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Romania

Romania


Romania At a Glance

Why should you go to Romania? The straight answer is because it is one of the most beautiful countries of Southeast Europe. If you don?don't have months to spare, do not want to travel too far, Romania is the place for you. From projects for 2 weeks to 2 months, you could volunteer here either for your gap year or summer break. It has remnants of rustic Europe charm. Even in cities where you will find cars racing down the streets, you will almost anywhere find horse drawn buggies, green mountains, cone shaped haystacks and herds of sheep that bounce along.

From grand Gothic buildings to spectacular Castles and Palaces as well as numerous Churches and Monasteries a lover of architecture would be spoilt for choice. Temperatures can greatly vary in Romania. Winters are quite cold and summers can get very hot. There is much variation in its climate: the average annual temperature in the south is 11°C, 7°C in the north and only 2°C in the mountains. In recent summer months, temperatures have risen to 35 degrees Celsius and winter chills going about to 35 degrees celsius.

Although the public transport systems are in no way as developed as their western counterparts, the trains, although infrequent, always show up on time. To reach Harghita County where the majority of projects are based, foreign travellers have the option of flying into Budapest and then catching the train to Miercurea-Ciuc. Although this is definitely the longer option, flights to Budapest are usually more in frequency and cheaper. The other option would be to fly to a Romanian airport. The nearest is Targu Mures, where volunteers could be picked up by our local country representative or there is Cluj Napoca, a 5 hour train journey away from Miercurea-Ciuc.

Buses are another form of transport open to volunteers although their reliability varies usually depending on how far it has had to travel. So, don't set your watches by those traveling from Moldavia but the local networks usually arrive on time.

History

Romania's history has not been as idyllically peaceful as its geography. Over the centuries, various migrating people invaded Romania. Romania's historical provinces Allachia and Moldova offered furious resistance to the invading Ottoman Turks. Transylvania for a very long time was under the rule of the Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) empire although it remained an autonomous province.

It is because of this history that many Transylvanians still classify themselves as Hungarians and speak the Hungarian language although since being defeated in World War I, this region was officially handed over to Romania. In the city of Miercurea-Ciuc approximately 80% of its inhabitants have Hungarian as their mother tongue.

In the 1940's, with the soviet troops on its territory, Romania entered the sphere of influence of Soviet Union. After Stalin's death, Romania distanced itself from Moscow. Romania's post World War II history as a communist-bloc nation is more widely known, primarily due to the excesses of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Many locals have vivid memories of their time under communism that they are more than happy to share with anyone that shows an interest. In December 1989 a national uprising led to his overthrow. The 1991 Constitution established Romania as a republic with a multiparty system, market economy and individual rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.


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