Romania has a population density of 82 residents per km 2. The most important population concentrations are the Bucharest area and the country’s northeastern parts.
In 2019, 54 percent of the population lived in cities, of which Bucharest (1.9 million residents, 2012), Cluj-Napoca (324,600) and Constanţa (283,900) are the largest.
According to Countryaah data, Romania is a multi-ethnic society. According to the latest census, 89.5 percent of the population was Romanian, 7.1 percent of Hungarians and 1.8 percent of Romanians. The true dark figure applies to the Roma, which in 1992 was stated to be 410,000 but in reality probably is 2-3 million.
According to thesciencetutor, Romanian is the official language and mother tongue of 90% of the population. Of these, the Roma are probably about 10%. The largest minority group is Hungarian, including Székler and Csángó (8%).
About 80% of the population (1994) belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church. There are also significant minorities of Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Reformers, which partly coincides with Romania’s ethnic minorities (Germans and Hungarians).
Christianity already came to some of the present Romanian provinces during Roman times and continued to develop under Byzantine, Serbian and Bulgarian influence. The monasteries became centers of piety and religious culture. In 1688 the Bible came in Romanian. The Orthodox Church played an important national role in the 19th century, and an independent Romanian Orthodox Church was formed in 1859 through an outbreak of Constantinople. It was recognized in 1885 and has since 1925 been led by a patriarch based in Bucharest. No formal divorce between church and state was carried out during the communist dictatorship. Church leadership was politically compliant and left in peace, although some priests and believers were imprisoned. A vital church life was developed, especially under the patriarch Justinian (1948-68), with many monasteries and extensive theological education. During the later years of the dictatorship, repression was sharpened, mainly against the religious minorities. After Ceaușescu’s fall, the Church has tried to take on a leading role despite difficulties.
On 1 January 2008, Romania joined the EU.
Romania has on several occasions spoken of “reunification” with Moldova. A wish not shared by the majority of Moldovans. During the “twitter revolution” in Moldova in April 2009, led by the friendly elements of Romania, which hoisted Romania’s flag over both parliament and presidential palace, there came a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
In June 2009, Romania decided to withdraw its last forces from Iraq, and the last Romanian soldiers left the country the following month. Three Romanian soldiers had been killed in Iraq.
The New York Times reported in August that the CIA had built a secret prison in Bucharest as part of its global torture program. The disclosure led to new demands from the European Commission on a full and independent investigation into Romania’s participation in US torture. The government rejected the charges, admitting, however, that a number of CIA aircraft had landed in Romania, but declined to publish an earlier 2006-08 study of the country’s participation in the torture program.
Emil Boc’s government fell by a vote of confidence in parliament in October 2009. The occasion was the government’s proposal to drastically cut pensions. But Boc was mandated by the president in December to form a new government, which subsequently survived a vote of no confidence.
In November 2009, the first round of the presidential election was conducted. It was won by incumbent Traian Băsescu with 32.4% while Social Democrat Mircea Geoană gained 31.2%. In the second round in December, Băsescu got 50.3% and his opponent 49.7%. The result was interesting because all the polls up to the election had Geoană as the winner. It also applied to almost all exit polls on Election Day. Geoană therefore insisted that there was electoral fraud, where many ballots had been declared invalid, electoral protocols had changed and there had been extensive electoral tourism. He therefore demanded that the election be reversed. In early December, the Constitutional Court decided that the canceled ballots should be counted. It did not change the outcome of the election, and a few days later the court refused to allow the election to go on. Băsescu was thus re-elected.
Parallel to the presidential election, a referendum was passed on a constitutional amendment that reduced Parliament’s chambers from 2 to 1. The proposal was passed when 77.8% voted. In the future, Parliament would only have one chamber with 300 members.
The country continues to function as an apartheid state in terms of its large Roma minority, the forms of access to education, health and housing. A 2009 survey of Romanians revealed that 55% believed Roma should not be allowed to leave Romania: “as they damage the country’s reputation”. Organized violent assaults are regularly reported on Roma settlements, and the authorities frequently – despite international protests – level such settlements with the land.
In February 2010, the Romanian Defense Council approved that the country could receive rockets as part of the US missile defense.
Romania was hit hard by the global economic crisis, which seriously hit in 2008. The country’s GDP fell by 7.2% in 2009 and the budget deficit was 8% in the same year, almost three times as much as the EU allows. In 2009, unemployment rose from 6.2% to 7.6%, while youth unemployment reached 20.4%. In the spring of 2010, the EU and the IMF therefore charged the country with tightening public finances. The government designed a drastic crisis package:
- 60-80,000 public servants must be fired
- VAT must be increased from 19 to 24%
- Public salaries are reduced by 25% (the public average salary was then DKK 3,350)
- Pensions, unemployment benefits and child support are reduced by 15% (the country has 5.5 million pensioners. 4 million of whom have a monthly income of less than DKK 2,300)
The crisis package sparked protests in the trade union movement. In May 2010, 40-60,000 public servants in the capital demonstrated against the cuts. Again in June, public servants and retirees demonstrated. In June, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling saying that the 15% reduction of pensions was in violation of the Constitution. Instead, Boc chose to raise VAT to 24% to meet the IMF’s savings requirements.
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The country had difficulty meeting the EU’s demands for reducing corruption and crime. In September 2010, the EU called on Romania to step up the fight. Without the great effect. In December, France and Germany vetoed Romania’s accession to Schengen and thus gained access to the EU’s borderless territory. In June 2011, the Netherlands announced that it postponed the decision to include Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen for 12 months.