Coat of arms of Romania

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Romania's administration is relatively centralised and administrative subdivisions are therefore fairly simplified.

According to the Constitution of Romania, its territory is organized administratively into communes, towns and counties:[1]

  • At the county level: 41 counties, and one city with special status (Bucharest, the national capital)
  • At the town/commune level: 103 cities and 211 other towns (for urban areas), and 2827 communes (for rural areas).[2] City (municipiu) status is accorded to larger towns, but it does not give their administrations any greater powers.

Below communal or town level, there are no further formal administrative subdivisions. However, communes are divided into villages (which have no administration of their own). There are 13,092 villages in Romania. The only exception is Bucharest, which has six sectors, each with an administration of its own.


The earliest organization into judeţe of the Principalities of Wallachia,[3] respectively ţinuturi of Moldavia, dates back at least to the early 15th century. Each judeţ, respectively ţinut, was ruled by a jude, respectivelypârcălab, an officially appointed person who had administrative and judicial functions in a manner inspired from the organization of the late Byzantine Empire.Transylvania, when it was part of the historic Kingdom of Hungary (in the Middle Ages), an independent Principality or aHabsburg domain (in the modern era until World War I) was divided into royal counties (Latin:comitatus), headed by comes (royal counts) with administrative and judicial functions. The term judeţ became used in Romanian universally for all principalities since mid 19th century.

After modern Romania was formed in 1859 through the union of Wallachia and rump Moldavia, and then extended in 1918 through the union of Transylvania, as well as Bukovina and Bessarabia (parts of Moldavia temporarily acquired by the Habsburgs, 1775–1918, respectively the Russian Tsars, 1812–1917), the administrative division was modernized using the French departments system as an example. With the exception of the half of the Communist period, this system remained in place. Since 1864, for each judeţ there exists a prefect(from the Latin praefectus), a subordinate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who is the representative of the government in the county, and the head of the local administration in the areas not delegated to local authorities.[4] Until 1948, each judeţ was further divided into a number of plăşi(singular plasă), with each administered by a pretor (from the Latin praetor), appointed by the prefect.[5]

In 1913, as a result of the Second Balkan War, Romania acquired Southern Dobruja from Bulgaria, integrating this historical region within Romania's borders until 1940. In 1923 Romania adopted a new Constitution, and in 1927 it uniformized the traditional administrative systems of Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia with that of the Romanian Old Kingdom. County borders were kept largely intact, with only a couple minor adjustments, as a total of 71 judeţe existed between 1927 and 1938.

In 1938, King Carol II modified the Constitution, and after that the law of administration of the Romanian territory. Ten "ţinuturi" (approx. translation: "lands") were created, ruled by "Rezidenţi Regali" (approx. translation "Royal Residents"), appointed directly by the Monarch. The ţinuturi represented another layer of administration between counties and the country; county borders were not erased.[4][6] But, due to World War II, the Second Vienna Award, the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the loss of territory that Romania suffered, this style of administration did not last, the administration at the "judeţ" level being reintroduced back until the establishment of communism in 1945-1947.

During World War II, the territory of Romania suffered very significant modifications. In 1940, Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and Herza region which after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, would become part of Republic of Moldova and of Ukraine. Between 1941-1944, these territories together with Transnistria, were administered by Romania briefly, as the country was governed by a military dictatorship allied with Nazi Germany. Transnistria consisted of formerly proper Soviet territory between Dniester and Southern Bug rivers. Nowadays, most of it is in Ukraine, with small parts in the Republic of Moldova (current Transnistria). This territory was kept under Romanian military occupation, and was not annexed to Romania consisted of a further 13 counties.

Current counties imposed over the inter-war counties

After the war, the Communist Party took over the administration of the country. In 1950, the party changed the administration model to the Russian model (regions and raions), but it reverted to the current system in 1968, although county borders were quite different from the interbelic period.[7] In 1981 the former counties of Ilfov and Ialomiţa were re-organised into the present-day counties of Giurgiu, Călăraşi, Ialomiţa and Ilfov. The county borders introduced in 1968 are largely in place, but administrative reform during 1990s has devolved the functions of different authorities in line with transition from a totalitarian communist system to a modern democracy. The only territorial adjustment after 1989 occurred in 1995, when Ilfov County was formed. Before that it was a dependency of the Municipality of Bucharest (Sectorul Agricol Ilfov).

Current status[]

Eight regional divisions (called development regions) were created in 1998 in order to better co-ordinate regional development as Romania progressed towards accession to the European Union, and consist of several counties each. These correspond to NUTS II-level divisions in European Union member states, but do not actually have an administrative status and do not have a legislative or executive council or government. As of 2009, Romania is divided into 41 counties and one municipality which are assigned as NUTS III-level divisions. Currently, Romania has no NUTS-4 units, the counties being composed directly of cities (some of which with municipality status) and communes.

As in all modern democracies, the political power in Romania is divided into three independent branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The prefect and his administration have only executive prerogatives. However, the territorial districts of the Romanian judicial system overlap with county borders, thus avoiding further complication.[4] At the same time with local elections (of mayors and councilors for the cities and communes), a Consiliu judeţean (County Council) is elected for each county. Since 2008 a President of the County Council is also elected by direct vote. As of now, the legislative powers of county councils are quite reduced, but there are plans for more decentralization. (These plans, however, call for introduction of Regional Councils for the 8 development regions of the NUTS-2 level.)

Future developments[]

File:Propunere de reorganizare administrativa a Romaniei.png

One of the proposals for the administrative reorganization of Romania made by the presidential commission & contact group

As of 2010 there have been several proposals for the administrative reorganization of Romania made by the presidential commission tasked with the analysis of the political and constitutional regime.[8] Most of these recommendations aim for the partial reestablishment of the counties in their pre-1950 form. The counties will be grouped into several regions (9 to 15) based on common historical and economic characteristics (NUTS II level). The regions will be in their turn clustered into 4-6 macroregions (NUTS I level). Furthermore, a NUTS IV level division, called plasa or canton will probably be added in order to meet the EU statistical and administrative requirements.[9]

Another proposal, based on 15 autonomous euro-regions (amongst them one ethnic based region with a consistent Hungarian majority made of the existing Mureş, Harghita and Covasna counties) grouped into 5 statistical macroregions (NUTS I), was made by the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR).[10]

Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS)[]

For statistical and development purposes, Romania, in the NUTS scheme, is divided into:

  • NUTS I level: 4 macroregions (macroregiune in Romanian), used for appropriation of European development funds
  • NUTS II level: 8 development regions, with an average population of 2.8 million inhabitants per region, although not administrative divisions per se, have been used for decades for statistical purposes by the Romanian National Commission of Statistics (NCS). Recently they also exist to co-ordinate regional development and appropriation of European development funds
  • NUTS III level: 41 counties and one municipality (Bucharest, the national capital) reflecting Romania's official administrative-territorial structure
  • LAU I level: not used, as territorial units associations have not been identified yet;
  • LAU II level: 211 cities and 103 municipalities (for urban areas), and 2,827 communes (for rural areas), according to some sources,[2] or 265 cities and towns and 2,686 communes with 13,092 villages, according to others.

An exception to this structure is the Municipality of Bucharest, which is a secondary division (rather than a tertiary division like other municipalities) and is officially divided into six sectors, each sector having a local government and counsil.

The eight development regions (specific territorial entities without administrative status or legal personality) represent the framework for collecting specific statistical data, according to the European regulations issued by Eurostat for the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) II territorial level. According to the Emergency Government Ordinance No 75/2001 on the functioning of the National Institute for Statistics, eight Directorates General for regional statistics have been created, and together with the 34 county directorates for statistics, aim at developing regional statistics. Officially, the eight regions are North-East, South-East, South, South-West, West, North-West, Center, and Bucharest. The criteria used by NCS for delimiting the regions is a combination of geographical location and homogeneity based on population density. Alternative historical names are also used, but remain unofficial.

no type name area, km2 population (mid-2007 official estimate) municipalities other cities communes villages
1 North-East development region 36,850 17 29 505 2,414
1 county Bacău County 6,621 719,844 3 5 85 491
2 county Botoşani County 4,986 454,167 2 5 71 333
3 county Iaşi County 5,476 825,100 2 3 93 418
4 county Neamţ County 5,896 566,059 2 3 78 344
5 county Suceava County 8,553 705,878 5 11 97 379
6 county Vaslui County 5,318 455,594 3 2 81 449
2 South-East development region 35,762 11 24 354 1,447
7 county Brăila County 4,766 365,628 1 3 40 140
8 county Buzău County 6,103 488,763 2 3 82 475
9 county Constanţa County 7,071 718,330 3 9 58 188
10 county Galaţi County 4,466 614,449 2 2 60 180
11 county Tulcea County 8,499 250,641 1 4 46 133
12 county Vrancea County 4,857 392,619 2 3 68 331
3 South development region 34,453 16 32 519 2,019
13 county Argeş County 6,826 644,236 3 4 95 576
14 county Călăraşi County 5,088 315,187 2 3 50 160
15 county Dâmboviţa County 4,054 533,330 2 5 82 353
16 county Giurgiu County 3,526 283,408 1 2 51 167
17 county Ialomiţa County 4,453 290,563 3 4 59 127
18 county Prahova County 4,716 821,013 2 12 90 405
19 county Teleorman County 5,790 413,064 3 2 92 231
4 South-West development region 29, 212 11 29 408 2,066
20 county Dolj County 7,414 712,187 3 4 104 378
21 county Gorj County 5,602 381,643 2 7 61 411
22 county Mehedinţi County 4,933 298,741 2 3 61 344
23 county Olt County 5,498 475,702 2 6 104 377
24 county Vâlcea County 5,765 411,576 2 9 78 556
5 West development region 32,034 12 30 278 1,327
25 county Arad County 7,754 457,713 1 9 68 270
26 county Caraş-Severin County 8,520 327,579 2 6 69 287
27 county Hunedoara County 7,063 472,284 7 7 55 457
28 county Timiş County 8,697 666,866 2 8 86 313
6 North-West development region 34,159 15 28 401 1,799
29 county Bihor County 7,544 594,131 4 6 90 429
30 county Bistriţa-Năsăud County 5,355 316,689 1 3 58 235
31 county Cluj County 6,674 692,316 5 1 75 420
32 county Maramureş County 6,304 513,000 2 11 63 214
33 county Satu Mare County 4,418 366,270 2 4 58 220
34 county Sălaj County 3,864 243,157 1 3 57 281
7 Center development region 34,100 20 37 357 1,788
35 county Alba County 6,242 376,086 4 7 67 656
36 county Braşov County 5,363 593,928 4 6 48 149
37 county Covasna County 3,710 223,364 2 3 40 122
38 county Harghita County 6,639 325,611 4 5 58 235
39 county Mureş County 6,714 581,759 4 7 91 464
40 county Sibiu County 5,432 423,156 2 9 53 162
8 Bucharest-Ilfov development region 1,821 1 8 32 91
41 county Ilfov County 1,583 294,094 - 8 32 91
42 municipality Bucharest 238 1,931,838 1 - - -
Total 238,391 N/A 103 217 2,854 12,951


  • Law 151/1998 regarding the regional development in Romania was published in "Monitorul Oficial" on July 16, 1998, being approved by the Romanian Parliament. MIE Chapter 21

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