About Dolj county
Among the largest counties in Romania, Dolj county – situated in the southwestern part of the country, is part of the Oltenia development region, along with four other counties: Gorj, Vâlcea, Olt and Mehedinți. Covering an area of 7,414 sq km, Dolj county is made up of three municipalities (Craiova, Băilești and Calafat), four towns (Segarcea, Bechet, Filiași and Dăbuleni) and 104 communes with a total of almost 700,000 inhabitants.
A place of special beauty, Dolj county is bordered to the south by the Danube River, whose waters form the county’s natural border over a distance of 150 km. From the infrastructure point of view, Dolj county has approximately 2,500 kilometers of European, national, county and local roads, two Danube ports – Bechet and Calafat, a railway network measuring 225 km and an airport built in compliance with all European standards, the only one in southern Romania, which can serve a population of 2.5 million.
The bridge over the Danube, which unites Romania and Bulgaria through the towns of Calafat and Vidin, is one of Dolj county’s strategic points and offers a special potential for development for the entire southern area of Oltenia. At the same time, Calafat-Vidin Bridge is part of the Pan-European Corridor VII (Danube).
Craiova Municipality, the capital residence of Dolj county and a former princely residence, has manifested itself in the national cultural environment as a citadel concerned with preserving and perpetuating the Romanian moral and spiritual values; at present it hosts some of the most important cultural institutions in Romania.
The museums, the “Marin Sorescu” National Theater – with acclaimed performances on stages all over the world, the Romanian Opera in Craiova, the Oltenia Philharmonic, the academia and universities in Craiova, and personalities such as Nicolae Titulescu, Eugeniu Carada, Titu Maiorescu, Gogu Constantinescu, Marin Sorescu or Tudor Gheorghe, are just some of our cultural landmarks, an impressive business card that honors Dolj county and the entire Oltenia region.
In a broader community context, with new horizons in which the European Union speaks more and more of multiculturalism, of unity through cultural and language diversity, Dolj County Council continues its efforts to promote the traditions and folk customs, in order to help understanding and expressing our own identity.
It is very difficult to present Dolj county in only a few words, a county of special spiritual richness, with diligent and hospitable people, a large community that is distinguished as one of the country’s most important cultural, educational and economic centers.
Geography of Dolj county
Taking into consideration the entire territory of the country, Dolj county has a southern-south-western position, centered on the lower course of Jiu river, from which it has taken its name: Lower Jiu or Doljiu. Dolj county stretches on 7,414 sq. km, representing approximately 3.1% of the country’s surface and is the 7th largest county in Romania. The Danube river – an important navigable access road – forms, for 150 km, the southern natural border with Bulgaria. The terrain includes rich areas of the Danube’s meadow, as well as hills rising between 30 to 350 meters above the Danube. A special feature is the simultaneous existence in the south of Dolj county of the largest areas with sandy soils in the country (arranged for a prosperous agriculture) and of a large number of lakes that have been formed either by the overflowing Danube or by rain accumulations.
The favorable geographical conditions, the fertile soil and the mild climate, the existence of some craftsmanship and economic traditions specific to this area, the ambition and tenacity of the inhabitants have made it possible for Dolj county to develop itself since the oldest times.
The county’s population on July 1st 2011 was 697,813 inhabitants. From this point of view, Dolj county is ranked 7th in the country, with a share of 3.3% of Romania’s population. Out of the total population, 54.06% live in urban areas and 45.94% live in rural areas. At present, we are witnessing a demographic decline, an aging process and a drop in population density (94.12 inhabitants per sq. km).
There are 10 protected natural areas of community interest in Dolj county, out of which 6 are special areas of protection of the avifaunal type. The forested area in the county represents 11% of the county’s total surface, namely 87,000 hectares. Flora and fauna of Dolj county are represented by 155 species of plants (4 of which are of community interest), 7 species of invertebrates (5 of which are of community interest), 12 species of amphibians (2 of which are of community interest), 12 species of reptiles, 196 species of birds, 10 species of mammals (2 of which are of community interest).
At the same time, regarding the flora and fauna, in Dolj county, 4 types of habitats of national interest and 19 types of community interest have been identified and introduced in the Natura 2000 database.
The Corridor of Jiu river, with a surface of 71,452 hectares, is an inter-county site and spreads over three counties: Dolj, Mehedinți and Gorj. It has been declared a site for the protection of 18 habitats of community interest, one species of plants, 2 species of mammals, 3 species of amphibians and reptiles, 12 species of fish and 7 species of invertebrates of community interest.
From an economic point of view, Dolj county is one of the counties with significant importance at national level. Being the county with the largest number of communes in Romania and ranking 7th in terms of the number of inhabitants, our county continues to be mainly agricultural, although, generally speaking, the activity in this field has not fully adapted to the market economy and to the new conditions created by the transfer of agricultural land from public to private property. According to the statistical data, Dolj county ranks first in terms of the population employed in agricultural activities – 109,500 persons (compared to 40,700 persons working in industry); it ranks second in terms of the surface used for agricultural purposes – 585,451 hectares; it ranks third in terms of the area used for cereal grain crops – 289,064 hectares; and ranks first in terms of the area used for vegetable crops – 17,757 hectares.
Referring to agriculture in general, it is worth noting that, in 2010, Dolj county held 4% of the agricultural surface of the country; that the irrigated area represents 57.4% of the total arable land area; that the total area with drainage works is 19.2% of the county’s surface. Although Dolj county is a lowland area, the forested area stretches on 86,900 hectares, representing 11% of the county’s area.
As far as the industry is concerned, it can be appreciated that after the events in December 1989 this sector recorded a decline, as the laws of the market economy were not properly applied in all economic sectors, due to various reasons. An encouraging fact is that in recent years our county has attracted a large number of national and foreign investors, Ford Company being a good example in this context. As a matter of fact, Dolj county now occupies some of the leading positions in the country regarding the production of beer, knitwear, wool and woolen yarns, textile garments, precast concrete and timber, furniture, meat products and so on. Additionally, Dolj county ranks 7th in terms of the length of roads with light asphaltic lining and holds the 19th place in terms of the length of modernized roads. As the county has a network of public roads of 2,406 km, out of which approximately 34% are modernized, Dolj County Council has started a vast program of rehabilitation and modernization of the road infrastructure, especially in rural areas, by allocating significant financial resources from its own budget, but also by attracting European funds.
Positioning: Taking into consideration the entire territory of the country, Dolj county has a southern-south-western position, centered on the lower course of Jiu river, from which it has taken its name: Lower Jiu or Doljiu. The territory of the county lies between 43°43' and 44°42' North latitude and 22° 50' and 24° 16' East longitude.
Neighbors: Dolj county is neighboring the counties of Mehedinți to the west, Gorj and Vâlcea to the north, Olt to the east and the Danube River to the south, on a distance of approximately 150 km, which is part of the natural border between Romania and Bulgaria.
Area: The total area is 7,414 sq km and represents 3.1% of the country’s area. From this point of view, Dolj county ranks 7th among the counties in Romania.
Climate: Dolj county belongs to the temperate climate zone, with Mediterranean influences due to its south-western position. The position and the depression of its terrain, near the curvature of the Carpathian-Balkan mountain range, in general, cause a warmer climate than in the central and northern parts of the country, with an annual average of 10-11.5°C.
Terrain: The county’s terrain includes the Danube meadow, the plain and the hill area. The altitude rises from 30 to 350 m above sea level, from the south to the north of the county, forming a wide amphitheater open to the sun. The terrain resembles to flat steps that rise in the form of a pyramid from the Danube’s meadow to the Amaradian hills, from 30 to 350 m above sea level. It is worth mentioning the existence, in the south of the county, of the largest sandy area in the country, along with an impressive number of lakes formed either by the overflowing of the Danube or by precipitation accumulations. According to the general aspect of the terrain, Dolj county can be considered a lowland area, and according to the main agent that has generated the terrain on most of its territory it fits perfectly in the category of Danubian counties.
Hydrographic network: Is represented by the Danube River, flowing between Cetate and Dăbuleni, by the Jiu River that crosses the county from Filiași to Zăval on a distance of 154 km and by lakes and ponds (Bistreț Lake, Banului Fountain, Maglavit, Golenți, Ciuperceni).
Vegetation and flora: A large part of the south of the county is covered by rich fields, the vegetation being specific to the steppe area. In the past, the Oltenia Plain was covered by oak forests that alternated with hedges. Climate influences and human intervention have led to the alteration of the plant cover. In the Ciuperceni and Apele Vii areas there are acacia forests, whereas at Verbița, Murgași and Braniște vast forests of oak are predominant.
Fauna: Terrestrial and aquatic fauna have suffered changes caused by hunting and abusive fishing, many of the species that used to populate the territory of Dolj county have survived in small numbers or have disappeared altogether. Among the species that populate the meadow regions, lice, stork, egret and some species of rodents are predominant.
History of Dolj county
The first human communities known in these lands are archaeologically certified by important discoveries belonging to the ancient Stone Age. Much richer are the dwelling traces of the Neolithic Age. The first documentary mention of the county dates from 1444, under the name “Județul de Baltă”, situated in the vast plain of the Danube. In an archive document dated June 1st, 1475, the city of Craiova, current municipality, the county seat of Dolj, is mentioned. Going deeper into the old days, all historians confirm the location of Craiova on Tabula Peutingeriana (a map of the Roman Empire) having the name Pelendova (correctly Pelendava). More recent research has revealed that for the first time the medieval settlement was listed under the Latin name Ponsiona – bridge over Jiu – on a map made up on the eve of the Battle of Nicopolis (1396), included in a manuscript located in the National Library in Paris. Also during this period, the great Bania of Oltenia was founded, based in Craiova, the most representative feudal institution after that of the reign.
In the 18th century, Dolj county, together with the most part of Oltenia, became an area of ample military operations during the wars waged by the great empires: Ottoman, Habsburg and Tsarist. The succession of political and social events that occurred in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries – the unification of the Principalities, the claiming of Romania’s State Independence, the agrarian reforms, etc. have created favorable conditions for the development of economy and capitalist relations.
The formation of the Romanian unitary national state in 1918 was welcomed in Dolj county, as in the whole country, with the enthusiasm and the unconcerned satisfaction of all those who had resisted heroically on the battlefields, or had acted bravely against foreign occupation. The archive documents unquestionably show that during the period between the two world wars – terrible clashes in which many inhabitants of these lands have given their blood tribute to the liberation of the country and the freedom of the Romanian people – Dolj has known a significant development, especially in the economic and urban terms. In the whole of the national economy, in 1940, our county appeared to be an important agricultural county, with a commercial and banking activity in full swing, but with a less developed, unilateral, fragmented industry which lacked a proper material basis. As it was normal, Romania’s entry into World War II has inevitably led to a sharp economic and social regression. The predominant agricultural character of the county was preserved and accentuated in the years that followed. Substantial changes in the economic structure occurred much later, along with the industrialization policy, which led to a massive migration of the rural population to the urban environment.
The Revolution of December 1989 – a crucial event that unleashed the energies and triggered the transition to a new Romania – created the possibility for the quick emergence of the first germs of the market economy and, subsequently, the establishment of new production, services and utilities companies, concurrent with the disappearance of others – especially the big “industrial titans” – following the new legislation in the field of private economy, competitivity and the general business climate, which began to take shape and strengthen, year after year, in our county as well as in the whole country.