The 1930 census counted 18,025,237 residents in Romania. The conditions under which the state was formed explain, as we have had occasion to mention, why the proportion of non-Romanian nationalities is strong enough: in fact, minorities represent about 4.5 million.
The Hungarians are the most numerous, about 1,700,000, almost all resident in Transylvania, where they formed 30% of the population before 1918. They clearly dominated in the cities (60%), but they also had a notable share among the rural populations of certain regions, such as the country of the Sicilians (or Szekler) at the sources of the Olt and Mureş almost exclusively Magyar (370,000 residents).
They also formed a series of rural or urban groups on all the roads of western Transylvania (400,000): finally they have incorporated a part of the Hungarian plain (400,000). The situation of the Magyars, who, formerly masters and now deprived of the dominant position, have also suffered in the division of lands, is evidently delicate and makes them the minority less willing to merge with the Romanian nationality.
The Germans, 800,000 in number, do not play such an important part. Threatened with absorption especially in the countryside, however, there are still 200,000 in the south, where they form a third of the population of cities such as Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Braşov (Kronstadt); there are from 30 to 40,000 in the north.
The Banat Swabians (Şvabi) were introduced from Austria in the 18th century. There are still 250,000 in the part annexed to Romania. The rural element gives excellent farmers, the urban element traders or industrialists.
In Bucovina the Germans represent 168,000 residents, descendants of the ancient settlers, officials and traders who came after the annexation to Austria in the century. XVIII. Also following the annexation of Bessarabia by Russia, German colonies settled in the south of this province, and then spread to Dobruja (about 80,000 residents in all). To these groups must be added 50 or 60,000 Germans established in the cities of ancient Romania. Given their different origins and the distance from their homeland, the Germans do not seem to be counted among the foreigners capable of giving rise to difficulties in Romania.
The Slavs are also dispersed: and, despite being about one million, they belong to various nationalities. The Ruthenians are the most numerous: 760,000; they meet in Bucovina and northern Bessarabia, where, however, they are barely distinguished from the Romanian peasant, while in the center and south of this province the Russians belonging to the ruling class have attracted other settlers. Finally, it is necessary to report about 30,000 “Lipovani” Russians in Dobruja. The Bulgarians are almost 500,000; in Dobruja and Bessarabia they have kept their national customs and even have their own small capital: Belgrad. Instead the “gardeners” of Wallachia are almost assimilated. Among the Slavs we must still mention 30,000 Poles (Bucovina), 60,000 Serbs (Banat), 30,000 Slovaks (plain north-west of Bihor).
The Greeks, from 10 to 15,000 in Dobruja, the Armenians, who can hardly be distinguished, the Turks (3600 in central Dobruja, from 130 to 150,000 in the south) form numerically secondary and largely assimilated groups. As for the Gypsies, they were calculated at 200,000 at the time of the union, but it is very difficult to make an exact calculation.
The Jews, 750,000 in number, represent one of the rare elements that have not ceased to increase during the century. XIX. They are mostly located in Bessarabia, in the north of Moldavia, in Bucovina and in the north-east of Transylvania, but they are found in strong proportions in all cities. Their number, which has recently increased, provokes the hostility they arouse in other populations; they make it an easily dissatisfied and quite dangerous element.
The Romanians dominate not only for the number (more than 13 million), but also for the vitality of their lineage. In fact, their strongest increase causes them to assimilate the foreign elements quite quickly. The surplus of births is 16 per 1000 in ancient Romania, while it is only 11.6 in Bucovina and Transylvania, where the proportion of Romanians is considerably lower.
They clearly prevail in Wallachia and Moldavia, but also in most of the Carpathian region. In general, especially in Dobruja, they are in the minority in several cities.
The origin of the Romanians has been much discussed. The opinion that makes them descend from the colonists placed by Trajan in Dacia is not to be rejected, provided that the Dacian element itself and the Slavic elements that later overlapped it are taken into account.
The use of the Latin language served as a cement. The Romanized Dacians were the one farmers, who settled in the Carpathian regions, abandoning the plains swept by the barbarian invasions, the other semi-nomadic shepherds, who migrations led to spread throughout the Balkan Region. The descent of the mountaineers into the plain is a process that has occurred on several occasions and that has been repeated with new vigor in the century. XIX from the independence of the Principalities onwards. The strength of the Romanian nationality is the main element of stability in a state where quite different nationalities are found.