Welcome back to another installment of A-Z Around the World. Today we are covering Romania, Enjoy !!!
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.
The River Danube, Europe's second-longest river, rises in Germany's Black Forest and flows in a general southeast direction for 2,857 km (1,775 mi), coursing through ten countries before emptying into Romania's Danube Delta. The Carpathian Mountains, which cross Romania from the north to the southwest, include Moldoveanu Peak, at an altitude of 2,544 m (8,346 ft).
Modern Romania was formed in 1859 through a personal union of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The new state, officially named Romania since 1866, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. Following World War I, when Romania fought on the side of the Allied powers, Bukovina, Bessarabia, Transylvania as well as parts of Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș became part of the sovereign Kingdom of Romania. In June–August 1940, as a consequence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and Second Vienna Award, Romania was compelled to cede Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union, and Northern Transylvania to Hungary. In November 1940, Romania signed the Tripartite Pact and, consequently, in June 1941 entered World War II on the Axis side, fighting against the Soviet Union until August 1944, when it joined the Allies and recovered Northern Transylvania. Following the war, under the occupation of the Red Army's forces, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition towards democracy and a market economy.
The sovereign state of Romania is a developing country and ranks 52nd in the Human Development Index. It has the world's 47th largest economy by nominal GDP and an annual economic growth rate of 7% (2017), the highest in the EU at the time. Following rapid economic growth in the early 2000s, Romania has an economy predominantly based on services, and is a producer and net exporter of machines and electric energy, featuring companies like Automobile Dacia and OMV Petrom. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, part of NATO since 2004, and part of the European Union since 2007. An overwhelming majority of the population identifies themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians and are native speakers of Romanian, a Romance language.
Romania derives from the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome". The first known use of the appellation was attested to in the 16th century by Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia.
The oldest known surviving document written in Romanian, a 1521 letter known as the "Letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung", is also notable for including the first documented occurrence of the country's name: Wallachia is mentioned as Țeara Rumânească (old spelling for "The Romanian Land"; țeara from the Latin terra, "land"; current spelling: Țara Românească).
Two spelling forms: român and rumân were used interchangeably until sociolinguistic developments in the late 17th century led to semantic differentiation of the two forms: rumân came to mean "bondsman", while român retained the original ethnolinguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the word rumân gradually fell out of use 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 use of the name Romania to refer to the common homeland of all Romanians—its modern-day meaning—was first documented in the early 19th century.[c]The name has been officially in use since 11 December 1861.
In English, the name of the country was formerly spelled Rumania or Roumania. Romania became the predominant spelling around 1975. Romania is also the official English-language spelling used by the Romanian government. A handful of other languages (including Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Norwegian) have also switched to "o" like English, but most languages continue to prefer forms with u, e.g. French Roumanie, German and Swedish Rumänien, Spanish Rumania (the archaic form Rumanía is still in use in Spain), Polish Rumunia, Russian Румыния (Rumyniya), and Japanese ルーマニア (Rūmania).
1859–1862: United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia
1862–1866: Romanian United Principalities or Romania
1866–1881: Romania or Principality of Romania
1881–1947: Kingdom of Romania or Romania
1947–1965: Romanian People's Republic (RPR) or Romania
1965 – December 1989: Socialist Republic of Romania (RSR) or Romania
December 1989 – present: Romania
Prehistory and antiquity
Human remains found in Peștera cu Oase ("Cave with Bones"), radiocarbon dated as being from circa 40,000 years ago, represent the oldest known Homo sapiens in Europe. Neolithic techniques and agriculture spread after the arrival of a mixed group of people from Thessaly in the 6th millennium BC. Excavations near a salt spring at Lunca yielded the earliest evidence for salt exploitation in Europe; here the production of salt started between 6050 and 5900 BC. The first permanent settlements also appeared in the Neolithic. Some of them developed into "proto-cities", which were larger than 800 acres (3.2 km2). The Cucuteni–Trypillia culture—the best known archaeological culture of Old Europe—flourished in Muntenia, southeastern Transylvania and northeastern Moldavia in the 3rd millennium BC. The first fortified settlements appeared around 1800 BC, showing the militant character of Bronze Age societies.
Greek colonies established on the Black Sea coast in the 7th century BC became important centers of commerce with the local tribes. Among the native peoples, Herodotus listed the Getae of the Lower Danube region, the Agathyrsi of Transylvania and the Syginnae of the plains along the river Tisza at the beginning of the 5th century BC. Centuries later, Strabo associated the Getae with the Dacians who dominated the lands along the southern Carpathian Mountains in the 1st century BC.Burebista was the first Dacian ruler to unite the local tribes. He also conquered the Greek colonies in Dobruja and the neighboring peoples as far as the Middle Danube and the Balkan Mountains between around 55 and 44 BC. After Burebista was murdered in 44 BC, his empire collapsed.
The Romans reached Dacia during Burebista's reign and conquered Dobruja in 46 AD. Dacia was again united under Decebalus around 85. He resisted the Romans for decades, but the Roman army annihilated his troops in 106. Emperor Trajan transformed Banat, Oltenia and the greater part of Transylvania into the new Roman province of Dacia, but Dacian, Germanic and Sarmatian tribes continued to dominate the lands along the Roman frontiers. The Romans pursued an organized colonization policy and the provincials enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity in the 2nd century. Scholars accepting the Daco-Roman continuity theory—one of the main theories about the origin of the Romanians—say that the cohabitation of the native Dacians and the Roman colonists in Roman Dacia was the first phase of the Romanians' ethnogenesis.
The Carpians, Goths and other neighboring tribes made regular raids against Dacia from the 210s. The Romans could not resist and Emperor Aurelian ordered the evacuation of the province Dacia Trajanain 271. Scholars supporting the continuity theory are convinced that most Latin-speaking commoners stayed behind when the army and civil administration was withdrawn. The Romans did not abandon their fortresses along the northern banks of the Lower Danube for decades, and Dobruja (known as Scythia Minor) remained an integral part of the Roman Empire until the early 7th century.
The Goths were expanding towards the Lower Danube from the 230s, forcing the native peoples to flee to the Roman Empire or to accept their suzerainty. The Goths' rule came to an abrupt end when the Huns invaded their territory in 376, causing new waves of migrations. The Huns forced the remnants of the local population into submission, but their empire collapsed in 454. The Gepids took possession of the former Dacia province. The nomadic Avars defeated the Gepids and established a powerful empire around 570. The Bulgars, who also came from the Eurasian steppes, occupied the Lower Danube region in 680. According to scholars who accept the Daco-Roman continuity theory, the Romanians' ancestors, known by the exonym Vlachs in the Middle Ages, lived in densely forested areas, separated from the Goths, Huns, Gepids and Avars during these centuries.
Place names of Slavic origin abound in Romania, indicating that a numerous Slavic-speaking population used to live in the territory. The first Slavic groups settled in Moldavia and Wallachia in the 6th century, in Transylvania around 600. After the Avar Khaganate collapsed in the 790s, Bulgaria became the dominant power of the region, occupying lands as far as the river Tisa. The Council of Preslav declared Old Church Slavonic the language of liturgy in the First Bulgarian Empire in 893. The Romanians also adopted Old Church Slavonic as their liturgical language.
The Magyars (or Hungarians) took control of the steppes north of the Lower Danube in the 830s, but the Bulgarians and the Pechenegs jointly forced them to abandon this region for the lowlands along the Middle Danube around 894. Centuries later, the Gesta Hungarorum wrote of the invading Magyars' wars against three dukes—Glad, Menumorut and the Vlach Gelou—for Banat, Crișana and Transylvania. The Gesta also listed many peoples—Slavs, Bulgarians, Vlachs, Khazars and Székelys—inhabiting the same regions. The reliability of the Gesta is debated, with some scholars regarding it as a basically accurate account, others describing it as a literary work filled with invented details. The lowlands abandoned by the Hungarians to east of the Carpathians were seized by the Pechenegs.
Byzantine missionaries proselytized in the lands east of the Tisa from the 940s and Byzantine troops occupied Dobruja in the 970s. The first king of Hungary, Stephen I, who supported Western European missionaries, defeated the local chieftains and established Roman Catholic bishoprics in Transylvania and Banat in the early 11th century. Significant Pecheneg groups fled to the Byzantine Empire in the 1040s; the Oghuz Turks followed them, and the nomadic Cumans became the dominant power of the steppes in the 1060s. Cooperation between the Cumans and the Vlachs against the Byzantine Empire is well documented from the end of the 11th century. Scholars who reject the Daco-Roman continuity theory say that the first Vlach groups left their Balkan homeland for the mountain pastures of the eastern and southern Carpathians in the 11th century, establishing the Romanians' presence in the lands to the north of the Lower Danube.
Exposed to nomadic incursions, Transylvania developed into an important border province of the Kingdom of Hungary. The Székelys—a community of free warriors—settled in central Transylvania around 1100, and moved to the easternmost regions around 1200. Colonists from the Holy Roman Empire—the Transylvanian Saxons' ancestors—came to the province in the 1150s. A high-ranking royal official, styled voivode, ruled the Transylvanian counties from the 1170s, but the Székely and Saxon seats (or districts) were not subject to the voivodes' authority. Royal charters wrote of the "Vlachs' land" in southern Transylvania in the early 13th century, indicating the existence of autonomous Romanian communities. Papal correspondence mentioned the activities of Orthodox prelates among the Romanians in Muntenia in the 1230s.
The Mongols destroyed large territories during their invasion of Eastern and Central Europe in 1241 and 1242. The Mongols' Golden Horde emerged as the dominant power of Eastern Europe, but Béla IV of Hungary's land grant to the Knights Hospitallers in Oltenia and Muntenia shows that the local Vlach rulers were subject to the king's authority in 1247. Basarab I of Wallachia united the Romanian polities between the southern Carpathians and the Lower Danube in the 1310s. He defeated the Hungarian royal army in the Battle of Posada and secured the independence of Wallachia in 1330. The second Romanian principality, Moldavia, achieved full autonomy during the reign of Bogdan Iaround 1360. A local dynasty ruled the Despotate of Dobruja in the second half of the 14th century, but the Ottoman Empire took possession of the territory after 1388.
Princes Mircea I and Vlad III of Wallachia, and Stephen III of Moldavia defended their countries independence against the Ottomans, but most Wallachian and Moldavian princes paid a regular tribute to the Ottoman sultans from 1417 and 1456, respectively. A military commander of Romanian origin, John Hunyadi, organized the defence of the Kingdom of Hungary until his death in 1456. Increasing taxes outraged the Transylvanian peasants and they rose up in an open rebellion in 1437, but the Hungarian nobles and the heads of the Saxon and Székely communities jointly pushed their revolt. The formal alliance of the Hungarian, Saxon and Székely leaders, known as the Union of the Three Nations, became an important element of the self-government of Transylvania. The Orthodox Romanian knezes (or chiefs) were excluded from the Union.
Early Modern Times and national awakening
The Kingdom of Hungary collapsed and the Ottomans occupied parts of Banat and Crișana in 1541. Transylvania and Maramureș, along with the rest of Banat and Crișana developed into a new state under Ottoman suzerainty, the Principality of Transylvania. Reformation spread and four denominations—Calvinism, Lutheranism, Unitarianism and Roman Catholicism—were officially acknowledged in 1568. The Romanians' Orthodox faith remained only tolerated, although they made up more than one-third of the population, according to 17th-century estimations.
The princes of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia joined the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire in 1594. The Wallachian prince, Michael the Brave, united the three principalities under his rule in May 1600. The neighboring powers forced him to abdicate in September, but he became a symbol of the unification of the Romanian lands in the 19th century. Although the rulers of the three principalities continued to pay tribute to the Ottomans, the most talented princes—Gabriel Bethlenof Transylvania, Matei Basarab of Wallachia, and Vasile Lupu of Moldavia—strengthened their autonomy.
The united armies of the Holy League expelled the Ottoman troops from Central Europe between 1684 and 1699 and the Principality of Transylvania was integrated into the Habsburg Empire. The Habsburgs supported the Catholic clergy and persuaded the Orthodox Romanian prelates to accept the union with the Roman Catholic Church in 1699. The Church Union strengthened the Romanian intellectuals' devotion to their Roman heritage. The Orthodox Church was restored in Transylvania only after Orthodox monks stirred up revolts in 1744 and 1759. The organization of the Transylvanian Military Frontier caused further disturbances, especially among the Székelys in 1764.
Princes Dimitrie Cantemir of Moldavia and Constantin Brâncoveanu of Wallachia concluded alliances with the Habsburg Empire and Russia against the Ottomans, but they were dethroned in 1711 and 1714, respectively. The sultans lost confidence in the native princes and appointed Orthodox merchants from the Phanar district of Istanbul to rule Moldova and Wallachia.
The Phanariot princes pursued oppressive fiscal policies and dissolved the army. The neighboring powers take advantage of the situation: the Habsburg Empire annexed northern Moldavia, or Bucovina, in 1775, and Russia seized Bessarabia in 1812.
A census revealed that the Romanians were more numerous than any of the other ethnic groups in Transylvania in 1733, but legislation continued to use contemptuous adjectives (such as "tolerated" and "admitted") when referring to them. The Uniate bishop, Inocențiu Micu-Klein who demanded the recognition of the Romanians as the fourth privileged nation was forced into exile. Uniate and Orthodox clerics and laymen jointly signed a plea for the Transylvanian Romanians' emancipation in 1791, but the monarch and the local authorities denied to grant their requests.
Independence and monarchy
The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca authorized the Russian ambassador in Istanbul to defend the autonomy of Moldavia and Wallachia (known as the Danubian Principalities) in 1774. Taking advantage of the Greek War of Independence, a Wallachian lesser nobleman, Tudor Vladimirescu, stirred up a revolt against the Ottomans in January 1821, but he was murdered in June by Phanariot Greeks. After a new Russo-Turkish War, the Treaty of Adrianople strengthened the autonomy of the Danubian Principalities in 1829, although it also acknowledged the sultan's right to confirm the election of the princes.
Mihail Kogălniceanu, Nicolae Bălcescu and other leaders of the 1848 revolutions in Moldavia and Wallachia demanded the emancipation of the peasants and the union of the two principalities, but Russian and Ottoman troops crushed their revolt. The Wallachian revolutionists were the first to adopt the blue, yellow and red tricolor as national flag. In Transylvania, most Romanians supported the imperial government against the Hungarian revolutioners after the Diet passed a law about the union of Transylvania and Hungary. Bishop Andrei Șaguna proposed the unification of the Romanians of the Habsburg Empire in a separate duchy, but the central government refused to change the internal frontiers.
The Treaty of Paris put the Danubian Principalities under the collective guardianship of the Great Powers in 1856. After special assemblies convoked in Moldavia and Wallachia urged the unification of the two principalities, the Great Powers did not prevent the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as their collective domnitor (or ruling prince) in January 1859. The united principalities officially adopted the name Romania on 21 February 1862. Cuza's government carried out a series of reforms, including the secularization of the property of monasteries and agrarian reform, but a coalition of conservative and radical politicians forced him to abdicate in February 1866.
Cuza's successor, a German prince, Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (or Carol I), was elected in May. The parliament adopted the first constitution of Romania in the same year. The Great Powers acknowledged Romania's full independence at the Congress of Berlin and Carol I was crowned king in 1881. The Congress also granted the Danube Delta and Dobruja to Romania. Although Romanian scholars strived for the unification of all Romanians into a Greater Romania, the government did not openly support their irredentist projects.
The Transylvanian Romanians and Saxons wanted to maintain the separate status of Transylvania in the Habsburg Monarchy, but the Austro-Hungarian Compromise brought about the union of the province with Hungary in 1867. Ethnic Romanian politicians sharply opposed the Hungarian government's attempts to transform Hungary into a national state, especially the laws prescribing the obligatory teaching of Hungarian. Leaders of the Romanian National Party proposed the federalization of Austria-Hungary and the Romanian intellectuals established cultural association to promote the use of Romanian.
World Wars and Greater Romania
Fearing of Russian expansionism, Romania secretly joined the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in 1883, but public opinion remained hostile to Austria-Hungary. Romania seized Southern Dobruja from Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War in 1913. For German and Austrian-Hungarian diplomacy supported Bulgaria during the war, it brought about a rapprochement between Romania and the Triple Entente of France, Russia and the United Kingdom. The country remained neutral when World War I broke out in 1914, but Prime Minister Ion I. C. Brătianu started negotiations with the Entente Powers. After they promised Austrian-Hungarian territories with a majority of ethnic Romanian population to Romania in the Treaty of Bucharest, Romania entered the war against the Central Powers in 1916. The German and Austrian-Hungarian troops defeated the Romanian army and occupied three-quarters of the country by early 1917. After the October Revolution turned Russia from ally into enemy, Romania was forced to sign a harsh peace treaty with the Central Powers in May 1918, but the collapse of Russia also enabled the union of Bessarabia with Romania.King Ferdinand again mobilized the Romanian army on behalf of the Entente Powers a day before Germany capitulated on 11 November 1918.
Austria-Hungary quickly disintegrated after the war. The General Congress of Bukovina proclaimed the union of the province with Romania on 28 November 1918, and the Grand National Assembly decided the union of Transylvania, Banat, Crișana and Maramureș with the kingdom on 1 December. Peace treaties with Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary delineated the new borders in 1919 and 1920, but the Soviet Union did not acknowledge the loss of Bessarabia. Romania achieved its greatest territorial extend, expanding from the pre-war 137,000 km2 (53,000 sq mi) to 295,000 km2 (114,000 sq mi). A new electoral system granted voting rights to all adult male citizens, and a series of radical agrarian reforms transformed the country into a "nation of small landowners" between 1918 and 1921. Gender equality as a principle was enacted, but women could not vote or be candidates. Calypso Botez established the National Council of Romanian Women to promote feminist ideas. Romania was a multi-ethnic country, with ethnic minorities making up about 30% of the population, but the new constitution declared it a unitary national state in 1923. Although minorities could establish their own schools, Romanian language, history and geography could only be taught in Romanian.
Agriculture remained the principal sector of economy, but several branches of industry—especially the production of coal, oil, metals, synthetic rubber, explosives and cosmetics—developed during the interwar period. With oil production of 5.8 million tons in 1930, Romania ranked sixth in the world. Two parties, the National Liberal Party and the National Peasants' Party, dominated the political life, but the Great Depression brought about significant changes in the 1930s. The democratic parties were squeezed between conflicts with the fascist and Anti-Semitic Iron Guard and the authoritarian tendencies of King Carol II. The King promulgated a new constitution and dissolved the political parties in 1938, replacing the parliamentary system with a royal dictatorship.
The 1938 Munich Agreement convinced King Carol II that France and the United Kingdom could no more defend Romanian interests. German preparations for a new war required the regular supply of Romanian oil and agricultural products. The two countries concluded a treaty about the coordination of their economic policies in 1939, but the King could not persuade Adolf Hitler to guarantee Romania's frontiers. Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union on 26 June 1940, Northern Transylvania to Hungary on 30 August, and Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria in September. After the territorial losses, the King was forced to abdicate in favor of his minor son, Michael I, on 6 September, and Romania was transformed into a national-legionary state under the leadership of General Ion Antonescu. Antonescu signed the Tripartite Pact of Germany, Italy and Japan on 23 November. The Iron Guard staged a coup against Antonescu, but he crushed the riot with German support and introduced a military dictatorship in early 1941.
Romania entered World War II soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The country regained Bessarabia and northern Bucovina, and the Germans placed Transnistria (the territory between the rivers Dniester and Dnieper) under Romanian administration. The Romanian and German troops massacred at least 160,000 local Jews in these territories; more than 105,000 Jews and about 11,000 Gypsies died during their deportation from Bessarabia to Transnistria. The vast majority of the Jewish population of Moldavia, Wallachia, Banat and Southern Transylvania survived, but their fundamental rights were limited. After the German occupation of Hungaryin March 1944, about 132,000 (mainly Hungarian-speaking) Jews were deported to extermination camps from Northern Transylvania with the Hungarian authorities' support.
After the Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, Iuliu Maniu, a leader of the opposition to Antonescu, entered into secret negotiations with British diplomats who made it clear that Romania had to seek reconciliation with the Soviet Union. To facilitate the coordination of their activities against Antonescu's regime, the National Liberal and National Peasants' parties established the National Democratic Bloc which also included the Social Democratic and Communist parties. After a successful Soviet offensive, the young King Michael I ordered the arrest of Antonescu and appointed politicians from the National Democratic Bloc to form a new government on 23 August 1944. Romania switched sides in the war, and nearly 250,000 Romanian troops joined the Red Army's military campaign against Hungary and Germany, but Joseph Stalin regarded the country as an occupied territory within the Soviet sphere of influence. Stalin's deputy instructed the King to make the Communists' candidate, Petru Groza, the prime minister in March 1945. The Romanian administration in Northern Transylvania was soon restored, and Groza's government carried out an agrarian reform. In February 1947, the Paris Peace Treaties confirmed the return of Northern Transylvania to Romania, but they also legalized the presence of units of the Red Army in the country.
During the Soviet occupation of Romania, the Communist-dominated government called for new elections in 1946, which were fraudulently won, with a fabricated 70% majority of the vote. Thus, they rapidly established themselves as the dominant political force. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, a Communist party leader imprisoned in 1933, escaped in 1944 to become Romania's first Communist leader. In 1947 he and others 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 unilateral exploitative purposes.
In 1948, the state began to nationalize private firms and to collectivize agriculture. Until the early 1960s, the government severely curtailed political liberties and vigorously suppressed any dissent with the help of the Securitate (the Romanian secret police). During this period the regime launched several campaigns of purges in which numerous "enemies of the state" and "parasite elements" were targeted for different forms of punishment, such as deportation, internal exile, and internment in forced labour camps and prisons, sometimes for life, as well as extrajudicial killing. Nevertheless, anti-Communist resistance was one of the most long-lasting in the Eastern Bloc. A 2006 Commission estimated the number of direct victims of the Communist repression at two million people.
In 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power and started to conduct the foreign policy more independently from the Soviet Union. Thus, Communist Romania was the only Warsaw Pact country which refused to participate in the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia (with Ceaușescu at the time even publicly condemning the action as "a big mistake, [and] a serious danger to peace in Europe and to the fate of Communism in the world"); it was also the only Communist state to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel after 1967's Six-Day War; and established diplomatic relations with West Germany the same year. At the same time, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel–Egypt and Israel–PLO peace talks.
As Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from US$3 billion to $10 billion), the influence of international financial organizations (such as the IMF and the World Bank) grew, gradually conflicting with Ceaușescu's autocratic rule. The latter eventually initiated a policy of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing austerity steps that impoverished the population and exhausted the economy. The process succeeded in repaying all foreign government debt of Romania in 1989. At the same time, Ceaușescu greatly extended the authority of the Securitate secret police and imposed a severe cult of personality, which led to a dramatic decrease in the dictator's popularity and culminated in his overthrow and eventual execution, together with his wife, in the violent Romanian Revolution of December 1989 in which thousands were killed or injured. The charges for which they were executed were, among others, genocide by starvation.
After the 1989 revolution, the National Salvation Front(NSF), led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures. In April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of that year's legislative elections and accusing the NSF, including Iliescu, of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate — rapidly grew to become what was called the Golaniad. The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, prompting the intervention of coal miners summoned by Iliescu. 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 most notably the Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Party. 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 other democratic changes of government: in 1996 Emil Constantinescu was elected president, in 2000 Iliescu returned to power, while Traian Băsescuwas elected in 2004 and narrowly re-elected in 2009.
In November 2014, Sibiu mayor Klaus Johannis was elected president, unexpectedly defeating former Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who had been in the lead in the opinion polls. This surprise victory is attributed by many to the Romanian diaspora, of which almost 50 percent voted for Iohannis in the first tour, compared to 16 percent for Ponta.
The post-1989 period is also characterized by the fact that most of the former industrial and economic enterprises which were built and operated during the Communist period have been closed, mainly as a result of the policies of privatization of the post-1989 regimes.
Corruption has also been a major issue in contemporary Romanian politics. In November 2015, massive anti-corruption protests which developed in the wake of the Colectiv nightclub fire led to the resignation of Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta. During 2017–2018, in response to measures which were perceived to weaken the fight against corruption, some of the biggest protests since 1989 took place in Romania, with over 500,000 people protesting across the country.
Nevertheless, in recent years, many efforts have been made to tackle corruption. A National Anticorruption Directorate was formed in the country in 2002, and according to Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index, Romania is now less corrupt than Italy or Greece (and equals neighbouring Hungary).
NATO and EU integration
After the end of the Cold War, Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe and the United States, 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 full member on 1 January 2007.
During the 2000s, Romania enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in Europe and has been referred at times as "the Tiger of Eastern Europe". This has been accompanied by a significant improvement in living standards as the country successfully reduced internal poverty and established a functional democratic state. However, Romania's development suffered a major setback during the late-2000s recession leading to a large gross domestic product contraction and budget deficit in 2009. This led to Romania borrowing from the International Monetary Fund. The worsening economic conditions led to unrest and triggered a political crisis in 2012.
Romania still faces problems related to infrastructure, medical services, education, and corruption. Near the end of 2013, The Economist reported Romania again enjoying 'booming' economic growth at 4.1% that year, with wages rising fast and a lower unemployment than in Britain. Economic growth accelerated in the midst of government liberalisations in opening up new sectors to competition and investment—most notably, energy and telecoms. In 2016 the Human Development Index ranked Romania as a nation of "Very High Human Development".
Following the experience of economic instability throughout the 1990s, and the implementation of a free travel agreement with the EU, a great number of Romanians emigrated to Western Europe and North America, with particularly large communities in Italy and Spain. In 2008, the Romanian diaspora was estimated to be at over two million people.
Geography and Wildlife
With an area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in Southeastern Europe and the twelfth-largest in Europe.: It lies between latitudes 43° and 49° Nand longitudes 20° and 30° E.The terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountains, hills, and plains.
The Carpathian Mountains dominate the centre of Romania, with 14 mountain ranges reaching above 2,000 m or 6,600 ft, the highest of which is Moldoveanu Peak at 2,544 m or 8,346 ft. They are surrounded by the Moldavian and Transylvanian plateaus and Carpathian Basin and Wallachian plains.
About 47% of the country's land area is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. 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 river forms a large part of the border with Serbia and Bulgaria, and flows into the Black Sea, forming the Danube Delta, which is the second-largest and best-preserved delta in Europe, and also a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. At 5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi), the Danube Delta is the largest continuous marshland in Europe, and supports 1,688 different plant species alone.
Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe, covering almost 27% of the territory. 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 fauna consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate, with almost 400 unique species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, including about 50% of Europe's (excluding Russia) brown bears and 20% of its wolves.
Owing to its distance from open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is 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. In summer, average maximum temperatures in Bucharest rise to 28 °C (82 °F), and temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) are fairly common in the lower-lying areas of the country. In winter, the average maximum temperature is below 2 °C (36 °F). Precipitation is average, with over 750 mm (30 in) per year only on the highest western mountains, while around Bucharest it drops to approximately 570 mm (22 in). There are some regional differences: in western sections, such as Banat, the climate is milder and has some Mediterranean influences; the eastern part of the country has a more pronounced continental climate. In Dobruja, the Black Sea also exerts an influence over the region's climate.
Arts and monuments
The topic of the origin of the Romanians began to be discussed by the end of the 18th century among the Transylvanian School scholars. Several writers rose to prominence in the 19th century, including George Coșbuc, Ioan Slavici, Mihail Kogălniceanu, Vasile Alecsandri, Nicolae Bălcescu, Ion Luca Caragiale, Ion Creangă, and Mihai Eminescu, the later being considered the greatest and most influential Romanian poet, particularly for the poem Luceafărul.
In the 20th century, Romanian artists reached international acclaim, including Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Mircea Eliade, Nicolae Grigorescu, Marin Preda, Liviu Rebreanu, Eugène Ionesco, Emil Cioran, and Constantin Brâncuși. The last has a sculptural ensemble in Târgu Jiu, while his sculpture Bird in Space, was auctioned in 2005 for $27.5 million. Romanian-born Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, while Banat Swabian writer Herta Müllerreceived the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.
Prominent Romanian painters include Nicolae Grigorescu, Ștefan Luchian, Ion Andreescu Nicolae Tonitza and Theodor Aman. Notable Romanian classical composers of the 19th and 20th centuries include Ciprian Porumbescu, Anton Pann, Eduard Caudella, Mihail Jora, Dinu Lipatti and especially George Enescu. The annual George Enescu Festival is held in Bucharest in honor of the 20th-century eponymous composer.
Contemporary musicians like Angela Gheorghiu, Gheorghe Zamfir, Inna, Alexandra Stan and many others have achieved various levels of international acclaim. At the Eurovision Song ContestRomanian singers have achieved third place in 2005 and 2010.
The list of World Heritage Sites includes six cultural sites located within Romania, including eight Painted churches of northern Moldavia, eight Wooden Churches of Maramureș, seven Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, the Horezu Monastery, and the Historic Centre of Sighișoara. The city of Sibiu, with its Brukenthal National Museum, was selected as the 2007 European Capital of Culture. Multiple castles exist in Romania, including popular tourist attractions of Peleș Castle, Corvin Castle, and "Dracula's Castle".
Holidays, traditions, and cuisine
There are 12 non-working public holidays, including the Great Union Day, celebrated on 1 December in commemoration of the 1918 union of Transylvania with Romania. Winter holidays include the Christmas festivities and the New Year during which, various unique folklore dances and games are common: plugușorul, sorcova, ursul, and capra. The traditional Romanian dress that otherwise has largely fallen out of use during the 20th century, is a popular ceremonial vestment worn on these festivities, especially in the rural areas. Sacrifices of live pigs during Christmas and lambs during Easter has required a special derogation from EU law after 2007. During Easter, painted eggs are very common, while on 1 March features mărțișor gifting, a tradition likely of Thracian origin.
Romanian cuisine has been influenced by Austrian and German cuisine (especially in the historical regions that had been formerly administered by the Habsburg Monarchy), but also shares some similarities with other cuisines in the Balkan region such as the Greek, Bulgarian, or Serbian cuisine. Ciorbă includes a wide range of sour soups, while mititei, mămăligă (similar to polenta), and sarmale are featured commonly in main courses.
Pork, chicken, and beef are the preferred types of meat, but lamb and fish are also quite popular. Certain traditional recipes are made in direct connection with the holidays: chiftele, tobăand tochitura at Christmas; drob, pască and cozonacat Easter and other Romanian holidays. Țuică is a strong plum brandy reaching a 70% alcohol content which is the country's traditional alcoholic beverage, taking as much as 75% of the national crop (Romania is one of the largest plum producers in the world). Traditional alcoholic beverages also include wine, rachiu, palincă and vișinată, but beer consumption has increased dramatically over the recent years.
Travel to Romania: Lonely Planet
Rugged stone churches and dazzling monasteries dot a pristine landscape of rocky mountains and rolling hills. Transylvanian towns have stepped out of time, while vibrant Bucharest is all energy.
Rick Steves Episode on Romania