Last updated: 19-Feb-2004 11:17 7 Invitees - Romania


Romania at a glance

Official Name:

ROMÂNIA (ROMANIA in English, ROUMANIE in French, RUMÄNIEN in German). This name was adopted in 1862, after the nation-state had been founded through the union of the two Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1859. International abbreviation: ROU.

Geographical Location

Romania is located in South-East Central Europe, north of the Balkan Peninsula, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea. It lies between 43º 37' 07" and 48º 15' 06" latitude north and 20º 15' 44" and 29º 41' 24" longitude east. The parallel of 45º north latitude (midway between the Equator and the North Pole) crosses Romania 70 km north of the capital, and the meridian of 25º east longitude (midway between the shore of the Atlantic and the Ural Mountains) passes 90 km west of Bucharest. Romania is situated at the contact of Central Europe with Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula, at the junction of major west-east and north-south European routes. Three elements have decisively marked the destiny of this area: the Carpathian Mountains, the Lower Danube and the opening to the Black Sea. With their arched form, the Carpathians determined the position of three big historical regions -- the intra-Carpathian space, opening to Central Europe, the area east of the mountains, opening to the North Pontic steppes and the one south of the mountains, facing the Balkan Peninsula. The Danube (Europe’s second longest river), which separates the Carpathian area from the Balkan world, has always provided a connection between Central Europe and the Black Sea, and has opened a gate towards the Mediterranean and the eastern world. Therefore, Romania equally belongs with the Danubian and the Black Sea states, its territory constituting a bridge between Central and Southeastern Europe and the Near East.


Romania’s borders total 3,149.9 km. Two thirds of them (2,064.4 km) are marked by rivers -- the Danube, the Prut, and the Tisza -- or follow the Black Sea shoreline, while the remaining one third (1,085.5 km) is traced over land. Romania's territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles into the Black Sea.


Romania borders on five countries, its sixth neighbour being the Black Sea. To the NE and E it borders on the Republic of Moldavia (681.3 km), to the N and E on Ukraine (649.4 km), to the SE on the Black Sea (193.5 km), to the S on Bulgaria (631.3 km), to the SW on Serbia (546,4 km) and to the W on Hungary (448.0 km). Between 1918 and 1991, over 40% of the borderline separated Romania from the USSR, at the time the largest country in Europe and the world.


238,391 sq. km, comparable to Britain’s and Ghana’s, which makes this country rank 80th in the world and 13th in Europe. Romania has an oval shape, the west-to-east straight line measuring 735 km and the north-to-south one 530 km.

Area Distribution

Arable area (39.2%), forests (28%), pastures and hayfields (20.5%), vineyards and orchards (2.3%), buildings, roads and railways (4.5%), waters and ponds (3.7%), other areas (1.8%).


With 22,459,000 inhabitants (comparable to Venezuela and Malaysia) Romania ranks 43rd in the world and 10th in Europe. Fifty-five percent of the population lives in towns and cities and 45% in the rural area.

Ethnic Structure

According to the 1992 census, 89.4% of the total population is Romanian and 10.6% is made up of ethnic minorities. There are 1,624.959 Hungarians (7.1%), 401,087 Gypsies (1.7%), 119,462 Germans (0.5%), 65,764 Ukrainians (0.3%), and 8,955 Jews (0.04%).


274,979 Romanian citizens emigrated between 1990 and 1997, of whom 100,988 were German ethnics. In 1990, right after the fall of Ceausescu’s dictatorship, 96,929 persons emigrated, whereas in 1997 only 19,945 people left the country. Over the same period (1990-1997), 36,380 people were repatriated.

Literacy Rate 95.3%.


According to the census of January 7, 1992, 19,802,389 people (86.8%) are Eastern Orthodox, 1,161,942 Roman Catholic (5%), 802,454 Reformed (3.5%), 223,327 Greek Catholic (1%), 220,824 Pentecostal (1%), 109,462 Baptist (0.5%), 77,546 Adventist (0.3%), 76,708 Unitarian (0.3%), 55,928 Muslim (0.2%), 49,963 Church of Christ (0.2%), 39.119 Evangelical of Augustan Confession (0.2%) 28,141 Old Rite Church (0.1%), 21,221 Evangelical Presbyterians (0.1%), 56,329 other denominations (0.2%), 34,645 freethinkers (0.15%).

Official Language

The Romanian language, which is the mother tongue of ca. 90% of the country’s population. Ethnic minorities are free to use their mother tongue in school, administration, the judiciary, press, culture, etc. Hungarian is spoken by the largest ethnic minority, and German by the German ethnics (Saxons and Swabians). The main foreign languages used today in Romania are English, French and German. Between the mid-19th century and the seventh decade of the 20th century, French was the main foreign language, far exceeding German.

State Anthem

Since 1990, Awake, Thee, Romanian, with lyrics by Andrei Muresanu (1816-1863) and music by Anton Pann (1796 - 1854). This used to be a march of the 1848 revolutionaries.

National Day

December 1 was proclaimed Romania's National Day in 1990. It is the anniversary of the Great Assembly of Alba Iulia, in 1918, when the union of Transylvania with Romania was voted, a moment that marked the union of all Romanians into a single state and achievement of the Romanian nation-state’s unity.


Under the Constitution of 1991, Romania is a parliamentary republic. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. Executive power is exercised by the Government, led by a Prime Minister appointed by the President of the country and sworn in by Parliament, to which he is accountable.The President, elected by universal suffrage, for two four-year terms at the most, is the supreme commander of the armed forces. Head of state: Ion Iliescu, elected president of Romania in November 2000.

Administrative divisions

According to Article 3 of the Constitution, the territory of Romania is divided into administrative units such as communes, towns and counties.

Commune: basic unit of the administrative organisation, made up of one or several villages, led by a local council and an elected mayor. Romania has 2,685 communes with 13,285 villages, or an average of five villages per commune.

Town: administrative unit headed by an elected local council and an elected mayor. Important towns may be declared municipalities. Romania has 263 towns, 82 of which are municipalities.

County: administrative unit headed by a county council and a prefect. The county council is elected to co-ordinate the activity of commune and town councils with a view to concentrating the public services of importance at county level. The Government appoints a prefect in each county as its local representative. Romania has 41 counties, including the capital city of Bucharest, which has similar status as a county. A county has an average area of 5,800 sq. km, and an average population of 500.000.

Capital City

Bucharest, the largest and most important city in Romania, its main political, administrative, economic, financial banking, education, scientific and cultural centre. Situated in S-SE Romania, at an altitude of 60-90 m., on the rivers Dâmbovita and Colentina, at 44º 25' 50" latitude north and 26º 06' 50" longitude east, approximately at the same longitude as Helsinki and Johannesburg. The city has an area of 228 sq. km. and a population of 2,016,000 (9% of the country’s total population and 15% of the urban one), being the third most populated city in the region, after Athens and Istanbul. Bucharest was first mentioned in 1459 as seat of Wallachia’s ruler Vlad Tepes although the settlement dates back to the 14th century. In the 17th-19th centuries it was the capital of Wallachia, and in 1862 it became the capital of Romania. Its population grew from 122,000 (in 1859) to 639,000 (in 1930) and to 1,452,000 in 1966. The first higher education establishment was inaugurated here in 1694 (the St. Sava Academy); the University dates back to 1864. Today the capital city has 21 higher education establishments with over 100,000 students. Bucharest shelters the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate (founded in 1925), the Romanian Academy (founded in 1867), two national libraries, 40 museums, 230 churches, an opera house, an operetta theatre, two symphony orchestras, and 20 drama theatres. With its 265,000 sq. m. of interior area, the Parliament Palace, built before 1989, is the world’s second biggest building after the Pentagon in Washington (which has 604,000 sq.m.). The subway inaugurated in 1979 (today with lines totalling 60 km) made Romania the 27th country in the world boasting such an urban transportation system. Towns And Cities. Of the 263 towns, 25 have over 100,000 inhabitants. Eight have more than 300,000 inhabitants: Bucharest (2,016,000), Iasi (350,000), Constanta (327,000), Brasov (316,000) and Craiova (314,000).