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ROMANIA

Romania is situated in Southeastern Europe  extending approximately 480 km North to South and 640 km east to West. 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 President Nicolae CEAUSESCU became increasingly draconian through the 1980s. He was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Much economic restructuring remains to be carried out before Romania can achieve its hope of joining the EU.

Romania is bordered to the North and East by Moldavia and Ukraine, to the Southeast by the Black Sea, to the South by Bulgaria, to the Southwest by Yugoslavia and to the West by Hungary. The country has an area of 237,750 sq. km and a population of over 23,000,000, composed of Romanians, Hungarians and small minorities of Germans, Slovaks, Turks, Russians, Bulgarians, Croats, Tartars... The official language is Romanian, of Latin origin. Some Hungarian and German are spoken in Transylvania and in the border areas, while mainly English and some French are spoken by those connected with the tourist industry.

The country is divided into three geographical areas. Transylvania and Moldavia compose the Northern half of the country, which is divided down the middle by the North-South strip of the Carpathian Mountains. South of the East-West line of the Carpathians lies Tara Romaneasca with Romania's capital: Bucharest. The Carpathians Mountains are located in the center of the country, bordered on both sides by hills and plateaux; finally you discover the great plains of the outer rim. Forests cover over a quarter of the country and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe.

The capital of Romania is the city of Bucharest . It is divided into six administrative districts, with a population of 2,066,723 and it lies in the south-eastern part of the country, in the Romanian Plain (altitude 85 m). Bucharest is a living city with monumental buildings, with outstanding architectural values, big and interesting museums, theatres, opera house, exhibition halls, memorial houses, universities, central public and administrative offices. The Palace of Parliament, for instance, is the second building in the world in point of size, after the Pentagon. The capital is also the largest industrial center of Romania, with numerous factories and plants of all kinds (iron-and-steel, engineering, fine mechanics, tanning yards, food industry).

Bucharest dates back to the 14th century and is recorded in writing for the first time in 1459 as residence of prince Vlad the Impaler. Capital of Wallachia in the 17th-19th centuries and then of Romania since 1862, Bucharest is the most important political, economic, cultural and scientific center of the country. It is crossed by the river Dâmbovita and is bordered by picturesque lakes on the valley of Colentina. Bucharest is a city featuring a rich vegetation, wide parks, which has inspired the name of "garden-city".


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