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Romania: The country's only future is abroad

The Romanian name Întorsura can be translated as “the return”. Today, however, nobody comes back to the Eastern European village. Like so many Romanians, after the end of the communist regime, residents of the village of Întorsura also made their way abroad. At the beginning of the 1990s, the young among them were mainly looking for work in Italy, where the language and climate are similar.

Emigration has increased since Romania joined the EU more than ten years ago. Many of the people from Întorsura now live and work in Great Britain and Germany.

The village is located in the southwest of Romania at the foot of a hill covered with vineyards and pastures. “Most of the residents are old and live on pensions, social benefits or remittances from their relatives abroad,” says Marian Cioi, the 58-year-old mayor of the village.

Because the old are dying and the young are moving abroad, the population has shrunk by a fifth in the past ten years: according to Mayor Cioi, from 1786 in 2002 to currently 1470. The numbers went down year after year, he says.

Transfers have changed something

The exodus from the village reflects a phenomenon that has left deep marks not only in Romania but also in other Central and Eastern European countries in the past few decades: everywhere people are leaving their countries in search of better-paid work in Western Europe. They come back - if at all - only for vacation.

Romanians have seen the largest increase in emigration among EU countries since 1990. According to a recently published report by the World Bank, between three and five of the total of 19.6 million Romanians already work and live outside their home country. Among the emigrants, around 2.6 million are of working age, which is almost a fifth of the country's working population.

“Our young people work in other countries,” says Cioi. "That is why there is unfortunately no one here who could help on the farms of the villagers who are more than 70 years old."

Întorsura looks like countless other villages in Romania, where many people are still rooted in the countryside. Almost half of the Romanian population lives in rural areas. The only paved road leads to the neighboring towns. The other roads are unpaved. Today there are gravel paths after all. In the past, however, cars often got stuck in the mud on rainy days.

It is a leisurely and sunny day in Întorsura. Geese and dogs roam the streets and the villagers chat with each other in front of their courtyards. Most properties look the same: A small veranda leads into the house, the rooms of which are located along a hallway.