Fast Facts

Population:
21,612,000
Capital:
Bucharest; 1,853,000
Area:
238,391 square kilometers (92,043 square miles)
Language:
Romanian, Hungarian, German
Religion:
Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic
Currency:
Leu
Life Expectancy:
71
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $7,600
Literacy Percent:
98
Flag: Romania
Map: Romania

Romania lies on the Black Sea coast of southeastern Europe. The Carpathian Mountains and the Transylvanian Alps divide the country into three physical and historical regions: Wallachia in the south, Moldavia in the northeast, and Transylvania in the country's center. The majority of the people are Romanian (89 percent), but the Hungarian minority, living in the Transylvanian basin, numbers some 1.7 million.

Communists took power in 1947 and installed a Soviet-style government. Under President Nicolae Ceausescu, however, Romania steered its own course, refusing to participate in Warsaw Pact maneuvers and conducting half its trade with the West. Police arrested dissidents and monitored contacts with foreigners.

A producer of grain and oil, Romania—so named because it was a colony of imperial Rome—is also a favored Black Sea vacation spot. But Romanian citizens enjoyed little of the bounty under communism. To help repay bank loans, petroleum and agricultural produce were exported during the 1980s, while imports were restricted, electricity was rationed, and shop shelves lay bare. With decline in production, basic commodities remained scarce and exports slowed.

In 1989 government security police killed demonstrators in Timisoara and Bucharest, igniting a revolution. The ensuing execution of Ceausescu and his wife ended their reign of repression, deprivation, and ethnic discrimination. The governments that followed have been laboring under massive foreign debt. Significant levels of public and private corruption impede economic growth and undercut public trust in new democratic institutions. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and became a member of the European Union in 2007.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Textiles and footwear, light machinery and auto assembly, mining, timber
  • Agriculture: Wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets; eggs
  • Exports: Textiles and footwear, metals and metal products, machinery and equipment, minerals and fuels

—Text Adapted From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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