3 minute read


Romania, or Rumania, republic in southeastern Europe occupying the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula and bordering the Black Sea. Once part of the Roman Empire, its language is directly descended from Latin and closely resembles modern Italian. Although Romania was a communist country and a member of the Warsaw Pact, its foreign and economic policies were independent of those of the Soviet Union. Romania has worked to advance its own agriculture and industry, seeking relations with nations of the West as well as the East. Not withstanding democratization in the early 1990s the communists still hold key positions in politics and society.

Land and climate

The Carpathian Mountains are Romania's dominant geographical feature. They cross the forested southern Bukovina region and divide Moldavia in the east from Transylvania in the west. Moldavia extends east from the mountain highlands and sheltered valleys to the Prut River, forming the Moldavian “platform”—an unrelievedly flat plain covered by loess. AroundBrasov, the Carpathians turn westward into the Transylvanian Alps, whose peaks reach heights of 8,347 ft (2,541 m). Beyond the Timis River, the mountain chain is continued by the Banat Mountains, which slope down to the fertile plains of the Tisza River Lowlands on the eastern edge of the Hungarian Plain. Within the arc of the Carpathians lies the Transylvania Plateau, a region of low hills, fertile valleys, and alluvial plains. At the western edge of the Carpathians, the Danube River flows south and east before swinging north to its delta, which is rich in wildlife. Between the Danube and the Carpathians are the fertile plains of Walachia. The only part of Romania south of the Danube is the Dobruja, a narrow, low-lying coastal strip that is marshy but fertile, extending into Bulgaria.

In general, Romania has a continental climate with cold, snowy winters. Winters are especially long and severe on the eastern plains and in the Dobruja. Summer temperatures average 70°F (20°C). Rainfall averages 25 in on the plains and 10 in in parts of the Dobruja. The high west-facing mountain slopes receive more than 60 in of rain and snow annually.


About 90% are Romanians, with Hungarian and German minorities. Over half of the population of Romania lives in town. The largest cities are Bucharest, Brasov, Iasi, Timisoara, Constantsa, Cluj-Napoca, and Galati. Bucharest is the capital city.


Over 60% of the land area of Romania is agricultural, but industry provides half of the national income. About 25% of the land is covered by forests. With large oil fields in the Prahova Valley, Romania is one of the largest producers of petroleum and natural gas in Europe. Copper, lead, coal, iron ore, and lead are mined. Principal industries are iron and steel, machinery, textiles, and chemicals. The main exports are oil-field equipment, furniture, agricultural machinery, and textiles.


Most of modern Romania was once part of ancient Dacia, thoroughly imbued with the language and culture of Rome. After the 13th century the two principalities of Moldavia and Walachia emerged, existing as dependencies of Turkey until 1829, then as Russian protectorates. United in 1861, Romania gained its independence in 1878. After World War I the Romanian-speaking province of Transylvania was acquired from Austria-Hungary. In the 1930s the country was dominated by Fascist rule; in 1941 dictator Ion Antonescu sided with the Axis powers. Overrun by the USSR in 1944, Romania became a satellite state. After King Michael's abdication in 1947 it became a republic. In the 1960s and 1970s Romania worked to establish diplomatic and economic relations with the West. In the 1980s, Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania's ruler since 1965, began a “modernization” program to industrialize urban communities. Romania's subsequent debt to Western European banks has slowed its economic growth. In December 1989, an anti-communist revolution resulted in Ceausescu's ouster and subsequent execution. On May 20, 1990 Ion Iliescu was elected president. While trying to modernize its economy, Romania has adopted harsh economic measures, which have led to continued political and social unrest.The 1996 elections ended the ex-Communists' power.


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Romanesque art and architecture to Sadducees