Romania (/roʊˈmeɪniə/ roh-MAY-nee-ə; dated: Roumania; or Rumania;Romanian: România [romɨˈni.a] ( listen)) is a country located at the intersection of Central and Southeastern Europe, bordering on the Black Sea. Romania shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and Moldova to the northeast and east, and Bulgaria to the south. At 238,400 square kilometers (92,000 sq mi), Romania is the ninth largest country of the European Union by area, and has the seventh largest population of the European Union with over 19 million people. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, the tenth largest city in the EU, with a population of around two million.
The United Principalities emerged when the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were united under Prince Alexander Ioan Cuza in 1859. In 1881, Carol I of Romania was crowned, forming the Kingdom of Romania. Independence from the Ottoman Empire was declared on 9 May 1877, and was internationally recognized the following year. At the end of World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia united with the Kingdom of Romania. Greater Romania emerged into an era of progression and prosperity that would continue until the eve of World War II. That war caused the rise of a military dictatorship in Romania, leading it to fight on the side of the Axis powers from 1941 to 1944. It then switched sides in 1944 and joined the Allies. By the end of the war, many north-eastern areas of Romania's territories were occupied by the Soviet Union, and Romania forcibly became a socialist republic and a member of the Warsaw Pact.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the 1989 Revolution, Romania began its transition towards democracy and a capitalist market economy. After a decade of post-revolution economic problems and living standards decline, extensive reforms fostered economic recovery. As of 2010, Romania is an upper middle-income country with high human development.
Romania joined NATO on 29 March 2004, the European Union on 1 January 2007 and is also a member of the Latin Union; the Francophonie; the OSCE; the WTO; the BSEC; and the United Nations. Today, Romania is a unitary semi-presidential republic, in which the executive branch consists of the President and the Government.
The name România is a derivative of the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome". The first mention of the appellation was made in the 16th century by Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia.
The oldest surviving document written in Romanian, a 1521 letter known as the "Letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung", is also notable for having the first documented occurrence of the country's name: Wallachia is mentioned as Țeara Rumânească ("The Romanian Land", țeara from the Latin terra, "land"; current spelling: Țara Românească).
Two spelling forms: român and rumân were used interchangeably until socio-linguistic evolutions in the late 17th century led to a process of semantic differentiation: the form rumân received the meaning of "bondsman", while the form român kept an ethno-linguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the form rumân gradually disappeared and the spelling stabilised to the form român.Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used the term Rumânia to refer exclusively to the principality of Wallachia.
The name România as common homeland of all Romanians is documented in the early 19th century. The name has been officially in use since 11 December 1861. English-language sources still used the terms Rumania or Roumania, derived from the French spelling Roumanie, as recently as World War II, but the name has since been replaced with the official spelling Romania.
Prehistory and antiquity
Some 42,000-year-old human remains were discovered in the "Cave With Bones", and being Europe’s oldest remains of Homo sapiens, they may represent the first modern humans to have entered the continent. The Neolithic Age Cucuteni area in Northeast Romania was the Western region of the earliest European civilization known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture.
The earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania, the Getae, comes from Herodotus, in his Histories book IV (c. 440 BC). Territories located north of the Danube were inhabited by Dacians, which are considered a part of the Getae tribes mentioned by Herodotus, a branch of Thracian peoples. The Dacian kingdom reached its peak between 82–44 BC during the reign of Burebista.
Roman emperor Domitian led military campaigns in the region between 87–88 AD at Tapae. Roman incursions continued in 101–102 AD and 105–106 AD under Trajan, who successfully defeated Dacia and annexed its southwestern parts to the vast Roman Empire. The Dacian population subsequently underwent the ethno-linguistic process of Romanization and the conquered parts became an imperial province. Due to Dacia's rich ore deposits (especially gold and silver), Rome brought colonists from all over the empire. This introduced Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization that would give birth to the Proto-Romanian language. During the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, making it the first province to be abandoned.
After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by various migratory populations including Goths,Huns,Gepids,Avars,Bulgars,Pechenegs, and Cumans. Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube in the regions previously colonized by Romans.
Gesta Hungarorum mentioned the existence of three voivodeships in Transylvania in the 9th century: the Voivodeship of Gelou, the Voivodeship of Glad and the Voivodeship of Menumorut. The anonymous author describes the first as Vlach. Another voivodeship, ruled by Gyula, was mentioned in the 11th century. A 1176 Old Bulgarian inscription attests the existence of a župan Dimitri that ruled over Dobrogea in 943.
In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Țara Românească – "Romanian Land"), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania (Romanian: Transilvania). By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and became independent as the Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century, until 1711. In Wallachia and Moldavia, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century did the larger principalities of Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerge to fight the threat of the Ottoman Empire. Both territories inhabited by Romanians have achieved the independence from the Hungarian Crown after military conflicts (Battle of Posada, 1330) or social conflicts (Moldavian boyars revolt against Hungary, 1364), these historical events being initiated by Basarab I of Wallachia (1310–1352) and Bogdan I of Moldavia (1359–1365).
By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania were under Ottoman suzerainty, preserving partial-full internal autonomy until middle of the 19th century (Transylvania to 1699). During this period, the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system. A few rulers of present-day Romanian territories distinguished themselves: these rulers include Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia; Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia; and John Hunyadi (Ioannes Corvinus) and Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania.
In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was assassinated only one year later. After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldavia and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and external independence, which were finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs' Austrian empire following the Austrian victory over the Turks in the Great Turkish War. The Habsburgs in turn expanded their empire in 1718 to include an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia (which was returned only in 1739), and in 1775 over the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina. The eastern half of the Moldavian principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.
Independence and monarchy
During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were considered second-class citizens or even non-citizens in a territory where they formed the majority of the population. In some Transylvanian cities, such as Brașov or Timişoara, Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.
Following the Wallachian uprising of 1821, more uprisings followed in 1848 in Wallachia as well as Moldavia. The flag adopted for Wallachia by the revolutionaries was a blue-yellow-red tricolour (with blue above, in line with the meaning "Liberty, Justice, Fraternity"), while Romanian students in Paris hailed the new government with the same flag "as a symbol of union between Moldavians and Muntenians". This flag would later become the adopted as the flag of Romania. But after the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians' expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, which forced Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person –Alexandru Ioan Cuza– as prince (Domnitor in Romanian). Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit without including Transylvania. There, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian, even though the Romanians were by far the most numerous ethnic Transylvanian group and constituted the absolute majority.
In a 1866 coup d'état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, and in the Treaty of San Stefano and the Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers. In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.
The 1878–1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.
World Wars and Greater Romania
In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under pressure from the Allies, on 27 August 1916, Romania joined the Allies, declaring war on Austria-Hungary. For this action, under the terms of the secret military convention, Romania was promised support for its goal of national unity for all Romanian people.
The Romanian military campaign began disastrously for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country within months. Nevertheless, Moldavia remained in Romanian hands and the invading forces were stopped in 1917. Total deaths from 1914 to 1918, military and civilian, within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000. By the war's end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed and disintegrated; Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania proclaimed unions with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary was forced to renounce in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania. The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain, and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.
The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation "Great Romania", but more commonly rendered "Greater Romania"), generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time. Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2/120,000 sq mi), managing to unite essentially all of the territories inhabited by Romanians.
During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on 28 June 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance. Under Nazi and Soviet pressure, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from northern Bukovina to avoid war. This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was ceded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration. The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, and succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers.
During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany, which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general, later marshal, Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust, following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romma, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia.Jewish holocaust victims totaled at least 280,000 and 11,000 Romani victims.
In August 1944, Marshal Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania and the country changed sides and joined the Allies. But its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947; even though the Romanian Army had suffered 170,000 casualties after switching sides.
During the Soviet occupation of Romania, the Communist-dominated government called new elections, which were won with 80% of the vote. They thus rapidly established themselves as the dominant political force. In 1947, the Communists forced King Michael I to abdicate and leave the country, and proclaimed Romania a people's republic. Romania remained under the direct military occupation and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania's vast natural resources were continuously drained by mixed Soviet-Romanian companies (SovRoms) set up for exploitative purposes.
In 1948, the state began to nationalize private firms, and to collectivize agriculture the following year. From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, the Communist government established a reign of terror, carried out mainly through the Securitate (the secret police). During this time they launched several campaigns to eliminate "enemies of the state", in which numerous individuals were killed or imprisoned for political or economic reasons. Punishment included deportation, internal exile, and internment in forced labour camps and prisons; dissent was vigorously suppressed. Nevertheless, Romanian armed opposition to communist rule was one of the longest-lasting in the Eastern Bloc.
In 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power and started to pursue independent policies, such as being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967 and establishing diplomatic relations with West Germany the same year, economic links having been set up in 1963. Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel–Egypt and Israel–PLO peace processes. But as Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from US$3 to 10 billion), the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceaușescu's autocratic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority of the police state, and imposing a cult of personality. Although these led to a dramatic decrease in Ceaușescu's popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989, by that time Romania's foreign debt was almost completely paid-off. A 2006 Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania estimated that the number of direct victims[clarification needed] of communist repression at two million people. This number does not include people who died in liberty as a result of their treatment in communist prisons, nor does it include people who died because of the dire economic circumstances in which the country found itself.
After the revolution, the National Salvation Front (NSF), led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures. Several major political parties of the pre-war era were resurrected. After major political rallies, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in University Square, Bucharest, accusing the NSF of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters called the election undemocratic and asked for the exclusion from political life of former high-ranking Communist Party members, such as Iliescu himself. The protest rapidly grew to become what president Iliescu called the Golaniad. The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, prompting the intervention of coal miners, summoned by Iliescu in June 1990, from the Jiu Valley. This episode has been documented widely by both local and foreign media, and is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.
The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and the Alliance for Romania. The former governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been several democratic changes of government: in 1996 the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Băsescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance. Băsescu was narrowly re-elected in 2009.
Post–Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting the 2008 summit in Bucharest. The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on 1 January 2007. Following the free travel agreement and politics of the post–Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
During the 2000s, Romania enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in Europe and has been referred to as "the Tiger of Eastern Europe." This has been accompanied by a significant improvement in human development. The country has been successful in reducing internal poverty and establishing a functional democracy. However, Romania's development suffered a major setback during the late-2000s recession as a large gross domestic product contraction and a large budget deficit in 2009 led to Romania borrowing heavily, eventually becoming the largest debtor to the International Monetary Fund in 2010. Worsening economic conditions led to popular unrest and eventually to a political crisis in 2012. Romania still faces issues related to infrastructure, medical services, education, and corruption.
With a surface area of 238,391 square kilometres (92,043 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in southeastern Europe and the twelfth-largest in Europe. It lies between latitudes 43° and 49° N, and longitudes 20° and 30° E.
Romania's terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountainous, hilly and lowland territories. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the centre of Romania, with 14 mountain ranges reaching above 2,000 m/6,600 ft, and the highest point at Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m/8,346 ft). These are surrounded by the Moldavian and Transylvanian plateaus and Pannonian and Wallachian plains. Romania's geographical diversity has led to an accompanying diversity of flora and fauna.
A large part of Romania's border with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube. The Prut River, one of its major tributaries, forms the border with the Republic of Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea within Romania's territory forming the Danube Delta, the second largest and best preserved delta in Europe, and also a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. Other major rivers are the Siret (596 km), the Olt (614 km), the Someș (388 km), and the Mureș (761 km).
Lakes and lake complexes have a low share throughout Romania, occupying only 1.1% of total land area. The largest lake complex in size is Razelm-Sinoe (731 km²), located on the Black Sea seaside. Glacial lakes exist in the Făgăraș Mountains, a result of quaternary glaciation, of which the largest are: Lake Avrig (14,700 m²), Bâlea Lake (46,500 m²), Capra Lake (18,000 m²), etc. Other notable lakes are Lake Sfânta Ana, the only volcanic lake in Romania, and Red Lake, a natural dam lake, both situated in Harghita County.
Owing to its distance from the open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is transitional between temperate and continental, with four distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is 11 °C (52 °F) in the south and 8 °C (46 °F) in the north. The extreme recorded temperatures were 44.5 °C (112.1 °F) at Ion Sion in 1951 and −38.5 °C (−37.3 °F) at Bod in 1942.
Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days. Summers are generally very warm to hot, with summer (June to August) average maximum temperatures in Bucharest rising to 28 °C (82 °F), and temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) fairly common in the lower-lying areas of the country. Minima in Bucharest and other lower-lying areas are around 16 °C (61 °F). Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage. Winters can be cold, with average maxima even in lower-lying areas reaching no more than 2 °C (36 °F) and below −15 °C (5 °F) in the highest mountains. Precipitation is average with over 750 mm (30 in) per year only on the highest western mountains—much of it falling as snow, which allows for an extensive skiing industry. In the south-central parts of the country (around Bucharest) the level of precipitation drops to around 600 mm (24 in), while in the Danube Delta, rainfall levels are very low, and average only around 370 mm (15 in).
Because of Romania's geographic location, respectively the regional orographic peculiarities, there exists a varied range of local winds. Humid winds from the northwest are most common, but often the drier winds from the northeast are strongest. A hot southwesterly wind, the austru (cf. lat. Auster), blows over western Romania, particularly in summer. In winter, cold and dense air masses encircle the eastern portions of the country, with the cold northeasterly known as the crivăț blowing in from the Russian Plain, and oceanic air masses from the Azores, in the west, bring rain and mitigate the severity of the cold. Other wind types present locally are nemirul, black wind, foehn, băltărețul, zephyr, cosava etc. Romania enjoys four seasons, though there is a rapid transition from winter to summer. Autumn is frequently longer, with dry warm weather from September to late November.
A high percentage (47% of the land area) of the country is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Since almost half of all forests in Romania (13% of the country) have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. The integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. There are also almost 400 unique species of mammals (of which Carpathian chamois are best known), birds, reptiles and amphibians in Romania. The fauna consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate.
Some 3,700 plant species have been identified in the country, from which to date 23 have been declared natural monuments, 74 missing, 39 endangered, 171 vulnerable and 1,253 rare. The three major vegetation areas in Romania are the alpine zone, the forest zone and the steppe zone. The vegetation is distributed in a storied manner in accordance with the characteristics of soil and climate and includes various species of oaks, sycamores, beeches, spruces, firs, willows, poplars, meadows, and pines.
There are almost 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (about 5% of the total area) of protected areas in Romania covering 13 national parks and three biosphere reserves: the Danube Delta, Retezat National Park, and Rodna National Park. The Danube Delta Reserve Biosphere is the largest and least damaged wetland complex in Europe, covering a total area of 5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi). The significance of the biodiversity of the Danube Delta has been internationally recognised. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in September 1990, a Ramsar site in May 1991, and over 50% of its area was placed on the World Heritage List in December 1991. Within its boundaries lies one of the most extensive reed bed systems in the world.
Romania is divided into 41 counties and the municipality of Bucharest. Each county is administered by a county council, responsible for local affairs, as well as a prefect responsible for the administration of national affairs at the county level. The prefect is appointed by the central government but cannot be a member of any political party.
Each county is further subdivided into cities and communes, which have their own mayor and local council. There are a total of 319 cities and 2,686 communes in Romania. A total of 103 of the larger cities have municipality statuses, which gives them greater administrative power over local affairs. The municipality of Bucharest is a special case as it enjoys a status on par to that of a county. It is further divided into six sectors and has a prefect, a general mayor, and a general city council.
The NUTS-3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) level divisions of European Union reflect Romania's administrative-territorial structure, and correspond to the 41 counties plus Bucharest. The cities and communes correspond to the NUTS-5 level divisions, but there are no current NUTS-4 level divisions. The NUTS-1 (four macroregions) and NUTS-2 (eight development regions) divisions exist but have no administrative capacity, and are instead used for coordinating regional development projects and statistical purposes.
The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France's Fifth Republic and was approved in a national referendum on 8 December 1991. A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with European Union legislation. The country is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Romania is a semi-presidential republic where executive functions are held by both government and the president. The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, each term lasts five years. He appoints the prime minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers (based at Victoria Palace). The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (residing at the Palace of the Parliament), consists of two chambers – the Senate with 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies with 346 members. The members of both chambers are elected every four years by simple plurality.
The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature. The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituțională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can be amended by only a public referendum, the last of which took place in 2003. Since this amendment, the court's decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament.
The country's entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU, and Romania was ranked, together with Bulgaria and Greece, as the most corrupt EU country by Transparency International in 2009.
Since December 1989, Romania has pursued a policy of strengthening relations with the West in general, more specifically with the United States and the European Union. It joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on 29 March 2004, the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007, while it had joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1972, and is a founding member of the World Trade Organization.
The current government has stated its goal of strengthening ties with and helping other Eastern European countries (in particular Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia) with the process of integration with the West. Romania has also made clear since the late 1990s that it supports NATO and EU membership for the democratic former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Romania also declared its public support for Turkey, and Croatia joining the European Union. With Turkey, Romania shares a privileged economic relation. Because it has a large Hungarian minority, Romania has also developed strong relations with Hungary. Romania opted on 1 January 2007, to adhere the Schengen Area, an area of free movement in Europe that comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries. Romania's bid to join the Schengen Area was approved by the European Parliament in June 2011 and is currently being considered by the Council of Ministers. Prospective implementation date is May 2012, following that to Romania will be conferred the relapse to international travel with border controls for travellers circulating in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls.
In December 2005, President Traian Băsescu and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement that would allow a U.S. military presence at several Romanian facilities primarily in the eastern part of the country. In May 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that "Romania is one of the most trustworthy and respectable partners of the USA" during a visit of the Romanian foreign minister.
Relations with Moldova are a special case, considering that the two countries practically share the same language, and a fairly common historical background. A movement for unification of Romania and Moldova appeared in the early 1990s after both countries achieved emancipation from communist rule, but lost ground in the mid-1990s when a new Moldovan government pursued an agenda towards preserving a Moldovan republic independent of Romania. Romania remains interested in Moldovan affairs and has officially rejected the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, but the two countries have been unable so far to reach agreement on a basic bilateral treaty. After the 2009 protests in Moldova and subsequent removal of Communists from power, relations between the two countries have improved considerably. On 3 May 2011, after the stabilisation of the Moldovan political situation, the Romanian prime - minister M.R. Ungureanu and the Moldovan premier Vladimir Filat held a joint governmment meeting in Iași, where they signed 8 bilateral strategic military and economic agreements.
The Romanian Armed Forces consist of Land, Air, and Naval Forces, and are led by a Commander-in-chief who is managed by the Ministry of Defense. The president is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces during wartime. Of the 90,000 men and women that comprise the Armed Forces, approximately 15,000 are civilians and 75,000 are military personnel—45,800 for land, 13,250 for air, 6,800 for naval forces, and 8,800 in other fields. The total defence spending in 2007 accounted for 2.05% of total national GDP, or approximately US$2.9 billion (39th in the world), and a total of about 11 billion were spent between 2006 and 2011 for modernization and acquisition of new equipment.
The Land Forces have overhauled their equipment in the past few years, and are actively participating in the War in Afghanistan. The Air Force currently operates modernized Soviet MiG-21 LanceR fighters which are due to be replaced by new fighters by 2013, according to present plans. However due to poor economical conditions this may change. The Air Force purchased seven new C-27J Spartan tactical airlift to replace the bulk of the old transport force. Two modernized Type 22 frigates were acquired by the Naval Forces in 2004 from the Royal Navy, and a further four modern missile corvettes have been commissioned by 2010.
Romanian troops participated in the occupation of Iraq, reaching a peak of 730 soldiers before being slowly drawn down to 350 soldiers. Romania terminated its mission in Iraq and withdrew its last troops on 24 July 2009, among the last countries to do so. Romania currently has some 1,900 troops deployed in Afghanistan.
The unemployment rate in Romania has been relatively low in recent years and stands at around 5% in 2011.
In the late 2000s, nearly 10 percent of the population was in absolute poverty and of these, 90% live in rural areas.
A set of reforming programs has been started in 1999 introducing private health insurance. The pension system was also reformed. The state-run health care system is free, but suffers from neglect and has deteriorated in recent years due to lack of funding and underpaid staff. In many cases, the patients are bribing the clinic or hospital staff to get better treatment. There is evidence to suggest that a patient's wealth plays an important role in how they receive medical treatment.
By the first quarter of 2011, the average monthly household income is 2,318 lei (equivalent to approximately $862). The difference between countryside and urban area may vary; the income is 36 per-cent higher in the urban areas than in the countryside.
In 2010, the average monthly pension in Romania was 734 lei, or €170. The current average retirement age (55 years for men and 57 years for women) will be gradually increased until 2014 to 60 years for women and 65 years for men.
Many of the Romanian Romani people have no identity cards and are therefore excluded from the social benefit systems, schools and health care.
With a GDP of around $267 billion and a GDP per capita (PPP) of $12,476 for the year 2011, Romania is an upper-middle income country economy and has been part of the European Union since 1 January 2007.
After the Communist regime was overthrown in late 1989, the country experienced a decade of economic instability and decline, led in part by an obsolete industrial base and a lack of structural reform. From 2000 onwards, however, the Romanian economy was transformed into one of relative macroeconomic stability, characterised by high growth, low unemployment and declining inflation. In 2006, according to the Romanian Statistics Office, GDP growth in real terms was recorded at 7.7%, one of the highest rates in Europe. Growth dampened to 6.1% in 2007, but was expected to exceed 8% in 2008 because of a high production forecast in agriculture (30–50% higher than in 2007). The GDP grew by 8.9% in the first nine months of 2008, but growth fell to 2.9% in the fourth quarter and stood at 7.1% for the whole 2008 because of the financial crisis. Thereafter, the country fell into a recession in 2009 and 2010, where the GDP contracted −7.1% and −1.3% respectively. It is estimated by the IMF that the GDP will grow again by 1.5% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2012.
According to Eurostat data, the Romanian PPS GDP per capita stood at 46% of the EU average in 2010. In March 2012, the net average monthly wage in the country was $467 - one of the lowest in the EU. Inflation in 2010 was 6.1%. Unemployment in Romania was at 7.6% in 2010, which is very low compared to other middle-sized or large European countries such as Poland, France and Spain. General government gross debt is also comparatively low, at 34.8% of GDP. Exports have increased substantially in the past few years, with a 13% annual rise in exports in 2010. Romania's main exports are cars, software, clothing and textiles, industrial machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, metallurgic products, raw materials, military equipment, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, and flowers). Trade is mostly centred on the member states of the European Union, with Germany and Italy being the country's single largest trading partners. The current account balance in 2010 held a deficit of $6.842 billion.
After a series of privatisations and reforms in the late 1990s and 2000s (decade), government intervention in the Romanian economy is somewhat lower than in other European economies. In 2005, the government replaced Romania's progressive tax system with a flat tax of 16% for both personal income and corporate profit, resulting in the country having one of the lowest fiscal burdens in the European Union, a factor which has contributed to the growth of the private sector. The economy is predominantly based on services, which account for 51.2% of GDP, even though industry and agriculture also have significant contributions, making up 36% and 12.8% of GDP, respectively. Additionally, 29.6% of the Romanian population was employed in 2006 in agriculture and primary production, one of the highest rates in Europe.
Since 2000, Romania has attracted increasing amounts of foreign investment, becoming the single largest investment destination in Southeastern and Central Europe. Foreign direct investment was valued at €8.3 billion in 2006. According to a 2011 World Bank report, Romania currently ranks 72nd out of 175 economies in the ease of doing business, scoring lower than other countries in the region such as the Czech Republic. Additionally, a study in 2006 judged it to be the world's second-fastest economic reformer (after Georgia).
During the first quarter of 2011, the average monthly household income was 2,318 Romanian lei, equating to approximately US$ 867 based on international exchange rates, and US$ 1170 based on purchasing power parity. In 2009, the Romanian economy contracted as a result of the global economic downturn. Gross domestic product contracted 7.2% in the fourth quarter of 2009 from the same period a year earlier, and the budget deficit for 2009 reached 7.2% of GDP. Industrial output growth however reached 6.9% year-on-year in December 2009, the highest in the EU-27.
All transportation infrastructure in Romania is the property of the state, and is administered by the Ministry of Transports, Constructions and Tourism, except when operated as a concession, in which case the concessions are made by the Ministry of Administration and Interior.
According to the CIA Factbook, Romania total road network is estimated to be 81,713 km long (excluding urban areas), out of which 66,632 km are paved and 15,081 km (2009) are unpaved. The World Bank estimates that the road network that is outside of cities and communes (i.e. excluding streets and village roads) is about 78,000 km long. There are plans to build a 2,262.7 km-long motorway system, consisting of six main motorways and six bypass motorways, as of 2011, 371.5 km are built and 845 km have construction contracts under way.
Due to its location, Romania is a major crossroad for international economic exchange in Europe. However, because of insufficient investment, maintenance and repair, the transport infrastructure does not meet the current needs of a market economy and lags behind Western Europe. Nevertheless, these conditions are rapidly improving and catching up with the standards of Trans-European transport networks. Several projects have been started with funding from grants from ISPA and several loans from International Financial Institutions (World Bank, IMF, etc.) guaranteed by the state, to upgrade the main road corridors. Also, the Government is actively pursuing new external financing or public-private partnerships to further upgrade the main roads, and especially the country's motorway network.
Romania has a relatively well-developed airport infrastructure compared to other countries in Eastern Europe, but still underdeveloped compared to Western European standards. There are 17 commercial airports in service today, most of them opened for international traffic. Five of the airports (OTP, BBU, TSR, CND, SBZ) have runways of over 3,000 meters in length and are capable of handling wide-body aircraft. Three of the airports (BCM, CRA, SUJ) have runways of 2,500 meters in length, while the rest of them have runways of 1,800 to 2,000 meters. As of December 2006, TCE and CSB are the only airports with no regular flights. Almost all the airports have experienced traffic growth in the last 4 years.
The World Bank estimates that the railway network in Romania comprised 22,298 kilometres (13,855 mi) of track in 2004, which would make it the fourth largest railroad network in Europe. The railway transport experienced a dramatic fall in freight and passenger volumes from the peak volumes recorded in 1989 mainly due to the decline in GDP and competition from road transport. In 2004, the railways carried 8.64 billion passenger-km in 99 million passenger journeys, and 73 million metric tonnes, or 17 billion ton-km of freight. The combined total transportation by rail constituted around 45% of all passenger and freight movement in the country.
Bucharest is the only city in Romania which has an underground railway system. The Bucharest Metro was opened in 16 November 1979 and is now one of the most accessed systems of the Bucharest public transport network with an average ridership of 600,000 passengers during the workweek. Currently, the Bucharest Metro measures 61.41 km lengthwise and includes five metro lines, one proposed and one under construction.
Romania has 16 international airports, of which the busiest are Henri Coandă International Airport (4,917,952 passengers, 2010) and Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (2,118,150 passengers, 2010). Also, Romania disposes of an unworkable international airport (Caransebeș Airport) and 16 under construction or planned airports, whose construction will be completed until 2020. Romania has about 200 flight corridors, as much as any other European country. The air traffic has doubled in the last 20 years, in summer of 2010, Romania was crossed by 150 aircrafts simultaneously, bringing considerable incomes to TAROM airline. As of May 2011, TAROM flies to 47 destinations (including the seasonal destinations), such as: Cairo, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Vienna, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Athens, Budapest, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul and London.
Tourism focuses on the country's natural landscapes and its rich history and is a significant contributor to the Romanian economy. In 2006, domestic and international tourism generated about 4.8% of gross domestic product and 5.8% of the total jobs (about half a million jobs). Following commerce, tourism is the second largest component of the services sector. Tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest developing sectors of the economy of Romania and is characterized by a huge potential for development.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Romania is the fourth fastest growing country in the world in terms of travel and tourism total demand, with a yearly potential growth of 8% from 2007 to 2016. The number of tourists grew from 4.8 million in 2002 to 6.6 million in 2004. Similarly, the revenues grew from 400 million[clarification needed] in 2002 to 607 in 2004. In 2006, Romania registered 20 million overnight stays by international tourists, an all-time record, but the number for 2007 is expected to increase even more.[clarification needed] Tourism in Romania attracted €400 million in investments in 2005.
Over the last years[clarification needed], Romania has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans (more than 60% of the foreign visitors in 2007 were from EU countries), thus attempting to compete with Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain. Destinations such as Mangalia, Saturn, Venus, Neptun, Olimp, Constanța and Mamaia (sometimes called the Romanian Riviera) are among the most popular attractions during summer. During winter, the skiing resorts along the Valea Prahovei and Poiana Brașov are popular with foreign visitors.
For their medieval atmosphere and castles, Transylvanian cities such as Sibiu, Brașov, Sighișoara, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureș or Miercurea-Ciuc have become major tourist attractions for foreigners. Rural tourism, focusing on folklore and traditions, has become an important alternative recently, and is targeted to promote such sites as Bran and its Dracula's Castle, the Painted churches of Northern Moldavia, the Wooden churches of Maramureș and Sălaj, or the Merry Cemetery in Maramureș County (at Săpânța). Other major natural attractions, such as the Danube Delta, the Iron Gates (Danube Gorge), Scărișoara Cave and several other caves in the Apuseni Mountains have yet to receive great attention.
In terms of tourism potential, Romania benefits from splendid cities, scattered on the smooth plains or high peaks. These include Sibiu, a city built by Saxons, with cobblestone streets and colorful houses. The Hunyad Castle, one of the most important monuments of Gothic architecture in Transylvania, can be visited in Hunedoara. Also, resorts such as Băile Felix, Băile Herculane and Băile Tușnad are points of interest for local and foreign tourists. The Romanian seaside is the most developed tourist area of Romania. In 2009, Romania's Black Sea seaside was visited by 1.3 million tourists, of whom 40,000 were foreign. The shore is very varied, formed by slightly wavy shapes, with emphasized capes and deep bays extending into the Dobrogea valleys, with cliffs, beaches and sand cords. In Târgu Jiu one can see the sculptures of Constantin Brâncuși (1876–1957), a Romanian sculptor with overwhelming contributions to the renewal of plastic language and vision in contemporary sculpture. These include The Endless Column, The Gate of the Kiss and The Table of Silence, which together represent the three parts of a monumental sculptural ensemble.
Science and technology
During the 1990s and 2000s (decade), the development of Romanian science was hampered by several factors, including corruption, low funding and a considerable brain drain. However, since the country's accession to the European Union, this has begun to change. After being slashed by 50% in 2009 due to the global recession, R&D spending was increased by 44% in 2010 and now stands at $0.5 billion (1.5 billion lei). In January 2011, the Parliament also passed a law that enforces "strict quality control on universities and introduces tough rules for funding evaluation and peer review". The country has joined or is about to join several major international organizations such as CERN and the European Space Agency. Overall, the situation has been characterized as "rapidly improving", albeit from a low base.
Historically, Romanian researchers and inventors have made notable contributions to several fields, such as: aeronautics, medicine, mathematics, computer science/engineering, physics, biophysics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology. In the history of flight, Traian Vuia made the first airplane to take off on its own power and Aurel Vlaicu built and flew some of the earliest successful aircraft. Also, Henri Coandă discovered the Coandă effect of fluidics. Preceding him, Elie Carafoli was a pioneering contributor to the field of aerodynamics in the world.
Victor Babeș discovered more than 50 germs and a cure for a disease named after him, babesiosis; biologist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin. Another biologist, Emil Palade, received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to cell biology. George Constantinescu created the theory of sonics, while Lazăr Edeleanu was the first chemist to synthesize amphetamine and also invented the modern method of refining crude oil. Costin Nenițescu found new methods for the synthesis of pirilium salts, of carbenes, tryptamine, serotonin, two new syntheses for the indole nucleus, and a new method of polymerisation of ethylene.
Several mathematicians distinguished themselves as well, among them: Gheorghe Țițeica, Spiru Haret, Grigore Moisil, Miron Nicolescu, Nicolae Popescu and Ștefan Odobleja; the latter is also regarded as the ideological father behind cybernetics.
Notable physicists and inventors also include: Horia Hulubei in atomic physics, Șerban Țițeica in theoretical physics, Mihai Gavrilă specialized in quantum theory and discoverer of the atomic dichotomy phenomenon, Alexandru Proca (known for the first meson theory of nuclear forces and Proca's equations of the vectorial mesonic field), Ștefan Procopiu known for the first theory of the magnetic moment of the electron in 1911 (now known as the Bohr-Procopiu magneton), Theodor V. Ionescu, the inventor of a multiple-cavity magnetron (1935), a hydrogen maser in 1947, 3D imaging for cinema/television in 1924 and hot deuterium plasma studies for controlled nuclear fusion, Ionel Solomon known for the nuclear magnetic resonance theory in solids, Solomon equations and photovoltaic devices, Petrache Poenaru, Nicolae Teclu and Victor Toma, with the latter known for the invention and construction of the first Romanian computer, the CIFA-1 in 1955.
The nuclear physics facility of the European Union's proposed Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) laser will be built in Romania. Romania currently has 1,400 MW of nuclear power capacity by means of one active nuclear power plant (Cernavodă) with 2 reactors, which constitutes around 18% of the national power generation capacity of the country. This makes Romania the 23rd largest user of nuclear power in the world.
According to provisional data from 2011 census, Romania's population is 19,042,936. Like other countries in the region, its population is expected to gradually decline in the coming years as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates. In October 2011 Romanians made up 88.6% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Hungarians, who make up 6.5% of the population and Gypsies, who make up 3.2% of the population.
Hungarians constitute a majority in the counties of Harghita and Covasna. Ukrainians, Germans, Lipovans, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Russians, Jews, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Armenians, as well as other ethnic groups, account for the remaining 1.4% of the population.
In 1930, there were 745,421 Germans in Romania, but only about 36,884 remain today, according to the 2011 census. In 1924, there were 796,056 Jews in the Kingdom of Romania. As of 2009, there were also approximately 133,000 immigrants living in Romania, primarily from Moldova, Turkey and China.
The fertility rate is decreasing, with 1.4 births per woman recorded in 2009. The birth rate (10.61‰, 2008) is slightly lower than the mortality rate (11.84‰, 2008), resulting in a shrinking and aging population, approx. 14.8% of total population having 65 years and over.
The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million. After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a significant number of Romanians emigrated to other European countries, North America or Asia, due to better working conditions and academic possibilities offered abroad.
The official language of Romania is Romanian, a Romance language related to Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese. Romanian is spoken as a first language by 91% of the population. Hungarian and Vlax Romani are the most important minority languages, spoken by 6.7% and 1.1% of the population, respectively. Until the early 1990s, there were also a substantial number of German-speaking Transylvanian Saxons, even though most have since emigrated to Germany, leaving only 45,000 native German speakers in Romania. There are approximately 32,000 Turkish speakers in Romania.
In localities where a given ethnic minority makes up more than 20% of the population, that minority's language can be used in the public administration and justice system, while native-language education and signage is also provided. Hungarians make up some 19% of the population of Transylvania; there are many towns and communes in parts of Transylvania that have Hungarian as a second official language. Language rights are sensitive in these areas, where Hungarian speakers are campaigning for greater official status, and possible autonomy for the predominantly Hungarian counties of eastern Transylvania ('Székely Land'). English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. English is spoken by 5 million Romanians, French is spoken by 4–5 million, and German, Italian and Spanish are each spoken by 1–2 million people.
Historically, French was the predominant foreign language spoken in Romania, but English has since superseded it. Consequently, Romanian English-speakers tend to be younger than Romanian French-speakers. Romania is, however, a full member of La Francophonie, and hosted the Francophonie Summit in 2006. German has been taught predominantly in Transylvania, due to traditions tracing back to the Austro-Hungarian rule in this province.
The Romanian language remains, according to the Constitution of Romania, the only official language of Romania, but local councils ensure linguistic rights to all minorities, who form over 11% of the total population. Foreign citizens and stateless persons that live in Romania have access to justice and education in their own language.
Romania is a secular state and has no state religion. However, an overwhelming majority of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. 86.7% of the country's population identified as Orthodox Christian according to the 2002 census, the vast majority of which belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Other major Christian denominations include Protestantism (5.2%), Roman Catholicism (4.7%) and the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church (0.9%). The latter two religious organizations suffered most severely under the Communist regime. The Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed by the Communist government in 1948; later, under the Ceaușescu regime, several churches in Transylvania were demolished. Protestants and Roman Catholics are also concentrated in Transylvania.
The foundation of the oldest-known Romanian Orthodox church is still visible at Drobeta-Turnu Severin today, and dates from the 14th century; however, much earlier crypts with unearthed relics of Christian martyrs executed at the orders of the Roman emperor Diocletian were found in local church records dating as far back as the 3rd century AD. Thus, the relics of Saint Sava the Goth who was martyred by drowning in the river Buzău in Romania, under Athanaric, on 12 April 372, were reverently received by St. Basil the Great. Earlier still, the first known Daco-Roman Christian priest Montanus and his wife Maxima were drowned because of their Christian faith, as martyrs, on 26 March 304.
Romania also has a Muslim minority concentrated in Dobruja, mostly of Turkish and Tatar ethnicity and numbering 67,500 people. According to the results of the 2002 census, there are 66,846 Romanian citizens of the Unitarian faith (0.3% of the total population). Of the total Hungarian-speaking minority in Romania, Unitarians represent 4.55%, being the third denominational group after members of the Reformed Church in Romania (47.10%) and Roman Catholics (41.20%). Since 1700, the Unitarian Church has had 125 parishes—in 2006, there were 110 Unitarian ministers and 141 places of worship in Romania. According to the 2002 census, there were 6,179 Jews, 23,105 people who are of no religion and/or atheist, and 11,734 who refused to answer. On 27 December 2006, a new Law on Religion was approved under which religious denominations can only receive official registration if they have at least 20,000 members, or about 0.1% of Romania's total population. The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch. Its jurisdiction covers the territory of Romania, with dioceses for Romanians living in nearby Moldova, Serbia and Hungary, as well as diaspora communities in Central and Western Europe, North America and Oceania.
It is the only Orthodox church using a Romance language. The majority of people in Romania (18,817,975, or 86.8% of the population, according to the 2002 census data) belong to it, as well as some 720,000 Moldovans. The Romanian Orthodox Church is the second-largest in size after the Russian Orthodox Church.
The most significant holidays of the Romanian Orthodox Church are:
- Baptism of Jesus (6 January);
- Resurrection of Jesus (has no fixed date), associated with Easter;
- Ascension of Jesus (has no fixed date, celebrated 40 days after Easter);
- Dormition of the Theotokos (15 August), preceded by two weeks of fasting;
- Nativity of the Theotokos (8 September);
- Nativity of Jesus (25 December), associated with Christmas.
In the years following the Revolution has been a massive migration from village to city, but since 1996, the trend was reversed, and after 2005 was even stronger. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of people who have changed residence from rural to urban was 294,000, while the number of people who have changed residence from urban to rural was 418,000, difference being of over 120,000 people. Between 1996 and 2008, the difference was 313,000. According to statistics compiled in 2004, 11,895,600 citizens (54.88%) lived in the urban environment, and 9,777,728 citizens (45.12%) lived in the rural environment. The most urbanized counties are Hunedoara County (76.87%), Brașov County (74.91%) and Constanța County (71.12%), while the most sparsely urbanized counties are Ilfov County (26.09%), Dâmbovița County (30.06%) and Giurgiu County (30.95%).
Bucharest is the capital and the largest city in Romania. At the census in 2011, its population was over 1.6 million. The LUZ area of Bucharest has a population of 2,192,372 inhabitants. As of 2011, there are plans to establish a metropolitan area up to 20 times the area of the city proper.
Romania has four other cities that are among the European Union's 100 most populous: Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași and Constanța. Other cities with populations over 200,000 are Craiova, Galați and Brașov. Another 11 cities have a population of over 100,000.
At present, several of the largest cities have a metropolitan area: Constanța (446,595 inhab.), Iași (402,786 inhab.), Brașov (402,041 inhab.), Cluj-Napoca (392,562 inhab.),Craiova (333,834 inhab.) and Oradea (249,746 inhab.), and several others are planned: Bucharest, Timișoara, Brăila-Galați, Bacău and Ploiești.
Rural areas represent about 90% of total area of the country, and their share – among the highest in Europe – amounts to 47.3% of the total population. In December 2006 Romania had 2,854 communes, consisting of 12,951 villages. The average population of a Romanian village is about 800 people.
Since the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Romanian educational system has been in a continuous process of reform that has been both praised and criticized. According to the Law on Education adopted in 1995, the educational system is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Research. Each level has its own form of organization and is subject to different legislation. Kindergarten is optional for children between 3 and 6 years old. Schooling starts at age 7 (sometimes 6), and is compulsory until the 10th grade (which usually corresponds to the age of 17 or 16).Primary and secondary education are divided into 12 grades. Higher education is aligned with the European higher education area.
Aside from the official schooling system, and the recently[when?] added private equivalents, there exists a semi-legal, informal, fully private tutoring system. Tutoring is mostly used during secondary as a preparation for the various examinations, which are notoriously difficult. Tutoring has subsisted and even prospered during the Communist regime.
In 2004, some 4.4 millio
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