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Biserica "Sf. Neculai"

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Romania has the majestic castles, medieval towns, great hiking and wildlife, and cheap skiing of much of the 'undiscovered' former Eastern Bloc. You'll be floored at how different it is, but you'll almost certainly see signs that it's chasing the dreams of the rest of the West.

Horse-drawn carts jostle for space against fast cars whose drivers are talking money on mobile phones; farm workers watch Baywatch on satellite in their medieval farmhouses. Romania is clawing itself forward, slowly and surely sloughing off the remnants of the Ceausescu era.

The transition is not easy, and for some it's downright painful. In the middle of the picturesque scenery and the headlong rush to development where the money is fast and the suits Armani, parts of the country are being left out.

Full country name: Romania
Area: 237,500 sq km
Population: 22.27 million
Capital City: Bucharest
People: Romanians (90%), Hungarians (7%), Roma (2%), Germans, Ukrainians
Language: Romanian, Hungarian
Religion: Eastern (Romanian) Orthodox (87%), Protestant (6.8%), Roman Catholic (5.6%), other
Government: republic
Head of State: President Ion Iliescu
Head of Government: Prime Minister Adrian Nastase

GDP: US$169.3 billion
GDP per capita: US$7,600
Annual Growth: -8%
Inflation: 40%
Major Industries: Agriculture, manufacturing
Major Trading Partners: EU (esp.Germany, Italy, France), USA, Turkey
Member of EU: No