Geography of Rumania

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Romania is situated in the South-Eastern part of Central Europe at the contact with Eastern Europe and the Balkan peninsula. It stretches between a latitude of 43 deg 37"07'N & 48 deg 15"06'N, and between longitude 20 deg 15"44' & 29 deg 41"24'E. It lies at the intersection of the 45N parallel and the 25E meridian.

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Its frontier of 3,185 km separates it from Hungary and Yugoslavia (W & SW), Bulgaria (S), the Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova (NE & E).

Lying at the crossroads of the major links of communication between the Western and Eastern worlds, Romania has always been in an important geopolitical zone for the stability of the whole continent.

With a surface area of 238,391 sq km (4.8% of Europe), Romania ranks in position 11 for continental Europe and 79 in the World.

Its population of 22.8 million (95 inhabitants / sq km) is formed of Romanians (89.5%), Hungarians (7.1%), Germans (0.5%) and other nationalities (1.1%). The official language, Romanian, is of Latin origin.

Romania is a republic. The head of state - the President - is elected by direct ballot. The capital city, Bucharest, has approximately 2,000 000 inhabitants.

The relief is distributed almost equally between mountains (31%), hills and tablelands (36%) and the plains (31%).

The mountain area is dominated by the Carpathian range (maximum altitude at the Moldoveanu Peak of 2,544 m) - which is a South-Eastward extension of the Alps; it shelters the Transylvanian Depression in the centre.

The lower reaches of the Danube river to the South of Romania, represent the border between the Romanian plain and the Balkans.

Before running into the Black Sea, the river forms a large delta which has recently been declared a Biosphere Reserve.

The Danube crosses eleven countries and is the main waterway to and from Western Europe. With the building of the Danube-to-Black Sea, and the Danube-to-Rhine canals, the river has gained greatly in importance.

Located half way between the Equator and the North Pole, Romania enjoys a temperate-continental climate with hot summers and fairly mild winters.

The natural vegetation consists of alpine meadows on the Carpathian summits, coniferous, beech and oak forests (6.8 million hectares, or 28% of the country's surface area) in the mountains and hills, and steppe vegetation in the South East.

The agricultural area covers 14,797.5 thousand hectares, of which 83.1% is arable land, 32.9% pasture and hay fields, and the final 4% is devoted to vineyards and orchards.

There is an established network of nature protection which comprises three Biosphere Reserves (Danube Delta, Retezat Mountains and Rodna Mountains), twelve national parks, 417 nature reserves, and 132 monuments of nature.

The urban and rural populations (55% and 45% respectively) are concentrated in 262 towns and 13,000 villages.

The transition from an over-centralised economy to the market system began in 1989.

It has met with numerous difficulties, being associated with a slow-down of production, soaring inflation and corruption. Since 1994, the economy has been recovering at a slow and somewhat hesitant pace.

The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is $4,130 per capita at purchasing power ($1,117 by international comparison); male life expectancy is 66.6 years; infant mortality is 130 per 100,000 live births; there are 10.5 telephone lines per 100 people; and unemployment is 10.5%.

Romania has varied natural resources - coal, petroleum and natural gas, ferrous and non-ferrous ores and building materials.

Up until now, the electrical power industry has relied on thermal and hydro-power stations (8% and 20% respectively) but the country's first nuclear power station at Cernavod - built jointly with Canada - has just come on stream (1996).

Major industrial activities include metallurgy, chemistry, building materials, textiles and foodstuffs.

Romania also has important thermal and mineral springs which, together with the beauty of the natural landscape and the wealth of ethnographic traditions, are significant tourist attractions.