The official language of Romania is Romanian, limba romÃ¢nÄ, which is a Romance language. It was formalized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a significant impute from French.
Aromanian is the closest living relative and only other member of the Italo-Eastern subdivision of Italic languages to Romanian. Aromanian is a minority language spoken in Macedonia, Greece and parts of Romania. In contrast to Romanian's heavy Slavic, German and Hungarian influences, Aromanian takes many words from Greek. Some 10% of the Romanian vocabulary is of Slavonic origin and less than 5% is from Turkish, Hungarian or German. Minority languages spoken in Romania are Hungarian, German, Turkish and Romany the language of the Roma, or Gypsies, albeit most of these words have fallen out of use for a long time. Russian and Ukrainian can be heard in the Danube Delta as well. French used to be the second well-known language in Romania, since it used to be compulsory in every school; however, it has been mostly replaced by English. A well-educated Romanian who graduated from an average university can usually speak English and another European language, such as French, German, Italian, Spanish about 8% or Russian. If you leave the common touristic routes, Romanian is the only way to ask for information. That won't be such a problem; learn some basic words and ask them to write the answers.
In Transylvania there is a large Hungarian minority 6.5% of the population according to the 2011 census, people speak Hungarian in their daily life. Counties where Hungarian is widely spoken includes Harghita, Covasna, Mures. In certain parts of Cluj, Bihor, Satu Mare, Brasov, Sibiu and other Transylvanian counties there are villages or towns with a notable number of Hungarian speakers.
Although some might speak Russian due to Romania's past as a part of the Eastern Bloc, you should not count on it. About 7% of Romanians understand Russian but only about 4% are fluent in it. The chance of one doing so is very small, as the CeauÅescu administration and subsequent leaders made learning the language optional, rather than compulsory; and other languages especially French, Italian or other Romance languages took the place of Russian in schools.
Most educated Romanians may be able to make some sense of other spoken Romance languages, such as French, Spanish, and Italian. Other Romanians may understand some Spanish and Italian because of popular TV soap operas from Italy and Latin America.
If you want to find out some common phrases/words in Romanian, see the Romanian phrasebook.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Romania. There are five networks - four GSM/3G Orange Romania, Vodafone, Cosmote and DigiMobil and one CDMA Zapp. Orange and Vodafone have full national coverage 98-99% of the surface of the country, while Cosmote and Zapp are expanding quickly. Fares are average for the European Union 8-30 Eurocent per minute, 4 Eurocent/SMS. Both pre-paid cards and subscriptions are available, and special options for discounted international calls exist with some pricing plans. Roaming is available, but is, like in most of the EU, rather expensive. Pre-paid cards can be bought in almost every shop, either rural or urban, but you will get stuck if you try to charge by credit card or online. If you want to buy mobile credit online, you can do it with fonmoney fonmoney.com, . edit or ezetop. Be careful with giving away credit card information to Romanian pages.
Internet access is fast, widely available in urban environments and growing in rural environments. In December 2006 there were about 3.500.000 internet connections, with around 7.000.000-9.000.000 people having internet access as of 2008. Broadband internet is widely available in cities and towns, through cable, DSL and home-grown, grass-roots small or medium size ISPs offering UTP connections. Speeds are mostly like Western Europe or the US, with 1-4 Mbps downstream for non-metropolitan access being the norm - with prices being around 9-25 â¬ for 1-4 Mbps, with local access significantly faster 10-50 or even 100 Mbps. The speeds are increasing, home access for 4 Mbps being available at around â¬10 per month.
Internet cafes are available in most towns and cities and villages - but in big cities, their numbers are dropping because of the cheap availability of home access. In rural areas, public Internet access is currently available in 150 remote villages in so-called "telecenters", and it is supposed to increase to at least 500 villages by the end of 2008. In these "telecenters", access is subsidized by the state, and therefore limited. Computers are usually not available in libraries, or in public places such as train stations.
Wireless access is growing, especially in Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu, BistriÅ£a, TimiÅoara and Cluj with Wi-Fi widely available in University areas, airports, public squares, parks, cafes, hotels and restaurants. Payed-for Wi-Fi is also available in many venues. If uncertain, look for squares near the Town Hall, large parks or other important buildings. Most if not all McDonald's restaurants in Romania have wi-fi access and so do most 3-star and higher hotels.
Mobile internet is available cheaply by all the mobile phone companies using Romanian simcards. Combined 3G/GPRS/EDGE access is priced at 40-80 RON per month (10-20 Eurowith a cap of 5-10 GB, whereas simple WAP traffic without a 3G plan is priced at 10-20 Eurocents/MB.
Romanians are quite hospitable. In the countryside and small towns, they welcome foreign tourists and, occasionally, they might even invite you for a lunch. As is common with Romania's Balkan neighbours, Romanians will insist when offering something, as "no" sometimes does not mean "no," and they just consider it polite for you to refuse and polite for them to insist.
You should take some normal precautions to study your host first. It is common for friends and family to kiss both cheeks upon greeting or parting. Respect towards elderly is highly appreciated and is a good representation of your character. The phrases used to greet friends and strangers alike is "BunÄ ziua" Boo-nah Zee-wah which means "Good afternoon" or "Good day."
At beaches, men wear either speedos or shorts, with the former more common amongst the over 40s, and the latter more popular with the younger crowd. Ladies tend to wear thong bikinis, topless sunbathing is becoming more and more popular.
Refrain from observations, whether by ignorance or indifference, that Romanian is a Slavic language or even related to Hungarian, Turkish or Albanian. They will find it quite offensive; in fact, as it was already mentioned, Romanians do not pronounce vowels and consonants the same way as any of their neighbours.
Romanians also appreciate foreigners who do not assume that Romania was part of either the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union false although it was a member of the Eastern Bloc.
Also, while the principalities of Wallachia and Moldova did indeed pay tributary sums to the Turks for several centuries, they were never part of the Ottoman Empire, unlike all of their neighbours. Knowing even these basic facts about Romanian history will go a long way should any conversation on the subject arise.
Avoid discussing the ethnic animosities between the Romanians and ethnic Hungarians. Hungarians dominate in some areas, such as Transylvania, and in recent years occasionally inter-ethnic violence has broken out.
Other minority-rich regions include Dobrogea, where Tatars, Turks, Ukrainians still live today, and also in the west of the country there are small numbers of Serbs, Slovaks, and Germans.
Another very offensive misconception is making no difference between the Romanian population and the Roma people/gypsies. Romanians are a different ethnic group from them. Confusing these two can offend a lot of people because there is still a lot of prejudice towards the Roma people.
Romanians dislike Romania to be labelled as a Balkan country because of the negative image of the region.
It is not entirely geographically correct either as most of Romania, if restricted to Dobrogea, Moldavia, Muntenia and Oltenia, or the vast majority of Romania, if restricted only to Dobrogea, lies outside the Balkans.
The oldest Romanian university is the University of Iasi, founded in 1860 the medieval schools in Bucharest and Iasi are not considered universities. Bucharest, Iasi and Cluj are considered to be the largest and most prestigious university centres, with newer centres of education like Timisoara, Craiova and Galati emerging as cities with an increasingly larger student population. If coming with a mobility grant Erasmus/Socrates or similar, it is very important to go to the International Office of the Romanian University as soon as possible, as Romanian paperwork tends to be quite impressive and may take some time to be processed. Also, if planning to study in Romania, it is highly recommended to find your own accommodation - most universities do not provide any accommodation, and if they do provide accommodation, the conditions offered are downright terrible 3-4 persons sharing a room, with a corridor of 50 or more sharing the showers and toilets is not unheard of - this happens since university-offered accommodation is typically next to free (15-20 â¬ per month for Romanians, and you usually get what you pay for).
The education system is mediocre at best since 1990 Romania did not do good in either of the PISA evaluations, being in the bottom third of European countries, however reform attempts have been done in the past decade. Attendance is compulsory for 10 years. Universities have started to reduce the number of subsidies so students will, increasingly, have to pay the tuition tuition is however very low - 500 â¬ per year is the norm. With some exceptions teaching methods in universities are antiquated, with formalism, dictation and memorization as the main tools employed - leading to low quality of many establishments no Romanian university made it in the Shanghai Index. However, there were very serious reform attempts, with some universities notably the University of Bucharest, University of Iasi, the BabeÅ-Bolyai University in Cluj and the University of TimiÅoara imposing better teaching standards and interactivity between students and teachers - however much progress is to be done even there. For most subjects, programs are available in Romanian and Hungarian, depending on the university. Some programs are available in English, French and German. Elementary and middle schools are supported by local authorities budget. As with most nations, teachers complain about small salaries. Literacy is nearly universal. According to an EU commission study, about 30% of Romanians speak English 50% in urban environments and 25% French 40% in urban environments. German is also spoken by about 3-5% of the population 1% having it as their mother tongue.
Some visitors may encounter corrupt policemen PoliÅ£isti and customs officials OfiÅ£eri de vamÄ first hand, even though this seems to be a declining problem. While it may be tempting to pay a bribe mitÄ or ÅpagÄ to smooth things along on your visit, you should avoid doing so as it only contributes to this problem. It is also illegal to give bribe as well as it is to receive it. Foreigners might receive tougher sentences in Romania.
A piece of good advice for when you find yourself in the situation to be asked to pay a bribe or just suggested is to politely reject the proposal, stating clearly that you would not do that. If you are being harassed adopt a swift and determined attitude, and threaten that you will immediately call the police. This will almost surely make whoever is asking for the bribe stop and leave you alone.
Conditions in Romanian hospitals may vary from the very clean and sparkling, with all the latest technological utilities, to the downright drab, dark and cold. Some hospitals, however, may be, as aforementioned, uncomfortable, with dimness, temperature problems hot in summer, cold in winter and outdated equipment, although medical staff are usually experienced. You won't usually face problems such as significant lack of cleanliness.
Remember that your travel health insurance might prove to be insufficient if the medical condition is severe. In this cases, you will be asked to pay for the medical services, and prices are not very low compared to Western Europe.Update: As of January 1st, 2007 and Romania's accession to the European Union, citizens of the European Union are covered by Romania's National Healthcare System as long as they carry an Eurocardor European Health Insurance Card, obtainable from their own national healthcare authority. Valid for all EU countries
Dental procedures in Romania, especially those in private clinics, are of an excellent quality. In fact, many Western Europeans come to Romania to have their teeth done for the quarter of the price they pay in their home country. Quality is particularly high in clinics in Transylvania and Bucharest.