What You Need To Know
Bucharest is the capital and largest city ofRomania, as well as its cultural, industrial, and financial centre. It is located in the southeast of the country, at Coordinates: , on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, less than 60 km (37.3 mi) north of the Danube River and the Bulgarian border. Bucharest was first mentioned in documents in 1459. It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and is the centre of Romanian media, culture, and art. Its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist-era and modern. In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of “Little Paris” (Micul Paris). Although buildings and districts in the historic city centre were heavily damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes, and above all Nicolae Ceaușescu’s program of systematization, many survived. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom. According to the 2011 census, 1,883,425 inhabitants live within the city limits, a decrease from the 2002 census. The urban area extends beyond the limits of Bucharest proper and has a population of about 1.9 million people. Adding the satellite towns around the urban area, the proposed metropolitan area of Bucharest would have a population of 2.27 million people. According to Eurostat, Bucharest has a larger urban zone of 2,183,091 residents. According to unofficial data, the population is more than 3 million. Bucharest is the sixth-largest city in the European Union by population within city limits, after London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris. Economically, Bucharest is the most prosperous city in Romania and is one of the main industrial centres and transportation hubs of Eastern Europe. The city has big convention facilities, educational institutes, cultural venues, traditional “shopping arcades”, and recreational areas. The city proper is administratively known as the “Municipality of Bucharest”, and has the same administrative level as that of a national county, being further subdivided into six sectors, each governed by a local mayor.
Area: 228 km²
Population: About 1.982 million
Currency: Romanian leu
- Getting familiar with the national currency of Romania before actually traveling to Bucharest is advisable, in order not to become a victim of possible deceits. The national currency of Romania is the leu (plural, lei), with subunits called ban (plural, bani) (1 leu consisting of 100 bani).
Bucharest’s crime rate is rather low in comparison to other European capital cities, with the number of total offenses declining by 51% between 2000 and 2004, and by 7% between 2012 and 2013. The violent crime rate in Bucharest remains very low, with 11 murders and 983 other violent offenses taking place in 2007. Although violent crimes fell by 13% in 2013 compared to 2012, 19 murders (18 of which the suspects were arrested) were recorded. Although in the 2000s, a number of police crackdowns on organized crime gangs occurred, such as the Cămătaru clan, organized crime generally has little impact on public life. Petty crime, however, is more common, particularly in the form of pickpocketing, which occurs mainly on the city’s public transport network. Confidence tricks were common in the 1990s, especially in regards to tourists, but the frequency of these incidents has since declined. However, in general, theft was reduced by 13.6% in 2013 compared to 2012. Levels of crime are higher in the southern districts of the city, particularly in Ferentari, a socially disadvantaged area. Although the presence of street children was a problem in Bucharest in the 1990s, their numbers have declined in recent years, now lying at or below the average of major European capital cities. A documentary called Children Underground depicted the life of Romanian street kids in 2001. An estimated 1,000 street children still inhabit the city, some of whom engage in petty crime and begging.
Bucharest is the center of the Romanian economy and industry, accounting for around 23% (2013) of the country’s GDP and about one-quarter of its industrial production, while being inhabited by 9% of the country’s population. Almost one-third of national taxes is paid by Bucharest’s citizens and companies. In 2013, Bucharest had a nominal GDP per-capital €20,564 ($27.300), or 122% that of the European Union average and more than twice the Romanian average. After relative stagnation in the 1990s, the city’s strong economic growth has revitalized infrastructure and led to the development of shopping malls, residential estates, and high-rise office buildings. In January 2013, Bucharest had an unemployment rate of 2.1%, significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.8%. Bucharest’s economy is centered on industry and services, with services particularly growing in importance in the last 10 years. The headquarters of 186,000 firms, including nearly all large Romanian companies, are located in Bucharest. An important source of growth since 2000 has been the city’s rapidly expanding property and construction sector. Bucharest is also Romania’s largest centre for information technology and communications and is home to several software companies operating offshore delivery centres. Romania’s largest stock exchange, the Bucharest Stock Exchange, which was merged in December 2005 with the Bucharest-based electronic stock exchange Rasdaq, plays a major role in the city’s economy. International supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Cora, and METRO are operating in Bucharest. The city is undergoing a retail boom, with supermarkets and hypermarkets opened every year (see supermarkets in Romania). Bucharest hosts luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Armani, Hugo Boss, Prada, Calvin Klein, Rolex, Burberry, and many others. Malls and large shopping centres have been built since the late 1990s, such as AFI Palace Cotroceni, Sun Plaza, Băneasa Shopping City, Plaza Romania, Unirea Shopping Center, and Liberty Center. Traditional retail arcades and markets include the one at Obor.
The official language is Romanian. Although in Romania there are several spoken languages. Beside Romanian, the only official language nationwide, other spoken languages include Hungarian, English, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, Slovak, Romani, Ukrainian, and German.
Healthcare and Safety
Healthcare. One of the most modern hospitals in the capital is Colțea that has been re-equipped after a 90-million-euro investment in 2011. It specializes in oncological and cardiac disorders. Also, the oldest hospital in Bucharest, Coltea Hospital, was built by Mihai Cantacuzino between 1701 and 1703, composed of many buildings, each with 12 to 30 beds, a church, three chapels, a school, and doctors’ and teachers’ houses. Another conventional hospital is Pantelimon, which was established in 1733 by Grigore II Ghica. The surface area of the hospital land property was 400,000 m2 (4,305,564 sq ft). The hospital had in its inventory a house for infectious diseases and a house for persons with disabilities. Other hospitals or clinics are Bucharest Emergency Hospital, Floreasca Emergency Clinic Hospital, Bucharest University Emergency Hospital, and Fundeni Clinical Institute or Biomedica International and Euroclinic, which are private.
- Bucharest’s judicial system is similar to that of the Romanian counties. Each of the six sectors has its own local first-instance court (judecătorie), while more serious cases are directed to the Bucharest Tribunal (Tribunalul Bucureşti), the city’s municipal court. The Bucharest Court of Appeal (Curtea de Apel Bucureşti) judges appeals against decisions taken by first-instance courts and tribunals in Bucharest and in five surrounding counties (Teleorman, Ialomița, Giurgiu, Călărași, and Ilfov). Bucharest is also home to Romania’s supreme court, the High Court of Cassation and Justice, as well as to the Constitutional Court of Romania. Bucharest has a municipal police force, the Bucharest Police (Poliția București), which is responsible for policing crime within the whole city, and operates a number of divisions. The Bucharest Police are headquartered on Ștefan cel Mare Blvd. in the city centre, and at precincts throughout the city. From 2004 onwards, each sector city hall also has under its administration a community police force (Poliția Comunitară), dealing with local community issues. Bucharest also houses the general inspectorates of the Gendarmerieand the national police.
Bucharest is the hub of Romania’s national railway network, run by Căile Ferate Române. The main railway station is Gara de Nord (“North Station”), which provides connections to all major cities in Romania, as well as international destinations: Belgrade, Sofia, Varna, Chișinău, Kiev, Chernivtsi, Lviv, Thessaloniki, Vienna,Budapest, Istanbul, Moscow, etc. The city has five other railway stations run by CFR, of which the most important are Basarab (adjacent to North Station), Obor, Băneasa, and Progresul. These are in the process of being integrated into a commuter railway serving Bucharest and the surrounding Ilfov County. Seven main lines radiate out of Bucharest. The oldest station in Bucharest is Filaret. It was inaugurated in 1869, and in 1960, the communist government turned it in a bus terminal.
- Henri Coandă International Airport (IATA: OTP, ICAO: LROP), located 16.5 km (10.3 mi) north of the Bucharest city center, in the town of Otopeni, Ilfov. It is the busiest airport in Romania, in terms of passenger traffic: 8,317,168 in 2014.
- Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (IATA: BBU, ICAO: LRBS) is Bucharest’s business and VIP airport. It is situated only 8 km (5.0 mi) north of the Bucharest city center.
Although it is situated on the banks of a river, Bucharest has never functioned as a port city, with other Romanian cities such as Constanța and Galați acting as the country’s main ports. The unfinished Danube-Bucharest Canal, which is 73 km (45 mi) long and around 70% completed, could link Bucharest to the Danube River, and via the Danube-Black Sea Canal, to the Black Sea. Works on the canal were suspended in 1989, but proposals have been made to resume construction as part of the European Strategy for the Danube Region.
Using the milder isotherm of 0 °C (32 °F) for the coldest month, Bucharest has a humid continental climate Dfa. Using the −3 °C (27 °F) isotherm, instead, the climate is crossover between continental and the extreme varieties of warm oceanic and cool subtropical. Owing to its position on the Romanian Plain, the city’s winters can get windy, though some of the winds are mitigated due to urbanisation. Winter temperatures often dip below 0 °C (32 °F), sometimes even to −20 °C (−4 °F). In summer, the average temperature is 23 °C (73 °F) (the average for July and August). Temperatures frequently reach 35 to 40 °C (95 to 104 °F) in midsummer in the city centre. Although average precipitation and humidity during summer are low, occasional heavy storms occur. During spring and autumn, daytime temperatures vary between 17 and 22 °C (63 and 72 °F), and precipitation during spring tends to be higher than in summer, with more frequent yet milder periods of rain.