General Information

Map of Romania


Romania is situated in south central Europe (46 00 North, 25 00 East) from a geographical standpoint, 2900 kilometres south, east and west of the northern tip of Scandinavia, the westernmost point in continental Europe and the Ural mountains respectively as well as 900 kilometres north of the Mediteranean sea. Politically, many people include Romania in the Eastern European bracket of countries or in the Balkans.



Romania's currency is the "leu" (plural "lei") (it means "lion" in Romanian). It is the descendant of a Dutch currency that was used in this area in the 17th century.

1 leu = 100 bani (plural; singular: "ban").

Given the trend of falling inflation, the national bank of Romania(BNR) decided to revalue the leu as of July 1st 2005. A new leu (RON = acronym for ROmanian New) equals 10000 old lei (ROL).

The old lei can still be used until the end of 2006. The differences in design between the old and new lei are very small. The banknotes have the same colour (e.g.: the 10000 old lei bill is just as green as the new 1 leu bill) but the new bills are smaller than the old bills. Only the coins show significant differences but you should be fine as long as you keep the conversion rate between old and new lei's in mind (10000 old = 1 new).


Romanian hospitals aren't much to brag about. Plenty of them are nothing short of disastruous. Despite this fact, the quality of staff is good and the risk of being infected with hepatitis or AIDS in blood transfusions is extremely low. As for the good ones, albeit a few, they're on par with any other quality hospital in Europe. Privately held clinics or hospitals usually have much better services than the publicly owned ones. Food served in public hospitals won't kill you, but it is so tasteless that it won't delight you either.

Romanians usually give "tips" (or, to be blunt, bribes) to doctors for most of the medical services they receive, be they small or large services, even though the doctors or nurses don't request them, for fear that a lack of incentives (many doctors are paid badly) might deter them to do their best job, although this usually isn't the case. Stopping the bribes in the medical system is sort of a catch 22 situation for Romanians. Since you're not a native though, you shouldn't have such problems and you should not give any "tips" as they won't make any difference for you.


The level of crime in Romania is very low, even compared to other European countries. The main problem though is with petty thefts, pickpocketing and other such things. You'd be much better off if you could keep an eye on your pockets in crowded places such as squares, train stations, buses or trams. It is recommended that, in case you don't have any better options, you keep your more important belongings in the front pockets of a pair of pants rather than in the back.

Corruption is quite a big problem in Romania relative to other European countries, but on a worldwide scale of comparison it's not that bad. The customs are particularly corrupt and since they're one of the first things you'll encounter your first impression of the country may not be the best one.


Romania is quite cheap by western standards. With the same amount of money you can purchase more than you could in the western world. There are exceptions to this rule though. Imported products subject to high customs taxes or excises such as digital cameras, computers, perfume etc. are much more expensive compared to Western Europe.

Just check the price of a digital camera on Amazon.com and then go to Emag.ro (a Romanian shopping site) and check the price for that same camera and you'll convince yourself. Let's take the Canon A620 digital camera as an example. As of the end of July 2006:


Citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and the United States of America can stay in Romania for up to 90 days without a visa. Turkish citizens can stay for up to 60 days without a visa while citizens of ex-Communist Eastern European countries can stay for up to 30 days without a visa.

Changes in visa requirements will be subject to change once Romania joins the European Union. Most likely they'll be aligned with the entry requirements of the rest of EU's member states.

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