The oldest human remains in Europe were first discovered in Romania and it was long thought that the oldest known humans were of Romanian origin until older remains were discovered in the UK. The oldest written evidence of the people living in Romania are found in the writings of Heredotus in Histories books circa 440 BC. The people living on the northern bank of the Danube river are called Dacians and they have respectively had their own kingdom, lived under Roman rule, and subsequently under Goths.
During the Middle Ages Romania was divided into 3 principalities: Moldavia, Wallachia, Transylvania. The region was briefly ruled by Bulgarians and faced immigration from the Asiatic tribes. The whole region slowly succumbed into Ottoman Empire and it stayed under its influence until 18th century yet it enjoyed a certain degree of independency regarding domestic issues from Ottomans and had the chance to have its own rulers. During the decline of the Ottoman Empire Romanian principalities faced another threat, the growing empire of Russia.
After many revolution attempts and growing hostility towards Ottoman Empire, Romania gained its independence following the disastrous defeat of Ottomans by the Russians in 1877-78 War. As a rather young nation the new Romania was seeing threats from all the sides in its geography and sought connections in the west, particularly France for development. Following this close ties Romania found itself in the First World War in the Allied Side and opened a front against Austro-Hungarian Empire and it turned out to be a disastrous decision for Romania lost majority of its territories and manpower in less than half a year. Yet before the war ended Romania recovered and went into war when Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires were already eliminated and still Romania had the chance to reunite lost territories once more. In the Interbellum period Romania reached its largest borders and until 1938 it was ruled with a constitutional monarchy. Following the abolishment of Parliament in 1938, it was ruled under a dictatorship until the end of the Second World War.
Although Romania wanted to be neutral in the war it was forced to join the sides of Axis Powers when it was threatened by Russia and had to give certain portions of land in the beginning of the land to them. Because of the diplomatic failures of Carol 2 the army supported General Antonescu and he seized power from the monarchy. Following this power shift Romania joined the war on the Axis Side and eventually built extermination camps were Jews and Roma people were massacred. Following long battles Soviet Army crossed the border and toppled Antonescu, which led to brief establishment of Monarchy and Romania’s’ change of sides to join Allied forces.
During the time of Soviet occupation, the communist party won the general elections and after the war ended King was forced to abdicate and leave the country. Until the end of 1950’s Romania was under direct political and economic control of Soviet Federation during which the Romanian resources where drained by the Soviets. The first ruler, Gheorghiu-Dej had been on top until his death in 1965 and he was succeeded by Nicolai Ceausescu. In 1958 the Soviets withdrew their forces from Romania and the path to independence was opened and during the time of Ceausescu Romania was clearly acting differently from the other Socialist Nations about the international affairs.
Romania’s’ foreign debt increased sharply in 80’s and great poverty struck the nation to contain this debt hike. Ceausescu’s long time ruling was stained by countless human rights abuses and repression and in 1989 a popular uprising led the military to turn against him and he was toppled and swiftly executed. After the fall of Ceausescu his rival within the Party Ilıescu led the nation and the transition to free market began while most of the once restricted political parties resurrected again.
Yet again Iliescu was regarded as a continuation of the communist policies and uprisings continued and massive fights between masses broke out. However, Ilıescu won the elections with a landslide with the help of oppressed media and connections. The economy and social situation witnessed an improvement during these long years despite all the strife and eventually Romania joined EU and NATO in the first decade of the millennia.
Romania has a multi party, bicameral parliementarian system with a house of Representatives and a Senate. The elections are held every 4 years and the last Presidential election in November 2014 was won by Klaus Iohannis. The Prime Minister is Dacian Ciolos who was elected as a member of the Parliament in 2015 as an independent candidate.
The uprisings following a night club fire in Bucharest in November 2015 changed the Romanian political landscape and the Prime Minister from the Social Democrat Party Victor Ponta was forced to resign. Following this the parliament approved a transitional cabinet made up of technocrats and for the role of Prime Minister, a former member of the European Comission Dacian Ciolos was appointed.
The next general elections in Romania will be held only one day after we leave the country on 11th of December and 9 parties will take part inthis race for the election of 332 MPs and 134 senators.
We will look at two major political parties of Romania to better understand the Romanian politics.
Social Democrat Party (Partidul Social Democrat – PSD)
The leader of this party until a few days ago was the former Prime Minister who was forced to resign following the night club fire, Victor Ponta. Victor Ponta is currently tried in court because of corruption charges and he was replaced by the new leader Liviu Dragene. PSD represents the centre-left in Romania and they defend social democracy. They follow the “Third Way” doctrine which takes the Social Policies from left and the Economical policies from right. PSD is currently the main party of the ruling government.
National Liberal Party (Partidul Național Liberal – PNL)
PNL is led by Aline Georghiu and advocates the liberal policies. It merged with the Democratic Liberal Party and is led by a co presidency along with Vasile Baga. Incumbent President Klaus Iohannis is the predecessor of Georghiu and he had to resign from his post for presidency. It is important to note that the neutrality principle of the president is a good signfor Romanian democracy.
Having mentioned these two, we can also talk about the center right party Alliance of Liberals and Democrats; the party of the Hungarian minority the Democratic Union of Hungarians and another opposition party the National Democratic Party among the popular parties in the political landscape
Romania is the largest of the Balkans countries. Romania continues to produce economic growth. The country’s national priorities are anchored in the European Commission environment. Romania is expected to grow by 5% in 2016. This result is the highest since 2008 and the fastest in the European Commission.
The Gross Domestic in Romania was worth 178 billion dollars in 2015. GDP grew at a steady pace and a middle class grew. The rate of unemployment is 5% in Romania. The top export destinations of Romania are Germany, Italy, France, Turkey and Hungary.
Being at the point of passage between Central and Eastern Europe, the culture of Romania is influenced by many cultures including Balkans, Europe and the neighboring countries. It is affected by Slavic tribes especially Serbian and Ukrainian culture in early periods, then by the Ottoman Empire, by the Slavic culture again until 1990’s and lately by the Western culture especially in the accession process to European Union.
The official language in the country is Romanian, which has Latin roots but also contains words from Greek, Slavic languages, and Turkish. Also Hungarian, German and English are spoken. At earlier times, French was also common because it was taught at schools as a secondary language but later it has changed to English. Romania is a secular state and has no state religion. Majority of the population identify themselves as Orthodox Christians. Others identify themselves as Protestants and Roman Catholics.
The westernization of Romania took place mainly under the French influences. From the end of the 18th century, the sons of upper classes went to Paris for the purpose of education, so that French became (it was until the communist years) a second language of culture for Romanians. It was a role model in the in the fields of political ideas, administration and law, as well as in literature. From the mid-19th century down to World War I, German culture also influenced the culture of Romania. With Soviet Communism in the area, Romania quickly adopted many Slavic influences, and Russian was also a widely taught language in the country during Romania's "socialist" years.
Nowadays Romania has a very colorful culture mixture that inhibits both the traces of Communist and Liberal eras and one can walk down a street experiencing both of them.
Romania is the largest country in Southeastern Europe, twelfth-largest in Europe and 82th country in the world. The terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountains, hills and plains. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the center of Romania, and the highest point at Moldoveanu Peak.
47% of the country's land area is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. There are almost 10,000 km2of protected areas in Romania covering 13 national parks and three biosphere reserves. The Danube river forms a large part of the border with Serbia and Bulgaria, and flows into the Black Sea, forming the Danube Delta, which is the second-largest and best-preserved delta in Europe, and also a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site.
The fauna consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrates and 707 vertebrates, with almost 400 unique species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians including about 50% of Europe’s brown bears and 20% of its wolves.
Owing to its distance from open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is temperate and continental, with four distinct seasons. The coastal cities enjoy a softer climate whereas the continental portion of the country reaches more extreme temperatures both in winter and summer. Especially the winters are quite challenging in Romania where it can reach minus ten degrees in a regular basis with low humidity.
According to the 2011 census, Romania's population is 20,121,641. Like other countries in the region, its population is expected to gradually decline in the coming years as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates and negative net migration rate.
The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million. In October 2011, Romanians made up 88.9% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Hungarians, 6.5% of the population, and the Roma, 3.3% of the population. After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a significant number of Romanians emigrated to other European countries, North America or Australia. For example, in 1990, 96,919 Romanians permanently settled abroad.