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People, Language & Religion
 
 
 

People

Romanians make up 89.5% of the population. The largest ethnic minorities are the Szekelys and Hungarians, who make up 6.6% of the population and Romanies (Gypsies), who make up 2.46% of the population. Hungarians constitute a majority in the counties of Harghita and Covasna. Ukrainians, Germans, Lipovans, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Russians, Jews, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Armenians, as well as other ethnic groups, account for the remaining 1.4% of the population. Of the 745,421 Germans in Romania in 1930, only about 60,000 remained. In 1924, there were 796,056 Jews in the Kingdom of Romania. The number of Romanians and individuals with ancestors born in Romania living abroad is estimated at around 12 million.

Language

The official language of Romania is Romanian, an Eastern Romance language related to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. Romanian is spoken as a first language by 91% of the population, with Hungarian and Romani, being the most important minority languages, spoken by 6.7% and 1.1% of the population, respectively. Until the 1990s, there was also a substantial number of German-speaking Transylvanian Saxons, even though many have since emigrated to Germany, leaving only 45,000 native German speakers in Romania. In localities where a given ethnic minority makes up more than 20% of the population, that minority's language can be used in the public administration and justice system, while native-language education and signage is also provided.

English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools. English is spoken by 5 million Romanians, French is spoken by 4-5 million, and German, Italian and Spanish are each spoken by 1-2 million people. Historically, French was the predominant foreign language spoken in Romania, even though English has since superseded it. Consequently, Romanian English-speakers tend to be younger than Romanian French-speakers. Romania is, however, a full member of La Francophonie, and hosted the Francophonie Summit in 2006. German has been taught predominantly in Transylvania, due to traditions tracing back to the Austro-Hungarian rule in this province.

Religion

Romania is a secular state, thus having no national religion. The dominant religious body is the Romanian Orthodox Church, an autocephalous church within the Eastern Orthodox communion; its members make up 86.7% of the population according to the 2002 census. Other important Christian denominations include Roman Catholicism (4.7%), Protestantism (3.7%), Pentecostalism (1.5%) and the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church (0.9%). Romania also has a Muslim minority concentrated in Dobrogea, mostly of Turkish ethnicity and numbering 67,500 people. Based on the 2002 census data, there are also 6,179 Jews, 23,105 people who are of no religion and/or atheist, and 11,734 who refused to answer. On December 27, 2006, a new Law on Religion was approved under which religious denominations can only receive official registration if they have at least 20,000 members, or about 0.1% of Romania's total population.

 
 


 



 


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