Country Listing

Romania Table of Contents




Rechanneled and deepened Dīmbovita River, one of many 1980s projects transforming the landscape of central Bucharest
Courtesy Scott Edelman


Figure 4. Ethnic Hungarian Minority in Romania in the 1980s


Countryside in Saxon German region of Transylvania
Courtesy Scott Edelman

Romania derives much of its ethnic diversity from its geographic position astride major continental migration routes. According to 1987 data, 89.1 percent of the population is Romanian, and more than twenty separate ethnic minorities account for the remaining 12 percent. Although many of these minorities are small groups, the Hungarian minority of about 1.7 million--estimated by some Western experts at 2-2.5 million--represents 7.8 percent of the total population and is the largest national minority in Europe. The next largest component of the population is the ethnic Germans, who constitute up to 1.5 percent of the total population. There are also significant numbers of Ukrainians, Serbs, and Croats, as well as a Jewish minority estimated by Western observers at between 20,000 and 25,000. Although not officially recognized as a distinct ethnic minority, there is a sizable Gypsy population. The 1977 census documented only 230,000, but some Western estimates put the Gypsy element at between 1 million and 2 million, suggesting that Gypsies might be actually the second largest minority after the Hungarians.

Data as of July 1989