Capital | Bucharest
Population | 21,904,551 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 237,500 SQ KM
Official Language | Romanian
Holidays | Unification Day (of Romania and Transylvania), 1 December (1918)
Currency | Leu (RON)
Time Zone | UTC +2
Best Time to Visit | May and June, followed by September and early October.
Connecting with the Culture | Descending underground to a cave or salt mine in Transylvania, Crisana or Banat. Sharpening your fangs and practicing saying ‘I vant to suck your blurd’ at Dracula’s castle in Bran. Experiencing ‘cart-rage’ when trying to overtake a horse-drawn cart on a winding mountain road. Slapping on some smelly, curative mud on the Black Sea coast. Braving a vigorous drinking session of 60-proof moonshine plink (brandy) with exuberant locals. Marvelling at the striking baroque architecture at Brasov and castle-spotting at Râsnov.
Read | Norman Manea’s The Hooligan’s Return: A Memoir, relating the return of this accomplished author to his homeland in the late 1990s.
Listen | to Pasrea Colibri, a very popular contemporary band with great folk-inspired soft rock and pop tunes.
Watch | Cold Mountain, directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, which was filmed at the Carpathian Mountains.
Eat | ciorb de burt, a lightly garlicky soup made of tripe.
Drink | wine, wine and more wine—among the best are Cotnari, Murfatlar, Odobeti, Târnave and Valea Clugreasc.
In a Word | Bun (hello)
Characteristics | A film-set for cheap horror flicks; mountain festivals; Dracula and all things Transylvanian; Queen Marie of Romania; imposing castles; medieval villages; wine producers; rolling green countryside; a country that’s ripe for discovery.
Surprises | Romania is usually in the top five countries in the world for having the highest marriage rates.