Romania

Romania is the country settled, with its bigger part, in Southeastern Europe (Balkan) and only partially in middle Europe. With its surface, Romania is the biggest state in southeastern Europe and twelfth in the European continent. In the east, it borders the Black Sea, Moldavia in north-east, Ukraine in the north, Bulgaria in the south, Serbia in the south-west, and Hungary in its northeastern part.

The name

The name of the country, Romania, comes from the name of the city of Rome. This is the proof that the country was once the colony of the Roman Empire.

The country changed its name several times: United Principalities (1859-62), Romanian United Principalities (1862-66), Romania (1866-81), Kingdom of Romania (1881-1947), Romanian People’s Republic (1947-1965), Socialist Republic of Romania (1968-89), and eventually Romania (1989-present).

Some important facts about the country

The capital of Romania is Bucharest. The official language is Romanian. It is important to mention that there are many recognized minority languages such as Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Italian, Serbian, Russian and many others.  Romania is a unitary semi-presidential Republic. Legislature is consisted of the Parliament which consists of Senate and Chamber of Deputies. This is a semi-presidential republic where the executive authority is divided between the President and the Parliament. Current Romanian President is Klaus Iohannis and the Prime Minister Mihai Tudose.

The currency is Romanian Leu (RON). Calling code for Romania is +40. The Patron Saint of the country is Saint Andrew. In this country, you have to drive on the right side of the road.

Romania is a member of the European Union  and NATO.

Most people in Romania are Orthodox (Romanian Orthodox Church). In municipalities where Hungarians and Germans live, Roman Catholic and Protestant Religion are most dominant. On the coast of the Black Sea, a small number of Muslims live.

Romania is divided into 41 counties and the territory of the capital (Bucharest) – municipality.

Flag, Coat of arms and anthem

The Flag

The flag of Romania is a tricolor consisted of three equal vertically placed fields of blue, yellow and red color. This way shaped, the flag was officially accepted in 1989.

It is considered that these colors represent three historical Romanian provinces, Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia. Flags of Kingdom of Romania and Communist Romania were of the same colors only with a coat of arms in the yellow field. The flag with these colors and coat of arms in the yellow field has Moldavia today.

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Romania is a heraldic symbol of the state. This coat of arms is consisted of the golden eagle, a scepter and a sword. The golden eagle holds the cross, which is a symbol of faith, in its beak. A scepter is the symbol of dominance and authority and the sword is the symbol of strength. Three colors found on the coat of arms are the same as the ones on the flag (blue, yellow and red).

Coat of arms of Romania

The shield on the eagle’s chests is divided into five parts. Each part represents one of five historical Romanian provinces. Golden eagle represents Wallachia, the head of the wild boar represents Moldavia, and the dolphins represent Dobruja. Seven castles, eagle, the Sun and the Moon represent Transylvania and the lion represents Banat.

The coat of arms of Romania was changed on July 11th 2016 when the crown from the period of Kingdom of Romania was added.

Anthem

The anthem of Romania is Wake up Romanians. Because of the law there is no official translation of this anthem. This anthem was accepted in 1989. It was also the anthem of Moldavia for a short period (1989-1994).

Historical development of Romania

The modern Romania was formed as a personal union of Principality Moldavia and Wallachia. This new formation got the name Romania (1866). This new country gained its freedom from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina united with Romania after the First World War.

During The Second World War, Romania was a Nazi Germany ally. The country was against Soviet Union. After 1944, the country was occupied by the Red Army and lost several territories. Following these events, Romania became socialistic republic. After the Revolution in 1989, Romania turned to Democracy and capitalist economy.

The period before 1877 was not east at all for Romanians. They lived under the authority of the Ottoman Empire and Romanian people were second-graders. There were even parts in the country where they weren’t allowed to live inside the towns.

During the Russian-Turkish war, Romania took the Russian side. After the Rebellion in 1866, in 1878, the Great Powers as well as Ottoman Empire recognized Romania as an independent country. The period until 1914 was a period of prosperity and progress.

As previously mentioned, Romani was an ally of the Third Reich until 1944 when it switched sides. Even though many Romanian soldiers died fighting against the Nazis, the contribution of Romania was excluded in Paris Peace Conference (1947).

Communism

Romania was the only countries which throw the communist regime away using violent means.

Under the authority of Soviet Union, Communist party was dominant. It even arranged the election which it won (80 percent of votes). This success was actually the product of fear and threats.

In 1947, communists forced Romanian king Miahailo to abdicate and declared Romania National Republic. By the end of 1950s, Romania remained under the direct authority of Soviet Union and military occupation. The regime of terror ruled. Sekuritatea was new secret police. People were killed based on their political believes or economic status. People lived with constant fear for their lives, independent on their political opinion. This was a very hard period, full of fright and torture.

Certain independence was set with Nicolae Ceausescu who took the power in 1965. He led a policy different from Soviet’s policy. What’s characteristic for this period is that Romania was the only member of Warsaw Pact which disapproved Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Romania kept diplomatic relationship with Israel, established diplomatic and economic relations with Germany and close connection with Arabian countries.

This was a step forward for Romania but the problem was that Romanian debt kept growing. The pressure was huge, and foreign politicians were against Ceausescu. But, he initiated the debt repayment project which made people hungry. He made a sort of cult of personality. Soon, in 1989, he was thrown away in Romanian Revolution.

Period after the revolution

After the Revolution, Ion Iliescu, leader of the National Salvation Front, made changes. They appeared in form of multi-party democracy and free market. This party was eventually disbanded, and many other parties were formed.

Today, Romania is a member of NATO since 2004 and a member of the European Union since 2007.

During 2000s, Romania noted huge economic growth, less poverty and improvement of democracy. But, the country still faces the problems of corruption, healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Geography of Romania

The surface of Romania is 238.391square kilometers. This makes it the largest country in Southeastern Europe and twelfth in the entire Europe. Mountains, hills and plains form the relief of the country. Plains are very important.

Mountains in Romania

Important parts of Romanian terrane make the Carpathian Mountains. These mountains are settled in western and central part of the country. The highest peak is Moldoveanu. Caves are very characteristic for Romanian relief. Some of the most important and most beautiful caves are Valea Rea, Movila and Piatra Altarului.

The second largest and well-preserved delta of the Danube River is in Romania. The Danube actually forms a large part of the border with Bulgaria and Serbia. This delta is the World Heritage Site and a biosphere reservation.

Rich in untouched nature, rich and well-preserved woods and many animal species, Romania is one very beautiful country definitely worth seeing.

nature in Romania

Economy, science, technology, infrastructure

After Soviet Union fell apart (1989-91), Romania had a completely outdated industry and technology. Romania struggled with old production capacities and production that couldn’t satisfy the needs of the country.

In 1997, Romania started detailed macro-economic structural reforms, but this period of transition was very hard. However, after the 2000s, Romania became one relatively stable country, in the sense of macro-economy. Less unemployed people, the decline of inflation and economic growth became obvious.

According to the GDP and GDP per capita, Romania is an upper-income country with one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union (2016 World Bank report).

Industry is now more developed, especially car industry (for example Dacia automobiles). In the past few years, the growth of export is apparent (13% in 2010). Romania mostly exports cars, clothes, textiles, software, electronic and electric equipment, raw materials, industrial machinery, etc. Romania is after many changes now attractive for foreign investments.

Improvements were made in the field of infrastructure as well, especially in railway transport and road transport. It is also a country rich in renewable sources of electric energy.

Romania is most certainly one of the fast developing countries but with the necessity to keep on improving and making necessary changes in order to provide better life for its people.

How to get to Romania

There are many ways to reach Romania if you are interested in visiting this interesting country.

If you live somewhere near this country, or you are and adventurer, you can either rent a car or use your own transportation. In Romania you need Rovinieta. You can buy online as well as at any border-crossing point, postal office and most gas stations. Cost of Rovinieta for passenger cars is 3 euros (valid for 7 days) or 7 euros (valid for 30 days). As Romania started investing in its infrastructure, you won’t face many problems on the road (at least not more than in other countries). There are maps that can help you in choosing the best roads and shortest ways to your destination. And traveling on your own will allow you to enjoy the beauties completely.

Railway transport is important in this country and although is not completely arranged (some parts of it are in a really bad shape); it is being developed with more investments every year.

After your own transport, the second place can get air transportation. There are sixty one official airports in the country. Seven of these sixty one are accepted as international airports. Those are: Henri Koanda International airport in Bucharest, Trajan Vuia, Aurel Vlaicu, Kluz-Napoka, Mihail Koglenichanu, Sibiu airport and Arad.

Tourism

Tourism as a branch of economy is very important in this part of the world. It contributes great deal of Romanian economy.

The number of tourists grows every year and according to the researches and World Travel and Tourism Council, Romania is the fourth-fastest- growing country in the world. 9.3 million tourists from Europe and the entire world visited the country in 2016.

Black Sea resorts are the most popular destinations in summer. Skiing in winter is also very popular in Romania, especially ski centers such as Valea Prahovei and Poiana Brasov.

romania black sea

If not the most famous, than definitely one of the best-known and most often visited places in Romania is Dracula’s castle. Every year, thousands of tourists visit this and other Romanian castles. Rural tourism also becomes more and more popular.

Dracula’s castle in Romania
Dracula’s castle

Let’s check some of the most beautiful and most spectacular places in Romania.

Maramuresh is a Romanian historical province settled in northeastern part of the country. Its splendidness and impressive nature will leave you speechless.

Rodna Mountain is the part of the Eastern Carpathians and one of the most significant natural monuments of Maramuresh.

If there is anything that will fascinate you and take your breath away that will be the fields of sunflowers.

It is hard to find the words to describe the mountain Apusheni (meaning west in English). The name of this national park comes from their position. These mountains are settled in the west part of the country. This mountain has the greatest number of caves and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations.

The miracle from the Minis Canyon, as the Bigar Waterfall is known, will impress you with its outstanding beauty. This unusually shaped, incredibly perfect, waterfall, almost eight meters high near its end turns into a countless number of streams. This beauty is settled in the Anina Mountains, between the cities of Bozgovici and Oravita.

One of the most popular Romanian landmarks are, most certainly, old castles that stand as witnesses of big Romanian history as well as tradition. Pelesh, Bran (we can say a Romanian trademark – Dracula’s castle) and many other will definitely charm you.

Beautiful beaches down the coast of the Black Sea, impressive mountains, numerous caves and secretive castles are things that make this country more and more popular for tourist not only from Europe, but from all over the world.

The capital

Bucharest is not only the capital of Romania but also the cultural, industrial and trading center of the country. The city is settled in the south part of the country, on the river Dimbovica, in the historical province Wallachia. Bucharest is also the name of one of the Romanian districts.

This is a beautiful city that carries the nickname Little Paris or The Paris of the East.

Bucharest occupies the territory of 228 square kilometers. According to the list from 2011 there were 1.628.426 inhabitants. This makes the city the sixth city in the European Union according to the size.

Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest
Arcul de Triumf

Bucharest is one very beautiful and great city definitely worth visiting, so if you ever come to Romania, make sure to visit it.

Leisure time

It may not appear so, but there are so many things you can do in Romania. Romanian culture is old and rich. People here love laughing, singing and dancing and of course, they are huge football fans.

World Heritage Sites’ list includes six cultural sites in Romania definitely worth seeing: Painted Churches of Northern Moldavia, Wooden Churches of Maramures, villages in Transylvania, etc. If you ever come to this country visit as many as possible since they are all absolutely great.

Many festivals, museums, cinemas are just one segment of fun time you can have in this interesting country. Especially nice time of the year is around and during Easter.

As previously mentioned, favorite sport among Romanians is football. The most famous and successful club here is Steaua Bucharest. Romanian National Football Team has participated seven World Championships. Second most famous sport is definitely tennis. Other sports people here enjoy are: rugby, judo, chess, basketball, handball, etc.

Romanian cuisine

Romanian cuisine is a mixture of various dishes. All these differences come from numerous traditions that at some time in history touched Romania. But, we cannot avoid mentioning that besides these influences Romanian cuisine kept its peculiarity and traditional taste.

Turkish influence on Romanian cuisine is more than obvious but of many others as well. Adjacent cuisines influenced Romanian in great deal, such as German, Hungarian and Serbian. We have remains of French and Vienna’s dishes, and of other western European countries.

Romans brought many tasty dishes into Romanian cuisine. Traditional Romanian dish Dough with cheese known as Alivenci (Bransoaice or Pasca) was actually inspired by Roman cuisine. Easter is a very special holiday in this country and every year, traditionally, Pasca is made along with Cozonac (a fluffy muffin with nuts, hazelnuts and Turkish delight).

Sometimes, different meals are gathered under a general name. As an example we can take Romanian Chiorba (English-soup). This category includes numerous different types of soups. All these soups have in common is a sore taste. These soups are made of vegetables, meat or tripe flavored with lemon, sour cream, vinegar or traditional borsch (brans of wheat).

The most favorite main dish in Romania is Mititei, soup with meat croquettes and steak. The commonest dish here is Mamaliuga. This is polenta made of corn flour and served as a main dish or a side dish, instead of bread.

Polenta is a very often served dish, lean and rich in fiber that is a Roman heritage. Polenta is cooked from large or finely grinds of corn or white flour and water.  It can be eaten in form of pulp or baked.

When it comes to meat, Romanians mostly choose chicken and pork, but beef and fish are also common.  Romanians are very fond of all kinds of pork products (bacon, ham, chops and others). Meat, vegetables, pulps and salads make the usual lunch in Romania. Vegetables in brine are very popular. This kind of vegetables always follows meat in Romanian cuisine.

One of Romanian specialties is Mamaliuga. This is a traditional, peasant food very often used instead of bread or as a main meal in poor parts of the country. This dish can be densely cooked, especially when it’s served instead of bread. But it can also be cooked thinly, similar to soup. It is commonly served with cheese, sour crème or hot milk. Even though this is the dish of the poor, nowadays, it is served as a specialty in the finest Romanian restaurants.

Being so famous and popular in this country, Mamaliuga is very often a base of some dishes or at least a side dish. Slices of Mamaliuga can be fried in oil or fat which makes them resemble corn bread.

Strong plum schnapps called Tuica is a traditional Romanian beverage alongside the vine with three thousand years long tradition. Ground and climate in Romania are suitable for viticulture and cultivation of different types of grapes. Romanian people enjoy drinking bear as well.

Romania certainly isn’t the richest or perfectly shaped, incredibly developed country in Europe but is for sure one of the most special and extremely beautiful countries. I feel free to say that you couldn’t or cannot even dream of all the nice things this country in progress can give you.

Warm people, who fought for their freedom and went through rough and very hard times, will open their hands for you. You will enjoy in the mountains, the Black Sea, rivers, caves, castles, countryside, food, drinking music, literally everything. You will feel unbroken spirit. Once you make the decision to come here I am sure you won’t resist and you will need, or to feel free to say, have to come back again, since Romania like other countries as well carries its own, special spirit of tradition and history combined with modern life.

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