People

Foreign visitors consider Romanians among the friendliest and most hospitable people on earth. Romanians are by nature fun loving, warm, hospitable, playful, with an innate sense of humor.

Romania is associated with big names in arts and sports:

Constantin Brancusi — one of the most acclaimed modern sculptors.

Angela Gheorghiu, one of the world’s greatest opera soprano – www.angelagheorghiu.com

Alexandra Nechita — a young Romanian painter living in California, known for her distinct style. For more info about Alexandra and her art please visit: http://alexandranechita.com/

Ilie Nastase — Twice ranked as the world’s number one men’s player in the early 1970s, Ilie Nastase won two Grand Slam singles titles during his illustrious career – the US Open in 1972 and the French Open in 1973. One of the greatest touch players of the post-war era, Nastase was runner-up at Wimbledon in 1972 and 1976 and, in all, he won 57 career singles titles and 51 doubles titles. Nastase is still one of crowd’s favorites at the U.S. Open.

Radu Lupu – If there’s one pianist who challenges you to hear classical music in a whole new way, it’s Radu Lupu. Since winning the Van Cliburn Competition in 1966, he’s gained a loyal following for his idiosyncratic interpretations that always explore the complex emotions behind the music. (Attribution: www.carnegiehall.org )
More about Radu Lupu »

Nadia Comaneci – Romanian Gymnast, Montreal Perfect 10Nadia Comaneci — A gymnastics legend, stunning the world with her skills on the uneven bars, the first in the world to score a perfect 10.  Nadia is practically single-handedly responsible for the popularity of gymnastics as a sport, thanks to sweeping the Olympics for gold medals in her youth.

Other world renowned Romanian artists include the writer Eugen Ionesco, pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir and musician George Enescu.

Tourism Ambassadors

SimonaHalepSimona Halep

Simona Halep is the current number 3 in the WTA ranking. Simona Halep has been the most successful Romanian athlete this year. The 22 year-old from Constanta won the Qatar tennis tournament this year and played the finals of the Madrid Open and of the French Open in Roland Garros. She also made it to the semifinals in Wimbledon, but failed to advance to the final due to an injury.
As of July 2014, she is ranked a career high No.3 in the world.
Halep first broke into the world’s top 50 at the end of 2012, then into the top 20 in August 2013, and then top 10 in January 2014 (after reaching the Australian Open 1/4-finals). She won her first 6 WTA titles in the same calendar year in 2013, being named the WTA’s Most Improved Player at its end, as well as being named ESPN Center Court’s 2013 Most Improved Player.

Mihai Covaliu

Mihai Covaliu is a sabre fencer, Olympic Champion in 2000 and World Champion in 2005, and coach of the Romanian men’s sabre team. He is also president of the Romanian Fencing Federation.
After Beijing Covaliu retired to become the head coach of the Romanian sabre team. Under his training, Romania won the silver medal in the 2009 European Championships at Plovdiv, then the gold medal at the World Championships in Antalya

Ionut Alexandru Budişteanu

Ionut Alexandru Budişteanu is a Romanian inventor and IT specialist. He is known for his outstanding results in international competitions especially for winning the Gordon E. Moore grand prize in the “Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF 2013)” one of the most important competitions for high school students in the science and engineering world.
Ionut Budisteanu has also received numerous awards at prestigious international competitions: Grand Prix at the International Sustainable World – “Project Olympiad” in Houston, USA, first place from the Association for Computing Machinery in 2010 and 2013 in San Francisco, USA, the prize awarded by the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Phoenix, USA and the first prize at the Environment Sustainability Project Olympiad in Utrecht, Netherlands.
He was nominated by American TIME Magazine as one of the most influential 16 young people in the world.
The prestigious MIT Lincoln Laboratory Institute confirmed that an asteroid will be named after the young Romanian inventor as international recognition of its merits.

Alexandru Tomescu

Romanian violinist Alexandru Tomescu is the winner of numerous national and international awards at classical music festivals. Since its debut in 1985, he has performed in over 200 concerts and recitals in 26 countries (France, the Netherlands, Japan etc). For his skills, he was awarded by the Romanian state the privilege of playing the Stradivarius violin that was previously in the possession of the musician Ion Voicu.
During his career he has won several awards at prestigious international competitions: First Prize in the international competition “George Enescu” in Romania in 1999, First Prize – “Citta di Stresa”, Stresa – Italy 1984, Special Award granted under competition “Yehudi Menuhin” -” M.Long-J.Thibaud” in France in 1999, first prize in the competition “Jeunesses Musicales” in Bucharest in 1995, first prize -” Rovere d’oro”, San Bartolomeo, Italy 1988 first Prize and Grand Prize in the competition “J.Kocian” Czech Republic 1990, UNICEF Medal, Parma, Italy 1991
He was awarded the Knighthood of the Italian Star by the Italian President in 2014.

Anina Maria Ciuciu

Anina Maria Ciuciu proved that through hard work and good will one can overcome any barrier and manage to do performance.
A Roma ethnic raised in Craiova, she emigrated with her family to France, where she graduated in law from the University Jean Moulin Lyon 3 and currently is studies for her masters at the Sorbonne. Anina has released the book “Je suis et je tzigane et je le reste” (Proud to be Roma), in collaboration with French journalist Frédéric Veille, describing all the hardships she went through because of racism.
She is a member of the French association for fighting against discrimination and community empowerment of roma population since 2012 and she was appointed Honorary Advisor to the Prime Minister Victor Ponta in 2014

Horia Tecau

Horia Tecau is one of the most representative Romanian tennis players. He currently ranks 11th in the ATP world rankings players for double and he is a member of the national team of Romania in the Davis Cup.
His highest ranking was number 5 at doubles and he won 18 titles during his career.

Grigore LeseGrigore Lese

Grigore Lese, one of Romania’s best-known traditional singers, was born in Lapus county – Maramures (NW Romania). Mr. Lese has a PhD in music education and teaches music (associate professor) at Bucharest Music University. His repertoire includes old songs which are a true reflection of the authentic folklore of the region of Maramures. In 2004, Grigore Lese was awarded the National Medal of Merit for his “remarkable efforts to increase awareness of Romania’s civilization and history”

Elisabeta Lipa

lipaIn 2004, Mrs. Elisabeta Lipa became the first female rower to compete at six Olympic Games. During her 20-year Olympic career Mrs. Lipa has won eight medals: five gold, two silver and one bronze.In year 2000 the International Canoeing Federation has named Mrs. Lipa “The Rower of the 20th Century”.Winner of 25 National Rowing Championships, Mrs. Lipa is currently the president of Romania’s Rowing Federation and President of Dinamo Sports Club. Other major awards received by Elisabeta Lipa include “Thomas Keller” medal for outstanding career in rowing and as well as Romania’s Olympic Committee Gold Medal.

Ilie Nastase

Is a Romanian former world No. 1 professional tennis player, one of the world’s top players of the 1970s. Năstase was ranked world No. 1 between 1973 (August 23) and 1974 (June 2). IlieHe is one of the five players in history to win more than 100 ATP professional titles (58 singles and 45 in doubles).He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991. Năstase won seven Grand Slam titles: two in singles, three in men’s doubles, and two in mixed doubles. He also won four Masters Grand Prix year-end championship titles and seven Championship Series titles (1970–73), the precursors to the current Masters 1000. In 2005, Tennis magazine ranked him as the 28th-best player of the preceding 40 years. He is the second male player to win a Grand Slam event without dropping a set and the first one to achieve this feat at the French Open (1973).

Ivan Patzaichin
ivanIvan Patzaichin won 12 canoeing titles at the Olympic Games and World Championships, more than any other competitor in the history of the Romanian canoeing events. Patzaichin Olympic record included seven medals, of which four were gold and three silver. He competed at five Olympic Games, from 1968 through 1984, representing Romania. Mr. Patzaichin has been appointed Canoeing Emeritus in 1968 and International Sports Maestro in 1982. Ivan Patzaichin was also presented with the following national awards: Romania’s Olympic Committee Platinum Medal, Order of Faithful Service, Sports Merit Medal and Romania’s former King decoration “Nihil Sine Deo”.

Stefan Popa Popas
popasCaricature artist Stefan Popa Popas has published his first sketch, in a local newspaper, at the young age of seven. A gifted, precocious, artist Mr. Popa has become a regular contributor to comic magazine at age 14. Stefan Popa Popas is the world’s fastest caricature artist! At the International Festival of Caricatures he has drawn a record 2,772 drawings in 10 days (and nights). During his career, Mr. Popa has drawn sketches of more than 200 presidents and prime ministers from all over the world.

Iolanda Balaş Soter

balasConsidered one of the greatest high jumpers ever, Mrs. Iolanda Balaş Soter has dominated the international high jump competitions for more than one decade. From 1957 until 1967 Mrs. Soter was undefeated in more than 150 consecutive official high jump competitions, not including qualifying competitions or exhibitions. Two times Olympic champion (Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964) and two times European champion (Stockholm 1958 and Belgrade 1962), Iolanda Balaş Soter has improved the world record 14 times.

Gabriela Szabo
World renowned track and field athlete, Mrs. Gabriela Szabo is a four-time world champion and winner of the gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in 5000 m.
Mrs. Szabo has also won the silver medals in 1996 Summer Olympics and the bronze medal in 2000 Summer Olympics, in 1500 m. Ten years after her retirement, Gabriela Szabo still holds the European record in 3000 m.
In 1999 Mrs. Gabriela Szabo has been proclaimed The World’s Best Athlete as well as Europe’s Best Athlete.

Gheorghe ZamfirGheorghe Zamfir
Romanian virtuoso performer and composer, nicknamed the king of pan flute. Throughout his career, Gheorghe Zamfir received numerous awards, honors and medals, including: Vatican Medal, the Order of Cultural Merit of France, the title of Officer and Knight of France, Belgium and Luxembourg, the Order of Commander in Columbia, Don Bosco University Diploma Rome, Gold Medal of the Association of the Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters of France Charles Cros Academy Award, gold Award zither in France, Sagittarius gold Award in Italy, Omnia International Award for his entire musical work awarded at the annual gala of the Mihai Eminescu International Academy 2009 Edition. Gheorghe Zamfir composed over 300 works in folk style, chamber, choral, vocal, instrumental and symphonic.

Dumitru Prunariu
Dumitru PrunariuHe is the first Romanian cosmonaut. On 14 May 1981 he became the first and only Romanian who ever flown in space. He participated in the Soyuz 40 mission of the space program “Intercosmos” and spent in space seven days, 20 hours and 42 minutes. In 1984 he was awarded the Gold Medal “Hermann Oberth” of the German Rocket Society “Hermann Oberth – Wernher von Braun”. In 1985 he was one of the founding members of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) which includes now over 270 astronauts and cosmonauts from 30 countries. Since May 2002, Dumitru Prunariu is a honorary member of the American Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences registered in California (USA). On 12 April 2011, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight of Yuri Gagarin, Dumitru Prunariu received along with other cosmonauts, from the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the new Medal of Merit decoration for Space Exploration.


Maia Morgenstern

Maia MorgensternRomanian theater and film actress. In 2012 she received the Order of Arts and Letters in rank of Knight in France. One of the roles which have established her internationally was in the Passion of Christ, directed by Mel Gibson. In 2010, she was appointed Ambassador for the Alliance of Civilizations in Romania. Her notable roles in theatre include Blue Angel’s Lola Lola (Der Blaue Engel) or Kathleen Hogan in Park Your Car in Harvard Yard. She is known to the public mostly for her incredible film creations in movies like Balanta, Cel mai iubit dintre pamanteni, The Passion of the Christ.

Oana Pellea
Oana PelleaTheater and film actress. In 2012, His Majesty King Michael I of Romania awarded Oana Pellea the decoration Cross of the Royal House of Romania. Romanian Academy awarded her Aristizza Romanescu prize for her entire theater and cinema career. Oana won twice the UNITER prize for Best Actress and was granted the Romanian Cultural Foundation Award for her Outstanding International Career. Oana has received numerous international awards for her leading role in Stare de fapt, directed by Stere Gulea, including awards for Best Actress at the Geneva Film Festival, the Prize of Geneva City, at the Political Film Festival of San Marino and at the International Film Festival “Golden Eagle” in Batumi, Georgia. Her career includes over 50 major roles in theatre and over 20 in film.


Dan Puric

Dan PuricActor, essayist, author and theatre director. His shows – Toujours l’amour, Made in Romania, The Costumes, Don Quixote were performed in several countries. Among the awards received include: Grand Prix UNESCO for cultural development – to promote Romanian performing arts abroad, the National Order of Knight of the Star of Romania – for exceptional service culture UNITER granted Romanian Section of the International Association of Theatre Critics for the show Toujours L’amour, Romanian Academy Award Romanescu Aristizza achievements in cinema and theater, UNITER non-verbal theater award. In 2006 he received the Grand Prize at the 8th International Monodrama Festival in Bitola, Macedonia. Three years later, in 2009, His Majesty King Michael of Romania awarded him the Cross Royal House of Romania.

Dinu Sararu
Dinu SararuRomanian theater director, playwright, essayist, journalist, novelist and writer. He is among the most renowned contemporary publishers, playwrights and novelists, member of the Writers’ Union of Romania. His novels on peasants life “Love and Revolution” and “Moment” brought him fame before 1989. Important awards received include: Romanian Academy Award for his novel “Peasants”, the award for cinematic scenario for “Moment”, the prize Mihai Eminescu for “Grass wind”, the prize Liviu Rebreanu.

Constantin Chiriac

ConstantinChiriacRomanian Actor. Constantin Chiriac is the Director of the National Theatre “Radu Stanca” Sibiu, Director of the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, President of the Foundation “Democracy through Culture” in Sibiu, Professor in the Department of Theatre at the University “Lucian Blaga”. On the big screen he was Nila in Morometii – his landmark role, but he also starred in 16 other films and over 40 theatre roles. He won three awards at the Gala Young Actor and was nominated three times for the Award of the National Theatre Festival.

Ovidiu Lipan Ţăndărică
Ovidiu-lipan-tandaricaRomanian musician, composer and drummer, known as the member of two prominent Romanian rock bands, Roşu şi Negru (Red and Black) and Phoenix.
Distinguished by President Ion Iliescu with the Cultural Merit Order in Rank of Knight, Category D – “Performing Arts”, as a “sign of appreciation for the entire activity,for dedication and interpretive talent in the field of performing arts”.

Nicolae Voiculeţ
Nicolae-voiculetPerformer, composer and conductor. Nicolae Voiculeţ has collaborated with eminent artists, having toured with them the entire world as an ambassador of Romanian people’s identity. Together with his band, “Project Romania”, he has travelled the world and performed in the great cultural centers of Vienna, Paris, Prague, Stockholm,Brussels, New York, Washington, Tokyo or Kuwait City. In May 2014 he has released the project “Romania from your heart”.

Octavian Bellu
Romanian coach and head of the Romanian national women’s artistic gymnastics team.

Began working as a coach of the Olympic gymnastics team in 1981, in Deva,and became coordinating coach in 1990.

OctavianBelluUnder his supervision, the Romanian team participated in 6 editions of the Olympic Games, 16 editions of the World Games,13 editions of the European Games, 5 editions of the World Cup, 11 editioms of the Juniors’ European Championships. During the time when he was federal coach of the women’s team, he obtained 279 medals (106 gold, 86 silver, 87 bronze). Octavian Bellu has been declared “most successful coach in the world” by the World Records Academy, for a total of 16 gold Olympic medals and 305 medals at the World Championships, European Championships and Olympic Games. Bellu has lead
the national team towards winning 5 world titles and two Olympic titles, as well as many individual titles.

Nadia Comăneci
Nadia ComaneciThe firs gymnast in the world to have ever received a perfect ten in a gymnastics competition. She has won 5 gold Olympic medals. She is considered to be one of the best sportswomen of the 20th century and one of the best sportswomen in the history of the world. “The Goddess of Montreal” is the first gymnast of modern times to have received a perfect ten. She is also the first Romanian athlete to have been included in the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Mariana Bitang
Mariana BitangRenowned gymnastics coach in Romania. From 1992 to 2005 she has coached the Women’s Olympic Team, together with coordinating coach Octavian Bellu, thus training the young athletes for 3 editions of the Olympic Games, 10 editions of the World Games, 7 editions of the European Championships, 4 editions of the World Cup and 7 editions of the Juniors’ European Championships. Throughout her career she has obtained 152 medals (62 gold, 49 silver and 41 bronze). As a sign of appreciation towards her work, she has been awarded several titles and distinctions: Coach emeritus, Honorary diploma and title Entraineur Honoraire offered by the World Gymnastics Federation, The National Order “Faithful Service” in rank of Officer, the Order “Sportive Merit”, the National Order of the Star of Romania in rank of Commander, the Golden Collar of the Romanian Olympic Committee.

Helmut Duckadam
Helmut DuckadamGoalkeeper, known as “The Hero of Seville” after having defended all 4 penalty kicks executed by Alesanco, Pedrazza, Alonso and Marcos in the final of Europe’s Champions League against FC Barcelona. He has had an enormous contribution to Steaua winning the trophy. His defense on “Sanchez Pizjuan” stadium in Seville has been recorded in the famous Guinness Book of Records.

Religions

Main religions in Romania

Eastern Orthodox 78%
Greek Catholic 10%
Roman Catholic 5%
Protestant 5%
Unitarian, Jewish, other

Language

Romanian (limba română) is the official language of Romania. The name Romania, and its derivatives, come from the Latin word ‘Romanus’, a legacy of Roman rulers who took control of ancient Dacia in 106 A.D. Romanian retains a number of features of old Latin and also contains many words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages, as well as from French, Old  Church Slavonic, German, Greek and Turkish.

Romanian is actually easier for English speakers to understand than it is assumed. If you’ve studied other Romance language, such as Italian, Spanish, French or Portuguese, you may feel at home sooner than you think.  Romanian is a phonetic language, so words are pronounced as they are spelled.

A foreigner trying to learn or speak Romanian can expect positive reactions from native speakers. Most Romanian will certainly appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to speak their language.

Other languages used in Romania

English has quickly overtaken French as the country’s second language, especially with the young people. Communicating in English in large towns in cities should not be a problem.

French and German can also be useful. In the past, Romania had a sizable German minority population; nowadays the number of native German speakers is declining. However, the German language is still widely used in the Transylvania region.

Hungarian is used in Eastern Transylvania and in some cities like Miercurea-Ciuc, Târgu-Mureş, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Satu-Mare and in the Covasna and Harghita counties.

Other Romance languages (especially Spanish and Italian) are also studied by most people in schools and are therefore spoken with a pretty good level of fluency.

Literacy rate in Romania is 98%.

Most Romanians living in towns and cities are able to communicate in English, French or German. In smaller villages only younger people and children usually speak foreign languages.

  • Around 80% of Romanians speak at least one foreign language
  • 25% of Romanians speak at least 2 foreign languages
  • 4% of Romanians speak more than 3 foreign languages
  • Romania has over 100 universities, and the country annually produces some 30,000 engineering graduates; 8,000 earn their degrees in IT sciences
Public Holidays

January 1 and 2: New Year

March, April or May: Orthodox Easter Monday (date varies – see below)

May 1: Labor Day

May / June: Whit Monday (Rusaliile) – celebrated 50 days
after the Orthodox Easter

August 15: The Assumption (Sfanta Maria)

November 30: Saint Andrew Day

December 1: Romania’s National Day

December 25-26: Christmas

Dates of the Orthodox Easter (public holiday):
2013 – May 5 and 6
2014 – April 20 and 21
2015 – April 12 and 13
2016 – May 1 and 2
2017 – April 16 and 17
2018 – April 8 and 9
2019 – April 28 and 29
2020 – April 19 and 20

Dates of Rusaliile (public holiday):
2013 – June 23 and 24
2014 – June 8 and 9
2015 – May 31 and June 1
2016 – June 19 and 20
2017 – June 4 and 5
2018 – May 27 and 28
2019 – June 16 an 17
2020 – June 7 and 8

Several religious holidays including feasts of St. John (January 7),
St. George (April 23), Sts. Peter & Paul (June 29), St. Mary (August 15), St. Michael (November 8) and St. Nicholas (December 6) are observed throughout the year in rural areas.

It is customary for Romanians all over the country to celebrate their Saint’s Name Day (Ziua Onomastica).

Ethnic minorities celebrate their own holidays.