Romania is gorgeous country of the northern Balkans, on the crossroad between the Central and the South-eastern Europe, at half the distance between the Atlantic Coast and the Urals, covering the area of 237.600 square km. Romania borders with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and Moldova to the northeast and Bulgaria to the south. Romania is with its large territory the largest country in the southeastern Europe and the 12th-largest country in Europe. Romania includes the great part of the basin of the Danube River system situated on either side of the Carpathians. If you are expecting hospitality, tradition, wild life and nature, castles and medieval towns that are waiting to be safely discovered, than Romania is the right choice.
Romania is country of outstanding hospitable people proud of the the originality of the traditional crafts and folk-songs. Romania is divided into several historic regions that no longer perform any administrative function: Dobrogea is the easternmost region of Romania, historical region at present shared between Romania and Bulgaria which extends from the northward course of the Danube River to the shores of the Black Sea and is represented by dolphins in the coat of arms in Romania. Moldavia stretches from the Eastern Carpathians to the Prut River on the Moldavian and Ukrainian border. Wallachia reaches south from the Transylvanian Alps to the Bulgarian border and is divided by the Olt River into Oltenia on the west and Muntenia on the east, that attained its independence in 1330 under rule of Ivanko Basaraba. The Danube River which flows on Romania’s territory along 1,075 km forms a natural border between Muntenia and Dobruja. The west-central region of Romania, known as Transylvania, is delimited by the magnificent arc of the Carpathians, which separates it from the Maramures region in the northwest; by the Crisana area, which borders Hungary in the west; and by the Banat region of the southwest, which adjoins both Hungary and Serbia. It is these areas in Romania west of the Carpathians that contain the highest concentrations of the nation’s largest ethnic minorities – Hungarians, Germans and Serbs.
Climate of Romania is between temperate and continental, with cold and cloudy winters and hot and sunny summers and four distinct seasons. Winter is a cold season, the cold air masses coming from the East bring temperatures down to -20 C or below (the record is -38.5 to Bod, near Brasov, registered on 25.01.1942). Precipitation in Romania is average with over 750 mm per year only on the highest western mountains — much of it falling as snow, which allows for an extensive skiing industry. In the south-central parts of Romania, around Bucharest the level of precipitation drops to around 600 mm, while in the Danube Delta, rainfall levels are very low, and average only around 370 mm. A large part of Romania’s border with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube River. Prut River is one of the major tributaries of the Danube and makes the border with the Moldova. The Danube River flows into the Black Sea within Romania’s territory forming the Danube Delta, the second largest and the best preserved delta in Europe, and a Biosphere Reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. Other major rivers or Romania are Mures /761 km/, Prut /742 km/, Siret, Olt /615 km/ and Mures.
Territory of Romania is distributed roughly equally between mountainous /31%/, hilly /33%/ and lowland territories /36%/. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the center of Romania, with 14 mountain ranges reaching above 2,000 meters and the highest point at the Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 meters). These are surrounded by the Moldovian and Transylvanian plateaus and the Pannonian and the Wallachian plains.
Geographical diversity of Romania has led to an accompanying great diversity of flora and fauna. Romania boasts over 700 protected areas, including 25 National and Nature Parks, 2 Geo-parks, 3 Biosphere Reserves and 1 World Natural Heritage Site – The Danube Delta, covering more than 16,300 sq km. The Retezat National Park in the Southern Carpathians, the Rodna National Park in the Eastern Carpathians and the Danube Delta have been included by UNESCO, as biosphere reserves, on its list of protected nature monuments of Romania. About a half of the land area of Romania is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Since almost half of all forests in Romania (13% of the country) have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. The integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. There are also almost 400 unique species of mammals (of which Carpathian chamois are best known), birds, reptiles and amphibians in Romania. The fauna of Romania consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate. In Romania there have been identified 3,700 plant species from which to date 23 have been declared natural monuments, 74 missing, 39 are endangered, 171 vulnerable and 1,253 are considered rare. The three major vegetation areas in Romania are the alpine zone, the forest zone and the steppe zone. The vegetation is distributed in an storied manner in accordance with the characteristics of soil and climate and includes various species of oaks, sycamores, beeches, spruce, firs, willows, poplars, meadows and pines.
There are 12,000 square km which makes 5% of the total area of Romania of protected areas, covering 13 national parks and three biosphere reserves: the Danube Delta, Retezat National Park and Rodna National Park. The Danube Delta Reserve Biosphere is the largest and least damaged wetland complex in Europe, covering a total area of 5,800 square km. The significance of the biodiversity of the Danube Delta has been internationally recognized. Danube Delta was declared a Biosphere Reserve in September 1990, a Ramsar site in May 1991, and over 50% of its area was placed on the World Heritage List in December 1991. Within its boundaries lies one of the most extensive reed bed systems in the world.
Romania is one of Europe’s richest and most remarkable countries in terms of natural healing factors. Romania is home to more than one third of Europe’s mineral and thermal springs, with 70 natural spas that provide relief for many medical disorders and illnesses including rheumatism, endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory, heart, stomach and nervous diseases as well as nutrition, metabolism and gynecological disorders.
The name of Romania comes from Romanian : român which is a derivative of the Latin : Romanus /Roman/. The fact that Romanians call themselves a derivative of Romanus is first mentioned in the 16th century by Italian humanist who traveled to Transylvania, Moldova and Wallachia. The oldest surviving document written in the Romanian language dates from 1521 and is notable for having the first occurrence of “Rumanian” in a Romanian written text, Wallachia being here named The Rumanian Land – Ţeara Rumânească (Ţeara from the Latin : Terra land; current spelling: Ţara Românească). In the following centuries, Romanian documents use interchangeably two spelling forms: român and rumân. Socio-linguistic evolutions in the late 17th century led to a process of semantic differentiation: the form “rumân”, presumably usual among lower classes, got the meaning of “bondsman”, while the form roman kept an ethno – linguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the form “rumân” gradually disappears and the spelling definitively stabilizes to the form “român”, “românesc”. Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used “Rumânia” to refer exclusively to the principality of Wallachia, the southern part of modern Romania. The name “România” as common homeland of all Romanians is documented in the early 19th century. This name has been officially in use since 11 December 1861. English-language sources still used the terms “Rumania” or “Roumania”, borrowed from the French spelling “Roumanie”, as recently as World War II but since then those terms have largely been replaced with the official spelling “Romania”. The Romanian Cyrillic alphabet was used to write the Romanian language before 1860–1862. Cyrillic alphabet remained in place in occasional use until the 1930s – mostly in Bessarabia, when it was officially forcibly replaced with Latin alphabet – an alphabet representing the “Latin origins” of the Romanian people.
Romania’s diverse outstanding natural landscapes offer numerous choices for exciting outdoor experiences. Travelers can walk through serene alpine meadows of Romania, covered with scores of wildflowers, trek around glacial lakes, take in the lush-green scenery while horse riding or mountain biking, climb curious rock formations, photograph fossil traces of 15,000-year old cave-bear species, track gold eagles or other rare birds, study endangered flora, wander in the countryside, picnic in the fields, try their hand at traditional crafts, or just relax in the home of a village family and meet wonderful locals, while sampling wholesome, country fare with home made wine and plum brandy.
Romania is divided into forty-one counties (judete), as well as the municipality of Bucharest (Bucuresti), which is its own administrative unit. Each county of Romania is administered by a county council (consiliu judetean), responsible for local affairs, as well as a prefect, who is appointed by the central government but cannot be a member of any political party.
Bucharest is the Capital of Romania, located in the southeast of Romania.