Recommend life in Bucharest

Romania

The center of the country is Bucharest, the pulsating two million metropolis with chic cars, expensive boutiques, countless restaurants and an impressive cultural scene. But Romania also includes the many rural regions in which people live and work as they did 100 years ago. It is a country with many contrasts, a country where even a short drive is a kind of time travel.

Geographical division into three parts: mountains, highlands & plains

Romania is a three-hour flight away from Germany, between Hungary, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, the Black Sea, Bulgaria and Serbia - a country that is almost as large as Germany, but only has a quarter of the population.

Geographically, the south-eastern European country is roughly divided into three parts: a third are mountains, a third are hilly lands and plateaus, and a third are other plains.

In the center of the country, the Carpathian Arch surrounds the Transylvanian Highlands (Transylvania). The Eastern Carpathians are three mountain ranges that run in a north-south direction - here is the largest forest area in Romania. Incidentally, the Carpathian Mountains with their average altitude of 1000 meters are the largest contiguous area in Europe.

The most important agricultural area in Romania is located in the south of the country. The Danube Delta, the majority of which is located on Romanian territory, is also important. It is a unique natural paradise that has since been included in the Unesco World Heritage Site.

D.he gap between rich and poor is huge

Romania has a rich treasure trove of raw material reserves: oil reserves in the south and in the Black Sea, natural gas reserves in Transylvania; Gold, silver and non-ferrous metal ores can be found in the north in the Maramureş.

In addition, there are lignite, uranium, bauxite and many other mineral resources. In addition, a third of all medicinal water springs in Europe are located in Romania.

Romania should actually be a wealthy country with its treasures - but the opposite is the case. For a long time it was considered the poor house of Europe. During the communist dictatorship, the megalomania of the dictator Ceauşescu and considerable mismanagement brought the country to the brink of ruin.

After the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Ceauşescu regime in 1989, the restructuring of the economy made slow progress, investors from abroad hesitated, and many well-educated Romanians left the country.

Today, the social gap in the country is huge: while the big cities are developing and attracting foreign investors, many rural areas have neither electricity nor running water, not to mention telephone lines or local public transport. Farmers work their fields like their ancestors did over 100 years ago. It goes without saying that horse-drawn carriages move between high-powered bodies on the streets.

A Melting pot of European cultures

The eventful history of today's territory of Romania has turned the country into a melting pot of European cultures.

Over many centuries, people immigrated from various regions of Europe - partly after calls from Austrian and Hungarian kings, who in return granted them many privileges. For a long time the immigrants lived in peaceful coexistence.

It was not until the 19th century that the unification of the two principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia gave rise to the state of Romania, which was granted large areas after the First World War and thus doubled in size.

The former immigrants were now minorities in the Romanian state. Even if in the course of Romanian history there have been repeated attempts to curtail and assimilate the rights of the 18 recognized minorities today, much of the cultures and traditions have been preserved. Today they have extensive rights, which are enshrined in the constitution, among other things.

Member of the EU since 2007

Soon after the overthrow of the dictatorship, Romania sought to join NATO and the European Union (EU). But in the 1990s Romania developed into a European problem child rather than a candidate for membership.

Neither democratization, economic development nor any reforms made progress, and clientele economy and corruption still prevailed in the country. It was only after more than a decade that Romania had stabilized to such an extent that the connection to the west could begin.

In 2004 Romania became a member of the Defense Alliance as part of NATO's eastward expansion. The country has also been a member of the EU since January 1, 2007 and is now striving to join the Schengen area, i.e. the elimination of border controls at internal borders.

Corruption is a permanent problem in Romania

This wish, which the newly elected President Klaus Iohannis also expressed shortly after taking office in November 2014, has so far been opposed by the ongoing Romanian problem of corruption. Bribery in all areas and at all levels of public life is common in Romania - despite all attempts to counteract it.

The bearer of hope, Klaus Iohannis, had announced the intensified fight against corruption and had already taken action a week after his victory.

The Romanian anti-corruption agency DNA was very effective against corrupt politicians and lawyers at the highest level. In 2014, the agency had already received over 1,000 convictions, and in 2015 there were more than 1,000 other charges. Even the former Prime Minister Victor Ponta was targeted by investigators and had to resign in November 2015. The driving force was the intrepid lawyer and head of the anti-corruption agency Laura Kövesi.

But in 2018 there was a major setback for President Klaus Iohannis: At the instigation of the then government and a successful lawsuit at the Constitutional Court, he was forced to dismiss Laura Kövesi. The decision put an end to the successful work of the anti-corruption authority. But in May 2019, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea, who is considered to be the mastermind behind the removal of Kövesi, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. How Romania's future will develop remains exciting.

Author: Martina Frietsch