- Copyright © 2000 Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Romania, the second-largest country in central Europe in area (238 391 km2) and population (22.7 million), is in the very center of the continent—about 1500 miles from the Ural Mountains and from the Atlantic Ocean.
On the map, Romania resembles a giant wheel. In the outer southeast ring are the reed jungle, river channels, and wildlife paradise of the Danube delta. Dry rolling farmlands of Dobrogea separate the river from the Black Sea. Inland is a ring of rich agricultural land, flat in the south (Wallachia) and west (Banat) and hilly in the east (Moldavia). These plains enclose the sweeping arc of the forested Carpathian Mountains that rise to 2543 m. On the southwest frontier with Yugoslavia, the Danube breaches the mountains in the magnificent 160-km Iron Gates Gorge. The circular core is Transylvania, within the Carpathian arc.
Romanian geographic assets, in addition to great natural beauty, facilitate commerce. The port of Constanta is a gateway, via the Black Sea, to the Mediterranean. Also, the Danube connects Romania to the North Sea via the Rhine-Main-Danube canal.
The Romanian people are of Latin origin and have retained their language and customs throughout a long and turbulent history. In 1945, Romania became a communist state, and government policies of the 1970s–80s, which focused entirely on industrialization, led to devastating economic problems.
In 1990, the first free elections in 53 years brought new policies designed to rebuild the economy. In 1994, an austerity program, under the direction of the International Monetary Fund, tightened fiscal and monetary policies and stabilized the macroeconomy. The stability of our new democracy is reflected by the political …