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Caras-Severin County

The mountainous zone of the Banat expanse, included in its majority in the present administrative territory of the county of Caras-Severin, was characterised, during its first stage of development, by a prevalence of primary industries (mining, metallurgy) resulting from the geological particularities of the region consisting in very rich resources: ferrous metals, non-ferrous-metals, coal, non-metal ores. The riches of the region were known and capitalised upon from very ancient times, the mines worked during the Roman and the Ottoman rules being telling proofs thereof. A systemic approach and development of industry started only at the beginning of the 18th century, once Banat became a province of the Austrian Empire (1718). Thus, while non-ferrous metals (gold, silver and copper) used to be mined at first, with rudimentary technology, economic interests soon called for iron ore exploitation as well, using the technology known at that time. The mines at Sasca, Ciclova, Oravita, Dognecea, Ocna de Fier (to mention just a few of them) are mentioned both by travellers visiting the region and by mineralogy papers of the time (Franceso Griselini, J.J. Esmarch, Bernhard von Cotta, etc.). The set-up of the works at Bocsa (1721), and especially of that in Resita (1771) represented an institutionalisation of industry in the mountainous Banat, although the outset was rather modest as dimension, payroll and output. By 1855, the entire mining, metallurgical and forest assets in the area had been property of the Austrian Imperial Treasury. The first coal deposits were discovered at that time as well, in 1790, first at Anina and then in another two localities, which allowed both further modernisation of the metallurgy of iron and the use of coal for steam engines (for navigation, railway transport, etc.). In time, as material resources diminished, higher processing methods were adopted by increasing the value of the finished goods. Thus, in 1855, the entire Banat domain was bought by STEG, a multinational Austrian-French company specialising in railway construction and exploitation, related equipment and plant included. The Oravita-Bazias “coal” railway line was built at that time (21 August 1854), the oldest railway line in Romania, destined to the transport of coal and metallurgical products originating in the Oravita-Anina zone. New facilities were opened at Resita and Anina, production being developed in fields not necessarily related to raw products: railway tyres, railway tracks, as well as complex equipment such as steam engines (1846), railway bridges (1870), locomotives (1872), road bridges, metal structures, arms, etc. The second half of the 19th century was characterised by an approximation of the technological programme of the time, the latest endowments and process technologies being adopted, by an extensive development of production units, as well as by meeting international standards in output rates and access to more rapid communication means. The metallurgical-mining compound of the mountainous region of Banat became thus the largest industrial entity in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, enjoying a well-established repute. After the shock of WW I, a multinational society, UDR – Uzinele de fier si domeniile Resita, was established and it started expanding, developing entirely new branches and process lines: locomotives, electric machines, welded structures, oil equipment, several types of arms and ammunition. UDR evolution is marked by several industrial outbreaks in the south-east of Europe made possible by the expertise and well-conduct of the company personnel, leaders in the Romanian economy of the time. Technical results were followed by economic ones, which made UDR the biggest tax payer of all Romanian companies. The prestige the UDR products enjoyed was remarkable, as were the latest technologies employed. After WW II, when an economic peak was registered despite the vicissitudes of the time, UDR was confronted with several foul hits: the burdensome payments made pursuant to the armistice convention, the 1948 nationalisation and the set-up of companies such as Sovrom, resulted from UDR (1949), concurrently with the changeover to the command economy. Deep-going changes followed, both in terms of organisation and as far as production capacity and profile are concerned, until the present structure was built up. Industry in the mountainous region of Banat has always been characterised by a higher degree of vertical concentration and heterogeneity, which conferred it flexibility – diminished, to a very large extent, over the past fifty years – and an important part to play in the Romanian economy. The commercial companies come out of UDR specialise at present in the production of railway tyres, railway tracks and heavy shapes (Resita), Diesel engines for railway locomotives and ships, hydropower equipment and plant, big and special electric motors (Resita), engine bogies (Caransebes), welded structures (Bocsa, Resita, Caransebes), land and stationary reducers (Resita), to mention just a few of the major products put out by the heavy industry developed in this expanse. As far as the present output level is concerned, mention should be made that it is biased by the general wane manifest in the capital assets industry, as well as by the hindrances inherent to the changeover to the market economy. Hopes for the better still exist, though, likely to help overcome the drawbacks of the moment and induce economic upsurge.

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Geographical Outline

The county of Caras-Severin is situated in the south-west of Romania, in the ancient province of Banat. The county borders Yugoslavia (Serbia) to the west and south, and the Danube and the Serbian border to the extreme south. The county area is 8,153 sq. km, i.e. 3.6 per cent of total Romanian territory, which makes Caras-Severin the second largest Romanian county, yet one of the less populated – it places 31st in terms of population, with 376,000 inhabitants. The reduced number of inhabitants is due to the relief features – mostly mountains and hills, and forests covering a large part of the county territory. The county is located at an economic and cultural cross-roads. Romanians, representing 90 per cent of total population, live in good neighbourhood and work-together with Germans, Hungarians, Serbs, Croats and other nationalities. About 56 per cent of the population (210,000) live in the eight towns of the county, the balance 44 per cent (166,000) living in 68 communes and 281 villages. Resita is the most important town of the county, the administrative, economic and cultural centre of Caras-Severin. The history of the town is inter-related with its development as an industrial centre. The town history starts in 1769 when the Imperial Court of Vienna decided to build a metallurgical works at Resita. The conclusion in 1771 of a first stage of the construction makes the metallurgical works of Resita one of the most famous in Europe, along with other still operational suchlike facilities: Krupp (Essen, Germany, founded 1811), Skoda (Plsen, Czech Republic, founded 1859-1860), the works at Donawitz, Austria, founded 1836. Resita is at present a powerful Romanian industrial centre, with a ferrous metallurgy works (CRS – Combinatul siderurgic Resita S.A.) and one of the largest mechanical engineering and metallurgical works (UCMR – Uzina constructoare de masini Resita S.A.). They are the oldest suchlike facilities in Romania and take pride in a long-standing tradition in the field. A very modern works – R.R.R. S.A., Reductoare Renk-Resita, a joint venture in which German capital holds the controlling interest – is also operational in Resita. It produces a wide range of reducers that find applications in varied fields: transport, shipbuilding, industrial and civil engineering, others. Resita also has a higher education institution, the Eftimie Murgu University, training experts in several local-interest fields (mechanical engineering, welding equipment and technologies, metallurgy, electromechanics, civil and administrative law, marketing). Caransebes, a town rich in cultural traditions, is first mentioned in a document in the 13th century. It is the second most important town in Caras-Severin. The town has a modern industrial platform for furniture and wooden articles production, Mocars S.A., as well as a metal structures works, Caromet S.A., specialising in the production of railway equipment, hydro-mechanical equipment, metal structures, etc. The town is also an important railway junction for the transit of passenger and freight traffic. An airport is also operational in Caransebes for inland flights.   Bocsa is located 25 km away from Resita. A long-standing industrial centre, trail-blazer in nonferrous metallurgy in the Banat expanse (the first foundries are mentioned in 1719), Bocsa is an important producer of metal structures (CMB – Uzina de constructii metalice Bocsa S.A.). A mining company, a forest exploitation facility and a furniture mill are also operational at Bocsa. The food industry is represented by Avicola S.A. Bocsa, a joint-stock company specialising in the production of poultry and eggs. Otelu-Rosu, located in the north-east of the county, is a ferrous metallurgy centre where Socomet S.A. (rolled steel) and Romflex S.A. (flexible tubing) develop their activity. Anina is a mining centre (extraction of baking coal), as well as a zone of forest exploitation. The outskirts of the town represent an important yet undercapitalised tourist potential. Oravita, situated in the south-east of the county, boasts long-standing cultural traditions – a theatre has existed here since 1817. Food industry facilities and forest exploitation companies develop their activity at Oravita. Moldova-Noua, located in the south of the county only four kilometres away from the Danube, is a copper and other non-ferrous metals mining and ore dressing centre, as well as a wine-growing centre. Baile Herculane, an ancient balneal resort, is the smallest town in Caras-Severin, located on the Cerna river valley, a zone with calcareous relief. The resort is more than 2000 years old and it has been renowned for its curative resources ever since Roman times. The town has adequate hotels, restaurants, treatment facilities and a casino.

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Touristic Information

According to the numerous archaeological discoveries in this zone (Pestera Hotilor, Baile Herculane) - cave paintings, statues, stone-carves sanctuaries - this county has a multimillenary history. There are important proves date especially from the Dacian and Roman periods. Situated in the South-Western extremity, where the Danube River meets the Romanian land for the first time, the Caras-Severin county has a surface of 8,514 sq.km being the third county of Romania from this point of view after the Suceava and Timis ones. The climate is mildly with gentle winters and warm summers. The relief of this county is characterized by a lot of formations. The mountains are the Banat Mountains which are a part of the Western Carpathians, and the Jarcu-Godeanu and Cerna Mountains which are part of the Meridional Carpathians. The heights rise from the West to the East, from 1,600 m up to 2.200 m above sea. In the Timis-Cerna pass, ramifications to the Bistra Valley, which marks the boundary between the Meridional Carpathians and the Western ones, the Timis-Cerna, Belareca, Mehadia and Bistra Rivers created a system of terraces which are inhabited intensely now. The lowest form of relief is the plain. which has a limited area in the Timis Plain. The Cerna, Timis, Barzava. Caras Rivers and their tributaries form the main hydrographic network, and in the Southern part of the county, the Danube River created one of the most spectacular European narrow path which in 60 km long. The natural lakes of the Caras-Severin county are small being in a tight connection with the karst and ice relief in this area. The Lake of Devil; with a surface of 700 sq. m is situated near by the cave with the same name. The Banat karst has also a lot of under ground lakes created by closing up some cave galleries. Large surface of this county with a special landscape an declared natural reservation and now they are natural parks as: Domogled-Cerna Valley, Semenic - Cheile Carasului, Cheile nerei - Beusnita and Portile de Fier. The capital city of this county is the municipality of Resita. Here in 1771, in summer, the first two furnace were put into operation, opening in this way an industrial center which, along the time became the fame of the Romanian industry. The oldest and the most important medieval monument of Resita is Hall-Church situated on the Ogasele Hill. The County Museum of History hosts important archaeological exhibits of mining and metallurgy. Also in this town there is the Museum of steam railway engines. A point of interest is also the "C. Gruiescu" mineralogical Collection in the town of Ocna de Fier, the Pharmaceutics Museum in the town of Oravita, the Icons and old books Collection of the Orthodox Rector in Resita. The Spa-town of Baile Herculane has also a multimillenary history. The numerous archaeological discoveries prove an uninterrupted habitation since the Paleolithic Era. During the about 165 years of Roman domination in Dacia, the Herculane Spa was known all over the Roman Empire. The stone-carved sanctuaries show that here came representatives of the Roman aristocracy, the place becoming a holidays center of the Empire. A number of six statues were discovered; they are dedicated to Hercules whose name was given to this spa. A bronze replica of one of them, moulded in 1874, can be seen in the Herculane Spa as its landmark. In our days, this spa is visited thanks to its natural elements of cure: thermal sulphurous, chlorous, sodium, calcium, magnesic, oligomineral, hypotonic waters and to the high negative ionization of air with favourable effects on the human body. Other zones of tourist interest situated in the Caras-Severin county are: the tourist zone of Semenic for winter sports; zones of Breazova-Crivina, Trei Ape, Secu for tourism and sports around the lakes with the same names; the Cerna valley for its rich flora and fauna in the Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park; the Anina Mountains with its tourist spas and quays of a wild beauty: the tourist zone of Portile de Fier (Iron Gates) with the Valea Mare reservation as well as the archaeologic reservations from Pojejena, Gornea, Libcova and Divici. Caras Severin is a county with very rich ethnographic and folk traditions: costumes, textures, embroideries, sings and dances, customs ocassioned by different seasons and main moments of a people's life. Of a special interest are the daffodils and lilac feasts. The daffodils is the symbol of this county too. A lot of hotels, resting houses, motels, chalets and camping grounds wait for their guests in all seasons.

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Economy Profile



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