Studies of Urbanization and Migration in Advanced and Developing Countries
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 12: The maturing of the Romanian urban system
I. Ianoy INTRODUCTION Historical events in the twentieth century largely determined the current state of the urban system of Romania. There are 266 urban settlements in the country; at the top of the list is Bucharest, a city that is a thousand times larger than Baile Tusnad, which lies at the bottom of the list. Given the arbitrary criteria that are still in use, distinguishing rural settlements fi-om towns remains a challenge. No wonder that, in the absence of size criteria, towns with over 10 000 inhabitants stand side by side with villages that have a population of under 2000. In the past, designating settlements as towns was the exclusive task of the central government. The process continues to be cumbersome because it depends on the competence of decision-makers, and more recently on lobbyists. Two political events disrupted the evolution of individual towns over the past century, the totalitarian regime that came into effect after the Second World War and the transition towards democracy and the free market system after 1989. The impact of these events on the urban system can clearly be detected in the differentiated manner in which different size towns evolved over time. An interesting phenomenon in recent years is the way in which rural areas have gained population at the cost of urban areas. The question could be asked whether this is the result of counter-urbanization or whether it is a temporary phenomenon linked to the political transition. 295 296 International Handbook o Urban Systems f...
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