Romania

INTRODUCTION

Romania is the perfect land of contrasts and paradoxes the country of Constantin Brancusi, Eugene Ionesco, Emil Cioran, Mircea Eliade, and Nadia Comaneci, but also of Dracula and Nicolae Ceausescu. The Old World of Romania is a vast museum of ancient heritage and still alive even if only through its famous painted churches and monasteries, its folk art, or its feudal castles in the Carpathian Mountains. The New World may be embodied by the Parliament Palace and the subway network in Bucharest, or by the Western styles of life adopted by Romania's townsfolk.

Romania lies in South-Eastern Europe. Its neighbours are Bulgaria (South), Yugoslavia (South-West), Hungary (North-West), Ukraine (North), Moldavia (East), the Black Sea (East). The area of Romania is 91,699 sq. miles (237,500 sq. km and its population, according to the 2003 census, is 21,680,974, mainly Romanian, alongside Hungarian, German and Gypsy minorities. About 55% of Romania's inhabitants live in urban areas, and the rest in rural areas.

Romanian is a Romance language with some archaic forms and with admixtures of Slavonic, Turkish, French and Magyar words. There is a wealth of folk tales, legends, poetry, music and dance passed on through the centuries. The main religion is the Romanian Greek Orthodoxism (86.9%). The other significant denominations in Romania are Roman Catholicism (5%), Lutheranism, Calvinism (3.5%), Greek-Catholicism (1%), Pentecostalism (1%), Baptism (0.5%), Islamism (0.24%) and Judaism (0.04%).

Romania is a Republic as a form of government.Romania's capital city is Bucharest, with an area of 1,521 sq. km and a population of 1,926,334 inhabitants.The Romanian currency is Leu. The Romanian flag has three vertical bands – red, yellow and blue. The National Day is December 1 – in memory of the Romanians' Great Union (December 1, 1918).

EARLY HISTORY

Archaeological findings trace the very early history of habitation on Romanian territory to some one or two million years ago (Valea Dîrjovului, Bugiulesti, the area of rivers Olt and Oltetz in Oltenia). The process of anthropogenesis occurred in the area encompassed by the Wooded Carpathians, the Danube, and the Black Sea.

Vestiges of Neolithic cultures (Boian-Gumelnita in the Romanian Plain and the Dobrudja, Cucuteni-Ariusd in Moldavia and Eastern Transylvania, and Turdas-Petresti in Transylvania, Banat and Oltenia) have one element in common, namely, a polychrome pottery of exquisite beauty and remarkable technical achievement.

THE GETO-DACIANS

It was when the Greeks settled on the Western shore of the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus), where they set up the colonies of Tomis, Histria, Callatis, Olbia and Appolonia, that the local Thracians came into contact with the Greek world. The Greek historian Herodotus was the first to mention the population North of the Danube as Getae (Getians).

In the 6th century B.C., there are records of the Geto-Dacians, an ethno-historical entity branched out from the great Thracian trunk. The first archaeological findings relate to the Basarabi culture in Dobrudja materialized in an exquisite kind of pottery. The Geto-Dacians inhabited the vast area that stretched between the Northern Carpathian chain and the Balkan mountains.

Geto-Dacian society flourished under king Burebista (ca 82-44 B.C.), a contemporary and opponent of Caesar, and a friend of Pompey. Around the year 70 B.C., external conditions being propitious and Burebista's political and military actions successful, the Geto-Dacian people had a unique and firm rule, and a strong organization.

Burebista's country, rooted in the former social and political tradition, was strengthened by the king's conquest of Greek cities, like Tomis, Histria and Callatis on the Black Sea shore, and by eliminating the threat of Celtic invasion. In this way, Burebista came to rule over the whole Thracian-Geto-Dacian world, from the Haemus Mountains (the Balkans) to the Wooded Carpathians, from Tyras (the Dnestr) to the Tisza.

Controlling both sides of the Danube, Burebista was "the first and the greatest of the Thracian kings", as he is referred to in writing by Acornion of Dyonisopolis. The unifying centre of the Geto-Dacian state lay in the Orastie mountain zone (Sureanu) - a natural Transylvanian stronghold; there, Burebista developed a whole system of fortifications, which was to be continued by his followers Dicomes, Scoryllo, Cotiso.

His successful unifying endeavour, which led to the unity of the Geto-Dacian people, language and civilisation, made the king feel stronger, a fact which led him into believing that he was capable of measuring his military strength with that of the Romans. He was supported by the great priest Daecaeneus. Intent upon taking advantage of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, he lent his support to the latter. Unfortunately, Caesar, emerging victorious, planned to take revenge on the Dacians in war. But his murder in the year 44 B.C. delayed an armed confrontation by some one hundred and twenty years. Shortly after Caesar's death, Burebista himself was overthrown by a plot of the aristocracy discontented with the king's absolute power. After his fall, the state weakened and lost part of its territory.

The Geto-Dacians were to witness a new period of cultural and political prosperity when Decebal (A.D. 87-106) acceded to the throne. Geto-Dacian civilisation was by then at its climax. In the 1st century B.C., as the Roman Empire was expanding, the Danube became the border between the Roman Empire and the Geto-Dacians. Dobrudja was already under Roman rule beginning with the reign of Augustus.

Eventually, the Romans did declare war on the Dacians, after a first confrontation (A.D. 87-89), and they waged two bloody wars (A.D. 101-102 and 105-106). The Geto-Dacians were defeated, the Empire led by Trajan extended its bounds over the Danube and turned part of Dacia into a Roman imperial province. Two monuments commemorate the events one is Trajan's Column, in Rome, the work of Apollodorus of Damascus (A.D. 113), and the other is Trophaeum Traiani, at Adamclisi (A.D. 109).

ROMAN DACIA

The conquest of Dacia by the Romans and its turning into an imperial province (A.D. 106-271) brought about major changes in the native population's economic, social and political life. The Geto-Dacians continued to remain the main ethnic community both in the free and in the occupied territories. They continued to work side by side with the Roman colonists and veterans, who had been brought into the new Imperial province of Dacia from everywhere in the Roman World.

The spirit of the conquerors, backed by the diligence of the local population, proved very profitable for the country Dacia reached a high level of material and spiritual culture. The intense process of Romanization stamped a lasting mark on the language of the Romanian people, on their name, conscience and culture. The Romanian people's formation relied on two basic ethnic elements, namely the Geto-Dacians, and the Romans, who superposed, with a minor Slavic adjustment.

The crisis that shook the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, as well as the pressure exerted by the "Barbarian" populations, made Emperor Aurelianus (A.D. 270-275) withdraw his troops, administrative body and part of the urban population from Dacia southward, across the Danube (A.D. 271), where Dacia Aureliana was set up. However, most of the population, made up of Roman colonists and Romanized Dacians, stayed on and continued to keep up close relations with the South-Danubian Romans. These relationships were very close indeed, as attested by rich archaeological findings in Transylvania (Alba-Iulia, Bratei), Oltenia, Wallachia (Sucidava, Romula, Câmpulung-Muscel), and even in Moldavia, as well as by the wealth of coin hoards which can be found everywhere on present Romania's territory.

The process of Romanization went on north of the Danube after the 3rd century as well. This was largely due to the Christian faith which was spreading out from towns situated on the right bank of the middle and lower streams of the Danube.

Some Roman emperors, and subsequently some of the Byzantine ones, would raid the north-Danubian areas, managing, under Constantine the Great (307 - 337), Valens (364 - 378) and Justinian (527 - 565), to partially restore Roman rule over the former Dacia province.

The "Barbarian" waves that swept across Dacia's territory, i.e. Goths, Huns, Avars, Slavs changed its social and political organisation. Like in other parts of Europe, the barbarians largely destroyed town networks, and, consequently, the core of economic activities shifted from cities to the countryside, which brought about a process of ruralization of the entire society. The Daco-Roman population gathered together in what the Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga would call popular Romanii. The inhabitants of these territories developed a sense of their belonging, or of their having belonged to the Roman Empire. Their main occupation was the cultivation of land and the breeding of animals; their Roman ancestry is still reflected in the Romanian language, as the names of the chief occupations and farm products in Romanian are of Latin origin. The ethnogenesis of the Romanian people was completed by the 8th century.

THE ROMANIAN PRINCIPALITIES

Beginning with the 10th century, documents of Slavic, Byzantine, Hungarian and Latin sources bear witness to the existence of state formations throughout present Romania's territory. These formations were known as dukedoms, knezdoms and voivodeships, commonly termed by the people as "tari" (terrae)=lands, countries. The first were recorded in Transylvania and Dobrudja, and then in the lands east and south of the Carpathians.

The Transylvanian state formations reached a relatively high level of political and military organisation, putting up a long resistance to the military pressure of the Hungarians between the 9th-11th centuries. In the end, they had to give in and formed one single voievodeship, Transylvania, under Hungarian leadership. However, some of its areas continued to have local autonomy.

By the end of the 11th century and most of the 12th century, Transylvania gradually fell under Hungarian domination; yet, it preserved its own organisation, being ruled by a voivode - a specifically Romanian form of government generalised all over Transylvania until the l6th century, when this status was changed into that of a prince. In order to secure the defence of their frontiers against the inroads made by some populations (Petchenegs, Cumans and especially the Tartars), the Hungarian kings encouraged other ethnic groups of people to settle in Transylvania. This process began in the mid-12th century, when groups of Szeklers (a population mix of steppe migrants, who had followed the Hungarians on their way to Europe), and of Saxons (from Flanders, Luxembourg, the Mosel and the Rhine regions, as well as from Saxony) were brought in.

The changes that took place in Europe in the l4th century, alongside the weakening of the more than one-hundred-year-old Golden Horde, gripped the Romanian lands that lay south and east i.e. Wallachia and Moldavia. The leading Romanian circles from Transylvania, then in conflict with the Hungarian Crown because of the latter's intentions to dissolve the local autonomies, contributed to the process of unification unfolded across the mountains. As people kept crossing the mountains, a new demographic inflow and further political experience were brought to the south-and east-Carpathian leaders.

The economic exchanges, the development of boroughs and of towns linked through transit trade routes with the commercial world abroad offered a good chance to the Romanian political formations to place their unification projects on a viable basis. Once their independence from the Hungarian Crown had been won in battle, the Romanian Principalities - South and East of the Carpathians began to play an increasingly important political, military and cultural role in South-Eastern and Central Europe. The founders of the independent Romanian states were voivodes Basarab I (1324-1352) in Wallachia, and Bogdan I (1359-1365) in Moldavia.

The battles waged by voivodes Mircea the Old - Mircea cel Batrân (1386-1418), Dracula - Vlad Tepes (1456-1462) and Stephen the Great - Stefan cel Mare (1457-1504) against the Ottoman Empire enabled Wallachia and Moldavia to preserve their state independence. In the l5th century, Cetatea Dambovitei (Bucharest), an important commercial centre on the trade route to Constantinople, was founded. In the l6th century, the two principalities were obliged to submit to the Ottoman Empire's control through Charters called "Capitulatii" (Capitulations). The Romanian Principalities preserved their state entity, their own political, military and administrative structures, laws and social organization, but they had to pay the sultan an annual tribute; the Romanian countries maintained their autonomy and avoided a massive settlement of Muslims on their territories.

After the battle of Mohacs (Hungary) in 1526, and the fall of the Hungarian Kingdom, Transylvania became an autonomous principality under Ottoman suzerainty, its political regime being similar to that of Wallachia and Moldavia. This status would account for enhanced economic and political relations among the Romanian Principalities, which were also favoured by the unity of language and, in a certain geographical area, by the common tradition and historical heritage.

The heaviest burden of Ottoman suzerainty was not political, but economic. At the end of the l6th century, the tribute was raised steadily and demands for goods of all kinds, i.e. sheep, grain, lumber supplied at a very low price, had no limits; Constantinople had become dependent on supplies from the Romanian Principalities.

An important stage in Romanian history was marked by the sway of Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), between 1593-1601, who was the first to rule and control, for a short while, the three Romanian lands, i.e. Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia. Michael the Brave joined the Christian League i.e. Austria, Mantua, Ferrara, Spain, and won the battles of Calugareni and Giurgiu against the Turks (1595) - to regain the independence of his country. His seal, representing the united coats of arms of the three Romanian Countries, is a token to his intention to bring together, under one single rule, all the lands inhabited by Romanians. He would call himself prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and the whole of Moldavia. But the great powers - Austria, the Ottoman Empire, and Poland - did not favour such a policy, so that the union was short-lived. However, the idea of unification was kept alive and gave fresh impetus to the Romanians' struggle for the setting up of an independent national state.

In the peaceful moments of their history, when they were not forced to strive for their independence, Romanians bent towards culture and the works of art. Imposing princely palaces were built at Câmpulung-Muscel, Curtea de Arges and Târgoviste in Wallachia, at Suceava and Iasi in Moldavia, alongside a number of defence cities (Poienari, Cetatea Neamtului, Suceava, Chilia, Cetatea Alba etc.) and beautiful monasteries (Tismana, Cozia, Dealu, Curtea de Arges, Neamt, Putna, Voronet, Sucevita, and many others), whose artistic value has been acknowledged worldwide. The early 16th century (1508) in the Romanian Countries witnessed the use of print. Printing was to gain pride of place under the rules of Matei Basarab (1632-1654) in Wallachia, Vasile Lupu (1634-1652) in Moldavia, Serban Cantacuzino (1678-1688) and Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714) in Wallachia. The last is well known for his beautiful residence at Mogosoaia, close to Bucharest and his tragic death in 1714, when he and his four sons where beheaded by the Turks. The religious and lay books printed by that time had a wide circulation throughout South-Eastern Europe and the Christian East.

The 18th century witnessed the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of the Russian and Austrian ones. The Eastern Question came to the core of European diplomatic debates. The Romanian Principalities experienced a period of political decline because of the foreign powers' involvement. In the wake of the Karlowitz Peace (1699), Transylvania fell under Austrian rule. The province remained nevertheless an autonomous principality.

In order to curb the process of liberation in the Romanian Principalities, but also due to quarrels with the Habsburgs and the Russians, the Ottomans appointed Phanariot princes at their helm (the name comes from the Istanbul Phanar district, from which the Turks used to recruit their dragomans, i.e. foreign ministers. With the help of these new princes - actually high Turkish officials-, the Empire hoped to preserve its control over Wallachia and Moldavia. At the same time, the Ottoman political and economic supervision increased, and so did corruption. Notwithstanding its own decisions, the Ottoman Empire started to make use of the Romanian territories as if they were its own imperial possessions. Thus, at the Passarowitz Peace talks (1718), the Turks ceded Oltenia to the Habsburg Empire, which held it until the conclusion of the Belgrade Peace (1739). In 1775, the Habsburgs received a similar "donation" - this time it was Bukovina, to be followed, in 1812, by Bessarabia - the territory between the Prut and the Dnestr which was annexed to Russia.

And yet, the Phanariot regime (set up in Moldavia and Wallachia in 1711 and 1716, respectively, and lasting until 1821) represented more than a curtailment of the two countries' autonomy rights, as some of those princes espoused a reforming policy close to enlightened despotism, in an endeavour to bring Romanian society in line with the new socio-economic trends of Europe. Important reforms were introduced, like the abolition of serfdom, or a series of legal and administrative changes. Concurrently with the Romanian cultural movement, the Phanariots would promote a neo-Greek style. Greek influence in the Church and cultural life expanded.
NATION - BUILDING. MODERN AGE

The dissolution of the medieval structures throughout the territory inhabited by Romanians (mid-18th century), and the huge economic and social changes had two major consequences, namely the development of new relationships, and the emergence of a new national consciousness, conducive to the setting up of the Romanian nation.

The national Renaissance in Transylvania was embodied by bishop Ioan Inocentiu Micu (Klein), a staunch fighter for the Transylvanian Romanians' emancipation irrelevant of confessional, social and ethnic differences. The works of important scholars like Constantin Cantacuzino and Dimitrie Cantemir were continued in Transylvania by a brilliant group of Romanian intellectuals like Gheorghe Sincai, Petru Maior, Samuil Micu and Ioan Budai Deleanu, who gathered together in what was called the Scoala Ardeleana (Transylvanian School) movement. The outstanding members of this group would disseminate, through their writings, the ideas of enlightenment circulating then in Europe. They did their best to stimulate the Romanians' national spirit, by advocating the use of Romanian language and history in schools. The national movement was backed by a social one, which culminated in the 1784 peasant uprising led by Horea, Closca and Crisan.

The counterpart of the Transylvanian uprising, the 1821 Wallachian revolution led by Tudor Vladimirescu, represents an important event in the Romanian people's struggle to assert its national rights. For several months, Wallachia focused the attention of international public opinion; the relationships between Moldavia, Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire underwent some changes in 1828 - 1829 which gave the Principalities broader autonomy. As the result of the Treaty of Adrianople (1829), a virtual Russian protectorate over the principalities was imposed, reducing the Ottoman suzerainty to a few legal formalities. The Russian protectorate, despite the promulgation of constitutions, increased the Romanians' resentment towards Russia. Liberal and Western-educated boyars demanded new political reforms and an end to foreign domination. As the Romanians' sense of self-awareness grew, and the formation process of the Romanian nation beyond political bounds acquired momentum, the social and national movements grew into a vast revolutionary process.

The 1848 revolution covered all of the Romanian geographical area but Bessarabia, stimulating national consciousness. Moldavians, Wallachians and Transylvanians represented by Mihail Kogalniceanu, Nicolae Balcescu, and Simion Barnutiu voiced their decision to do away with the old social and political structure, to break new ground for national unity. One of the targets of the 1848 revolution was to bring the Romanian people close to modernity. Unfortunately, Turkey and Russia joined forces in the effort to stifle it, and eventually succeeded. The revolutionary programme, however, lived on as a national yearning and hope.

The Crimean War (1853-1856) and its aftermath brought the question of the Romanian Principalities to the forefront of European countries. Their future political status became a concern not only for the surrounding empires - Habsburg, Ottoman and Tsarist Russia - but also for other powers such as France, Prussia, and Britain. The problem was being discussed at international conferences and congresses. Meanwhile, the movement for national and political unity gained momentum.

The Paris Treaty (1856) stipulated that the Russian protectorate, strengthened in 1829 by the Adrianople Peace Treaty, be replaced by the collective guarantee of European states; it also stipulated the autonomy of the Romanian Principalities, which paved the way to the setting up of the modern Romanian state. In 1857, the assemblies of Moldavia and Wallachia voted to create a union of the two Principalities.

On January 24, 1859, the historic act of political unity between Moldavia and Wallachia under one single rule, that of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, turned a centuries-old dream into real fact. The age of the Union featured a vast and comprehensive reform programme relating to institutions, economy, and education. In 1862, Bucharest became the official capital of Romania. By initiating these changes on his own authority, Cuza asserted the de facto independence of Romania, as the united principalities were now known. But his authoritarian methods earned him many enemies who, in 1866, joined together and forced his abdication.

In February 1866, Cuza was obliged to renounce the throne in favour of the German Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. After confirmation, Carol went to Romania, called a convention in order to draft the constitution, and visited the sultan of Turkey who graciously received him. He took the title of prince Carol I, and had a long and contented reign. A wise man, Carol promoted a policy that strengthened his predecessor's achievements, and worked toward completing national unity. In 1866, a new modern liberal Constitution was drafted, which was inspired by the Belgian one.

In 1875, the re-opening of the Eastern Question dossier was a favourable moment for the modern Romanian state to reassert its independence. On May 9, 1877, the Assembly of Deputies, synthesising the aspirations of the Romanian people, proclaimed independence, with foreign minister Mihail Kogalniceanu making the decision known to the world. Romania's independence was further consolidated by the country's military involvement, alongside Russia and the Balkan peoples, in the anti-Ottoman war of 1877 - 1878. A Romanian army crossed the Danube and participated in the siege of Pleven and Vidin.

The San Stefano and Berlin treaties (1878) sanctioned the independence of Romania, later acknowledged by the European powers. These international documents re-established Romania's rights over Dobrudja, which was reunited with Romania.

Once Turkish control had been removed, Romania was able to organise its state administration on a modern basis. On 14/26 March, 1881 , the parliament voted a new form of government, the kingdom, with ruling Prince Carol and his wife - Elisabeth of Wied -, being crowned King and Queen of Romania (10th/22nd May, 1881). The king was given a crown made of steel from a cannon seized at Pleven from the Turks. As an independent state, Romania started to foster an economic policy directed toward increasing production. Independent Romania furthered a policy which allowed it to play an important role in the concert of European nations.

The 1878-1914 period was crucial in the history of the Romanians. The economy expanded; politics polarised around two parties - conservative and liberal. In 1883, Romania joined the alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. One of the reasons for this choice can be related to its strained relations with Russia after the decision of the Tsarist government in 1878 to occupy Southern Bessarabia.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Romania recorded an outstanding development of culture and science, which matched European standards. It was the time when great scientists like doctors Victor Babes, Gheorghe Marinescu and Constantin Levaditi, chemists Petru Poni and Constantin Istrati, mathematicians Spiru Haret and Traian Lalescu, historians Alexandru D. Xenopol, Dimitrie Onciul and Nicolae Iorga, and linguists Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, Alexandru Cihac, Lazar Saineanu, Sextil Puscariu, came to the fore.

With Romania being an independent kingdom, the hopes of all the Romanians who lived on territories which were still under foreign occupation, i.e. Bukovina, Bessarabia, and most of all Transylvania, turned to their fatherland. The policy of forced assimilation in the above-mentioned territories had terrible consequences. Transylvanian Romanians, who continued to be dominated by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (set up in 1867, when the province was incorporated into the Hungarian Kingdom and lost its autonomy), intensified their national liberation movement. Toward the end of the 19th century (1892), they drafted a Memorandum addressed to Emperor Franz Joseph. This important document, known also to the European media, put forward the claims of the Romanians who lived in Austria-Hungary; it made a sharp criticism of the Hungarian government's policy. At that time, the National Romanian Party played an important part in defending the Romanian national identity.

The foundation of the Romanian national state was completed during the final episode of World War I, a period of social and national unrest in Central and Eastern Europe. King Carol I died in the fall of 1914, and his nephew, Ferdinand I, came to the throne. He was married to Queen Mary, a niece of Queen Victoria of England.

After a two years' period of neutrality, in 1916, Romania joined France, Britain, Russia and Italy in war, with a view to liberating the Romanians from under Austria-Hungary's rule. The Romanians, ill-prepared, marched into Transylvania; German, Austrian and Hungarian forces defeated them, then pushed through passes in the Carpathians onto the Wallachian plain. Meanwhile, German, Turkish and Bulgarian forces pushed into Dobrudja. Bucharest was besieged in December, but Romanian forces continued to hold out in Moldavia. The Romanians won victories at Marasesti, Marasti and Oituz in 1917, but this was to no consequence, as they were forced to sign the Treaty of Bucharest in May 1918, and cease war. Romania re-entered the war prior to the armistice in 1918 and the Allied victory.



In 1866, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the first prince of the unified Romania, abdicated. In order to avoid new domestic quarrels, and to get the support of the foreign powers, the Romanian politicians decided to offer the crown of Romania to a prince of an important European dynasty. On May 10, 1866, Carol I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen swore his oath in front of the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest and became the prince of Romania. He was a relative of the German Emperor, Wilhelm I, and he was also supported by Napoleon III. In 1881, Carol and his wife, Elisabeth, were crowned as King and Queen of Romania. Elisabeth of Wied was a German princess. She was a highly cultured person and a poet. Her literary name was Carmen Sylva, and she acted as a patron of arts and culture in Romania. Carol introduced a lot of important reforms and made modern Romania'a constitutional monarchy.

In 1914, Carol died, and his successor was Ferdinand, his brother's son. He became King Ferdinand I (1914-1927); he married Maria (Mary), niece of Queen Victoria. Although a German officer and a member of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family, Ferdinand joined the Entente (France, Russia, U.K.) during the First World War, and, in 1922, he and Maria were crowned at Alba Iulia as monarchs of Greater Romania.

The son of Ferdinand, Carol, was a controversial figure. He enjoyed adventures and a life of luxury. In 1920, he married Elena (Helen) of Greece and in the next year a boy was born. His name was Mihai (Michael) of Romania. In 1927 Ferdinand died, and because Carol had already given up the throne, Mihai was proclaimed King of Romania. As he was only six years old, a Regency was settled. Three years later, his father, Carol, decided to return to Romania. He did so, and became King Carol II. In 1938, he imposed his personal government. He proved to be an intelligent but unstable character since in decisive moments of the Romanians' history like the summer of 1940, when Romania lost north-western Transylvania, Bessarabia and south Dobrudja, he would not adopt a firm stand. He was forced to abdicate by Marshal Antonescu for his lack of authority as a monarch. His son Mihai swore the oath on September 6, 1940. For nearly four years (1940-1944), the power actually belonged to Ion Antonescu, state leader. But on August 23, 1944, after a coup d'état, Antonescu was arrested, and Romania joined the United Nations alliance. In the next four years, the young king tried hard to oppose the communist onslaught on Romania's politics. But on December 30, 1947 he was forced by the communists to abdicate. He left for Switzerland and he lived there until 2001, when he chose to return to Romania. Since 1997 he has engaged himself in actions to serve his country's interests of integration within Euro-Atlantic structures .

GREATER ROMANIA. FROM DEMOCRACY TO DICTATORSHIP

In 1918, Romania's political unity, based on the principles of peoples' right to self-determination, was completed. On March 27, 1918, the Council of the Country (Sfatul Tarii) convened in Kishinew, and decided on the "unification of Bessarabia with Romania for now and all times". On November 28, 1918, the General Congress of Bukovina cast a unanimous vote for the "unconditioned and everlasting unification of Bukovina within its old borders up to Ceremus, Colacin and the Dnestr, with the kingdom of Romania". On the 1st of December, 1918, the great national assembly in Alba Iulia proclaimed the "unification of all Romanians from Transylvania, the Banat, Crisana and Maramures with Romania for all ages to come". Romanian forces in Transylvania drove into Hungary in 1919, after the communist forces there gained ground under Bela Kun, who, starting from early 1919, had launched an attack across the Tisza River against the Romanians. In 1919, the Romanians seized Budapest and occupied it for several months. The unification of all the lands inhabited by Romanians was mentioned in the Versailles peace treaties (1919-1920) after the First World War, and sanctioned by the crowning of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria at Alba Iulia in the year 1922.

After 1918, Romania made important steps forward toward strengthening national state life, by enacting major reforms the universal ballot (1918), the land reform (1921) and the Constitution of 1923. Benefitting from large natural resources and boasting a constitutional regime based on a democratic system, the country recorded a strong upsurge of development. The depression of 1929-1933 caused social unrest and instability within the country and paved the way for Carol, King Ferdiand's son, who was in exile with Elena Lupescu, his mistress. He ascended the throne in 1930, as Carol II, and brought Elena along. A fascist movement was founded in 1927 by Corneliu Codreanu, who later renamed his followers the Iron Guard. The Iron Guard grew in strength during the 1930s, and King Carol had thousands of them imprisoned, and Codreanu shot. In 1938, King Carol II abolished the constitution and proclaimed a royal government. As far as foreign policy - as represented by the great Romanian diplomat Nicolae Titulescu - was concerned, it militated for European security, with Romania playing a major role within the Society of Nations at Geneva; it also masterminded regional alliances like the Little Entente (1921), comprising Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Balkan Entente (1934), including Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey.

In 1940, Romania underwent severe territorial losses Bessarabia and the northern part of Bukovina were snatched by the Soviet Union (June 26-28), northern Transylvania was annexed by Hungary under the Vienna Diktat (August), while Bulgaria seized the southern part of Dobrudja i.e. the Quadrilateral area (September). This was mainly due to the fact that Romania had strained relations with both the U.S.S.R. and Germany, which joined together in the Ribentropp-Molotov Pact (1939), establishing the spheres of influence in Central and Eastern Europe.

The serious crisis of 1940 led to the abdication of King Carol II in favour of his son, Mihai I (Michael of Romania). In the fall of 1940, a Nazi military mission entered Romania. This situation, together with the hope of regaining Bessarabia and the northern part of Bukovina, and the danger of Bolshevism, made the government (led by Ion Antonescu) decide to side with Germany, and declare war on the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941), and subsequently, on the U.S.A. and the U.K. Ion Antonescu became Romania's state leader. The military defeats after 1942 led to many attempts made by Antonescu's government and the democratic opposition to break Romania from the alliance with Germany.

As a result of a coup d'état supported by the major political parties and King Michael's personal involvement, on August 23, 1944, the Antonescu regime was overthrown. Romania turned arms against Germany and placed its whole military and economic capability at the service of the anti-fascist coalition. Romania took part in the war until the May 1945 victory. After having pushed the enemy out of the country, the Romanian army fought to liberate Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The Paris Peace Treaty (1947), stating the 1940 Vienna Diktat null and void, made Romania re-establish its sovereign rights over Transylvania. But Bessarabia, northern Bukovina and the Herta area passed under Soviet occupation.

THE COMMUNIST REGIME

As the result of the military occupation and the agreements of I. V. Stalin and W. Churchill in Moscow (in the autumn of 1944), Romania fell into the Soviet sphere of influence, with communism becoming its governing system. The communists gradually increased their ranks in the government, with Soviet support. A pro-communist government headed by Petru Groza took over power. On June 1946, Marshal Ion Antonescu was executed. On December 30, 1947, King Michael I was compelled to abdicate; democratic opposition forces were brutally liquidated.

After 1948, Romania entered the network of Soviet satellite countries. Soviet-style nationalisation and collectivisation followed the communist take-over. Industrial entreprises, mines, banks and transport facilities became subject to a planned economy. In 1951, five year plans were introduced to develop industry and agriculture. But in the 1960s, under the leadership of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and his successor, Nicolae Ceausescu, the Communist Party of Romania began to implement a foreign policy independent of Soviet goals. Socialist state ownership and central planning fostered the rapid growth of heavy industry and forcibly turned Romania from an agrarian into an urban sociey. During the 1970s, Ceausescu attempted to modernise the Romanian economy further, by investing huge amounts of money borrowed from Western credit institutions.

Due to his grandiose development projects, the Romanian people were submitted to a rigorous austerity programme in the 1980s since Ceausescu wanted to pay off the country's accumulated foreign debt within a short period. The standards of living plunged considerably as Romania exported much of its food and fuel production. The populace was controlled by the secret police (Securitate) and the government, dominated by Ceausescu's family, squandered much of the nation's remaining wealth on megalomaniac constructions and feasts. For nearly 25 years, Ceausescu's regime slowly dragged the Romanians into an economic, social and moral deadlock. All these years were dominated by lies, corruption, terror, violation of human rights, and isolation from the Western world. When communist regimes across Eastern Europe fell in 1989, Ceausescu resisted the trend and reassessed his unpopular policies. All these things and many more heightened popular discontent and triggered the forced overthrow of the dictatorial regime in December 1989. 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, tried and executed (December 25, 1989).

THE COMMUNIST REGIME

As the result of the military occupation and the agreements of I. V. Stalin and W. Churchill in Moscow (in the autumn of 1944), Romania fell into the Soviet sphere of influence, with communism becoming its governing system. The communists gradually increased their ranks in the government, with Soviet support. A pro-communist government headed by Petru Groza took over power. On June 1946, Marshal Ion Antonescu was executed. On December 30, 1947, King Michael I was compelled to abdicate; democratic opposition forces were brutally liquidated.

After 1948, Romania entered the network of Soviet satellite countries. Soviet-style nationalisation and collectivisation followed the communist take-over. Industrial entreprises, mines, banks and transport facilities became subject to a planned economy. In 1951, five year plans were introduced to develop industry and agriculture. But in the 1960s, under the leadership of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and his successor, Nicolae Ceausescu, the Communist Party of Romania began to implement a foreign policy independent of Soviet goals. Socialist state ownership and central planning fostered the rapid growth of heavy industry and forcibly turned Romania from an agrarian into an urban sociey. During the 1970s, Ceausescu attempted to modernise the Romanian economy further, by investing huge amounts of money borrowed from

Western credit institutions. Due to his grandiose development projects, the Romanian people were submitted to a rigorous austerity programme in the 1980s since Ceausescu wanted to pay off the country's accumulated foreign debt within a short period. The standards of living plunged considerably as Romania exported much of its food and fuel production. The populace was controlled by the secret police (Securitate) and the government, dominated by Ceausescu's family, squandered much of the nation's remaining wealth on megalomaniac constructions and feasts. For nearly 25 years, Ceausescu's regime slowly dragged the Romanians into an economic, social and moral deadlock. All these years were dominated by lies, corruption, terror, violation of human rights, and isolation from the Western world. When communist regimes across Eastern Europe fell in 1989, Ceausescu resisted the trend and reassessed his unpopular policies. All these things and many more heightened popular discontent and triggered the forced overthrow of the dictatorial regime in December 1989. 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, tried and executed (December 25, 1989).



The country
  Climate. Major cities and population
  Language. Religion. Communication

  Political system and public administration
  Getting There

The Country

Romania is situated in south-eastern Europe between latitudes 43o 37' 07'' north and longitudes 20o 15' 44'' east, extending approximately 480 km north to south and 640 km east to west. The country has an area of 237,750 sq km and a population of over 21,680,974 of which 89% are Romanians, 7% Hungarians, 2% Gypsies, with small minorities of Germans, Slovaks, Turks, Russians, Bulgarians, Croats, Tartars, Czechs, Greeks, Jews, Americans, Poles, Albanians.The Carpathian mountains are in the centre of the country. They are bordered on both sides by hills and plateaus ending in the vast plains of the outer rim. Forests cover over a quarter of the country, and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe including wolves, bears, deer, the lynx and the chamois.The Danube makes the southern boundary; before it flows into the Black Sea, it forms a Delta, renowned for its rare species of both local and migratory exotic birds. Countries sharing borders with Romania are Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

Climate. Major cities and population

The climate is temperate-continental, characteristic of Central Europe (hot summers, cold winters, very distinct seasons, abundant snowfalls, especially in the mountains). Warmest areas are in the south. Annual average rainfall is 677 mm, more in the mountains (1,000 - 1,400 m), and less on the coast below (400m).

Average temperatures in different parts of the country
 
Summer
Winter
Average
Black Sea Coast
20.0 °C
2.4 °C
11.2 °C
Bucharest
21.8 °C
0.6 °C
11.2 °C
Cluj-Napoca
18.2 °C
-2.6 °C
7.8 °C
Predeal
14.5 °C
-4.5 °C
5.0 °C
Danube Delta
20.8 °C
2.3 °C
11.5 °C
Timisoara
21.2 °C
0.0 °C
10.6 °C

Major cities and population
Bucuresti - about 2.300.334
Constanta 312.010
Timisoara 308.765
Iasi 303.714
Cluj Napoca 297.014
Brasov 285.712
Sibiu 156.261
Tg. Mures 151.379
Suceava 108.735
Language. Religion. Communication

LANGUAGE

The official language is Romanian, a Roman language. English, French and German are the most widely spoken foreign languages in Romania.

RELIGION

Most Romanians are Orthodox Christians (87%). Catholics of Oriental and Roman rites are well represented (5%). There are also Reformed (Lutheran (3%), Unitarian (1%), Neo-Protestant), Armenian, Moslem and Jewish communities. Religious freedom is acknowledged and granted by the Romanian Constitution.

COMMUNICATION

Not only within Romania, but making international calls from Romania is now really cheap and convenient. Many calling companies provide services which are user-friendly and suitable for the common man. These services let you stay in touch with your loved ones at very low international call rates. You even enjoy the advantage of various discounts, offers and free calls between certain countries.

Political system and public administration

In accordance with the Constitution adopted in 1991, Romania is a parliamentary republic, with two chambers. The president of the country, the deputies and the senators are elected every four years by universal secret ballot. Romania is a multi-party state many parties are currently registered, but only a few have representatives in the Parliament. Ethnic minorities are also represented in the Parliament. Democratic rights and freedom are granted by the Constitution.

Romania's coat of arms has as its central element a golden eagle with a cross in its beak. Traditionally, this eagle appears in the coat of arms of the Arges county, the town of Pitesti and the town of Curtea de Arges. It stands for the "nest of the Basarabs," the ruling princely family who set up Wallachia, a province which played a decisive role in the history of Romania.The eagle is a symbol of Latinity and a heraldic bird of the first order, symbolising courage, determination and the soaring towards the sky, power and grandeur. It is to be found also in Transylvania's coat of arms.The shield on which it is placed is blue, standing for the sky. The eagle holds in its talons the emblem of sovereignty a sceptre and a saber; the latter reminds of Moldavia's ruling prince, Stephen the Great (1456-1504), also called "Christ's athlete", because of the many battles that he won against the Turks, whereas the sceptre reminds of Michael the Brave (1593-1601), the first who united the Romanian-speaking countries i.e. Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania.

On the bird's chest there is a quartered escutcheon with the symbols of the historical Romanian provinces i.e. Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, the Banat and Crisana, as well as two dolphins relating to the Black Sea Coast. In the first quarter there is again Wallachia's coat of arms against an azure background an eagle holding in its beak a golden Orthodox cross, alongside golden sun on the right side and a golden new moon on the left side. In the second quarter there is Moldavia's traditional coat of arms (gules) an auroch head sable with a mullet between its horns, a cinquefoil rose, and a waning crescent, both argent.The third quarter features the traditional coat of arms of the Banat and Oltenia (gules) over the waves of a river, there is a golden bridge with two arched openings (symbolising Roman emperor Trajan's bridge over the Danube), wherefrom comes out a golden lion holding a broad sword in its right forepaw.The fourth quarter shows the coat of arms of Transylvania with Maramures and Crisana a shield with an eagle sable that has a golden beak, a golden sun and an argent crescent; on the base there are seven crenellated towers, placed four and three. The lands adjacent to the Black Sea alongside two dolphins their heads down, are also represented.

The Romanian Flag is a tricoloured red, yellow and blue (the blue is cobalt, the yellow chrome and the red vermillion). It has not undergone many or major changes in the course of history. Only the distribution of the colours (in point of proportion and position) has changed to a certain extent. After the 1848 Revolution, under the impact of the French revolutionary spirit, many states in Europe adopted the dimensionally standardised three-colour banner for their national flag, and so did Romanians. Sigillography shows that formerly, the Romanian flag had its three colours arranged horizontally with the red in the upper part, the yellow in the middle and the blue in its lower part. Also, the proportion of the colours was different from today, i.e. 33 per cent for each colour. Basically however, the three colours so dear to the Romanians are to be found in banners dating back to the time of Michael the Brave, and even Stephen the Great. Moreover, recent research studies indicate that they existed even on the Dacian standard presented on Trajan's Column in Rome.

Romania's national day is December 1, the day when the national unitary state was founded in 1918. Romania's territory is divided into 40 counties administered by prefects; the mayors of municipalities, towns, communes and villages are subordinated to the county civil services. Bucharest, the capital-city of Romania, has its own civil services, similar to those of the counties.

Getting There

Getting to romania by air

Regular and charter flights of Romanian air carriers (notably TAROM, the national airline), or the foreign airlines with offices in Bucharest (Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia, British Airways etc.) connect Bucharest to the world's major airports. Some of Romania's international airports are Bucharest - Otopeni, Băneasa, Constanţa - Mihail Kogalniceanu, Timiºoara, Sibiu-Turniºor. The Otopeni International Airport in Bucharest is 18 km away from the city centre. Transfers can be made by shuttle or taxi services. In the latter case it is wise to agree the price with the driver before beginning the journey. Check with your travel agents. Tour operators can often supply transfers at very competitive rates. So can Romanian travel agencies.

GETTING TO ROMANIA BY RAIL

International express trains connect the main central European capitals with Bucharest, the Black Sea coast and main cities. Romania is a member of the International Railway Tariff System RIT and of the Inter Rail.
Getting to romania by road

The main access roads into Romania are Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest-Petea E 81; Vienna, Prague, Budapest-Bors E 60 or Nadlac E 64 or Varsaud E 671; Trieste, Belgrade-Moravita E 70 or Portile de Fier E 70; Athens, Tirana, Sofia-Giurgiu E 85; Istambul, Sofia-Vama Veche E 87; Moscow, Kiew, Chernovitz-Siret E 85. All roads are marked in accordance with international regulations. Driving by car is on the right side of the road and overtaking on the left. If you come by car to Romania, bring your driving licence, car papers and green card.The Romanian Automobile Club - ACR - and the insurance company CAROM are at your service for technical and any other assistance service you may need for your car. Call ACR at 927 in Bucharest.

Getting to romania by sea and river

Cruise ships call at the port of Constanţa (on the Black Sea coast), the country's main port. Passenger boats also operate on the Danube and the new European riverway Rotterdam-Constanţa, including the Romanian Danube Canal - Black Sea. The former call at the ports of Sulina, Tulcea and Brăila and the latter Drobeta-Turnu Severin and Giurgiu.

 
The regions of Romania

Transylvania

It is the most famous region of Romania, a land of medieval castles and towns, dark forests, snowy peaks (especially those in Transylvanian Alps). At the same time a region experiencing rapid economical development, with modern youthful cities, huge shopping centers, massive infrastructure projects etc.


Banat

This western-most province is probably the most economically developed in Romania. It has beautiful baroque cities and traditional German villages in the western plains and huge mountain forests in the eastern parts.

Oltenia

The south-western region, with impressive monasteries, caves and health resorts along the mountains in its northern part and a bizarre desert-like area in the south.


Southern Bukovina

This north-eastern region is famous for its Painted Monasteries, tucked away between picturesque rolling hills.


Maramureş

The northern-most region, it's best known for its timeless villages, traditional wooden churches and beautiful mountain landscape.


Crişana

Located along the border with Hungary, this western region is the entry point for most travelers into Romania, who often neglect its Central-European style cities, numerous medieval sites and resorts on the western side of the Apuseni mountains.


Dobrogea

A seaside province dotted by ruins of ancient Greek and Roman cities, with various summer resorts along the Black Sea Coast and the unspoiled natural landscape of the Danube Delta and the Black Sea lagoons (all of which are Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites) in the region's north. Also very ethnically diverse region with many small minority groups.


Moldavia

Certainly one of the most extraordinary regions in Romania, it offers a pleasant blend of historical cities, medieval fortresses, churches, wine and friendly locals.


Muntenia

Also known as Wallachia. The capital, Bucharest, is in this southern region, as well as the early residences of the Wallachian princes and the mountain resorts on the Prahova Valley. It is also the name of the old kingdom of leaders such as the notorious Vlad Ţepeş (The Impaler).

Keywords: The Geto-Dacians | Roman Dacia | Romanian Principalities | The Middle Ages | Nation Building | The Monarchy in Romania | Greater Romania | The Communist Regime and The Return to Democracy

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