Many people falsely believe that the people of Romania speak Russian. However, the small country in the centre of Eastern Europe has its own standard language. In fact, approximately 24 million people claim Romanian as their native language, especially in Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and parts of Serbia. About 4 million people around the world speak Romanian as a second language.
Romania has been a member of the European Union since 2007, making Romanian an official EU language and increasing its importance as an international business language.
Romanian is the only language in the former Eastern Bloc countries that is derived from the Romance languages. Throughout history, Romania was repeatedly conquered by stronger civilisations, which clearly left its mark on the language of its people. The most closely related language to Romanian is Italian, and Romanian native speakers can often understand simple Italian. However, Italians have a harder time understanding Romanians, as the Romanian language incorporates many Slavic words that are unfamiliar to Italian ears.