Romania -- Geography --
Official Name: Romania
Capital City: Bucharest
Languages: Romanian (official), Hungarian, German, others
Official Currency: Leu
Religions: Romanian Orthodox, Catholic, others
Land Area: 230,340 sq km
Landforms: The Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania Mountains almost encircle the central plain. Those mountains slope down into much flatter land in the south and southeast. The Prut River forms its eastern border with Moldova, and the Danube River forms it's southern border with Bulgaria, then flowing north and east into
the Black Sea.
Romania -- History --
In 513 BC, south of the Danube, the tribal confederation of the Getae were defeated by Darius during his campaign against the Scythians (Herodotus IV.93). Over half a millennium later, the Getae (also named Daci by Romans) were defeated by the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan in two campaigns stretching from 101 to 106, and the core of their kingdom was turned into the Roman province of Dacia. The Gothic and Carpic campaigns in the Balkans during 238–256 forced the Roman Empire to reorganize a new Roman province of Dacia south of Danube, inside former Moesia Superior.
Sibiu, the former Herrmannstadt, retains its historic mediaeval centerIn 271 0r 275 the Roman army and administration left Dacia, which was invaded by the Goths, who lived with the local people until the fourth century, when another nomadic peple arrived, the Huns. The Gepids and the Avars ruled Transylvania until the 8th century, after which the Bulgars included the southern part of Romania in their Empire until 1257. But from the destructions and the financial burdens, the local people were not influenced by the migrators in their cuture and way of life. The Pechenegs, the Cumans and Uzes were also mentioned by historic chronicles on the territory of Romania (the Pechenegs in the south of Transilvania, the Cumans in the north-east of Wallachia) until the founding of the Vlachian principalities of Wallachia by Basarab I, and Moldavia by Dragos during the 13th and 14th centuries respectively. In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in two distinct independent principalities: Wallachia(Rom.:Tara Romaneasca), Moldavia(Rom.: Moldova). Romanian people also lived in Transilvania, which was, begining with the eleventh century, under Hungarian rule.
In 1475, Stephen the Great of Moldavia scored a decisive victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vaslui. Wallachia and Moldavia would later come gradually under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries (1476 for Wallachia, 1514 for Moldavia), as vassal tributary states with complete internal autonomy and an external independence which was finally lost in the 18th century. 1812 the Russian Empire annexed the eastern half side Bessarabia of Moldova (though partially regained it with the Treaty of Paris in 1856), the Austrian Empire annexed in 1775 its northern part Bukovina and the Ottoman Empire its south-eastern part Budjak .
Transylvania came under control of the Kingdom of Hungary by the end of 9th century (from 1301, Hungary became possessions of the Houses of Anjou and Habsburg). One of the greatest Hungarian kings, Matthias Corvinus (known in Romanian as Matei Corvin - with romanian origin, ruled 1458–1490)— was born in Transylvania, and is claimed by the Romanians because of his half-Romanian father, Iancu de Hunedoara (Hunyadi Janos in Hungarian), and by the Hungarians because of his Hungarian mother. Later, in 1541, Transylvania became a multi-ethnic principality under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire following the Battle of Mohacs. At the end of the 18th century, the Austrian Habsburgs incorporated Transylvania into the Austrian Empire. During the time of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary (1867–1918), Romanians in Transylvania experienced one of the worst oppression in the form of the Magyarization policies of the Hungarian government.
Peles Castle, Sinaia, retreat of the Romanian monarchsThe modern state of Romania was formed by the merging of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1859 under the Moldavian domnitor Alexander John Cuza. He was replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in 1866. During the Russo-Turkish War, Romania fought on the Russian side; in the Treaty of Berlin in 1878 Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers. In return for ceding to Russia the three southern districts of Bessarabia which had been regained by Moldavia after the Crimean War in 1852, the Kingdom of Romania acquired Dobruja. In 1881 the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol I became King Carol I.
In spite of its previous alliance with Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary, Romania entered World War I on the side of the Triple Entente in a move aimed at acquiring Transylvania. By war's end Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, allowing Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. Union of Transylvania with Romania was ratified in the Treaty of Trianon in 1920.
In 1940 during World War II, Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia, Northern Transylvania, and southern Dobrudja were occupied by the Soviet Union, Hungary and Bulgaria respectively (see Romania during World War II). The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940 and the subsequent year Romania entered the war joining Nazi Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria. Because Romania participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union, the country recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. During the Second World War, the Antonescu regime, allied with Nazi Germany, played a role in the Holocaust, following its policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and, to a lesser extent, Roma. According to a quite controversial report released on 2004 by a commision appointed by former Romanian president Ion Iliescu and chaired by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, the Romanian authorities were the main perpetrators in the planning and implementation of the killing of between 280,000 to 380,000 Jews, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union and in Moldavia (historical region), though some estimates are even higher.
In August 1944 the Antonescu regime was toppled, and Romania joined the Red Army against Nazi Germany, but its role in the defeat of Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947.
With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting defacto control, communists and their allied parties claimed 80% of the vote in the 1946 Romanian elections, through a combination of vote manipulation, elimination and forced mergers of competing parties, establishing themselves as the dominant force; Western democracies left Romania in the hands of the Soviet Union. In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the communists to abdicate and leave the country. Romania was proclaimed a communist state, under direct military and economic control of the USSR until 1958. During this period, Romania's scarce resources left after WWII were drained by the "SovRom" agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established in the aftermath of World War II to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union, in addition to excessive war reparations paid to the USSR. During this dark period, up to two millions persons were arbitrarily imprisoned for political, economical or for no reasons, there were hundreds thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of persons, from political opponents to ordinary citizens, bringing gloom over Romania. The estimated least figure of human life losses due to the communist terror in Romania between 1948 and 1964 is 200000. (see the six volumes: CICERONE IONITOIU et al., Victimele terorii comuniste. Arestati, torturati, intemnitati, ucisi. Dictionar. Editura Masina de scris, Bucuresti, 2000)
Unirii Boulevard and the Palatul Parlamentului, Bucharest; legacies of the Communist era.A short-lived period of relative economic well-being and openness followed in late 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, still regarded by some as a "golden era". This period gradually ended, first politically, and then economically. Some party leaders (such as Ion Iliescu, Corneliu Manescu, or Gheorghe Apostol) who questioned the achievements of the regime during the latter portion of this era, were sent to lower positions, which, in 1989, justified their "dissident" position. From an economic point of view, Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars). Thus, the influence of international financial organisms such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Ceausescu's autarchic policies. Ceausescu eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt (completed in 1989, shortly before his overthrow). To achieve this goal, he imposed policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy. He profoundly deepened Romania's police state (see Securitate) and imposed a cult of personality.
One positive achievement of the Communist period was the spread of near-universal literacy and the development of a very efficient education system. However, this educational transformation was not coupled with appropriate industrial development and urbanization policies, so that almost half of Romania's population is still rural (47.3%; see Demography of Romania), and mostly poor. Another achievement is the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops from Romania, in 1958. This allowed the country to pursue independent policies, including the condemnation by the Communist Party of Romania of the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia (Romania was the only country of the Warsaw pact not to take part into the invasion), the continuation of Romanian-Israeli diplomatic relations after the Six-Day War of 1967 (Romania was the only country in the Warsaw pact to do so), the establishment of economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany, and so forth. Close ties between Romania and both Israel and the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play an essential role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes.
The Communist dictatorship ended 22 December 1989 (see Romanian Revolution of 1989). During the 1989 revolution (the term "revolution" is contested by many), power was taken by an ad hoc group called the National Salvation Front (FSN), which grouped a number of dissidents with other personalities and (then-unknown) persons that participated in the uprising. The FSN assumed the missions of restoring civil order, taking immediate democratic measures, and organizing elections for a new legislative body. Given the slow pace of reconstruction of the social and democratic system after 45 years of Communism (as emphasized by events such as the Ethnic clashes of Targu Mures in March 1990), the largest part of the FSN also constituted itself as a political party that participated in (and won by a large majority) the elections of summer 1990. The move was highly contested by the other emerging political parties, because the FSN controlled most media and therefore the election process was biased. The subsequent disintegration of the FSN, which did not have a clear political platform, produced several political parties including the Democratic Party (PD), which for a time retained the FSN name), the Social Democratic Party (PSD, formerly known as the Romanian Party for Social Democracy (PDSR) or the Democratic National Salvation Front-FDSN), and the Alliance for Romania (APR). Throughout several elections, coalitions, and governments, parties that emerged from the FSN governed or participated in the government of Romania from 1990 to 1996, and then from 2000 until today.
In 1996, the CDR entered power on a "Contract with Romania" platform which would have required the CDR to resign en masse after 200 days from a mixed coalition government. Some members had signed on to the contract programme, while others had not; once in power, the "Contract" was repudiated. The major CDR parties were electorally eviscerated in 2000, and the Social Democrats returned to power, with Ion Iliescu once again president of Romania and Adrian Nastase, the president of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD), as prime minister.
On December 12, 2004, Traian Basescu was elected president of Romania. He was supported during elections by a coalition, called Justice and Truth Alliance (DA), formed of his Democratic Party and of the National-Liberal Party. The government was formed by a larger coalition which also included the Romanian Humanist Party (now called Conservative Party) and the ethnic Hungarian party UDMR.
Following the end of the Cold War in 1989, Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, joined NATO in 2004 and became an acceding country to the European Union, being at an advanced stage to join on January 1, 2007. The Treaty of Accession of Romania has been signed by EU member states' representatives in Luxembourg, Abbaye de Neumunster, on April 25, 2005. Ratification of the Romanian and Bulgarian Accession Treaty is ongoing in the parliaments of all member states.
Romania -- Economy --
General Information: The political and economic changes that took place in Romania in the 1980s and 1990s made daily life difficult for ordinary citizens. Economic reforms and subsequent economic expansion, especially after 2000, have improved living standards for some, although many rural areas have seen few improvements. Food prices remain high relative to the country’s low minimum wage, and relatively few Romanians can afford luxuries. One-family homes are common in Romania’s villages, while most city dwellers live in one-family apartments. Most apartment buildings were built during the communist era and are cramped with minimal facilities.
Romania is richly endowed with fertile agricultural lands, a variety of energy resources, and an educated workforce. Yet Romania’s standard of living remains lower than in most other nations of Europe. Since the fall of communism in 1989, Romania has taken significant steps toward a market-oriented economy, although the transition has not been easy. Romania faced the enormous task of restructuring an outdated industrial base and an inefficient agricultural sector inherited from the communist regime. The pace of economic reform, including privatization of industry, the return of collectivized farmland to its original owners, and the removal of government subsidies for consumer goods, has been slower than in many other formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Much of the 1990s in Romania were marked by great economic hardship, including high unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, and shortages of consumer goods.
Loans provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the mid-1990s helped Romania lower its high rate of inflation, which averaged more than 75 percent annually from 1992 to 2001, and the nation’s service sector rapidly expanded. But Romania’s slow implementation of privatization and other reforms hindered foreign investment and led the IMF on several occasions to withhold loan disbursements.
By the early 2000s, however, Romania’s fragile economy had stabilized, with strong foreign investment, solid economic growth, and substantially lower rates of inflation and unemployment. Construction of new shopping malls, homes, and infrastructure—including new highways and water and sewage systems—have driven much of this growth. An upgraded infrastructure is an essential part of Romania’s effort to meet minimum standards set by the European Union (EU) and to expand the underdeveloped tourism industry. In 2002 Romania’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $45.7 billion.
Romania is a member of the IMF, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Each of these organizations continues to provide Romania with financial and technical assistance. A free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) went into effect in May 1993. Romania became an associate member of the European Union in February 1993 and opened accession talks with the EU in 1999; it expects to become a full member of the organization in 2007. However, to attain EU membership, Romania still has much work to do to reign in corruption at all levels of society, improve treatment of ethnic minorities, expand press freedoms, strengthen law enforcement, and improve its environmental record.
Agriculture: Agriculture remains an important part of Romania’s economy, occupying approximately 40 percent of the Romanian work force. Field crops or orchards cover 43 percent of land in Romania. Romania’s principal crops include cereal grains, such as corn, wheat, barley, and rye; potatoes; grapes; and sugar beets. Cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and poultry are the most important types of livestock. Wine production plays a significant role in Romanian agriculture. Today, most of Romania’s farmland has been returned to private hands.
Forestry and Fishing: Forests, which cover 28 percent of Romania’s total land area, are state property. The country’s timber provides the basis for important lumber, paper, and furniture industries. The Black Sea and the Danube delta regions are known for their sturgeon catch. Romania’s fishing operations in the Atlantic Ocean are significant.
Mining: Petroleum is Romania’s principal mineral resource, and the city of Ploiesti is the center of the nation’s petroleum-refining industry. However, petroleum production is declining due to the gradual depletion of reserves. Natural gas is also produced in significant quantities. Other mineral products include hard coal, lignite (brown coal), iron ore, bauxite, copper, lead, and zinc.
Manufacturing: During the communist period, Romania’s leaders pursued a policy of rapid industrialization with an emphasis on heavy industry, particularly the production of iron and steel, machinery and transportation equipment, and chemicals. A lesser emphasis was placed on production of consumer goods (goods manufactured for use by people). Today, Romania’s chief manufactured goods include iron and steel, machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, cement and other construction materials, wood products, processed foods, and textiles and clothing.
Energy: Thermal power plants fueled by petroleum, natural gas, and coal supply 63 percent of Romania’s electricity, while most of the rest comes from hydroelectric facilities. The country has two major hydroelectric plants, operated jointly with Serbia at the Iron Gate gorge on the Danube. A nuclear power plant opened in 1996 at Cernavoda.
Tourism and Foreign Trade: Romania’s tourism industry has expanded significantly since the end of the communist period, although there is considerable room for further growth. Popular attractions include skiing and hiking in the Carpathian Mountains; the Danube delta region, which draws fishing enthusiasts and birdwatchers from around the world; the medieval castles of Transylvania and the painted monasteries of Bukovina; and the seaside resorts and beaches of the Black Sea.
During the early part of the communist period, Romania’s foreign trade was conducted almost exclusively with the Soviet Union and other communist countries. However, in the 1960s trade restrictions were eased somewhat and Romania began expanding its contacts with Western nations. In 2002 exports totaled $13.9 billion and imports totaled $17.9 billion. Principal exports include metals and metal products, mineral products, textiles, and electrical machines and equipment. Imports include minerals, machinery and equipment, textiles, and agriculture goods. Leading purchasers of Romania’s exports are Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, The Netherlands, and China. Chief sources for imports are Germany, Italy, Russia, France, the United States, and Egypt.
Currency and Banking: The basic monetary unit of Romania is the leu (plural, lei), divided into 100 bani. The leu was devalued in October 1990, but since 1991 its value has been determined by the open market. The National Bank of Romania (founded in 1880) is the country’s bank of issue; it is also responsible for managing monetary policy and supervising the financial activities of all state enterprises. A number of private banks have opened since 1990, and a Romanian stock exchange opened in Bucharest in June 1995.
Transportation: Romania’s railroad system is owned by the government. Buses and trolleys provide a popular means of transportation within cities, and Bucharest has a subway system with four major lines. Romania’s principal seaports are Constanta, on the Black Sea, and Galati and Braila, neighboring cities on the lower Danube; Giurgiu, which has pipeline connections to the oil fields of Ploiesti, is an important river port. A canal that opened in 1984 links Constanta with Cernavoda, a Danube River port. Another canal, completed in 1992, connects the Main and Danube rivers and allows transport from the Black Sea to the North Sea via the Rhine River. Romania has two major airlines, TAROM (Romanian Air Transport), which is owned by the state and serves as the national carrier, and LAR (Romanian Airlines), which was established as an independent airline in 1990. International airports are located in Bucharest, Constanta, Timisoara, and Arad.
Communications: Romania’s democratic constitution adopted in 1991 (and amended in 2003) provides for freedom of the press—a sharp departure from the strict governmental control exercised during the communist era. Despite this constitutional guarantee, however, the press often faces some pressures to limit criticism of economic and political leaders.
Romania’s press has a regional, rather than a national, orientation. Newspapers and periodicals are published in all of the country’s administrative districts, and many are published in the languages of Romania’s ethnic minorities, including Hungarian, German, and Serbo-Croatian. The newspaper with the largest circulation is Evenimentul Zilei (The Event of the Day), published in Bucharest. Other important newspapers include Adevarul (The Truth) and Romania Libera (Free Romania), both of which are published in Bucharest.
Postal, telegraph, and telephone services in Romania remain state-owned. Although the Romanian state owns and operates several television and radio stations, numerous commercial networks have proliferated since 1990, creating a dynamic media market.
Romania -- Culture --
Romania, country in southeastern Europe, occupying the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Romania is a land of historic villages and castles, fertile plains, and majestic mountains. For much of its history, foreign powers, including the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary, have controlled Romania or parts of it.
Romanian culture is largely derived from Roman influences, with strains of Slavic, Magyar (Hungarian), Greek, and Turkish influences. Poems, folktales, and folk music have always held a central place in Romanian life. Romanian literature, art, and music attained maturity in the 19th century. Although Romania has been influenced by divergent Western trends, it also has a well-developed indigenous folk culture.
Romanian literature has a long, rich history. Between the 15th and 18th centuries the national literature was primarily religious, frequently taking the form of hagiography. In the late 18th century historical writing became the dominant literary form. A number of major works from this period consider the origins and history of the Romanian people.
In the century before World War I (1914-1918), Romanian literature reflected a sense of national unity. A major figure of this period was poet Mihai Eminescu, whose work was influenced by German Romanticism. Other authors who distinguished themselves were narrative poet and dramatist Vasile Alecsandri and dramatist Ion Luca Caragiale, whose plays satirized middle-class life of the late 1800s.
From 1921 to 1945 symbolism became important in Romanian poetry. Important poets of that period were Lucian Blaga, who was also a philosopher, and Tudor Arghezi. The novel also grew in importance as a literary form at this time, and Mihail Sadoveanu was widely considered Romania’s most important novelist.
After World War II (1939-1945) through the 1980s, Romania’s literature was dominated by socialist realism—a school of art that was officially sponsored by the communist government, and through which socialist ideals were promoted and advanced. Romanian-born playwright Eugene Ionesco, an influential proponent of the movement known as the theater of the absurd, became famous while living in post-war France. Romanian-born author Elie Wiesel, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize for his work promoting human rights, wrote of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps.
Art and Music:
Romanian art, like Romanian literature, reached a high level of sophistication during the 19th century. Among the leading painters were Theodor Aman, a portraitist, and landscape painter Nicolae Grigorescu. As with literature, socialist realism characterized much Romanian art from 1945 to 1989. The simplified, organic works produced by Romanian-born French sculptor Constantin Brancusi were a notable contribution to 20th-century concepts of art.
Romanians share a rich heritage of folk music and dance. Many traditional Romanian tunes are based on music of the Roma (or Gypsy) people, thousands of whom once wandered through the countryside. Many Romanians enjoy dancing to folk music played at fast tempo, often linking arms and showing off impressive footwork. Folk themes have inspired vibrant pop and rock traditions in modern Romania, notably through the music of the rock band Phoenix and the pop group Spitalul de Urgen?a (Emergency Hospital).
A number of classically trained Romanian musicians achieved international recognition in the 20th century. Most famous among them were Georges Enesco, a violinist and composer who is perhaps best known for his Romanian rhapsodies, and pianist Dinu Lipatti.
Libraries and Museums:
Romania’s principal libraries are the National Library (founded in 1955) and the Library of the Academy of Romania (1867), both in Bucharest. The Romanian National Museum of Art (1950), in Bucharest, contains fine collections of national, Western, and Asian art. Other important museums include the Historical Museum of Bucharest (1984) and the Museum of Romanian Literature (1957), also located in Bucharest.
Romanian food reflects a wide number of influences, including French, Greek, Russian, and Turkish. Popular Romanian dishes include mititei (seasoned grilled sausages) and mamaliga (a cornmeal porridge that is especially common in rural areas and can be served in many different ways). Red and white wines and a plum brandy called tuica are popular beverages among Romanians, and placinta (turnovers) are a typical dessert.
As in many nations of Europe, soccer is the most popular national sport. Romania, which has participated in the Olympic Games since 1924, is proud of its athletes and maintains special schools to train them. Romanian athletes have won many gold medals in events as varied as boxing, kayaking, and gymnastics. The famed gymnast Nadia Comaneci and the international tennis star Ilie Nastase are Romanian.
Romania -- Life style --
The Christian holidays of Christmas and (Orthodox) Easter are celebrated (they are official, non-working, holidays). Unlike some other Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on 25 December; however, they follow the usual Eastern Orthodox practice for the date of Easter. Other official holidays (non-working) are New Year's Day (January 1), Labour Day (May 1), and the National Day of Romania (December 1, the Union Day). For Christmas and for Labour Day, it is common for businesses to shut down more than a single day.
Minor, but widely observed, holidays include Martisor (March 1), marking the start of spring, and International Women's Day (March 8). Many businesses give women employees the day off for International Women's Day. Some holidays celebrated in the United States or in other parts of Europe have recently been gaining some currency in Romania, for example Valentine's Day (February 14).
Romania is successful in a number of sports at international level. See also List of Romanians (sport section).
The gymnast Nadia Comaneci was the first gymnast to score a perfect ten in Olympic competition (1976 Montreal Olympic Games). She also won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze - all at the age of fourteen. Her success continued in the 1980 Moscow Olympics when she was awarded two gold medals and two silver medals.
Ilie Nastase, the tennis player, is another internationally known Romanian sports star. He won several Grand Slam titles, dozens of other tournaments and also was a successful doubles player. Romania has also reached the Davis Cup finals three times.
Football (soccer) is popular in Romania with international footballers such as Gheorghe Hagi who played for Steaua Bucuresti (Romania), Real Madrid, Barcelona (Spain) and Galatasaray (Turkey) among others. The Romanian soccer club Steaua Bucuresti was the first Eastern European club to ever win the prestigious European Champions Cup title (1986).
Romania -- Political system, law and government --
President: Traian Basescu (2004)
Prime Minister: Calin Popescu-Tariceanu (2004)
From 1948 to 1989 the Romanian Communist Party controlled all levels of government in Romania, and the head of the Communist Party was the country’s most powerful leader. In 1989 the Romanian army joined in a popular uprising against the communist regime. President Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed and executed, and a provisional government was established. In May 1990 multiparty elections were held to elect a president and national legislature.
Romanian voters approved a new constitution by popular referendum in December 1991. The constitution declares Romania to be a parliamentary republic and provides for competing political parties, a separation of powers between branches of government, a market economy, and respect for human rights. Voters amended the constitution in October 2003, changing many articles of the original document. Among the most important changes were provisions protecting private property, permitting Romanian minorities to use their native languages in courts and in other official settings, and extending the term of Romania’s presidency from four to five years.
A) Executive Body
The president of Romania is elected by direct, popular vote for a maximum of two five-year terms. The president is head of state, representing the country in matters of foreign affairs, and serves as the commander in chief of the armed forces.
The president appoints a prime minister to head the government. The prime minister is generally the leader of the party or coalition of parties with the majority of seats in parliament. The prime minister is responsible for selecting a cabinet to help carry out the operations of government.
Romania has a bicameral (two-chamber) parliament called the National Assembly. It is composed of a lower house, called the Chamber of Deputies, and an upper house, called the Senate. Members of both houses of parliament are elected for four-year terms according to a system of proportional representation, apart from a small number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies that are reserved for ethnic minorities. All citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote.
The Romanian legal system is based on the Code Napoleon (Napoleonic Code). The Supreme Court is Romania’s highest judicial authority. Its members are appointed by the president at the proposal of the Superior Council of Magistrates. In each of Romania’s 41 counties and in the special municipality of Bucharest there is a county court and several lower courts, or courts of first instance. The country also has 15 circuits of appellate courts, in which appeals against sentences passed by local courts are heard; there is a right of appeal from the appellate courts to the Supreme Court.
Romania has a Constitutional Court, charged with ensuring a balance of power among the branches of government. The procurator-general is the highest judicial official in Romania, and is responsible to the National Assembly, which appoints him or her for a four-year term. The death penalty was abolished in December 1989 and is forbidden by the constitution.
Political Parties: Between 1948 and 1989 the only political organization in Romania was the Romanian Communist Party. Led by Nicolae Ceausescu after 1965, it controlled all aspects of government. After Ceausescu was deposed in 1989, the Communist Party dissolved and a number of former members formed the National Salvation Front (NSF). Many other new parties also emerged at this time. The Romanian Communist Party was reestablished in May 1994.
About 90 political parties were registered in Romania by 1994; however, only a small percentage of these were represented in the government. Many parties in Romania are short-lived, and mergers and coalitions of parties and political groupings are common. Among the most important parties are the Social Democratic Party (PSD), formerly known as the Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PSDR); the National Liberal Party (PNL), which joined in 2003 with another large mainstream party, the Democratic Party (PD), to form the PNL-PD, or Justice and Truth (DA) alliance; and the anti-immigration Greater Romania Party (PRM). The Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania represents Romania’s Hungarian minority.
Local Government: Romania is divided into 41 counties and the municipality of Bucharest. Each unit has its own local government, as do cities, towns, and communes (rural areas), within each county.
Social Services: Romania has a comprehensive social insurance system that includes medical care, family allowances, retirement pensions, and vacations at health resorts. After the revolution of 1989, Romania’s poor health conditions were brought to light. International attention was focused particularly on Romanian orphanages containing large numbers of neglected children—a byproduct of the Ceausescu regime’s policy of denying women access to birth control or abortion to increase Romania’s birthrate. Many children were found to be suffering from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis, and other serious illnesses. In the mid-1990s Romania had one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe. Although the World Bank has granted loans to the Romanian government to help improve the country’s health-care system, Romania’s infant mortality rate, at 27.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, remains high by European standards.
Defense: In 2002 the total strength of Romania’s armed forces was 97,200 members. In addition to centrally controlled units, the armed forces consisted of 66,000 in the army, 14,000 in the air force, and 7,200 in the navy. Military service is compulsory for all men and lasts for a period of 12 months in the army and air force and 18 months in the navy. The Securitate (secret police force), loyal to Ceausescu, was disbanded in 1990 and replaced by the Romanian Intelligence Service.
International Organizations: Romania is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (CE), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In January 1994 Romania joined the Partnership for Peace program, and the following year it sent peacekeeping troops to Angola, thereby participating in its first military operation under UN auspices. Romania’s chief foreign policy goal after the fall of communism, membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), was achieved in March 2004, when Romania formally joined the defensive alliance. Romania hopes to become a full member of the European Union (EU) in 2007.