U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Romania, June 1997
Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs.
Official Name: Romania
Area: 237,499 sq. km. (91,699 sq. mi.); somewhat smaller than New York
and Pennsylvania combined.
Cities: Capital--Bucharest (pop. 2.06 million). Other cities--Constanta
(350,476), Iasi (342,994), Timisoara (334,278), Cluj-Napoca (328,008),
Galati (325,788), Brasov (323,835).
Terrain: Consists mainly of rolling, fertile plains; hilly in the
eastern regions of the middle Danube basin.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Romanian(s).
Population: 22.7 million (est.).
Annual growth rate: 0.05%
Ethnic groups: Romanians 89%, Hungarians 7.1%, Germans 0.5%, Ukrainians,
Serbs, Croats, Russians, Turks, and Gypsies 2.5%.
Religions: Orthodox 86.8%, Roman Catholic 5%, Reformed Protestant,
Baptist, and Pentecostal 5%, Greek Catholic (Uniate) 1%, Jewish less
Languages: Romanian, Hungarian, German.
Education: Years compulsory--10. Attendance--98%. Literacy--98%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1994 est.)--20/1,000. Life expectancy--
men 68.1 yrs., women 74.8 yrs.
Work force (11.2 million): Agriculture--8%. Industry and commerce--38%.
Type: Republic. Constitution: November 21, 1991.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of
government), Council of Ministers. Legislative--bicameral parliament.
Judicial--Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and lower courts.
Subdivisions: 40 counties plus the city of Bucharest.
Political parties: Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PDSR);
Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), a coalition of the National
Peasant-Christian Democrat Party (PNTCD) and National Liberal Party
(PNL), plus others; Democratic Party (PD); Hungarian Democratic Union of
Romania (UDMR); Greater Romania Party (PRM); Party of Romanian National
Unity (PUNR); and a large number of smaller non-parliamentary parties.
Suffrage: Universal from age 18.
Defense (1995 figure.): 3% of GDP.
Flag: Three vertical bands from left to right -- blue, yellow, and red.
GDP (1996 current prices): $33 billion.
Annual GDP growth rate: (1996) 4%; (1997 est.) -3%.
Per Capita GDP: (1995): $1,565.
Natural resources: oil, timber, natural gas, coal, salt, iron ore.
Agriculture (23% of GDP--1995): Products--corn, wheat, potatoes,
oilseeds, vegetables, livestock.
Industry (33% of GDP--1995): Types--machine building, mining,
construction materials, metal production and processing, chemicals, food
processing, textiles, clothing.
Trade (1996 estimate): Exports--$7.5 billion exports: textiles,
chemicals, light manufactures, wood products, fuels, processed metals.
Major markets--Germany, Italy, France, Turkey. Imports--(est.): $9.4
billion: fuel, cooking coal, iron ore, machinery, wheat, cotton,
potatoes. Major suppliers--Italy, Germany, Russia, France, UK.
Exchange rate (1997): 7,000 lei = US$1.
Membership in International Organizations
UN and most of its specialized and related agencies; OSCE, North
Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (EBRD), Danube Commission, Interpol, the Wassenaar
Group, the Australia Group, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Forum,
the Central European Free Trade Association. In 1992, signed an
Association Agreement with the European Union (EU); went into effect on
February 1, 1995. In 1993 was admitted to the Council of Europe (COE).
Extending inland halfway across the Balkan Peninsula and covering a
large eliptical area of 237,499 square kilometers (91,699 sq. mi.),
Romania occupies the greater part of the lower basin of the Danube River
system and the hilly eastern regions of the middle Danube basin. It lies
on either side of the mountain systems -- the Carpathians and the
Transylvanian Alps -- that form, with the Balkan Mountains, the natural
barrier between the two Danube basins.
Romania's location gives it a continental climate, particularly in the
Old Kingdom (east of the Carpathians and south of the Transylvanian
Alps) and to a lesser extent in Transylvania, where the climate is more
moderate. A long and at times severe winter (December-March), a hot
summer (April-July), and a prolonged autumn (August- November) are the
principal seasons, with a rapid transition from spring to summer. In
Bucharest, the daily minimum temperature in January averages -7oC
(20oF), and the daily maximum temperature in July averages 29oC (85oF).
About 89% of the people are ethnic Romanians, a group that--in contrast
to its Slav or Hungarian neighbors--traces itself to Latin-speaking
Romans who in the second and third centuries A.D. conquered and settled
among the ancient Dacians, a Thracian people. As a result, the Romanian
language, although containing elements of Slavic, Turkish, and other
languages, is a Romance language related to French and Italian.
Primarily a rural, agricultural population, the medieval Wallachians and
Moldavians maintained their language and culture despite centuries of
rule by foreign princes. Once independent, the population of the unified
Romanian state took their modern name to emphasize their connection with
the ancient Romans.
Hungarians and Gypsies are the principal minorities, with a declining
German population and smaller numbers of Serbs, Croats, Ukrainians,
Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Great Russians, and others. Minority
populations are greatest in Transylvania and the Banat, areas in the
north and west which belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World
War I. Ethnic Romanians comprised the overall majority in Tranysylvania,
even before union with Romania, but ethnic Hungarians and Germans were
the dominant urban population there until relatively recently, and still
are the majority in a few districts.
Before World War II, minorities represented more than 28% of the total
population, but during the war that percentage was halved, largely by
the loss of the border areas of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina (to the
former Soviet Union--now Moldova and Ukraine) and southern Dobrudja (to
Bulgaria), as well as by the postwar flight or deportation of ethnic
Though Romanian troops participated in the destruction of the Jewish
communities of Bessarabia and Bukovina, most Jews from Romania proper
survived the Holocaust. Mass emigration, mostly to Israel, has reduced
the surviving Jewish community from over 300,000 to less than 15,000. In
recent years, more than two-thirds of the ethnic Germans in Romania have
emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Religious affiliation tends to follow ethnic lines, with most ethnic
Romanians identifying with the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Greek
Catholic or Uniate church, reunified with the Orthodox Church by fiat in
1948, was restored after the 1989 revolution. The 1992 census indicates
that 1% of the population is Greek Catholic, as opposed to about 10%
prior to 1948. Roman Catholics, largely ethnic Hungarians and Germans,
constitute about 5% of the population; Calvinists, Baptists,
Pentecostals, and Lutherans make up another 5%. There are smaller
numbers of Unitarians, Muslims and other religions.
Romania's rich cultural traditions have been nourished by many sources,
some of which predate the Roman occupation. The traditional folk arts,
including dance, wood carving, ceramics, weaving and embroidery of
costumes and household decorations, and fascinating folk music, still
flourish in many parts of the country. Despite strong Austrian, German,
and especially French influence, many of Romania's great artists, such
as the painter Nicolai Grigorescu, the poet Mihai Eminescu, the composer
George Enescu, and the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, drew their
inspiration from Romanian folk traditions.
The country's many Orthodox monasteries, as well as the Transylvanian
Catholic and Evangelical Churches, some of which date back to the 13th
century, are repositories of artistic treasures. The famous painted
monasteries of Bukovina make an important contribution to European
Poetry and the theater play an important role in contemporary Romanian
life. Classic Romanian plays, such as those of Ion Luca Caragiale, as
well as works by modern or avant-garde Romanian and international
playwrights, find sophisticated and enthusiastic audiences in the many
theaters of the capital and of the smaller cities.
From about 200 B.C., when it was settled by the Dacians, a Thracian
tribe, Romania has been on the path of a series of migrations and
conquests. Under the emperor Trajan early in the second century A.D.,
Dacia was incorporated into the Roman empire, but was abandoned by a
declining Rome less than two centuries later. Romania disappeared from
recorded history for hundreds of years, to reemerge in the medieval
period as the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Heavily taxed
and badly administered under the Ottoman empire, the two Principalities
were unified under a single native prince in 1859, and had their full
independence ratified in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. A German prince,
Carol of Hohenzollern, was crowned first King of Romania in 1881.
The new state, squeezed between the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and
Russian empires, with Slav neighbors on three sides, looked to the West,
particularly France, for its cultural, educational, and administrative
models. Romania was an ally of the Entente and theU.S.in World War I,
and was granted substantial territories with Romanian populations,
notably Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, after the war.
Most of Romania's pre-World War II governments maintained the forms but
not the substance of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The quasi-
mystical, fascist Iron Guard movement, exploiting nationalism, fear of
communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of
the economy, was a key factor in the creation of a dictatorship in 1938.
In 1940-41, the authoritarian General Antonescu took control. Romania
entered World War II on the side of the Axis Powers in June 1941,
invading the Soviet Union to recover Bessarabia and Bukovina, which had
been annexed in 1940.
In August 1944, a coup led by King Michael, with support from opposition
politicians and the army, deposed the Antonescu dictatorship and put
Romania's battered armies on the side of the Allies. Romania incurred
additional heavy casualties fighting the Germans in Transylvania,
Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
The peace treaty, signed at Paris on February 10, 1947, confirmed the
Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, but restored the
part of northern Transylvania granted to Hungary in 1940 by Hitler. The
treaty required massive war reparations by Romania to the Soviet Union,
whose occupying forces left in 1958.
The Soviets pressed for inclusion of Romania's heretofore negligible
Communist Party in the post-war government, while non-communist
political leaders were steadily eliminated from political life. King
Michael abdicated under pressure in December 1947, when the Romanian
People's Republic was declared, and went into exile.
In the early 1960s, Romania's communist government began to assert some
independence from the Soviet Union. Nicolae Ceausescu became head of the
Communist Party in 1965 and head of state in 1967. Ceausescu's
denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and a brief
relaxation in internal repression, helped give him a positive image both
at home and in the West. Seduced by Ceausescu's "independent" foreign
policy, Western leaders were slow to turn against a regime that by the
late 1970s had become increasingly harsh, arbitrary, and capricious.
Rapid economic growth fueled by foreign credits gradually gave way to
wrenching austerity and severe political repression.
After the collapse of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe in the
late summer and fall of 1989, a mid-December protest in Timisoara
against the forced relocation of a Hungarian minister grew into a
country-wide protest against the Ceausescu regime, sweeping the dictator
from power. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on December 25, 1989,
after a cursory military trial. Approximately 1500 people were killed in
confused street fighting. An impromptu governing coalition, the National
Salvation Front (NSF), installed itself and proclaimed the restoration
of democracy and freedom. The Communist Party was outlawed, and
Ceausescu's most unpopular measures, such as bans on abortion and
contraception, were repealed.
Ion Iliescu, a former Communist Party official demoted by Ceausescu in
the 1970s, emerged as the leader of the NSF. Presidential and
parliamentary elections were held on May 20, 1990. Running against
representatives of the pre-war National Peasants' Party and National
Liberal Party, Iliescu won 85% of the vote. The NSF captured two-thirds
of the seats in Parliament, named a university professor, Petre Roman,
as Prime Minister, and began cautious free market reforms.
The new government made a crucial early misstep. Unhappy at the
continued political and economic influence of members of the Ceausescu-
era elite, anti-communist protesters had camped in University Square in
April 1990. When miners from the Jiu Valley descended on Bucharest two
months later and brutally dispersed the remaining "hooligans," President
Iliescu, by expressing public thanks, convinced many that the government
had sponsored the miners. The miners also attacked the headquarters and
houses of opposition leaders. The Roman Government fell in late
September 1991, when the miners returned to Bucharest to demand higher
salaries and better living conditions. A technocrat, Theodor Stolojan,
was appointed to head an interim government until new elections could be
Parliament drafted a new democratic constitution, approved by popular
referendum in December 1991. National elections in September 1992
returned President Iliescu by a clear majority, and gave his party, the
NSF, a plurality. With parliamentary support from the nationalist PUNR
and PRM parties, and the ex-communist PSM party, an NSF/technocratic
government was formed in November 1992 under Prime Minister Nicolae
Vacaroiu, an economist. The NSF became the Party of Social Democracy of
Romania (PDSR) in July 1993. The Vacaroiu government ruled in coalition
with three smaller parties, all of which abandoned the coalition by the
time of the November 1996, elections. Emil Constantinescu of the
Democratic Convention electoral coalition defeated President Iliescu in
the second round of voting by 6% and replaced him as chief of state. The
PDSR won the largest number of seats in parliament, but the constituent
parties of the CDR joined the Democratic Party, the National Liberal
Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania to form a centrist
coalition government holding 60% of the seats in parliament. Victor
Ciorbea, a former labor lawyer and government prosecutor, was named
Prime Minister. The new government outlined as top priorities shock
economic reform (including privatization/closure of state enterprises
and monetary and fiscal reform), decentralization, and a campaign
Romania's 1991 constitution proclaims Romania a democracy and market
economy, in which human dignity, civic rights and freedoms, the
unhindered development of human personality, justice and political
pluralism are supreme and guaranteed values. The constitution directs
the state to implement free trade, protect the principle of competition,
and provide a favorable framework for production. The constitution
provides for a president, a Parliament, a Constitutional Court and a
separate system of lower courts that includes a Supreme Court.
The two-chamber Parliament, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and
the Senate, is the law-making authority. Deputies and senators are
elected for four-year terms by universal suffrage.
The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two four-year
terms. He is the Chief of State, charged with safeguarding the
constitution and the proper functioning of public authorities. He is
supreme commander of the armed forces and chairman of the Supreme
Defense Council. According to the constitution, he acts as mediator
among the power centers within the state, as well as between the state
and society. The president nominates the prime minister, who in turn
appoints the government, which must be confirmed by a vote of confidence
The Constitutional Court adjudicates the constitutionality of challenged
laws, and decides on appeals from the regular court system concerning
the unconstitutionality of laws and decrees. The court consists of nine
judges, appointed for a term of nine years. Three judges are appointed
by the Chamber of Deputies, three by the Senate, and three by the
president of Romania.
The Romanian legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code. The judiciary
is to be independent, and judges appointed by the president are not
removable. The president and other judges of the Supreme Court are
appointed for a term of six years and may serve consecutive terms.
Proceedings are public, except in special circumstances provided for by
The Ministry of Justice represents "the general interests of society"
and defends the legal order as well as citizens' rights and freedoms.
The ministry is to discharge its powers through independent, impartial
For territorial and administrative purposes, Romania is divided into 40
counties and the city of Bucharest, although the government has proposed
reorganizing the counties into a total 45 units. Each county is governed
by an elected county council. Local councils and elected mayors are the
public administration authorities in villages and towns. The county
council is the public administration authority that coordinates the
activities of all village and town councils in a county.
The central government appoints a prefect for each county and Bucharest
municipality. The prefect is the representative of the government at the
local level and directs any public services of the ministries and other
central agencies at the county level. A prefect may block the action of
a local authority if he deems it unlawful or unconstitutional. The
matter is then decided by an administrative court.
The prefecture is responsible for the distribution of revenue from the
central government to local units. Local budgets are still largely
limited to the amount of revenue provided by the state through the
prefect to municipalities. Beginning in 1993, taxes could be levied by
local councils under a law decree issued by the Prime Minister in August
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Victor Ciorbea
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Adrian Severin
Minister of Defense--Victor Babiuc
Minister of Reform--Ulm Spineanu
Ambassador to the United States--Mircea Dan Geoana
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Ion Gorita
Romania maintains an embassy in the United States at 1607 - 23rd St.,
N.W., Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4846).
Romania has made great progress in institutionalizing democratic
principles, civil liberties, and respect for human rights since the
revolution, but the legacy of 44 years of communist rule cannot quickly
be eliminated. Membership in the Romanian Communist Party was usually
the prerequisite for higher education, foreign travel, or a good job,
while the extensive internal security apparatus subverted normal social
and political relations. To the few active dissidents, who suffered
gravely under Ceausescu, most of those who came forward as politicians
after the revolution seemed tainted by cooperation with the previous
Dozens of new political parties sprang up after 1989, gravitating around
personalities rather than programs. All major parties espoused democracy
and market reforms, but the governing National Salvation Front (NSF--
since July 1993 called the Party of Social Democracy of Romania--PDSR)
proposed slower, more cautious economic reforms and a social safety net,
while the opposition Democratic Convention (CDR) favored quick, sweeping
reforms, immediate privatization, and reducing the role of the ex-
communist elite. The constitution bars communist and fascist parties,
but three small nationalist parties, PUNR, PSM, and PRM, inherited
members and tactics from both extremes.
The 1992 local and national elections revealed a political cleavage
between major urban centers and the countryside. Rural voters, grateful
for the restoration of most agricultural land to farmers but fearful of
change, strongly favored President Ion Iliescu and the NSF, while the
urban electorate favored the CDR and quicker reform. Iliescu easily won
reelection over a field of five other candidates. The NSF won a
plurality in both chambers of Parliament. With the CDR, the second
largest parliamentary group, reluctant to take part in a national unity
coalition, the NSF (now PDSR) formed a government under Prime Minister
Nicolae Vacaroiu, an economist, with parliamentary support from the
PUNR, PRM, and PSM. In January, 1994, the stability of the governing
coalition became problematic when the PUNR threatened to withdraw its
support unless given cabinet portfolios. In August 1994, two members of
the nationalist PUNR received cabinet portfolios in the Vacaroiu
government. In September, the incumbent justice minister announced that
he had become a PUNR member. PRM and PSM left the government in October
and December 1995, respectively.
The 1996 local elections realized a major shift in the political
orientation of the Romanian electorate. Opposition parties swept
Bucharest and most of the larger cities in Transylvania and Dobrogea.
This trend continued in the national elections, where the opposition
dominated the cities and made steep inroads into rural areas theretofore
dominated by President Iliescu and the PDSR. The campaign of the
opposition hammered away on the twin themes of the need to staunch
corruption and to launch economic reform. The message resonated with the
electorate, which swept Constantinescu and parties allied to him to
power in free and fair elections. The coalition government formed in
December 1996 took the historic step of inviting the UDMR and its
Hungarian ethnic backers into government. The UDMR was allotted two
ministries and a number of state secretaries, county prefects, and other
Romania has made great progress in consolidating democratic
institutions. The press is free and outspoken. Independent radio
networks have proliferated, and a private television network now
operates nationwide. The reorganized and truncated security services
apparently no longer intervene in the political process, but residual
suspicions remain. Parliament established a formal intelligence
oversight body in June 1993.
Romania is a country of considerable potential: rich agricultural lands;
diverse energy sources (coal, oil, natural gas, hydro, and, soon,
nuclear); a substantial, if aging, industrial base encompassing almost
the full range of manufacturing activities; an intelligent, well-trained
work force; and opportunities for expanded development in tourism on the
Black Sea and in the mountains.
In 1993 the economy reached the end of a decline in output that had
begun well before the 1989 revolution. The Romanian government had
borrowed heavily from the West in the 1970s to build a massive state-
owned industrial base. Following the 1979 oil price shock and a debt
rescheduling in 1981, Ceausescu decreed that Romania would no longer be
subject to foreign creditors. By the end of 1989, Romania had paid off a
foreign debt of about $10.5 billion through an unprecedented effort that
wreaked havoc on the economy. Vital imports were slashed, and food and
fuel strictly rationed, while the government exported everything it
could to earn hard currency. With investment slashed, Romania's
technological infrastructure rapidly fell behind that of even its Balkan
Since the fall of the Ceausescu regime in 1989, successive governments
have sought to build a Western-style market economy. The pace of
restructuring has been slow, but by 1994 the legal basis for a market
economy was largely in place. The new government has moved rapidly to
eliminate consumer subsidies, float prices, liberalize exchange rates
and put in place a tight monetary policy. The parliament has enacted
laws permitting foreign entities incorporated in Romania to purchase
land and has identified a large number of government enterprises for
rapid privatization or restructuring. Foreign investment capital
continues to flow into Romania, although less than in some other Central
Privatization of industry was pursued with the transfer in 1992 of 30%
of the shares of some 6,000 state-owned enterprises to five private
ownership funds, in which each adult citizen received certificates of
ownership. The remaining 70% ownership of the enterprises was
transferred to a state ownership fund, with a mandate to sell off its
shares at the rate of at least 10% per year. The privatization law also
called for direct sale of some 30 specially selected enterprises and the
sale of "assets" (i.e., commercially viable component units) of larger
Privatization of larger state-owned enterprises had lagged; the Ciorbea
government has made rapid privatization/restructuring a top priority. It
has gone beyond the "mass privatization" law of 1995 and identified 10
large government enterprises for immediate privatization. Meanwhile, the
growth of new small private enterprises has played a major role in
reviving Romania's economy. Altogether, the private sector now accounts
for an estimated 55% of GDP and employs approximately 52% of the work
The return of collectivized farmland to its cultivators, one of the
first initiatives of the post-December 1989 revolution government,
resulted in a short-term decrease in agricultural production. Some 4
million small parcels representing 80% of the arable surface were
returned to original owners or their heirs. Many of the recipients were
elderly or city dwellers, and the slow progress of granting formal land
titles was an obstacle to leasing or selling land to active farmers.
An acute shortage of foreign exchange and a poorly developed financial
sector have also been obstacles to rapid economic transition. Outside
factors such as the collapse of trade with Soviet bloc trading partners,
economic slowdown in the industrialized West, increases in imported
energy costs, and large losses from UN sanctions against Iraq and
Serbia-Montenegro, contributed to a precipitous drop in industrial
output after 1989.
In 1993 Romania embarked upon an adjustment program that showed some
results. GDP, which had fallen for three consecutive years, stabilized
in 1993 and registered 3.4% growth in 1994, 6.9% in 1995, and 4% in
1996. Estimated GDP for 1997 is a negative three percent, due to the
government's implementation of sweeping economic reforms. GDP is
expected to move back into positive growth in 1998. Monthly retail price
inflation, which averaged 12.1% in 1993 (the equivalent of 256%
annually), declined to 28% in 1995. However, inflation has picked up
again in 1996 and early 1997 due to excessive government spending in
late 1996 and price and exchange rate liberalization in early 1997.
Subsidies on most basic consumer goods were lifted in May 1993, but
support for underproductive state-owned industries remained a drain on
the budget. The government nonetheless managed to cut the deficit, which
totaled almost 4% of GDP in 1992, to only 1.7% in 1993. By 1995,
however, the budget deficit had again risen to about 4% of GDP. The
consolidated deficit, including internal arrearages, climbed to more
than 10% of GDP in 1996. The new government has adopted a budget that
will bring the consolidated deficit below 4% in 1997.
Financial and technical assistance continue to flow in from the U.S.,
European Community, and other industrial nations, facilitating Romania's
reintegration into the world economy. The International Monetary Fund
(IMF), World Bank (IBRD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD), and the U.S. Agency for International Development
all have programs and resident representatives in Romania. Romania has
also attracted foreign direct investment, which in 1997 rose to $2.5
Romania was the largest U.S. trading partner in Eastern Europe until
Ceausescu's 1988 renunciation of Most Favored Nation (non-
discriminatory) trading status resulted in high U.S. tariffs on Romanian
products. Congress approved restoration of MFN status effective November
8, 1993, as part of a new bilateral trade agreement. Tariffs on most
Romanian products dropped to zero in February 1994 with the inclusion of
Romania in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Major Romanian
exports to the U.S. include shoes and clothing, steel and chemicals.
Romania signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 1992 and a free
trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1993,
codifying Romania's access to European markets and creating the basic
framework for further economic integration.
Visa and currency requirements: As of March 15, 1995, Romania abolished
its visa requirement for U.S. citizens planning to visit Romania for 30
days or less. For those planning to remain longer than 30 days, visas
are available from Romanian consulates or on arrival when traveling by
bus, plane or car. Romania requires that tourists be able to produce
exchange receipts for lei amounts sufficient to have paid lodging costs
Health: Although no inoculations are required of travelers coming from
the U.S. or Europe, it is advisable to be immunized against polio and
hepatitis for travel outside urban areas. Health requirements change;
check latest information. Further information on health matters can be
obtained from the Centers for Disease Control's international travelers'
hotline at (404) 332-4559.
Telecommunications: Telephone service is not dependable outside
Bucharest. International telephone and telegraph connections are
generally adequate, but delays may occur in placing calls. Romania is
seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Transportation: Bucharest's many buses and streetcars are inexpensive
but crowded. Taxis are fairly inexpensive. A limited subway system was
inaugurated in 1979. Driving to Bucharest December through February is
not advised because mountain passes can be hazardous. Driving after dark
at any time of year also is not recommended because pedestrians,
animals, or slow-moving vehicles often encountered on the poorly lit
roadways; otherwise, the main roads are reasonably good. Rail and air
facilities are available for domestic and international travel. The
daily Wiener-Walzer express train from Vienna takes roughly 20 hours to
Tourist attractions: The monasteries of Bukovina, the Transylvanian
Alps, and the beach resorts of the Black Sea are attractive places to
visit. The cities of Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Sighisoara, Sibiu and Brasov
retain old sections with many civic and religious monuments. Many
foreign tourist agencies arrange travel and hotel reservations for
groups or individuals.
National holidays: Businesses and the U.S. Embassy may be closed on the
following Romanian holidays: Romanian Labor Day, May 5 National Day,
December 1 Day after Christmas, December 26 Monday after Orthodox Easter
Since December 1989, Romania has actively pursued a policy of
strengthening relations with the West in general and with the United
States in particular. Romania was a helpful partner to the allied forces
during the Gulf War, particularly during its service as president of the
UN Security Council. Romania has been active in peacekeeping operations
in the past two years in UNAVEM in Angola, IFOR/SFOR in Bosnia, and in
Romania diligently enforced United Nations' sanctions against Serbia-
Montenegro. While Romania does not belong to any military alliance, it
is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), and was the
first country to enroll in the NATO Partnership for Peace program.
Agreements conferring associate status were signed with the European
Community and EFTA in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
The past two years have been a bellwether for Romania's bilateral
relations with neighboring states. In 1996, Romania signed and ratified
a basic bilateral treaty with Hungary that settled outstanding
contentions and laid the foundation for closer, more cooperative
relations. In June 1997, Romania signed a bilateral treaty with Ukraine
that resolved territorial and minority issues, among others.
Ratification of the treaty is expected by July.
Romania maintains good diplomatic relations with Israel and was
supportive of the Middle East peace negotiations initiated after the
gulf conflict in 1991. Romania also is a founding member of the Black
Sea Consortium for Economic Development. It joined the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1972 and is a member of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Romanian Missions in the United States Embassy of Romania 1607 23rd
Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008 Tel. 202-332-4846
Romanian Mission to the UN 573 Third Avenue New York, NY 10016 Tel. 212-
Romanian National Tourist Office 573 Third Avenue New York, NW 10016
Romanian Cultural Center 200 E. 38th Street New York, NY 10016 Tel. 212-
In accordance with the December 1991 Romanian constitution, the Romanian
armed forces have the defensive mission of ensuring the territorial
integrity of the country. The military enjoys popular support, largely
because of its role in supporting the December 1989 revolution. The army
is the largest service. Total armed forces strength is authorized at
225,000 and is maintained through conscription. In 1993 the U.S.
military began limited training of Romanian military and civilian
officials through IMET and other exchange programs, emphasizing civilian
democratic control over the military.
US - ROMANIAN RELATIONS
Cold during the early post-war period, U.S. bilateral relations with
Romania began to improve in the early 1960s with the signing of an
agreement providing for partial settlement of American property claims.
Cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges were initiated, and in
1964 the legations of both nations were promoted to full embassies.
Responding to Ceausescu's cautious distancing of Romania from Soviet
foreign policy, particularly continued diplomatic relations with Israel
and denunciation of the 1968 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia,
President Nixon paid an official visit to Romania in August 1969.
Despite political differences, high-level contacts continued between
U.S. and Romanian leaders throughout the decade of the 1970s,
culminating in the 1978 state visit to Washington by President and Mrs.
In 1972, a consular convention to facilitate protection of citizens and
their property in both countries was signed. Overseas Private Investment
Corporation (OPIC) facilities were granted, and Romania became eligible
for U.S. Export-Import Bank credits.
A trade agreement signed in April 1975 accorded Most Favored Nation
(MFN) status to Romania under section 402 of the Trade Reform Act of
1974 (the Jackson-Vanik amendment that links MFN to a country's
performance on emigration.) This status was renewed yearly after
Congressional review of a presidential determination that Romania was
making progress toward freedom of emigration. Subsequently, the two
countries signed a long-term agreement on economic, industrial, and
In the mid-1980s, criticism of Romania's deteriorating human rights
record, particularly allegations of mistreatment of religious and ethnic
minorities, spurred attempts by Congress to withdraw MFN status. In
1988, to preempt Congressional action, Ceausescu renounced MFN
treatment, calling Jackson-Vanik and other human rights requirements
unacceptable interference in Romanian sovereignty.
After welcoming the revolution of December 1989 with a brief visit by
Secretary of State Baker in February 1990, the U.S. Government expressed
concern that opposition parties had faced discriminatory treatment in
the May 1990 elections, when the National Salvation Front won a sweeping
victory. The slow progress of subsequent political and economic reform
increased that concern, and relations with Romania cooled sharply after
the June 1990 intervention of the miners in University Square. Anxious
to cultivate better relations with the U.S. and Europe, and disappointed
at the poor results from its gradualist economic reform strategy, the
Stolojan government undertook some economic reforms and conducted free
and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in September 1992.
Encouraged by the conduct of local elections in February 1992, Deputy
Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger paid a visit in May 1992.
Congress voted down a 1992 attempt to restore MFN status, but restored
MFN in November 1993 in recognition of Romania's progress in instituting
political and economic reform. In 1996 the U.S. Congress voted to extend
permanent MFN graduation to Romania.
As Romania's policies have become unequivocally pro-Western, the United
States has moved to deepen relations. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright invited her counterpart, Foreign Minister Severin, to
Washington in April 1997, and Prime Minister Ciorbea met with Vice
President Gore in Washington in June. The United States maintains Agency
for International Development (USAID) and Peace Corps missions in
Bucharest, and provides humanitarian, economic, and technical assistance
to help Romania in its transition to democracy and a market economy.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Alfred H. Moses
Deputy Chief of Mission--Michael Einik
Counselor for Public Affairs--John Katzka
Consul General -- Susan Jacobs
Political Affairs Counselor--Robert E. Whitehead
Defense Attache--Colonel Gary G. Chamberlin
Administrative Counselor--Charles Kinn
Economic Affairs Counselor--Richard Rorvig
USAID. representative--Peter Lapera
Peace Corps Director--Jose Ralls
Commercial Attache--William H. Crawford
Principal Officer, U.S. Embassy Information Office, Cluj-Napoca--Nathan
The U.S. Embassy in Romania is located at Strada Tudor Arghezi 7-9,
Bucharest (tel. 40-1 210-4042, fax 40-1 210-0395, consular fax 211-
A U.S. Embassy Information Office was opened in Cluj-Napoca in January,
1994 (tel. 40-64 19-38-15, fax 40-64 19-38-68).
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