Romania is situated in the southeast of Europe, to the north of the Balkan mountain range.The official language is Romanian, the only Latin language in Eastern Europe. It is a vast country, with a size approximately 8 times that of Belgium (237.500 km2) and a population of about 23 million souls, mostly of orthodox religion (more than double that of Belgium). At one time in history, the country was even larger than today (remember Bessarabia, now Moldova).

Romania has a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from the Carpathian mountains in the north, over the mysterious Transylvania in the west (remember Dracula), the Transylvanian alps, to the Black Sea shore in the east. The Danube river forms the natural border with Serbia-Montenegro and Bulgaria. The Danube delta, where the river flows into the Black Sea, is unique in Europe by its richness in flora and fauna. Bucharest lies in plane land in the southeast, not far from the border with Bulgaria.

After the revolution and downfall of the Ceaucescu regime at the end of 1989, the country has been slowly recovering and rediscovering its unique identity. Regrettably, it is still one of the poorest countries in Europe. Its economic development and restructuring have been lagging compared to other countries in transition in the region. However, things are looking more brightly since 2001 with steady economic recovery that holds hope for the future. Romania has been invited to join NATO (formal accession to take place in 2004) and is an associated country to the European Union, with a prospect of EU membership.

See the relevant page in the CIA World Fact Book. To hear the Romanian national anthem (MP3 music format), click here. Find a wealth of information on Romania's flag and coat of arms here. Those interested in useful information on the country can have a look over here. A great resource on tourism in Romania can be found here.

The images below were all taken in Bucharest during a business trip at the end of February 2003. Bucharest, capital city, has a population of almost 3 million people. It is a somewhat unusual city compared to many others, as it seems to lack a "natural" centre and, hence, the "ambiance" that goes with it. The city is quite large and offers a multitude of faces to the visitor. Amazing are the number of parks and green areas (about 20 % of the city's surface), and the lanes aligned with trees in the style of the grand Paris avenues (Bucharest is also called "little Paris"). Splendid are some of its residential districts, with houses and gardens that are truly magnificent and a delight from an architectural standpoint. Bucharest offers the visitor an incredible number of churches and monasteries, most of which are in orthodox style. The city has a historic centre (around Lipscani), but communist rule has done its best to destroy as much as possible, so it is in a rather poor condition. However, it is fascinating from a tourist's standpoint and is certainly destined to become a future hot spot. The city also boasts many large buildings that are sure to impress the visitor (among which the parliamentary palace, the world's second largest building, after the Pentagon).
If one looks for it, the city offers a number of attractive things to see and typical Romanian-style restaurants to sample !