Romania - Wikipedia
Romania - World Factbook
Romanian News (Bucharest Daily News)
Centuries ago the Roman Empire granted land to nobles in what came to be known as Romania, a country of Latin people in the middle of the Slavic world. Romanians claim that their language is closer to the Latin of the Empire than any other Romance language spoken today.
Romania is a beautiful, lush, mountainous country. Driving through the Carpathian Mountains or Transylvanian Alps in the summer is breathtaking and affords a wonderful view of quaint Alpine houses resting on a carpet of wildflowers. People living in small mountain villages often own cows that they send out in the morning to graze where they choose. In the evening the sound of cow bells signals that the cows have come home. Romania still maintains a very large rural population and some of the mountain villages are populated by Gypsies.
After World War II, Romania was under the control of the USSR. It became and remained a Communist state until December 1989. The Communist government under Nicolae Ceausescu successfully impoverished the Romanian people and hindered industrialization. It also contributed to a disturbingly large population of orphaned and abandoned children who live in underfunded orphanages or on the streets. The government actively persecuted Christians who did not follow the state-controlled Romanian Orthodox Church. Even within the state church there were many persecuted for dissent. Today over 86% of Romanians officially belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church, which effectively serves as a hindrance to the growth of Evangelical churches. Ceausescu set up an improved system of education, so the Romanian people have a very high literacy rate, but that seems to be one of the only positive contributions made by the regime. Romania is making slow progress, but the poverty rate is still very high and the government is still very bureaucratic and highly susceptible to corruption.
Romania has some very lovely historical buildings for tourists to visit. In Transylvania one can visit Bran Castle, the castle Bram Stoker used as the basis for Dracula's castle. In Sinaia, in northern Wallachia, King Carol I's Peles Castle is open to tourists. Visitors are welcome to use the public restroom - a Turkish toilet - and they will kindly provide you with a very small amount of toilet paper for a fee. Inside the Peles Castle all visitors must wear felt slippers over their shoes to protect the hardwood floors and beautiful rugs. Both castles provide opportunity to purchase lovely handmade table cloths, runners and doilies and other local handicrafts from merchants. They will initially ask for much more than the merchandise is worth, so it also provides a great opportunity for improving one's haggling skills.
Although accustomed to poverty, the Romanian people are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. What little they have is gladly offered to their guests. Romanian food is very good, too. (I was pleased to discover that they sell the same Fanta formula in Romania as they do in the Middle East. The European/Middle Eastern Fanta is far superior to the overly sweet and syrupy stuff bottled under the same name in the United States.) Experts in hospitality, Romanian hosts in Romania or abroad will not hesitate to ask you to kindly take your shoes off at the door, please.