceausescu era determined publishing guidelines, the number of book distribution centers, the number of books printed, and the prices of books for sale. The number of publishing houses decreased from 25 around 1970 to 18 at the end of the Ceausescu era.

As communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, it appeared that Romania's communist regime would survive. To the surprise of many in the West, a rebellion was started in Timisoara by Hungarian pastor Laszlo Tokes. Tokes was persecuted by the secret police because his sermons attacked Romania's lack of freedom. Attempts by the Romanian government to evict Tokes from his church were met with resistance. News of the Timisoara rebellion spread rapidly throughout Romania despite of a government-controlled media. Foreign news broadcasts received in Romania kept the flames of rebellion alive. The rebellion spread to Bucharest. Recognizing that the army was deserting him, Ceausescu fled Bucharest only to be captured and executed along with his wife. Although a newly empowered media claimed 70,000 died in the rebellion, the actual total was around 1,000. The deaths of the Ceausescus left a power vacuum quickly filled by former Central Committee member Ion Iliescu.

Romania replaced its communist-era constitution with a new one on December 8, 1991. Romania is a parliamentary republic with a president elected by popular vote every four years. A presidential run-off election is held two weeks after the first race if no candidate wins a majority of the vote. The nation's prime minister is appointed by the president and is advised by a Council of Ministers. Romania's parliament (Parlamen t) is a bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate (Senat ) with 140 members and a Chamber of Deputies (Adunarea Deputatilo r) with 345 members. The membership of both chambers is elected by popular vote on a proportional basis for four-year terms. The Supreme Court of Justice is Romania's highest judicial court. The president, on the recommendation of the Superior Council of Magistrates, appoints judges. The nation's legal system is a mixture of the civil law system and communist legal theory. Legal revisions are molded on France's constitution for the Fifth Republic.

Late Twentieth Century Media Figures After the revolution of 1989, the Romanian people indicated their need for information by their increased purchasing of daily newspapers. The daily newspapers Adevarul and Romania Libera each increased circulation to about 1.5 million readers within a year. A number of other Bucharest dailies saw readership soar to around 700,000. Since 1990 circulations have declined because of higher printing costs, a decline in government subsidies, lack of advertising revenue, and the increased cost of the newspapers. A report by the European Journalism Center noted that it is difficult to distinguish between Romanian newspapers printing tabloid stories for newspapers and newspapers, which cover more legitimate stories. The European Institute for the Media reported that Romanian newspapers offered superficial coverage of important political events and seldom probed the activities of government officials. In 2001, there were 15 privately owned national newspapers, including: Evenimentul Zilei, Romana Libera, Ziua, Adevarul, Libertatea, and Sotidianul. Both Vocea Romaniei and Dimineata receive government subsidies. Major minority newspapers are the Hungarian language daily Romaniay Magyar Szo and the German language daily Deutsche Algemeine Zeitung.

Romania had an estimated 100 daily newspapers in 1999 and more than 2,200 periodicals, including 200 periodicals published in minority languages. In 1999 Romanian publishing houses printed 8,000 titles. Romania's major morning dailies, all published in the capital, Bucharest (with 1995 circulations in parentheses) included: Adevarul (150,000), Azi (20,000), Cotidianul (26,000),Cronica Romana (100,000), Curierul National (40,000), Dimineata (40,000), Economistul (35,000), Evenimentul Zilel (350,000), Nine O'Clock (30,000), Romanian Libera (175,000), Tineretul Liber (60,000), Vocea Romaniel (50,000), and Vremea (15,000). The sole major evening newspaper was Libertatea (60,000).

Major general interest periodicals are the following weeklies: Cuvintul (1995 circlation of 100,000), Express, (170,000), Flacara, (12,000), and Lumea Magazin (60,000). Special-interest publications include the weekly periodicals Dreptatea (6,700), Tribuna Economica (40,000), and Via Medicala, a health publication (35,000). Monthly periodicals include the women's magazine Femeia (70,000), Magazine Istoric (110,000), and the Jurists Union publication Palatul de Justitie (75,000).

Economic Framework

The population of Romania is overwhelmingly Romanian (90 percent). The nation's remaining population is distributed among ethnic Hungarians (7 percent), Germans (0.5 percent), and Ukrainians (0.3 percent). More than 70 percent of the population belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Other practicing religions in Romania include: Roman Catholic (3 percent), Uniate Catholic (3 percent), and Protestant (6 percent). An estimated 18 percent of Romanians are not affiliated with any religion. Romanian, Hungarian, and German are the nation's major spoken languages.

Although Romania is one of Europe's poorest nations, the country is rich in natural resources and economic potential. The nation is burdened with an antiquated industrial base from decades of communist mismanagement. Romania's transition to democracy found Romanians holding the government responsible for questionable business practices, charges of corruption, and the failure to rapidly privatize state-owned industry. During the 1990s, Romanians witnessed a rapid decline in real wages and living standards. Romania's labor force is distributed between agriculture (40 percent), industry (25 percent), and services (35 percent). The nation's major industries produce textiles and footwear, light machinery and auto assembly, mining, timber, construction materials, metallurgy, chemicals, food processing, and petroleum refining. The agricultural sector produces for export wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, potatoes, grapes and sheep.

Press Laws

The overthrow of the Ceausescus ended decades of media restrictions. Within three years Romanian media proliferated and exercised considerable freedom of expression. There is growing concern that Romania may be limiting the media after changes to the penal code and the 2001 adoption of a new state's secrets law.

The 1996 Penal Code makes it a criminal offense to insult public officials and sets penalties for libel as two years in prison, and for slander, five year in prison. Law No. 40 of the penal code governs irresponsible journalism. The government's assertion is that the law was not designed to harass journalists; journalists claim the law can be used to intimidate them. The Committee to Protect Journalists is following the parliamentary changes in the penal code. In 1999, a number of journalists were confronted with libel suits, arrested, or physically harmed. Each journalist was reporting on alleged corruption by government officials.

In August 2000, parliament debated a freedom of information bill that established procedures to gain access to information, placed time limits for information disclosure, and included an appeals process. Simultaneously, the Romanian parliament debated a new state secrets law that would limit journalists' ability to access government information or information from government officials.

State-Press Relations

The Ministry of Public Information is under the Department of Communication and Public Image. The ministry's responsibilities are to elaborate on public policy and apply the national strategy and policy in the fields of pubic information, interethnic relations, and relations with Romanians from abroad. It initiates and promotes specific normative documents and assents the national settlements in the mentioned fields of responsibility. The ministry formulates proposals of harmonization for Romanian legislation in public information and minority protection fields compatible with European legislation. The ministry represents state interests before international bodies and organizations on communication issues, initiates and negotiates agreements, conventions, and other international treaties or proposes continuance of existing ones.

During 2001, journalists in Romania found themselves involved in an increasing number of libel lawsuits, which allegedly prevented them from writing news stories. The newspaper Evenimentul Zilei was fighting 100 libel lawsuits. Romanian courts do not hold preliminary hearings; therefore the validity of the lawsuit cannot be quickly evaluated. Twenty journalists were given suspended sentences for libel convictions. For some the fine was higher than their annual income. A European Union Report stated that press freedom in Romania was undermined by the extensive use of legal proceedings against journalists, particularly those investigating alleged government corruption. In January 2002, a former presidential aide was indicted after accusing Romania's current prime minister with corruption and distributing the report to embassies and foreign nationals in Romania. Members of the Helsinki Committee on Human Rights expressed concern about the security of freedom of expression and the press in Romania.


Article 30 of Romania's 1991 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression is inviolable for thoughts, opinions, beliefs and any creation by words in writing, pictures, by sounds, or means of communication in public. All censorship is prohibited. Freedom of the press involves the free setting up of publications. No publication may be suppressed. The law may impose the obligation of the mass media to identify their sources of income. Freedom of expression is not prejudicial to the dignity, honor, or privacy of the person. Each person has the right to one's own image. Any defamation of the country and the nation, any instigation to a war of aggression, to national, racial, class, or religious hatred, any incitement to discrimination, territorial separatism, or public violence, as well as any obscene conduct contrary to morality, shall be prohibited by law.

Civil liability for any information or creation made public falls upon the publisher or producer, the author, the producer of the artistic performance, the owner of the copying facilities, radio or television station, under the terms laid down by law. Law shall establish indictable offenses of the press.

Article 31 gives each person the right of access without restriction to any information of public interest. Public authorities are bound to provide for the correct information of the citizens in public affairs and matters of personal interest. The right to information is not to be prejudiced to protect the young or national security. Public and private media are bound to provide correct information to the public. Public radio and television are autonomous. They must guarantee any important social and political group the exercise of the right to be on the air. The organic law of the state shall regulate the organization of these services and the parliamentary control over their activity.

News Agencies

Romania is served by three news agencies. The government news agency is Rompres. Private news agencies in Romania are Apres-Romania Libera and Mediafax. All three agencies are based in Bucharest. Romania has three associations of journalists, the Journalists Trade Union (SZR), Professional Journalists Union (UZP), and the Romanian Journalists Association (AZR).

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues Press Cards, an important document of identification for all journalists accredited in Romania. It is a basic condition for access to all public institutions including the Office of the President, government agencies, parliament, and invitations to special events. A card is issued once an applicant has provided documents from the agency the journalist is affiliated with and their conditions of employment, photocopies of their passport, visas, photographs, and detailed curriculum vitae. Cards expire at the end of a year but are renewable provided the journalist had published a relevant number of articles, commentaries, and news items about Romania or provided material relevant to productions broadcast on Romanian television or radio.

Broadcast Media

In 1992 the National Audiovisual Council was authorized to grant broadcasting audiovisual licenses to private stations. Between 1992 and 1999, 2,046 cables licenses, 217 television licenses, 341 radio broadcasting licenses, 14 satellite television station licenses, and nine satellite radio station broadcast licenses were granted. Radio and television stations broadcast in Romanian, Hungarian, and German. Romania's government television station is Televiziunea Romana. Romania's major private television station is Soti TV. TVR International broadcasts satellite programming. The government-sponsored radio station is Radiodifuziunea Romana. Public radio stations broadcast three radio programs on medium wave and FM.

Under the Ceausescu regime all television was under communist control. Ceausescu talked to Romanians two hours each day. Television reception from satellite television was monitored by the communist regime's secret police. Since the 1989 revolution, privately owned television broadcasts rapidly filled the needs of information-starved Romanians. Their Western counterparts absorbed many of these Romanian television stations because they lacked sufficient funding, up-to-date technology, and professional expertise. The American-financed Central European Media Enterprises (CME) is Romania's first national commercial network and offers the nation PRO TV. PRO TV has been criticized for its bias in support of pro-NATO positions and reform-minded political parties. Privately owned and operated Antena 1 and Tele 7abc are attacked for their anti-Semitic reporting and nationalistic positions.

International funding of Romania's media runs the risk of shaping pubic opinion in conflict with national interests. Nevertheless, international investment in the media brings the Romanian people into the information world of the European Union nations.

Employees of the state-run television network TVR no longer hold secure jobs. State broadcast workers have experienced periods of wages not being paid and extensive layoffs. The lack of government and private Romanian funding for the broadcast media offers the possibility that needed Romanian based programming will be neglected.

In 2001 Romania had 50 privately owned television stations and more than 100 privately owned radio stations. State television and radio cover more of the nation, particularly rural areas. Both the Romanian Broadcasting System and the Romanian Television Corporation, now independent and public-service oriented, jointly regulate state run radio and television.

All private and public stations are under the jurisdiction of the National Audiovisual Council (NAC), which distributes broadcast licenses and regulates the airwaves. State-owned Television Romania operates three channels: TVR1 reaches an estimated audience of 90 percent; TVR2 reaches 60 percent of Romanians; TVR International has five national channels, an international channel, five regional broadcast studios, and its own programming.

Major privately owned television stations include: Pro TV, Antena I, Tele 7abc, Dacia Europa Nova, Prima TV, and TV Sigma. Romania's major private radio stations are Radio Contact, Radio ProFM, Radio Total, Radio Delta, and Radio 2M.

Electronic Media

The Internet is increasingly an important method of communication in Romanian businesses, universities, libraries, and public facilities. Internet cafes are more numerous, although Internet access is limited by the high cost of telephone service. An increasing number of media are offering online publications. Romanian magazines online include: Capital, CSVD, Evenimentul Zilei, Pro-sport, and Revista 22. Unclassified media online includes: Expres International Review, Nord-Est Publishing House, Romania Revue, Times of Romania, and Tribuna/Press and Publishing. Online news agencies are: Arpress, Mediafax, and Rompres. Daily newspapers online include: Adevarul, Adevarul de Cluj, Bursa, Cotidianul, Curentul, Dialog-Brasov, Erdely Naplo, Expres/ Bucharest, Flagrant Independent, Gazeta de Branesti, Romania, Journal of Sibiu, Journalist, Libertatea, Monitorul, Monitorul de Botosani, National, Observator, Pro Sport, Romania Libre, Szabadsag, Telegraf, Times-Romanian Monitor, Timisoara, Transilvania Express, Viata Libera, Vitorul Romanesc, and Ziua. Online non-daily newspapers are: Clujeanul Weekly, Academia Catavencu, Brassoi Lapok, Contrast, Romanian Media Company, Valeriu Bargau, and Ziua de Ardeal Newspaper.

Radio stations online are: CD Radio Napoca, Radio CLUJ, Radio Cluj, Radio Europa FM, Radio Romania, Radio S.O.S., Radio-Romania, Radio-Romania/Department, Romanian Radio and Television, and Uniplus Radio. Television stations online include: Antena 1, Realitatea TV, Romanian Public Television, Tele 7abc, TV5 Euroope/TV Sigma, and TV Antena 1.

Education and Training

Founded in 1994, the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is an independent non-governmental, nonprofit organization offering courses and specialized training for journalists and media organizations. It offers courses, seminars, debates, roundtables, and professional assistance focusing on the media's problems. Specific courses have included: news writing, interview techniques, writing skills, the reporting of political, investigative, economic, and environmental issues, communications, new media, photojournalism, and media legislation. CIJ is an extension of the Independent Journalism Foundation in New York. CIJ provides Romanian journalists the opportunity to meet American journalists with the primary objective of improving the quality of the media in Romania. Foreign trainers include representatives from the New York Times, ABC, CNN, NBC, NPR,the Philadelphia Inquirer, Press Enterprises, Columbia University, the University of Illinois, and Penn State University.

The University of Bucharest is regarded as Romania's most prestigious institution of higher learning. The Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication Studies (FJMCS) program at the University of Bucharest was founded in 1990. Its purpose is to train journalists in order to meet the needs of the contemporary media. The program is distinguished by a hands-on style of training in order to create professional journalists. The FJMCS program is the national model used at other Romanian universities. During the 1999/2000 academic year, 24 full-time professors, 14 visiting professors from other Romanian institutions of higher learning, and more than 30 media professionals, public relations personnel, and advertising groups were on the FJMCS staff. Students can earn a master's degree in either Journalism or Public Communications. There is a doctoral program in Communication Studies. The FJMCS program holds the presidency of the Association of Schools of Journalism in Eastern and Central Europe.

Additional Bucharest-based media study programs are offered at Hyperion University, PRO-Media University, University Spiru Haret, and The Superior School of Journalism in Bucharest (Scoala Superioara de Jurnalistica din Bucuresti). The latter university's program has a specialization in the written press. Degrees in Journalism and Public Relations after four years of study are offered at two universities in Timisoara, the Institutul de Studii si Educatie Permanenta Tibiscus and Banat University in Timisoara (Universitatea Banatullui din Timisoara).


Romania often has been controlled by outside forcesfirst the Romans and later the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires. During the twentieth century Romania enjoyed short periods of press freedom, most notably after World War I until the reign of Carol II, and very briefly during World War II from 1943-1945. During the decades of Communist control, basic human rights were brutally suppressed. Under the Ceausescu, regime basic human rights did not exist.

After the revolution of 1989, Romania is making progress in bringing Western-style democracy and human rights to its people. These strides were sometimes compromised during the first presidential term of President Ion Iliescu. However, since 1996, there have been substantial improvements. Ilescu's overtures of national reconciliation to Romania's former leaders and the Romanian Orthodox Church indicate that the nation is moving in the direction of democracy.

It will be difficult to quickly eradicate all authoritarianism in government agencies and from all politicians' habits, but Romania's desire to become a member of NATO and the European Union depend on the nation's commitment to multiparty democracy, a free press, and guarantees of human rights. It is clear that Iliescu wants to leave behind a legacy of democratic leadership, improvement in the well being of the Romanian people, the consolidation of democracy, and to ensure Romania's irreversible attachment to the West. A free press can guarantee that legacy.

Significant Dates

  • 1989: The overthrow and execution of Communist President Nicolae Ceausescu.
  • 1991: Adoption of a new constitution.
  • 1992: Temporary return from exile of King Mihai I.
  • 1996: Election of Democratic Front President Emil Constantinescu.
  • 2000: Election of Social Democrat Ion Ilescu as president.
  • 2001: National Reconciliation leads to a government campaign for Romania to join NATO and the European Union.


Backman, Ronald D., editor. Romania, A Country Study. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1991.

Constitution of Romania. Available from engleza/romania/constitutia.htm.

Cretzianu, Alexandre. Captive Rumania, A Decade of Soviet Rule. New York: Praeger, 1956.

Glenny, Misha. The Balkans, Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, 1804-1999. New York: Viking, 1999.

Harrington, Joseph F., Edward Karns, Scott Karns. "American-Romanian Relations, 1989-1994," In East European Quarterly, 06-22-1995, pp 207(29).

Hitchins, Keith. Rumania 1866-1947. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Iliescu, Ion. "Romania's Return to Its Western Identity. Internal Reforms and International Security Contribution." Speech delivered Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, February 7, 2002.

International Journalists's Network. Available from

Kaplan, Robert D. Balkan Ghosts. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Lee, Arthur Gould. Crown Against Sickle. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1953.

Lovatt, Catherine. "Surviving on Schlock." In Central European Review, August 6, 1999.

Turner, Barry, editor. Statesman's Yearbook 2002. New York: Palgrave Press, 2001.

World Mass Media Handbook, 1995. New York: United Nations Department of Public Information, 1995.

William A. Paquette, Ph.D.

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Romania (rōmān´ēə, –yə) or Rumania (rōō–), republic (2005 est. pop. 22,330,000), 91,699 sq mi (237,500 sq km), SE Europe. It borders on Hungary in the northwest, on Serbia in the southwest, on Bulgaria in the south, on the Black Sea in the southeast, on Moldova in the northeast, and on Ukraine in the north. Bucharest is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The Danube River, which forms part of the border with Serbia and almost all of the frontier with Bulgaria, traverses Romania in the southeast; its tributary, the Prut, constitutes most of the border with Moldova and Ukraine. The Carpathian Mts., of which the Transylvanian Alps are a part, cut through Romania in a wide arc from north to southwest; the Carpathians' highest peaks in Romania are Moldoveanu (8,343 ft/2,543 m) and Negoiu (8,317 ft/2,535 m). The country's climate is continental, with hot, dry summers and cold winters; severe droughts are common during the summer. Romania includes seven historic and geographic regions: Walachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, and parts of Bukovina, Crişana-Maramureş, the Dobruja, and the Banat.

About 90% of the people are ethnically Romanian; Hungarians and Romani (Gypsies) make up the largest minorities. Most of the German minority emigrated after the Ceauşescu regime fell. Romanian is the official language, but Hungarian is also spoken. By far the largest religious body is the Romanian Orthodox Church. There are also Protestant and Roman Catholic minorities.


From 1948 until 1989, Romania had a Soviet-style command economy in which nearly all agricultural and industrial enterprises were state controlled. During those years, it built an economy based largely on heavy industry. Romania remains one of the poorer European countries. Agriculture employs about one third of the labor force but accounts for only 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The chief crops are wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, potatoes, and grapes. Sheep and poultry are raised. About 25% of the country is forested, and large quantities of timber are cut, especially in Transylvania.

Industry contributes about a third of the country's GDP and accounts for one third of the labor force. Auto assembly, mining and metallurgy, timber, food processing, and petroleum refining are important industrys; major manufactures include textiles, footwear, light machinery, construction materials, and chemicals. The country's main industrial centers are Arad, Bucharest, Braşov, Hunedoara, Iaşi, Oradea, Reşiţa, and Timişoara. Brăila, Galaţi, and Giurgiu are the main Danubian ports; Constanţa is the chief Black Sea port. Galaţi and Constanţa are resort cities in Romania's growing tourism industry.

Textiles and clothing, metals, machinery and equipment, chemicals, and agricultural products are exported. Romania has an inadequate supply of mineral resources and must import raw materials and fuels, although historically it has been an important oil-producing center. The chief trading partners are Italy, Germany, France, and Turkey.


Romania is governed under the constitution of 1991 as revised. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president with the approval of the legislature; the cabinet is appointed by the prime minister. The bicameral legislature, or Parliament, consists of the 176-seat Senate and the 412-seat Chamber of Deputies. Legislators are popularly elected using a mix of direct and proportional representation and serve four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 41 counties and one municipality (Bucharest).


History to 1881

Romania occupies, roughly, ancient Dacia, which was a Roman province in the 2d and 3d cent. AD The ethnic character of modern Romania seems to have been formed in the Roman period; Christianity was introduced at that time as well. After the Romans left the region, the area was overrun successively by the Goths, the Huns, the Avars, the Bulgars, and the Magyars.

After a period of Mongol rule (13th cent.), the history of the Romanian people became in essence that of the two Romanian principalities—Moldavia and Walachia—and of Transylvania, which for most of the time was a Hungarian dependency. The princes of Walachia (in 1417) and of Moldavia (mid-16th cent.) became vassals of the Ottoman Empire, but they retained considerable independence. Although the princes were despots and became involved in numerous wars, their rule was a period of prosperity as compared with the 18th and 19th cent. Many old cathedrals in the country still testify to the cultural activity of the time.

Michael the Brave of Walachia defied both the Ottoman sultan and the Holy Roman emperor and at the time of his death (1601) controlled Moldavia, Walachia, and Transylvania. However, Michael's empire soon fell apart. An ill-fated alliance (1711) of the princes of Moldavia and Walachia with Peter I of Russia led to Turkish domination of Romania. Until 1821 the Turkish sultans appointed governors, or hospodars, usually chosen from among the Phanariots (see under Phanar), Greek residents of Constantinople. The governors and their subordinates reduced the Romanian people (except for a few great landlords, the boyars) to a group of nomadic shepherds and poor, enserfed peasants.

At the end of the 18th cent. Turkish control was seriously challenged by Russia and by Austria; at the same time, a strong nationalist movement was growing among the Romanians. The treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (1774) gave Russia considerable influence over Moldavia and Walachia. When, in 1821, Alexander Ypsilanti raised the Greek banner of revolt in Moldavia, the Romanians (who had more grievances against the Greek Phanariots than against the Turks) helped the Turks to expel the Greeks. In 1822 the Turks agreed to appoint Romanians as governors of the principalities; after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, during which Russian forces occupied Moldavia and Walachia, the governors were given life tenure. Although the two principalities technically remained within the Ottoman Empire, they actually became Russian protectorates.

Under Russian pressure, new constitutions giving extensive rights to the boyars were promulgated in Walachia (1831) and Moldavia (1832). At the same time, a renewed national and cultural revival was under way, and in 1848 the Romanians rose in rebellion against both foreign control and the power of the boyars. The uprising, secretly welcomed by the Turks, was suppressed, under the leadership of Russia, by joint Russo-Turkish military intervention. Russian troops did not evacuate Romania until 1854, during the Crimean War, when they were replaced by a neutral Austrian force. The Congress of Paris (1856) established Moldavia and Walachia as principalities under Turkish suzerainty and under the guarantee of the European powers, and it awarded S Bessarabia to Moldavia.

The election (1859) of Alexander John Cuza as prince of both Moldavia and Walachia prepared the way for the official union (1861–62) of the two principalities as Romania. Cuza freed (1864) the peasants from certain servile obligations and distributed some land (confiscated from religious orders) to them. However, he was despotic and corrupt and was deposed by a coup in 1866. Carol I of the house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was chosen as his successor. A moderately liberal constitution was adopted in 1866. In 1877, Romania joined Russia in its war on Turkey. At the Congress of Berlin (1878), Romania gained full independence but was obliged to restore S Bessarabia to Russia and to accept N Dobruja in its place. In 1881, Romania was proclaimed a kingdom.

The Kingdom to World War I

After becoming a kingdom, Romania continued to be torn by violence and turmoil, caused mainly by the government's failure to institute adequate land reform, by the corruption of government officials, and by frequent foreign interference. There was no real attempt to curb the anti-Semitic excesses through which the peasants, encouraged by demagogues, vented their feelings against the Jewish agents of the absentee Romanian landlords, the boyars. A major peasant revolt in 1907 was directed against both the Jews and the boyars. Romania remained neutral in the first (1912) of the Balkan Wars but entered the second war (1913), against Bulgaria, and gained S Dobruja.

Although Romania had adhered (1883) to the Triple Alliance, it proclaimed its neutrality when World War I broke out in 1914. In the same year Ferdinand succeeded Carol as king. Romanian irredentism in Transylvania helped to bring Romania into the Allied camp, and in 1916 Romania declared war on the Central Powers. Most of the country was overrun by Austro-German forces, and in Feb., 1918, by the Treaty of Bucharest, Romania consented to a harsh peace. On Nov. 9, 1918, Romania again entered the war on the Allied side, and the general armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, annulled the Treaty of Bucharest. Shortly thereafter, Romania annexed Bessarabia from Russia, Bukovina from Austria, and Transylvania and the Banat from Hungary.

Romanian armed intervention (1919) in Hungary defeated the Communist regime of Béla Kun and helped to put Admiral Horthy into power. Romania's acquisition of Bukovina, Transylvania, part of the Banat (the rest going to Yugoslavia [now in Serbia]), and Crişana-Maramureş (until then a part of Hungary) was confirmed by the treaties of Saint-Germain (1919) and Trianon (1920), but the USSR did not recognize Romania's seizure of Bessarabia. A series of agrarian laws beginning in 1917 did much to break up the large estates and to redistribute the land to the peasants. The large Magyar population as well as other minority groups were a constant source of friction.

The 1920s through World War II

Internal Romanian politics were undemocratic and unfair. Electoral laws were revised (1926) to enable the party in power to keep out opponents, and assassination was not unusual as a political instrument. Political conflict became acute after the death (1927) of Ferdinand, when the royal succession was thrown into confusion. Ferdinand's son, Carol, had renounced the succession and Carol's son Michael became king, but in 1930 Carol returned, set his son aside, and was proclaimed king as Carol II. The court party, led by the king and by Mme Magda Lupescu, was extremely unpopular, but its opponents were divided.

The Liberal party, headed first by John Bratianu (see under Bratianu, family) and later by Ion Duca, was bitterly opposed by the Peasant party, led by Iuliu Maniu. A right wing of the Peasant party joined with other anti-Semitic groups in the National Christian party, which was linked with the terrorist Iron Guard. There was a frequent turnover of cabinets, and the only figure of some permanence was Nicholas Titulescu, who was foreign minister for much of the period from 1927 to 1936, when the increasingly powerful Fascist groups forced him to resign. In 1938, Carol II assumed dictatorial powers and promulgated a corporative constitution, which was approved in a rigged plebiscite. Later in 1938, after Codreanu and 13 other leaders of the Iron Guard were shot "while trying to escape" from prison, Carol proclaimed the Front of National Renascence as the sole legal political party.

In foreign affairs, Romania entered the Little Entente (1921) and the Balkan Entente (1934) largely to protect itself against Hungarian and Bulgarian revisionism. After 1936 the country drew closer to the Axis powers. The country remained neutral at the outbreak (1939) of World War II, but in 1940 it became a neutral partner of the Axis. Romania was powerless (1940) to resist Soviet demands for Bessarabia and N Bukovina or to oppose Bulgarian and Hungarian demands, backed by Germany, for the S Dobruja, the Banat, Crişana-Maramureş, and part of Transylvania. The Iron Guard rose in rebellion against Carol's surrender of these territories. Carol was deposed (1940) and exiled, and Michael returned to the throne. The army gained increased influence and Ion Antonescu became dictator.

In June, 1941, Romania joined Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union. Romanian troops recovered Bessarabia and Bukovina and helped to take Odessa, but they suffered heavily at Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in late 1942 and early 1943. In Aug., 1944, two Soviet army groups entered Romania. Michael overthrew Antonescu's Fascist regime, surrendered to the USSR, and ordered Romanian troops to fight on the Allied side. During the war half of Romania's Jewish population of 750,000 was exterminated, while most of the remainder went to Israel after its independence (1948). The peace treaty between Romania and the Allies, signed at Paris in 1947, in essence confirmed the armistice terms of 1944. Romania recovered all its territories except Bessarabia, N Bukovina, and S Dobruja.

The Rise and Fall of Romanian Communism

Politically and economically, Romania became increasingly dependent on the Soviet Union. A Communist-led coalition government, headed by the nominally non-Communist Peter Groza, was set up in 1945. In Dec., 1947, Michael was forced to abdicate, and Romania was proclaimed a people's republic. The first constitution (1945) was superseded in 1952 by a constitution patterned more directly on the Soviet model. Nationalization of industry and natural resources was completed by a law of 1948, and there was also forced collectivization of agriculture. Control over the major industries, notably petroleum, was shared with the USSR after 1945, but an agreement in 1952 dissolved the joint companies and returned them to full Romanian control. In 1949, Romania joined the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), and in 1955 it became a charter member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and also joined the United Nations.

For all but a year of the period from 1945 to 1965 Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was head of the Romanian Workers' (Communist) party; he was succeeded by Nicholae Ceauşescu as leader of the party, renamed the Romanian Communist party. Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceauşescu were both dictators who followed the Stalinist model of rapid industrialization and political repression. In 1965, Romania was officially termed a socialist republic, instead of a people's republic, to denote its alleged attainment of a higher level of Communism, and a new constitution was adopted.

Beginning in 1963, Romania's foreign policy became increasingly independent of that of the USSR. In early 1967, Romania established diplomatic relations with West Germany. It maintained friendly relations with Israel after the Arab-Israeli War of June, 1967, whereas the other East European Communist nations severed diplomatic ties. In 1968, Romania did not join in the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and in 1969, Ceauşescu and President Tito of Yugoslavia affirmed the sovereignty and equality of socialist nations.

During the 1970s, the emphasis on rapid industrialization continued at the expense of other areas, especially agriculture. Political repression remained severe, particularly toward the German and Magyar minorities. In 1981, a rising national debt, caused in part by massive investment in the petrochemical industry, led Ceauşescu to institute an austerity program that resulted in severe shortages of food, electricity, and consumer goods. In Dec., 1989, antigovernment violence broke out in Timişoara and spread to other cities. When army units joined the uprising, Ceauşescu fled, but he was captured, deposed, and executed along with his wife. A 2006 presidential commission report estimated that under Communist rule (1945–89) as many as 2 million people were killed or persecuted in Romania.

A provisional government was established, with Ion Iliescu, a former Communist party official, as president. In the elections of May, 1990, Iliescu won the presidency and his party, the National Salvation Front, obtained an overwhelming majority in the legislature. Iliescu was reelected in 1992, but was defeated by Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention party in 1996.

Throughout the 1990s and into the next decade the country's economy lagged, as it struggled to make the transition to a market-based economy. Price increases and food shortages led to civil unrest, and the closing of mines set off large-scale strikes and demonstrations by miners. Privatization of state-run industries proceeded cautiously, with citizens having shares in companies but little knowledge or information about their investments. Widespread corruption also was a problem. In Nov.–Dec., 2000, elections Iliescu again won the presidency, after a runoff against Corneliu V. Tudor, an ultranationalist.

In Oct., 2003, the country approved constitutional changes protecting the rights of ethnic minorities and property owners; the amendments were designed to win European Union approval for Romania's admission to that body, but continuing pervasive corruption remained a stumbling block. The country joined NATO in Mar., 2004. The Nov.–Dec., 2004, presidential election was won by the center-right opposition candidate, Traian Basescu of the Liberal Democratic party (PDL); Basescu defeated the first round leader, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, after a runoff. In Apr., 2005, Romania finally signed an accession treaty with the European Union; Romania became a member of the EU in 2007, but corruption and judicial reform remained significant EU concerns and delayed the nation's joining the EU's borderless Schengen Area. In Feb., 2006, Nastase, who had become parliament speaker, was charged with corruption; he accused the government of mounting a politically inspired prosecution. Nastase was acquitted in that case in Dec., 2011, but was convicted in a second corruption case in Jan., 2012, and of blackmail in a third case in Mar., 2012.

Disagreements between the outspoken, popular president and the center-right prime minister, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, of the National Liberal party (PNL), became increasing acrimonious in early 2007, after the president accused the prime minister of having attempted to influence a corruption investigation of a political ally. In April the left-wing opposition and Popescu-Tariceanu's allies in parliament voted to suspend the president for unconstitutional conduct, a dubious charge given that the constitutional court had ruled previously that the president had not violated the constitution, but the court also upheld the president's suspension. The suspension forced a referendum on impeaching the president, and in the May poll 74% of the voters opposed impeachment. The prime minister's government subsequently (June) survived a no-confidence vote.

In the Nov., 2008, parliamentary elections, the Social Democratic and Conservative parties (PSD-PC) won the most votes, but the PDL won the most seats. The two formed a coalition government, with PDL leader Emil Boc as prime minister. In Oct., 2009, however, the coalition collapsed after Boc dismissed the PSD interior minister; the resulting PDL minority government soon lost a confidence vote. The president nominated Lucian Croitoru, an economist, for prime minister, but a parliamentary majority rejected him, having proposed Klaus Iohannis, the mayor of Sibiu and a member of a small, ethnic German party.

Basescu was reelected by a narrow margin in Dec., 2009, defeating the PSD-PC's Mircea Geoana. Geoana, whom polls had predicted would win, accused Basescu of fraud and sought a revote; a court-ordered review of the invalidated votes increased Basescu's lead slightly. Basescu appointed Boc as prime minister of the PDL-led coalition government. In 2010 the government imposed a number of austerities, including public sector pay cuts and tax increases, as part of its efforts to reduce the deficit and secure loans from International Monetary Fund. In early 2012, several weeks of protest over the effects of those measures and over corruption and cronyism led Boc's government to resign in February. Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, the head of the foreign intelligence service, succeeded Boc as prime minister, heading the same PDL-led coalition, but the government lost a confidence vote in April.

In May, 2012, Victor Ponta, the PSD leader, became prime minister of a three-party center-left coalition government. In July the president's opponents in parliament for a second time voted to suspend him on charges of unconstitutional behavior, forcing a referendum on removing him from office; Ponta's government also reduced the powers of the constitutional court. The moves prompted criticism from the European Union. The July referendum, which went decisively against Basescu, had less than a 50% turnout, and because of that the result was declared invalid by the constitutional court in August.

The PSD and its coalition allies won two thirds of the parliamentary seats in the Dec., 2012, election, and Ponta again became prime minister. The new government subsequently lowered the turnout threshold for a valid referendum to 30%. Efforts by the parliament during 2013 to protect lawmakers from criminal corruption investigations were criticized by the EU and others. In Feb., 2014, tensions within the ruling coalition led the Liberal party to withdraw, but the Hungarian Democratic Union (UDMR) entered into coalition with the PSD and a new government, with Ponta as prime minister, was formed in March.

Ponta subsequently ran for president, but lost to Klaus Iohannis, the mayor of Sibiu and leader of the center-right National Liberal party. PSD lost two of its coalition allies following the election, but the remaining parties nonetheless formed a solid majority. In 2015 Ponta was named in a criminal corruption investigation and charged with tax evasion and other crimes.


See R. W. Seton-Watson, A History of the Roumainians (1963); T. W. Riker, The Making of Roumania (1931, repr. 1971); V. Georgescu, Political Ideas and the Enlightenment in the Romanian Principalities, 1750–1831 (1972); E. K. Keefe et al., Area Handbook for Romania (1972); M. Shafir, Romania: Politics, Economics, and Society (1985); D. Turnock, The Romanian Economy in the Twentieth Century (1986); T. Gilberg, Nationalism and Communism in Romania (1990).

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ETHNONYMS: Aromans, Karavlachs, Kutzovlachs, Macedoromans, Megloromans, Moldavians, Roumanians, Rumanians, Vlachs, Vlatzii, Wallachs



There is disagreement about the origin of the name "Romanian." It is generally thought to derive from the region's Roman conquerers. In 1965 the state's name was changed to Romania from Rumania to emphasize its Western origins.

Location. Romania is located between 44° and 48° N and 21° and 48° E. Romania is bordered by Bulgaria to the south, Yugoslavia to the southwest, Hungary to the west and Northwest, Moldova and Ukraine to the north and northeast, and the Black Sea to the east. The climate is central European with hot summers and cold winters. Romania is comprised of four geographic regions. South of the Carpathian massif is the fertile Wallachian Plain, which extends to the Danube River, the border between Romania and Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. East of the Carpathians is the Moldavian Steppe, a Region of rolling hills and fertile soil, which is duplicated by the Dobrogean Steppe that extends between the Danube and the Black Sea. The Transylvanian Plateau is an upland of small, low-lying, forested mountain ranges interspersed with river-cut valleys.

Demography. In 1989 the Romanian population was about 24,000,000, of which 75 percent was classified as Romanian ethnics. Other large Romanian populations live in the former republics of Yugoslavia, Moldova (formerly the Moldavian SSR and, prior to World War II, a Romanian province), Ukraine, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Linguistic Affiliation. Romanian has a Latin grammar with a few Slavic elements. The vocabulary mixes Latin, Slav, and Turkic elements.

History and Cultural Relations

Romanian history has been shaped by the Romanian people's perceived struggle for territorial integrity and an independent state, concerns intensified by the ethnic heterogeneity of the Romanian lands. The most numerically important ethnic Minorities are Hungarian speakers (Magyar and, formerly, Szekler), German speakers (Saxons and Swabians), Gypsies (Romani), Jews, and diverse Slavic populations. Relations have been most difficult with Hungarian speakers because of the proximity of the Hungarian state and questions about Transylvanian sovereignty, which itself involves two distinct theories of Romanian ethnogenesis. According to Romanian historians, Romanians originated from the interbreeding of the Roman legions with autochthonous Geto-Dacians after Rome's occupation of Dacia in the first century a.d. Romanians assert that after Rome withdrew south of the Danube, this hybrid population remained in the Carpathian area in loose confederations of transhumant pastoralists. Hungarian historians disagree and maintain that Romanians withdrew totally, leaving Transylvania open for in-migrating Magyars. Romanian-Hungarian relations have remained tense as Control of Transylvania, now part of Romania, has shifted repeatedly. Furthermore, Romanians recall the extreme restriction of their legal rights when the province was Magyar-dominated. Relations with German speakers and others have been somewhat less charged. Saxons and Swabians generally are considered to have had a modernizing influence; Jews, however, historically suffered from restrictive property laws that tracked them into commercial and renter roles, prompting occasional anti-Semitic excess during times of peasant unrest such as the rebellion of 1907. Gypsies especially serve as a negative reference group for Romanians. Gypsies in Romania date to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when many of their groups were enslaved; they were not emancipated fully until 1848. Although Gypsies have served crucial economic functions for Romanian society (e.g., stock keeping, metalsmithing, brick and tile making), they are still Marginalized. Official policy now considers all minorities except Gypsies as "coinhabiting nationalities," with proportional representation in official bodies, though without a separate territorial base.


The Carpathian Hills are considered the zone of original Romanian settlement. In fourteenthand fifteenth-century Moldavia and Wallachia the market-oriented grain trade transformed kin relations, fostered ownership of some villages and regions, and spawned population shifts to lowland plains. Romanians remaining in uplands established villages extending along river bottoms in a dispersed pattern. Urban centers were populated extensively by non-Romanians; Greeks and Turks in the south, Magyar and German speakers in Transylvania and Banat (the southwest), Jews and German speakers in Bucovina (the northeast). A western European commercial class was found throughout the country as well. Socialist development has encouraged more balanced rural-urban Population distribution. Regional settlement patterns are now undergoing great change, with attempts at social engineering occurring via the policy of systemization. Under this policy, less populous villages are razed, larger villages developed into towns servicing a network of villages, and major cities closed to most new immigration. Restrictions are also placed on rural construction. New peasant homes must be two stories for multifamily occupancy, and apartment construction has been greatly expanded. Systemization has recently been intensified. Out of 13,000 villages, 7,000 are to be razed, with the affected population to be moved elsewhere.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Before feudalism, Romanian villagers were subsistence-based agropastoralists. The feudal grain trade shifted many of these populations to lowland maize production. Villages exhibited a diversity of activities geared to local environmental potentials and the provisioning of a peasant economy. Often Villages specialized in one activity to the extent that their inhabitants were identified by others accordingly. Mountain communities used forests and meadows extensively, often collectively pasturing sheep and cattle and giving access to forest by lottery or membership in religious associations. Production of wine and fruit brandies also figured prominently in some local economies. Reciprocal labor was common as neighbors and kin worked together during times of concerted need. Feudal villages also were characterized by work gangs (daca ) called together by local nobles. Joint labor was also performed on church lands. Collective and state farms dominate rural areas today, and much of the rural population also commutes to jobs in industry. Use of personal connections in economic exchange and informal "second-economy" production is also common.

Industrial Arts. A wide range of trades was practiced Including sawmilling, wool and other fiber processing, tanning, metalsmithing, and woodworking. The clothing industry was especially well developed. Women produced for this and also specialized in weaving and embroidery for the domestic Economy. Subregions were identified by a unique blouse and apron style.

Trade. Overland trade routes between Asia and Europe traversed the Romanian lands but were monopolized mainly by non-Romanians. Extensive cross-Carpathian trade in hides, local crafts, and agricultural products linked Romanian communities on both sides of the mountains until terminated by the nineteenth-century customs wars between Austro-Hungary and the Romanian Kingdom. In order to protect Romanian economic independence, trade policy, currently and in the past, has often been protectionist. Today Romania exports finished goods (wood products, clothing, shoes) to the West while machine tools, tractors, and capital goods go to the third world. Romania continued as a member of the Soviet-East European Council of Mutual Economic Assistance. Seriously in debt in the early 1980s, Romania greatly expanded exports of food, effecting rationing and local shortage within the country.

Division of Labor. Although Romanians are said to be patriarchal, the sexual division of labor is not rigorous. Men and women were both involved in nearly all agricultural tasks, with women only enjoined from operating plows. Traditionally, cooking and weaving were exclusively female occupations, though men were and are quite active in child rearing and other domestic activities. Previously, multiethnic regions had ethnic divisions of labor. In pre-World War I Transylvania (and to a lesser extent Banat) Romanians were mainly small-scale peasant producers (serfs before 1848), while Hungarians dominated government and were owners of large estates, and German speakers were bankers, shopkeepers, commercial farmers, and professionals. Socialism spurred equality in the division of labor. Women entered the nonDomestic work force in large numbers and ethnic divisions were discouraged. However, development has since spawned rapid change. Rural men have left agriculture for industry, leaving women and the elderly as the main source of collective farm labor. Women are again impelled to domestic labor by rigorous state pronatalist policies.

Land Tenure. Traditional Romanian villages were corporate groups led by an assembly of agnatically related Household heads who decided periodic land redistribution to community members. Feudalism brought great concentrations of land ownership, especially in plains regions, and its end in 1848 did little to limit this. The land reform of 1920-1921 was successful in developing an extensive class of small landholders. With socialism, land was nationalized in state farms or collectivized. Collective farmers receive access to an annual use plot from the farm if they satisfy farm-labor requirements. A small number of private peasants are still found in mountainous zones, though estate size is circumscribed by law.


Kin Groups and Descent. Romanian kinship is bilateral (with patrilateral preference), generating an expanding network of increasingly distant kin and quasi-kin family, kindred, region, and nation. Kin relations also extend to one's Children's affines and to one's children's baptismal and marriage sponsors.

Kinship Terminology. Kin terms follow the Eskimo System with considerable local and regional variation in terminology.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Village and regional endogamy was widespread in pre-Socialist Romania. The incest taboo was extended to first cousins and second-cousin marriage was frequent. Marriage partners were sought from households of roughly similar social status. Postmarital residence was either viri-or uxorilocal, with the former being preferred. The marriage feast was generally held in the household where the newly married couple was to reside. The godparent role is emphasized in some regions. Godparents sit at the center of the head table, invite their own friends and family to the wedding, and are treated with great respect by the bride, the groom, and their families. Despite the Socialist government's requirement of a civil wedding, religious ceremonies are still common.

Domestic Unit. In rural areas three-generation stem Families predominated and are still common. Although an artifact of peasant economics, they are still functional for socialist conditions as the labor they generate enables access to the diverse but limited socialist resource base available.

Inheritance. Partible inheritance was both customary and legally mandated. A slightly larger share of the rural patrimony was retained by the household heir for care of elderly parents. In this, male primogeniture was the ideal, though ultimogeniture of either sex was more likely.

Socialization. Romanians dote on their children, though gentle expressions of love can quickly turn to intense tongue lashings and beating. Children are admonished with the phrase, "You haven't the right," suggesting an emphasis on knowing one's place. In the past children were raised to be "good householders," though today formal education is encouraged.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Romanian village social organization differed widely across regions and between villages, as the oftcited proverb "There are as many customs as peasant huts" suggests. Households and their webs of bilateral kin were the base of local social organization. One important nonkin tie was godparenthood (nasie ), which linked families across Generations in a formalized set of rights and obligations. Because of the costs of godparenthood, multifamily sponsors were generally wealthier villagers, while sponsored households served as political clients and occasional labor for the wealthy. Neighborhood relations were also important as they determined women's participation in nightly winter working bees (sezitoare ) and in some regions defined mutual assistance, burial, and cooperative labor associations. Communities also sponsored one or more young men's age associations (ceata feciorilor ), mainly active during Christmas season when the ceata organized Christmas dances. In return for pastries, money, and drink they caroled each household while courting eligible young women. It was mandatory that ceata leaders marry the following year.

Political Organization. Communal villages were led by councils of elders. Feudalism destroyed this system and replaced it with patrimonialism. With its end, and especially after the land reform of 1920-1921, villages gained greater degrees of autonomy and again were regulated by councils generally comprised of ten to fifteen male landowning heads of households. These councils tended to be dominated by the wealthy. Local politics are now organized by state and party. The post of mayor and first party secretary are unified, and commune deputies are elected from a range of party-supported candidates.

Social Control. The face-to-face relations and demands of village life were the basis for traditional social control. Propriety was necessary to marry well and receive the support of co-villagers. Kin relations and respect for elders also checked inappropriate behavior, as did ostracism and the belief that thieves, drunks, or the shiftless suffered after death. Village councils adjudicated most disputes, with great effort being made to keep these cases from proceeding to provincial- or state-level bodies. Local judicial commissions are now state-appointed, and state trials are often held locally with the Population invited to attend.

Conflict. Traditionally intravillage conflict was over land and inheritance issues. Conflicts between young men of neighboring villages over boundary issues, personal affronts, or questions of faith were also not uncommon.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefe. Romanians adopted Eastern Orthodoxy in the late ninth to early tenth centuries. In Transylvania Eastern Catholicism/Uniatism was established in the eighteenth century in a Habsburg attempt to encourage Romanian loyalty. Uniatism and Orthodoxy were unified by state decree after World War II. Rural religion was eclectic: nature worship, pilgrimages to sites of miracles, and belief in a pantheon of both good and evil spirits mixed with Christian belief. Quasipolitical religious cults like Hosts of the Lord (Oastea Domnului) developed between the world wars, and currently a variety of Protestant sects are attracting increased numbers of adherents. Traditional beliefs recognized the Trinity and a number of other spirits and forces, both benevolent and malign. The latter include vircolaci, strigoi, and moroi (witches, undead human and animal spirits) that brought illness and death to their former communities. Beneficial forces included white magic practiced by sorceresses and the curative powers of Whitsuntide dancers.

Religious practice and education is now legally limited and controlled by the state Ministry of Cults.

Religious Practitioners. Orthodox and Uniate priests served pre-Socialist era communities as advisers, social arbiters, and leading economic figures. The churches owned extensive lands and priests received labor and other needs gratis from citizens. Even today priests receive the best of the annual vintage and other gifts. However, as state employees, Orthodox priests now find their community activism restricted by the government.

Arts. Traditional arts focused on the production of utilitarian household objects or religious items. Woven and embroidered clothing, rugs, and wall hangings were especially well developed, as was the carving of decorative wood gates, grave markers, and utensils. Transylvania's icons, painted on glass, and the painted monasteries of Moldavia are world-reknowned. The interwar period also saw a flowering of Romanian art, best exemplified by the work of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi. Currently, plastic arts are widely emphasized.

Medicine. Traditional folk medicine made extensive use of locally grown plants prepared as teas or poultices. Some plants such as garlic and wormwood were thought to be especially efficacious. As illness was often attributed to spirit possession, various kinds of healing rituals were also used. Although less respected in the past, physicians today are afforded high social status in Romanian communities.

Death and Afterlife. Although Christian belief in heaven and hell is common, a practical streak frequently denies the reality of the afterlife. In either case, death is not feared and is fairly well integrated into daily life. The dead are generally thought to need similar things as the living (e.g., food, light, money), and these elements figure prominently in funerary ritual. The cemetery is a great focus of meaning in Romanian village culture and creation of elaborate funerary art, crypts, and epitaphs characterizes many villages. Death is publicly commemorated by close family at six-week, six-month, and one-year intervalsand more often than that if dreams of the deceased interfere with the living.


Kligman, Gail (1988). Wedding of the Dead: Ritual, Poetics, and Popular Culture in Transylvania. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Shafir, Michael (1985). Romania: Politics, Economics, and Society. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.

Stahl, Henri (1972). Traditional Romanian Village Communities: Subjection and Capitalist Penetration. London: Cambridge University Press.


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Official name: Romania

Area: 237,500 square kilometers (91,699 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Moldoveanu (2,544 meters/8,346 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 789 kilometers (490 miles) from east to west; 475 kilometers (295 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 2,508 kilometers (1,558 miles) total boundary length; Bulgaria 608 kilometers (378 miles); Hungary 443 kilometers (275 miles); Moldova 450 kilometers (279 miles); Ukraine (east) 169 kilometers (105 miles); Ukraine (north) 362 kilometers (225 miles); Serbia and Montenegro 476 kilometers (296 miles)

Coastline: 225 kilometers (140 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


The southeastern European country of Romania is the largest country on the Balkan Peninsula. It shares borders with Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, and Hungary. It also has a very short southeastern coastline on the Black Sea. With a total area of about 237,500 square kilometers (91,699 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Romania is administratively divided into forty counties and one municipality.


Romania has no outside territories or dependencies.


Romania has a transitional continental climate with moderating influences from the Black Sea and variations due to altitude. In general, winters are cold and summers are warm. Temperatures are lower in the more elevated Transylvanian Plateau in the northwest. Temperature extremes are greater in the plains of the east and south, where the continental influence is strongest. Average temperatures in the capital city of Bucharest are -3°C (27°F) in January and 23°C (73°F) in July. Average annual rainfall ranges from about 38 centimeters (15 inches) in the eastern lowland region of Dobruja to 125 centimeters (50 inches) or more in the Carpathian Mountains.


The Carpathian Mountains, Romania's major physical feature, define the country's overall topographical pattern. Roughly forming an arc in the center of the country, their various branches separate the Transylvanian Plateau in the center from a wide band of lowlands on the edges, extending to the country's eastern, southern, and western borders.

Romania is traditionally divided into several distinct regions. Transylvania, which forms a large wedge in the north and northwest and makes up one-third of Romania, is by far the largest region. It encompasses the central Transylvanian Plateau, all of the Carpathian Mountains except for the most southeastern section, and the hilly terrain in the northwestern part of the country. Walachia, which curves around Transylvania in the south and southeast, is the country's major lowland region, encompassing the plains of the Danube River to the south of the Transylvanian Alps. The part of Walachia west of the Olt River is a subregion known as Oltenia. Dobruja occupies the southeastern corner of Romania, bounded by the path of the Danube where the river flows northward for about 160 kilometers (100 miles) before it again turns to the east for its final passage to the sea. Moldavia, in the northeast, constitutes about one-fourth of the country's area. Much of this region is hilly or mountainous, and it is heavily forested. To the southwest, in the opposite corner of the country from Dobruja, is the Banat region.

Romania is located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Romania borders the western end of the Black Sea, which is an inland body of water lying between Europe and Asia. The Black Sea contains calm waters that are free of tides and dangerous marine life. Called the "Hospitable Sea" by the ancient Greeks, the Black Sea is half as saline as the Mediterranean Sea and has gentle sandy slopes, making it ideal for swimming.

The floor of the Black Sea is composed of a shallow shelf that extends about 10 to 11 kilometers (6 to 7 miles) from the coast of Romania. On this shelf, the average sea depth is 100 to 110 meters (330 to 360 feet). This shelf then drops steeply to the sea floor, which is unusually flat and reaches depths of 2,195 meters (7,200 feet). Romania claims the continental shelf off its coast to a depth of 200 meters (656 feet).

Sea Inlets and Straits

At the central part of the coastline, two large saltwater lagoons, Lake Razelm and Lake Sinoe, open onto the sea.

Coastal Features

The marshy delta of the Danube River makes up the northern third of the coast. To the south, steep cliffs extend to the sea, fringed by white sandy beaches whose popularity with tourists has given this area a reputation as the "Romanian Riviera."


Romania is said to have 2,500 lakes, but most of them are small and lakes occupy only about 1 percent of the country's total surface area. The largest lakes are along the Danube River and the Black Sea coast. Some of those, including the largest, the 390-square kilometer (150-square mile) Lake Razelm, are saltwater lakes, or lagoons that are open to the sea. These and a few of the freshwater lakes are commercially important for their fish. The many smaller ones scattered throughout the mountains are usually glacial in origin and add much to the beauty of the resort areas.


All of Romania's rivers and streams drain to the Black Sea. All of the rivers also join the Danube River, except for the minor streams that rise on the eastern slopes of the hills near the coast and flow directly into the sea. Those flowing southward and southeastward from the Transylvanian Alps drain to the Danube directly. Those flowing northward and eastward from Moldavia and Bukovina reach the Danube by way of the Prut River. Most of the Transylvanian streams draining to the north and west, including the Mureş and Someş Rivers, flow to the Tisza River, which joins the Danube in Serbia and Montenegro, north of Belgrade.

The Danube rises in the southwestern part of Germany and follows a winding, generally eastern course through Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, and Romania before finally emptying into the Black Sea, 2,850 kilometers (1,771 miles) from its source. It is the second-longest river in Europe and a vital commercial and transportation route.

As the Danube approaches its delta, it divides into a number of channels. It also forms several lakes, some of which are quite large. At the delta it divides into three major and several minor branches. The delta has an area of about 2,590 square kilometers (1,000 square miles) and grows steadily as the river deposits billions of cubic feet of sediment into the sea annually. Its main tributaries flowing through Romania include the Siret, Ialomiţa, Argeş, Olt, Jiu, and Timiş. The Argeş has an important tributary of its own: the Dîmboviţa River.

The Dobruja region provides Romania's access to the Black Sea and contains most of the Danube River delta. Much of the Danube River delta, as well as a belt of land up to 32 kilometers (20 miles) wide along most of the river's length, is marshland. The majority of this land is not easily exploited for agricultural purposes, although some of the reeds and natural vegetation have limited commercial value. The delta is a natural wildlife preserve, particularly for waterfowl, and is large enough so that many species can be protected. Willows flourish in parts of the delta and there are a few deciduous forests in the north-central section.


There are no desert regions in Romania.


Much of the original grassland vegetation of the steppe-like lowland area in the eastern and southern parts of the country has given way to human settlement and cultivation. Nearly all of the Walachian Plain and Danubian Plain to the south, except for the marshes along the Danube River and the seriously eroded foothills, is cultivated. Where the original vegetation remains, short grasses grow in the drier areas; taller grasses grow closer to the rivers.

Hills cover much of Romania, as parts of both the mountain and plateau regions as well as the transitional regions between the mountain ranges. The hills are mostly rolling plains with well-watered and fertile soil.


The Balkan Peninsula, the southernmost peninsula of Europe, lies between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to the west, the Black and Aegean Seas to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The countries of this region are collectively called the Balkan States: Albania, Bulgaria, continental Greece, southeast Romania, European Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.


The mountain ranges in the eastern part of the country are referred to as the Moldavian Carpathians. They have maximum elevations of about 2,286 meters (7,500 feet) and are the most extensively forested part of the country. Their highest peak, Mount Pietrosu (2,303 meters/7,556 feet), rises in the Rodna Mountains in the far north at the border with Ukraine. Two volcanic ranges, the Oas and Harghita Mountains, extend for about 400 kilometers (250 miles) along the western edge of the Moldavian Carpathians. They contain Romania's only crater lake, the St. Ana Lake, as well as roughly two thousand mineral water springs.

The slightly higher southern ranges, called the Transylvanian Alps, form the southern border of Transylvania and have the highest peaks and the steepest slopes in the country. Romania's highest point, Mount Moldoveanu, rises to a height of 2,544 meters (8,346 feet) about 161 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Bucharest. Among the alpine features of the Transylvanian Range are glacial lakes, upland meadows and pastures, and bare rock along the higher ridges. Some of the mountains are predominantly limestone, with caves, waterfalls, and underground streams.

The ranges in the west are generally lower and, unlike those in the east and south, they are not an unbroken ridge of mountains. The northernmost group is the Bihor Mountains, originating south of the city of Oradea. The southernmost is the Banat Mountains, in the extreme southwestern corner of the country. In between these two ranges are the perpendicular ranges of the Poiana Ruscăi Mountains and the Apuseni Mountains. These four ranges are not as rugged as those found to the south and east, and average elevations run considerably lower. Only a few points in the Bihor Mountains approach 1,828 meters (6,000 feet), compared to maximum elevations of nearly 2,286 meters (7,500 feet) in the Moldavian Carpathians and over 2,438 meters (8,000 feet) in the Transylvanian Alps.

The various mountain groups of the western Carpathians are separated by a series of structural depressions, called "gates" because they provide gateways through the mountains. The best known is the Iron Gate on the Danube, in the southeastern corner of Romania.

On the outer fringes of the eastern and southern Carpathian Mountains is a band of lower, but still elevated, terrain called the Sub-carpathians, which rises to elevations between 400 to 1,000 meters (1,300 and 3,300 feet).


Romania has many mountain caves scattered throughout the country. Two of the most popular show caves (open to tourists) are Bear's Cave and Women's Cave. Bear's Cave (Peştera Urşilor), located in a northwest group of mountains, is best known for the large number of cave bear fossils found there. The particular species of bear (ursus spelaeus) that lived there fifteen thousand years ago is now extinct. Researchers believe that a rockslide closed the entrance to the cave thousands of years ago, trapping over one hundred bears inside. Research indicates that these bears, which were generally herbivores, ended up killing and eating one another until the last bear died, either from hunger or from the wounds of a fight.

Women's Cave (Peştera Muierii) is located in an area known as the Getic Depression of Oltenia, on the territory of Baia de Fier village, in Gorj county. The Galbenul River carved the four levels of the cave. Women's Cave was so named because it was an ancient hiding place for the women and children of the region during times of war and invasion. Today, visitors can walk through several large galleries and see wonderful stalactites. There is a cupola-like chamber in one gallery that is called Little Dome. This chamber houses a large colony of bats.


The Transylvanian Plateau, at elevations averaging 365 meters (1,200 feet), lies in the center of Romania, ringed by the three branches of the Carpathian Mountains.

Its terrain includes valleys and rounded hills, and it is bordered on the west by an area of the eroded limestone known as karst.

The Moldavian Plateau is marked by hills and narrow valleys and extends across the eastern region of Moldavia between the Subcarpathians and the Prut River, rising to between 488 and 610 meters (1,600 and 2,000 feet). Farther south, in the northern inland part of the Dobruja region, is a plateau that rises to a maximum height of 467 meters (1,532 feet).


Hydropower from the rivers flowing down the Carpathian Mountains provides an important energy source.

The two Iron Gate Dams on the Danube, located in the southeastern corner of Romania, were built not only to generate hydroelectric power, but also to supply irrigation waters and to serve as a reservoir site for farm fishing. The Vidraru Dam on the Argeş River provides hydroelectric power as well as water for irrigation and part of the drinking supply for the city of Bucharest. The Gura Apelor Dam on the Raul Mare River, near the town of Hateg, is specifically used for hydroelectric power.


Bran Castle in the Transylvanian Alps is believed to have been the home of the fifteenth-century Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, who was born in the Transylvanian village of Sighisoara (central Romania, northwest of Bucharest) in 1431. He was known as "The Impaler" because of his cruelty in mass executions. He was also called "Dracula," which means "Son of a Dragon," because his father was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a group of knights established by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund to fight the Turks. British author Bram Stoker made Transylvania and Dracula famous when he chose the personality of Vlad Tepes as the basis for the vampire in his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.



Burford, Tim. Hiking Guide to Romania. Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequote Press, 1996.

Dennis-Jones, Harold. Where to Go in Romania. London: Settle Press, 1994.

Richardson, Dan. Romania: The Rough Guide. New York: Penguin, 1995.

Williams, Nicola. Romania and Moldova. Hawthorn, Victoria: Lonely Planet, 1998.

Willis, Terrie. Romania. New York: Children's Press, 2000.

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POPULATION: 23 million, of whom 89 percent are ethnic Romanians

LANGUAGE: Romanian

RELIGION: Christianity (Romanian Orthodox Church; Greek Catholic Church; Protestantism)


The territory that comprises Romania today was inhabited by the Dacians and Getae as early as the sixth century bc. These ancestors of the Romanians organized a separate country known as Dacia, which developed and prospered to the time of King Decebalus (AD 87106). The Romans conquered Dacia in ad 106. The victory over the Dacians was considered so important in Roman history that a monument was erected in the Forum at Rome to commemorate the event.

From 106 to 271, Dacia was a Roman province. As a border province, however, Dacia became increasingly difficult to defend against invasions from the east. The Romans retreated from Dacia in 271, ceding the country to the invading Goths. After the Goths left in 375, and the Huns left in the sixth century, there was a slow but steady infiltration of Slavs among the Romanians.

In 1601, Michael the Brave was able to unite briefly all the Romanians under one rule. Though short-lived, this unification contributed to the strengthening of Romanian identity.

The Ottoman Empire imposed its rule over the Romanian principalities for nearly 300 years. With the help of Russia, which defeated the Turks, the Romanians were given more freedom and granted a new constitution in 1829. In 1881, Romania became a monarchy, and King Carol I ruled until his death in 1914.

Romania fought on the side of the Allies during World War I (191418). With the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the provinces of Transylvania, Banat, and Bucovina were awarded to Romania in 1918, thus uniting most of the Romanians in one country for the first time in its history.

At the start of World War II (193945), Romania was allied with Nazi Germany, but it switched sides in August 1944 and joined the Allies as Russians entered the country. With the forced abdication of King Michael V (b.1921), Romanian communists gradually took control of the country. In 1965, Romania officially became a communist nation and Nicolae Ceauşescu (191889) became its president. Under his harsh dictatorship, the country had serious economic problems, including food shortages and lack of consumer goods.

During the years of communism, the living standard of the average citizen worsened and the economy was poorly managed. Many people were imprisoned and many others fled the country. Over 500,000 Romanians emigrated to Western Europe, the United States, Israel, and elsewhere.

In December 1989, security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the city of Timişoara. A state of emergency was declared, but the protests continued to spread throughout the country. Ceauşescu was overthrown and he was found guilty of genocide and executed.

After the execution of Ceauşescu and the ousting of many Communist Party officials, a ragtag government made up mostly of former communists took over, headed by Ion Iliescu. Inflation rose, living standards suffered, and corruption continued. Iliescu was was finally voted out in November 1996, with Emil Constantinescu as the first non-communist president in over fifty years.


Romania is located in Eastern Europe at the mouth of the Danube River as it flows into the Black Sea, which forms the country's eastern border. Romania is bordered on the north by Ukraine and Moldova, on the south by Bulgaria and Yugoslavia (Serbia), and on the west by Hungary. It is slightly less than 92,000 square miles (238,000 square kilometers) in area, about the size of New York State and Pennsylvania combined. The Carpathian Mountains run from north to south through the middle of the country. Romania has hot summers, cool autumns, and cold winters with snow and winds.

Romania has a population of about 23 million people, with ethnic Romanians accounting for 89 percent of the population. The remaining population includes Hungarians (7.5 percent), Germans (0.5 percent), Roma (also known as Gypsies), and various other minorities.


The Romanian language is a modern Romance language, just like Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. It is closest in structure to the Latin spoken in the first centuries ad by ordinary Romans.


One of the greatest repositories of Romanian folklore is their traditional Christmas carols, which have been passed down through many generations.


The ancient Dacians gradually accepted Christianity and established churches under the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. Even though there was a Slavic influence, the Romanian Orthodox Church retained its Latin heritage and remains the predominant religion of Romanians. There are smaller numbers of Greek Catholics (Uniates), Roman Catholics, and Protestants.


Romanians celebrate the major Christian holy days; Christmas (December 25) has more customs and observances than any other holy day. Easter (March or April) is most joyous religious holiday, following a six-week Lenten preparatory season and solemn Holy Week rituals.

Romanians ring in the New Year with partying, singing, and drinking. Some New Year's Day customs have prevailed throughout the centuries, dating from pagan Roman times, such as the pluguşotul (plow). Boys dressed in sheepskin outfits pull a small plow through the village, wishing everyone a prosperous new year.


When an infant is baptized, there is always a celebration at the home of the child's parents. At baptism, children are given the name of a saint, usually one whose feast day is nearest to the date of birth.

When young people decide to marry, they ask for the blessing of their parents. The girl usually has a dowry that her parents start when she is very young. It may consist of household linens, rugs, tablecloths, personal items, kitchen utensils, and family heirlooms.

After the marriage date is set, the groom sends out emissaries to personally invite friends and relatives to the wedding. Male members of the wedding party usually come to church on horseback, while the bride is brought in a carriage bedecked with flowers and peasant embroideries. After the nearly one-hour church ceremony, the bride and groom drink wine from the a common cup, signifying their union.

When someone dies, the body is washed and deodorized but not embalmed. It is then laid in a wooden coffin and brought to the deceased's home for the wake. Prayer services are held before the open coffin two or three evenings before the funeral service. After the funeral ceremony at the church, the closed coffin is taken to the cemetery and is interred. Mourners return to the deceased's home for a meal.


Romanians are influenced by the Romanian Orthodox Church, which emphasizes humility, love, and forgiveness in one's relationships. Romanians typically offer warm greetings and a willingness to serve others.


The typical one-story Romanian house usually includes a waiting room with an oven and a pantry. Some homes have a living room with a fireplace and at least one bedroom. More-prosperous rural Romanians may have a large enclosed yard with a garden, hay barn, stable, pigsty, chicken coop, corncrib, and outhouse.

Romania has undergone many changes in the last fifty years. There was a large migration from villages to cities. During the years of the communist regime, some villages disappeared as inhabitants moved to the cities, where plain high-rise apartments were built to accommodate them. Such buildings line the outskirts of most of Romania's major cities.

Life expectancy is sixty-seven years for males and seventy-three years for females. Infant mortality is 25 deaths per 1,000 births. There is 1 hospital bed per 100 persons, and 1 doctor per 559 persons. There is a scarcity of hospitals, clinics, and other facilities. Some children are abandoned and end up in orphanages, which have a difficult time caring for them.


Traditionally, Romanians had large families. Children are brought up to respect their parents. Divorce is not common but occurs more frequently in the cities than in the villages.


Among the most visible and attractive articles of clothing are the Romanian traditional costumes, especially the blouse, which varies greatly from one district to another. The traditional Romanian male costumes were just as varied as the women's, but less elaborate. The trousers and the long shirt were mostly white. The men wore a leather belt or a wider one with pockets.

Today, Romanians wear the same Western-style clothing that is commonly worn throughout Europe.


Romanian cooking has Hungarian, Serbian, Turkish, and Russian influences. There are also traces of French, Viennese, and other Western European cuisines.

Mamaliga (cornmeal mush) is one of the staples of the Romanian diet. It is usually served as a side dish and sometimes in place of bread.

Pork is the favorite meat of the Romanians, much more so than beef. Pigs are usually slaughtered before Christmas, smoked, made into sausage, and preserved for use throughout the year. Pork products such as bacon, ham, spare ribs, chops, and various cold cuts are also favorites of the Romanians. Stews, roasts, and casseroles with vegetable, salads, sour pickles, and sauerkraut make up the usual main course.


At present the literacy rate is nearly 98 percent, with compulsory education for ten years.


In the middle of the nineteenth century, literary magazines and books started to be published in growing numbers. Many poets, novelists, historians, essayists, and writers flooded the market with their literary works. These included well-known poet Vasile Alexandri (182190), novelists such as Costache Negruzzi (180868) and Alexandru Odobescu, storytellers such as Ion Slavici and Liviu Rebreanu (18851944), dramatists such as L. Caragiale (18531912) and Barba Delavraucea, and and historians such as Alexandra D. Xenopol and Nicolae Iorga (18711940).

The traditional Romanian musical instrument is the violin. Others include the wooden saxophone and the cimbalom (a type of dulcimer). Later, orchestras added the bass fiddle, the piano, the clarinet, and the accordion. Romanians also play pan-pipes.

Among the most popular styles of folk songs are love songs and patriotic songs. There is no other form of popular poetry more prevalent than the traditional carols, which have been passed down from one generation to the next

One of the most common and generalized folk dances is the hora (circle dance), danced by men and women holding hands. A popular dance is the sârba, with dancers holding each other by the shoulder in a semicircle.


Villagers with their small plots raise enough food for their own needs. Urban dwellers, who must buy all their food, have a more difficult time because of scarcities, inflation, and low salaries.


As in many European countries, the preferred sport is soccer. Romania has a number of professional teams, which compete with other countries. Each larger town has its own stadium, and some of them accommodate tens of thousands of spectators. Besides soccer, Romanians also enjoy basketball, boxing, rugby, tennis, and volleyball.

Calisthenics, exercising, and other gymnastics are a part of the school curriculum. Some of the best students are specially trained to compete in international events such as the Olympics.


Romanians enjoy a leisurely walk on the weekend where one stops to chat with friends and acquaintances.

Romanians also enjoy folk dance groups, amateur theatrical groups, music ensembles, and a host of other entertainers. There are many movie houses that show local productions and imported films with Romanian subtitles. Solo entertainers and all kinds of groups tour the country and present all kinds of entertainment to enthusiastic audiences.

Romania has many radio stations, television stations, live theaters, opera houses, cabarets, and entertainment establishments. Western influence, especially American, is increasingly noticeable in Romanian music, dance, and film.


Traditional handmade crafts were not only useful but also decorative, with colorful and intricate designs. Women traditionally sewed, knitted, and crocheted, while men carved geometric designs or painted wooden articles and ceramics.

Besides the textiles and wooden articles, Romanian peasants also wove rugs with unusual designs and colorful schemes. Pottery was usually decorated with circles, spirals, stylized flowers, and other imaginative patterns.

A most unusual form of Romanian folk art are icons painted on glass. The image is painted backwards on a piece of glass, so it can be seen correctly when viewed from the front side.


Alcoholism is sometimes a problem, especially among men. Crime and vandalism are becoming serious problems, especially in the cities.


Augerot, Joseph E. Modern Romania. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1993.

Basderant, Denise. Against Tide and Tempest: The Story of Romania. New York: R. Speller, 1966.

Carran, Betty. Romania. Chicago: Children's Press, 1988.

Matley, Ian M. Romania: A Profile. New York: Praeger, 1970.


Embassy of Romania, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Romania. [Online] Available, 1998.

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Located in southeastern Europe between the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube River, and the Black Sea, Romania has a population of 22.5 million, with 90 percent identifying themselves as Romanian, 7 percent as Hungarian, and 3 percent as belonging to other ethnic groups (NIS 2001). Romanians are proud of their two-thousand-year history. The formation of Romanian language began in the year 100 c.e. when the Roman Empire conquered the local population, the Geto-Dacians, establishing a province covering much of the current Romanian territory. Following hundreds of years of foreign influence and organization in smaller principates, present-day Romania took shape in two stages by the union of Moldavia and Wallachia Provinces (1859) and Transylvania (1918).

Political, Social, and Economic Setting

At the beginning of the twentieth century Romania was an agrarian society, with a traditional social structure that was not given to rapid progress (Zamfir 2001). The communist development program implemented between the 1950s and the 1970s brought significant changes by emphasizing urbanization and industrial modernization. Officially promoted by the regime was the uniform distribution of the rather limited resources available, the goal being to create an "egalitarian" society in which each member had decent living circumstances (Zamfir 2001). However, communism provided Romania with an economy that was underdeveloped and inefficient. Based on a state-owned monopoly of the internal market, modest technologies, and large enterprises, Romanian economy suffered from important structural and functional distortions, creating a crisis that started in 1970s, worsened in 1980s, and led to a sharp decline in people's standard of living (Zamfir 2001).

In December 1989, the dictatorial regime of Ceausescu was overthrown. Since then, Romania moved from a communist regime to a democratic political system, from a state-planned to a market economy, and from a state-governed and controlled family life to independently functioning family systems. The transformation into a democratic setup and a market economy was not smooth. The breakdown of the economic and social infrastructure resulted in worker unemployment, underemployment, and job insecurity, all of which translated in economic hardships for many families and communities. Thus, between 1991 and 2000 an average of 70 percent of Romanians estimated their income as barely sufficient or insufficient to cover basic necessities (RIQL 2001). Household composition is an important indicator correlating with poverty. For example, households with five family members face a more than 50 percent chance of being poor (Tesliuc and Pop 2001), and each child that is born increases the poverty risk by almost 50 percent (RIQL 2001). Poverty rates vary by region as well: In 1998, the poverty rate in rural areas was 50 percent higher than in urban areas (RQIL 1998).

Family Evolution

The Romanian family has emerged as an institution with high stability, based on the principles of synchronicity and the complementary natures of gender roles (Mitrofan and Ciuperca 1997). The political, social, and economic setting has significantly influenced the structure and the functions of the family system.

The totalitarian society imposed outside pressure on the family, making its space very constrained (Mitrea 1993). Both spouses had to work full-time since this was the most acceptable family model. Family planning was strongly restricted, couples being encouraged to have as many children as possible.

Some of these pressures disappeared after 1989 with the transformation of many aspects of life in Romania. The state is no longer directly involved in family life. Contemporary family members have more choices in terms of individual interests. The family can regulate its own internal life and functions. For example, family planning has become easier and more accessible, allowing people to have more control over their lives. When family self-determination increased through modernization, however, the individual's environment became less secure. Increased liberty is paid for with a growing feeling of insecurity and greater efforts to adapt to unknown social dynamics (Mitrea 1993). Employment of both spouses remains predominant after 1989, mostly because few families can get by on a single income.

Change in the family structure itself has also occurred. Urbanization is responsible for the transition from an extended, multigenerational family pattern to a nuclear one (parents and their children), which maintains significantly strong relationships with the family of origin. In 2000, the urban population was 55 percent, reflecting a trend of migration towards the cities (from 18 percent in 1912) (INS 2001). Family solidarity plays an important role in family life; the term family includes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents.

Family Structure

Most Romanian families are traditional, married couples with children. In 2000, the marriage rate was 6.1 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants, the lowest level since the 1950s, but still relatively high among the European countries (NIS 2001; UNDP 2000). The average age at marriage was relatively young in 1998—28.4 years for men and 24.9 years for women (NIS 1999). The proportion of first marriages was over 80 percent, and, on average, marriages lasted twenty-two years, indicating a high level of family stability (UNPD 1996). The divorce rate remained relatively steady—around 1.3 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants (in the European context, this level is below average) (NIS 2001).

The number of children per family depended on educational background and region. People with higher educational levels and those living in the cities tended to have fewer children (Ilut 1995; UNDP 2000). Most of the families in the cities had one or two children. In the year 2000 the total fertility rate per woman was 1.3 (UNDP 2000).

Family Values

Romanian families place a high value on children; their protection and well-being are considered to be parents' primary responsibilities. Considerable efforts are made to provide children with what they need. Parents' hope and pride are focused on children's successes. Interdependent and reciprocal relationships are encouraged among members of the Romanian family. Parents provide care for their children and in return, children are expected to be obedient and respectful and, in later life, to care for their parents.

Dedication to extended family and friends is another important value. A complex system of rules and obligations regulates each individual's relations and responsibilities within the extended family. For example, in many cases, grandparents assist parents in raising their children. During the communist regime, the social networks of friends were an important source of emotional and intellectual support. In the transition period accompanied by financial strain, this support has often become financial. In addition, in one-child families, friends often become substitute siblings.

Education is very important, with the school holding a central role in the life of children. During the school years, children are expected to perform well, and parents try their best to help them. Success in school is prized because of its relation with economic advancement. Therefore, play and the other leisure activities are usually subordinated to studying.

Religion has always been an important value for Romanians. The majority of the population (70%) is Christian Orthodox, with the rest divided among other religions (Roman Catholics 6%, Protestants 6%, others and unaffiliated 18%). Religion has been one of the strengths of families, providing them with spiritual sustenance. Many family practices and customs are related to religion. Rites of passage, baptisms, weddings, and funerals are rich in rituals, and they are celebrated with the extended family and friends. Other important celebrations are Christmas, Easter, and name-days. Many people are given saints' names, and their name-days coincide with the celebration of the patron saint's day.


During Romania's long history, although exposed to many political, social, and economic challenges, family life has shown a high level of resiliency. Confronted at times with stressful life events, Romanians present personal and family protective factors that offer buffers against those vulnerabilities, at the same time promoting the well-being of children. Among these resiliency factors, the most widely manifested are empathy, problem-solving skills, realism, caring relationships, and positive family environments. Family activities communicate a feeling of solidarity and continuity, adding to a sense of security and predictability that encourages resilience. Moreover, Romanians have a strong sense of self-efficacy, of being able to deal with whatever situation arises.


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mitrofan, i., and ciuperca, c. (1997). psihologia relatiilor dintre sexe. bucharest: alternative.

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voinea, m. (1994). "restructurarea familie: modele alternative de viata." sociologie romaneasca 5.

zamfir, c. (2001). introduction. in poverty in romania, ed. c. zamfir, k. postill, and r. stan. united nations human development report.

Other Resource

tesliuc, c. m., and pop, l. (2001). "poverty, inequality, and social protection." available from

mihaela robila

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ROMANIA. The principalities of Walachia and Moldavia, formed in the fourteenth century, were the nucleus of what would become modern Romania in the nineteenth century. Their populations were ethnically the same, spoke the same language, and professed the same Orthodox faith; and their political institutions, culture, and historical development throughout the early modern period were similar. They were situated at the crossroads of East and West: their Latin heritage linked them to Rome; their religion drew them to Constantinople.

The decisive force in the international relations of the principalities from the middle of the fifteenth to the end of the eighteenth century was the Ottoman Empire. Despite the heroic efforts of princes such as Stephen the Great of Moldavia (ruled 14571504) to defend their independence, both countries were eventually forced to recognize Ottoman suzerainty, Walachia between 1420 and 1480 and Moldavia between 1484 and 1498. Under the terms of ahd-names (treaties) granted by the sultans, they accepted vassal status and agreed to pay an annual tribute, to participate in Ottoman military campaigns, and to sever direct political relations with foreign countries. But both principalities avoided occupation by the Ottoman army and the settlement of Muslims on their territory, and they preserved their political institutions, laws, and economic and social structures, thus escaping the incorporation into the Ottoman Empire to which the peoples south of the Danube had been subjected. Their relationship with the Ottoman Empire constantly evolved and became increasingly restrictive and burdensome. By the eighteenth century the sultans were treating the principalities as mere provinces and their princes as Ottoman functionaries. Yet the heaviest burdens they bore were economic and fiscal, as the Ottomans continually increased the amount of the tribute, the number and size of bribes, and the quantities of foodstuffs to be delivered at fixed prices.

Opposition to the Ottomans was constant, but the majority of princes were realists. Aware that their countries were too weak to challenge Ottoman supremacy directly, they looked for support to Poland, the Habsburg empire, and Russia. Theirs was the classic strategy of playing powerful neighbors off against one another, thereby securing independence. One of the high points of this delicate game was the reign of Michael the Brave of Walachia (ruled 15931601), who allied himself with the Habsburgs and won several significant victories over Ottoman armies, notably at Calugareni in 1595. He also brought Moldavia and the principality of Transylvania under his rule for a brief time, but his enemies prevailed, and the Ottomans regained their predominance over the principalities. Other significant attempts to throw off Ottoman rule occurred a century later. Constantin Brâncoveanu of Walachia (ruled 16881714) cooperated with Austria, and Dimitrie Cantemir of Moldavia (ruled 17101711) turned to Peter the Great of Russia to regain independence, but neither alliance was successful, and both princes lost their thrones.

The Ottomans, convinced that they could no longer trust native princes, dispensed with elections altogether and appointed princes mainly from among important Greek families of the Phanar (Lighthouse) district of Constantinople. During the so-called Phanariot regime, which lasted until 1821, Ottoman political interference in the principalities' internal affairs, economic and fiscal exploitation, and corruption reached its height. Yet it was also an era of significant reforms under forward-looking princes such as Constantin Mavrocordat (ruled six times in Walachia and four times in Moldavia between 1730 and 1769), who reorganized administrative, judicial, and fiscal institutions and abolished serfdom in Walachia in 1746 and in Moldavia in 1749, and Alexandru Ipsilanti of Walachia (ruled 17741782, 17961797) and Moldavia (ruled 17861788), who introduced new governmental reforms and undertook the codification of laws. In the latter decades of the eighteenth century, the striving for independence became more intense and was led by the boiers (nobles). Their efforts coincided with Russia's own policy of aggrandizement against the Ottomans and brought an easing of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (1774) required the sultan to respect the autonomy of the principalities guaranteed in the ahd-names and enabled Russia to intervene regularly on their behalf.

The economy of the principalities rested on agriculture. Production was organized around large estates controlled by the boiers and the monasteries, which were worked by peasants, many of whom were serfs (before 1746 and 1749) or were dependent in some other way. There were also free peasants who had their own holdings, but their numbers steadily declined. Artisan crafts were practiced in villages as well as towns, where they were organized into guilds; production was mainly consumed locally. Local commerce was carried on by small merchants, artisans, and peasants, while long-distance and transit trade was mainly in the hands of foreign merchants. Among the main exports of the principalities were foodstuffs, timber, and salt, the bulk of it going to the Ottoman Empire, which monopolized their foreign trade.

Society was dominated by the boiers, who formed a hereditary estate and owed their status to control of land and to posts in government. The great majority of the population (about 600,000 in Walachia and 400,000 in Moldavia in 1700) consisted of peasants, who bore the greatest share of taxation and other public burdens but had few civil or political rights. The native middle class was small, mainly because of the modest level of urbanization, the artisan industry, and commerce, and it exercised little influence in public affairs. The clergy of the Orthodox Church, to which the great majority of Walachians and Moldavians belonged, was the primary spiritual force, especially in the villages.

Cultural and intellectual life until the eighteenth century reflected the principalities' primary orientation toward the Byzantine-Orthodox world. Education was the province of the church, and monasteries were the centers for the copying and diffusion of manuscripts, which were almost all religious in nature. The majority of books, the printing of which began in 1508 with a liturgy book, were also religious. Slavonic persisted as the official language of the church and the princes' chancelleries until the seventeenth century. But influences came from the West, too. The Reformation stirred religious debate and hastened the replacement of Slavonic by Romanian. Contacts with Western scholarship helped transform chronicles into true histories, as in the works of Miron Costin (16331691), which revealed a new, secular consciousness of man's destiny. The Enlightenment brought the elites still closer to Europe and provided them with the analytical tools they needed to define their condition and chart their future. By the end of the eighteenth century, the transition from a medieval to a modern society was underway.

See also Balkans ; Habsburg Dynasty: Austria ; Orthodoxy, Russian ; Ottoman Empire ; Poland ; Russia .


Duţu, Alexandru. Romanian Humanists and European Culture: A Contribution to Comparative Cultural History. Bucharest, 1977.

Hitchins, Keith. The Romanians, 17741866. Oxford, 1996.

Iorga, Nicolae. Histoire des Roumains et de la Romanité orientale. Vols. 47 (10 Vols.). Bucharest, 19371940.

Maxim, Mihai. Tǎrile Române si Înalta Poartǎ. Cadrul juridic al relatiilor româno-otomane în Evul Mediu. Bucharest, 1993.

Mihordea, V. Mâitres du sol et paysans dans les Principautés Roumaines au XVIIIe siècle. Bucharest, 1971.

Pippidi, Andrei. Traditia politicǎ bizantinǎîn Tǎrile Române în secolele XVIXVIII. Bucharest, 1983.

Keith Hitchins

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On returning from training courses in France and Germany, Gheorghe Preda (1879-1965), a medical officer in the Romanian army, published his considerations on psychoanalysis in a Romanian journal of medical sciences in 1912. Without any personal experience of psychoanalysis, he encouraged the interest of his collaborators, who were the first to propagate Freud's work. Later, in 1923, one of Jean Martin Charcot's students, Gheorghe Marinescu, contributed to making psychoanalysis known to Romanian intellectuals by publishing two articles: an introduction to the study of psychoanalysis and a critique of Freudian theory. Several psychologists and psychiatrists then took an interest in psychoanalysis. One of them, Ion Popescu-Sibiu, entered into correspondence with Freud and became the author of a very complete book on the theory and practice of psychoanalysis: Conceptia Psihanalitica (1947). In 1932 he won a Romanian Academy prize for this book. It was in fact a revision of the thesis he presented in 1927, with an addendum of "medico-psychological vocabulary." It was first published in three thousand copies. Around this time more than ten books and theses were published dealing with the applications of psychoanalysis to psychotherapy, forensic medicine, literature, the study of dreams, spiritualism, and career guidance. In a setback, in 1932 an application of psychoanalysis to the work of the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) was considered iconoclastic. In 1934, and again in 1935, attempts to start a journal of psychoanalysis resulted in the appearance of one issue and no follow-up.

Over the next few decades the development of psychoanalysis was limited by the economic crisis of 1929, the rise of the fascist Iron Guard party, which aligned Romania with Nazi Germany, and the communist takeover of the country. In 1946, just after the Second World War, Ion Popescu-Sibiu and Constantin Vlad (1892-1971) founded the Romanian Society for Psychopathology and Psychotherapy. They rallied around them all those who had been interested in analysis before the war. But psychoanalysis was prohibited in 1948, as it was in all communist countries. Not until 1973 and the new directions opened up by the political head of state Nicolae Ceausescu did a clinical psychological circle organize regular meetings of practitioners. This breach in the wall was short lived, however, and in 1977 it was forbidden to teach psychology. People nevertheless continued to study psychoanalytic texts. The first volume of a translation of Freud's Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1916-1917a [1915-1917]) was published in 1980. But the almost total absence of personal and training analysis was detrimental to any real development of psychoanalysis.

Not until after the fall of the Ceausescu regime could a group of psychotherapists, largely nonphysicians, found the Romanian Psychoanalytic Society in 1990. This society publishes an internal bulletin and a journal that appear on a regular basis. The desire of Romanian analysts to improve themselves professionally is manifest in the numbers that have gone abroad for training and by the 1995 Conference for Eastern Europeans at Constanza, organized with the help of the European Federation for Psychoanalysis.

Michel Vincent


Diatkine, Gilbert, Gibeault, Alain, Gibeault, Monique, and Vincent, Michel. (1993). La psychanalyse en Europe orientale. In Gilbert Diatkine, Gérard Le Goues, and Ilana Reiss-Schimmel (Eds.), La psychanalyse et l'Europe de 1993. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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Romanian language

Romanian language, member of the Romance group of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Romance languages). It is spoken by about 22 million people in Romania, where it is the official language, by 3 million people in Moldova, and by perhaps another 1 million persons scattered in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, and Hungary. At the present time Romanian is written in the Roman alphabet, to which have been added the symbols ă, â, î, ş, and ţ. In Moldova under Soviet rule, however, Cyrillic characters were used for Romanian. A distinctive feature of Romanian is the attachment of the definite article to the noun as a suffix, as in omul (literally, "man-the" ). The oldest surviving Romanian texts are from the 16th cent., and there are four major dialects of the language.

See J. E. Augerot and F. D. Popescu, Modern Romanian (1971); E. Vasiliu and S. Golopentia-Ertescu, Transformational Syntax of Romanian (1973).

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ROMA 178

Ethnic Romanians constitute 89 percent of the population of Romania. Two important ethnic minorities are Hungarians (7.5 percent of the total population) and Germans (0.5 percent), both concentrated in the Transylvania region. The number of Roma (Gypsies), is officially estimated at about 400,000, but may be much higher For more information on Hungarians, see the chapter on Hungary in Volume 4; on the Germans, see the chapter on Germany in Volume 4.

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Culture Name



Identification. The name "Romania," which was first used when the three regions of the country were united in 1859, reflects the influence of ancient Rome on the nation's language and culture. The three regionsWalachia, Moldavia, and Transylvaniaare relatively culturally uniform. An exception is the Hungarian community in Transylvania, which has its own language and traditions and considers itself Hungarian. The Roma (Gypsies), who are scattered throughout the country, mostly in small camps on the outskirts of towns and cities, are in many ways culturally unassimilated.

Location and 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 Danube River stretches through the country for six hundred miles, forming its southern border with Serbia and Bulgaria and emptying into the Black Sea in the east. It is a source for irrigation and hydroelectric power.

Serious environmental problems include soil erosion and water and air pollution from unregulated industrial development. Because of economic hardship, the government has been slow to enforce laws that place restraints on industry.

Demography. The population was estimated to be 22,411,121 in 2000. Ninety percent of the people are Romanian, 7 percent are Hungarian, and 2 percent are Roma. The remainder is made up of Germans, Ukrainians, and others. Estimates of the Roma population range from 400,000 to one million; it is difficult to pinpoint because of the Roma's nomadic lifestyle. Before World War II, there was a large Jewish population, but almost 400,000 Jews were killed during the Nazi years, and many of the remaining Jews emigrated to Israel after the war. Today the Jewish population is estimated at less than 10,000. The German population has also decreased significantly. In the 1980s, Ceaucescu's government charged citizens large sums for permission to leave the country, a policy Germans felt was aimed specifically at them. Since Ceaucescu's regime fell in 1989, many Germans have emigrated.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Romanian, which has Latin roots that date back to the Roman occupation of the area but also contains words from Greek, Slavic languages, and Turkish. In the fourteenth century, the country adopted the Cyrillic alphabet, but it later reverted to Roman lettering. Magyar (the language of ethnic Hungarians) and German are spoken, as are Serbian, Ukrainian, Slovak, Czech, Bulgarian, and Turkish. The language of the Roma population is Romany, although many Roma combine that language with Romanian.

Symbolism. The flag consists of blue, yellow, and red vertical stripes that symbolize Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia, respectively. The coat of arms, adopted in 1992, consists of a gold eagle against a blue background holding a cross in its beak, a sword in one claw, and a scepter in the other. Emblazoned on the eagle's chest are the symbols of the five provinces: Walachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, Banat, and Dobruja.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The first known inhabitants of present-day Romania were called Dacians. They were conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 c.e. Roman domination of the region lasted only until 271 but had a formative and long-lasting influence. Many Romans stayed and intermarried with the Dacians, helping to shape the customs and language of the region.

From the 200s through the 1100s, there was a series of invasions by various tribes from the north, including the Magyars and the Saxons. The northern region developed into a principality called Transylvania, the south into a principality called Walachia, and the east into Moldavia. Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Walachia and Moldavia battled repeated invasions by the Ottoman Empire. They eventually succumbed around 1500 and spent more than three hundred years under Turkish rule. In 1601, the principalities of Moldavia, Walachia, and Transylvania were united for the first time under Prince Michael the Brave. During Michael's reign, Romania maintained a degree of sovereignty, but after his death, the Turks again dominated the region. They ruled through Greek officials who abused their power to exploit the peasants.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Ottoman Empire was weakened by a series of defeats to the Russians. In 1821, an uprising in Walachia against the Greek rulers ended in the execution of the Romanian leader Tudor Vladimirescu, which further fanned desires for independence. The 1829 Treaty of Adrianpolie replaced Greek rule with Russian. In 1834, the Russians withdrew. In 1859, Prince Alexander Cuza was elected ruler of a united Moldavia and Walachia; three years later, the country was renamed Romania (then spelled Rumania). Cuza attempted to redistribute land and improve the living conditions of the poor, but those policies were unpopular with the upper class; in 1866, Cuza was forced to resign and was replaced by Prince Carol. In 1877, Carol led a successful joint revolt of Romanian and Russian troops against the Turks. The Congress of Berlin of 1879 marked the end of Turkish domination. Romania became a kingdom in 1881, and Prince Carol was crowned king.

Despite the nation's independence, the situation of the majority of the people remained unchanged. In 1907, increasing discontentment gave rise to a peasant revolt, in which the country estates of the nobility were burned. The army suppressed the uprising, killing ten thousand people.

In 1914, King Carol died and Ferdinand I took his place. Two years later, Romania entered World War I, joining the Allies in their fight against the Axis powers (Austria-Hungary and Germany in particular). After the war, the Trianon Treaty doubled the size of the country, uniting Moldavia and Walachia with Transylvania, Banat, Bessarabia (present-day Moldova), and Bucovina (today in southern Ukraine). In the years after World War I, a fascist movement called the Iron Guard won a large following in response to threats from the communist Soviet Union and rising unemployment.

Ferdinand died in 1927 and was succeeded by his son, Carol II, in 1930. Carol II resorted to military suppression of the opposition. In 1938 he outlawed political parties, and the head of the Iron Guard was executed.

At the outbreak of World War II, Carol II was forced to give up significant portions of the country to Russia and Hungary. His son Michael took the throne in 1940, but the real power fell to Marshal Ion Antonescu. In an effort to recoup Soviet-occupied territories, the country aligned itself with the German forces, participating in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

In August 1944, King Michael took power back from Antonescu. Romania joined the Allied forces but was soon occupied by Russia. After the war ended in 1945, most of the occupied territories were returned, but the Russian communists retained control. They abolished the monarchy in 1947, replacing King Michael with a puppet government under the leadership of Petru Groza. Business and industry were nationalized, and farmland was taken from the peasants and reorganized into government-run collectives. The communist leadership also imposed harsh penalties for expressing opposition to the government, imprisoning dissidents or putting them to work in extremely dangerous labor projects. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej served as chief of state throughout the 1950s and was responsible for many of the Stalinist policies. In the early 1960s, he worked to distance Romania more from Soviet influence.

In 1965, Nicolae Ceausescu assumed the presidency and presented a new constitution. He initiated large-scale development projects, mainly with money borrowed from other countries. Many of those projects failed, sinking the country into debt that Ceaucescu attempted to pay off by exporting virtually everything the country produced, leading to severe shortages of food and fuel. The secret police kept the people in line through terror while Ceaucescu and his family, who controlled most of the government, continued to plunder the country for personal gain.

In the 1980s, worsening food shortages, along with the toppling of other communist regimes in Eastern Europe, stirred unrest. Protests in 1987 were put down with a combination of military force and extra food distribution. In December 1989, protests in the city of Timisoara were met with gunfire, and hundreds of citizens died. Other protests broke out across the country, and the situation escalated until troops refused to follow orders and joined the protesters. Ceaucescu and his wife attempted to flee the country but were halted by the army and brought to trial. Both were found guilty of murder and put to death by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989.

A party called the National Salvation Front assumed power, and in 1990 free elections were held. Ion Iliescu, the leader of the National Salvation Front and a former Communist Party member, won the presidency, and a new constitution was adopted in 1991. Iliescu put down student protests against the government by calling in twenty thousand coal miners to create a counter demonstration and later used the same tactic to force Petre Roman, a liberal prime minister, from office. Despite widespread dissatisfaction with Iliescu's leadership, he won reelection in October 1992. Four years later, voters replaced him with the reform-touting Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention of Romania. Despite positive changes during his term, the December 2000 elections were a contest between Iliescu and Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the right-wing Greater Romania Party, who espoused a hard-line fascist ideology. Iliescu won the vote of a disillusioned, bitter, and frightened populace.

National Identity. The majority of residents share a common culture and history dating back to the Dacians. National identity is informed by pride in the country's resilience and ability to withstand attacks from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Turks and later from the Soviet Union. Many Hungarians living in Transylvania consider themselves more Hungarian than Romanian, and some consider the region a part of Hungary.

Ethnic Relations. Transylvania was once under Hungarian control, and parts of the region still have an ethnic Hungarian majority. Relations between Hungarians and Romanians are tense and have resulted in political conflict and occasional violence. In 1976, the communist government outlawed the use of the Hungarian language in education and the media in what it claimed was an effort to assimilate minorities into the national culture. Since 1989, the government has softened its stance, but discrimination still exists.

Romania has one of the world's largest populations of Roma. The Roma have a long history of persecution throughout Europe and still face discrimination. They have high rates of poverty, unemployment, and malnutrition, and many have left in an attempt to better their conditions.

During World War II, Jews were persecuted by both the government and the German military, and many were deported to Nazi concentration camps. Most of those remaining emigrated to Israel after World War II. Today, most of the country's Jews are concentrated in northern Moldavia and Bucharest.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Bucharest is the capital and largest city, located in the center of the southern region of Walachia. Some old architecture still remainsthere are several seventeenth- and eighteenth-century churches and a university dating to 1864but the communists replaced most of the old buildings with concrete apartment complexes and skyscrapers. Between the two world wars, Bucharest was also a cultural center called "the Paris of the East," but its character has become more industrial and commercial. It is still home to some cultural attractions, including the National Art Museum, national theater and opera companies, and the country's largest university.

Other important cities include Brasov, an industrial center in the Transylvanian Alps; Constanta, a port on the Black Sea; Cluj-Napoca in central Transylvania; and Timisoara in the eastern Banat region.

In the cities, most people live in high-rise apartment buildings. Housing is limited, and conditions are cramped. Heating is often inadequate. In the countryside, most houses are old-fashioned two- or three-room wooden structures without plumbing or electricity. Traditional rural houses have roofs of red tiles, corrugated tin, or wooden shingles. In Moldavia and Walachia, they are usually white, while in Transylvania, they are painted different colors. In previous centuries, people often built houses almost entirely underground to protect themselves from Turkish attacks.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Breakfast is usually a small meal of bread with butter and jam and tea. The largest meal is eaten in the early afternoon. Mititei, grilled sausage seasoned with garlic, is a common appetizer. Borsch, cabbage soup with bran, or ciorba, a soup of lamb, mushrooms, and other meats and vegetables, is often served as a first course. Main dishes are usually meat-based, such as tocana, a pork stew flavored with garlic and onions. Other popular dishes include sarmale, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and meat, and mamaglia, a cornmeal dish often served with poached eggs. Vegetables are served as side dishes. Typical desserts include placinte, a kind of pie, and baclava, a pastry made of nuts and honey.

Local wines produced in Moldavia and along the Black Sea coast are widely consumed. Tuica, a strong plum brandy, is also popular, as are beer and soft drinks.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Wedding feasts include kegs of wine and tuica and an enormous round loaf of bread shared by the bride and groom. The annual sheep feast, Simbra Oilor, a traditional holiday marking the moving of the herds to the high pastures, is celebrated with a large community meal of cheese, meat dishes, and tuica.

Basic Economy. The labor force consists of 9.6 million people, of whom 37 percent work in agriculture, 34 percent in industry, and 29 percent in services. The unemployment rate is 11 percent, and 22 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

After World War II, the communists built up the industrial sector and introduced a nationalized economic system. Large building projects left the country with debts; to pay them off, the government exported much of what it produced and imported little, creating shortages of consumer goods and food. Since 1989, the government has introduced reforms to create a free-market economy, privatizing some businesses and removing price controls. Although prices have gone up, wages have not; while more consumer goods are now available, many people cannot afford to buy them. Romania's currency is the leu.

Land Tenure and Property. When the communists came to power, they nationalized industries, transportation, and stores as well as private farms. The new government has begun to allow more private ownership of land, a change that has resulted in increased agricultural output. The new laws allow citizens to claim land that had been taken from their ancestors as long ago as four generations. The number of people reclaiming land is in the millions.

Commercial Activities. Many of the products produced for domestic sale are agricultural. The main crops are wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, and wine grapes. Farmers also raise cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. Despite some improvement under the new government, shortages continue to be a problem, and consumers often wait in long lines to buy whatever the stores have in stock.

Major Industries. The primary industries include mining, timber, construction materials, metallurgy, chemicals, and machine building. Many industries have foundered in recent years, as they use old-fashioned equipment and are unable to compete with those of other countries. Since the early 1990s, tourism has become a growing industry.

Trade. Under communism, the Soviet Union was the primary trade partner. The Soviets sent raw materials that were processed in Romanian factories and then sold back to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). Russia and the former Soviet republics remain important trading partners; others are Germany, Italy, France, and the United States. Exports include textiles and shoes, metals and metal products, and machinery and equipment. The main imports are coal, natural gas, and crude oil as well as machinery and consumer goods.

Division of Labor. In an effort to build up the industrial base, the communist government moved some of the rural population to the cities, creating a shortage of farmers. Most of those who left were younger males, and the agricultural sector came to be composed primarily of women and older men.

The communist state valued science much more highly than the humanities and other fields and pushed young people to pursue careers in those areas. In the early 1990s, a significant number of people switched jobs as more opportunities arose; it was not uncommon to see former doctors and scientists entering fields such as journalism and sales.

The poor often have little choice of profession. Education is expensive, and the children of farmers and factory workers do not have much opportunity for advancement.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The majority of the people are poor, and the overall standard of living is low compared to that of Western Europe. Under communism, a small elite had access to luxuries unthinkable to most of the population. Ceaucescu, for example, lived in a forty-room palace where walls were hung with artwork taken from churches and museums. Some of the old elite have managed to hold onto their wealth and power in the government after Ceaucescu's ouster. In general, however, few rise above the generally low standard of living.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Cars are rare, and people who own them are usually part of the elite. Other imported consumer goods and household appliances are also expensive and difficult to come by and represent another symbol of high economic standing. It is also a mark of wealth to be able to send one's children to the best day-care centers and provide them with private tutoring.

In the cities, the majority of the people wear Western-style clothing. In rural areas, some people still wear traditional garb. For women, this consists of wool skirts and vests whose embroidery varies from region to region. For men, it is a white blouse and pants cinched with a wool or leather belt and a cap or hat.

Throughout the country, Roma stand out in their brightly colored clothes. Women wear long flowing skirts, and men dress in white shirts with colorful sashes.

Hairstyles are often an indication of a woman's region of origin and marital status. Unmarried women wear their hair in braids, while married women cover their heads with cloths called naframa.

Political Life

Government. The president is the head of state and is elected by popular vote for a four-year term. He appoints the prime minister, who serves as the head of government. The prime minister appoints a cabinet called the Council of Ministers. The legislature is bicameral. The Senate (Senat ) has 143 members, and the Chamber of Deputies (Adunarea Deputatilor ) has 343 members. All legislators are elected by direct popular vote for four-year terms.

On the local level, the country is divided into forty districts administered by mayors and councils elected by the people. The head of each region is a prefect appointed by the central government.

Leadership and Political Officials. The 1991 constitution established a multiparty system. Sixteen parties are represented in the government, and there are several smaller ones that have not won seats. These parties are composed of former communists who favor gradual change, democrats pushing for faster reform, and groups representing the interests of the different ethnic minorities. After the corrupt and often brutal policies of Ceaucescu and other leaders, the people are wary of government officials in general.

Social Problems and Control. The majority of the crimes committed are nonviolent. Economic crimes are a significant problem; corruption, speculation, hoarding, and black market activities are all prevalent. Juvenile crime is also a concern. The legal system, previously a combination of civil law and communist legal theory, is now based on the constitution of France's Fifth Republic.

Military Activity. The military consists of the Army, the Navy, the Air and Air Defense Forces, the Paramilitary Forces, and Civil Defense. In 1996, Romania spent $650 million annually on the military, or 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product. During Ceaucescu's reign, paramilitary forces often were used to suppress uprisings or dissenting activity, and the security police tapped telephones, persecuted religious authorities, and instilled fear in the populace.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The communist government instituted a system of social welfare under which assistance was provided only to employees of the state. These workers are still entitled to pensions for retirement, disability, and survivors as well as insurance in case of sickness or injury. The state also has programs for orphans, the mentally and physically handicapped, and the elderly. Many of these programs are inadequate; in the 1980s, older people were discouraged from going to hospitals because of a lack of staff and supplies. The responsibility for caring for the elderly often falls to the family.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Various human rights and professional associations are active in the country. Many, such as the Children's Relief Network and Aid for Romanian Children, direct their efforts toward improving conditions in orphanages and helping thousands of abandoned children find homes. Some of these groups have a religious affiliation; others, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are funded by the governments of foreign countries.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The communists attempted to get women into the work force in large numbers. While the majority of women work outside the home, they tend to occupy lower-level positions and generally are in traditional female fields, such as primary school education. Women also make up a large proportion of agricultural workers; as men left farming in the 1950s and 1960s, women were left behind in those jobs, which had come to be considered undesirable. While the definition of women's work has expanded, that of men's work has not, and women who work full-time outside the home are still expected to do all the cooking and housekeeping.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. After World War II, the communists succeeded in raising women's legal status, giving them equal rights in marriage and the workplace. Ceaucescu's regime was in many ways a step backward for women. His efforts to increase the population burdened women with either bearing children they did not want and could not afford or seeking illegal and dangerous abortions. The government also enforced mandatory gynecological examinations of women of childbearing age to prove that they had not had abortions.

Marriage, Family and Kinship

Marriage. Traditionally, marriages were arranged by the couple's parents through a matchmaker. The bride's family was expected to contribute a dowry that usually consisted of linen and embroidery. Traditional rural weddings were large festivities to which the entire village was invited. The ceremony included not just the couple and their parents but grandparents, godparents, the matchmaker, attendants, speakers, cooks, and numerous other people.

Today it is customary for young people to choose their own spouses, but certain elements of the traditional ceremony are preserved. The bride's hair is braided in an elaborate style, and she dons a crown of flowers, jewels, and ribbons. The groom wears a white leather vest and a hat decorated with feathers, flowers, and leaves. The best man shaves the groom's beard to symbolize his departure from his previous lifestyle. In the ceremony, both the bride and the groom ask their parents to forgive them for leaving the family.

In their effort to undermine religion, the Communists made civil ceremonies a legal requirement and discouraged church weddings. They also gave women greater rights in marriage, including equal control of children and property. When divorce laws were liberalized, the rates of divorce skyrocketed. To stem that trend, stricter laws were imposed in the 1960s, and divorce rates fell somewhat but remain high.

Domestic Unit. It is not uncommon for several generations to live together. Housing shortages force many people to live in close quarters. In the 1980s, the national average was ten square meters of living space per person; this has improved slightly, but not nearly to the goal set by the government of fourteen square meters per person by 2000.

Inheritance. Traditionally, an estate passes to the oldest son. Today, however, women are legally allowed to inherit property.

Kin Groups. The national culture places a high value on helping extended family members. An example of this was Ceaucescu's government, which was largely staffed by his relatives. Traditional families were large patriarchal units, as extra hands were always needed in the fields. Urbanization has led to smaller families, however, and to a decrease in the importance of family ties.


Infant Care. Ceaucescu made childbearing a priority in an effort to increase the population. He outlawed abortion and birth control and declared that each woman should have at least five children. While his policies were successful in producing more children, this was in many cases to the detriment of the children. Already poor families could not afford to feed or clothe them, and the orphanages filled with abandoned babies.

Child Rearing and Education. The communist government encouraged women to work outside the home and established state-run day-care centers called crèches. From a very young age, children are left in these centers all day while their parents work. Many crèches are overcrowded and insufficiently staffed. The largest day-care center is at Scinteia in Bucharest, which is exclusively for children of the elite.

School is free and mandatory from the ages of six to sixteen. From ages six to fourteen, children attend elementary school; after this, they must pass examinations to enter secondary school. About half these students go on to vocational schools; others continue their education at technical institutes or teacher-training programs.

Higher Education. Only 5 percent of students take a college preparatory course in secondary school. To study at a university, it is necessary to pass a rigorous examination that often requires expensive tutoring outside of school. The largest and most prestigious university is the University of Bucharest, founded in 1864. Other centers of higher education include Babes-Blyai University in Cluj-Napoca and the Polytechnic Institute in Bucharest.


Romanians are known for hospitality and generosity. Guests are always fed. Men indicate their respect for women by a tip of the hat, a kiss on the hand, or standing to offer them a seat. It is also customary for younger people to defer to their elders.


Religious Beliefs. Seventy percent of the population is Romanian Orthodox, 6 percent is Roman Catholic (of which 3 percent is Uniate), 6 percent is Protestant, and 18 percent professes no religious affiliation. Under communism, religion was suppressed; churches were destroyed, and clergy were arrested. The government restricted religious practice but did not forbid it. The Romanian Orthodox Church as a whole did not oppose the government, and in many instances priests were used as tools of the administration.

Romanian Orthodoxy traces its history back to the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of 1054. The Eastern Orthodox Church, of which the Romanian Orthodox Church is one branch, has developed a more mystical slant than Roman Catholicism. Iconsimages representing Christ, angels, saints, and other holy figureshold an important place in Orthodox practice. They are considered a connection between the earthly and spiritual realms; it is believed that the saint is incarnated in the physical materials of the icon.

Religious Practitioners. The highest figure in Eastern Orthodox religion is the Patriarch of Constantinople. He is not considered infallible. Many Romanian priests lost the trust of their parishioners by working with the secret police during the communist regime. Some resisted, such as Laszlo Tokes, whose opposition to government intimidation led to popular acts of rebellion that ultimately led to Ceaucescu's ouster.

Rituals and Holy Places. Romanian Orthodox churches follow a specific pattern in the placement of icons. On the door there are usually life-size representations of the archangels Gabriel and Michael, above which there are several rows of other icons, including saints, martyrs, and apostles. Inside the church, there is a wall called an iconostasis where the images are displayed. On the feast day of a saint, that icon is placed on the altar for worshipers to kiss. It is customary for a family to have an icon in the home as well. When entering a house, guests cross themselves and bow to the icon before greeting the hosts.

Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is the central ritual in Orthodox services. During services on Sunday mornings, hundred of candles are lit and the smell of incense fills the church. Worshipers do not sit or kneel but stand erect.

Easter is the most important holiday in the Eastern Orthodox calendar. Its observation begins on Palm Sunday, when palm leaves or pussy willows are brought home from church. This is followed by the forty-day period of atonement of Lent, which ends on Good Friday. Easter Sunday, three days later, is celebrated with elaborately decorated eggs, feasting, and a midnight mass.

Christmas celebrations begin on 6 December (Saint Nicolas's Day), with family feasts. On the night before Christmas, young people wear costumes and perform colinde, traditional songs expressing hopes for good luck.

Death and the Afterlife. The belief in vampires popularized in the late 1800s by the story of Dracula has a long history in folk culture and is still followed in more traditional rural communities. It is believed that sometimes the soul does not leave the body after death, in which case the corpse does not decay but haunts the village of the deceased and can claim victims with a touch or even a glance. Garlic is thought to be helpful in keeping vampires away, as are food offerings made on Saint George's Day (23 April) and Saint Andrew's Day (29 November). The custom of covering mirrors in the home of the deceased has its origin in vampirism and the fear that the spirit of the dead person will see its reflection and not be able to leave.

Medicine and Health Care

The health care system improved under the communist government, which provided free medical services to all citizens. Development was uneven, and while conditions in the cities improved markedly, rural villages continued to suffer from a lack of doctors and facilities.

Environmental degradation has had negative effects on the health of the populations. Air pollution causes eye and lung disease, and many people do not have access to clean drinking water.

Many of the country's health problems are related to reproductive health and child care. Under Ceaucescu, abortion and birth control were banned; illegal abortions were common and often resulted in health problems. Many women were compelled to have children they could not support. Poor prenatal care and lack of food meant that many of those children were born prematurely and underweight; many were fed intravenously in hospitals with contaminated needles and contracted the AIDS virus. AIDS is a growing health concern, although the government has been slow to act and wary to release statistics. The main causes of death are cancer, cardiovascular disease, and alcoholism.

Secular Celebrations

New Year's Day is celebrated on 1 and 2 January. In Moldavia, the new year is brought in by a procession of people dressed as goats. In a rural tradition called plugusorul, a plow is decorated with green leaves and pulled throughout the village. Labor Day is celebrated on 1 and 2 May, and Independence Day on 23 and 24 August, and the National Day of Romania on 1 December.

Different regions have traditions of spring and summer festivals, including the Pageant of the Juni in the city of Brasov, which is celebrated with parades, and sinzienele, which is observed throughout the country near the time of the summer solstice.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Under communism, the government forced artists to join unions, which supported them but censored their work. Today there is less state support for artists but more creative freedom.

Literature. The national literature traces its roots back to early ballads and folklore. The ballad form, which was most popular between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, often involved pastoral tales sung to the accompaniment of a lute or zither. The best-known folktale is that of Dracula, which was made famous by foreign authors. Ion Creanga, a nineteenth-century writer, was famous for his use of traditional storytelling techniques in fiction and memoirs. More contemporary writers are known for mixing politics, history, and literature. In the late nineteenth century, the Moldavian poet Mihai Eminescu celebrated the country's history and culture. In that period, Ion Luca Caragiale wrote comic plays that dealt with political issues.

Romanian writers have made considerable contributions abroad. Tristan Tzara, who left for France during World War I, was one of the founders of the Dadaist movement. Eugene Ionesco (19121994), another expatriate who lived in France and wrote in French, composed the famous absurdist dramas The Rhinoceros and The Bald Soprano.

Graphic Arts. Traditional art forms include woven wool rugs, pottery, and wood carving. More folk art is preserved in the northwest region of Maramures than anywhere else in the country. Doorways, gates, and windows are carved with elaborate designs. Traditional costumes are also works of art, often displaying elaborate embroidery and a trimming of tiny glass beads.

Several painters rose to prominence in the nineteenth century after studying in Western Europe, including Nicolae Grigorescu, known for landscapes and depictions of rural life, and the portraitist Theodor Aman. Social realism dominated in the post-World War II period as the communist government compelled artists to produce works that glorified industrial workers and political leaders.

The most famous modern artist was Constantin Brancusi (18761957), a sculptor who made his home in France. He worked in wood and metal, creating abstract representations of people and nature. Late in his career, he was invited to create several sculptures for display in Tirgu-Jiu, the village of his birth. His works The Kissing Gate and Table of Silence are in a public park there.

Performance Arts. Romanian folk music is often mournful, such as the doina of the northwest. Common instruments include nai (panpipes), tembal (dulcimer), bacium (a long wooden wind instrument), gorduna (small double bass), and violins. Many folk musicians are Roma.

The national dance is the hora, a circle dance performed at festive occasions. Different regions have unique dances performed in pairs and groups.

Several Romanians have achieved prominence in classical music, including the pianist and conductor Dinu Lipatt and Georges Enesco, a violinist and composer whose work was influenced by traditional folk songs.

Drama companies in Bucharest and other cities' stage productions of classical Romanian works as well as contemporary pieces by national and foreign playwrights.

Early in the twentieth century, Bucharest became one of the centers of Eastern European filmmaking. In 1957, Ion Popescu-Gopo won an award at the Cannes Film Festival for an animated allegorical film called Brief History. Romanian filmmakers dealt with the repressive political environment of the 1970s in "iceberg movies" in which they disguised social and political statements in ostensibly innocent stories.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The communist government gave science and technology priority over the humanities and social sciences. Subjects such as history and literature were tightly censored and viewed as vehicles for ideological indoctrination. Since communism fell, these fields have benefitted from more freedom of expression. The Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Bucharest reopened in the early 1990s after having been defunct for twelve years.

The center of academic research is the Romanian Academy. It has a library of over seven million volumes and a publishing house called Editura Academiei that prints academic papers and journals.


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Web Sites

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Eleanor Stanford

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RomaniaCampania, Catania, pannier •apnoea •Oceania, Tanya, Titania •biennia, denier, quadrennia, quinquennia, septennia, triennia •Albania, balletomania, bibliomania, crania, dipsomania, egomania, erotomania, kleptomania, Lithuania, Lusitania, mania, Mauritania, megalomania, miscellanea, monomania, nymphomania, Pennsylvania, Pomerania, pyromania, Rainier, Romania, Ruritania, Tasmania, Transylvania, Urania •Armenia, bergenia, gardenia, neurasthenia, proscenia, schizophrenia, senior, SloveniaAbyssinia, Bithynia, curvilinear, Gdynia, gloxinia, interlinear, Lavinia, linear, rectilinear, Sardinia, triclinia, Virginia, zinnia •insignia • Sonia • insomnia • Bosnia •California, cornea •Amazonia, ammonia, Antonia, Babylonia, begonia, bonier, Catalonia, catatonia, Cephalonia, Estonia, Ionia, Laconia, Livonia, Macedonia, mahonia, Patagonia, pneumonia, Rondônia, sinfonia, Snowdonia, valonia, zirconia •junior, petunia •hernia, journeyer

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