Main article: Geography of Romania
General map of Romania
With a surface area of 238,391 square kilometres (92,043 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in southeastern Europe and the twelfth-largest in Europe. It lies between latitudes 43° and 49° N, and longitudes 20° and 30° E(SONY VGP-BPS11 battery).
Romania's terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountainous, hilly and lowland territories. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the centre of Romania, with 14 mountain ranges reaching above 2,000 m/6,600 ft, and the highest point at Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m/8,346 ft). These are surrounded by the Moldavian and Transylvanian plateaus and Pannonian and Wallachian plains. Romania's geographical diversity has led to an accompanying diversity of flora and fauna(SONY VGP-BPL11 battery).
A large part of Romania's border with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube. The Prut River, one of its major tributaries, forms the border with the Republic of Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea within Romania's territory forming the Danube Delta, the second largest and best preserved delta in Europe, and also a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. Other major rivers are the Siret (596 km), the Olt (614 km), the Prut (742 km), the Someş (388 km), and the Mureş (761 km) (SONY VGP-BPL12 battery).
Lakes and lake complexes have a low share throughout Romania, occupying only 1.1% of total land area. The largest lake complex in size is Razelm-Sinoe (731 km²), located on the Black Sea seaside. Glacial lakes exist in the Făgăraş Mountains, a result of quaternary glaciation, of which the largest are: Lake Avrig (14,700 m²), Bâlea Lake (46,500 m²), Capra Lake (18,000 m²), etc. Other notable lakes are Lake Sfânta Ana, the only volcanic lake in Romania, and Red Lake, a natural dam lake, both situated in Harghita County(SONY VGP-BPS12 battery).
Main article: Climate of Romania
Owing to its distance from the open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is transitional between temperate and continental, with four distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is 11 °C (52 °F) in the south and 8 °C (46 °F) in the north. The extreme recorded temperatures were 44.5 °C (112.1 °F) at Ion Sion in 1951 and −38.5 °C (−37.3 °F) at Bod in 1942(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery).
Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days. Summers are generally very warm to hot, with summer (June to August) average maximum temperatures in Bucharest rising to 28 °C (82 °F), and temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) fairly common in the lower-lying areas of the country. Minima in Bucharest and other lower-lying areas are around 16 °C (61 °F). Autumn is dry and cool(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery), with fields and trees producing colorful foliage. Winters can be cold, with average maxima even in lower-lying areas reaching no more than 2 °C (36 °F) and below −15 °C (5 °F) in the highest mountains. Precipitation is average with over 750 mm (30 in) 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 the country (around Bucharest) the level of precipitation drops to around 600 mm (24 in) (SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery), while in the Danube Delta, rainfall levels are very low, and average only around 370 mm.
Because of Romania's geographic location, respectively the regional orographic peculiarities, there exists a varied range of local winds. Humid winds from the northwest are most common, but often the drier winds from the northeast are strongest. A hot southwesterly wind, the austru (cf. lat. Auster), blows over western Romania, particularly in summer(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery). In winter, cold and dense air masses encircle the eastern portions of the country, with the cold northeasterly known as the crivăţ blowing in from the Russian Plain, and oceanic air masses from the Azores, in the west, bring rain and mitigate the severity of the cold. Other wind types present locally are nemirul, black wind, foehn, băltăreţul, zephyr, cosava etc. Romania enjoys four seasons, though there is a rapid transition from winter to summer(SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery). Autumn is frequently longer, with dry warm weather from September to late November.
Main articles: Flora of Romania, List of mammals of Romania, and Protected areas of Romania
A high percentage (47% of the land area) of the country 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(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery), 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 consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery).
Some 3,700 plant species have been identified in the country, from which to date 23 have been declared natural monuments, 74 missing, 39 endangered, 171 vulnerable and 1,253 rare. The three major vegetation areas in Romania are the alpine zone, the forest zone and the steppe zone. The vegetation is distributed in a storied manner in accordance with the characteristics of soil and climate and includes various species of oaks, sycamores, beeches, spruces, firs, willows, poplars, meadows, and pines(SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery).
There are almost 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (about 5% of the total area) of protected areas in Romania 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 km2 (2,200 sq mi) (SONY VGP-BPS21B battery). The significance of the biodiversity of the Danube Delta has been internationally recognised. It 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(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery).
Main article: Administrative divisions of Romania
Romania is divided into 41 counties and the municipality of Bucharest. Each county is administered by a county council, responsible for local affairs, as well as a prefect responsible for the administration of national affairs at the county level. The prefect is appointed by the central government but cannot be a member of any political party(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery).
Each county is further subdivided into cities and communes, which have their own mayor and local council. There are a total of 319 cities and 2,686 communes in Romania. A total of 103 of the larger cities have municipality statuses, which gives them greater administrative power over local affairs. The municipality of Bucharest is a special case as it enjoys a status on par to that of a county. It is further divided into six sectors and has a prefect, a general mayor, and a general city council(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery).
The NUTS-3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) level divisions of European Union reflect Romania's administrative-territorial structure, and correspond to the 41 counties plus Bucharest. The cities and communes correspond to the NUTS-5 level divisions, but there are no current NUTS-4 level divisions. The NUTS-1 (four macroregions) and NUTS-2 (eight development regions) divisions exist but have no administrative capacity(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery), and are instead used for coordinating regional development projects and statistical purposes .
Main article: Politics of Romania
Main article: Government of Romania
Logo of the Government of Romania
The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France's Fifth Republic and was approved in a national referendum on 8 December 1991. A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with European Union legislation. The country is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legislative(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery), executive and judicial powers. Romania is a semi-presidential republic where executive functions are held by both government and the president. The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, each term lasts five years. He appoints the prime minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers (based at Victoria Palace) (SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery). The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (residing at the Palace of the Parliament), consists of two chambers – the Senate with 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies with 346 members. The members of both chambers are elected every four years under a system of party-list proportional representation(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery).
The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery). The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituţională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can only be amended by a public referendum, the last of which took place in 2003. Since this amendment, the court's decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament(SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery).
The country's entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU, and it was ranked, together with Bulgaria and Greece, as the most corrupt EU country by Transparency International in 2009(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery).
Main article: Foreign relations of Romania
2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest.
Since December 1989, Romania has pursued a policy of strengthening relations with the West in general, more specifically with the United States and the European Union. It joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on 29 March 2004, the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007, while it had joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1972, and is a founding member of the World Trade Organization(SONY VGP-BPS14B battery).
The current government has stated its goal of strengthening ties with and helping other Eastern European countries (in particular Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia) with the process of integration with the West. Romania has also made clear since the late 1990s that it supports NATO and EU membership for the democratic former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Romania also declared its public support for Turkey, and Croatia joining the European Union(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). With Turkey, Romania shares a privileged economic relation. Because it has a large Hungarian minority, Romania has also developed strong relations with Hungary. Romania opted on January 1, 2007 to adhere the Schengen Area, an area of free movement in Europe that comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). Romania's bid to join the Schengen Area was approved by the European Parliament in June 2011 and is currently being considered by the Council of Ministers. Prospective implementation date is October 2011, following that to Romania will be conferred the relapse to international travel with border controls for travellers circulating in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery).
In December 2005, President Traian Băsescu and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement that would allow a U.S. military presence at several Romanian facilities primarily in the eastern part of the country. In May 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that "Romania is one of the most trustworthy and respectable partners of the USA" during a visit of the Romanian foreign minister(SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery).
Relations with Moldova are a special case considering that the two countries practically share the same language, and a fairly common historical background. A movement for unification of Romania and Moldova appeared in the early 1990s after both countries achieved emancipation from communist rule, but lost ground in the mid-1990s when a new Moldovan government pursued an agenda towards preserving a Moldovan republic independent of Romania(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery). Romania remains interested in Moldovan affairs and has officially rejected the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, but the two countries have been unable so far to reach agreement on a basic bilateral treaty. After the 2009 protests in Moldova and subsequent removal of Communists from power, relations between the two countries have improved considerably.
Romania has several embassies, general and honorary consulates in major cities around the world. In December 2005, the President of Romania Traian Băsescu and the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement which allows the installation of U.S. military bases in Romania(SONY Vaio VGC-LB15 battery).
Main article: Romanian Armed Forces
See also: Military history of Romania
Romanian soldiers in Southern Afghanistan during a joint operation with United States Armed Forces
The Romanian Armed Forces consist of Land, Air, and Naval Forces, and are led by a Commander-in-chief who is managed by the Ministry of Defense. The president is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces during wartime. Of the 90,000 men and women that comprise the Armed Forces, approximately 15,000 are civilians and 75,000 are military personnel—45,800 for land, 13,250 for air, 6,800 for naval forces, and 8,800 in other fields(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50B/B battery). The total defence spending in 2007 accounted for 2.05% of total national GDP, or approximately US$2.9 billion (39th in the world), and a total of about 11 billion will be spent between 2006 and 2011 for modernization and acquisition of new equipment.
The Land Forces have overhauled their equipment in the past few years, and today are an army with multiple NATO capabilities, actively participating in the War in Afghanistan. The Air Force currently operates modernized Soviet MiG-21 LanceR fighters which are due to be replaced by new fighters by 2013(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50B/P battery), according to present plans. However due to poor economical conditions this may change. The Air Force purchased seven new C-27J Spartan tactical airlift to replace the bulk of the old transport force. Two modernized Type 22 frigates were acquired by the Naval Forces in 2004 from the Royal Navy, and a further four modern missile corvettes have been commissioned by 2010(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50B/W battery).
Romanian troops participated in the occupation of Iraq, reaching a peak of 730 soldiers before being slowly drawn down to 350 soldiers. Romania terminated its mission in Iraq and withdrew its last troops on July 24, 2009, among the last countries to do so. Romania currently has some 1,900 troops deployed in Afghanistan(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50DB/W battery).
Main article: Economy of Romania
Further information: List of Romanian companies
With a GDP of around $254 billion and a GDP per capita (PPP) of $11,860 for the year 2010, Romania is an upper-middle income country economy and has been part of the European Union since 1 January 2007.
Dacia Duster concept at the Geneva Motor Show, 2009
After the Communist regime was overthrown in late 1989, the country experienced a decade of economic instability and decline(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ51B/P battery), led in part by an obsolete industrial base and a lack of structural reform. From 2000 onwards, however, the Romanian economy was transformed into one of relative macroeconomic stability, characterised by high growth, low unemployment and declining inflation. In 2006, according to the Romanian Statistics Office, GDP growth in real terms was recorded at 7.7%, one of the highest rates in Europe(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ51B/R battery). Growth dampened to 6.1% in 2007, but was expected to exceed 8% in 2008 because of a high production forecast in agriculture (30–50% higher than in 2007). The GDP grew by 8.9% in the first nine months of 2008, but growth fell to 2.9% in the fourth quarter and stood at 7.1% for the whole 2008 because of the financial crisis. Thereafter, the country fell into a recession in 2009 and 2010(SONY Vaio VGC-BJ51B/W battery), where the GDP contracted −7.1% and −1.3% respectively. It is estimated by the IMF that the GDP will grow again by 1.5% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2012.
According to Eurostat data, the Romanian PPS GDP per capita stood at 45% of the EU average in 2010. Inflation in 2010 was 6.1%. Unemployment in Romania was at 7.6% in 2010, which is very low compared to other middle-sized or large European countries such as Poland, France and Spain. General government gross debt is also comparatively low, at 34.8% of GDP(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ51DB/B battery). Exports have increased substantially in the past few years, with a 13% annual rise in exports in 2010. Romania's main exports are cars, software, clothing and textiles, industrial machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, metallurgic products, raw materials, military equipment, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, and flowers). Trade is mostly centred on the member states of the European Union, with Germany and Italy being the country's single largest trading partners. The current account balance in 2010 held a deficit of $6.842 billion(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52B/N battery).
After a series of privatisations and reforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s, government intervention in the Romanian economy is somewhat lower than in other European economies. In 2005, the government replaced Romania's progressive tax system with a flat tax of 16% for both personal income and corporate profit, resulting in the country having the lowest fiscal burden in the European Union(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52B/P battery), a factor which has contributed to the growth of the private sector. The economy is predominantly based on services, which account for 51.2% of GDP, even though industry and agriculture also have significant contributions, making up 36% and 12.8% of GDP, respectively. Additionally, 29.6% of the Romanian population was employed in 2006 in agriculture and primary production, one of the highest rates in Europe(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52B/W battery).
Since 2000, Romania has attracted increasing amounts of foreign investment, becoming the single largest investment destination in Southeastern and Central Europe. Foreign direct investment was valued at €8.3 billion in 2006. According to a 2006 World Bank report, Romania currently ranks 55th out of 175 economies in the ease of doing business, scoring higher than other countries in the region such as the Czech Republic. Additionally, the same study judged it to be the world's second-fastest economic reformer (after Georgia) in 2006(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52DB/B battery).
The average gross wage per month in Romania was 1855 lei in May 2009, equating to €442.48 (US$627.70) based on international exchange rates, and $1110.31 based on purchasing power parity. In 2009 the Romanian economy contracted as a result of the global economic downturn. Gross domestic product contracted 7.2% in the fourth quarter of 2009 from the same period a year earlier, and the budget deficit for 2009 reached 7.2% of GDP(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ53B/W battery). Industrial output growth however reached 6.9% year-on-year in December 2009, the highest in the EU-27.
Main article: Transport in Romania
Road network of Romania
The Transfăgărăşan, one of the highest and most dramatic paved roads in the country
CFR's icon, the "Blue Arrow" (Săgeata Albastră)
All transportation infrastructure in Romania is the property of the state, and is administered by the Ministry of Transports, Constructions and Tourism, except when operated as a concession, in which case the concessions are made by the Ministry of Administration and Interior(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ54B/W battery).
According to CIA Factbook, Romania total road network is estimated to be 81,713 km long (excluding urban areas), out of which 66,632 km are paved and 15,081 km (2009) are unpaved. The World Bank estimates that the road network that is outside of cities and communes (i.e. excluding streets and village roads) is about 78,000 km long. There are plans to build a 2,262.7 km-long motorway system, consisting of six main motorways and six bypass motorways(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ90HS battery), as of 2011, 371.5 km are built and 845 km have construction contracts under way.
Due to its location, Romania is a major crossroad for international economic exchange in Europe. However, because of insufficient investment, maintenance and repair, the transport infrastructure does not meet the current needs of a market economy and lags behind Western Europe. Nevertheless, these conditions are rapidly improving and catching up with the standards of Trans-European transport networks(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ90S battery). Several projects have been started with funding from grants from ISPA and several loans from International Financial Institutions (World Bank, IMF, etc.) guaranteed by the state, to upgrade the main road corridors. Also, the Government is actively pursuing new external financing or public-private partnerships to further upgrade the main roads, and especially the country's motorway network(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ91HS battery).
Romania has a relatively well-developed airport infrastructure compared to other countries in Eastern Europe, but still underdeveloped compared to Western European standards. There are 17 commercial airports in service today, most of them opened for international traffic. Five of the airports (OTP, BBU, TSR, CND, SBZ) have runways of over 3,000 m in length and are capable of handling wide-body aircraft(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ91S battery). Three of the airports (BCM, CRA, SUJ) have runways of 2,500 m in length, while the rest of them have runways of 1,800 to 2,000 m. As of December 2006, TCE and CSB are the only airports with no regular flights. Almost all the airports have experienced traffic growth in the last 4 years.
The World Bank estimates that the railway network in Romania comprised 22,298 kilometres (13,855 mi) of track in 2004, which would make it the fourth largest railroad network in Europe(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ92HS battery). The railway transport experienced a dramatic fall in freight and passenger volumes from the peak volumes recorded in 1989 mainly due to the decline in GDP and competition from road transport. In 2004, the railways carried 8.64 billion passenger-km in 99 million passenger journeys, and 73 million metric tonnes, or 17 billion ton-km of freight. The combined total transportation by rail constituted around 45% of all passenger and freight movement in the country(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ92S battery).
Bucharest is the only city in Romania which has an underground railway system. The Bucharest Metro was opened in November 16, 1979 and is now one of the most accessed systems of the Bucharest public transport network with an average ridership of 600,000 passengers during the workweek. Currently, the Bucharest Metro measures 61.41 km lengthwise and includes five metro lines, one proposed and one under construction(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ94HS battery).
Romania has 16 international airports, of which the busiest are Henri Coandă International Airport (4,917,952 passengers, 2010) and Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (2,118,150 passengers, 2010). Also, Romania disposes of an unworkable international airport (Caransebeş Airport) and 16 under construction or planned airports, whose construction will be completed until 2020(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ94S battery). Romania has about 200 flight corridors, as much as any other European country. The air traffic has doubled in the last 20 years, in summer of 2010, Romania was crossed by 150 aircrafts simultaneously, bringing considerable incomes to TAROM airline. As of May 2011, TAROM flies to 47 destinations (including the seasonal destinations), such as: Cairo, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Vienna, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Athens, Budapest, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul and London(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/W battery).
Main article: Tourism in Romania
Venus, a aestival resort on the Romanian seashore
Tourism focuses on the country's natural landscapes and its rich history and is a significant contributor to the Romanian economy. In 2006, the domestic and international tourism generated about 4.8% of gross domestic product and 5.8% of the total jobs (about half a million jobs). Following commerce, tourism is the second largest component of the services sector(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/R battery). Tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest developing sectors of the economy of Romania and characterized by a huge potential for development.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Romania is the fourth fastest growing country in the world in terms of travel and tourism total demand with a yearly potential growth of 8% from 2007 to 2016. The number of tourists grew from 4.8 million in 2002 to 6.6 million in 2004. Similarly, the revenues grew from 400 million in 2002 to 607 in 2004(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/P battery). In 2006, Romania registered 20 million overnight stays by international tourists, an all-time record, but the number for 2007 is expected to increase even more. Tourism in Romania attracted €400 million in investments in 2005.
Over the last years, Romania has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans (more than 60% of the foreign visitors were from EU countries), thus attempting to compete with Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain. Romania destinations such as Mangalia, Saturn, Venus, Neptun, Olimp, Constanţa and Mamaia (sometimes called the Romanian Riviera) are among the most popular attraction during summer(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/L battery). During winter, the skiing resorts along the Valea Prahovei and Poiana Braşov are popular with foreign visitors.
Council Square (Braşov) dight by Black Church, Catherine's Gate, White Tower and other points of touring interest
Bucharest, cultural center of Romania, is embellish with historical monuments and touring landmarks.
For their medieval atmosphere and castles, Transylvanian cities such as Sibiu, Braşov, Sighişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureş or Miercurea Ciuc have become major touristic attractions for foreigners. Rural tourism, focusing on folklore and traditions, has become an important alternative recently(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E battery), and is targeted to promote such sites as Bran and its Dracula's Castle, the Painted churches of Northern Moldavia, the Wooden churches of Maramureş and Sălaj, or the Merry Cemetery in Maramureş County (Săpânţa). Other major natural attractions in Romania such as Danube Delta, Iron Gates (Danube Gorge), Scărişoara Cave and several other caves in the Apuseni Mountains have yet to receive great attention(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120 battery).
In terms of tourism potential, Romania benefits from splendid cities, scattered on the smooth plains or high peaks. These include Sibiu, city built by Saxons, with cobblestone streets and colorful houses. In the picturesque town of Hunedoara can be visited the Hunyad Castle, one of the most important monuments of Gothic architecture in Transylvania. Also, the resorts (Băile Felix, Băile Herculane, Băile Tuşnad etc.) are points of interest for local and foreign tourists(SONY Vaio VGN-CR11H/B battery). The Romanian seaside is the most exploited tourist area of Romania. In 2009, Romania's Black Sea seaside was visited by 1.3 million tourists, of which 40,000 were foreign. The shore is very varied, formed by slightly wavy shapes, with emphasized capes and extended deep bays into the Dobrogea valleys, with cliffs, beaches and sand cords. In Târgu Jiu can be seen the sculptures of Constantin Brâncuşi (1876–1957) (SONY Vaio VGN-CR116E battery), Romanian sculptor with overwhelming contributions to the renewal of plastic language and vision in the contemporary sculpture. These include The Endless Column, The Gate of the Kiss, The Table of Silence, which together represent the three parts of monumental sculpture of Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuşi at Târgu Jiu. Also, in the Bihor Mountains is a complex system of caves (Bear Cave, Scărişoara Cave etc.) (SONY Vaio VGN-CR116 battery), that continues throughout the Piatra Craiului Mountains, Rodna Mountains, respectively Anina Mountains (Comarnic Cave).
Science and technology
Main article: Science and technology in Romania
See also: List of Romanian inventors and discoverers
Traian Vuia, early flight pioneer
During the 1990s and early 2000s, the development of Romanian science was hampered by several factors, including corruption, low funding and a considerable brain drain. However, since the country's accession to the European Union, this has begun to change. After being slashed by 50% in 2009 due to the global recession, R&D spending was increased by 44% in 2010 and now stands at $0.5 billion (1.5 billion lei) (SONY Vaio VGN-CR115E battery). In January 2011, the Parliament also passed a law that enforces "strict quality control on universities and introduces tough rules for funding evaluation and peer review". The country has joined or is about to join several major international organizations such as CERN and the European Space Agency. Overall, the situation has been characterized as "rapidly improving", albeit from a low base(SONY Vaio VGN-CR115 battery).
Historically, Romanian researches and inventors have made notable contributions to several fields, such as: aeronautics, medicine, mathematics, computer science/engineering, physics, biophysics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology. In the history of flight, Traian Vuia and Aurel Vlaicu built and flew some of the earliest successful aircraft, while Henri Coandă discovered the Coandă effect of fluidics. Preceding him, Elie Carafoli was a pioneering contributor to the field of aerodynamics in the world(SONY Vaio VGN-CR110EW battery).
Victor Babeş discovered more than 50 germs and a cure for a disease named after him, babesiosis; biologist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin. Another biologist, Emil Palade, received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to cell biology. George Constantinescu created the theory of sonics, while Lazăr Edeleanu was the first chemist to synthesize amphetamine and also invented the modern method of refining crude oil. Costin Neniţescu found new methods for the synthesis of pirilium salts(SONY Vaio VGN-CR110 battery), of carbenes, tryptamine, serotonin, two new syntheses for the indole nucleus, and a new method of polymerisation of ethylene.
Several mathematicians distinguished themselves as well, among them: Gheorghe Ţiţeica, Spiru Haret, Grigore Moisil, Miron Nicolescu, Nicolae Popescu and Ştefan Odobleja; the latter is also regarded as the ideological father behind cybernetics.
Notable physicists and inventors also include: Horia Hulubei in atomic physics, Șerban Țițeica in theoretical physics(Sony VAIO PCG-GRS100 battery), Mihai Gavrilă specialized in quantum theory and discoverer of the atomic dichotomy phenomenon, Alexandru Proca (known for the first meson theory of nuclear forces and Proca's equations of the vectorial mesonic field), Ştefan Procopiu known for the first theory of the magnetic moment of the electron in 1911 (now known as the Bohr-Procopiu magneton), Theodor V. Ionescu, the inventor of a multiple-cavity magnetron (1935), a hydrogen maser in 1947(Sony VAIO PCG-NV100 battery), 3D imaging for cinema/television in 1924 and hot deuterium plasma studies for controlled nuclear fusion, Ionel Solomon known for the nuclear magnetic resonance theory in solids, Solomon equations and photovoltaic devices, Petrache Poenaru, Nicolae Teclu and Victor Toma, with the latter known for the invention and construction of the first Romanian computer, the CIFA-1 in 1955(Sony VAIO PCG-V505 battery).
The nuclear physics facility of the European Union's proposed Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) laser will be built in Romania. Romania currently has 1,400 MW of nuclear power capacity by means of one active nuclear power plant (Cernavodă) with 2 reactors, which constitutes around 18% of the national power generation capacity of the country. This makes Romania the 23rd largest user of nuclear power in the world(Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A battery).
In 2002, Romania had a population of 21,698,181. Like other countries in the region, its population is expected to gradually decline in the coming years as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates. Romanians make up 89.5% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Hungarians, who make up 6.6% of the population and Gypsies, who make up 2.46% of the population(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ battery).
Hungarians constitute a majority in the counties of Harghita and Covasna. Ukrainians, Germans, Lipovans, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Russians, Jews, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Armenians, as well as other ethnic groups, account for the remaining 1.4% of the population.
In 1930, there were 745,421 Germans in Romania, but only about 135,088 remain today. In 1924, there were 796,056 Jews in the Kingdom of Romania. The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million. As of 2009, there were also approximately 133,000 immigrants living in Romania, primarily from Moldova, Turkey and China(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery).
The fertility rate is decreasing, with 1.4 births per woman recorded in 2009. The birth rate (10.61‰, 2008) is slightly lower than the mortality rate (11.84‰, 2008), resulting in a shrinking and senescence population, approx. 14.8% of total population having 65 years and over.
Main article: Romanian language
The official language of Romania is Romanian, a Romance language related to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages adjacent to the aforesaid. Romanian is spoken as a first language by 91% of the population(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery). Hungarian and Vlax Romani are the most important minority languages, spoken by 6.7% and 1.1% of the population, respectively. Until the early 1990s, there were also a substantial number of German-speaking Transylvanian Saxons, even though most have since emigrated to Germany, leaving only 45,000 native German speakers in Romania. There are approximately 32,000 Turkish speakers in Romania(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery).
Bilingual sign in Sibiu, showing the city's name in Romanian and German
In localities where a given ethnic minority makes up more than 20% of the population, that minority's language can be used in the public administration and justice system, while native-language education and signage is also provided. English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. English is spoken by 5 million Romanians, French is spoken by 4–5 million, and German, Italian and Spanish are each spoken by 1–2 million people(Sony VGN-CR11Z Battery).
Historically, French was the predominant foreign language spoken in Romania, but English has since superseded it. Consequently, Romanian English-speakers tend to be younger than Romanian French-speakers. Romania is, however, a full member of La Francophonie, and hosted the Francophonie Summit in 2006. German has been taught predominantly in Transylvania, due to traditions tracing back to the Austro-Hungarian rule in this province(Sony VGN-CR11S Battery).
The Romanian language remains, according to the Constitution of Romania, the only official language of Romania, but local councils ensure linguistic rights to all minorities, who form about 10.05% of the total population. Foreign citizens and stateless persons that live in Romania have access to justice and education in their own language(Sony VGN-CR11M Battery).
Romania is a secular state and has no state religion. However, an overwhelming majority of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. 86.7% of the country's population identified as Orthodox Christian according to the 2002 census, the vast majority of which belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Other major Christian denominations include Protestantism (5.2%), Roman Catholicism (4.7%) and the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church (0.9%)(Sony VGN-CR11E Battery). The latter two religious organizations suffered most severely under the Communist regime. The Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed by the Communist government in 1948; later, under the Ceaușescu regime, several churches in Transylvania were demolished.
The foundation of the oldest-known Romanian Orthodox church is still visible at Drobeta-Turnu Severin today, and dates from the 14th century(Sony VGN-CR21E Battery); however, much earlier crypts with unearthed relics of Christian martyrs executed at the orders of the Roman emperor Diocletian were found in local church records dating as far back as the third century AD. Thus, the relics of Saint Sava the Goth who was martyred by drowning in the river Buzău in Romania, under Athanaric, on 12 April 372, were reverently received by St. Basil the Great(Sony VGN-CR21S Battery). Earlier still, the first known Daco-Roman Christian priest Montanus and his wife Maxima were drowned because of their Christian faith, as martyrs, on 26 March 304.
Metropolitan Cathedral, Iaşi, the largest Orthodox church in Romania, founded in 1833
Romania also has a Muslim minority concentrated in Dobruja, mostly of Turkish and Tatar ethnicity and numbering 67,500 people. According to the results of the 2002 census, there are 66,846 Romanian citizens of the Unitarian faith (0.3% of the total population) (Sony VGN-CR21Z Battery). Of the total Hungarian-speaking minority in Romania, Unitarians represent 4.55%, being the third denominational group after members of the Reformed Church in Romania (47.10%) and Roman Catholics (41.20%). Since 1700, the Unitarian Church has had 125 parishes—in 2006, there were 110 Unitarian ministers and 141 places of worship in Romania. According to the 2002 census, there were 6,179 Jews, 23,105 people who are of no religion and/or atheist, and 11,734 who refused to answer(Sony VGN-CR21SR Battery). On 27 December 2006, a new Law on Religion was approved under which religious denominations can only receive official registration if they have at least 20,000 members, or about 0.1% of Romania's total population.
St. Nicholas' Church (Densuş) is one of the oldest Byzantine churches in Romania, built around the 13th century.
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch. Its jurisdiction covers the territory of Romania, with dioceses for Romanians living in nearby Moldova, Serbia and Hungary, as well as diaspora communities in Central and Western Europe, North America and Oceania(Sony VGN-CR31SR Battery).
It is the only Orthodox church using a Romance language. The majority of people in Romania (18,817,975, or 86.8% of the population, according to the 2002 census data) belong to it, as well as some 720,000 Moldovans. The Romanian Orthodox Church is the second-largest in size after the Russian Orthodox Church(Sony VGN-CR31S Battery).
Main article: List of cities and towns in Romania
See also: List of Metropolitan Areas in Romania
Bucharest is the capital and the largest city in Romania. At the census in 2002, its population was over 1.9 million. The LUZ area of Bucharest has a population of 2,192,372 inhabitants. As of 2011, there are plans to establish a metropolitan area up to 20 times the area of the city proper.
Romania has five other cities that are among the European Union's 100 most populous. These are Iaşi, Timişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Constanţa, and Craiova. Other cities with populations over 200,000 are Galaţi, Braşov, Ploieşti, Brăila and Oradea. Another 14 cities have a population of over 100,000(Sony VGN-CR31E Battery).
At present, several of the largest cities have a metropolitan area: Constanţa (446,595 inhab.), Iaşi (402,786 inhab.), Braşov (402,041 inhab.), Cluj-Napoca (379,705 inhab.), Craiova (333,834 inhab.) and Oradea (249,746 inhab.), and several others are planned: Bucharest, Timişoara, Brăila-Galaţi, Bacău and Ploieşti.
Rural areas represent about 90% of total area of the country, and their share – among the highest in Europe – amounts to 47.3% of the total population. In December 2006 Romania had 2,854 communes, consisting of 12,951 villages. The average population of a Romanian village is about 800 people(Sony VGN-CR31Z Battery).
Main article: Romanian educational system
See also: Romanian Baccalaureate
Since the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Romanian educational system has been in a continuous process of reform that has been both praised and criticized. According to the Law on Education adopted in 1995, the educational system is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Research. Each level has its own form of organization and is subject to different legislation(Sony VGN-CR41Z Battery). Kindergarten is optional for children between 3 and 6 years old. Schooling starts at age 7 (sometimes 6), and is compulsory until the 10th grade (which usually corresponds to the age of 17 or 16). Primary and secondary education are divided into 12 grades. Higher education is aligned with the European higher education area.
The library building of Politehnica University of Bucharest, one of the most prestigious technical universities in Romania
Aside from the official schooling system, and the recently[when?] added private equivalents, there exists a semi-legal(Sony VGN-CR41S Battery), informal, fully private tutoring system. Tutoring is mostly used during secondary as a preparation for the various examinations, which are notoriously difficult. Tutoring is widespread, and it can be considered a part of the Education System. It has subsisted and even prospered during the Communist regime.
In 2004, some 4.4 million of the population were enrolled in school. Out of these, 650,000 in kindergarten, 3.11 million (14% of population) in primary and secondary level, and 650,000 (3% of population) in tertiary level (universities). In the same year, the adult literacy rate was 97.3% (45th worldwide), while the combined gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools was 75% (52nd worldwide) (Sony VGN-CR41E Battery).
The results of the PISA assessment study in schools for the year 2000 placed Romania on the 34th rank out of 42 participant countries with a general weighted score of 432 representing 85% of the mean OECD score. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, in 2006 no Romanian university was included in the first 500 top universities world wide. Using similar methodology to these rankings, it was reported that the best placed Romanian university(Sony VGN-CR42Z Battery), Bucharest University, attained the half score of the last university in the world top 500. Notably, Bucharest boasts the largest university in Europe by number of students, Spiru Haret University.
Main articles: Culture of Romania and Symbols of Romania
The Palace of Culture in Iaşi, built on the ruins of the Royal Court of Moldavia, hosts the largest art collection in Romania.
Romania has a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and of its distinct historical evolution. Like Romanians themselves, it is fundamentally defined as the meeting point of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, but cannot be truly included in any of them(Sony VGN-CR42S Battery).
Arts, literature and philosophy
Main articles: Literature of Romania, Arts in Romania, Cinema of Romania, and Romanian philosophy
A unified Romanian literature began to develop with the revolutions of 1848 and the union of the two Danubian Principalities in 1859. The origin of the Romanians began to be discussed and by the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, Romanian Transylvanian scholars along with Romanian scholars from Moldavia and Wallachia began studying in France, Italy and Germany(Sony VGN-CR42E Battery). German philosophy and French culture were integrated into modern Romanian literature, and a new elite of artists led to the appearance of some of the classics of Romanian literature such as Mihai Eminescu, George Coşbuc, Ioan Slavici. Although not particularly renowned outside the country, these writers are widely appreciated within Romania for giving birth to modern Romanian literature. Eminescu is considered the greatest and most influential Romanian poet, particularly for the poem Luceafărul(Sony Vaio VGN-CR11S/L Battery). Among other writers that rose to prominence in the second half of 19th century are Mihail Kogălniceanu (also the first prime minister of Romania), Vasile Alecsandri, Nicolae Bălcescu, Ion Luca Caragiale, and Ion Creangă.
Constantin Brâncuşi, prominent sculptor
Mihai Eminescu (1850–1889), Romania's national poet
The first half of the 20th century is regarded by many scholars as the Golden Age of Romanian culture, as it is the period when it reached its greatest level of international affirmation and enjoyed a strong connection to Western European cultural trends. Notably, figures such as Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco pioneered the anti-war Dada movement beginning with the First World War(Sony Vaio VGN-CR11S/P Battery). The most prominent Romanian artist of this time, however, was sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi, a central figure of the modern movement and a pioneer of abstraction. His works present a blend of simplicity and sophistication that led the way for modernist sculptors. As a testimony to his skill, one of his pieces, Bird in Space, was sold in an auction for $27.5 million in 2005, a record for any sculpture(Sony Vaio VGN-CR11S/W Battery). In the interwar years, Romanian literature was greatly expanded through the works of, among others, Tudor Arghezi, Mircea Eliade, Lucian Blaga, Eugen Barbu and Liviu Rebreanu.
After the World Wars, Communism brought 'absolute' censorship and used the cultural world as well as a means to tightly control the population in addition to the much feared "Securitate" paramilitary organization, numerous formers and their informers. Freedom of expression was constantly restricted in various ways(Sony Vaio VGN-CR11Z/R Battery), but the likes of Gellu Naum, Nichita Stănescu, Marin Sorescu or Marin Preda managed to escape censorship, broke with "socialist realism" and were the leaders of a small "Renaissance" in Romanian literature. While not many of them managed to obtain international acclaim due to censorship, some, like Constantin Noica, Paul Goma and Mircea Cărtărescu, had their works published abroad even though they were jailed for various political reasons(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/B Battery).
Some artists chose to leave the country for good and continued to make contributions in exile. Among them Eugen Ionescu, Mircea Eliade and Emil Cioran became renowned internationally for their works. Other literary figures who enjoy acclaim outside of the country include the poet Paul Celan and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, both survivors of the Holocaust. The novelist, poet and essayist Herta Müller also received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/L Battery).
Romanian contemporary cinema has achieved worldwide acclaim with the appearance of such films as The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu, directed by Cristi Puiu, (Cannes 2005 Prix un certain regard winner) and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, directed by Cristian Mungiu (Cannes 2007 Palme d'Or winner). The latter, according to Variety, is "further proof of Romania's new prominence in the film world." Also, the cinematographic drama If I Want to Whistle(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/P Battery), I Whistle directed by Florin Şerban was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival and won the Jury Grand Prix (the Silver Bear).
Main article: Music of Romania
Inna performing "Hot" at the Sopot Festival, August 8, 2009.
The first half of the 20th century saw the rise of George Enescu, Romania's greatest composer. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical composition at the age of five and became an accomplished composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher. The annual George Enescu Festival is held in Bucharest in his honor. Also active in this period was Dinu Lipatti, a pianist notable for his interpretations of Chopin, Mozart and Bach(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/R Battery).
Some famous postwar Romanian musicians are folk artists Maria Tănase, Tudor Gheorghe, and virtuoso of the pan flute Gheorghe Zamfir, the latter having sold over 120 million albums worldwide.
Artists from Romania have recently begun to inch their way onto the international pop music scene, scoring millions of views on YouTube and selling hundreds of thousands of singles. Among the best known are Edward Maya and Inna(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/W Battery).
Maya's "Stereo Love" became the first number one song in Billboard's year-end Dance Airplay chart to have reached number one three times in its chart run, while competing in a line-up that included Lady Gaga. Since the 2009 release of "Stereo Love", the Bucharest-born composer has won gold and platinum albums from Canada to Spain and toured clubs as far away as India and Pakistan(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G Battery).
Inna, however, has been the most successful, having sold nearly two million singles worldwide, notably in the United States and United Kingdom. Inna has had more than 114 million views on YouTube for her hits like "Amazing", "Sun Is Up", "Hot", "10 Minutes" or "Club Rocker" and more than two million fans on Facebook. Alexandra Stan, also a very popular singer has managed millions of views on YouTube and has won many song contests in countries like Israel, Germany or United States(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/B Battery). She has also put together her first album consisting of songs such as "Mr. Saxobeat". The single "Get Back (ASAP)" was awarded in Italy with Platinum Disc, for sales of over 60,000 copies, also Inna being awarded with Gold Discs in Netherlands and France.
Mihai Trăistariu is the Romanian singer with most international performances. His song, "Tornerò", was ranked the fourth place at Eurovision Song Contest 2006, with 172 points. He has sold over 1.5 million albums in Romania and abroad. Also, Paula Seling and Ovi Martin were ranked third place at televoting results of Eurovision Song Contest 2010, with 162 points(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/L Battery).
See also: National Register of Historic Monuments in Romania, List of World Heritage Sites in Romania, List of museums in Romania, and List of castles in Romania
The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest was opened in 1888
The list of World Heritage Sites includes Romanian sites such as the Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, the Painted churches of northern Moldavia with their fine exterior and interior frescoes, the Wooden Churches of Maramureş unique examples that combine Gothic style with traditional timber construction, the Monastery of Horezu, the citadel of Sighişoara, and the Dacian Fortresses of the Orăştie Mountains(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/W Battery).
Peleş Castle (Sinaia), built between 1873–1914, is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Romania and Eastern Europe. Unique architecture and gold gilded rooms attract thousands of visitors daily. Voroneţ Monastery, built in 1488, is one of the most valuable foundations of Stephen the Great. Also, Unirii Square is the treasure in the heart of Cluj-Napoca, on which rises the St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, guarded by two "twin" buildings on the eastern side(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/P Battery). Located at 29.7 km (18 mi) from Braşov, between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, Bran Castle is a major national monument and tourist landmark. Built by Saxons in the 14th century, today it hosts an art and furniture collection by Queen Marie, but is also marketed as the legendary residence of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Romania's contribution to the World Heritage List stands out because it consists of some groups of monuments scattered around the country, rather than one or two special landmarks. Also, in 2007, the city of Sibiu, famous for its Brukenthal National Museum, was the European Capital of Culture alongside the city of Luxembourg(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/R Battery).
Main article: Sport in Romania
Lucian Bute, the current IBF Super Middleweight champion in professional boxing and chosen number 1 at the Super Middleweight in 2011 by Boxrec
Oină is a traditional Romanian sporting game continuously practiced at least since the 14th century, pursuant to chronicles and charters, first official documentary attestation dating since 1364, during the reign of Vladislav I of Wallachia. Oină is a sporting game practiced outdoors, on a rectangular field, preferably covered with grass(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/L Battery), between two teams of eleven players. The game requires for complex sports skills and is similar to sports common in other countries, such as German Schlagball, Finnish palsepool, French jeu de paume, respectively Irish cluiche corr. Oină underlying the baseball, being borrowed from the period in which it not evolved enough, compared to contemporary period, in which oină represents an extremely complex game.
Association football is the most popular sport in Romania. The governing body is the Romanian Football Federation, which belongs to UEFA(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/P Battery).
At the international level, the Romanian National Football Team has taken part seven times in the Football World Cup. It had its most successful period in the 1990s, when during the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Romania reached the quarter-finals and was ranked sixth by FIFA.
The core player of this "Golden Generation" and perhaps the best known Romanian player internationally is Gheorghe Hagi (nicknamed the Maradona of the Carpathians).
Famous currently active players are Adrian Mutu and Cristian Chivu(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/R Battery).
The most famous football club is Steaua Bucureşti, who in 1986 became the first Eastern European club ever to win the prestigious European Champions Cup title, and who played the final again in 1989. Another successful Romanian team Dinamo Bucureşti played a semifinal in the European Champions Cup in 1984 and a Cup Winners Cup semifinal in the 1990. Other important Romanian football clubs are Rapid Bucureşti, CFR 1907 Cluj-Napoca and FC Universitatea Craiova(Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/W Battery).
Ilie Năstase, first number 1 of the ATP
Tennis is the second most popular sport in terms of registered sportsmen. Romania reached the Davis Cup finals three times (1969, 1971, 1972). The tennis player Ilie Năstase won several Grand Slam titles and dozens of other tournaments, and was the first player to be ranked as number 1 by ATP from 1973 to 1974. His doubles and Davis Cup Partner as well as mentor, Ion Ţiriac is now the most successful businessman in the country. Virginia Ruzici won the French Open in 1978, while in 1980 she was runner-up(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21/B Battery). Florenţa Mihai was another female tennis player from Romania who played the final of the French Open in 1977. The Romanian Open is held every fall in Bucharest since 1993.
Popular team sports are rugby union (national rugby team has so far competed at every Rugby World Cup), basketball and handball. The Romania national handball team is a four-time world champion team, with Sweden and France (record holder), while Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea is a top team in women's handbal(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/L Battery)l.
Some popular individual sports are: athletics, chess, sport dance, and martial arts and other fighting sports. Fighting sports are actually popular in Romania, especially in the TV broadcastings. Famous boxers include Nicolae Linca, Francisc Vaştag, Mihai Leu, Leonard Doroftei, Adrian Diaconu and Lucian Bute, while Daniel Ghiţă became the first Romanian kickboxer to qualify for the K-1 World Grand Prix Final(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/P Battery). Famours athletes with outstanding results in this sport were: Iolanda Balaş, Lia Manoliu, Doina Melinte, Viorica Viscopoleanu, Mihaela Peneş, Argentina Menis, Ileana Silai, Anişoara Cuşmir, Maricica Puică, Paula Ivan, Gabriela Szabo, Lidia Simon and lately Monica Iagăr, Marian Oprea, Mihaela Melinte or Constantina Diţă-Tomescu.
Romanian gymnastics has had a large number of successes – for which the country became known worldwide. In the 1976 Summer Olympics, the gymnast Nadia Comăneci became the first gymnast ever to score a perfect ten(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/W Battery). She also won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze, all at the age of fifteen. Her success continued in the 1980 Summer Olympics, where she was awarded two gold medals and two silver medals. In her career she won 30 medals, of which 21 were gold.
Romania participated for the first time in the Olympic Games in 1900 and has taken part in 18 of the 24 summer games(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/L Battery). Romania has been one of the more successful countries at the Summer Olympic Games (15th overall) with a total of 283 medals won throughout the years, 82 of which are gold medals.
Bukovina painted eggs
Along with religious aspects, in Romania, the Easter symbolizes the rebirth and the renewal of daily life. It's usual like in the Easter morning, after the returning of villagers from churches, children go to neighbors' homes, to bring luck and wealth, in exchange for a red egg. Also, in the Christmas Eve, young people carol the village homes, hosts giving in exchange nuts, sponge cakes, apples, pretzels and other delicacies(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/P Battery). The Star boys' singing procession is a very important part of Romanian Christmas festivity. In the week between Christmas and New Year, in all villages, groups of lads prepare for "bid", complex system of customs and habits. On the evening, in the eve of respective year which arises promising, are expected to occur "Ursul", "Capra", "Bunghierii", "Căiuţii", "Malanca", "Jienii", "Mascaţii" and others(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/W Battery).
Folkloric dance group wearing Romanian traditional costumes, Cluj-Napoca
The Romanian folkloric costumes characterize own attributes of the Romanian people and contribute essentially at the definition of ethnic specificity. Closely related to human existence, the folkloric costume reflected over time, as reflected nowadays, mentality and artistic conception of the people. The folkloric costume has been developed with history, being a genuine expression of coherent traditions throughout centuries(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21Z/N Battery). Distinct clothing ornamentation, traditional methods used for sewing and tailoring the pieces of clothing, and wide variety of costumes from one region to another customize the defining spirit of the Romanian people.
Also, the folklore of Romania is defined by its mythology, branch of folk literature that integrates a variety of ancestral habits, tales, fables and ballads, whose authors are anonymous. The rural character of the Romanian communities resulted in an exceptionally vital and creative traditional culture. So(Sony Vaio VGN-CR21Z/R Battery), in Romanian mythology were conceived fabulous beings, unreal characters endowed with supernatural powers. These include Baba Cloanţa, a misshapen and recondite witch, Iele, inconstant virgins endowed with unapproachable ability of seduction and superhuman features, Muma Pădurii, a hag that lives in deep forest, Strigoi, troubled souls of the dead rising from the grave and Făt-Frumos, a knight hero that fights with griffons, dragons and witches to liberate his heart chosen, Ileana Cosânzeana(Sony Vaio VGN-CR220E/R Battery). The words "longing" and "mourning" have correspondent in another language, but the nonfigurative character remains undecipherable and define specificity of the Romanian soul. Doina, characteristic only Romanian literary folklore, represents the lyric creation that Romanian expresses the most varied and complex range of feelings, strongly rooted in his spiritual structure. In the Romanian folkloric tradition, "doina" was played mainly orally or accompanied by a single instrument(Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/B Battery), being the song of elegy, played for self comforting and not intended for festive events because of its sober nature.
Main article: Romanian cuisine
Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine but also includes influences from the cuisines of other neighbours, such as the Greeks (musaca), Bulgarians (zacuscă), Turks (pilaf), and Hungarians (langoşi) (Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/P Battery). Quite different types of dishes are sometimes included under a generic term; for example, the category ciorbă includes a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, tripe and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş (fermented wheat bran). Popular main courses include mititei, frigărui and the şniţel(Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/R Battery). One of the most common dishes is mămăliga, a cornmeal mush served on its own or as an accompaniment. Pork and chicken are the preferred meats, but beef, lamb and fish are also popular.
Sarmale are prepared from minced meat (pork, beef, mutton, poultry or fish meat, especially in the Danube Delta), mixed with rice and other aliments (pap, couscous etc.) and wrapped in cabbage (fresh or sour) or vine leaves in the form of rolls. Usually, they are served with polenta and smetana, but can be served with a spoonful of fresh butter(Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/L Battery).
The list of desserts includes names like amandine, clătite, chec, cozonac, gogoşi, griş cu lapte, lapte de pasăre etc. In the north-western Romania, are prepared so-called ciureghe, gomboţi cu prune, pancove, plăcinte creţe, while in the north-eastern Romania, the traditional desserts are chec cu vişine, tartă cu mere, alivenci moldoveneşti(Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/N Battery).
Palincă de prune, a traditional fruit brandy
Ţuică is a strong plum brandy that is widely regarded as the country's traditional alcoholic beverage, along with wine. Romania is the world's second largest plum producer (after the United States) and as much as 75% of Romania's plum production is processed into the famous ţuică, a plum brandy obtained through one or more distillation steps. Alcoholic beverages are also obtained from other fruits (see rachiu, palincă and vişinată). Wine, however, is the preferred drink(Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/W Battery), and Romanian wines have a tradition of over three millennia. Romania is currently the world's 9th largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow. Romania produces a wide selection of domestic varieties (Fetească, Grasă, Tamâioasă, Băbească), as well as varieties from across the world (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel). Beer is also highly regarded, generally blonde pilsener beer(SONY VGP-BPS10A battery), the traditional methods of preparation being generally influenced by German wheat beers. There are some Romanian breweries with a long tradition, such as Timişoreana, Ursus and Azuga. Since the 19th century, beer has become increasingly popular, and today Romanians are amongst the heaviest beer drinkers in the world(SONY VGP-BPS10A/B battery).
Certain recipes are made in direct connection with the season or the holidays. At Christmas, each family usually sacrifice a pig and prepare a large variety of dishes of its meat and organs (cârnaţi, caltaboşi, chiftele, tobă, şniţele). At Easter, is customary to sacrifice a lamb, preparing of its meat drob de miel and roast lamb with thyme, as dessert being served pască cu brânză and cozonac cu nucă(SONY VGP-BPS10/B battery).