1.6% Gypsies, Serbs, Croats, Russians and Turks
In the 14th Century the area now known as Romania consisted of 3 regions.
Transylvania - This area was ruled by the Hungarian’s, who in the 11th century, encouraged German colonization of the region. The German’s brought Western civilisation and built the great cities of Sibiu, Sighisoara and Brasov.
Wallachia - This area spent much of it’s early history fighting Turkish invaders.
Moldovia - This area not only had to defend itself against the Turks but also fought against the Tatars, a tribe of warriors from the Far East. During the 15th century Moldavia was led by Stefan the Great. (The Romanian Orthodox Church has since made him a saint).
In 1848 a small revolt took place that rejected the rule of the then foreign powers of Austria, Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and called for the union of the 3 territories under the rule of the Romanian people. This revolt was soon ended by military intervention. However, in 1859, with the permission of the foreign rulers Wallachia and Moldavia were permitted to chose their own prince to rule over them. As they both chose the same man, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, they were joined together and the state of Romania was founded.
In 1877 Romania became totally independent. A new constitution was passed and Romania enjoyed a period of economic growth. This continued until the First World War . Romania joined the side of the allies and suffered heavy losses. As the map of Europe was redrawn, the regions for Transylvania, Bassarabia, and Bucovina (now part of Ukraine) were united with Romania under the reign of King Ferdinand. There were good years for Romania and the economy grew, supported by a booming oil industry and wheat exports. The arts flourished and Bucharest became know as “Little Paris”.
In 1940 the Soviets invaded Bassarabia and Romania entered the Second World War on the German side. By 1944 the King had arrested the military leaders and changed sides. Romania lost 500,000 men fighting for liberation of Hungry and Czechoslovakia. Post war Romania became a Communist state with the support of the Soviets, who in turn demanded reimbursement for it’s losses during the war and so the region of Bassarabia was lost and the king was forced to abdicate.
In 1965 Ceausescu came to power, he almost brought the country to complete ruin with his own personal greed and his abuse of human rights. Most of the people lived in extreme poverty. As one by one the Communist governments of Eastern Europe fell during the 1980’s, there was the beginning of unrest in Romania. However unlike the other countries whose change over had been relatively peaceful, the revolt at Timisora in 1989 became increasingly violent and over 1000 people died.
Today there is a multi party system and the government is attempting to revive the economy. This has not been easy, following the fall of communism industrial output fell by 54%. The once booming agricultural industry had been crippled under the Communists and Romania was forced to buy foreign wheat. Even today there are large areas of arable land that remains uncultivated. Romania has good potential for growing vegetables and supply 90% of requirements.
The main system of transportation is by rail. Although there is a fairly good network of roads they are in poor condition. Air transportation is limited although a new international airport has been built in recent years. The Danube is used for a great deal of transportation, both national and international, as the river is navigable all the way to the Black Sea.
Romania is 91,800 square miles, the Carpathean Mountains cross from North to South West of the country. To the west of the mountains is a large plateau, this area is Transylvania. To the east and the south of the mountains is Wallachia with good agricultural land. The north eastern area is Moldavia. The Danube flows along the Southern border with Bulgaria.
Today more than 44% of the population live below the poverty line. This is more than in the 1980’s when the plight of the young, sick and elderly first came to the attention of the world’s media.
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