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Romania

The name "Romania," which was first used when the three regions of the country were united in 1859, reflects the influence of ancient Rome on the nation's language and culture. The three regions—Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania—are relatively culturally uniform. An exception is the Hungarian community in Transylvania, which has its own language and traditions and considers itself Hungarian. The Roma (Gypsies), who are scattered throughout the country, mostly in small camps on the outskirts of towns and cities, are in many ways culturally unassimilated.

Romania is in southeastern Europe at the north end of the Balkan peninsula, bordering Ukraine and Moldova to the north, Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The land area is 91,699 square miles (237,500 square kilometers). The Carpathian Mountains cover about one-third of the country; they surround the Transylvanian Plateau and divide it from the other two main regions: Moldavia in the northeast and Walachia in the south. The Transylvanian Alps in the central region contain the highest peak, Mount Moldoveanu. The eastern and southern regions are characterized by rolling plains.

The Danube River stretches through the country for six hundred miles, forming its southern border with Serbia and Bulgaria and emptying into the Black Sea in the east. It is a source for irrigation and hydroelectric power.

Serious environmental problems include soil erosion and water and air pollution from unregulated industrial development. Because of economic hardship, the government has been slow to enforce laws that place restraints on industry.

The population was estimated to be 22,411,121 in 2000. Ninety percent of the people are Romanian, 7 percent are Hungarian, and 2 percent are Roma. The remainder is made up of Germans, Ukrainians, and others. Estimates of the Roma population range from 400,000 to one million; it is difficult to pinpoint because of the Roma's nomadic lifestyle. Before World War II, there was a large Jewish population, but almost 400,000 Jews were killed during the Nazi years, and many of the remaining Jews emigrated to Israel after the war. Today the Jewish population is estimated at less than 10,000. The German population has also decreased significantly. In the 1980s, Ceaucescu's government charged citizens large sums for permission to leave the country, a policy Germans felt was aimed specifically at them. Since Ceaucescu's regime fell in 1989, many Germans have emigrated.