Bucharest: Historical Perspectives of the Romanian Capital

To mark the occasion of the fifteenth International Congress of Historical Sciences, being held in Bucharest from 9th-15th of this month, we present a portrait of the Romanian capital.

Bucharest – Bucuresti in Romanian – is one of the great cities of the Balkans with a population in 1978 of 1.99 million, including the suburban communes. Only Athens (2.08 million) and Istanbul (3.86 million) are larger. If Communist eastern Europe is the context, then Bucharest remains in third position behind Warsaw and Budapest, both with 2.08 million. The city continues to grow rapidly with a threefold expansion since 1930 when a census figure of 640,000 was returned. Any visitor will be impressed by its very modern centre, substantially rebuilt since the disastrous earthquake of 1977, and by the pace of new development on the housing estates and industrial complexes around its periphery. The key to this expansion lies in the growth of manufacturing and services in a country whose economy has been dominated by agriculture, but it should also be remembered that Romania is a highly centralised state and that over the last 100 years or so Bucharest has been recognised as the capital of a country that has substantially increased in area.

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