Introduction to Romania
Romania’s turbulent past is a stark contrast to the culturally rich architectural monuments that nestle among the country’s natural landscape today.Located in the southeast of Central Europe, Romania borders Hungary to the northwest, Ukraine to the east and north, the Republic of Moldova to the east, Serbia to the southwest and the Black Sea to the southeast. Poverty still exists among some of the country’s 20 million-strong population despite the Romanian government’s austere efforts to curb it.
The arch-shaped Carpathian Mountains are divided into the Transylvanian Alps to the south, Oriental Carpathians to the east and Western Carpathians. At 1,000 kilometres long, they are the largest undisturbed forests in Europe and offer a diverse range of outdoor activities to match the terrain. Europe’s second-largest river ends and splits into the nature-rich Danube Delta and meets the coastline with the Black Sea area - a popular tourist destination. The Romanian Black Sea Coast then extends about 250 kilometres to the south. Romania’s emerging, funky capital is Bucharest.
Abandoned by the Romans early on, Romania was invaded by the Huns, Goths and Bulgars before the Middle Ages where the 2 main principalities at the time, Moldavia and Wallachia, were conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s. Romania was reunited after that, gaining independence in 1878 and joined by Transylvania after World War I before famously switching sides in World War II. Under communist rule until 1989, Romania joined the European Union in 2007.
Transylvania boasts Europe’s largest population of bears and wolves. It is also home to well-known tourist hub and spooky place, Dracula’s Castle. Count Dracula was said to be inspired by Romanian general Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler. Another famous Romanian, gymnast Nadia Comaneci, won the first-ever perfect score in gymnastics at the 1976 Olympics.