Romania is a country located in the South-East of Central Europe. It is bordered by Bulgaria to the South, Serbia to the South-West, Hungary to the North-West, Ukraine to the North and East and Moldova to the East, and the Black Sea to the South-East.
Romania is a semi-presidential republic. It is the ninth largest territory (238,391 km²) and the seventh in terms of population (over 22 million) of the European Union member states. The capital, Bucharest, is the country’s largest city and the sixth city of the EU in terms of population (1.9 million souls). In 2007, Sibiu was elected European Capital of Culture. Romania is member of international organizations, such as the UN since 1955, the Council of Europe since 1993, the European Union since January 1, 2007, NATO since March 29, 2004, the OSCE, the OIF since 2003, the Latin Union since 1980, and of economic institutions, such as World Bank Group, IMF since 1972, EBRD since 1991, and OECD.
Romania’s geography is characterized by a roughly equal distribution of the major landform units (35% mountains, 35% hills and plateaus and 30% plains) and a clustered relief. The Romanian Carpathians extend as a ring that closes a large depression in the center of the country, the Transylvanian Plateau. They are middle-altitude mountains, fragmented, with elevated mountainous plateaus, alpine pastures and large areas of erosion, whose maximum altitude is reached by the Moldoveanu Peak (in the Fagaras Mountains), with an elevation of 2544 meters. On the Romanian territory, the Carpathians have a length of 910 km.
The Danube Delta is the lowest region of the country, below 10 m of altitude, with expanses of marshes, lakes and reed. Slightly higher are fluvial and marine banks (Letea, Caraorman, Sărăturile) where fishermen villages are grouped. It is a territory described in Antiquity by many scientists of those times, such as Herodotus, Strabo, Ptolemy and Pliny the Elder. The Danube Delta has been placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage in 1991 as a natural reserve of the biosphere.
According to the 2002 census, Romania has a population of 21,680,974 inhabitants, and in the coming years it is expected that it will register a slow decrease of the population as a result of the negative natural increase rate. The main ethnic group in Romania is formed by Romanians. They represent, according to the 2002 census, 89.5% of the overall population. After the Romanians, the next important ethnic community is that of the Hungarians, which represents 6.6% of the population. According to the official data, 535,250 Roma live in Romania. Other important communities are those of the Germans, Ukrainians, Lipovans, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Ruthenians, Jews, Czechs, Poles, Italians and Armenians. Of the 745,421 Germans who lived in Romania in the 1930s, currently there are only 60,000. Also, in 1924, in the Kingdom of Romania there were 796,056 Jews, but in the 2002 census were counted only 6,179.
The official language of Romania is the Romanian language which belongs to the Eastern Romance language group and is related to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and, further, with most European languages.
Religious life in Romania is governed by the principle of freedom of religious belief, a principle set out in Article 29 of the Romanian Constitution, along with freedom of thought and opinion. Even if not explicitly defined as a secular state, Romania has no national religion, respecting the secular principle: public authorities are required to be neutral as regards religious associations and denominations. According to the 2002 census, the majority of the Romanian population, more precisely 86.7%, declared belonging to the Orthodox Christian faith.
Bucharest is the largest city and also the capital of Romania. At the 2002 census, the city’s population exceeded 1.9 million people, while the metropolitan area of Bucharest concentrates a population of approximately 2.2 million souls. In Romania there are five more cities that have a large population (about 300,000 inhabitants) and which appear in the ranking of the most populated cities in the European Union. These are: Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Constanta and Craiova. Other cities with a population of more than 200,000 inhabitants are Galaţi, Braşov, Ploieşti, Brăila and Oradea.
Romania’s main industries are textiles and footwear, metallurgy, light machinery and machinery assembling, mining, timber processing, building materials, chemicals, food and oil refining. Pharmaceutical industries, heavy machinery and household appliances have a secondary importance. Currently, car industry is very dynamic, supported mainly by the vehicle manufacturer Dacia. Romanian IT industry has also known a constant annual growth. In general, Romania maintains an active trade with the countries of the European Union, especially with Germany and Italy, which are some of the most important trade partners of Romania.
The national railway company is the Romanian Railways. In 2004, the rail infrastructure included 22,247 km of railways, out of which about 8,585 km were electrified, and 2,617 km had double track lines, most of them with a standard gauge of 1,435 mm, the Romanian railway network being the fourth largest in Europe.
The airport network destined to public air traffic consists of 17 civilian airports, all open to international traffic.
In recent years, Romania has become a favourite destination for many people, rivaling and being in competition with countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, Italy or Spain. Black Sea resorts, such as Mamaia, Olimp, Neptun, Saturn, Venus and Mangalia, are among the main touristic attractions of the summer season. In winter, the ski resorts from the Prahova Valley and Poiana Braşov are the favourite destinations of tourists. Due to their medieval atmosphere or to the nearby castles, many Transylvanian towns such as Sibiu, Braşov, Sighişoara, Cluj-Napoca or Targu Mures have become important places of interest for tourists. Recently rural tourism has also developed and it focuses on promoting folklore and traditions. The main attractions are the Bran Castle, the painted monasteries in Northern Moldavia, Transylvania’s wooden churches or the Merry Cemetery in Săpânţa. Romania has also natural touristic attractions such as the Danube Delta, the Iron Gates, Scărişoara Cave and other caves in the Apuseni Mountains. Through its complex functions, through its position in the country and the numerous objectives of historical and architectural value and for many other reasons, Bucharest is one of the main tourist centers of Romania. Bucharest is characterized by an eclectic mix of architectural styles, from the Old Court, vestiges of the fifteenth century palace of Vlad the Impaler - who was the founder of the city and who is also the source of inspiration for Dracula - to Orthodox churches, second Empire-style villas, heavy Stalinist architecture of the communist period and ending with the Palace of the Parliament, a huge building with six thousand rooms, the second largest worldwide after the Pentagon. Bucovina is located in the Northern part of Romania, in North-Western Moldavia. Picturesque mountainous region with ethnographic traditions that live on unaltered, Bucovina stands out because of its dynamic touristic activity, thanks primarily to its monasteries. The five monasteries with exterior painting which were added to the world touristic heritage preserve their characteristics after more than 450 years.
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