General background: Soviet occupation following
World War II led to the formation of a Communist "peoples
republic" in 1947 and the abdication of the king.
The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU
and his Securitate police state became increasingly
oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU
was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former communists
dominated the government until 1996 when they were
swept from power by a fractious coalition of center-right
parties. Today the Communist Party, renamed the Party
of Social Democracy, rules in cooperation with the
ethnic Hungarian minority rights party. Much economic
restructuring remains to be carried out before Romania
can achieve its hope of joining the EU.
Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Oregon.
Climate: Temperate; cold, cloudy winters with
frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent
showers and thunderstorms.
Terrain: Central Transylvanian Basin is separated
from the Plain of Moldavia on the east by the Carpathian
Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on
the south by the Transylvanian Alps.
Population: 22,317,730 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 7.1%,
Roma 1.8%, German 0.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, other 0.8%
Religions: Romanian Orthodox 70%, Roman Catholic
6%, Protestant 6%, unaffiliated 18%
Language: Romanian, Hungarian, German
Government type: Republic
Legal system: Former mixture of civil law
system and communist legal theory; is now based on
the constitution of France's Fifth Republic.
Economic overview: Romania, one of the poorest
countries of Central and Eastern Europe, began the
transition from Communism in 1989 with a largely obsolete
industrial base and a pattern of output unsuited to
the country's needs. Over the past decade economic
restructuring has lagged behind most other countries
in the region. Consequently, living standards have
continued to fall - real wages are down perhaps 40%.
The country emerged in 2000 from a punishing three-year
recession thanks to strong demand in EU export markets,
and despite the global slowdown in 2001, strong domestic
activity in construction, agriculture, and consumption
led to 4.8% growth. A standby agreement with the IMF
- covering the period October 2001 to March 2003 -
provides a key opportunity for vigorous privatization,
regulatory reform, deficit reduction, and the curbing
of inflation. The government in the past has not been
able to fully implement IMF agreements; its degree
of success in this case will affect prospects for
joining the EU.
Communication/Telephone system: Poor service,
Places of interest: Romania has majestic castles,
medieval towns, great hiking and wildlife, and the
cheap skiing in beautiful mountains.