10 things you didn’t know about Romania

World records, inventions and bears

10 things you didn’t know about Romania

Romania is often dismissed as simply a mysterious place where fairy-tales are upheld as truths and the mountains are inhabited by vampires and wolves. However, the country has achieved and given the world much more than you think. Here are some facts about Romania that might just surprise you.

1. Despite many people still thinking Russian is spoken in Romania, the Romanian language is in fact one of the five major romance languages, along with French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Furthermore it 1,700 years old.

2. They have a black magic tax. That’s right, Romania is a country so superstitious that the government decided they would cash in on it. The country’s numerous witches and fortune tellers are recognised as legitimate business people and therefore subject to taxes. False predictions by fortune tellers can result in fines and witches must carry a permit with them at all times.

3. The country gave the world Nadia Comăneci. The first Olympic gymnast ever to achieve a perfect score. In 1976, the 14 year old Romanian made history at the Montreal games by scoring a maximum of 10 on the uneven bars. This had previously been thought impossible, so much so that the score board could not show the actual score.

4. In 1856, Bucharest became the first city in the world to be illuminated by oil lamps. In 1889, Timişoara then became the first city in Europe to be lit by electric streetlamps.

5. Romania has the largest gold reserves in all of Europe. The country is also home to Europe’s only museum dedicated to gold.

6. The first fountain pen was invented by a Romanian. Whilst studying in Paris, Petrache Poenaru realised that a pen which would last indefinitely and refill itself with ink would save a considerable amount of time and would not interrupt his work. He received a patent from the Manufacture Department of the French Ministry of the Interior in 1827.

7. Johnny Weissmuller portrayed Tarzan in 12 Hollywood films between 1932 and 1948. The former Olympic swimmer was born in a suburb of what is now the Romanian city of Timişoara.

8. Bucharest is home to the world’s largest administrative building. The Palace of Parliament in the Romanian capital was completed in 1997 at a cost equivalent to €3 billion. It is recognised by the World Record Academy as the largest civilian building with an administrative function as well as being the most expensive and the heaviest. It is the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in the United States.

9. Romanian physiologist Nicolae Paulescu, is remembered for his work in the discovery of insulin. Born in Bucharest he trained as a doctor in Paris. In 1916, he successfully developed an aqueous pancreatic extract, which, when injected into a diabetic dog, normalised its blood sugar levels. In 1922, he patented his method of producing pancreine, which would later be called insulin, with the Romanian Ministry of Industry and Trade.

10. The forests in Romania are the last place in Europe that the brown bear can be found. The are approximately 6,000 bears living in the country’s Carpathian region.

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