Population: 22.4 million (July 2004).
Religions: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 87%, Protestant 6.8%, Catholic 5.6%, other (mostly Muslim) 0.4%, unaffiliated 0.2%.
Ethnic groups: Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 6.6%, Roma 2.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, German 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, Turkish 0.2%, other 0.4%.
Languages: Romanian (official), Hungarian, German.
The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who took power in 1965, 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 centrist parties. Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007.
Country name: Romania.
Government type: Republic.
Independence: 9 May 1877 (independence proclaimed from Turkey; independence recognized 13 July 1878 by the Treaty of Berlin; kingdom proclaimed 26 March 1881; republic proclaimed 30 December 1947).
Administrative divisions: 41 counties (judete, singular - judet) and 1 municipality (municipiu); Alba, Arad, Arges, Bacau, Bihor, Bistrita-Nasaud, Botosani, Braila, Brasov, Bucuresti, Buzau, Calarasi, Caras-Severin, Cluj, Constanta, Covasna, Dimbovita, Dolj, Galati, Gorj, Giurgiu, Harghita, Hunedoara, Ialomita, Iasi, Ilfov, Maramures, Mehedinti, Mures, Neamt, Olt, Prahova, Salaj, Satu Mare, Sibiu, Suceava, Teleorman, Timis, Tulcea, Vaslui, Vilcea, Vrancea.
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.
Total area: 237,500 km˛.
Coastline: 225 km.
Highest point: Moldoveanu 2,544 m.
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms.
Ports and harbors: Braila, Constanta, Galati, Mangalia, Sulina, Tulcea.
The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia - for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire - secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 under the new name of Romania. The country gained full independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories following the conflict.
In 1940, it allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist "people's republic" in 1947 and the abdication of the king.
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Romania began the transition from Communism in 1989 with a largely obsolete industrial base and a pattern of output unsuited to the country's needs. The country emerged in 2000 from a punishing three-year recession thanks to strong demand in EU export markets. Despite the global slowdown in 2001-02, strong domestic activity in construction, agriculture, and consumption have kept growth above 4%. An IMF Standby Agreement, signed in 2001, has been accompanied by slow but palpable gains in privatization, deficit reduction, and the curbing of inflation. The IMF Board approved Romania's completion of the standby agreement in October 2003, the first time Romania has successfully concluded an IMF agreement since the 1989 revolution. Nonetheless, recent macroeconomic gains have done little to address Romania's widespread poverty, while corruption and red tape hinder foreign investment.
Population below poverty line: 44.5 % (2000).
Currency: leu (ROL).
Industries: textiles and footwear, light machinery and auto assembly, mining, timber, construction materials, metallurgy, chemicals, food processing, petroleum refining.