Romania country profile
The largest of the Balkan countries, Romania has dramatic mountain scenery and a coastline on the Black Sea.
It has seen numerous empires come and go from the Roman, to the Ottoman, to the Austro-Hungarian.
After World War II the country was under communist rule although the leadership pursued a foreign policy independent of that of the Soviet Union.
Romania, a slower developer than other former communist countries of eastern Europe, took a major step away from its past when it was one of seven countries to join Nato in late March 2004. Its strategic location and Black Sea air and naval bases make it attractive to the alliance.
There have been several complex exchanges of territory over the years, not least when the area formerly known as Bessarabia went to the USSR following a pact between Hitler and Stalin. That region now forms a large part of the Republic of Moldova. Romanian, a Romance language, is essentially the same as Moldovan although the latter has undergone more influence from Russian.
The legacy of communist-era leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who was feared and loathed in approximately equal measure, lingered long after the uprising which brought his execution on Christmas Day 1989.
Former communists dominated politics until 1996 when a centrist government came to power. It became involved in prolonged political feuding which did little or nothing to promote economic reform. The left returned in 2000 when Ion Iliescu was re-elected president.
Failure to push ahead sufficiently with reforms meant that the country was not on the list of new EU members four years later. However, in April 2005 Bucharest signed the EU accession treaty, paving the way for Romania eventually to join the union in January 2007.
The Romanian economy suffered badly in the global financial crisis of 2008, prompting the government to launch a draconian austerity programme in 2010. This led to major street rallies and clashes with police in January 2012, with the government appealing for dialogue.
• Full name: Romania
• Population: 21.4 million (UN, 2011)
• Capital: Bucharest
• Area: 238,391 sq km (92,043 sq miles)
• Major language: Romanian
• Major religion: Christianity
• Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
• Monetary unit: 1 new leu = 100 bani
• Main exports: Textiles and footwear, metal products, machinery, minerals
• GNI per capita: US $7,840 (World Bank, 2010
• Internet domain: .ro
• International dialling code: +40
Traian Basescu, a former sea captain and mayor of Bucharest, first became president following elections in 2004.
He gained a second endorsement from the electorate in a May 2007 referendum when they rejected an attempt by parliament to impeach him. MPs had decided by a large majority to remove him from office, accusing him of exceeding his constitutional powers.
The attempt to impeach the president followed tension between him and the government of then Prime Minister CalinTariceanu over the pace of reforms.
Mr Basescu won the December 2009 presidential election by a very narrow majority over the opposition Social Democrats’ Mircea Geoana.
Since he came to power, MrBasescu has drawn international praise for his anti-corruption efforts and for preparing Romania to join the EU.
In 2005 MrBasescu started the process of opening the files of the feared communist-era secret police – the Securitate. Researchers cleared him of accusations that he collaborated with the Securitate.
Mr Basescu was 53 at the time of his election. He was transport minister between 1996 and 2000.
His predecessor, Ion Iliescu, had dominated Romanian politics since the fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. Under his Social Democrats, Romania entered Nato and moved towards EU membership.
Interim prime minister:Catalin Predoiu
Catalin Predoiu, justice minister without party affiliation in former Prime Minister Emil Boc’s government, was appointed interim PM when MrBoc resigned in in February 2012.
Mr Predoiu was named interim PM until a new government is formed.
Mr Boc said he was stepping down to “ease political and social tension”, following weeks of occasionally violent mass protests against government austerity measures, high taxes and corruption.
Meanwhile, President TraianBascescu nominated Mihai-RazvanUngareanu, the head of Romania’s foreign intelligence service, to be the next prime minister and form a government.
Mr Ungareanu, a former foreign foreign minister and an ally of President Basescu, said his priority would be to continue with the government’s unpopular economic reforms.
The opposition rejected MrUngareanu’s appointment, calling for MrBasescu to step down and for new elections to be held.
Emil Boc, of President Basescu’s Democratic Liberal Party, resigned three years after being appointed following elections in December 2008.
However, only 10 months later, his government lost a confidence vote in parliament, with MPs accusing it of failing to improve the country’s recession-hit economy.
Parliament subsequently rejected President Basescu’s nominee to succeed MrBoc, Lucian Croitoru, and MrBoc carried on in a caretaker capacity until presidential elections in November and December 2009.
After Mr Basescu was re-elected as president, he nominated MrBoc to lead a new government, which was approved by parliament.
The new centrist government – a coalition made up of the Democratic Liberal Party, an ethnic Hungarian party and several independent allies – immediately unveiled an austerity budget for 2010, and promised tough action to tackle the continuing financial crisis.
An International Monetary Fund aid package of 20bn euros was made conditional on Romania tackling its budget deficit, and the government launched a programme of cuts to public-sector wages and pensions.
Romania has one of the most dynamic media markets in southeastern Europe. TV is the medium of choice, with Pro TV, Antena 1 and Realitatea TV being leading privately-owned outlets. TVR is the state-owned broadcaster.
There is a competitive pay TV sector, and cable and satellite are key platforms for delivery. Digital terrestrial TV (DTT) has still to get off the ground.
There are more than 100 private radios. State-owned Radio Romania operates four national networks and regional and local stations.
The constitution upholds freedom of expression, but prohibits “defamation of the country”. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in 2010 that Romania “now considers the media a threat to national security and plans to legally censor its activities”. It said a draft law would ban “any kind of insulting comment” from websites.
Around 7.8 million Romanians were online by June 2010 (Internetworldstats).
• Adevarul- daily
• Libertatea – daily
• EvenimentulZilei- daily
• Jurnalul National – daily
• Romania Libera-daily
• Capital – business weekly
• Nine O’ Clock – English-language daily
• TVR – state-owned
• Antena 1 – commercial
• Pro TV – commercial
• Prima TV – commercial
• Acasa TV – commercial
• Realitatea TV – commercial
• Radio Romania – state-owned, operates national and regional networks and Radio Romania International
• Europa FM – commercial
• Kiss FM – commercial
• Pro FM – commercial
• Radio 21 – commercial
• Agerpres – state-run, English-language pages
• Mediafax – private, English-language pages