Geography in Romania
Romania lies north of the Balkans and forms the transition area between Central, Southern and Eastern Europe. In the east the country borders with the River Prut on the Republic of Moldova, in the north on Ukraine and in the north-west on Hungary. In the southwest and in the south the Danube forms the border river to Serbia and Bulgaria. In the southeast the country has a 225 km long coast on the Black Sea.
The Romanian landscape is characterized by mountains as well as highlands and plains. The Carpathian Arch with the 2544 m high Moldoveanu separates the lowlands of Wallachia and Dobruja as well as the historical regions of Moldova and Transylvania from the highlands of Transylvania, which forms the geographical center of Romania. The second highest peak in Romania is reached in the Eastern Carpathians with the 2303 m high Pietros. To the west, the Carpathian Arc merges into the Banat Mountains. To the west of Transylvania is the Apuseni Mountains, which descend further west to the historic Kreisch area and to Hungary. Together with the Poiana-Ruscă Mountains, these mountain ranges form the so-called Romanian Western Carpathians. To the north, the Carpathian Arc continues over the Bukovina into the Ukraine.
The south of Romania falls with Wallachia to the Pannonian Plain, which is traversed by the Danube and ends with the Dobruja against the Black Sea. The almost 240,000 km² large country is drained into the Black Sea exclusively via the Danube and several larger tributaries such as Pruth, Tisza or Sereth. Some rivers such as the Mures or Tiza initially flow an astonishingly long way to the west and south, only to move the masses of water they carry with them back to the east via the Danube.
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Flora and fauna in Romania
Romania is covered to 27% by forest, which reaches up to about 1,800 meters above sea level. Above it is grassland with mountain pastures. The different tree species are preferred at certain altitudes. Within the coniferous forest zone between 1400 and 1800 meters above sea level. NN. spruce, fir, pine, yew and larch trees grow. In the beech forest zone between 400 and 1400 mm. ü. In addition to beeches and hornbeams, elms, ash and birch trees are also found. The lowest forest zone in the area of 150–400 m above sea level. NN is dominated by oak forests, which also have maple trees, plane trees, willows, poplars and linden trees.
In part of the Wallachian Plain and in the Dobruja there are still pristine steppe landscapes with scattered deciduous trees, roses, prunus and hawthorns, most of which, however, are used for agriculture.
The Danube Delta is characterized by a swampy landscape with reeds, cattails, water hemlock and water lilies.
In Romania’s animal world there are species that are widespread throughout Europe, such as golden eagles, black vultures, red deer and red foxes, and badgers, roe deer and wild boar in lower-lying deciduous forests. However, among the total of 3600 animal species in Romania there are also those that have already become extinct or have become very rare in the rest of Europe. These include the chamois, bearded vultures, brown bears (around 6600 specimens), wolves (around 3100 specimens), lynxes (around 1500 specimens) and otters living in the Carpathian Mountains. In 2012 the bison, which had also been exterminated in Romania, was reintroduced. So far (2017) around 50 animals live in complete freedom and slowly reproduce. Small populations of the great bustard can be found in the Wallachian Plain.
The Danube Delta is home to numerous species of fish, amphibians and migratory birds. In addition to the great white pelican, which only occurs here in Europe, the purple heron and the black stork can also be found. The sturgeon, known for its caviar, also lives in the waters of the mouth of the Danube, while the common dolphin occasionally appears off the Black Sea coast.
National parks and nature protection in Romania
As part of the implementation of the Europe-wide NATURA 2000 network of protected areas, Romania set up numerous other protected areas in addition to the existing national parks after joining the EU. There are currently 148 bird protection areas in Romania and 383 areas classified as special protection areas according to NATURA 2000, which corresponds to around 23.4% of the Romanian land area. The protected areas are partially integrated into the country’s 13 national parks, almost all of which are located in the Carpathian Mountains and impressively reflect the natural beauties of the country during a trip through Romania.
The Danube Delta with an area of 5800 km², is the second largest delta in Europe after the Volga Delta. As part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the biosphere reserve, known for its unique bird life, is home to the largest reed area in the world in the marsh and lake landscapes lined with lagoons. Romania has more biogeographical regions than any other EU country, but these are increasingly threatened by booming and modernized agriculture and urban growth. Also, due to international demand for cheap wood and illegal logging, which is not followed by reforestation, forced by large foreign wood processing companies, especially from Austria, is increasingly threatening Romania’s forests.
Romania’s largest national park is the Domogled Cerne National Park in the Western Carpathians, with an area of approx. 600 km². The national park is known for its tropical tempered caves with the unique cave fauna associated with them. Romania’s first national park is in the immediate vicinity. The Retezat National Park was designated as early as 1935 in the high western Carpathians on an area of approx. 380 km².
In the neighboring Banat is the 360 km² Semenic-Cheile-Carașului National Park with typical karst and forest landscapes and the breathtaking Karasch Gorge as well as various stalactite and crystal caves, some of which are only accessible under water.
The 460 km² Muntji Rodner National Park is located in the Rodna Mountains in northern Romania, whose characteristic landscape elements are formed by 28 glacial lakes and many cascading waterfalls.