Romania (/rˈmniə/ roh-MAY-nee-ə; Romanian: România [romɨˈni.a]) is a sovereign state located in Southeastern Europe it borders the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova. It has an area of 238,391 square km (92,043 sq mi) and a temperate-continental climate. With 19.94 million inhabitants, the country is the seventh most populous member state of the European Union. Its capital and largest city, Bucharest, is the sixth largest city in the EU.

The River Danube, Europe's second longest river, rises in Germany and flows southeastwards for a distance of 2,857 km, coursing through ten countries before emptying in Romania's Danube Delta. The Carpathian Mountains, with their tallest peak Moldoveanu at 2,544 m (8,346 ft), cross Romania from the north to the southwest.

Modern Romania emerged within the territories of the ancient Roman province of Dacia, and was formed in 1859 through a personal union of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The new state, officially named Romania after 1866, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. At the end of World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia united with the sovereign Kingdom of Romania. During World War II, Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, fighting side by side with the Wehrmacht until 1944, when it then joined the Allied powers and faced occupation by the Red Army forces. Romania lost several territories, of which Northern Transylvania was regained after the war. Following the war, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition back towards democracy and a capitalist market economy.

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 NATO after 2004, and part of the European Union after 2007. A strong majority of the population identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians and are native speakers of Romanian, a Romance language. With a rich cultural history, Romania has been the home of influential artists, musicians, inventors and sportspeople, and features a variety of tourist attractions.

Etymology

Romania derives from the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome". The first known use of the appellation was attested in the sixteenth 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 additionally 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 seventeenth 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 nineteenth 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 nineteenth century. The name has been officially in use after 11 December 1861.

In English, the name of the country was formerly spelt Rumania or Roumania, corresponding to the now obsolete Romanian spelling Rumânia. Romania became the predominant spelling around 1975. Romania is additionally the official English-language spelling used by the Romanian government. Other languages, however, continue to prefer forms with u, e.g. French Roumanie, German Rumänien, Polish Rumunia, and Russian Румыния (Rumyniya).

History

Early history

The newly established Roman province of Dacia Trajana and the lands temporarily incorporated into Moesia province in the 110s AD
Decebalus, king of Dacia, as depicted in Cartea omului matur (1919)

The human remains found in Peștera cu Oase ("The Cave with Bones"), radiocarbon dated as being from circa 40,000 years ago, represent the oldest known Homo sapiens in Europe. The Neolithic-Age Cucuteni area in northeastern Romania was the western region of the earliest European civilization, known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Also the earliest known salt works in the world is at Poiana Slatinei, near the village of Lunca in Romania; it was first used in the early Neolithic, around 6050 BC, by the Starčevo culture, and later by the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the Pre-Cucuteni period. Evidence from this and additional sites indicates that the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture extracted salt from salt-laden spring water through the process of briquetage.

Prior to the Roman conquest of Dacia, the territories between Danube and Dniester rivers were inhabited by various Thracian peoples, including the Dacians and the Getae. Herodotus, in his work "Histories", notes the religious difference between the Getae and additional Thracians, however, according to Strabo, the Dacians and the Getae spoke the same language. Dio Cassius draws attention to the cultural similarities between the two people. There is a scholarly dispute whether the Dacians and the Getae were the same people.

Roman incursions under Emperor Trajan between 101–102 AD and 105–106 AD resulted in half of the Dacian kingdom fitting a province of the Roman Empire called "Dacia Felix". The Roman rule lasted for 165 years. During this period the province was fully integrated into the Roman Empire, and a sizeable part of the population were newcomers from additional provinces. The Roman colonists introduced the Latin language. According to followers of the continuity theory, the intense Romanization gave birth to the Proto-Romanian language. The province was rich in ore deposits (especially gold and silver in places like Alburnus Maior). Roman troops pulled out of Dacia around 271 AD. The territory was later invaded by various migrating peoples.

Burebista, Decebalus and Trajan are considered the Romanians' forefathers in Romanian historiography.

Middle Ages

The three principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania in under Michael the Brave.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three Romanian principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Țara Românească – "The Romanian Land"), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and in Transylvania. The existence of independent Romanian voivodeships in Transylvania as early as the ninth century is mentioned in Gesta Hungarorum, but by the eleventh century, Transylvania had become a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the additional parts, a large number of small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only under Basarab I and Bogdan I the larger principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia would emerge in the fourteenth century to fight the threat of the Ottoman Empire.

Writ issued on 14 October 1465 by Radu cel Frumos, from his residence in Bucharest, indicating Ottoman victory.

By 1541, as with the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania were under Ottoman suzerainty, preserving partial or full internal autonomy until the mid-19th century (Transylvania until 1711). This period featured several prominent rulers such as: Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, Alexander the Good and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia; Vlad the Impaler, Mircea the Elder, Matei Basarab, Neagoe Basarab and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia; and Gabriel Bethlen in the Principality of Transylvania, as well as John Hunyadi and Matthias Corvinus in Transylvania, while it was still a part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1600, all three principalities were ruled simultaneously by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), who was considered, later on, the precursor of modern Romania and became a point of reference for nationalists, as well as a catalyst for achieving a single Romanian state.

Independence and monarchy

Changes in Romania's territory after 1859.

During the period of the Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania and of Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were given few rights in a territory where they formed the majority of the population. Nationalistic themes became principal throughout the Wallachian uprising of 1821, and the 1848 revolutions in Wallachia and Moldavia. The flag adopted for Wallachia by the revolutionaries was a blue-yellow-red horizontal 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 Wallachians". The same flag, with the tricolour being mounted vertically, would later be officially adopted as the national flag of Romania.

After the failed 1848 revolutions not all the Great Powers supported the Romanians' expressed desire to officially unite in a single state. But in the aftermath of the Crimean War, the electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia voted in 1859 for the same leader, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, as Domnitor ("ruling prince" in Romanian), and the two principalities became a personal union formally under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. Following a coup d'état in 1866, Cuza was exiled and replaced with Prince Carol I of Romania of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. During the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, and in the aftermath, it was recognised as an independent state both by the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers by the Treaty of San Stefano and the Treaty of Berlin. The new Kingdom of Romania underwent a period of stability and progress until 1914, and additionally acquired Southern Dobruja from Bulgaria after the Second Balkan War.

World Wars and Greater Romania

A 1917 British map showing territories with majority Romanian populations.
Romania's territorial losses in the summer of 1940. Of these territories, only Northern Transylvania was regained.
Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu meeting with Adolf Hitler in June 1941. Romania was the main source of oil for the Axis powers in World War II and additionally a military ally for Nazi Germany.

Romania remained neutral for the first two years of World War I. Following the secret Treaty of Bucharest, according to which Romania would acquire territories with a majority of Romanian population from Austria-Hungary, it joined the Entente Powers and declared war on 27 August 1916. After initial advances the Romanian military campaign quickly turned disastrous for Romania as the Central Powers occupied two-thirds of the country within months, before reaching a stalemate in 1917. The October Revolution and Russian withdrawal from the War left Romania alone and surrounded, and a ceasefire was negotiated at Focșani that December. Romania was occupied and a harsh peace treaty was signed in May 1918. In November, Romania reentered the conflict. Total military and civilian losses from 1916 to 1918, within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000. After the war, the transfer of Bukovina from Austria was acknowledged by the 1919 Treaty of Saint Germain, of Banat and Transylvania from Hungary by the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, and of Bessarabia from Russian rule by the 1920 Treaty of Paris. All cessations made to the Central Powers in the ceasefire and treaty were nullified and renounced.

The following interwar period is referred as Greater Romania, as the country achieved its greatest territorial extent at that time (almost 300,000 km2 or 120,000 sq mi). The application of radical agricultural reforms and the passing of a new constitution created a democratic framework and allowed for quick economic growth. With oil production of 7.2 million tonnes in 1937, Romania ranked second in Europe and seventh in the world. and was Europe's second-largest food producer. Notwithstanding the early 1930s were marked by social unrest, high unemployment, and strikes, as there were over 25 separate governments throughout the decade. On several occasions in the last few years before World War II, the democratic parties were squeezed between conflicts with the fascist and chauvinistic Iron Guard and the authoritarian tendencies of King Carol II.

During World War II, 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. Again foreign powers created heavy pressure on Romania, by means of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of non-aggression from 23 August 1939. As a result of it the Romanian government and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well as from northern Bukovina in order to avoid war with the Soviet Union. The king was compelled to abdicate and appointed general Ion Antonescu as the new Prime-Minister with full powers in ruling the state by royal decree. Romania was prompted to join the Axis military campaign. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was ceded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis powers' arbitration.

The Antonescu fascist regime played a major role in The Holocaust in Romania, and copied the Nazi policies of oppression and genocide of Jews and Roma, mainly in the Eastern territories reoccupied by the Romanians from the Soviet Union. In total between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews in Romania (including Bessarabia, Bukovina and the Transnistria Governorate) were murdered throughout the war and at least 11,000 Romanian Gypsies ("Roma") were additionally killed. In August 1944, a coup d'état led by King Michael toppled Ion Antonescu and his regime. Antonescu was convicted of war crimes and executed on 1 June 1946. 9 October is now the National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust in Romania.

During the Antonescu fascist regime, Romanian contribution to Operation Barbarossa was enormous, with the Romanian Army of over 1.2 million men in the summer of 1944, fighting in numbers second only to Nazi Germany. Romania was the main source of oil for the Third Reich, and thus became the target of intense bombing by the Allies. Growing discontent among the population eventually peaked in August 1944 with King Michael's Coup, and the country switched sides to join the Allies. It is estimated that the coup shortened the war by as much as six months. Even though the Romanian Army had suffered 170,000 casualties after switching sides, Romania's role in the defeat of Nazi Germany wasn't recognised by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947, as the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia and additional territories corresponding roughly to present-day Republic of Moldova, and Bulgaria retained Southern Dobruja, but Romania did regain Northern Transylvania from Hungary.

Communism

Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was the communist leader of Romania from 1947 until his death in 1965

During the Soviet occupation of Romania, the Communist-dominated government called for new elections in 1946, which were fraudulently won, with a fabricated seventy percent 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, at times 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.

Nicolae Ceaușescu ruled Romania as its Communist leader from 1965 until 1989.
The Romanian Revolution in 1989 was one of the few violent revolutions in Europe that brought an end to Communist rule (around 4,500 casualties).

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 who refused to participate at the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia (Ceaușescu even publicly condemned 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 additionally 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 organisations (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. The charges for which they were executed were, among others, genocide by starvation.

Contemporary period

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 the 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 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 additional democratic changes of government: in 1996 Emil Constantinescu was elected president, in 2000 Iliescu returned to power, while Traian Băsescu was elected in 2004 and was narrowly re-elected in 2009. In November 2014, Sibiu mayor Klaus Iohannis was elected president, unexpectedly defeating Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who had been in the lead in the opinion polls. This surprise victory is attributed by a large number of to the Romanian diaspora, of which almost 50 percent voted for Iohannis in the first tour, compared to 16 percent for Ponta.

Former President Traian Basescu (2004–2014) has twice been impeached by the Parliament of Romania (in 2007 and in 2012), the second time on the background of street protest earlier in the year. Both times a popular referendum was called. The second time, in the Romanian presidential impeachment referendum, 2012, more than 7 million voters (88% of participants) voted to oust Basescu, much more that the 5.2 million voters who initially supported him in the Romanian presidential election, 2009. However the Constitutional Court of Romania, in a split decision, invalided the outcome of the referendum, claiming the turnout (46.24% by official statistics) was too low. Supporters of Basescu were called upon by him and his former party to not participate in the referendum, so that it would be invalidated due to insufficient turnout.

The post-1989 period is additionally characterised by the fact that most of the former industrial and economic enterprises which were built and operated throughout the Communist period have been closed, mainly as a result of the policies of privatisation of the post-1989 regimes. According to Valentin Mândrăşescu, a Romanian-language editor of the Voice of Russia, the national petroleum company Petrom has been sold to foreigners for significantly undervalued prices. Furthermore, additional major privatisations like that of Banca Comerciala a Romaniei are criticised by opponents for being detrimental to the Romanian people.

Post-1989 regimes are additionally criticised for allowing foreign exploitations of mineral, rare metals and gold reserves at Rosia Montana, as well as for permitting American multinational energy giant Chevron to prospect for shale gas using the hydraulic fracking technique which has been claimed to pollute the vast underground freshwater reserves in the affected areas. Both these actions have led to significant protests by the population in 2012 - 2014.

NATO and EU integration

Romania joined NATO in 2004 and hosted its 2008 summit in Bucharest.

After 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.

Romania joined the European Union in 2007 and signed the Treaty of Lisbon.

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. Notwithstanding Romania's development suffered a major setback throughout 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 issues 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.

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 North America and Western Europe, with particularly large communities in Italy and Spain. Currently, the Romanian diaspora is estimated to be at over two million people. The cyclical nature of the world economy and economic disparities between Romania and advanced European economies has fueled further emigration from the country. The emigration has caused social changes in Romania, whereby the parents would leave for Western Europe to escape poverty and provide a better standard of living for their children, who have been left behind. Some children are left to be taken care of by grandparents and relatives; and a few live alone, if the parents deem their kids reasonably self-sufficient. Subsequently, the youth began to be called Euro-orphans.

Geography and climate

Topographic map of Romania
Moldoveanu Peak, the highest mountain of Romania

With an area of 238,391 square km (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.

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, and the highest point at Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m or 8,346 ft, pictured right). They are surrounded by the Moldavian and Transylvanian plateaus and Carpathian Basin and Wallachian plains.

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 five percent 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 additionally 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 twenty-seven percent 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.

Romania's population of brown bears has around 6,600 individuals.

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 fifty percent of Europe's (excluding Russia) brown bears and twenty percent of its wolves.

Climate

Romania map of Köppen climate classification, according with Clima României from the Administrația Națională de Meteorologie, Bucharest 2008

Owing to its distance from open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that's 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 around 600 mm (24 in). There are a few regional differences: in the western parts (such as Banat), the climate is milder, and has a few Mediterranean influences; while the eastern part of the country has a more pronounced continental climate. In Dobruja, the Black Sea additionally exerts an influence over the region's climate.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for the six largest cities in Romania
LocationJuly (°C)July (°F)January (°C)January (°F)
Bucharest29/1584/601/−534/21
Cluj-Napoca24/1276/550/−632/20
Timișoara28/1482/582/−536/23
Iași27/1580/590/−632/19
Constanța26/1878/643/–238/28
Craiova28/1583/601/−534/22

Governance

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, and amended in October 2003 to bring it into conformity with the EU legislation. The country is governed on the basis of a multi-party democratic system and the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches. It is a semi-presidential republic where executive functions are held by both government and the president. The latter is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two terms of five years and appoints the prime minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers. The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (residing at the Palace of the Parliament), consists of two chambers (Senate and Chamber of Deputies) whose members are elected every four years by simple plurality.

The justice system is independent of the additional 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 additionally 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 additional state regulations to the constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country and can only be amended through a public referendum. The 2007 entry into the EU has been a significant influence on its domestic policy, and including judicial reforms, increased judicial cooperation with additional member states, and measures to combat corruption.

Foreign relations

Klaus Iohannis, the current President of Romania after December 2014.

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 albeit with its limited relations with Russia. It joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (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 additional countries (in particular Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia) with the process of integration with the rest of the West. Romania has additionally made clear after the late 1990s that it supports NATO and EU membership for the democratic former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Romania additionally declared its public support for Turkey, and Croatia joining the European Union. Because it has a large Hungarian minority, Romania has additionally developed strong relations with Hungary. Romania opted on 1 January 2007, to adhere the Schengen Area, and its bid to join was approved by the European Parliament in June 2011, but was rejected by the EU Council in September 2011.

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, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, declared that "Romania is one of the most trustworthy and respectable partners of the USA."

Relations with Moldova are a special case, considering that the two countries share the same language and a common history. 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. After the 2009 protests in Moldova and subsequent removal of Communists from power, relations between the two countries have improved considerably.

Military

The Romanian Armed Forces consist of Land, Air, and Naval Forces, and are led by a Commander-in-chief under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, and by the president as the Supreme Commander throughout wartime. The Armed Forces consist of approximately 15,000 civilians and 75,000 are military personnel—45,800 for land, 13,250 for air, 6,800 for naval forces, and 8,800 in additional fields. The total defence spending in 2007 accounted for 2.05% of total national GDP, or approximately US$2.9 billion, with a total of $11 billion spent between 2006 and 2011 for modernization and acquisition of new equipment.

Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan throughout a joint operation in 2003.

The Air Force currently operates modernised Soviet MiG-21 Lancer fighters which are due to be replaced by twelve F-16s, recently purchased. The Air Force purchased seven new C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters, while the Naval Forces acquired two modernised Type 22 frigates from the British Royal Navy.

Romania has contributed troops to the international coalition in Afghanistan after 2002, with a peak deployment of 1,600 troops in 2010. Its combat mission in the country concluded in 2014. 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 a few 1,900 troops deployed in Afghanistan. The Regele Ferdinand frigate participated in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.

In December 2011, the Romanian Senate unanimously adopted the draught law ratifying the Romania-United States agreement signed in September of the same year that would allow the establishment and operation of a US land-based ballistic missile defence system in Romania as part of NATO's efforts to build a continental missile shield.

Administrative divisions

Romania is divided into 41 counties (județe, pronounced judets) 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 can't 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 (primar), 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.

Development regionArea (km2)Population (2011)Most populous urban center*
Nord-Vest34,1592,600,132Cluj-Napoca (411,379)
Centru34,0822,360,805Brașov (369,896)
Nord-Est36,8503,302,217Iași (382,484)
Sud-Est35,7622,545,923Constanța (425,916)
Sud - Muntenia34,4893,136,446Ploiești (276,279)
București - Ilfov1,8112,272,163Bucharest (2,272,163)
Sud-Vest Oltenia29,2122,075,642Craiova (356,544)
Vest32,0281,828,313Timișoara (384,809)

Economy

Dacia Duster concept at the Geneva Motor Show (2009).

In 2015, Romania had a GDP (PPP) of around $414 billion and a GDP per capita (PPP) of $20,787. According to CIA's The World Factbook, Romania is an upper-middle income country economy. According to Eurostat, Romania's GDP per capita (PPS) was at 57 percent of the EU average in 2015, an increase from 41 percent in 2007 (the year of Romania's accession to the EU), making Romania one of the fastest growing economies in the EU.

After 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 onward, 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. Notwithstanding a recession following the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 forced the government to borrow externally, including an IMF €20bn bailout program. GDP has been growing by over two percent each year since. According to IMF, the GDP per capita purchasing power parity grew from $14,875 in 2007 to an estimated $19,397 in 2014. Romania still has one of the lowest net average monthly wage in the EU of €540 in 2012, and an inflation of 3.7% in 2013. Unemployment in Romania was at seven percent in 2012, which is quite low compared to additional EU countries.

Romania is part of the EU single market.

Industrial output growth reached 6.5% year-on-year in February 2013, the highest in the EU-27. The largest local companies include car maker Automobile Dacia, Petrom, Rompetrol, Ford Romania, Electrica, Romgaz, RCS & RDS and Banca Transilvania. Exports have increased substantially in the past few years, with a thirteen percent 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 account balance in 2012 was estimated to be −4.52% of the GDP.

After a series of privatisations and reforms in the late 1990s and 2000s, government intervention in the Romanian economy is somewhat lower than in additional European economies. In 2005, the government replaced Romania's progressive tax system with a flat tax of sixteen percent for both personal income and corporate profit, among the lowest rates in the European Union. The economy is predominantly based on services, which account for 51 percent of GDP, even though industry and agriculture additionally have significant contributions, making up 36 percent and thirteen percent of GDP, respectively. Additionally, thirty percent 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, fitting 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 additional 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).

Since 1867 the official currency has been the Romanian leu ("lion") and following a denomination in 2005, it has been valued at €0.2–0.3. After joining the EU in 2007, Romania is expected to adopt the euro sometime around 2020.

At 1 July 2015, Romanian's external debt was €90.59 billion.

Concerns about stability were raised after the resignation of the Victor Ponta government on November 4, 2015. Notwithstanding the effects of the current political uncertainty on the economy would depend on how quickly a new Cabinet is formed and the measures it will take, central bank governor Mugur Isarescu said on November 5, 2015; the country is macroeconomically stable, he added. Romania's economic growth estimate is 3.5 percent for the current year, according to the European Commission's (EC) November 5, 2015 forecast.

Infrastructure

Romania's road network.
Electricity supply mix 2010.

According to the CIA Factbook, Romania's total road network was estimated in 2009 at 81,713 km (50,774 mi) (excluding urban areas), out of which 66,632 km (41,403 mi) was paved roads. The World Bank estimates the railway network at 22,298 km (13,855 mi) of track, the fourth-largest railroad network in Europe. Rail transport experienced a dramatic decline after 1989, and was estimated at 99 million passenger journeys in 2004; but has experienced a recent (2013) revival due to infrastructure improvements and partial privatisation of lines, accounting for 45 percent of all passenger and freight movements in the country. Bucharest Metro, the only underground railway system, was opened in 1979 and measures 61.41 km (38.16 mi) with an average ridership in 2007 of 600,000 passengers throughout the workweek. There are sixteen international commercial airports in service today, with five of them (Henri Coandă International Airport, Aurel Vlaicu International Airport, Timișoara International Airport, Constanta International Airport and Sibiu International Airport) being capable of handling wide-body aircraft. Over 9.2 million passengers flew through Bucharest's Henri Coandă International Airport in 2015.

Romania is a net exporter of electrical energy and is 46th worldwide in terms of consumption of electric energy. Around a third of the produced energy comes from renewable sources, mostly as hydroelectric power. In 2010, the main sources were coal (36%), hydroelectric (33%), nuclear (19%), and hydrocarbons (11%). It has one of the largest refining capacities in Eastern Europe, even though oil and natural gas production has been decreasing for more than a decade. With one of the largest reserves of crude oil and shale gas in Europe, it is among the most energy-independent countries in the European Union, and is looking to further expand its nuclear power plant at Cernavodă.

There were almost 18,3 million connexions to the Internet in June 2014. According to Bloomberg, in 2013 Romania ranked fifth in the world and second in Europe in terms of internet connexion speed, with Timișoara ranked among the highest in the world.

Tourism

Bran Castle near Brașov, at times advertised as "Dracula's Castle", is a popular attraction for tourists.

Tourism is a significant contributor to the Romanian economy, generating around five percent of GDP. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Romania was estimated to have the fourth fastest growing travel and tourism total demand in the world, with an estimated potential growth of eight percent per year from 2007 to 2016. The number of tourists has been steadily rising, reaching 3.5 million in the first half of 2014. Tourism in Romania attracted €400 million in investments in 2005.

More than sixty percent of the foreign visitors in 2007 were from additional EU countries. The popular summer attractions of Mamaia and additional Black Sea Resorts attracted 1.3 million tourists in 2009. Most popular skiing resorts are along the Valea Prahovei and in Poiana Brașov. Castles in Transylvanian cities such as Sibiu, Brașov, and Sighișoara additionally attract a large number of tourists. Bran Castle, near Brașov, is one of the most famous attractions in Romania, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists every year as it is often advertised as being Dracula's Castle.

Rural tourism, focusing on folklore and traditions, has become an important alternative, and is targeted to promote such sites as Bran and its Dracula's Castle, the Painted churches of Northern Moldavia, and the Wooden churches of Maramureș. Other attractions include the Danube Delta, and the Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuși at Târgu Jiu.

In 2014, Romania had 32,500 companies which were active in the hotel and restaurant industry, with a total turnover of EUR 2.6 billion. More than 1.9 million foreign tourists visited Romania in 2014, twelve percent more than in 2013. According to the country's National Statistics Institute, a few 77 percent came from Europe (particularly from Germany, Italy and France), twelve percent from Asia, and less than seven percent from North America.

Science and technology

Coandă-1910 was an early aircraft with ducted fan propulsion.

Historically, Romanian researchers and inventors have made notable contributions to several fields. In the history of flight, Traian Vuia made the first aeroplane to take off on its own power and Aurel Vlaicu built and flew a few of the earliest successful aircraft, while Henri Coandă discovered the Coandă effect of fluidics. Victor Babeș discovered more than 50 types of bacteria; biologist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin, while Emil Palade, received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to cell biology. Lazăr Edeleanu was the first chemist to synthesise amphetamine and he additionally invented the procedure of separating valuable petroleum components with selective solvents, while Costin Nenițescu developed numerous new classes of compounds in organic chemistry. Notable mathematicians include Spiru Haret, Grigore Moisil, and Ștefan Odobleja; physicists and inventors: Șerban Țițeica, Alexandru Proca, and Ștefan Procopiu.

During the 1990s and 2000s, the development of research was hampered by several factors, including corruption, low funding and a considerable brain drain. Notwithstanding after the country's accession to the European Union, this has begun to change. After being slashed by fifty percent in 2009 because of the global recession, R&D spending was increased by 44 percent in 2010 and now stands at $0.5 billion (1.5 billion lei). In January 2011, the Parliament additionally 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 organisations such as CERN and the European Space Agency. Overall, the situation has been characterised as "rapidly improving", albeit from a low base.

The nuclear physics facility of the European Union's proposed Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) laser will be built in Romania. In early 2012, Romania launched its first satellite from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guyana. Starting December 2014, Romania is a co-owner of the International Space Station.

Demographics

Historical population
YearPop.±%
18664,424,961—    
18875,500,000+24.3%
18995,956,690+8.3%
19127,234,919+21.5%
193018,057,028+149.6%
193919,934,000+10.4%
194113,535,757−32.1%
194815,872,624+17.3%
195617,489,450+10.2%
196619,103,163+9.2%
197721,559,910+12.9%
199222,760,449+5.6%
200221,680,974−4.7%
201120,121,641−7.2%
2016 (est.)19,474,952−3.2%
Figures prior to 1948 don't reflect current borders.
Ethnic map of Romania based on 2011 census data.

According to the 2011 census, Romania's population is 20,121,641. Like additional countries in the region, its population is expected to gradually decline in the coming years as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates and negative net migration rate. In October 2011, Romanians made up 88.9% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Hungarians, 6.5% of the population, and the Roma, 3.3% of the population. Hungarians constitute a majority in the counties of Harghita and Covasna. Other minorities include Ukrainians, Germans, Turks, Lipovans, Aromanians, Tatars, and Serbs. In 1930, there were 745,421 Germans in Romania, but only about 36,000 remain today. As of 2009, there were additionally approximately 133,000 immigrants living in Romania, primarily from Moldova and China.

The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2015 was estimated at 1.33 children born per woman, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1, and one of the lowest in the world. In 2014, 31.2% of births were to unmarried women. The birth rate (9.49‰, 2012) is much lower than the mortality rate (11.84‰, 2012), resulting in a shrinking (−0.26% per year, 2012) and ageing population (median age: 39.1, 2012), with approximately 14.9% of total population aged 65 years and over. The life expectancy in 2015 was estimated at 74.92 years (71.46 years male, 78.59 years female).

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 additional European countries, North America or Australia. For example, in 1990, 96,919 Romanians permanently settled abroad.

Languages

The official language is Romanian, an Eastern Romance language similar to Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and Istro-Romanian, but sharing a large number of features with additional Romance languages such as Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. (The Romanian alphabet contains the same 26 letters of the English, plus 5 others, totaling 31.) Romanian is spoken as a first language by 85 percent of the population, while Hungarian and Vlax Romani are spoken by 6.2% and 1.2% of the population, respectively. There are 25,000 native German speakers, and 32,000 Turkish speakers in Romania, as well as almost 50,000 speakers of Ukrainian, concentrated in a few compact regions, near the border, where they form a majority. According to the Constitution, local councils ensure linguistic rights to all minorities, with localities with ethnic minorities of over 20%, that minority's language can be used in the public administration, justice system, and education. Foreign citizens and stateless persons that live in Romania have access to justice and education in their own language. English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. In 2010, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie identifies 4,756,100 French speakers in the country. According to the 2012 Eurobarometer, English is spoken by thirty-one percent of Romanians, French is spoken by 17%, and Italian by 7%.

Religion

The Iași Metropolitan Cathedral, founded in 1833, is the largest Orthodox church in Romania.
Religion in Romania (2011 census)
ReligionPercentage
Eastern Orthodox
  
81.0%
Roman Catholic
  
4.3%
Reformed
  
3.0%
Pentecostal
  
1.8%
Greek Catholic
  
0.7%
Baptist
  
0.6%
Seventh-day Adventist
  
0.4%
Other
  
1.8%
Non-Religious
  
0.2%
No data
  
6.2%

Romania is a secular state and has no state religion. An overwhelming majority of the population identify themselves as Christians. At the country's 2011 census, 81.0% of respondents identified as Orthodox Christians belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Other denominations include Protestantism (6.2%), Roman Catholicism (4.3%), and Greek Catholicism (0.8%). From the remaining population, 195,569 people belong to additional Christian denominations or have another religion, which includes 64,337 Muslims (mostly of Turkish and Tatar ethnicity) and 3,519 Jewish. Moreover, 39,660 people have no religion or are atheist, whilst the religion of the rest is unknown.

The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church in full communion with additional Orthodox churches, with a Patriarch as its leader. It is the only Orthodox church using a Romance language and the second-largest in size after the Russian Orthodox Church. 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.

Urbanization

Although 54.0% of the population lived in 2011 in urban areas, this percentage has been on the decline after 1996. Counties with over ⅔ urban population are Hunedoara, Brașov and Constanța, while with less than a third are Dâmbovița (30.06%) and Giurgiu and Teleorman. Bucharest is the capital and the largest city in Romania, with a population of over 1.8 million in 2011. Its larger urban zone has a population of almost 2.2 million, which are planned to be included into a metropolitan area up to 20 times the area of the city proper. An Additional 19 cities have a population of over 100,000, with Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara of slightly more than 300,000 inhabitants, and Iași, Constanța, Craiova, Brașov, Galați and Ploiești with over 200,000 inhabitants. Metropolitan areas have been constituted for most of these cities.

Education

University of Bucharest was opened in 1864.
Illiteracy rate by county (2011). Cooler colours indicate a lower rate of literacy, and warmer colours indicate a higher rate of illiteracy. The national average is 1.22%.

Since the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Romanian educational system has been in a continuous process of reform that has received mixed criticism. In 2004, a few 4.4 million of the population were enrolled in school. Out of these, 650,000 in kindergarten (3–6 years), 3.11 million in primary and secondary level, and 650,000 in tertiary level (universities). In the same year, the adult literacy rate was 97.3% (45th worldwide), while the combined gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools was 75 percent (52nd worldwide). Kindergarten is optional between 3 and 6 years. Since 2012, compulsory schooling starts at age 6 with the "preparatory school year" (clasa pregătitoare) and is compulsory until tenth grade. Primary and secondary education is divided into 12 or 13 grades. There additionally exists a semi-legal, informal private tutoring system used mostly throughout secondary school, which has prospered throughout the Communist regime.

Higher education is aligned with the European higher education area. The results of the PISA assessment study in schools for the year 2012 placed Romania on the 45th rank out of 65 participant countries, though Romania often wins medals in the mathematical olympiads and not only. Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași, Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, University of Bucharest, and West University of Timișoara have been included in the QS World University Rankings' top 800.

Healthcare

Romania has a universal health care system, and total health expenditures by the government are roughly five percent of the GDP. It covers medical examinations, any surgical interventions, and any post-operator medical care, and provides free or subsidised medicine for a range of diseases. The state is obliged to fund public hospitals and clinics. The most common causes of death are cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Transmissible diseases, such as tuberculosis, syphilis or viral hepatitis, are quite common by European standards. In 2010, Romania had 428 state and 25 private hospitals, with 6.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people, and over 200,000 medical staff, including over 52,000 doctors. As of 2013, the emigration rate of doctors was 9%, higher than the European average of 2.5%.

Culture

Mihai Eminescu is the national poet of Romania and Moldova.
George Enescu was an influential Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher

Arts and monuments

The topic of the origin of the Romanians began to be discussed by the end of the eighteenth century among the Transylvanian School scholars. Several writers rose to prominence in the nineteenth 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 twentieth 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 latter 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 writer Herta Müller received 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 nineteenth and twentieth 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 honour of the twentieth century emponymous composer. Contemporary musicians like Angela Gheorghiu, Gheorghe Zamfir, Inna, Alexandra Stan and a large number of others have achieved various levels of international acclaim. At the Eurovision Song Contest Romanian singers have achieved third place in 2005 and 2010.

In cinema, several movies of the Romanian New Wave have achieved international acclaim. At the Cannes Film Festival, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu won Palme d'Or in 2007. At the Berlin International Film Festival, Child's Pose by Călin Peter Netzer won the Golden Bear in 2013.

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

Folkloric dance group wearing Romanian traditional costumes from Bistrița-Năsăud county.
Traditionally painted Easter eggs.

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 throughout 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 throughout the twentieth century, is a popular ceremonial vestment worn on these festivities, especially in the rural areas. Sacrifices of live pigs throughout Christmas and lambs throughout Easter has required a special derogation from EU law after 2007. During Easter, painted eggs are quite common, while on 1 March features mărțișor gifting, a tradition likely of Thracian origin.

Romanian cuisine shares a few similarities with additional Balkan cuisines such as Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish 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 meats, but lamb and fish are additionally popular. Certain traditional recipes are made in direct connexion with the holidays: chiftele, tobă and tochitura at Christmas; drob, pască and cozonac at Easter and additional Romanian holidays. Țuică is a strong plum brandy reaching a seventy percent alcohol content which is the country's traditional alcoholic beverage, taking as much as 75 percent of the national crop (Romania is one of the largest plum producers in the world). Traditional alcoholic beverages additionally include wine, rachiu, palincă and vișinată, but beer consumption has increased dramatically over the recent years.

Sports

Simona Halep is among the top-ranked female tennis players in the world.

Association football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Romania with over 234,000 registered players as of 2010. The governing body is the Romanian Football Federation, which belongs to UEFA. The Romania national football team has taken part seven times in the FIFA World Cup games and had its most successful period throughout the 1990s, when they reached the quarterfinals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and was ranked third by FIFA in 1997. The core player of this "Golden Generation" was Gheorghe Hagi, who was nicknamed "the Maradona of the Carpathians." Other successful players include Nicolae Dobrin, Dudu Georgescu, Florea Dumitrache, Liță Dumitru, Ilie Balaci, Loți Bölöni, Costică Ștefănescu, Cornel Dinu or Gheorghe Popescu, and most recently Adrian Mutu, Cristian Chivu, Dan Petrescu or Cosmin Contra.

The most famous successful club is Steaua București and was the first Eastern European team to win the European Champions Cup in 1986, and were runners-up in 1989. Dinamo București reached the European Champions' Cup semifinal in 1984 and the Cup Winners' Cup semifinal in 1990. Other important Romanian football clubs are Rapid București, UTA Arad, Universitatea Craiova, CFR Cluj and Petrolul Ploiești.

Nadia Comăneci was the first gymnast to score a perfect ten in an Olympic event.

Tennis is the second most popular sport, with over 15,000 registered players. Romania reached the Davis Cup finals three times (1969, 1971, 1972). The tennis player Ilie Năstase won several Grand Slam titles, and was the first player to be ranked as number 1 by ATP between 1973 and 1974. Virginia Ruzici won the French Open in 1978, and was runner-up in 1980, Simona Halep played the final in 2014 and is currently ranked second by the WTA.

Other popular team sports are Team Handball, Basketball and Rugby Union. Both the men's and women's handball national teams are multiples world champions. On 13 January 2010, Cristina Neagu became the first Romanian in handball to win the IHF World Player of the Year award. Basketball is widely enjoyed, especially by the youth. Gheorghe Mureșan was one of the two tallest players to ever play in the NBA. In 2016, Romania was chosen as a host for the 2017 EuroBasket. The rugby national team has competed in every Rugby World Cup. Popular individual sports include athletics, chess, judo, dancesport, table tennis and combat sports (Lucian Bute, Leonard Dorin Doroftei, Mihai Leu aka Michael Loewe, Daniel Ghiță, Benjamin Adegbuyi, Andrei Stoica, etc.). While it has a limited popularity nowadays, oină is a traditional Romanian sporting game similar to baseball that has been continuously practised after at least the fourteenth century.

Romania participated in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1900 and has taken part in 18 of the 24 summer games. It has been one of the more successful countries at the Summer Olympic Games, with a total of 301 medals won throughout the years, of which 88 gold ones, ranking 15th overall, and second (behind neighbour Hungary) of the nations that have never hosted the game. It participated at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in defiance of a Warsaw Pact boycott and finished second in gold medals (20) and third in total medal count (53). Almost a quarter of all the medals and 25 of the gold ones were won in gymnastics, with Nadia Comăneci fitting the first gymnast ever to score a perfect ten in an Olympic event at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Romanian competitors have won gold medals in additional Olympic sports: rowing, athletics, canoeing, wrestling, shooting, fencing, swimming, weightlifting, boxing, and judo. At the Winter Olympic Games, Romania has won only a bronze medal in bobsleigh at the 1968 Winter Olympics.