three ranges, with an average elevation of 2,620 feet (800 m),
form a semicircle, open to the west through structural depressions
("gates"), that shelters the tableland of the Transylvanian
Basin in the central part of the country. On the outer fringe
of the Carpathians' great arc are the Subcarpathians, reaching
elevations between 1,300 and 3,300 feet (400 and 1,000 m). The
eastern and southern plains occupy one-third of the country's
total area and formed the populated cores of historic Moldavia
and Walachia, respectively.
climate is intermediate between the temperate and continental
types. Average annual temperatures range from 52°
C) in the south to 45°
C) in the north; average annual rainfall ranges from 16 inches
(400 mm) in the southeast to 55 inches (1,400 mm) in the Carpathian
Mountains. Oak, beech, and coniferous forests cover about one-fourth
of the land.
represent almost 90 percent of the populace. The largest minorities
are the Hungarians (7 percent), who live mostly in Transylvania,
Gypsies (2 percent), and Germans (0.5 percent). Romanian is the
official language, although Hungarian and German are preserved
by their communities and may be used as languages of instruction
86 percent of Romanians profess affiliation to the Romanian Orthodox
church. A small number of Romanians (mostly living in Transylvania)
adhere to the Eastern-rite Roman Catholic Church of Romania, while
Hungarians and Germans are mostly Roman Catholic, Calvinist, or
and death rates are moderate, but infant mortality is still relatively
high. One-fourth of the population is younger than 15 years. Life
expectancy at birth is 66 years for males and 72 years for females.
About half of the population lives in urban areas.
communist rule from 1948 to 1989, Romania had a centrally planned
economy. During that period its mostly agricultural economy was
transformed into one based largely on heavy industries and services.
From 1991, the post-communist government began taking steps to
return industrial and commercial enterprises to the private sector.
The gross national product (GNP) per capita is lower than that
of most other eastern European countries.
accounts for about one-sixth of the national income and employs
more than one-fourth of the labour force. More than two-fifths
of the land is arable. The agricultural output of the collective
farms under communist rule was low, however, and the government
has undertaken to distribute some collective farmlands to private
citizens. Major grain crops include corn (maize), wheat, rye,
and barley, and potatoes and sugar beets are important root crops.
The Subcarpathians are a well-known viticultural region. Sheep
and pigs are the main livestock reared. Most of the timber removed
annually from the forests is used in industry.
mineral resources are inadequate, although bauxite, iron ore,
and lead are mined. Fuels, minerals, and metals account for approximately
one-half of the country's imports.
and mining account for more than two-thirds of the national income,
are dominated by heavy industries, and employ almost two-fifths
of the labour force. The country's major manufactures include
steel and aluminum, machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, and
cement. Romania's light industries, which centre on the production
of textiles and processed foods, were neglected under the communist
regime. Electricity is largely generated by coal- and oil-fired
plants. Hydroelectric power provides only about one-sixth of Romania's
electricity. Machinery and transport equipment, fuels, and chemicals
are major exports.
railways provide the main method of transportation for both freight
and passengers. About half of the road network is paved. The Danube
River and the Danube-Black Sea Canal continue to be major shipping
routes. Bucharest and several other cities have international
and social conditions.
its formal independence in 1878 until World War II, Romania was
a constitutional monarchy, ruled by a hereditary king whose personal
powers often conflicted with the demands of political groups representing
large landowners, the urban middle class, and peasants. From 1948
to 1989 the country was ruled by the Communist Party of Romania
(Partidul Comunist Romān), under a political system basically
modeled on that of the Soviet Union.
December 1989 a revolution toppled the country's communist leader,
Nicolae Ceausescu, and since the adoption of the 1991 constitution,
Romania has been a multiparty republic. The president is elected
directly every four years, and the bicameral legislature is elected
by proportional vote. National minorities are guaranteed seats
in the legislature. Political parties are divided roughly between
former communists who prefer a cautious restructuring of the socialist
economy, democrats who advocate a more radical reform of the system,
and minority parties that seek to ensure a voice for ethnic groups.
standard of living remains below that of most European countries
owing to economic mismanagement and the neglect of social services
under the communist regime. Both urban and rural housing have
been in short supply since World War II, and medical care is inadequate
in many areas.
literacy rate of 96 percent reflects its comprehensive educational
system, which is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16 and free
at all levels. In addition to general and secondary schools, a
wide range of technical and professional schools is available.
have made significant contributions in the arts and humanities.
Among writers, the poet Mihail Eminescu created a school of poetry
that influenced Romanian writers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The 20th-century composer and violinist Georges Enesco became
a leader of Romanian composers. Modernist tendencies in the 20th-century
visual arts are exemplified by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi.
earliest inhabitants of Romania included the Thracians, whose
descendants, known as the Getae, established contact with Greek
colonies that appeared on the shore of the Black Sea in the 7th
century BC. Together with the Dacians, a related people living
in the Carpathian Mountains and in Transylvania, the Getae established
a distinct society by the 4th century BC. The Romans subjugated
the Geto-Dacians by AD 106. Roman rule, though brief, left an
enduring legacy in the Romanian language, which is derived from
Latin. Constant invasions by the Goths forced the Romans to abandon
Dacia in the late 3rd century, and over the next eight centuries
the land was swept by invasions of Visigoths, Huns, Avars, Slavs,
Bulgars, and Magyars. According to some Hungarian scholars, during
this period the Romanized Dacians withdrew south of the Danube
River, only to return to the Romanian plains and to Transylvania
during the Middle Ages. Romanian scholars argue that, while some
Dacians did follow their Roman masters, most sought refuge in
the Carpathian Mountains or continued to occupy the plains and
tablelands of old Dacia. (see also Index: Roman Republic
to the first Bulgarian empire (8th-10th century) brought Eastern
Orthodox Christianity to the Romanians. In the 11th century Transylvania
was absorbed into the Hungarian empire. The first Romanian state,
Walachia, was established south of the Carpathians during the
early 14th century, and a second, Moldavia, was founded in 1349
east of the Carpathians in the Prut River valley. However, in
the late 14th century Walachia and, in 1455, Moldavia became vassal
states of the Ottoman Empire. Both remained Turkish dependencies
until the 19th century, while Romanians in Transylvania lived
under Hungarian control. In 1812 Russia gained control of Bessarabia
nationalism began to rise in the mid-19th century. Insurrections
erupted in Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania but were suppressed
by the Ottomans and Russians. Following the Crimean War (1853-56),
Walachia and Moldavia became independent principalities once again,
and in 1859 both elected a single prince to rule them, creating
the de facto state of Romania with its capital at Bucharest. This
state was united administratively in 1861 and won international
recognition in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) following the Russo-Turkish
entered World War I with the Allies, but the Central Powers soon
occupied Bucharest and much of the country. With the defeat of
the Central Powers in 1918, Romania's territory was doubled by
the addition of Transylvania, Bukovina, and Bessarabia. Although
it satisfied the aspirations of Romanian nationalists, this Greater
Romania was troubled during the interwar years by the resentments
of its newly incorporated minorities, by the worldwide economic
depression of the 1930s, and by the rise of extremist political
organizations such as the Iron Guard, a fascist movement similar
to those that existed in Germany and Italy. In order to assure
its independence Romania entered into an alliance with Nazi Germany
in 1941. By then 500,000 German soldiers were occupying Romanian
soil, and a joint German-Romanian army was formed to invade the
Soviet Union; but by 1944 Soviet troops had overrun the country.
Under their occupation, leaders of the conservative, liberal,
and peasant parties were forced from office, and at the end of
1947 the Romanian king was forced to abdicate. Romanian communists
acquired complete control of the Grand National Assembly in the
March 1948 elections, adopted a Soviet-style constitution, and
proclaimed the Romanian People's Republic.
1948 Romania entered the network of Soviet satellite countries,
but in the 1960s, under the leadership of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
and his successor, Nicolae Ceausescu, the Communist Party
of Romania (CPR) began to implement a foreign policy independent
of Soviet goals. Using the socialist tools of state ownership
and central planning, the CPR fostered the rapid growth of heavy
industry and transformed Romania from an agrarian to an urban
society. During the 1970s Ceausescu attempted to modernize
the Romanian economy further by investing huge sums borrowed from
Western credit institutions. His grandiose development projects
failed, however, and consequently the Romanian people were subjected
to a rigorous austerity program in the 1980s in order to pay off
the country's accumulated foreign debt. The standard of living
plunged as Romania exported much of its food and fuel production.
The populace was terrorized by the secret police, and the government,
dominated by Ceausescu's family, squandered much of the
nation's remaining wealth on public monuments and urbanization
communist regimes across eastern Europe fell in 1989, Ceausescu
resisted the trend and reasserted his unpopular policies. In mid-December
of that year, however, antigovernment demonstrations erupted in
the country's cities, and, when the Romanian army joined the uprising
against him, Ceausescu fled. He was arrested by the new
provisional government and was tried and executed. In the course
of the revolution a group calling itself the Council of the National
Salvation Front took over the reins of government. The council,
which represented a broad coalition of former communists and noncommunists
alike, held multiparty elections to the presidency and the national
parliament in May 1990. These elections were won by the National
Salvation Front, whose formerly communist leaders called for a
gradual and controlled transition to a free-market economy in
Romania. This party dominated the drafting of a new constitution
in 1991, and, renamed the Democratic National Salvation Front,
it retained control of the government following national elections
in September and October 1992.
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