Geography

 

Geography



Geography With a surface area of 238,391 square kilometres (92,043 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in southeastern Europe and the twelfth-largest in Europe. A large part of Romania's border with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube. The Danube is joined by the Prut River, which forms the border with the Republic of Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea within Romania's territory forming the Danube Delta, the second largest and the best preserved delta in Europe, and a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site.
Other important rivers are the Siret, running north-south through Moldavia, the Olt, running from the oriental Carpathian Mountains to Oltenia, and the Mureş, running through Transylvania from East to West.
Romania's terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountainous, hilly and lowland territories. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the center of Romania, with fourteen of its mountain ranges reaching above the altitude of 2,000 meters. The highest mountain in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m/8,350 ft). In south-central Romania, the Carpathians sweeten into hills, towards the B?r?gan Plains. Romania's geographical diversity has led to an accompanying diversity of flora and fauna.


Environment

A high percentage of natural ecosystems (47% of the land area of the country) is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Since almost half of all forests in Romania (13% of the country) have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. The integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. There are also almost 400 unique species of mammals (of which Carpathian chamois are best known), birds, reptiles and amphibians in Romania.
There are almost 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (almost 5% of the total area) of protected areas in Romania.Of these, Danube Delta Reserve Biosphere is the largest and least damaged wetland complex in Europe, covering a total area of 5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi). The significance of the biodiversity of the Danube Delta has been internationally recognised. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in September 1990, a Ramsar site in May 1991, and over 50% of its area was placed on the World Heritage List in December 1991. Within its boundaries is one of the most extensive reed bed systems in the world. There are two other biosphera reserves: Retezat National Park and Rodna National Park.


Climate

Owing to its distance from the open sea and position on the southeastern portion of the European continent, Romania has a climate that is transitional between temperate and continental with four distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is 11 °C (52 °F) in the south and 8 °C (46 °F) in the north. The extreme recorded temperatures are 44.5 °C (112.1 °F) in Ion Sion 1951 and ?38.5 °C (?37 °F) in Bod 1942.
Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days. Summers are generally very warm to hot, with summer (June to August) average maximum temperatures in Bucharest being around 28 °C (82 °F), with temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) fairly common in the lower-lying areas of the country. Minima in Bucharest and other lower-lying areas are around 16 °C (61 °F), but at higher altitudes both maxima and minima decline considerably. Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage. Winters can be cold, with average maxima even in lower-lying areas being no more than 2 °C (36 °F) and below ?15 °C (5.0 °F) in the highest mountains, where some areas of permafrost occur on the highest peaks.
Precipitation is average with over 750 mm (30 in) per year only on the highest western mountains — much of it falling as snow which allows for an extensive skiing industry. In the south-centern parts of the country (around Bucharest) the level of precipitation drops to around 600 mm (24 in), while in the Danube Delta, rainfall levels are very low, and average only around 370 mm.


Demographics

According to the 2002 census, Romania has a population of 21,698,181 and, similarly to other countries in the region, is expected to gently decline in the coming years as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates. Romanians make up 89.5% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are Hungarians, who make up 6.6% of the population and Roma, or Gypsies, who make up 2.46% of the population. By the official census 535,250 Roma live in Romania. Hungarians, who are a sizeable minority in Transylvania, constitute a majority in the counties of Harghita and Covasna. Ukrainians, Germans, Lipovans, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Russians, Jews, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Armenians, as well as other ethnic groups, account for the remaining 1.4% of the population. Of the 745,421 Germans in Romania in 1930, only about 60,000 remained. In 1924, there were 796,056 Jews in Kingdom of Romania. The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million.
The official language of Romania is Romanian, an Eastern Romance language related to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. Romanian is spoken as a first language by 91% of the population, with Hungarian and Rroma, being the most important minority languages, spoken by 6.7% and 1.1% of the population, respectively. Until the 1990s, there was also a substantial number of German-speaking Transylvanian Saxons, even though many have since emigrated to Germany, leaving only 45,000 native German speakers in Romania. In localities where a given ethnic minority makes up more than 20% of the population, that minority's language can be used in the public administration and justice system, while native-language education and signage is also provided. English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. English is spoken by 5 million Romanians, French is spoken by 4-5 million, and German, Italian and Spanish are each spoken by 1-2 million people. Historically, French was the predominant foreign language spoken in Romania, even though English has since superseded it. Consequently, Romanian English-speakers tend to be younger than Romanian French-speakers. Romania is, however, a full member of La Francophonie, and hosted the Francophonie Summit in 2006.

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