Last updated on April 29th, 2019
Romania, officially the Republic of Romania, is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and South-eastern Europe. It has an area of 238,391 square km. Bucharest is its capital and largest city. Romanian is its official language and the Romanian Leu (RON) is its official currency. Its five land bordering countries are Bulgaria, Hungary, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine. The inhabitants or natives of this region are called Romanian.
There is much to see and do in Romania, from its beautiful Carpathian Mountains to lush fertile plains, flowing rivers and plentiful lakes. Virgin forests, rich flora and fauna, a bevy of brown bears and ancient caves and bones attract tourists and locals alike. Let us gather more information about Romania through these 50 facts that talk about its history, culture, people, economy, geography; and some interesting facts.
History of Romania
1. The first written record of people inhabiting the region of what is today Romania was in 513 BC. The kingdom of Dacia endured invasions by Goths, Avars, Huns, Magyars and Bulgars during its centuries of existence as a Roman protectorate.
2. After the end of Mongol rule in the 15th century, its history involved two Romanian principalities, Moldavia and Walachia, and Transylvania, which was a Hungarian dependency most of the time. The princes who ruled the first two became vassals of the Ottoman Empire until all three were united under the rule of Michael the Brave in 1601.
3. The next year (1602) Transylvania became independent again and the princes of Moldavia and Walachia made an ill-fated alliance with Russia’s Peter I that led to Turkish domination of the country. By the end of the 1828-29 Russo-Turkish War, with Russian forces occupying the two provinces, they remained in the Ottoman Empire but became Russian protectorates.
4. During the Crimean War in 1854 Russian troops finally evacuated Walachia and Moldavia and the Congress of Paris (1856) at the end of the war established them as principalities back under Turkish rule. Transylvania is still part of Hungary. The election of Cuza as the prince of both of them prepared the way for the official union of Moldavia and Walachia as Romania (1861-62). Constantin Maruzi was the first Prime Minister.
5. King Carol I became ruler in 1866 after Cuza was deposed in a coup. During his reign the country established an Air Force and its first oil refinery and Bram Stoker published “Dracula” based on Vlad Tepes. He is followed by his nephew King Ferdinand I.
Flag of Romania
6. With the start of World War I Romania joined Britain, Russia and France against Germany and Austria-Hungary. After it ended, in 1918 Romania took Transylvania away from Hungary and Bessarabia (taken away by Russia in 1812) became one with Romania again. The West recognized all these changes in the Treaty of Trianon in 1920. Romania also became a founding member of The League of Nations the same year.
7. In 1927 King Ferdinand died and his grandson became King Mihai I. The Iron Guard, a Fascist group, was also formed. The 1930s was a decade of political change and unrest as the Nazis rose to power in Germany and the Bolsheviks revolted in Russia. World War II saw Romania bombed by both the Allies and Germany.
8. After the war, the Communists gained control of Romania by election fraud. In 1955 Romania joined the Warsaw Pact and the United Nations. The Soviet Union withdrew its army in 1958 after 14 years of Romanian occupation. Then Nicolae Ceauşescu came to power and ruled Romania with an iron hand, spending lavishly on a national palace and government building for himself and the government while his people starved.
9. Under Ceauşescu, Romania became the first Eastern Bloc country to ever establish economic relations with the European Community. He moved the economy from an agrarian one to an industrial one by force. Finally, protests broke out in Romania in December of 1989 and a speech by the leader was interrupted by rioters. The revolution ends four decades of Communist control of Romania; Ceauşescu and his wife are executed. Romania was the only country in the Warsaw Pact to end its communist reign through violence and overthrow the government by force.
10. Romania went through a difficult transition from Communism to having a democratic government and a market economy. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007. It also received an economic bailout from the International Monetary Fund in 2009 to save it during a severe recession. Today Klaus Iohannis is the democratically elected President of Romania.
Facts about Romania’s geography and economy
11. Located in the southeastern part of Central Europe, Romania shares borders with the countries of Bulgaria, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine as well as sits on the Black Sea on its southeastern edge. The Danube River, after traveling through eight countries, flows into the Black Sea in Romania and creates the Danube Delta, one of the most biodiverse and stable wetlands in the world.
Romania on map
12. The Carpathian Mountains, also known as the Transylvanian Alps, make up around a third of the country. The hills and plateaus that are rich with vineyards and orchards occupy about 36 percent of the country. The final third is Romania’s fertile plains, the “breadbasket” of the region. Forests abound and there are over 3,000 lakes plus many rivers and streams. Some of the lakes are glacial lakes.
13. The Carpathian Mountains are divided into three different major ranges. These are the Eastern, or Oriental, Carpathians, the Western Carpathians, and the Southern Carpathians, which are also called the Transylvanian Alps. Their landscapes include terrains such as karstic, volcanic and glacial. They offer great recreational activities, including hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing and river-rafting. Skiing is also popular at resorts like Lake Balea, Paltinis and Sinaia.
14. The Scarisoara glacier is underneath the Bihor Mountains. More the 3,500 years old, it is Europe’s second largest underground glacier.
15. The Black Sea Coast in Romania occupies a little over 150 miles. With its sandy beaches, cooling waters and low tide, the area is a major tourist attraction from May until September. The beaches in the Danube Delta actually expand into the sea by about 65 feet each year. The Delta is a UNESCO Biosphere Reservation and a protected natural habitat and wetland for rare species of animals and plants.
16. Forests cover approximately one quarter of Romania, with oak, elm, maple, beech, ash and linden as well as conifers like pine, fir, spruce and larch filling them. Almost 34,000 different species of animals can be found in the country, including deer, lynx, wolves, the largest of all chamois species and over 6,000 European brown bears, the last remaining in the continent.
17. The Danube River is used for domestic shipping as well as tourist cruises and international trade. Since the end of Communism in Romania, tourism has been an ever-growing industry. In fact, it is one of the least expensive places to visit and travel in all of Europe.
18. Romania’s industries include petrochemical, chemical, metal processing, machine manufacturing, textiles, transport and industrial equipment, lumber and furniture. The country produces natural gas, coal, petroleum, salt and iron ore as well. The land is blessed with significant oil reserves and some of the largest gold deposits in all of Europe.
19. Agricultural products include corn, sunflower and vegetable oil seeds, wheat, sugar beets, apples and wine grapes. The livestock produced include sheep, pigs, cows and chickens. Romania is the ninth largest wine producer in the world.
20. Since the end of Communism, Romania’s governments have been working on turning their economy into a market one. Two long-term programs are under development: fisheries and forestry.
Romanian cultural facts
21. The great majority of the population of Romania are Romanians, followed by Hungarians and a very small percentage (less than two percent) Vlax Romani or Roma (gypsies).
22. The name Romania comes from the Latin word ‘Romanus’ or citizen of Rome, a legacy from the days when the Romans controlled ancient Dacia. Romanian is the country’s official language and it is 1,700 years old.
23. Based on old Latin, Romanian is a Romance language, like those of Greece, Germany, France, Spain, and Turkey. It contains words from these languages as well, plus some from its surrounding Slavic languages. It is the only Romance language spoken in Eastern Europe and because it’s a phonetic language, words are pronounced just as they are spelled.
24. Romanians are hospitable and generous people. Foreigners who try to speak Romanian will get positive reactions from the locals, who appreciate the effort you have made. Guests are always offered food.
25. National pride in Romania’s resilience and ability to withstand all the attacks it has survived is part of the population’s national identity. Romanians are a poor people presently, with unemployment at 11 percent and their standard of living below that of most of Western Europe. But they are a hard-working people as well.
26. One of the world’s largest populations of Roma lives in Romania. Still facing discrimination today, the Roma have been persecuted throughout history in Europe. Many have left in order to improve their lives, as the Roma have a high rate of unemployment, poverty and malnutrition. They stand out anywhere in the country in their brightly colored clothing, women in flowing skirts and men with white shirts and colorful sashes.
27. Romanians in the urban areas wear Western-style clothing. Those in rural areas sometimes still wear more traditional clothing. Women wear wool vests and skirts with embroidery that varies according to a woman’s region. Men wear pants with a belt and white shirts. Hairstyles of women can indicate their marital status. Unmarried ones braid their hair while married women cover their heads with a naframa (head cloth).
28. The Romanians’ largest meal of the day is eaten early in the afternoon. Breakfast is typically bread with jam and butter with tea. Lunch may start with an appetizer of Mitiei (grilled sausage with garlic) followed by a soup, such as Borsch (cabbage soup) or Ciorba (lamb, vegetables and mushrooms). Main dishes are usually of meat with vegetables served for side dishes. Dessert may be placinte (pie) or baklava (nut and honey pastry). Tuica (plum brandy) is popular too.
29. Romania has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. These include: the Dacian Fortress of the Orastie Mountains; the Churches of Modavia; the Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania; the Churches of Moldavia; and the Wooden Churches of Maramures among others.
30. Some notable Romanians who have made a difference in the world include: Henri Coandra (invented the modern jet engine); Nicolae Paulescu (discovered insulin); Eugen Pavel (inventor of Hyper CD-ROM; and Petrache Poenaru (inventor of the fountain pen).
Romania facts for Kids
31. The flag of Romania consists of blue, yellow and red vertical stripes. These stripes represent Transylvania, Moldavia and Walachia, the three historic components of the combined country of Romania.
32. Transylvania (which means ‘land beyond the forest’) was the home of Vlad the Impaler who inspired Bram Stoker’s novel, “Dracula”.
33. One of the stars of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics was fourteen year old Romanian Nadia Comăneci, a gymnast. During the team competition, the score for her stunningly perfect routine on the uneven parallel bars was displayed as a 1 on the scoreboard. The crowd quickly learned that Nadia had scored a ten, the first perfect score ever awarded in gymnastics, and the scoreboard had no zero for it. She would continue on to be awarded six more perfect tens in the same games as well as three gold medals.
34. Romania is situated halfway between the North Pole and the equator.
35. The capital of Romania is Bucharest, also spelled Bucuresti.
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