About Bucharest

A Brief History Of Bucharest, Romania

bucurestiProudly sporting the title of Romania’s financial, cultural, civic and industrial capital, Bucharest is an historical city with a fierce ‘survive and thrive’ attitude. Located on the banks of the Dambovita River, in the southeast of Romania, between four and five million people call the metropolitan area of Bucharest home. This densely populated capital city has a rich and colourful history which Bucharesters are rightly proud of.

Despite such large numbers of people living in a small space the crime rate for Bucharest is lower than other capital cities in Europe, and the police force have worked hard to ensure street crime and nuisances such as begging are curtailed.

Bucharest means ‘City of joy’, a name that must have sometimes been a challenge to maintain. During the 17th and 18th centuries it bore witness to power struggles between rivals such as the Ottomans and the Hapsburgs, while the 19th century brought both a plague and a devastating fire. Things didn’t improve much in the next century, as two world wars left permanent scars on this proud city.

During WW1 Bucharest was occupied for two years by the German military, at which point it suffered domestic humiliation with the temporary loss of status as Romania’s capital. Then, a few decades later, WW2 saw much of the city under attack, with extensive bomb damage being sustained before Romania joined the allies and found protection.

For two decades Bucharest residents lived with the daily brutality of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s communist regime, but since the revolution in the late 20th century the city has grown into the most economically prosperous city in Romania.

Being admitted into the EU in 2007 has allowed Romania and its capital to thrive and to begin the long overdue process of restoring the city to its former glory.

Despite having gained EU membership the current currency in Romania is still the leu (plural – lei).

Tourism is growing as visitors discover a taste for Bucharest’s temperate weather, mix of modern and historical attractions, an extremely attractive cost of living, excellent transport system and delicious food.

Bucharest has various restaurants offering visitors a taste of genuine Romanian food, which has evolved through the centuries into an eclectic mix of Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Russian. Heavy meats in various forms, soup and polenta often feature on traditional restaurant menus. Vegetarians will find suitable options, though perhaps not in every eatery.

Once known as the “Paris of the Balkans”, “The Paris Of The East”, or even “Little Paris”, these days Bucharest lays claim to being voted the “second coolest city in Europe”. Don’t forget that Bucharest was also once the home of Vlad the Impaler – a bloodthirsty character said to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. It’s not hard to see why when you experience Bucharest’s Gothic buildings first hand.

Communication isn’t generally a problem for foreign visitors, as although Romanian is the official language, many residents also speak either English, French, Spanish or Italian.

Overall then Bucharest is both a prosperous place to live, (although the cost of living is rising rapidly), and an exciting city to visit for a vacation.

The Economy In Bucharest

So What Really Makes This Capital City Tick? The Epicenter For Romania's Commerce...

workTwenty-first century Bucharest enjoys a thriving economy which continues to gain strength from year to year. This fiscal success is something to be applauded, considering that only twenty years ago Bucharest was just emerging from the gloomy economic constraints of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship. During the period of adjustment that followed the economy remained static until the late 1990s, when things finally began to change.

Bucharest’s economy has grown so fast partly through the adoption of a two-pronged method: overhauling the city’s infrastructure while also rewarding the residents who work hard to contribute to this success.

Investing in the basic framework necessary for a fully functioning society has paid off, with ongoing developments of modern office buildings, residential housing estates and shopping malls.

Since Romania was accepted into the European Union Bucharest has benefited from a substantial amount of EU investment cash. It has become the most affluent city in Romania, and makes a critically important contribution to the country’s general economy.

Around 10% of Romania’s population reside in Bucharest, yet the city’s workforce is responsible for producing around 20% of the country’s GDP, and a quarter of all industrial production. Consequently about a third of all national taxes in Romania are paid by either Bucharest citizens or the companies who are located in the area.

This all means that Bucharesters enjoy a much higher standard of living than many residents in other parts of the country.

Additionally, unemployment rates in Bucharest are less than half that of the general population.

Bucharest’s economy was affected to some extent by the financial crisis of 2008, but foreign investment soon picked up again, and the economic trend remains firmly positive.

The fastest areas of growth in Bucharest’s economy are the industry, service, property and construction sectors. Most large Romanian companies choose to locate their headquarters in the capital city, as do many medium and small size businesses.

Information technology and communications provides another aspect to Bucharest’s economic growth, and various important software companies with offshore delivery centres are based there, along with the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The largest in Romania, its staff manage billions of US dollars a year.

The retail market in Bucharest has also seen serious growth in the recent past. International supermarket chains, including Carrefour, are featured in many locations, as are regular food stores and hypermarkets. The number of shopping malls built since the late 1990s is astounding, and many feature high-end/luxury brand consumer goods from companies such as Hermes, Armani, Rolex and Louis Vuitton.

The most recent contribution to Bucharest’s economy is that of the tourist industry, which attracts over ten million visitors a year. Large chain hotels invest heavily in building, keen to have a share of this growing market. Romania is ideally situated for short-hop flights from European countries, making it a convenient destination for weekend breaks as well as longer vacations. Many Bucharesters work hard to ensure their visit is the first of many.

There’s no doubt that Bucharest’s economy will continue its strong growth as the city continues to exploit both its flexible nature and ability to adapt.

Romania's Government

Really, It's Not All That Different Then What You May Be Accustomed To...

governAh, Romania, a nation whose name connotes visions of the ancient empire of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church.  The landscape of this country has witnessed some of history’s greatest stories such as the rise of Christianity, the turmoil between Rome and the Ottoman Empire, and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.  Its rich history does not stop in ancient times, however.

The modern nation was born when the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia merged.  Romania began as a European-style monarchy, but has undergone a series of political changes over the last century.

The current government of Romania is a recently developed Republic with a rich history, conceived in the wake of the overthrow of a failed Communist regime.  Romania is one of the many nations that were affected by the back-and-forth Cold War between the forces of Soviet Communism and Western Democracy during the twentieth century.  Due to decisions in Moscow between these two groups, Romania fell under the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence in the 1940s.  With the support of the Soviet Union, the country was taken over by a pro-Communist group under the leadership of a man named Petru Groza.
           
In order to develop the region, a Communist party leader by the name of Ceausescu began to take loans from Western credit institutions and invest this money into Romania’s infrastructure.  As the Communist party began implementing a choreographed economic system, the country was pushed from an agrarian society to an industrialized modern society.  The weight of this debt, however, took its toll on the Romanian people. In an attempt to quickly repay the loans, the populace became heavily policed and worked rigorously. To bring in money, most of the fruits of the people’s labor were exported causing the standard of living to drop substantially. Romania began to fall into political, economic and moral turmoil as its Communist government developed in a direction of corruption, deceit, terror and injustice.
           
These circumstances and other factors contributed to popular discontent, leading the people of Romania to overthrow the existing dictatorship at the end of 1989. Anti-government demonstrations pervaded the region, and when the Romanian army turned against Ceausescu, he attempted to flee but was arrested by the new developing government and was executed.
           
After the Communist order was eradicated once and for all, the country’s Constitution was adopted in 1991 by a coalition of the “Social-Liberal Union”, a Social-Democratic Party and a National-Liberal party.  This Constitution laid out the framework for an executive, legislative and judicial branch and detailed fundamental rights, liberties, duties, finances, provisions and a process by which the constitution could be revised.
           
The Executive branch of the Romanian government includes the President, who is the commander of the Armed Forces, the chairperson of the Supreme Council of National Defense and is the defender of the Constitution. He is elected by an absolute majority vote every five years and appoints the other member of the executive branch, the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is considered the head of the other members of the government.
           
The Judicial branch is made up of the High Court of Justice and Cassation, which is the Supreme and ultimate court of the nation. The Justices that make up the High Court are appointed by the President every 9 years with recommendations of the Superior Council of Magistrates. This Superior Council is made up of a 19-member body of judges, prosecutors and law specialists.
           
The Constitutional Court is also an important part of the Judicial branch in which 9 members appointed by the President and Parliament serve 9-year terms.  In addition to this, subordinate courts of the nation are made up of Courts of Appeal, regional tribunals, first instance courts and military and arbitration courts.
           
The Legislative branch is the Parliament of Romania, and it is made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.  The Senate is considered the higher house of the Parliament with members elected through a proportional mixed-member system.  The Chamber of Deputies contains 19 seats reserved for minorities and 315 elected also through a proportional mixed-member system.  This electoral system works by a percentage of votes by alliance or party.
           
The current Romanian government is made up of a number of parties which shapes its unique political atmosphere.  Leading parties include the Christian-Democratic National Peasants Party, the Civic Force, the Conservative party, the Democratic Liberal Party, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, the National Liberal Party, the National Union for Romania’s Progress, the Popular Movement Party and the Social Democratic Party.  In some senses, one may assume the diverse set of political opinions making up the Romanian government shows how successful it has been as a democracy.  This may be true in some regards, but this nation is no exception to the rule that where ever political parties reign, corruption lurks nearby.
           
In 2012, the Romanian government was under fire by its citizens for granting shale-gas concessions to Chevron.  Protests were sparked across the nation as people spoke out and demanded that more environmental precautions should be a policy priority.  Talk of a new government forming was prevalent just two years ago.  Even more recently, in December of last year (2013), the Romanian Parliament made a move which effectively decriminalized the corruption of government officials by removing the title of “public official” from the offices of President, Senators, lower chamber members and lawyers.
           
Democracy is a messy process, and every nation who has pursued it knows this.  Corruption tends to make its way into the cracks of every established government, and Romania must embrace this truism as it progresses out of the political turmoil that has plagued it for so long.  With all its obstacles, the Republic system has vastly improved the lives of the average Romanian and has improved the economic state of the nation.  A government built on popular support is progress in and of itself, and the people now have the makings of a just system in place which they can use as a foundation for a better tomorrow.

Sports And The Media

Major Media In Bucharest And Of Course, Romanian's Obsession WIth Sports

fun!Sport, and particularly football plays a major part in the life of many Bucharesters and the city boasts three teams, (Steaua, Rapid and Dinamo), each with both domestic and international loyal followers. National team games and international matches are played at the Arena Nationala. Opened in September 2011, and seating nearly 60.000 people, this stadium is now one of the largest in Southeastern Europe.

Despite this fondness for football other sports are not neglected in Bucharest. Those interested in basketball, water polo, ice hockey and athletics can find active clubs in the city, while tennis and boxing activities can be found at the Romexpo Dome.

Most major Romanian media sources are located in Bucharest, including the headquarters of the national television networks and newspapers, radio stations and online news websites. Popular daily newspapers available in Bucharest include Jurnalul National – circulation around 30.000 and Evenimentul Zilei, the country’s first tabloid. These compete with popular news websites such as HotNews and Ziare.

Limited sources of print media are available in foreign languages, including the Bucharest Daily News (English) and Új Magyar Szó (Hungarian).

Arts information can be found in the Observator Cultural, while free weekly magazines such as B24FUN cover entertainment listings.