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Physical Features and Climate of Romania
Romania, a country of southeastern Europe, is located in the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Approximately one third of Romania is mountainous, one third is covered by hills, and one third consists of plains and tablelands. The spine of the country is formed by the eastern Carpathians, mountains that swing through Romania in an arc about 60 miles (100 km) wide, first southeastward and then, as the Transylvanian Alps, westward.
The mountains are eroded and comparatively low, with elevations from 3,000 to 6,000 feet (900–1,800 meters). There are higher peaks up to and even over 8,000 feet (2,450 meters) in the Transylvanian Alps. Romania's mountains are covered with forests and dotted with upland meadows and glacial lakes. Both the eastern Carpathians and the Transylvanian Alps are seismically active and spawn devastating earthquakes.
On the eastern and southern fringes of the Carpathians are the foothills and grassy plateaus of Moldavia and Walachia, extending to the Prut River on the east and the Danube on the south. Inside the arc of the Carpathians is the Transylvanian basin, a hilly tableland averaging about 1,500 feet (450 meters) in elevation, creased by the wide, deep valleys of the Mureş and Someş rivers.
In addition are remnants of larger territories now shared by Romania with neighboring countries: the Dobrudja, located between the lower Danube and the Black Sea, provides Romania with its entire coastline, running from the low, marshy Danube delta in the north to steep cliffs and sandy beaches in the south; southwest of Transylvania lie the plains of the Banat; the Bukovina is on the northern fringe of Moldavia.
Romania is well watered with a network of rivers that includes 668 miles (1,075 km) of the Danube. Significant Romanian tributaries of the Danube are the Someş, Mureş, Timiş, Jiu, Olt, Argeş, Dîmboviţa, Ialomiţa, Bistriţa, and Prut rivers. The rivers generally rise from the central crown of the Carpathians and flow west, south, and east onto the plains and into the Danube.
Many of the rivers have high hydroelectric potential. The gorge of the Iron Gate, at the western end of the Danube's course along the southern border of Romania, was converted into a large hydropower and navigational system through the cooperation of Romania and Yugoslavia (later, Serbia). Only the Danube and Prut are navigable, and oceangoing vessels can ascend the Danube as far as Brăila. The Danube–Black Sea Canal (1984) runs 40 miles (65 km) from Cernavodă to just south of Constanţa. The Danube defines part of Romania's boundaries with Serbia, Bulgaria, and Moldova. At its eastern end, it breaks into three branches and enters the Black Sea, forming the delta.
Romania's climate is of the moderately humid continental type, with great seasonal and regional variations. The country has hot, dry summers, long autumns, severe snowy winters, and brief springs. In Bucharest, average temperatures are 27° F (−3° C) in January and 73° F (23° C) in July.
Rainfall is adequate throughout most of the country, decreasing from west to east and from the mountains to the plains. The annual precipitation (rain and snow) ranges from 15 inches (380 mm) in the delta to 50 inches (1,270 mm) in the mountains, with a national average of 28 inches (710 mm).
Spring floods along the Danube and its tributaries and severe summer droughts are common. Unfavorable microclimates combined with imprudent industrial development have created locations with catastrophic levels of air and water pollution.