Driving Directions Romania

ROMANIA is located in southeast Europe and bordered by Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. In the southeast, the republic’s coastline stretches for approximately 200 kilometers or 125 miles along the Black Sea’s shores.

The Carpathian Mountains run through the north, east, and center of Romania and dominate most countries. The Carpathians are geologically unstable, and Romania period­ically experiences severe earthquakes.

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In the center of the country, almost enclosed by the mountains, is Transylvania, a high and extensive plateau of uplands and forests. There is a continuation of the Hungarian Plain or Great Alföld in the west, while further plains lie to the east, southeast, and south of the mountains.

The eastern region is called Moldavia, and the southern area, Walachia. The southeastern region, bordering the Black Sea and containing the River Danube’s delta, is called Dobruja. Large steppe areas are highly fertile and intensively cultivated, particularly the “black earth” soils in the west and central regions.

Alpine flowers and plants grow in the mountain pastures above the treeline, while lower down, there are coniferous forests, mainly of spruce and pine. Deciduous trees can grow at still more moderate levels, and species include oak, birch, beech, and alder. The Romanian plains’ natural vegetation is a mixture of woodland and steppe, but this is extensively cleared to provide land for farming.

The Danube, with its tributaries, is Romania’s most important river. It forms part of the western border with Yugoslavia and most of the border with Bulgaria before turning north and then east to flow along the southern boundary with Ukraine. The Danube’s delta occupies the northeastern corner of the Dobruja region, where there are also numerous lakes and lagoons. Many of Romania’s other famous rivers are connected to the Danube system, and these include the Mures, Olt, Jiu, Siret, and the Prut, which form the eastern border with Moldova.

Pollution, air, and water is a severe problem in Romania’s parts, mostly as a legacy of industrial development during the communist era. Efforts now made to clean up the environment and reduce the number of pollutants released.

Romania was traditionally an agricultural country until after the Second World War. During the communist period, the emphasis was on industrial development, and farms were state-run or operated as collectives. During the 1990s, most farmland (about 43 percent of the total land area) returned to private ownership.

The cultivated areas are mainly on the plains, particularly in the Danube river basin. The essential crops are cereals (wheat, maize, barley, rye), exported, sugar beet, vegetables (especially potatoes), and fruits. Orchards of fruit trees and vineyards for Romania’s wine industry flourish on the more sheltered lower hill slopes. Wine is produced for export as well as for the domestic market.

Many livestock animals are reared, including cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, and horses. Horses are still used for work on many farms. Drought can severely affect agricultural production in Romania. Romania’s extensive forests cover about 30 percent of its land area, providing valuable timber that is harvested for construction purposes and used in paper and furniture manufacturing.

The state owns the forests and the forestry industry. Romania has both freshwater and offshore fishing industry, although fish stocks have been affected by pollution in some areas. The fish that are harvested include herring, flounder, sturgeon, salmon, and the main marine fishery in the Atlantic Ocean. Sturgeon (for caviar) caught in the Black Sea and Danube delta.

Romania has enjoyed the benefit of having considerable exploitable reserves of petroleum and natural gas, although the former is now rapidly becoming exhausted. Processing of oil is carried out mainly in the city of Ploiesti. Other mineral reserves include coal, lignite, iron ore, lead, copper, aluminum (bauxite), and zinc. Electricity is generated from oil, coal, gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear facilities, and a small amount is exported.

A large hydroelectric scheme operated on the Iron Gate, a deep gorge cut by the Danube in the border region.

The post-communist government has worked hard to bring about changes and improve the economy.

The principal industries produce petroleum, gas, petrochemicals, cement, construction materials, iron and steel, machinery, vehicles, electrical equipment, textiles, furniture and wood products, clothing, footwear, and processed foods.

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The Carpathian Mountains, Romania’s major physical feature, define the country’s overall topographical pattern. Roughly forming an arc in the center of the country, their various branches separate the Transylvanian Plateau from a wide band of lowlands on the edges, extending to the country’s eastern, southern, and western borders. Romania is traditionally divided into several distinct regions. Transylvania, which forms a large wedge in the north and northwest and makes up one-third of Romania, is the largest region. It encompasses the central Transylvanian Plateau, all of the Carpathian Mountains except for the most southeastern section, and the hilly terrain in the country’s northwestern part. Walachia, which curves around Transylvania in the south and southeast, is the country’s major lowland region, encompassing the Danube River’s plains to the south of the Transylvanian Alps. The part of Walachia west of the Olt River is a subregion known as Oltenia. Dobruja occupies Romania’s southeastern corner, bounded by the path of the Danube, where the river flows northward for about 160 kilometers (100 miles) before it again turns to the east for its final passage to the sea. Moldavia, in the northeast, constitutes about one-fourth of the country’s area. Much of this region is hilly or mountainous, and it is heavily forested. To the southwest, in the opposite corner of the country from Dobruja, is the Banat region.

Romania borders the Black Sea’s western end, which is an inland body of water lying between Europe and Asia. The Black Sea contains calm waters that are free of tides and dangerous marine life. Called the “Hospitable Sea” by the ancient Greeks, the Black Sea is half as saline as the Mediterranean Sea and has gentle sandy slopes, making it ideal for swimming. The Black Seafloor is composed of a shallow shelf that extends about 10 to 11 kilometers (6 to 7 miles) from the coast of Romania. On this shelf, the average sea depth is 100 to 110 meters (330 to 360 feet). This shelf then drops steeply to the seafloor, which is unusually flat and reaches depths of 2,195 meters (7,200 feet). Romania claims the continental shelf off its coast to a depth of 200 meters (656 feet).

Did you know about Romania?

1. The Balkan Peninsula, the southernmost peninsula of Europe, lies between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to the west, the Black and Aegean Seas to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea south. The countries of this region are collectively called the Balkan States: Albania, Bulgaria, continental Greece, southeast Romania, European Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.

2. Bran Castle in the Transylvanian Alps is believed to have been the home of the fifteenth-century Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, who was born in the Transylvanian village of Sighisoara (central Romania, northwest of Bucharest) in 1431. He was known as “The Impaler” because of his cruelty in mass executions. He was also called “Dracula,” which means “Son of a Dragon,” because his father was a member of the Dragon Order, a group of knights established by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund to fight the Turks. British author Bram Stoker made Transylvania and Dracula famous when he chose Vlad Tepes’s personality as the basis for the vampire in his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

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