Once dominated by Poles, Hungarians, and Ottomans, Romania has been slowly converting to a market economy since the 1989 overthrow of its communist regime. It joined the EU in 2007.
Geography: Carpathian Mountains encircle the Transylvanian plateau. Wide plains to the south and east. Danube River forms southern border.
Climate: Continental. Summers are hot and humid, winters are cold and snowy. Very heavy spring rains.
People and Society: Romanians are ethnically distinct from their Slav and Hungarian (Magyar) neighbours. Hungarians are the largest minority, living mainly in Transylvania. They are protected by the influence of Hungary, unlike the Roma, who suffer from discrimination. The overall population is shrinking.
Polluting, outdated heavy industries and un-mechanized agricultural sector. Exports of textiles and metals have led growth in 2000s. Has plans to join euro currency zone in 2015. Privatization continues.
Insight: In 2001, Romania became the last country in Europe to lift its ban on homosexuality
Official Name: Romania
Date of Formation: 1878
Population: 21.3 million
Total Area: 91,699 sq. miles (237,500 sq. km)
Density: 239 people per sq. mile
Languages: Romanian*, Hungarian
Religions: Romanian Orthodox 87%, Roman Catholic 5%, Protestant 4%, other 2%, Greek Orthodox 1%, Uniate 1%
Ethnic Mix: Romanian 89%, Magyar 7%, Roma 2%, other 2%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Romanian leu