Romania lies in the northern hemisphere, in the south-eastern Central Europe at the junction with Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula and at the crossroad of important routes. Romania’s area of 238,391 sq. km constitutes 4.8% of Europe’s and 5.4% of the European Union’s surface.
Romania borders the Republic of Moldova in the north-east, Ukraine in the north, Hungary in the north-west, Serbia in the south-west and Bulgaria in the south, with a state border measuring a total length of 3,149.9 km and an additional maritime border 193.5 km long.
Our country’s natural features consist of mountains, hills and plains placed concentrically in tiers with an elevation difference of 2544 m from the sea level to the highest mountain in the Carpathians, Mount Moldoveanu. The montane area, the Carpathian Mountains, represents 31% of the country’s territory. The mountains have often been compared with an orographic stronghold embracing the Transylvanian Plateau inside. In the Western Carpathians there is the longest volcano chain in Europe whilst the Eastern Carpathians contain important ore deposits of gold and silver.
Romania’s position on the Globe, half-distance between the Equator and the North Pole, endows it with a temperate-continental climate with oceanic influences in the western and central regions, Mediterranean in the south-west, excessive-continental in the east, Scandinavian-Baltic in the north-east and Black Sea influences in the south-east.
Romania’s territory is administratively divided in communes (with their component villages), towns and cities (some of them asserted municipalities) and counties. The 41 counties together with Bucharest represent the traditional territorial-administrative divisions of Romania, based on geographical, economic, social, political conditions and on the population’s traditional and cultural roots.
In the 2011 census Romania’s population numbered 20,121,641 inhabitants, a figure that places Romania among middle countries, the seventh within the European Union and the 58th in the world (according to Eurostat). The main cities of the country, whose populations exceed 100 thousand inhabitants, are Cluj-Napoca, Timişoara, Iaşi, Constanţa, Craiova, Braşov, Galaţi, Ploieşti, Oradea, Brăila, Arad, Piteşti, Sibiu, Bacău, Târgu-Mureş, Baia Mare, Buzău, Botoşani and Satu Mare.
The rural space has a surface of 207,522 sq. km which represents 87.1% of the country’s territory and concentrates 9.2 million inhabitants (46.0% of the total population).
Agriculture represents a basic branch of the national economy with a share of 5.6% of the GDP (2013). Agriculture’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is significant compared to the average in EU (1.7%). Relative to the other European Union members, Romania has the greatest percentage of the people employed in agriculture (29.3% in 2012) compared to a EU average of 5.7%.
In 2013 the industry concentrated 1.28 million employees and contributed 24.4% to the GDP. The most important branches, attractive to foreign investors as well, are textile and garment industry, metallurgic industry, heavy engineering industry, petrochemical and lumber industry. Technology and communication are developing branches taking advantage from a high quality of the human resources and a high level of expertise.
Romania’s touristic potential distinguishes itself by a great variety of natural features as well as cultural resources of great value. The natural potential is augmented by the anthropic touristic resources, especially the cultural and historical ones, complemented by the existence of archeological sites, Dacian, Roman and Medieval remains, churches and monasteries, architectural edifices (palaces and castles), museums, the remarkable richness and diversity of ethnic and folklore traditions and the folk architecture. The touristic waves have been increasing; in 2014 Romania was visited by 8.46 million tourists with a 22.6% share of foreign tourists.
Geographical synthesis devised with the help of the Institute of Geography of the Romanian Academy
Sources of the data:
România. Spaţiu, Societate, Mediu (2005), Editura Academiei Române, Bucureşti. (Romania: Space, Society, Environment)
Population and Dwellings Census 1992, 2002, 2011
Anuarul Statistic al României, 2011, Institutul Naţional de Statistică
(Romanian Statistical Yearbook, 2011, National Institute of Statistics)
Historical Key Facts
The ancient age. The geographical location was substantially significant for the history of the Romanians as it represented an extremely important factor of political cohesion. The earliest inhabitants of the Romanian land, mentioned in the written historical sources, consisted of the Dacians (Getae by the Greek nomenclature) as an ethno-historical unit distinguished from the great family of the Thracians. During the first millenium before Christ the Dacians created their own civilization and constituted a state that, under the rule of King Burebista (around 82-44 BC) – contemporary of and opponent to Julius Caesar – reached a great extent and power.
Ensuing hard battles, in AD 106, the Dacian land was conquered by the Romans. Intestine rebellions and the pressure of „barbarian” populations, in AD 271 determined the withdrawal of the Roman army and administration. The remaining Dacian-Roman population continued their ancient living and working. As a result of the Roman governance in Dacia, lasting for 165 years, and of the previous Roman influence, Vulgar Latin became the common language both for the indigenes and for the colonists brought from Italy and from different other provinces of the Roman Empire.
Despite a thousand year lasting various invasions of migrating populations - Goths, Huns, Gepids, Slavs, Avars, Magyars and others – the Dacian-Roman population had been unceasingly living on the land of the ancient Dacia, according to the proofs of historical, archeological, numismatic, epigraphic, linguistic and ethnographic research.
The Medieval age. During the second half of the first millennium AD the process of developing the Dacian-Roman population into the Romanian people and Vulgar Latin into the Romanian language had been accomplished and the first state formations had emerged. Since the 10th century, historical documents mentioned the names of Romanian rulers as Gelu, Menumorut and Glad for Transylvania and Banat. In the same period, historical sources attest similar state formations in the Lower Danube regions and in Dobrogea. The Transylvanian state formations which had reached a high level of organisation, after long-lasting and stubborn resistance, were forced to surrender to the military pressure of the Magyars. During the 11th and 12th centuries Transylvania was consecutively dominated by the Magyar kings while preserving its own organisation. To enforce their domination, the Magyar kings colonised Transylvania with different groups of allogeneic populations – Saxons and Szeklers. The social oppression upon the Transylvanian peasantry added to an ethnic oppression upon the Romanian peasantry generated a long series of social rebellions reaching a climax with the great revolts in 1437 and 1514.
In the 14th century the unified previous state organisations south and east of the Carpathians constituted The Romanian Land (Wallachia) and Moldavia. The Romanian states played an important political, military, economic and cultural role in this part of Europe. The founders of the independent Romanian states, kings Basarab I (1324 – 1352) and Bogdan I (1359 – 1365) impeded the expanding attempts of the great neighbouring states. They concurrently defined the foreign politics guidelines safeguarding their independence.
Through lasting wars led by the kings Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Elder, 1386 – 1418), Iancu de Hunedoara (Iancu of Hunedoara, 1441 – 1456), Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler, 1456 – 1462) and Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great, 1457 – 1404), Wallachia and Moldavia imposed to the hegemonic neighbouring states to observe their statehood. In the 15th century, the two historical regions were forced to obey the Ottoman sovereignty.
At the beginning of the 16th century, ensuing the collapse of the Magyar kingdom, Transylvania became an autonomous state subjected to the Ottoman sovereignty, sharing the same political regime with the sibling countries, Wallachia and Moldavia. This facilitated the strengthening of the economic and political links among the Romanian Countries based on their ethnic, linguistic and cultural unity.
An outstanding moment in the Romanian history was the reign of Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave, 1593 – 1601) when the three Romanian countries - Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia - gained their independence and temporarily achieved their unification for the first time. The Romanian solidarity spelled out by the newly formed state’s name, Dacia, a name that was mentioned again within the scientific and political discourse by the Renaissance, gained new values during the 17th and 18th centuries. The most outstanding of the Romanian rulers, successors of Michael the Brave, in various ways nurtured to reestablish the ancient Dacia.
The modern age. At the end of the 17th century (1699), ensuing Austrians victories against the Turks, Transylvania was occupied by the Habsburg emperors. The permanent struggle for social and national freedom of the Romanians in Transylvania which was encouraged at the cultural level by an entire constellation of Romanian scholars, forced the Habsburg Empire to repeatedly concede to the Romanian ethnics, who were in a majority in Transylvania. The Romanians’ struggle for social and national emancipation found an eloquent expression in the revolt in Transylvania, in 1784 under the lead of Horea, Cloşca and Crişan and in the revolutionary social movement in Wallachia, in 1821, led by Tudor Vladimirescu.
An important stage in the process of the Romanian people’s emancipation was the 1848 Revolution when the Romanian revolutionaries drew up a comprehensive programme of social and political requests and expressed the necessity that all Romanians be unified in a unique state.
The first step in the process of completing the Romanian people’s national unity was fulfilled when, in 1859, Wallachia unified with Moldavia, simultaneously electing Alexandru Ioan Cuza as ruler of the two states. During Alexandru Ioan Cuza’s reign there were numerous reforms launched to modernise the state. Following Alexandru Ioan Cuza’s abdication, in February 1866, the country offered the crown to Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the founder of the Romanian royal dynasty. Through his wise politics, Carol consolidated his predecessor’s achievements thus preparing the completion of national unity.
In 1877 Romania proclaimed independence, endorsed by the Romanian army’s victories in the Russian-Romanian-Turkish war. The modern state Romania, now independent and a kingdom since 1881, became the polarizing centre of the entire Romanian nation and the Romanians in the still subjected Romanian regions laid all their expectations on Bucharest.
Reigned by King Ferdinand I, in 1916, Romania entered the war alongside France, England, Italy and Russia with the goal of concluding its national unity. Throughout 1918 the process of political unification of Romania was completed. It initiated on March 27th/April 9th with uniting Bessarabia and consecutively joining Bukovina on November 15th/28th and reached a climax with the act on November 18th/December 1st when The Great National Assembly at Alba-Iulia proclaimed The Union of all Romanians in Transylvania, Banat and The Hungarian Land with Romania, „ once and for all”.
The contemporary period. In the postwar period Romania took important steps in consolidating its position as a national state, struggled for the European security playing an important role within the League of Nations, in organising the Little Entente and the Balkan Pact and in firmly fighting revisionism and fascism.
In July 1940, after an ultimatum, Bessarabia and Bukovina were to be ceded to the Soviet Union and ensuing the pressure of the fascist powers, Germany and Italy, by the Vienna Award, Romania was dispossessed of the Northern Transylvania which was occupied by Horthy’s troops. In the autumn of 1940 Hitler’s troops entered the country and imposed the German domination. Consequently, on 21st July 1941, under Marshal Ion Antonescu’s regime, Romania was taken into war against USSR.
Ensuing the act on 23rd August 1944 Antonescu’s government was abolished. Switching sides against Germany, Romania offered its entire economic and military potential to the antifascist coalition, waging the war until victory was gained, in May 1945. Through Paris Peace Treaty (10th February 1946) the Vienna Award was abrogated; Romania regained Northern Transylvania whereas Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Herţa County remained under the soviet occupation. Under the soviet influence, the communists took over Romania. In 1946 Marshal Ion Antonescu was executed. Eventually King Mihai I was forced to abdicate, in December 1947, followed by the physical elimination of the democratic opposition, in the subsequent years.
The worsening of social life, mainly after the 80s last century, through fostering Nicolae Ceausescu’s personality cult, the excessive centralisation of the economy having negative impact on its development, the lowering of the population’s life standard, the progressive isolation of Romania abroad led to an increasing dissatisfaction of the people and to overthrowing the dictatorial regime by force on 22nd December 1989.
Since 1990 Romania has been experiencing a multiparty democratic regime, has launched the economic reform towards a market economy, reintegrating the country in the European economic, political and cultural dimension.
In October 1993 Romania joined the Council of Europe as a full-fledged member and at the beginning of 1994 entered the Partnership for Peace with the North-Atlantic Treaty; in 2002 gained the status of invited and in 2004 officially joined NATO. At the beginning of 2007 Romania acceded the European Union as a full beneficiary and provider.
Historical synthesis by Academy of Romania