238,391 sq. km, comparable to Britain’s and Ghana’s, which makes this country rank 80th in the world and 13th in Europe. Romania has an oval shape, the west-to-east straight line measuring 735 km and the north-to-south one 530 km.
Arable area (39.2%), forests (28%), pastures and hayfields (20.5%), vineyards and orchards (2.3%), buildings, roads and railways (4.5%), waters and ponds (3.7%), other areas (1.8%).
The Romanian language, which is the mother tongue of ca. 90% of the country’s population. Ethnic minorities are free to use their mother tongue in school, administration, the judiciary, press, culture, etc. Hungarian is spoken by the largest ethnic minority, and German by the German ethnics (Saxons and Swabians). The main foreign languages used today in Romania are English, French and German. Between the mid-19th century and the seventh decade of the 20th century, French was the main foreign language, far exceeding German.
December 1 was proclaimed Romania's National Day in 1990. It is the anniversary of the Great Assembly of Alba Iulia, in 1918, when the union of Transylvania with Romania was voted, a moment that marked the union of all Romanians into a single state and achievement of the Romanian nation-state’s unity.
Under the Constitution of 1991, Romania is a parliamentary republic. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. Executive power is exercised by the Government, led by a Prime Minister appointed by the President of the country and sworn in by Parliament, to which he is accountable. The President, elected by universal suffrage, for two four-year terms at the most, is the supreme commander of the armed forces. Head of state: Ion Iliescu, elected president of Romania in November 2000.
According to Article 3 of the Constitution, the territory of Romania is divided into administrative units such as communes, towns and counties.
Commune: basic unit of the administrative organisation, made up of one or several villages, led by a local council and an elected mayor. Romania has 2,685 communes with 13,285 villages, or an average of five villages per commune.
Town: administrative unit headed by an elected local council and an elected mayor. Important towns may be declared municipalities. Romania has 263 towns, 82 of which are municipalities.
County: administrative unit headed by a county council and a prefect. The county council is elected to co-ordinate the activity of commune and town councils with a view to concentrating the public services of importance at county level. The Government appoints a prefect in each county as its local representative. Romania has 41 counties, including the capital city of Bucharest, which has similar status as a county. A county has an average area of 5,800 sq. km, and an average population of 500.000.
TOWNS AND CITIES (January, 1, 1999)
Of the 263 towns, 25 have over 100,000 inhabitants. Eight have more than 300,000 inhabitants: Bucharest (2,016,000), Iasi (350,000), Constanta (327,000), Brasov (316,000) and Craiova (314,000).
The country’s main airport is the Bucharest-Otopeni International Airport (inaugurated in 1970), 18 km away from downtown Bucharest, which took over international traffic from the city’s oldest civilian airport of Bucharest-Baneasa. There are airports in 15 other cities: Constanta (the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport), Timisoara, Arad, Sibiu, Suceava (for international traffic as well), Bacau, Baia Mare, Caransebes, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Iasi, Oradea, Satu Mare, Targu Mures, Tulcea.
Constanta (built on the site of the former ancient Greek colony of Tomis, founded in the 6th century BC) is the largest port in Romania, and of the Black Sea as well, which handles an annual traffic exceeding 80 million tons and can receive ships of over 150,000 dwt. Other Black Sea ports are Mangalia (the ancient Greek colony of Callatis, founded in the 6th century BC) and Sulina (a former Byzantine and then Genovese citadel that prospered in the 10th-14th centuries). The principal ports on the Danube, active since and Roman antiquity, are Orsova, Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Turnu Magurele, Giurgiu, Oltenita, Calarasi, Cernavoda. Three ports -- Braila, Galati and Tulcea -- are both river and sea ports, capable of receiving seagoing ships of up to 7,500 dwt and a draught of 7.0 m.
East European time (GMT + 2 hours). Since 1979, daylight saving time (GMT + 3 hours) applies from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. Romania has the same standard time as the Republic of Moldavia, Finland, Greece, Israel, Egypt and the Republic of South Africa.
The official currency in Romania is (since 1867) the Leu (ROL). The name (leu means lion) comes from Löwentaler (which bore the figure of a lion on the reverse), a silver coin issued in the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, after which it became a calculation currency. The leu’s subdivision is the ban, 1 Leu = 100 bani. Internal convertibility of the Leu was introduced in November 1991. The exchange rate of the Leu is variable.
Coins of 1, 5, 10, 50 bani (RON), 500 and 1,000 ROL and bank notes of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 (RON) and 10000, 50000, 100000, 500000, 1000000 ROL.
1 RON = 10000 ROL
1 USD = 2,8690 RON ( 28690 ROL)
1 GBP = 5,1702 RON ( 51702 ROL)
1 EUR = 3,4860 RON (34860 ROL)
(As of September 21, 2005)
In the first years of the communist regime the social security system was taken over by the State, private medical practices were closed and health care became free of charge for the entire population. After 1990 the health care and social security systems have been restructured, a process which is slow and difficult. In 1999 the new system of medical insurance has been generalised. The private sector has expanded at a slow pace. On January 1, 1998 it comprised 16% of the polyclinics, 85% of the chemist’s shops, and two hospitals from the total of 418. There were around 3,630 private medical practices and 3,030 dental surgeries, 2,839 chemist’s shops, as well as 231 private medical laboratories. The structure of public-sector health care units on January 1, 1998 was the following: hospitals (416 with 166,000 beds), polyclinics (507), health centres (5,835) and 550 chemist’s shops. There were 7.4 hospital beds per thousand people. The medical staff in the public sector on the same date numbered 40,300 physicians (1 physician for every 558 inhabitants); there were 5,300 dentists and 1,690 chemists. The number of nurses was 116,000 and the number of auxiliary staff was 59,000. If during the communist regime drug addiction was not a problem, in the past few years Romania has been a territory of transit for drug trafficking towards Central and Western Europe, and the first addicts have appeared among its youth. Between 1985 and 1998 there were 5,503 confirmed AIDS cases in Romania (out of whom around 5,000 children, 99 percent of whom belonged to the 1987-1990 generation). 2,099 of the HIV infected persons have died.