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the river meanders to a great extent, and its flood-plain is
exceedingly marshy. It constantly ramifies, and there are
numberless low islands and dead arms along its course. The
slope is regular and gentle throughout. Among the principal
tributaries of the Sereth are the Moldova, which rises in Buko-
vina and joins the main stream at Roman; the Bistrita, with
its affluents, Dorna, Neagra, and Bistricioara, which flows in
at Bacau ; and the Trotus, which comes in near Adjud.


These rivers, which reproduce to some extent the character-
istics of the Sereth, drain the Moldavian Carpathians and
bring vast quantities of water into the main stream in the
spring when the snows are melting, and there is in addition
considerable rainfall. While crossing the Wallachian plain,
where most rivers suffer from drought and infiltration, the
Sereth receives the Buzau and the Ramnicu on the right bank,
and the Barlad on the left. The Barlad, like the Sereth,
flows in a relatively broad and marshy valley and drains most
of the country between the Sereth and the Pruth south of
Jassy. The Buzau rises in the high plain of Bodzafalu in
Transylvania, traverses the Carpathians by a single defile run-
ning from north-west to south-east, and after entering the
Wallachian plain turns towards the north-east. It loses very
considerably by infiltration during the latter part of its

The Pruth is already a considerable stream when it touches
Roumanian territory. It flows in a broad and marshy valley
separating Bessarabia from Roumania. In breadth it varies
from 650 to 1,000 ft., and in depth from 13 to 20 ft. It has
a regular slope and a much less capricious regime than the
Wallachian rivers. Of the Roumanian tributaries the most
important is the Jijia. The chief crossing is at Ungheni,
where the railway from Jassy to Kishinev crosses the river by
a great iron bridge. Between Galatz and Ungheni there are
only chain ferries at the following points : (1) Galatz (to Reni)
a little more than 1J mile west of the mouth (2) Oancea ;
(3) Bumbata ; (4) Zberoaia ; (5) Dranceni. Galatz and Reni
are connected by rail. Above Ungheni crossing is effected
generally by ford except at Czernowitz, where the chain ferry
railway crosses the river. North of Sculeni, the Pruth can
be forded practically anywhere in summer. Communications
along the banks are very restricted, there being in general no
roads except those between the villages on the banks. These
are most frequent well up-stream ; many of those in the lower
reaches and along the valley-plain higher up disappear
entirely in the flood season. The river is navigable for up-


and down-stream traffic as far as Husi. According to another
authority boats drawing 3 ft. can ascend at all seasons as far
as Sculeni (about 188 miles). Above Leova there is a good
deal of down-stream traffic by raft. Timber from the forests
of Bukovina is floated right down to Galatz. The navigation
of the river has in the past been regulated by an international
commission composed of Russian, Roumanian, and Austrian
representatives with head-quarters at Galatz. The river
brings down with it a great deal of sand which in many places
forms banks. The chief islands thus formed begin at Ser-
penita, between which point and Galatz there are none.
Floods take place three times a year : in spring up to the
breaking of the ice in March ; in summer after the melting
of the snows in the Carpathians ; and in autumn before the
river freezes in December. The breaking up of the ice
usually takes place during the middle or end of March ;
freezing occurs m early or middle December, but in some
places where the current is specially swift the river remains
free from ice the whole year through. After each flood the
channel changes more or less. During the last part of its
course the Pruth forms small emissary streamlets which
convey its surplus water to the low-lying land of the shore ;
this surplus water recedes again into the Pruth when the
high water subsides. The results of analysis are not very
favourable with regard to the use of the Pruth water locally
for drinking purposes ; a large part of the Galatz water-supply,
however, is taken from Pruth water, which is passed through
the extensive filter-beds north of the city. In the higher
reaches the bed of the river is chiefly stony ; in the lower
it is of clay. At first there is no gravel, later it shows a layer
of fine mud mixed with sand of a bluish colour.

The Dobrtjja

The political unit known as the Dobruja has a conventional
boundary which runs from the Danube west of Turtucaia to
Ekrene on the Black Sea. Before 1913 the frontier ran from
the Danube east of Silistra to the Black Sea 6i miles south


of Mangalia, at an average distance of about 30 miles north
of the frontier of 1913.

Geographically, however, the Dobruja is the whole plain
which lies between the eastern Balkans and the Danube
mouths. This plain detaches itself from the foothills of the
eastern Balkans north of Varna and inclines gently down
towards the Danube Delta. It is a country of easy gradients
and low undulations ; taken as a whole it forms a natural
broad passage between the Danube and the Black Sea. All
the races which from the earliest times invaded the Balkans
from the Russian steppes entered by way of the Dobruja.

A convenient natural boundary from which to start, in
considering the Dobruja, is the Deli Orman (' Wild Wood '),
the barren hilly region which closes Bulgaria, along the line
Rustchuk-Varna. The Deli Orman is a limestone region,
where the water percolates away. It is consequently almost
waterless, and the trees have largely disappeared. The
highest point is near Voivoda, a village about 9 miles NNW.
of Novi Pazar. This height is 1,624 ft. From this point the
hills become lower, until they come to an end in the low and
slightly wooded ground which skirts the south bank of the
Danube between Rustchuk and Silistra.

The Deli Orman therefore may be taken as the base of the
irregular triangle formed between the Lower Danube and
Black Sea coast. This triangle is geographically the Dobruja.

The Dobruja consists of four divisions. The south is
a plateau, a great part of which is steppe ; in the north is
a rather more broken district, which presents a picturesque
and hilly aspect ; the east is marshy, with large tracts given
up to lagoons. To these three parts should be added a fourth,
the delta of the Danube, which consists of extensive mud-
flats and alluvial deposits, with many water-channels, and
picturesque beds of reeds and alders.

The first portion, the southern plain, falls into two districts.
One runs from the Deli Orman north-eastwards nearly as far
as Medgidia. This is a fertile district, where corn is grown.
Its undulations are not strongly marked, and run from 860 ft.


to under 500 ft. The second part of the plateau, the district
of Medgidia, is less fertile. It is an actual steppe-country.
The surface of it is composed of a calcareous loam.

The northern portion is the hilly district between Babadag
and the angle which the Danube forms near Macin. These
hills are fairly thickly wooded, and many of them rise from
1,000 to 1,500 ft.

The rainfall is not heavy, and everywhere outside the
delta there is a scarcity of water, though wells can be sunk
at almost any point.

The delta of the Danube is a triangle of alluvial mud,
40 miles broad at its base between the Kilia and St. George
mouths. The triangle is bisected by the Sulina arm of the
river. The area of the delta is about 1,000 square miles.
There is no cultivation on it except around the few villages.
It lies very low, being only 2 ft. above sea-level at the Sulina
mouth. In the north, about the Kilia mouth, are dunes
running up to an elevation of 40 or 50 ft. There are many
swamps and fresh-water lakes, and in flood-time practically
the whole area is liable to be overflowed. The delta gains
10 to 15 ft. towards the sea every year, and is gradually


The Roumanian coast of the Dobruja on the Black Sea is
low, and broken by lagoons towards the north. Consequently
there is no realty good port except at Constanta, where an
outcrop of hard rock has permitted a considerable town to
grow up. The Bessarabian coast, moreover, offers no facilities
for a first-class port, and the principal outlet for that district
has hitherto been Odessa. The political connexion of
Bessarabia with Roumania does not, therefore, affect the
importance of Constanta to Roumania, which will be further
discussed in Chapter VIII.

In the Carpathians there is no continuous zone of crystalline
rock such as there is in the Alps. The greater part of the


Wallachian range is, it is true, formed by a massif of primitive
schists which extends from the Iron Gates to the Ialomita,
but beyond that river no trace of crystalline rock is found till
the Ceahlau is reached in the northern part of Moldavia.
Lying upon these ancient rocks, however, there are in places
great masses of limestone, fragments of a more extensive
covering which has been removed by erosion. Examples of
this formation are to be found in the valley of the Jiu, in the
country round Predeal, and in the north of Moldavia. The
most continuous zone in the mountain area is that of the
flysch, which almost exclusively forms the Carpathian arc
from the Ceahlau to the Bodza pass, but west of the Olt this
belt disappears, and the later Tertiary rocks lie directly on the
primitive massif.

The region of the hills both in Walla chia and Moldavia is
almost entirely formed of Tertiary rocks, among which sand-
stones predominate. Over almost the whole of the latter
province, however, as well as over the eastern parts of the
former, they are partly concealed beneath a covering of loess,
and in many places come to the surface only on the slopes of
the river-valleys.

The Wallachian plain is almost completely overlain by
recent and unconsolidated formations. In the east the loess
is everywhere found, often to a considerable depth, but in the
west it is wanting, and its place is taken by alluvial soils
which contain varying amounts of sand or gravel.

The valley of the Danube is overlain by recent alluvium,
and in the valleys of some of its tributaries a similar formation
is found.

Local Time, Calendar, and Magnetic Variation
Standard time of Roumania is Eastern European time, or
that of 30° E. longitude, two hours fast of Greenwich mean

Roumania formerly used the Russian or old style calendar,
according to which a date in the Gregorian or new style
calendar (of English usage) is ascertained by adding 13 days

c 2


to the old style date. The Gregorian calendar was introduced
in Moldavia and Bessarabia (Wallachia being at the time in
German occupation) as from July 1 old style, i. e. July 14 new
style, 1918,

The magnetic variation on the Roumanian coast is about
2° 70' W. (1918), decreasing 5' annually.



From the climatic point of view lioumania occupies an
intermediate position between Russia on the one hand and
the Mediterranean area on the other, and in consequence it
has affinities with both. The continental aspects of its climate
are particularly well marked in the changes which take place
in its temperature in the course of the year, while the distri-
bution of rainfall is to some extent controlled by the atmo-
spheric conditions which prevail over the Mediterranean area.


The summers are very hot and it is not unusual for the
thermometer to rise to 95° F., while the winters are exceed-
ingly cold, and temperatures of — 10° F. are not infrequently
registered. Extremes which have been noted include a maxi-
mum of 109° F. at Giurgiu, and a minimum of - 32° F. at
Bucharest. On an average there is frost for 136 days each
year, on 36 of which the thermometer remains below freezing-
point during the twenty-four hours. On the other hand there
are 66 days on an average during which the summer tem-
perature remains above 77° F. The figures given for Bucharest
in Table II are characteristic of the whole Wallachian plain
with its hot summers and cold winters. In Moldavia the range
is not so great. The winters are not as a rule colder, while the
summers are not so warm.

In the Carpathians climatic conditions are less known, as few
meteorological stations exist. In comparing different stations
it is found that the mean annual temperature decreases
by 0-38° F. for every 100 feet of vertical ascent. In summer
the rate of fall is much greater, being about 0-60° F. in July,
while in winter it is much less, and in January is about 0-16° F.


In parts of Roumania, indeed, an inversion of temperature
may be noted during the winter months. Calimanesti, with
an altitude of 918 ft., has a January temperature of 27-7° F.,
while Striharet, which is only 525 ft. above sea-level, has one
of 25-7° F. It may therefore be said that as a general rule
the annual range of temperature on the mountains is less than
on the plains.

A feature of some interest is the rapid fall of temperature
which occurs during the autumn months. In September the
temperature is still relatively high, in November it approxi-
mates to winter conditions. Everything undergoes a complete
change in little over a month.


The temperature of Roumania is to a great extent controlled
by the winds, of which the two known 'as the Crivef and the
Austru are the most important. The former blows at all
seasons, but it reaches its maximum in winter and early
spring, when a high-pressure system extends over Russia
and cyclonic depressions make their way eastward along the
Mediterranean area of low pressure. Under these conditions
the wind blows from NE., ENE., or E. according to the posi-
tion of the depression, and coming from the continental
interior, frequently causes intense cold over the greater part
of Roumania. A fall of 30° F. has sometimes been noted
after the Crivet has begun to blow. Notwithstanding this,
however, the periods of greatest cold do not coincide with the
Crivet, but occur during calms or when westerly winds are
blowing. The hot easterly winds which occur in summer are
due to other causes, but are commonly known by the same

The mean annual rate of the Crivet is about 10 miles per
hour, but it varies from a monthly mean of about 16 J miles
per hour in January to one of about 7 miles per hour in July.
If the depression over the Mediterranean happens to be deep,
the Crivet blows with great strength and causes large waves
to rise on the Danube.


During spring and early summer the winds when blowing
from ENE. arrive from the Black Sea heavily charged with
vapour, and coming into contact with the Carpathians bring
abundant rainfall. Most of the rain which falls in spring and
some of that in summer is due to these conditions. It has
been calculated that at Bucharest 28 per cent, of the annual
precipitation is brought by northerly winds, 48 per cent, by
easterly, 14 per cent, by southerly, 9 per cent, by westerly,
while 1 per cent, falls during periods of calm.

The Austru generally blows between west and south-west
and is not quite so strong a wind as the Crivet, its mean
annual rate being about 8 miles per hour. In winter its
monthly mean rises to over 10 miles per hour in January, and
in summer falls to about 5| miles per hour in July. It usually
blows when an eastward-moving depression, instead of follow-
ing the Mediterranean route, takes its way more to the north
by Central Italy, Hungary, and the north of Moldavia, to lose
itself in Russia or round the Black Sea. This is possible only
when the high-pressure area has abandoned eastern Europe,
and is most common when the oceanic high-pressure system
spreads over the British Isles and north-west Europe. The
Austru is on the whole rather a dry wind, and when it blows
for several days in succession the relative humidity not infre-
quently falls below 40 per cent. The clear atmosphere may
then lead to intense radiation, and in winter some low tem-
peratures, which equal or even surpass those due to the Crivet,
are registered. In summer it brings a cooler air than the
Crivet, and is accordingly welcomed.

At Bucharest the Crivet blows from ENE. and the Austru
from WSW. Statistics compiled from the 105,192 hourly
observations made during the twelve years 1885-96 show
that the wind was ENE. at 21,459 observations, or 204 times
in every 1,000, while it was WSW. at 12,444 observations, or
118 times in every 1,000. Calms prevailed at 40 out of every
1,000 observations. The remaining winds were fairly evenly
distributed in other directions. The Crivet is most frequent
in April, when it blows at 253 per 1,000 observations, least


so in June with 148 per 1,000. For the summer as a whole
the frequency is 163 per 1,000.

The following table shows the average velocity of both
winds in miles per hour at different seasons of the year :

Crivej Atistrii
Winter . . . 13J 9

Spring .... 12| 8

Summer 1\ 1\

Autumn . . . 9j 7 J

Taking the year as a whole and considering all winds, the
following figures have been obtained for Bucharest :

Miles per hour
127 days, maximum hourly velocity, below 11



between 11 and 22|
22 J and 34
34 and 44

above 44

In the mountain regions the direction both of the Crivet
and the Austru is affected by local topographical conditions.
Valleys running north and south, for example, generally
receive their winds from one or other of these directions.

In addition to the cold spells induced by the Crivet and
the Austru, very low temperatures also occur when the
Russian high-pressure system expands, as it does on an
average twice in each month, and lies over the Wallachian


The figures in Table V indicate that Roumania has on the
whole a low rainfall. Its distribution is of course much
affected by the topography of the country, and varies from
one region to another according to the exposure of each to
the rain-bearing winds. The mountain areas have the heaviest
precipitation, and the greater part of the Carpathians in Wal-
lachia has between 30 and 35 inches per year. In Moldavia


the region which receives a similar amount is confined to the
country round the massif of Ceahlau and to some districts in
the south. The central part of the hill region in Wallachia
has as much as the Carpathians, but elsewhere it is less,
ranging as a rule from 23 to 27 inches. In the western part
of the hills of Moldavia the precipitation is between 20 and
25 inches, but to the east of the Sereth it is usually less than
20 inches. The western part of the Wallachian plain has over
20 inches, but in the east there are considerable areas where
less than 20 and in places less than 15 inches of rain fall.

The influence of Mediterranean conditions is seen to some
extent in the distribution of rainfall throughout the year.
There is usually a minimum in January or February, after
which the monthly means increase until June, which is the
month of heaviest rainfall throughout the greater part of
Roumania. About September a second but less marked
minimum is reached in Wallachia, after which the precipita-
tion again increases to a low maximum attained during the
early winter. In Moldavia, where the Mediterranean influence
is least felt, the rainfall as a rule decreases from June till


On the plains snow begins to fall about the month of
November and lies on an average about three months. In
the mountains it has a longer duration. The Fagaras, which
remain at an almost uniform height throughout their course,
are usually covered from October till May. At the end of
September there is often a slight snowfall, which is, however,
frequently followed by a short spell of fine weather.

For the climate of the Danube valley see also Handbook of
the River Danube, I.D. 01020, pp. 22-7.




Position and Height above Sea-level of the Chief
Meteorological Stations in Roumania

Height above

Station. Latitude

o /


o /


Turnu Severin . 44 38 N.

20 33 E.


. 44 37

23 12



44 19

23 48


Turnu Magurele

43 45

24 53



44 7

24 21



44 26

24 22



44 15

24 21



45 17

24 57



45 21

25 34


Bucharest .

44 25

26 6


Armase^ti .

44 35

27 9



45 16

27 58



45 41

27 12


Targu Ocna

46 17

26 37



46 55

26 5iS



47 51

26 41



47 59

26 25



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Online LibraryGreat Britain. AdmiraltyA handbook of Roumania → online text (page 3 of 16)