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Romania is a country situated at the intersection of Central and Southeastern Europe on the lower Danube River, with a total geographic area of just over 92,000 square miles.  Located within and outside the Carpathian Arch and bordering the Black Sea, Romania shares land borders with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and Moldova to the northeast and east and Bulgaria to the south.  Romania is the ninth-largest country in the European Union by area and a member of NATO, the United Nations and Latin Union, among other organizations.  The country is now a unitary semi-presidential republic and its capital and largest city is Bucharest.

As of the last census in 2011, Romania had an estimated population of 19 million, making it the seventh-largest country in the European Union by population.  A fairly homogenous country, Romania’s population consists primarily of ethnic Romanians, who account for approximately 89 percent of the population.  They are followed by Hungarians, who represent 7 percent of the overall total, and Gypsies, who account for just over 3 percent.

Romania has only one official language:  Romanian, a romance language closely related to Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.  It is used for all official purposes in the country, including government, commerce, education and media.  It is also the most widely spoken language in the country, the first language for over 90 percent of the population. Hungarian, spoken by nearly 7 percent of the population, is the largest linguistic minority.  Although there is no state religion in Romania, the overwhelming majority of the population (88%) practices Orthodox Christianity, with most of the remainder adhering to Roman Catholicism or one of the many Protestant-based faiths.

Education in Romania

Education in Romania is overseen and regulated by the national Ministry of Education and Research and schooling is free at all levels and compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 16.  The educational system is divided between four main levels:  kindergarten, elementary education, secondary education and tertiary or higher education.
Kindergarten in Romania can begin for children as early as age 4, but is optional until the age of 6, at which time all children must enroll in the “preparatory school year,” which helps prepare them socially and skills wise for entrance into elementary education.

Elementary education begins at age seven and spans eight years (grades 1-8).  This level is further subdivided into two four-year phases:  primary school and gymnasium, the first serving students in grades 1-4 and the latter in grades 5-8.  The curriculum at each of these levels is very broad, beginning initially with instruction in reading, writing and basic arithmetic.  These subjects are later supplemented by courses in mathematics, religion, geography, history, English and one other foreign language, science, civics and technology or IT.

At the end of 8th grade, typically at age 14 or 15, a nationwide exam called the Testarea Naţională is administered to all students.  Subjects areas tested are Romanian Language and Literature, Mathematics and either Geography or History, depending on the candidate's choice.  A passing mark of 5 is required for each subject area on the exam.  If a student passes he or she is permitted to enroll in one of the many Romanian high schools, but if a passing score is not achieved, that student would instead have to attend a two-year School of Crafts and Trades.
Those who successfully complete the 4-year general high school program are awarded a Baccalaureate and are permitted to enroll in one of the numerous Romanian universities, where students can earn undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees in a number of academic and professional fields.

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