Geography of Romania
Romania is situated halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, in the geographic center of the European Continent. Its neighbor countries are the following: Ukraine to the North, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the Black sea to the East, Bulgaria to the South, Serbia to the South West and Hungary to the West.
Romania stretches over 238.391 square km, ranking on the 12th position as size in Europe.
The Romanian territory is divided in 41 counties and the capital city, Bucharest. The basic administrative units in the counties are towns and communes (composed of several villages).
In total there are 263 cities and towns, 80 municipalities and 2685 communes, that include 13.285 villages.
The largest city in Romania is Bucharest, with a population of nearly 2.1 million individuals. Apart from Bucharest, there are another 10 cities with a population over 100.000 inhabitants and 7 cities that exceed 300.000 inhabitants.
Romania’s terrain is almost evenly split between 3 major landforms: plains, hills and mountains. The plains represent 22% of the territory (under 200m elevation), the hills and tablelands are spread across 36% of the surface and the mountains have the remaining 31% of the country.
The Carpathian Mountains represent an axis in the set of the relief and they divide the central and southern regions of the country, with their arch shape. The mountains are divided into 3 separate ranges: the eastern (Oriental) Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians (Transylvanian Alps) and the Western Carpathians. Each of the 3 sections present different particularities in landscape due to the variety of the terrain such as glacial, karstic, volcanic or structural.
The highest point of the Carpathian Mountains is the Moldoveanu Mountain, with a height of 2543 meters.
Inside and outside the Carpathian Mountains arch are located numerous plains and hills. The regions situated in the proximity of the mountains are called the Sub-Carpathian Hills, also divided into 2 ranges: The Eastern and Southern Sub-Carpathian. The maximum heights in these regions reach 800-900meters.
At the end of the slope down from the Carpathian Hills, can be found the largest plain in Romania, named the Romaian Plain or Baragan. The Romanian plain represents the countries main agricultural area, situated in the South of the country, along the Danube.
The Danube, second largest river in Europe, forms a natural border between Romania and the southeast and south countries Serbia, Bulgaria, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, spread across a distance of 1075 km. The river enters Romania through a spectacular gorge in Bazias and ends in Sulina, where the Danube flows into the Black Sea. On its way to the Black Sea, the Danube also collects the waters of several large rivers in Romania. At the end of its flow the Danube is split in 3 main channels called Chilia, Sulina and Saint George and it form the spectacular Danube Delta.
Situated in the north of the Dobrogea Plateau, the Danube Delta is considered the youngest geographical formation in Romania. The Delta found on the Romanian territory covers an area of 4340 square km. The area is the best-preserved delta in Europe and it is the only river delta in the world declared a biosphere reserve.
The Danube Delta represents a splendid territory of aquatic flora and fauna, including approximately 2300 species divided as follows: 2% floating vegetation, 6%leeches, 14% forests and 78% reed. The fauna here incorporates 330 bird species (mostly water birds), 135 fish species (including 5 different types of sturgeon), 24 amphibian species.
The Black Sea is a continental sea, with a low tide and salinity. Water temperatures here can reach 26 degrees Celsius during summer month. The coast of the Black sea stretches on approximately 240 km on the Romanian territory and it includes numerous sandy beaches.
Rivers and Lakes:
The majority of the rivers included in the river chain of Romania have the springing point in the Carpathian Mountains, forming numerous caves and gorges. Almost all of the rivers situated in the country are direct or indirect tributaries to the Danube. The remaining rivers, that are not collected by the Danube flow into Siret and Prut in the eastern region or in Tisa in the western region.
The most important rivers in Romania are Arges (350km), Somes (374km), Ialomita (416km), Siret (558km), Olt (614km), Prut (740km) and Mures (770km).
Romania counts a total number of approximately 3500 lakes. The deepest and largest glacial lakes in the country are Zanoaga (29meters depth) and Bucura (10 ha). Other glacial lakes worth mentioning are Balea, Capra, Caltun and Podragu, located in the Transylvanian Carpathian Mountains.
Lake Saint Ana, is the only volcanic lake in Romania, situated in the Ciomatu Mare Massif, close to Tusnad. Surrounded by a large variety of fir / pine trees, the lake formed in a perfectly preserved crater and it is solely composed of rain water accumulation.
The largest natural lake in Romania is located in the Hasmas Massif, at 983 meters altitude, called the Red Lake (Lacul Rosu). The lake’s unicity is given by its landscape and shape, as it is a natural dam lake, created by a landslide that took place in 1837. Its unique name comes from the red alluvia that is deposited here by the lake’s main tributary.
Flora and Fauna:
The variety of terrain and climate in Romania has created a very rich palette of flora and fauna. Here can be found over 3700 species of plants and over 33.000 species of animals. 29% of forests in Romania are represented by conifers (fir, spruce, pine and larch) while the rest of the 71% of forests have oak, beech, elm, ash, maple and linden trees.
Mineral resources and soil:
At the foothills of the southern and eastern Carpathian Mountains can me found significant reserves of oil. Also, other oil reserves have been found only few kilometers away from the Black Sea coast. The Transylvanian Plateau presents large deposits of natural gas.
Important iron ore deposits have been discovered spread across the country in regions such as the Harghita Mountains (Eastern Carpathians), Dobrogea, Banat and Poiana Rusca Mountains. In the Northwest region of the country are located most of the nonferrous metal reserves, especially in the Apuseni and Maramures Mountains. The largest gold deposits in Europe are also located in the Apuseni Mountains.
Large amounts of pure salt have been found at Slanic, Tirgu Ocna, Ocna Mures, Praid and Cacica.
The soil suitable for agriculture in Romania, covers more than 150.000 square kilometers, which represents approximately two-thirds of the entire country’s territory. The arable land represents 40% of the suitable territory, rest of the territory being divided between pastures, vineyards and orchards.