Romania is located in eastern Europe and has a population of around 19.5 million. This population represents a decrease from 2011 as the country is currently undergoing negative migration and sub-replacement fertility rates. Approximately 10.5% of the population is made up of ethnic minorities. This diversity is reflected in the languages of the country.
Romanian, The Official Language Of Romania
The only official language of the country is Romanian. This language belongs to the Balkan-Romance group, which descends from Vulgar Latin and dates back to the 5th century AD. Over the centuries, the language borrowed vocabulary from Slavic languages, Hungarian, Turkic, French, and Italian. Of all the Romance languages, it has the most similarities with Italian. The first grammar book in the Romanian language was published in 1780. An estimated 91% of the population speak Romanian as their principal language. All government publications, public education, and legal contracts are written in Romanian.
Hungarian, The Most Widely Spoken Language Of Romania
The most widely spoken minority language in Romania is Hungarian. Approximately 6.7% of the population speaks this language, the majority of which live in Transylvania. This disbursement reflects the history of the country as Transylvania was once part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family. Written records of this language date back to the 900’s AD, using the Old Hungarian alphabet. Today, it is written using the Latin alphabet and has been influenced by French, German, and Italian. Hungarian is used in some local level public offices of Romania where the ethnic Hungarian population exceeds 20%.
Other Minority Languages Of Romania
In addition to Hungarian, several other minority languages are spoken throughout Romania. Romani is the first of these, spoken by 1.1% of the population. It is used in local government administrative offices, including the educational system, throughout 79 communes and in 1 town. These locations are concentrated in Mures County and Calarasi County. Other minority languages include: Ukrainian (57,593 speakers), German (45,129 speakers), Russian (29,890 speakers), Turkish (28,714), and Tatar (21,482).
Other much smaller population sizes speak a number of other languages including Serbo-Croatian (26,732, both Serbians and Croatians), Slovak (16,108), Bulgarian (6,747), and Greek (4,146). The Greeks, Turks, and Crimean Tatars mainly live in the Northern Dobruja region of Romania.
Foreign Languages Of Romania
The multilingualism of Romania does not stop with its official and minority languages. Several foreign languages also play an important part in the society. Approximately 29% of the population can speak the English language. English is the primary foreign language taught in the public school system, from primary to upper secondary grade levels.
English is followed closely by the French language, which is spoken by 24% of the population. This is the second most popular foreign language class in the public school system. Romania is noted as having the largest number of French learners in a non-French speaking country. This fact has grabbed the attention of many international companies, which are now turning their attention to the outsourcing potential within Romania.
Other less common foreign languages within Romania are Italian, spoken by 7% of the population, and German, spoken by 6% of the population.