The Romanian urban system – an overview of the post-communist period
Abstract: The Romanian urban system reveals both the influence of the central-based inter-settlement relations and the influence of the historical conditions (persistence of regional influence centres inside the historical provinces). Its 12 urban sub-systems are formed of towns that gravitate towards the Capital city – Bucharest and the second and third-rank cities. The Romanian urban network appears to be insufficiently developed in terms of number of towns versus the total population and surface. In 2012, there were 320 towns, when 400–450 were expected to be as referred to the overall surface of the country. This proves an excessive polarisation area/town ratio compared to other West and Central European countries. Under the socioeconomic transformation determined by the fall of the communist regime, profound changes in terms of intensive spatial development (urban/suburban sprawl, metropolisation etc) were experienced, similar to other post-communist urban systems. Subsequently, the EU accession opened the former socialist cities to new challenges related to urban phenomena, turning them into points of connection at European level by promoting cohesion and competitiveness for a polycentric metropolitan development. The paper attempts to summarise the urban development in Romania and the particularities of the Romanian urban system in relation to the legislative and political context of the post-communist period and the EU accession.