- Location: Europe
- Capital: Bucharest
- Language: Romanian
- Population: 21,524,042 million
- Total Area: 238,391 km sq
- Currency: Romanian Leu
Romania is one of Europe’s largest countries in both size and population, though its recent history has hardly done it justice. Prince Ioan Cuza first united Moldavia and Wallachia to create the Kingdom of Romania in 1859, but it wasn’t until 1877 that they gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. They enjoyed a brief period of prosperity before the Soviet Union forced them into becoming a Socialist state. A brutal dictatorship followed before the people overthrew the government in 1989. Romania struggled at the beginning of the 90s- who could forget those tragic Romanian babies- but they have since pulled themselves together to become a member if the EU and one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.
Though 71% of the population is native to Romania, the country also has over a million Hungarians. In fact in some areas Hungarians are the dominant population- including Harghita and Covasna. Romania also has one of the largest populations of Gypsies in the world. Romania has had their share of sports stars- in the 90s George Hagi was recognized as the best footballer in the world.
Many people associate the Irish writer Bram Stoker with Dracula and vampires, but the notion of vampires originates from Romania folklore. In fact, Bram Stoker’s Dracula lived in Romania’s Transylvania region. Few people, however, know that Stoker based Dracula on a real life character called Vlad Dracula. Today tourists can visit some of the places Stoker describes in his novel, such as Bran Castle.
Romania contains by far the largest section of the Carpathian Mountains and they are great for hiking, kayaking and skiing. The highest peaks are in the southern region- up to 2544m high, but everywhere you will see wolves, brown bears and lynxes.
Romania has a rich soccer history. Stearu Bucharest was the first eastern European club to lift the European Cup in 1986 and reached the final again a few years later. Their national team has also achieved success though some would claim they never achieved as much as they could have. In the 90s, lead by the brilliant Gheorge Hagi, Romania reached the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup and for a number of years were one of the best teams to watch in the world.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2011 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany) for story editing