Romania

The Country

Geography

Romania is situated in South-Eastern Europe, between latitudes 43-37'07'' and 48-15'06'' North and longitudes 20-15'44'' and 29-41'24'' East, extending approximately 480 km North to South and 640 East to West.

The country has an area of 237,500 sq. km and a population of over 23,000,000 of which 89% are Romanians, 7% Hungarians, 2% Gypsies, with small minorities of Germans, Ukraineans, Serbs, Slovaks, Turks, Czecs, Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Poles, Albanians...

The Carpathians form a mountainous arch in the centre of the country, bordered on both sides by hills and plateaus and there are great plains off the outer rim.

Forests cover over a quarter of the country and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe including wolves, bears, deer, lynx and chamois.

The mighty Danube forms the southern boundary of the country ending with the Delta or the Black Sea, a haven for countless local and migratory birds.

Countries sharing borders with Romania are Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldavia and the Ukraine.

History

The territory of Romania has been inhabited since the Paleolithic.

The ancestors of the Romanian people are the Dacians, fierce warriors subdued by the Romans under Trajan in two extremely difficult campaigns at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. However, the relatively brief Roman occupation (165 years), left a lasting legacy: the Latin language which survived the numerous subsequent invasions of migratory peoples.

Over the years a Romanian identity developed progressively with the formation of the feudal states of Wallachia and Moldavia in the 13th and 14th centuries. Centuries of fighting against the Turks ensued in these states. Meanwhile Transylvania was occupied successively by the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

Finally Moldavia and Wallachia were united in 1859, independence was achieved in 1877, and union with Transylvania in 1918.

The communist rule, established after the 2nd world war lasted 45 years and ended with the revolution in December 1989.

Climate

The climate is continental-temperate, characteristic for Central Europe (hot summers, cold winters, very distinct seasons, abundant snowfalls especially in the mountains). The southern regions are the warmest.

Annual rainfall averages are 677 mm, but they are higher in the mountains (1,000 - 1,4000 m) and below the average on the sea coast (below 400 m).

Average temperatures in different parts of the country are:

SummerWinterAverageBlack Sea Coast20.02.411.2Bucharest21.80.611.2Cluj-Napoca18.2-2.67.8Predeal14.5-4.55.0Danube Delta20.82.311.5Timisoara21.2010.6

Major Cities and Their Population

Bucharest: 2,300,000; Brasov: 353,000; Timisoara: 333,000; Iasi: 333,000; Cluj-Napoca: 318,000; Constanta: 316,000; Sibiu: 169,000; Targu Mures: 165,000; Suceava: 106,000.

Language

The official language, Romanian, is of Latin origin. English, French and German are widely spoken.

Religion

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

The Political System and the Public Administration

According to the Constitution adopted in 1991, Romania is a parliamentary republic with a bicameral Parliament. The president of the country, the senators and the members of the lower chamber are elected every four years by universal secret ballot.

Democratic rights and freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution.

The national flag is red, yellow and blue. Romania's national holiday is December 1, the day when the national unitary state was founded in 1918.

Romania's territory is divided into 40 districts administered by prefects: the mayors of municipalities, towns and villages are subordinated to the district administration. Bucharest, the capital, has its own administration, similar to that of the districts.

Getting there

By Air

Regular and charter flights of Romanian airlines (namely Tarom) and of the foreign airlines with offices in Bucharest ( Delta, Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Swissair...) connect Bucharest with the world's major airports.

Romania's international airports are Bucharest - Otopeni, Constanta-Mihail Kogalniceanu, Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca.

Otopeni International Airport in Bucharest is situated 18 km away from the city centre. The centre can be reached by airport coach or by taxi. In the latter case it is wise to agree with the driver upon the price before beginning the journey. Check with your travel agent as tour operators can often supply transfers at very competitive rates.

By Rail

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

By Road

The access ways to Romania are: Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest-Petea E 81: Vienna, Prague, Budapest-Bors E 60 or Nadlac E64 or Varsand E 671: Trieste, Belgrade-Moravita E 70 or Portile de Fier E 70: Athens, Tirana, Sofia-Giurgiu E 85; Istanbul, Sofia- Vama Veche E 87: Moscow, Kiev, Kishinev-Albita E 580; Warsaw, Kiev, Chernowitz-Siret E 85. All roads are marked in accordance with international regulations. Cars are driven on the right side of the road and can overtake on the left.

Distances between Bucharest and various main cities are: Athens-1252 km, Berlin-2154 km, Berne ( Zurich)-2125 km, Brussels-2394 km, Bonn-2100 km, Budapest-893 km, Copenhagen-2587 km, Frankfurt-2100 km, The Hague (Amsterdam)-2428 km Helsinki-2900km, Istanbul -704 km, Kiev-1065 km, Kishinev-445 km, Lisbon-4120 km, London-2577 km, Madrid-3530 km, Minsk-1650 km, Moscow-1963 km, Oslo-2820 km, Paris-2401 km, Prague-1465 km, Riga-1955 km, Rome-2149 km, Sofia-407 km, Stockholm -3100 km, Vienna - 1100 km. Warshaw-1797 km.

If you come to Romania by car , bring your driving license, car papers and green card. The Romanian Automobile Club - ACR - and the insurance company CAROM are at your disposal for technical and any other kind of assistance with your car. Call ACR at 927 in Bucharest.

By sea and river

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

Vaccinations: Not required

When to come

Romania is indeed a country for all seasons. A country for lazing in the sun and taking it easy, touring for cultural enrichment, for winter sports, hiking, boating and activities of all kinds.

Thus, the best time to come over depends on what you want to do! Holidays on the Black Sea coast are most enjoyable between June and September. On the other hand, winter sports in the Carpathians are best practised from Christmas to March. Spring and autumn are perfect for touring vacations throughout the country, while Bucharest is at its best from spring to autumn, although not lacking charm in winter too. This is the time to enjoy the opera season, attend concerts, and taste the hearty Romanian cuisine in warm and welcoming restaurants.

Festivals

Interesting festivals are often a good reason to come to Romania at one time of the year rather than another. The following is a list of some of the most interesting and colourful of the Romanian festivals:

 

  • The International Festival of Amateur Theatre the "Concordia Days", January 10-20 in Sfantu Gheorghe.- The "UNICEF Gala" of lyrical theatre, on January 25 in Constanta
  • The Secular Winter Customs Festival, February, Sfantu Gheorghe'
  • The International Festival of Contemporary Theatre, April 5-25 , Brasov;
  • The National festival of Spring Agricultural Customs " Tanjeaua de pe Marna", April Hoteni- Maramures District;
  • The Feast of the Daffodils, May, Vlahita-Harghita District;
  • The International Jazz Festival, May, Brasov
  • The National Festival of Light Music of Mamaia, July-August'
  • The International Pop Music Festival " The Golden Stag", September, Brasov.
    • TIBCO - The International Fair of Consumer Goods, May-June, Bucharest
    • Rommedica - Medical Instruments and equipments, May, Bucharest
    • Horexpo - Hotels, restaurants, public houses, April-May,Bucharest;
    • TIB - The international Technical Fair, October, Bucharest

    Clothing

    Apart from clothes fashionable for the current season, it is always advisable to pack a warm pullover, a raincoat and good walking shoes. Very warm clothing is recommended in winter. In any event clothing is good value in Romania so you can always purchase additional items once you get there there if necessary.

    Organising your visit

    Ask the Romanian tourist information offices abroad or your travel agent to explain the interesting holiday ideas suggested by tour operators specialised in vacations in Romania. A whole range of possibilities is available, ranging from transport only to grand tours of the country.

    Some examples are:

    Week-ends and Short Breaks

    A short stay in Bucharest followed by the delightful and picturesque towns of Sinaia and Brasov in the Carpathian mountains or the Danube Delta are an excellent first contact with Romania !
    For example: Four days in Bucharest and Sinaia; 4 days in Bucharest and Brasov; 5 days in Bucharest, Sinaia and Brasov; 5 days in the Danube Delta.

    Holidays at the Black Sea

    The beach resorts by the Black Sea offer everything for relaxing holidays in the sun that make a difference - fine golden sand, swimming pools, comfortable hotels, sports facilities, restaurants with a Romanian specific.

    Each resort along the coast has its own personality and style. Mamaia, Eforie Nord, Eforie Sud, Neptun, Olimp, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mangalia: take your pick!

    Health Programs

    The Gerovital treatment of Doctor Ana Aslan is renowned throughout the world and much sought after. It can be followed at the Black Sea or in Bucharest. Romania has been a country with renowned spas ever since Roman times.You have a choice among 70 centres throughout the country, providing the whole range of treatments under the most modern conditions.


    Coach Tours

    Folklore, monasteries, the Grand Tour, the Prahova Valley or even follow Dracula's footsteps.
    One week, two weeks... The choice is yours.

    Where to stay

    Hotels, motels, inns and camping sites are to be found all over Romania, covering the entire range of standards of quality. There also are alpine chalets at high altitudes for enthusiastic climbers. You may make reservations at travel agencies.

    Distances from Bucharest to majot cities:

    Alba Iulia: 344 km, Brasov: 171 km, Cluj - Napoca: 446 km, Constanta: 266 km, Oradea: 595 km, Sibiu: 273 km, Targu Mures: 344 km, Timisoara: 567 km, Tulcea: 263 km.

    Credit cards:

    American Express, Diners Club, JCB International, Euro Master Card, and VISA are accepted in most hotels and in restaurants. It is however advisable to check in advance.

    Electricity

    220 volts and 50 Hz. 2 prong plug.

    Medical services

    Available in state and private health units throughout the country ( hospital and dispensaries), according to the medical agreements established between Romania and other countries.

    Tipping

    Normally 10% of the bill for good services is appreciated, but is as the customer wishes.

    • Making the most of your visit

      Cuisine

      Although international cuisine is available in fine restaurants, make sure that you savor the local Romanian dishes. Romanian cooking is rich, tasty and substantial, as befits a country where food is still naturally cultivated, where fruit and vegetables follow their normal season, and where winters are cold.

      Pork is a special favourite, but you will find good beef, veal, and chicken too. They are all delicious just grilled. Typically Romanian specialities include a range of soups - try "ciorba" (broth), a soup made of fermented bran, bacon, potatoes, and beef or chicken. Hearty stews such as " Tochitura Moldoveneasca" are accompanied like many Romanian meat dishes by " mamaliga", a maize polenta. " Sarmale " is a spicy dish of pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, and " mititei" are small grilled sausages perfumed with aromatic herbs. Among fish dishes try carp on the spit, a local speciality in the Danube Delta.

      A range of excellent white and red Romanian wines of the famous vineyards of Murfatlar, Cotnari, Jidvei, Delu Mare, Odobesti, Valea Calugareasca accompany local and international dishes to perfection, while Tuica, the local plum brandy is often drunk as an aperitif. But beware, it carries a sting in its tail! The local Romanian beers are excellent.

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    Sports

    A wide range of possibilities is open: skiing and bobsleighing in the mountains in winter, or riding, hiking, swimming and tennis in summer. Many hotels have indoor swimming pools and saunas.

    On the Black Sea Coast, swimming in the sea or swimming pools with fresh and salt water, or acquatic sports in the sea and on the lakes in the vicinity of the sea. You may also play tennis, badminton, volleyball, basketball and which, bowling, and pool.

    People coming on business and staying in Bucharest only (or in major cities) can swim in the swimming pools of the big hotels (e.g. Intercontinental, Bucuresti, Lido) or entertainment areas around the natural lakes surrounding the city ( Snagov, Mogosoaia, Cernica). Acquatic sports can be practised at the sailing base of Herastrau. Tennis; volleyball, which, football, basketball, readily available.

    Fishing

    Fishing is allowed mainly in the Danube Delta and on the lakes outside the big cities ( observing legal requirements). In the Danube Delta, where there are over 160 species of fish ( among which we can mention the sturgeon, the wel, the pike, the carp), fishing may be complementary to boating or excursions for professional and amateur ornithologists (the Danube Delta shelters over 300 species of birds and the biggest colony of pelicans in Europe).

    Sailing

    The Danube Delta has its own regulations that must be strictly observed ( they also apply to fishing and hunting). Tourists bringing their own crafts must pay a compulsory fee at Tulcea Harbour Station, and will need to present their passports, sailing license and identification papers of the craft.

     

    Hunting

    The open season for hunting is: stag ( 01/08-30/11); reebuck ( 15/05-31/10); deer (01/09-30/11); chamois (15/09-31/12); bear(15/03-15/05) wild boar (01/10-15/02); mountain cock (01/04-15/05); pheasant(15/10-28/02); water birds ( 15/08-15/03). Romania is one of the four countries that founded the International Council for Hunting and Game Protection.

    Shopping

    Interesting purchases to make in Romania are embroidered table cloths and table napkins, ceramics, pottery, carpets, folkloric clothes, sculpted wood objects, porcelain, silverware and icons. Recommended shopping areas are those in the centre or in residential areas of the major cities. The usual hopping hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but some shops and department stores stay open till 8 p.m. and later. Duty free shops are to be found in the international airports.

    Museums

    In Bucharest one can visit the National Art Museum housed in the former Royal Palace ( paintings, sculptures, tapestries, icons etc), the National History Museum, The Museum of the City of Bucharest housed in the former Sutu Palace, the Art Collections Museum( the most valuable private art collections) the Romanian Peasant Museum (including original popular costumes, icons, houseware ) the Village Museum (a true-to-life Romanian village with genuine dwellings from all the religions of the country), the Firemen's Museum, the Military Museum...

    Open Air Museums

    Bucharest, the Village Museum, the Old Princely Court; Cluj - Napoca, the Ethnographic Museum; Sighetu Marmatiei ( Maramures), the local museum; Curtisoara (Gorj), the local museum; Timisoara, Museum of the Green Woods; Constanta, the Archaeological Museum, Sibiu Astra Ethnographic museum.

    Folklore

    Romanian folklore is the best preserved in the world and examples can be found all over the country. Maramures (wooden architecture, costumes, ceramics), Bucovina (woven materials, Easter painted eggs, costumes, traditions), Banat (folk art costumes, traditional customs), Horezu (pottery, wood carving), the Apuseni Mountains (folk art costumes, wood carving, folk celebrations, wooden architecture), Marginimea Sibiului (icons painted on glass, folk art costumes, houseware-all gathered in folk art museums). There also are museums housing ancient peasant technology in Bucharest, Sibiu, Cluj - Napoca, Ramnicu Valcea, Focsani, Timisoara, Sighetu Marmatiei.

    Folk music and dancing are a vital, living tradition in Romania. Shows can be seen in many hotels and restaurants throughout the country. Romanian folk music is both entertaining and cheerful. You will find it hard to resist.

    Night Life

    A meal in a restaurant or a hotel, while watching a live show, is an excellent way of spending a Romanian evening. If you want " to go on" there are night clubs and discotheques in Bucharest and some other big cities.

    Traditional architecture

    Traditional peasant houses are normally small and picturesque, blue trimming frequently contrasting with whitewashed walls in certain parts of the country or with colourful versions in others. Porches and overhanging eaves are a common feature everywhere. Furniture, curtains, rugs and clothing are often handmade on the premises!

    Books on Romania

    Guide books available on Romania include English, French, Dutch, German, Danish, Swedish, Spanish ad Italian editions.